May 30, 2014

Lisa: who says mermaids can't dance?

I dare you not to smile during this performance. Here's to being awesome and hilarious instead of perfect!

April 15, 2014

Lisa: Cool Girl

I'm putting the "Cool Girl" pages of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl here so I can find them any time. It's a little long (and maybe a little aggressive), but I think it's worth a read for any young woman. I'm not saying it's gospel truth--Amy Dunne is a sociopath, after all--but at a minimum it's thought-provoking. I hope I can figure out who Real Lisa is and be that person, or at least pretend to be the person I want to be, not someone else's ideal.

--

That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, donít they? She's a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she's hosting the world's biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don't mind, I'm the Cool Girl.

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December 06, 2013

Lisa: hashing it out

Lisa: Is Lion King the first Disney with explicitly premeditated murder? Or do, like, the oysters on Alice In Wonderland count?
Jeannie: Snow White? I mean - she didn't die, but the witch tried.
Lisa: She just tried to put her to sleep, though, right? It's not the Grimm version.
Lisa: Hmm. Also, Gaston does purposely incite a mob to try to kill the Beast.
Jeannie: That too. What about Bambi?
Lisa: I think hunters would argue they aren't murdering animals.
Jeannie: Right, but Disney gave it personality. And based a movie around an animal. Where do we draw the line? Because...the lions are animals too.
Lisa: Also Maleficent tried to murder Aurora, but Merryweather softened the spell.
Lisa: But in Lion King it's animal-on-animal violence. I think it's another level.
Jeannie: Some gnarly shit going down.
Lisa: Truth.
Lisa: Maleficent's was arguably a crime of passion.
Jeannie: I think either way you have to go with some assumptions. They're animals so it's all good, or they're characters so you have feelings about deaths. No matter who commits them.
Lisa: No, because the humans in Bambi are like unseen, all-powerful, dangerous gods. It's like being killed by a tornado. I mean, obviously you have feelings about Bambi's mom's death. It's a tragic truth of the wild, though.
Jeannie: One could say the same thing then about lions killing each other.
Lisa: You don't see them evilly plotting to kill Bambi's mom specifically, like Scar.
Jeannie: That is true. I still cry when I watch that.
Lisa: The humans in Bambi are at worst like the rainforest-clearing developers in FernGully.
Jeannie: I guess the end result is still the same. But you're arguing intent affects how you feel about this.
Lisa: Yes. I guess I'm arguing am I encouraging my child to plot the murder of a sibling who gets in the way of her ambitions? Which I consider worse than encouraging her to become a hunter.
Jeannie: Okay. That's another story, right? Have you read Cain and Abel to her? (Joke)
Lisa: Hee. And no. Have you read Robin the one where Gaia kills the wiccans?
Lisa: I've literally got nothing.
Jeannie: Hahahahaha. I have a bible, okay? It is fascinating. And the basis for a lot of amazing literature. Pertinent: one of my all-time faves, East of Eden.
Lisa: Well, don't read it to Robin. That shit is violent
Lisa: -ly boring.

June 01, 2013

Lisa: Blake, the Mad Scientist

Guys, look at my adorable husband.

May 11, 2013

Lisa: education > ignorance

I recently read an unusually thoughtful and calm Facebook thread started by someone sharing an article about Elizabeth Smart's controversial talk at the Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum. I don't really want to argue about whether Elizabethís remarks indicate if she is or is not against abstinence-only education. I will say that as a fully active Mormon who practiced abstinence until marriage, I strongly believe our schools should present a balanced, fact-based sex education program that includes abstinence as one valid (and very effective) form of protection against STDs and pregnancy. I personally think a lack of education doesnít necessarily keep teenagers sexually unawakened. It just breeds the kind of ignorance that results in a pregnant teen saying to her dad, "But I donít understand how this happened. We didn't even have sex!"

