Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Totally Random Tuesday: Celebrity Not-Really-Worship

I enjoy celebrity-watching a great deal. (Some people like birds, don't judge me!)

Don't get me wrong, I don't watch with glee as people go down in flames or anything, TMZ and Perez Hilton take it too far (so far that I'm not even linking them here, if you want to look at upskirts and make fun of Jessica Simpson's butt, go Google them) but I sort of like seeing what these people do every day. I especially love hearing great things about people who take their fame and fortune and do good with it in non-fame-whore ways.

Johnny Depp, for example, is not only hot, he's awesome.

Anyway, thanks to the internet, there's also a plethora of Cheeseburger-like celebrity sites, like Roflrozi and Totally Looks Like. These are a couple of my favorite places to waste time (when I'm not looking for more craft ideas that will never come to fruition but that I feel the need to stick in my Evernote anyway). A lot of it is chaff, but there are some gems hidden in there... here's a couple from Roflrozi that probably only appeal to me due to my extreme nerdiness. Enjoy!

Come on, that's FUNNY!

Oh David Tennant, I'll miss you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Slowly Pulling Out Of The Funk

I really don't know what my problem is just lately, but it seems like I'm maybe possibly pulling out of my craft funk and getting back to business. I managed to make myself cut bag handles and strips for a bowl this weekend in between napping like a lazyass (I've decided to blame the weather, which has been gloomy and crappy), and I felt a little more like myself.

My sewing machine has yet to move, however.

I'm in *such* a craft funk that another one of my half-finished crafts has gone missing... the not-ugly bag made for my mom! I know it's somewhere, but it's not where I left it. I've had this happen before, too, I started this gorgeous green skinny cabled scarf and it just... disappeared. I never took it out of the house, and yet it's nowhere.

Frickin' gremlins.

Anyway, since my Craft Crazy has been on the fritz of late, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite fellow crafters with you. They make my normal frenzies look pretty tame.

Case in point, She Fights Like A Girl. She even *knows* she's got the crazy, she says it in her blog profile.

Her latest bit of insanity is the embroidered Houdini portrait in miniature. It took her 80 hours, and was made for Teller (of Penn & Teller, who I love). That's dedication.

Another crazy woman who I follow blindly is The Crafty Chica. She's done so much she's got her own product line, all of which I wish to own. She posts something EVERY SINGLE DAY, sometimes multiple times a day. She even did a 24 crafts in 24 hours post for Earth Day, with recycled/upcycled crafts. That's amazing!

Then there's the guy who posts bizarre pictures. Where he finds these, I have no idea, but there they are anyway. It's not necessarily a craft, but it's an art form!

So yeah, it's not just me. In case you were wondering.

I'm going to go peruse their sites now, because I need inspiration. Probably coffee too.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - I Can Use Prithee In A Sentence

If you didn't already know it, I'm a total nerd. I revel in this, actually, which brings me to today's Wonder Why...

Why fight it? We're all a nerd for *something*, so why apologize for it? I mean, I've said it before in a snarky way, but it's true, isn't it? Everyone has a fetish.

Oh get your mind out of the gutter, that's only the third definition:

fet·ish also fet·ich
1. An object that is believed to have magical or spiritual powers, especially such an object associated with animistic or shamanistic religious practices.
2. An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence: made a fetish of punctuality.
3. Something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
4. An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.

I actually have a few of the #1 fetishes, I collect bears like so:

As to definition #3, whatever blows your skirt up, I always say. I don't want to know about it or anything, but far be it from me to deny you.

Today, however, I'm actually speaking of #2 and #4, in that we all have something which can completely consume us for solid days if we let it, whether it's a craft of some sort or Jazz Fusion music or Facebook or hell, Pokemon cards. We all have something, and more often than not we have multiple somethings, and if your something isn't negatively affecting your day or keeping you from supporting yourself, why not just admit that you are a complete nerd for whatever it is and find a club that will support it? I can guarantee you, there's at least one out there in the world, and you'll be a happier you knowing that you can trot out your macrame plant-hanger collection with those folks and they'll give those knotted wonders the proper appreciation that they deserve.

Of course, it must be said that if your personal fetish is actually keeping you from being a productive member of society or causing you to cause harm to yourself or someone else, you should probably stop it and take up beading or knitting or something less counterproductive.

So having established that yes, I am completely nerdy for many things (Joss Whedon, yarn, things made with potatoes and making stuff just to name a few, and really, if there were a day of the week that started with D, there would be a blog day devoted to it for Dorkiness), I will freely admit today that I love talking in an English accent, in particular wording things in English-accented Shakesperean style. It's half the reason I love Ren faires.

