Thursday, August 28, 2014

Before and After: Upholstered Chair

One of my favorite things is to revive objects that are in disrepair or outdated. I found this little lady at an estate sale a while back and was really taken with the lines. There were some structural issues that needed to be addressed as well as a complete overhaul of upholstery. This was my first venture in removing literally everything* except for the wood and starting from scratch. Friends, there was hay and horsehair in there--which is absolutely horrifying. The horsehair would indicate age, as well as the fact that the original color of the upholstery was navy blue, but because of the structural issues I felt like I shouldn't be precious with it, (and like I should wear a particle mask whilst deconstructing.) I wanted to make it work for everyday use and call it a day. So that is what happened.  Are there some imperfections and issues? Of course, I am no upholstery aficionado (aficionada?), but it is significantly improved functionally, and I think aesthetically, and it was great practice for next time. Here she is from the back. I'm usually not a floral or paisley girl, but that is what she** was asking for, so I had to concede.

*I didn't realize that upholstery supply stores around town don't just sell edge roll. Thankfully, a super nice upholstery shop owner gave me a yard of it so I could actually finish the job. One of these days I'm going to have them do a sofa for me.
**Yes, I'm still talking about the chair.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Have You Heard: Ryan Adams

For the past month plus I have been listening to this track like crazy.  Only a couple more weeks until the album drops and I am stoked.

I haven't been this excited for a Ryan Adams release since 2002's Demolition, which I'm pretty sure I like better than even Ryan Adams himself. I know, I know it was panned. It was all of the cast offs that didn't make it on to 2001's Gold, (which is tied with Heartbreaker as my favorite Ryan Adams album ever, including his work in Whiskeytown,) but I love it anyway. I realize I am probably alone in this, and I'm perfectly fine with that. That said, these four tracks are perfection and I will never be convinced otherwise.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Die Another Day

This morning I was headed over the Fremont Bridge, the tallest bridge here in Bridgetown when some Chachi wasn't paying attention and tried to change lanes into me. A little evasive maneuvering and everything was fine - crisis averted, but this is not the potential death I mean to talk about.

Reem is in town for Becky's wedding, which is of course delightful. This afternoon Reem and I met at Shara's office and the three of us stood in the parking lot chatting for a while about fraud, skinny jeans, and bees as we are wont to do. At one point someone who shall remain nameless* decided to start tapping me in a way shall I put this...was not pleasant nor something I feel like anyone would or should tolerate,** so I started to back away. I kept retreating whilst unfortunately not looking where I was going, until I ran in to a small boulder. I was very close to falling backward over said boulder and into a second small boulder which would have caused at least a concussion. It was only through the use of my very uncatlike reflexes that I clumsily avoided a head injury. So, now having been through the trauma of almost falling onto a rock, I would like to speak out for all of the girls who have had their boobs continuously tapped by their very good friends. You don't have to take it, but by all means, look where you are going.

*not Shara.

** It actually prompted a conversation about a certain New Girl scene afterward.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some recipes I cannot recommend.

I have been going through and organizing my recipes. We're going digital friends. While I don't think I could ever give up the tactile experience of reading a book, I do think I can give up having a few file folders bursting at the seams full of recipes I never look at because I always just go to my computer.

In this digital consolidation process I was going through a recipe book put together by the ward Relief Society when I was a toddler. Some of the recipes seem delightful enough, and some seem like the weirdest/grossest things ever. Here for your reading pleasure are some great recipes from the not-at-all-progressive culinary wizards of 1980s suburban Portland, (who were also very unhealthy cooks. There are exactly 5 recipes for vegetables out of the 300+/- recipes. And one is for a marinade to add to veggies, and one is for onion rings).

(All of the typos from this point out are transcribed directly from the book. There are quite a few, and I don't want to write "[sic]" every time.) I am also omitting the names of the people who submitted these recipes, because I'm friends with some of their kids, and now consequently have a sense of pity for them and what they were subjected to at the dinner table.

Chili Con Queso Dip
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 can Rotelle tomatoes

Melt velveeta cheese. Blend tomatoes in blender to make a puree, or mash well with a fork. Add tomatoes to melted cheese. Serve warm with taco chips.

Donde están los chiles, friends?  Also can we call Velveeta "queso?"