Even if Elizabeth Smart did not say the words "abstinence-only education," she certainly mentioned a specific object lesson she had been given, comparing a girl who had engaged in sex before marriage to a "chewed-up piece of gum" that no future abstinence-minded spouse would want to put in his mouth. This version of The Tainted Muffin (which Iíve railed against before here) had the particularly heartbreaking effect of making an innocent victim of kidnapping and repeated rape feel so worthless she wasnít even sure it was worth trying to escape.

The Facebook thread I mentioned above was discussing how to successfully teach our children the practical and moral value of abstinence, without using shame or describing sex (and the associated feelings and body parts) as dirty or evil. These techniques may be effective in the short term for some young people, but can have long-lasting and very damaging effects on their sexual attitudes as adults who are suddenly allowed to have sex within the bonds of holy matrimony.

I thought one comment in the thread was particularly thought provoking. I would like to give the commenter credit here, but I donít know her and I donít know if she would like her anonymity preserved. Here's what she said:

You have to eliminate "sin next to murder" rhetoric, stop teaching that sexual arousal is problematic, talk openly and directly about sexual power and agency (waiting for marriage becomes a proactive, empowered choice, instead of a reactive, fear-based one), openly and explicitly teach grace for those who choose not to wait instead of shame and condemnation, stop including masturbation and "necking and petting" as part of the law of chastity, and eliminate any teaching that implies that girls and women are responsible for the sexual feelings and responses of boys and men. For starters.

I think thereís a lot of good stuff here, and the response from the subsequent commenters was largely positive. One commenter, who I will also leave anonymous, politely offered a slight amendment:

I am grateful that I was advised to avoid necking and petting before marriage. It made it unique and special to share with it with my husband and comforting to know I wasn't xteenth experience for him either.

I am glad this was true for this woman and that she is happy with her choices, but I would like to state emphatically that I know this does not have to be true for everyone. How? I know because it is not true for me. Petting aside (because none of your business), "necking" with the boys I dated before I met my husband is a happy memory for me. Those experiences were fun, and exciting, and a little silly and ridiculous, and part of being close to someone I cared about. They were part of being a teenager and growing up and figuring out how to be an adult. They helped me decide how I wanted to be treated by a romantic partner. They are a kind of physical interaction that isn't focused on as much when you're allowed to "go all the way." And finally, they are part of what makes me know that what I have with my husband now is lasting and truly special.

I hope when my girls are teenagers they have all the information. I hope they see how beautiful and smart and amazing they are. I hope they know their intrinsic worth is not determined by how others see or treat them. I hope their health teachers scare the crap out of them with banana/condom demonstrations and the Miracle of Life video, and give them practical information on what exactly could get them pregnant. I hope they have fun and feel free to be teenagers (within reason). I hope they understand why I felt abstinence was important for me. I hope they are thoughtfully taught why our church puts a high value on chastity, fidelity, and the sanctity of the power of procreation. I hope they are comfortable coming to me with questions about this stuff. Most of all I hope they know that if they make different choices than I did, that I--and God, and their future spouse--will still love them just as much.

March 24, 2013

Lisa: mom nest

Since we can't afford to move to a bigger house, in February I embarked on a crusade to make some of the less-used areas of our house into places we wanted to spend time. My theory was that our house would suddenly seem twice as big if we had all this newly-useful space to hang out in during the day. The family room in the basement was at the crux of this plan. I wanted to take it from a dark, low-ceilinged hodgepodge with prickly industrial carpet to a light, bright, fun place the kids could play in while I worked. I was hoping we could work around Blake's TV and keep it a functional place for him to play games, but make it feel basically like the opposite of a man cave.

You can see the before pictures in this old entry from 2007, but here they are a bit bigger. I wish you could really see the silly-putty beige walls AND ceiling, and feel the gray plastic berber carpet.

Before:

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Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the in-between phases of the family room, when the slightly newer couch was moved down there, or when we handed the elliptical machine down to E and made a (less awesome) play area in there for the kids.

After:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

E helped me so much with this project, guys. She came up with a bunch of great furniture arrangements on the Make Room Urban Barn room planner (including the layout we finally went with), and she put in many backbreaking hours painting walls in our poorly-ventilated basement and awkwardly leaning over bookcases in our freezing garage. I would never have gotten past the intimidation factor of what seemed like such a big project without her. Thanks, E!

We ended up moving Blake's computer desk and chair into the sewing room/guest bedroom to make more space for kid stuff, which I think was a great idea on Blake's part. It is snuggled up next to the carved chest in there, and it's not bugging anybody. I'm rarely sewing at the times he needs to use his computer, so we don't even get in each other's business.

The new light blue paint on the walls is Behr's Snowdrop (530A-1). I made myself go one shade lighter than I wanted to, and I'm so glad I did. It definitely comes across as blue, not bluish-white, and a darker color might have gotten oppressive in a basement with minimal windows. The ceiling and bookshelves are just the basic white Behr sells already in the can. I think the ceiling is flat and the bookshelves are semigloss. Even if we had just painted the ceiling white and left everything else, it would have been an improvement--why did the previous owners paint the ceiling beige in the first place?? Anyway. We primed the bookcases with Zinsser Bull's Eye Water-Based Primer/Sealer, in hopes that we could get the paint to stick without sanding. So far everything seems to be holding up, with no bleed-through from the pine stain.

The play kitchen is from Amazon, purchased for Nora's 2nd birthday. We got the easel from IKEA in 2009, and I supplemented it with a magazine rack and gallery wire, also from IKEA. The dollhouse was a hand-me-down from KC and Shannon, spruced up with a little scrapbook paper and Mod Podge, and given to Nora for Christmas in 2010. I have pictures of that, but I'm so behind on the girls' website that they aren't online yet. Maybe someday? The fun canopy was an IKEA find that just happened to match and fit perfectly.

The family photos over the couch are more of the sitting from Busath you saw in the living room upstairs. Since Hazel was but a fluttering in my uterus when we took those photos (gross, sorry), I cut out a silhouette of her cute face so she would be represented on the wall, too.

The area rug is a solid dark brown shag from Target. I looked at so many shag rugs and bound remnants, and the price range was huge. I finally threw up my hands and just bought a cheap version from the Target website, and to my surprise I completely love it! It's soft enough that it's pleasant for the kids to sit and play on, and the color is exactly what I had in mind. It sits on top of low-pile carpet, and it isn't a high traffic area, so I'm not too worried about the quality concerns of the commenters on the Target site. It's a great option to hold us over until we can get new wall-to-wall carpeting in the whole basement.

Inside those closet doors is my upgraded closet office, which you can see here. The brown and green actually work well with the new light blue and white palette in the family room, and I'm using my office a lot more than the kitchen table now that the kids like hanging out down there. Mission accomplished!

November 23, 2012

Lisa: Skating in New York City

Since I just had my 34th birthday, I've been working on my 35 x 35 list, crossing off things I've done and gearing up for things I want to try to accomplish this year. In doing so, I realized that (like most of what I've done in the last few years) I never blogged about visiting New York over New Year's at the end of 2009. I did hastily throw up some photos on Facebook. Anyway, I'm not going to blog about the trip today, either--but I AM going to post about crossing something off my list while we were there.

12. Ice skate at Rockefeller Center.

Because my family is adorably supportive, they didn't tell me right away that trying to skate at Rockefeller Center was a terrible idea. On our third day there, after standing in line for the ticket lottery for In the Heights, Dave and Angie took me, Blake, Nora, and Sarah to see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. That's when I saw this:

Yep, all those people packed in at the side of the rink there are waiting to skate. Now, I love skating, but I hate crowds. And it was freezing cold. And we had a little two-year-old Nora with us, who refused to wear gloves. It was time to modify the goal. Dave heard there was a skating rink at Bryant Park, so after Sarah and I were finished with the play we met up with the rest of our group there. Guys, the wait was two hours minimum, it was even colder than it had been when the sun was out, and we still had a toddler in tow. We gave her a ride on the carousel, and then ran for the warmth of the New York Public Library to reassess.