Click the picture for the website for Talk Like Shakespeare Day, which is TOMORROW! I am so excited.

All non-work-related emails (and actually, some work-related emails to people I know who've accepted that I'm, well... "different") will be in Shakespeare-ease. If I forget, flog me verbally please, for as I noted to Christine, she of Team Jacob...

"Methinks yon Mayor of Chicagoland hath a bit too much of his time unencumbered... yet I find I must comply with his decree, for when else might one find such a time as to speak as comes naturally to one contained of such dorkiness as myself?"

And then I added "Anon, Nurse!" just because I've always wanted to shout that for some reason or another.


So what's YOUR obsession?

(PS... You're welcome for the Human League earworm.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Sunday Slackin'

It was quite a sleepy weekend... I've been pretty wiped since the trip, honestly, although you'd think I would have gotten over it by now! Add to that the rainy, gloomy weekend and well...

To be fair, though, I did let the kid have TWO (count em'!) sleepovers this weekend, Friday with one girl and Saturday with another, and I did 6 loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, cooked a pot roast (mmm, pot roast), and worked on some of the parts for the crochet-a-long I'm doing with my mom. So I didn't *totally* slack, but the camera batteries went un-charged, I still haven't put the clasp on the not-ugly car bag, and I have 4 other sewing projects in pieces which have gone untouched.

I think I just lost my groove, is all... I'll find it again, I'm just catching up to myself.

I do realize I missed Family Friday last week, and so to remedy this, behold a photo of my mother from the glorious 70s. She hates it, but I love it, because it's just so totally her. It was uploaded to Facebook by her sister, and I will be sure to post the revenge photo when my mom launches it. Trust me, it's a good one.

Of course, for posting this here, you may all be seeing a revenge picture of my 12-year-old heinie fairly soon. But it's worth it! (I had a cute butt back then, anyway. You don't scare me, mom!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: Dinner Delightfulness

My friend Melissa had some celebrating to do last night, and wanted celebratory partners, and so we happily obliged. :)

She made a lovely scallop and shrimp dish marinated in lemon and Worcestershire and garlic and stuff, plus some garlic-sauteed mushrooms (don't barf, mom, they were Portabellos), lobster tails (who knew they were so easy?!), and this awesome thing in a fondue pot that I can't recall the name for, but it was made with cream, garlic, butter and... anchovies. Anchovies! It was delicious!!

Thanks for sharing, Melissa! We love it when you cook.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - What, Me Worry?

I'm slacking I know. "Where are the daily updates, Mimi?" you're asking. "Why do you hate us?"

No you're not! You have lives! :)

So today's Wonder Why Wednesday is all about making mountains out of molehills. While everyone's entitled to a good freak-out now and again, for the most part if it's not something you can personally fix your very own self... don't worry about it. I mean, what can you do? You can be sympathetic, even empathetic, but really...

Can you fix it?

This stems from today's office meeting, wherein we discussed the various OMG WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN parts of our flailing (not failing!) budget. Higher Education takes a big hit when this kind of thing happens (sad but true), and we're feeling the crunch. They haven't really finished deciding what kind of ick we're really in for just yet, but they will soon enough...

And until then, why worry?

That translates to the rest of us as well... whatever it is you're tense about today, ask yourself the important question... Can you fix the problem? If you can, well by all means get to it. But if you can't... well, sometimes you just have to say "oh well" and have a nice cup of something hot and call a friend for a chat about nothing in particular. It's all you can do, and you'll feel better once you've done it. I promise.

Side note... having aired my views on this feeling of negativity in our department at the meeting, I got a lovely email from a co-worker:

"Oh goddess of the workplace... Thanks for the enlightened reminders that the budgetary issues are out of our control so don't stress and that most of the scientists are well behaved. Once again, everytime you open your mouth something good, smart or funny falls out. I appreciate it! Jen"

Is that the nicest email ever?? I said thank you, and I'm totally keeping it.

Peace... and I mean that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Catchup - Sleep Is Important

I never really took a break after our vacation.

While the word "vacation" should bring to mind relaxing and enjoying the lack of routine, this one was a mite stressful, and I really should have scheduled a day off after we got back to recuperate.

The end result of all this is that Saturday, I slept. A lot. Every time I sat down I fell over asleep. I don't think I did anything productive until 4PM, the upside being that I felt guilty about my excessive down-time and made a nice dinner.