Whole Wheat Tomato Juice Bread
4 T. yeast
1 c. warm water
1 T. br. sugar
1 qt tomato juice
6 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. molasses
1 c. honey
2 T. salt
1 c. gluten flour
8 c. whole wheat flour

I'm going to stop right there, because that is enough information to be properly disgusted. Tomato juice in bread? And molasses in the same bread? Please, by all means, throw tomatoes in, but not tomato juice. (As an aside, my father dated the woman who submitted this recipe for years. I cannot for the life of me remember ever eating at her house. I can remember cooking pancakes one time with my dad, but never eating--which I think is a good thing.)

1/2 C pineapple juice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C sugar
2 T flour
2 T butter
1 pkg Dream Whip

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour,sugar, pineapple juice and egg. Cook until thick. Remove from heat and cool completely. Prepare Dream Whip according to package. Mix cooled misture with Dream Whip and spread over gelatin. Top with grated cheese. Serve over brownies.

1. I don't know what Dream Whip is, but I am not optimistic for it.
2. Where did the gelatin come from? Is that what we're calling the weird thing that has cooled in the saucepan? Also, FLOUR?!?
3. Nope, it's not the sauce pan "misture," so where is this gelatin coming from?
4. Top with grated cheese? I love a good mix of savory and sweet, but really? In the 80s, I feel like the only options were Swiss, American, and cheddar and none of those should be combined with pineapple juice and brownies.  Gouda on the other hand...still a terrible idea.

Scripture Cake
1 C Judges 5:25 last phrase butter or margarine
1 3/4 C Jeremiah 6:20 sugar
1/4 C Proverbs 24:13 honey
6 Job 39:14 eggs
1st Corinthians 10:2 spices
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp Amos 4:5 baking powder with 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Leviticus 2:13 salt
3 3/4 1sk Kings 4:22 flour
2 C 1st Samuel 30:12 raisins
1 C Genesis 24:11 water or buttermilk
2 C Revelations 16:13   (figs)
(Something in Numbers about chopped almonds - it is cut off by the binding.)

I legitimately cannot handle this. Does the recipe really say "water or buttermilk" like those are interchangeable? And "(figs)"?

The main dishes get super dicey. For example "Bread and Butter Shrimp Salad" that uses 1 can of crab, 2 cans of shrimp and a large loaf of buttered bread cut into squares. You throw in some salad staples like boiled eggs, celery, onion, and carrots and drench the whole thing in miracle whip. Yikes. Then there's  "Hot Dog - Bean Soup" which is bacon, mirepoix, and stewed tomatoes combined with pork and beans, quartered and fluted hot dogs and some bouillon. How do you spell inedible? 

But the
pièce de résistance is "Rice Around the World
1 cube margarine
8 T flour
1 quart of milk
2 cans cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
3 cans of tuna fish
Enough Rice for your family

Put rice in middle of plate - put sauce over top. Around edge of plat, put chopped pieces of any of the following:
Bananas, oranges, pineapple, peanuts, coconut, raisens, green onions, celery, boiled eggs, bacon bits, tomato, green peppers, tomatoes.

I love the flavor combination possibilities! Bananas and tuna with green peppers over rice? Gross. Oh wait, maybe that "plat" isn't a typo, maybe you're supposed to throw pieces of boiled eggs and "raisens" around some land whilst vomiting up your dinner?

Have fun not making these foods.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Ed Sheeran,

My cousin is a huge fan.  She is in your target demographic. I am a fan of a few of your songs* but don't be too concerned as I am a few years beyond your target demographic. So way to go! The other day my cousin and I were hanging and she was absolutely flabbergasted that I hadn't listened to your new album in its entirety yet. Something she felt she had to rectify by playing 30 seconds of each song--which drives me crazy, but we won't tell her that. I digress. When she got to "Thinking Out Loud" which is a sweet little song, I immediately said that you were using the same chord progression as "Let's Get it On."

The similarities are almost as striking as the great George's "My Sweet Lord" to The Chiffons'  "He's So Fine." There's no criticism here- if it works, it works. I bring up my cousin and your target demographic because I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of them hadn't heard "Let's Get it On." If I may, I'd suggest you do a little mash-up while you're on the road. Not just to expose your generation to a true classic, but also to make you seem so clever, because what are mash-ups but a way to show off? (And not that you're not doing well enough with the ladies already, but just think of how you will exponentially up the sexy time factor.)

Marvin Gaye will give you more street cred. And as far as ginger brits who rap a little too frequently, you're doing better than expected on that front, but more is more as far as street cred goes. Just don't go all the way to face tattoo. That is too much street cred.

Anyway, keep up the goodwork!

