May 04, 2009

Sarah: Manners

I was raised to be gracious when paid a compliment. This leads to uncomfortably long conversations with friendly homeless men.

May 06, 2009

Sarah: Banking on it

You guys, I just had a heart attack. I got an email from my bank, letting me know that I'd gotten a "cash back reward" for visiting a restaurant. Where I hadn't been for months. My heart raced. My hand reached for my purse. I'd been robbed! My identity stolen! As I panicked, I looked closely at the email: I visited the restaurant in early February.
Oh.
We're alright, then. Carry on.

May 13, 2009

Sarah: What it's worth

I canít haggle. I canít barter. I want to be able to trust that the price that is marked denotes a fair value. Charge what is appropriate based on production costs and what you need to survive. I donít want to force you to accept so little that your kids canít eat. I donít want to be tricked into spending a lot on a shoddy product.

On a related note, I want to be paid what Iím worth and I want others to be paid and promoted based on merit, not politics or seniority. If someone has education, experience, and (most importantly, I think) a good work ethic, they absolutely should be compensated accordingly. I believe that everyone has skills and talents that are unique. We should be motivated to find what those skills and talents are. If youíre making only a little because youíre not excited about your job and motivated to do well? You should be looking for something that you look forward to doing each morning. It would make the world a better place.

Intelligence and hard work should be rewarded. Good craftsmanship should be worth more than sneaky salesmanship. Decide how much something is worth, and trust that you can get or achieve something of worth. If only oversimplifications worked in real life.

May 14, 2009

Lisa: Lovin' it?

There is a matter that has been lying heavily upon my mind for some time. I think it is time to share this matter with you, and to use your responses as a balm for my troubled soul.

I HATE the McDonalds Playland.

It is horrible. Let me describe it for the uninitiated among you. The McDonalds Playland is a giant network of brightly colored plastic pipes. Some of these pipes lead to dead ends with clear plexiglass windows, while others lead up to larger, room-like openings or enclosed, spiral pipe-slides. There is usually one entrance to the entire structure, with a bank of cubbies next to it for kids' shoes. The whole mess is completely enclosed with a combination of plexiglass walls, locked chain-link-and-PVC-pipe gates, and nylon netting.

Maybe that doesn't sound so bad, but let me describe for you just a few of the problems.

1) Half the kids in there are carrying grubby little handfuls of soggy cheeseburger, or half-eaten Chicken McNuggets. These get dragged and squished along the sides and floor of the pipes during play (not to mention the kid with the overflowing diaper dragging his pungent little butt down each tube). Now, these pipes are kid-sized, and adults are not allowed inside the Playplace. You KNOW the employees aren't squeezing in there after hours, wiping down those pipes with any kind of regularity. The whole thing might be "sanitized" once or twice a year, but that's not doing much against day-to-day grimings.

2) Once your kid is past the entrance, there is no possibility for adult intervention of any kind. Did she climb too high, and is now unsure how to get back down? You'll just have to wait for her to stop crying and figure it out. Did some bigger kids corner her at the end of the blue pipe and start menacing her with their broken-off ice cream cones? I hope she remembers those self-defense lessons you've been giving her.

3) Forget getting your child out of the Playland before they're good and ready. They know you can't come in there after them, and they take advantage of that. There is always at least one mom outside the entrance of the Playland, hands on hips, half bent over and calling into the pipe in her sternest voice: "DEVIN! DEVIN! YOU COME OUT OF THERE THIS INSTANT!" There is a sign posted outside the structure detailing emergency procedures, which are basically that the parents are supposed to stay out of the structure, while McDonalds management "gets the children's attention and instructs them to leave the Playland." Right. I'm sure the kids will see giant flames through the plexiglass, hear an unfamiliar voice through a loudspeaker urging them to exit, and will calmly comply. None of them will get scared and huddle in the most hard-to-reach places.

4) Guaranteed, one kid is scaling the nylon netting on the outside of the Playland, while another kid is yelling, "Mo-om! The sign says No Climbing [which it patently does] and that boy is climbing!" There is no choice for the second kid's mother but to yell back, "Are you that boy's mother? No. He has a mother." Must we play out this tired scene again and again?

5) Please don't get me started on the aura of plastic-generated electrostatic that surrounds the whole place.

Nora, of course, loves it. Even when I have to pick pieces of broken Happy Meal toys out of her chubby little knees afterward.

May 15, 2009

Lisa: Etch a Sketch

Inspired by this glass-etching tutorial on isly (found via this post on How About Orange), I decided to try etching a giant monogram (I love monograms) into my 9x13" pyrex baking dish, in an effort to make it prettier and more identifiable at potlucks.

All the background info and steps are after a jump, but here's the finished product:

I liked my finished baking dish so much (and making it was so fun and easy) that I made another one for my cousin as a wedding gift, this time with just the first initial of her new last name.

I admit, I felt a little less cool when I went to church the next Sunday and found out that etching glass baking dishes is our upcoming Enrichment Night craft. But at least mine isn't made with one of those precut vinyl dealies, right? It's still a LITTLE bit original. So. Want me to make one for you?