Sunday was nice, I finished making stuffed bunnies for the kids in the morning, watched The Kid hunt for her basket contents (not much this year, but enough to be fun), and then went to Nova's for Easter dinner with her parents. Yay, ham!

And... that's about it! Boring, huh?

But delightfully uneventful.

I hope your weekend was equally as unstressed.

Pics of the bunnies as soon as I get off my lazy butt and charge the camera batteries.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family Friday - Grandparents Make The World Go Round

Okay, so she's going. On the big expensive trip to Washington and NY. Why?


The child decided she really wants to go, and although I still really REALLY don't agree that the price is right or that they should offer this kind of thing without making it available (or at least offering fundraising opportunities), it *is* a trip of a lifetime, quite possibly the only time she'll ever see these places, and she wants to go not because her best buddy is going (well not *all* because of that), but because she really wants to see the things in person that she's heard about on the news and in history, like the Hiroshima Museum (she studied that in Social Studies) and the Vietnam War Memorial (Colorado Alternadad is a Vietnam vet).

So I told her, if she wants to go... it's up to her to ask the grandparents. I can kick in a little, but she had to be willing to give up Christmas & birthday gifts for at least a year and all those other little extras, and explain why she wants to go, etc. Plus... chores. Many chores. I don't want her feeling like these things are just being *handed* to her... she has to work at least a little bit, and part of that work was to cowboy up and ask.

She was nervous, she didn't want to make those phone calls, but I told her, the worst that happens is that they'll say "I'm sorry honey but no", and she'll be out exactly nothing. But what if they *can* help? Then she's got this awesome trip to go on. Lucky for her, both grandparents were willing, and so despite my lingering ick about the way it was done, she's going next year!

Pretty cool.

So yeah... Family Friday's subject is grandparents, and all I'm a-gonna say is that they rock, and the kid is lucky to have them.

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Fight For Your Rights - Updated

Well, I still don't agree... but it would seem my other post (since deleted due to irrelevancy and crabbiness) was incorrect... my complaint did *not* fall on deaf ears.

Part of the parent presentation was a pointed remark to the kids to *not* brag if they do get to go, and that they're very lucky if they do. I also heard from a few other parents who informed me that *they* heard that next year, it'll be done quietly. Good. Carry on.


Okay so there are a lot of troubles in the world, we all know it. I really do try to stay positive though, and not get hung up on petty things that aren't really going to make or break anyone's lives.

This week however, whether it's because I was tired (I got back and went right back to work, no breaks - I haven't even unpacked all the way yet) or because it truly was an injustice, I about had a fit because of the announcement of the "8th Grade School Trip" that The Kid's class is being offered next year.

I put that in quotes because it is so not the 8th Grade School Trip. Rather it is a decidedly elitist and exclusionary exercise in what happens when nobody from the "lower classes" speaks up or gets on the school board.

The trip, as it was DESCRIBED TO THE KIDS (way to go, guys) involves going to Washington DC and New York City (which I can't even type without hearing the salsa commercial) to see the sites, go see The Lion King on Broadway, etc etc.

Sounds fun right?

And you can go... for 2000.00.

Two. Thousand!

Who are these people?! Do they even know who goes to their school? There are maybe 20 families who could possibly afford this without it being a *major* sacrifice.

I've been singled out before by the school for being uppity, which I don't really care about, but in the interest of being taken seriously, I limited my complaints about this to a carefully worded letter to the principal. We'll see what happens - probably nothing, but I had to say something, right?

Which leads me to my Wonder Why today... Why do public school parents not speak up more?

Do we feel that we're not allowed? That somehow because we're receiving a "free education" for our children (in quotes because anyone who's sent their kid to a public school knows you get nickled and dimed to smithereens on a regular basis) we're not entitled to an opinion?

Who's tax dollars pay for these schools? Oh yeah! OURS!

So I fully feel that I can and *should* voice my concerns.

I just wish more people would.

For your review, here's the letter I'm sending the principal. I might adjust it a bit after I actually attend the trip meeting tonight (I want to know first hand what the deal is), but in general I think it's right on.

What happened to visiting the State Capitol and having McDonald's for lunch? Is it not good enough?

I realize that you yourself are not personally in charge of this trip and the planning, and I debated whether to contact you about this, but I really feel I must say *something*, even if it doesn’t really accomplish any change. I do hope this note will not come off as me “complaining”, but rather voicing my concerns about this.

I’m deeply bothered by the situation, and so can’t sit idly by, but at the same time I do wish to be constructive.