Dave and Angie knew of one more skating rink, this time in Central Park--walking distance from their neighborhood. Sarah and I decided to wake up early and hit the rink first thing, without dragging Nora along. Even when we looked out the window and saw this, we stayed strong:

We couldn't figure out the park signage, and blundered around the completely deserted park in the snowstorm for an hour before we happened upon the Wollman Rink, which was miraculously open and staffed in spite of the weather (and the fact that it was New Year's Eve). We ignored the naysayers, rented our skates, and clomped through the empty (but still smelly) locker room and out onto the ice. The snow stopped, the clouds parted, and we skated for an hour in front of the New York City skyline. Mission accomplished, and back in time for brunch.

November 22, 2012

Sarah: Ornament Swap 2012: IT'S ALIIIIIVE

Whoa, is this thing on? Thanks to Lisa for keeping the blog alive while I did weird stuff like quitting my job, moving to New York, finding another job, and forgetting to blog about all of it. The short version is that life is incredible, but I still cry sometimes.

But remember how once upon a time, we had an annual Ornament Exchange? Want to do that again? I like getting stuff in the mail and I've already decided what to make, so I say we do it. Can you handle that? Then check out the details and send me an email, yo.

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October 01, 2012

Lisa: Drugstore Dirt

Almay Liquid Eyeliner Pen

This is everything I've always wanted in an eyeliner--it's dark, lasts but isn't too hard to take off, and goes on precisely like a liquid but with the ease of a felt-tip pen. It's perfect for retro/cat-eye stuff. Unfortunately the lid fits so tightly that I have to pry it off with my teeth every morning.

Revlon Photoready Eye Primer + Brightener

The applicator/delivery method for this product is so terrible that I can't even tell if I like the primer itself. You turn the base a few clicks and supposedly a bead of primer gets dispensed into the tiny brush, which you can then brush right onto your lids. WRONG. It takes like ten clicks to get any product to come out, and then it's a huge mess, dripping everywhere. The brush is way too narrow to be useful as an applicator, so I just brush a swipe over each eye and then use a larger concealer/foundation brush to even things out. I liked my old L'Oreal De-Crease lipgloss-style applicator a lot better, but that product was kind of...meh. Maybe it's time to pony up for the NARS.

Maybelline XXL Pro 24HR Bold

This product may be the best thing to happen to mascara since Maybelline XXL Volume+Length. Bonus points to Maybelline for finally making the primer coat black instead of white, solving the problem of accidentally gray upper lashes. In a serendipitous twist, the shorter double wands are easier than a long single wand for those of us with suboptimal hand-eye coordination, and I get less mascara in my hair.

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain

I clearly haven't given up my quest for the perfect lip stain, because this rave review on On the Rag Mag totally convinced me to make an extra trip to the drug store. At first, I was completely sold on the Kissable Balm Stain's texture and staying power, and I swear the first day I wore it, it was amazing. Unfortunately, this product has one major problem: as soon as you leave the house or get in a position where you're not walking past a mirror every so often and can sneak a quick quality-control peek, the color brightens from a nice dark rose (I chose "Crush") to a bright purply-pink, something like how the Smitten color looks on Tracy in that review. Now, if you choose the bright pink on purpose, fine--but if you're not expecting it, and it doesn't match whatever else you have going on, it's annoying. Now the question is if it's worth trying the Honey version instead, or if I should just go back to my not-quite-perfect-but-best-so-far Tarte LipSurgence.