*i.e. "Kiss Me" & "All of the Stars"**
**I guess that is technically just a couple, not a few, but a few sounds more complimentary, don't you think? But I thought you were utterly charming on that one episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks I watched because Richard Ayoade was on it. You and Noel Fielding were hilarious together.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Have You Heard: Sleeping at Last

 Utterly charming:

This is officially the first time I have heard this song and not wanted to punch someone in the esophagus, which I feel is quite a feat. Well done Ryan O'Neal*

*Not to be confused with this Ryan O'Neal

Monday, July 21, 2014

Off to be a hitman.

A few weeks ago, I met one of my literary heroes. David Sedaris came to Powell's to promote the paperback version of Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls and I was there, four hours early, to meet him. I had brought my computer to do some work and chatted with some friends who were potentially just as excited as I was as we waited for the good people of Powell's to even set up the chairs for the event. 

About two hours before the event was supposed to start, Mr. Sedaris showed up. When I saw him, I was so not cool--but not for a lack of trying. My excitement was uncontainable and I started tapping on my friends and jerking my head in his general direction to get them to notice and validate. I'm sure I looked like I was having a seizure. Mr. Sedaris started signing books and talking with the early birds who had all but filled up the rows and rows of chairs set up. (Who says I'm foolish for showing up early now?) Book in hand, and ticket to get said book signed, I was one of the first people in line.  In line I was trying to think about what I should say to him. In retrospect I should have thought to bring up his latest article in the New Yorker about his fitbit. I could have asked if he would be my friend on fitbit. (Then I could have yet another way of not measuring up to him--with his 60,000 steps a day. Sheesh!) I didn't think about that, and I doubt he would have been amenable to the idea anyway.

Instead of planning my own conversation topics, I was distracted by the young woman in front of me. She stepped up to his table and sat a piece of paper with a digital drawing of Mr. Sedaris on it in front of him. She told him how she had done this rendering on the computer when she was eight years old, and how it took hours and hours.* He was astounded and grateful. He went searching through his tote bag for some sort of reciprocation. It was decided that a pair of novelty socks purchased at a novelty sock store** here in Portland would be just right. He went on and on about how talented of an artist she was, how he went to art school and he couldn't do that. Things took a bit of an awkward turn when she asked him to sign the one copy of said image to someone else. She then took it back and went about her merry way. With new socks.

I was absolutely gobsmacked. WHO DOES THAT?!? You give David Sedaris a copy of the picture you "made" of him. If he wants to recycle it, great, but you give him a copy or you don't show it to him and have him sign it. For the next like five seconds before it was my turn I was trying to read Mr. Sedaris. Was he fine with how that played out? Was that just fodder for an amusing journal entry about a tacky girl in Portland who manipulated him out of novelty socks? Or was he as shocked as I was and would later mourn the loss of his socks.

It was my turn, and I went to say, "hello." He asked me what I do - which is always a sensitive subject when you hate what you do and have decided a change is absolutely necessary for sanity and survival.  Better to simplify: "I'm looking for work."
"You're working for work?"
"I'm looking for work."
"What do you want to do?"
"I went to school for screenwriting."
"Well do you have any skills?"
"Not really."***
"Well, I like to help people out and bring them with me, but you're not selling yourself very well."
"This is probably why I'm looking for work."
"Have you ever thought about being a hitwoman?"
"Believe it or not, I'd never considered it."

He drew a gun for me potentially to urge me on to this new career path. 
So, with the help of David Sedaris, I've decided that I either need to be an advocate for myself and actually do something I care to do, or I need to go to a shooting range. I bet I'd be a good shot.

*$500 says that's a lie. 2 minutes in photoshop max-two years ago max. 
**Because we have those here.
***Not the first lie he'd heard that day.

I'm a loser

I am thoroughly entertained by the 15/16 year olds I teach in Sunday School. They are a delightful bunch. We joke around and have fun, but still get the job done. Generally before class I like to see how life is going for each of them. When one of the girls said to another, "how far are you in Supernatural?" I had to editorialize and give a thumbs down along with a Bronx cheer. She then said, "you're such a loser," not in a jovial way, but in a woah-there's-a-lot-of-hostility-there-fangirl kind of way.

There are few things I enjoy more than when people jump straight to character assaults over disagreements. Especially concerning humanity buoying art like Supernatural.