If you feel that this should go to someone else more appropriate, please feel free to forward it to them, however as I understand it I am able to address these issues with you?

After polling some other parents and finding that there are several folks who agree, I would like to ask you to consider, for next year’s 7th graders, an alternative way of offering the World Strides trip, if you continue to offer it.

While I don’t argue that it’s a fantastic opportunity, it’s not one that many families can afford – not only are there many families who are struggling with the current economy’s backlash through layoffs and cutbacks, you also have at the school a large number of families who live in subsidized housing (the apartments behind the school) and I’m sure there is a significant number who receive the free lunch program – this trip is not even in the realm of possibility for them.

Given that’s the situation, I don’t think it’s fair to have an assembly/make a presentation to *all* the students touting the fabulous trip, only to have a majority of them be denied that opportunity. Rather I think it would have been more appropriate to send some sort of flyer, sans pictures and including only basic trip details and including the amount it will cost, and invite those parents who can afford the trip to then requests packets and attend a meeting. It’s one thing in high school – the kids can get jobs and earn the money - but in grade school no amount of babysitting or birthday money would garner that kind of cash in any family but one with money, at least not without including some kind of school-backed fundraiser, which I understand is not under consideration this year. It falls on the parents and families of the kids.

On the subject of fairness, I do understand that you have a strong view on mollycoddling – I do as well. I don’t feel that everyone deserves an award for just showing up at the game, or a prize in a competition, but I do think that showing a bunch of kids a promo video knowing full well that most of them can’t go is just kind of… well, there’s really no other word than unfair.

I can’t help but suggest that in lieu of doing such a hugely expensive trip next time, the school consider doing something equally educational but closer to home and more importantly inclusive to the *whole class*, like a day-trip to the capitol and to explore Colorado State history in some way. I think it would be more appropriate as an 8th grade trip, whereas a huge week-long expensive excursion to Washington DC and New York is more of a high-school age trip, but that’s just my 2 cents.

Lastly, and it’s more of a touchy subject I know, I truly think it would be more appropriate to hold the “World Stride classes”, and the trip itself, outside of school time. I think having this all during school time needlessly exacerbates “have and have-not” issues that already exist, unfortunately, in our school and community as well. There’s already, since Monday’s assembly, an on-going discussion of “are you going” and “why aren’t you going” that is embarrassing for a lot of the kids and their parents. While it’s true that it’s part of life that some people have money and some people don’t, I think that this amps the situation unnecessarily.

I hope you’ll at least take my concerns into consideration – it’s too late for my daughter’s class unfortunately, the cat’s out of the bag, but maybe the next crop of incoming 8th graders will have something more inclusive, and the World Strides will be an on-the-side kind of thing.

What do you think? Too much?

Travel Post the Last - Friday to Sunday

Didja miss me? I was on vacation, dontcha know.

Let's see, my last post was super-early Friday morning, detailing a nice Thursday which culminated (oooh $10 words!) in lovely Chinese food, going through my books (which were stored at Carolyn's all this time), and packing the car.

Friday, after a few hours sleep (I always get so restless on vacation - all that planning) I got up and said goodbye to Carolyn as she headed off to work, then finished up the packing and headed out. I got to spend about an hour more with my aunt, which was nice - we really got to see her a lot this trip!

We headed downtown to pick up my sister Lesley and go have lunch and conversation with my dad and his wife Darlene. I forget sometimes how much I hate driving in the city of Chicago, and then I drive there and remember. I also forget how beautiful the city can be, and there's nothing like getting gridlocked to really give you the chance to look around!

There's more of course... check the album!

Lunch was nice, we had an exceedingly odd waiter who I named Frahnk. He had just that accent. We had yummy food, and then it was time to split. We had hoped to get to Lincoln Park Zoo (one of the last free things in Chicago), but my dad wasn't feeling great. It was just as well, since we still had to head west to Westchester, to see my friend Christine.

Her house is so cute. Alas, I didn't take a picture... I was so tired! Actually her whole neighborhood is adorable, all these nice older homes on good-size lots with actual backyards. I got to meet and get yelled at by her dad (I felt like one of the family!), after meeting her lovely and super-nice grandmother. We had excellent Thai food and I attempted to stay up and watch Twilight again, but I was tuckered.

We had a great night's sleep and some breakfast, and then we were off for home at last! One can only take so much vacation.


After a nice breakfast, we headed out. The weather looked to be fine for us getting to Kearney, Nebraska, and it was for the most part. It got a little sketchy closer to our destination, but we handled it.