September 23, 2012

Lisa: lateral movement

We decided at long last to paint our dingy mustard-yellow brick a classy warm grey (more to come on that decision later), and I started to get excited about prepping the house for that process. Since I knew we eventually wanted to put on some kind of new porch overhang, I worked really hard to convince Blake we should just rip off this old aluminum one before we paint. That way, we wouldn't have to do touch-ups later if removing it uncovered some still-yellow brick that didn't get covered up again by the new and improved porch. That...was a no-go. I made a good case that the old overhang would be easy to remove, but Blake (rightly) asserted that we'd lose a lot of functionality for our guests who might be arriving mid-rainstorm. So, as a compromise, we decided to give the awning a good washing and then paint it with a layer of black to match our wrought iron in the back of the house. Here's the before:

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And here's the after:

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Here's the thing. I like the black paint (Behr exterior semi-gloss primer/paint in Black Suede) a lot in theory. I like that it matches the other wrought iron we have, and I like that it ties in with the new lamp post, the mailbox, and the house numbers. I think it might look good with the gray paint when that gets done, and I like the idea of having a black accent on the house since we don't have shutters. I also think that no matter how white we paint it, our current overhang will never trick the eye into believing it's beautiful white wooden trim--I guess I like that the wrought iron isn't pretending to be something else. And above all, no matter what color the overhang is, at least it now looks clean and well-maintained. That's got to be an improvement, right?

In practice...I don't know that it's that great-looking. With the dark front door, I think it makes sort of a dark hole at the front, rather than letting either the door or the overhang make a dramatic statement. We haven't lost anything, since it was already ugly before and we can still replace it eventually like we planned (and paint is cheap). I guess we'll wait and see once we get the rest of the paint on. Stay tuned!

August 17, 2012

Lisa: 10+ Years

Am I going to see Channing Tatum's new movie, 10 Years? Absolutely. You know I can't resist a big, charming meathead who can dance. Is it just going to make me a little more disappointed in my own ten year high school reunion experience? Absolutely. Let's see how the two stack up:

1. Friends who actually haven't seen each other in ten years coming in from out of town and joyfully meeting up in advance
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

2. Pre-gaming/illicit booze
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

3. Dancing
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

4. Old flames turning up unexpectedly and declaring they still have feelings for me
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

5. Former classmates who morphed into surprisingly down-to-earth rock stars
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

6. Toilet-papering
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

7. Crazy revelations, regrettable decisions, or life-changing coincidences
Channing: at least 1, Lisa: 0

8. Karaoke
Channing: 1, Lisa: 0

9. Presence of Channing Tatum (or for that matter, Ron Livingston)
Channing: 2, Lisa: 0

Total score:
Movies: 10+, Real life: 0

See you there?

August 06, 2012

Lisa: sew much better

After redoing the downstairs bathroom, there were two days left before Sarah's arrival in Salt Lake City. The only thing to be done was to give the guest bedroom (also known as my sewing room) a makeover as well! Kill your guests with kindness paint fumes, right? I have been planning on painting this bedroom for years anyway, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to go with the Sarah-induced momentum.

I don't have many before photos of this room, because it was sort of a catch-all of my furniture when I was little and my bedding from college, topped off with a nice pinky-beige paint slathered over everything. Somehow it didn't occur to me to immortalize it. I did just dig up one photo of the old bedding (in its natural habitat at the Alpha Chi house) and one that shows the old paint color, taken when I hung the first thread rack on the wall behind my sewing machine. Lucky you!

Since I was still working with the paneling on the walls, I decided to go for a sort of beach house feel. I thought I could use some of my favorite yellows, blues, and greens, and also hang some art I already had kicking around. Here are the after photos, so you can judge its beachiness for yourself:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Since this was a definite redo-on-a budget, the furniture is all the same as it was before. That's some pretty sweet 25-year-old Danish Modern shit up in there. Back by the bed, you can see the typewriter (and typewriter cart) I bought at the surplus sale, in its oilcloth cover. Most of the glass apothecary jars with craft supplies inside that you can see on the shelving above the bed are also from the county surplus sale.

I love the carved chest, which was an impulse purchase made the ONLY TIME I have ever been to The Quilted Bear.