She spent the rest of class being angry at me, and I spent the rest of class asking her questions and asking her to read passages. Here's hoping next week we can patch things up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

have you heard: Grouplove

Months ago Becky told me to read A Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Had I known initially it was a young adult fiction about kids with cancer, I probably would have cast it off in to the same pile of unread saccharine and trite sentimentality as a Nicholas Sparks story. As it was, I started reading it before I knew anything about it except for that Bex thought I would like it. About 40 pages in and still all of the characters were teenagers I flipped the book over and read "Young Adult," I was like, "that makes sense," but the damage had been done. I devoured that book in one sitting, and then promptly in the same fashion devoured Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns (although I think it took me two days to get through Paper Towns.) I am a fan of John Green.

Unfortunately, I am not a fan of Shailene Woodley.* So much so that I have yet to see the movie of A Fault in our Stars. I'm sure I will eventually despite the huge deterrent. I know that they are two separate entities, but she is just not Hazel Grace. Anyway about the time it came out, Spotify told me I would probably like the new Grouplove song from the soundtrack. I was skeptical, because I am pretentious and hate it when algorithms can predict so correctly what I will and won't like. **

Fact: I really like it. As in, I'm listening to it pretty much non-stop these days. So thanks Spotify.

*Courtney, Nancy and I were one day in stitches with her In to the Gloss interview from a few months back.

**Something I don't think I'll ever have to worry about with Netflix' algorithm. 

***Also when googling how to spell her name I discovered that James Franco, Dave Franco and Theo James are three separate individuals. I had no idea.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Go my favorite sports team, GO!

While watching yesterday's match against Portugal, I noticed this excited fan. I was thinking she must have gotten ready in front of a mirror a la Karen from Mean Girls

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A letter to Johnny B.

One of my favorite humans ever is a 14 year old boy on the autism spectrum. Because of how his autism is manifest people really don't see his full potential. I was disheartened to learn the results of some recent testing at school that I feel is so far off base with this kid that I worry it will do more harm to his future than good, which was the aim. I'm pretty sure it has been and will continue to be a pattern in this child's life to be misjudged and underestimated, and that is a tragedy.  I worry about how our society perceives people on the spectrum, and I worry that this kid will become a victim of our prejudices. In our conversations over the length of our friendship, I've tried to buoy him up as well as prepare him that he will have to work hard--harder than someone without the different processing of autism, because the world as a whole doesn't understand it. We see it as a disorder, but we are doing a great disservice to kids if that is how they are seeing themselves - as someone with a disorder, whatever this supposed disorder may be. The most heartbreaking thing you could ever hear is a child saying, "I wish I was normal." We are all human, we all have issues and things we have to deal with.

Being the end of the school year, I wrote this child a letter. I want him to know that I am in his corner. And I want him to remember that he is awesome. If you were to meet him, your first impression might not agree with me. But trust me - this kid, like SO MANY OTHERS, are worth getting to know. Get past the first impressions, because there is a lot going on there that we can learn from and contribute to.


I want you to know it has been an absolute pleasure to hang out with you these past two years! You are such an awesome kid! Since I’m not sure when I’ll get to see you next, I want to make sure you know just how awesome you are, so please remember that:

  • You are hilarious.
  • You are kind and a good friend.
  • You flirt with a lot of girls, but you always make sure your number one girl Jamie gets to her bus with your arm around her shoulder.
  • You are so smart! I love that you are using Rosetta Stone to teach yourself Japanese, and Khan to teach yourself Calculus. Keep going! These skills will come in handy.
  • You are a great problem solver. I love it when you beat me at Blokus.
  • You are awesome at coding and Video Game Maker. Keep working on these skills. Not everyone can succeed at coding, but you are a natural. That could be a way for you to find your niche and make the big bucks!
  • You know where every country in the world is. Most American adults don’t know where any other country is- but you do.  And you know most of their capitals--keep going, you only have Europe and Oceania left!
  • You are very strong and athletic. I know very few people who could pull themselves up and sit on a basketball hoop.
  • You are charismatic. Do you remember how many people cheered for you at the SOAR Smash dance off? Or how many girls you slow danced with?
  • You have great style. Maybe one day you can get those diamond earrings you want so much--just make sure it is cool with your parents first.
  • You are very helpful in the kitchen.
  • You make funny videos about getting grounded after ordering too much fast food.
  • You are insanely good at Dance Dance Revolution. How’d you get so good?
  • You are learning how to break dance. And you are probably the coolest kid to air guitar to Journey, or do cartwheels to Michael Jackson that Skate World has ever seen.