I enjoyed listening to the CD that Kevin made me for the trip while we drove through Iowa; it was a mystery CD, the playlist for which would only be revealed after listening. It was a strange trip, and seriously fun, and ate an hour and a half of the drive without even stopping to sip water.

The hotel was AWESOME. A great end to our vacation. The only problem was our choice of restaurant for dinner - it was bad enough that I asked for one of the meals to be comped, as neither of the two was edible past the side dishes. Even the salad was bad, what's with that?! If you ever find yourself in Kearney, Nebraska, do *not* eat at Skeeter Barnes.


After waking up and having some breakfast at the hotel (it was surprisingly delicious), we got the bad news... I80 was CLOSED due to the ice and wind and stuff. Great! It did finally open up at about 12:30 and we headed out.

Right after I threw out my back. Ug. Must have been all that jumping on the bed.

We made it home in one piece, although it was a fight all the way... not only was it horrendously windy, we were also playing dodge-the-semi since all the trucks had been stranded Saturday night and were now in a mad dash for wherever they were headed. Scary!

Alternadad generously took us out for dinner Sunday night (he called us when we were about an hour from home - he must have gotten a psychic wave from my sleep-deprived brain), which was a good thing because I was barely conscious and couldn't have boiled water if you paid me.

And so now we're home.

All in all, it was a very satisfactory vacation. We got to do fun things, see people we'd been missing, eat food we'd been craving, dodge snow storms, spend too much money...

Yay! Vacation!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Travel Post the Fifth - Thursday

Thursday was lovely! After having some breakfast and hanging with Annette & Curt & Rex the Wonder Dog (Troyer left for school), we headed out to the rest of our day.

We stopped by Fannie May because our asses aren't huge enough. I thoroughly enjoyed their new policy of giving samples, although it means we now have all this candy we haven't eaten yet! We'll get over it I'm sure hahaha.

We met Catherine, Maggie & Hannah for lunch and hanging out after. Maggie rides a unicycle, is almost a registered-weapon type black belt and is 11. (I feel under-achievery now.) Hannah is 5 and a bad-ass. Seriously! Catherine was having a tough day, so I'm glad we could talk awhile.

After heading back to Carolyn's for some Chinese food and hanging with her and her family and Kevin, I got our laundry done, packed up the car and... well, blogged about Thursday and uploaded pictures and balanced my check book and now I'm pooped.

Off to bed!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Travel Post the Fourth - Tuesday & Wednesday

Would that technically be Travel Posts the Fourth and Fifth? Nobody knows.

So! Tuesday!

We went to the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. Both were glorious and wonderful and magical and fantastic, and were made all that much more better by the additions of Carolyn, her niece Jessica, and of course Man Award Winner Kevin (should I call him MAWK?).

There are so many pictures that I have not actually gone through them all yet...like, over 300 at first count. Be sure to set aside a bajillion minutes because I got a picture (dimmish but viewable) of each and every one of the Thorne Miniature Rooms, my very favorite thing there. YES!

Other photos of the Field Museum and the Art Institute... click em'!

Wednesday was delightful and relaxed; we took off (just the kid and I) and grabbed a little breakfast, went to McCrae Farms (where the kid used to take lessons thanks to a trade agreement - sounds so involved, doesn't it? - with the owner/trainer), then headed into the city to have lunch with a couple of high school friends of mine, Leila & Atoya. We went to Cafe 28, a Cuban-Mexican place, which was SO AWESOME and reasonably priced as well! Score! We had Cuban sandwiches and these awesome chicken quesadillas, plus some kind of hot chocolate pudding, which Leila & I made short work of. Yum.

After that we headed back to The Auld Sod (aka Skokie, IL) to knock around a bit while we waited for school to get out (alas, the Spring Breaks did not align). We were able to stop and say hello to a couple of the kid's old school chums (who were also my former Girl Scouts), Sinead and Jodie. It was really nice to see them both, but it never fails to amaze me that they just keep GROWING!

Finally, we made our way over to some old friends of ours (Annette, her hubby Curt and their son Troyer, to whom The Child is betrothed whether she likes it or not), and had a lovely time having Hecky's for dinner (because you know I love me some BBQ), catching up, then sleeping like little tiny rocks in their guest room; they were very nice to have us for the night and it's a real good thing they were already ready for us, because by the time dinner was done I was exhausted!!

Today we're going to enjoy some lovely breakfast with these fine folks, then it's off to do some more visitin'... Yay vacation!