My sewing table is a folding table from Costco, which is functional if not pretty. I have some plans to replace the folding chair with a carved wooden chair (found languishing in my parents' basement) with a newly-recovered seat, and I'll post a photo if I end up finishing that project in the next ten years.

But why are we here? The new stuff. The paint was purchased six years ago with the downstairs bathroom in mind, but I thought better of that choice (thank goodness) and went with dusky purple in there instead. At the same time, I had actually bought paint (in coral pink) for the sewing room, but I had that re-tinted brown and used it in my closet office two years ago. Anyway, I'm counting the paint as free since it's been sitting unused for so long.

The pictures on the wall above the chest are prints of watercolors of some iconic spots on Balboa Island done by Diane Moon and Jim Krogle that Blake and I bought on one of our first trips there right after we were married. I found some medium-brown frames for them at Target to match the other furniture.

The striped bedspread and new fluffy pillows are from HomeGoods, and the sheets and pillowcases are from Target. The crewelwork throw pillow and the new ceiling fixture above the bed (replacing some gross and overly-bright track lighting) are from IKEA. The helping with minimal eye-rolling and swearing was from Blake.

June 12, 2012

Lisa: Downstairs bathroom mini-makeover!

I started getting excited for Sarah to come stay with us from New York in a few weeks, and decided to finally get around to painting the bathroom she'll use when she's here. It's been this sort of horrible, not-designed, leftover cheapo-fixtured builder-basic cave that we rarely use and therefore rarely clean. Lately it had been serving as a temperature-controlled storage area for paint supplies, and as a haven for a large infestation of spiders and the carcasses of their prey. Doesn't that sound welcoming to our guests? Here it is before:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

After an industrious cleaning (and the removal of SO MANY spider parts), I rolled on some leftover primer and paint from our master bedroom. The paint has been kept inside and is still perfectly good, but our bedroom walls have faded a bit over time so that the color doesn't match exactly. Since we can't use the canned paint for touch-ups anymore, I figured we might as well use it up in another room. Blake bought a new hand-towel ring (for about $15, the only actual money we spent on this little spruce-up) to replace that weird second towel rack, and I hung some fresh white towels I'd been keeping as backups for our upstairs bathroom. I dug out some framed art from we used in one of our earlier apartments, and filled a little basket with travel-sized toiletries in case our guests forget something. The paint supplies will have to find a new home in the garage or a storage room, because the shelves of the cart are now filled with neatly-folded extra towels. Voila:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

A lot better, right? It's amazing what a huge different a little cleaning and paint can make. At least it doesn't look completely neglected, and I'm not embarrassed to have guests even go in there. As I promised Sarah in our last videochat, it's not even gross at all!

March 29, 2012

Lisa: front porch, creeper edition

More voting! This time (as threatened) I went around our neighborhood taking photos of porches like the ones we've been considering. It should help that they were designed (some with more skill than others) for houses in a similar style and scale. My Photoshopping, however, has not improved.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Also, please tell me in the comments if there are things you like or don't like on each one.

March 22, 2012

Lisa: front porch fun

I wrote in 2008 and again last spring about ripping off our current front porch and awning and replacing it with something nicer and more welcoming. I'm ready to get serious about deciding what we want, figuring out how much it will really cost, and getting some plans rolling. Will you help?

The first photo is the front of our house when we bought it. The next three are fairly terrible Photoshop mockups of porch ideas I collected on Pinterest. First, we've got a pointed roof option with an arch over the door, white pillars supported by an asymmetrical wooden deck and wide stone steps leading to some irregular flagstones. The second has a small extended roof overhang supported by two big corbels, and a large stone base including low walls on each side. The third option has a little fenced-in front porch off to one side that's totally covered by a larger roof overhang. Check out the photos, and vote on your favorite one below! If you have another idea altogether or want to suggest a tweak to one of these three, share it in the comments.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Next I want to go around our neighborhood photographing the porches I like, and do the same thing. Too creepy?