Some people are going to doubt that you are capable of great things, but they are wrong. THEY ARE WRONG! Just because you do some things differently than what they decided was normal doesn’t mean that you are doing them incorrectly. It means you are doing things differently- not wrong or less than just different. Your brain processes things in a different way, and that is great! The world needs people of all shapes and sizes to approach things in different ways. We need your point of view! YOU ARE NEVER LESS THAN. You are awesome. You are smart and capable. You can do great things and make the big bucks! I can’t wait to see what you will do! I am so proud of you! You are one of my favorite people ever. After all, you’re Johnny B, the coolest guy in town.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

AP English writing exercise

I was going through some of my journals today, and I came across a truly pathetic piece of writing from the first semester of my senior year. It was an activity where one person starts a narrative and it is passed along the row and each person adds a few sentences in a minute or two and then off to the next person. I think we must have been working on descriptions, because these are some flowery little sentences. Holy Adjectives!

Three out of the four additional contributors to my story were my best friends that year; the fourth was a quiet, unassuming and very nice young man. I would venture to say that all of us were fair writers, but somehow we turned out some real drivel.  I remember the day we wrote this. Mine was the only little story that ended up so ridiculously. We all giggled hard when we shared these in class. I'm sure Mrs. Hayes rolled her eyes. And because it is so terrible...why not publish it on the internet?

Molly: The North Carolina air was hot and heavy. The only respite came from a coastal breeze that blew the sea's mist up to a new home in the never ending blue sky. The scalding sand under

Reem: my feet. An attractive boy tanning near by. His crystal clear blue eyes and defined biceps caught my attention immediately. He took the lotion and lathered it up through his long slender fingers. I imagined the cool relief the lotion brought him in the heat.*

Brittany: He was like a god with a strange aura about him. I had never before seen such a person. He had a mysterious rugged look to his messy blonde locks. For a moment he seemed frozen in time: a perfect still life. 

Julie: Our eyes met and the intensity of his gaze could have moved mountains. I remained rooted where I stood, like a ship anchored to the strong cliffs of the shoreline.

Peter: As I drew closer to this god-like man, he began to open his luscious lips to say that he wanted to take me away in his arms. I realized...

Peter sure was a good sport.  I wonder what realization he would have had this protagonist come to.  I guess we'll never know.

*I think I know where the shift in tone happened. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Most of the 8th graders at my school are reading The Book Thief right now. So, when one of my favorite 13 year-olds left me alone with her copy and her binder I hid the novel and left a note that said, "I stole your book: The Book Thief. #Literal"  Then a couple of hours later while I was driving home, I passed a chicken who was trying to cross the road. This happened. I hadn't ever seen chickens on that very busy road before or since, but on that very special day, it happened. *

*At Tiffany's wedding last weekend when someone I'd never met before started talking about how much milk her children consume (you'll be happy to know I kept my opinion that that amount was far too much to myself) and then said she should buy a cow her kids drink so much. I said, "Urban chickens are so popular, maybe you can be a pioneer in the urban cow movement." She was not the slightest bit amused. We are not meant to be best friends. Urban cows!**

**Please give your cows room to roam around and don't bring them in to urban or suburban settings. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Brandi Carlile you can do better.

I have long loved terrible music videos, and long felt compelled to share the terrible. Those are about to converge.

I have recently started watching The Good Wife- which I have to say is much better than I had reason to believe it was, seeing as it is on the same network that airs the predictable procedurals in their many "re-imaginations"* NCIS and CSI's and the unqualified disasters 2 Broke Girls and Two and a Half Men, but I digress. The soundtrack to The Good Wife is not terrible. Music isn't used in the story in a huge way, unsurprisingly enough for a court room drama, but every once in a while they pepper in a song, and sometimes it is a song that I would listen to without the promise of Matt Czuchry.

One such song was Brandi Carlile's cover of "Heaven"-- after a quick look on IMDb to find it, I looked on spotify. It wasn't there. I then googled it, and this video was practically the only thing that came up. It is so unbelievably terrible-- you really should watch it. And after you do, will you please explain the story line to me?

I am at a loss. A girl dresses up as a terribly costumed circa Like A Virgin Madonna, writes a message and sends it-presumably across a vast distance=via a poorly constructed paper airplane and a most unenthusiastic chuck. It reaches a man who irons meticulously and combs out his disgusting ZZ Top beard, only to go NFL super-fan and rip his shirt off in the middle of what looks to be a hotel conference room. To say nothing of the terrible acting, the melodrama is palpable. What is happening? I don't get it.

*Does moving a concept to a different city count as a re-imagination?