Materials:

Computer
Printer
Monogram font
Adobe Illustrator (or whatever program you like)
Scotch tape
Transfer paper
Contact paper (any pattern)
Pen/pencil/stylus
X-Acto knife (sharp)
Spatula
Armour Etch
Pyrex baking dish
Kitchen sink
Silicone baking spatula

Note:

The bottle of Armour Etch says it won't etch Pyrex, so I did a little checking around on the internet. I'm glad I did, because I learned two important things that were backed up by several sources. First of all, you CAN etch Pyrex (at least some Pyrex) with Armour; you just have to leave it on for 25 minutes instead of five minutes. Also, you don't have to just wash the etching cream down the sink when your time is up, like it says on the packaging--you can scrape it right back into the bottle and use it again! A little bit is still lost, but you'll get a lot more use out of that expensive bottle.

Steps:

1) I downloaded monogram kk from Abstract Fonts, and tooled around with my initials for a few minutes in Illustrator. I was hoping the large size of the monogram would make it feel more modern, and that at first glance it would just appear be a pretty, scrolly design. Once you've decided on your design, reverse it before printing. You'll be etching on the bottom side of the dish (so little bits of food don't get stuck in there), and you want to be able to read the letters through the bottom of the dish when it's right side up.

2) Cover the bottom of your baking dish with whatever leftover contact paper you have on hand (keep the color of your contact paper in mind when you're buying transfer paper). Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to smooth out any bubbles. Be especially careful around the logo/raised lettering on the bottom of the pan. It's REALLY important to make a good, smooth seal.

3) Tape your reversed, printed out design on top of the transfer paper, which is on top of the contact paper. Trace over all the edges of your design with a pen. Remove the transfer paper and printout from the contact paper carefully, making sure your entire design got transferred.

4) Use the X-Acto knife to cut out all the pieces of your design that you want to be etched. Don't stress out about this part. I hate cutting with an X-Acto knife on paper and cardboard, because the knife always goes zinging out of control at the worst possible moment and ruins my design, but it's really super easy to cut contact paper on top of glass.

5) Brush on the Armour Etch in a very thick layer (enough so it's opaque and white), making sure you cover all the parts of your design. Don't let any sneak off the edges of your contact paper outside the design area. Also, be REALLY careful not to get any etching cream on your hands, because that stuff burns like a mother. Set your pan (carefully!) aside and time it for 25 minutes.

6) Once time is up, take your pan into the kitchen and very carefully scrape off the etching cream with a silicone spatula. Scrape it into a funnel and then back into the jar, or just right into the jar if you're coordinated enough. Then peel off the contact paper and throw it away without gooing yourself with the creamy side. You might need your X-Aacto knife to catch the tiny bits of contact paper--you don't want to be scraping them up with your fingernail and get Armour Etch under there. Then rinse off the rest of the etching cream on the pan with water. Wash your hands and arms really, really well with soap and water, and wash the pan again really thoroughly before cooking in it.

May 19, 2009

Sarah: Make a memory. To memorial.

What are you doing for the long holiday weekend?
No, you're not. Cancel all of your plans, because I can beat them. Come to the Spring City Heritage Day. You get to tour historic homes, participate in an art auction, converse with artists, enjoy local music, and eat lunch. Afterwards, I'll take you on a drive around the valley and we'll have burgers and milkshakes. Hugging alpacas is optional, taking pictures with the SPIDAMAN shoes is not. Let's go. Details for Heritage Day are on the flyer here. See you there?

May 25, 2009

Lisa: Movie Monday

Sorry if you already saw this on Mighty Girl, but it is the most fun, relaxed, and out-and-out joyous wedding video I have ever seen. I wish it was mine.

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.

While we're on the subject of weddings, I should say that I'll be super jealous if you have yours at Treehouse Point (via Not Martha).

May 27, 2009

Lisa: Tool of the Week (cheapo edition)

I'm sure only the most die-hard readers of our site remember when I featured Proactiv as a Tool of the Week back in aught-six. I still love Proactiv, but I've had a few problems with it that I thought warranted looking around for another option.

1) I never finished all three bottles of the set at the same time, and buying individual bottles at the mall kiosk in an attempt to even things out is insanely expensive.

2) They seem to have difficulty working out certain billing issues, which is important when their system is based on automatically deducting funds from your account and delivering the product right to your door.

3) They recently doubled the price of the regular 3-piece set, and justified the price increase by calling the same size of bottles a 2-month instead of 1-month supply.

The first imitation I tried was AcneFree, which does seem to have the same results as Proactiv. I found the textures of the products just different enough to be a little unsatisfying, though. The Proactiv cleanser is a little gritty and exfoliating, and AcneFree is not. The repair lotion is different, too--more opaque white and thin. Also, the bottles are identical in size (and design) to Proactiv, so I run into the same problem using them up unequally.

On my next trip to the skin care aisle, I decided to try Klear Action, another Proactiv clone. The slightly sketchy-looking cashier swore Klear Action works just like the real thing, and so far she's right. Plus, the set is sold with a bigger toner bottle (which should help even out the quantities) and the textures are much closer to the originals. Yay!

Both AcneFree and Klear Action are about half the price of Proactiv, and are available at my local RiteAid.

May 28, 2009

Sarah: Office Romance

It's no Jim and Pam, but this video is fairly adorable:

via i like nice things