February 26, 2017

Lisa: Deliver the letter, the sooner the better

If you follow me on Twitter, you've undoubtedly noticed that added to the old mix of quotes from my kids and my thoughts on various snack foods are a lot of retweets of political posts and feminist statements. I'm pretty unhappy about the direction our government is moving, and I'm worried that Trump and his compatriots are bombarding us with a ton of terrible things up front so that we'll get tired and stop resisting. I'm also worried about the general level of stress and anxiety floating around, and I know it's not a sustainable situation. I read this article, "How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind," which is full of good advice on focusing your energy, making activism fun, and self-care.

I'm not sure if my mom read the same article, but she shared with me her idea of how to keep resisting without being angry, anxious, and sad every single day. Her plan is to 1) not read the news first thing in the morning, and 2) calmly make three calls to her legislators every day as part of her routine after lunch. I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate resistance into my daily routine too, but I knew that making daily calls wasn't going to be the answer. I'm a weird hermit and it takes me days to gear up to making a call or two, even with the awesome directions from 5 calls, and then I'm weirdly relieved when I get sent to voicemail--or even when voicemail boxes are full.

Inspiration hit with the indomitable Zina Bennion's Jason Chaffetz Mail Campaign (which is Monday, February 27, and something any of you from Utah should absolutely participate in). Her idea is a deluge of postcards, showing Chaffetz what real Utah voters actually want. Postcards can be processed more quickly and efficiently than letters in envelopes, and as far as I know a snail-mailbox can't be too full to accept new messages. I'm going to start with this campaign, and then keep on writing two or three postcards each day to different legislators about whatever issues I'm currently worried about.

On the Facebook page for the Chaffetz mail campaign, Zina posted a link to a Design Crush post full of fun, printable, artist-designed postcards especially for this purpose. There's also a PDF there for a universal postcard back. I also wanted some retro, Utah-specific postcards to underscore where my comments are coming from, so I dropped some scans of old postcards into the same template for easy printing. As far as I can tell these are old enough to be public domain images, so I'm posting the files here if anyone wants to download them.

There's a Utah map, one with illustrated letters spelling 'Salt Lake City,' the old Lagoon roller coaster, and two of Salt Lake's Main Street from different time periods. I had a scan of the back of one of the Main Street postcards, so I dropped that into the template too and printed it on the back of both of those two.






I knew it was going to take me weeks to get around to going to the office supply store, so I ordered some 110-lb. cardstock on Amazon Prime and a roll of postcard stamps from the USPS website. I was exercising self-care by not giving myself more errands to run, okay?

If you care a lot about professional-quality printing, and cards you print yourself are going to bug you because the fronts and backs are slightly off or the cutting isn't perfect, I recommend buying some cool postcards like these from Anderson Design Group to make the task more pleasurable. I would love to hear what postcards you think I should write, or what you're doing to take care of yourself while also trying to take care of our social programs and our country.

September 14, 2014

Lisa: Degrossification

My laundry room was disgusting. There were dusty, sticky pipes everywhere of all shapes and sizes, half of the ceiling was open to the floorboards of the bathroom above (for pipe/cord access), and the drywall had never been finished, so there were gaps and cracks all over the place. Don't even talk to me about the spiders that came in through all those cracks and built webs in the corners around the pipes where I couldn't reach. The cement floor had been haphazardly covered with vinyl self-stick tile in a nauseating yellow-with-brown-smudges fake ceramic tile pattern, and then patched with a different vinyl self-stick tile in a beige fake ceramic tile pattern. Plus, the whole thing was super dirty because I spent as little time in there as possible, and because it looked bad even when it was clean, so why bother?

I didn't have the budget to gut what was there, reconfigure plumbing, and install beautiful tile. Plus, I knew we would probably be totally redoing the basement in a few years, so I needed more of a "phase one" fix. My main goal was to end up with a laundry room that was not gross. After putting in some quality time on Pinterest, I got started, getting my color scheme from a cute ironing board cover and deciding to embrace the biggest of the pipes instead of trying to hide them. The other pipes and all the mess of the open ceiling area just got vacuumed and dusted and then sprayed a uniform white, which I think helps them fade into the background a bit. Prying up the old floor tiles revealed a sea of old (but still very sticky) adhesive that would never have come off, even with the strongest of solvents, so I scrapped the idea of a painted cement floor in favor of new vinyl tiles.


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Cost/Detail Breakdown

  • Ironing board cover: I bought it in January from compelledtocraft on Etsy for $24 ($28 with shipping).
  • Mesh self-stick drywall tape: from Home Depot, $5
  • Pre-mixed joint compound: from Home Depot, $4
  • Ceiling and pipe primer – 6 cans of KILZ (Either Complete or Premium, whichever one says it works on iron) spray primer from Home Depot at $6/can = $36. I had to go back once for more cans, because that always happens.
  • Wall paint: 1 gallon of interior flat Glidden from Home Depot, tinted to match Benjamin Moore's Jamaican Aqua. A gallon was $21 with my discount, but I think I could have done it with just a quart. I used more of the paint in the downstairs hallway, and still have a bunch left over. A quart would have been $9.
  • Pipe paint: 1 quart of high gloss interior Glidden Premium from Home Depot, tinted to match Benjamin Moore's Tawny Day Lily. $14, but I got a 15% discount on both paint cans for "being the most patient customer," so $12.
  • Black/white vinyl self-stick floor tiles: These are confusingly difficult to find. All the self-stick tiles I could find in stores were made to look like fake ceramic tile, fake stone, fake wood, etc. (Dear vinyl tile users: you are not fooling anyone! But this is a rant for another time.) The ones I bought are by Stylistik, and I ordered them online from Home Depot at $30 for each box, one black, one white. I used less than half of each box, so you could say under $30 total, if you can find them in person somewhere. These were really easy to install, look great, and seem to be staying stuck down around the edges just fine. I cut the ones for the edges with my paper cutter, rather than springing for the special vinyl tile-cutting tool.
  • Black vase filler rocks: from Target, $5-7. You can't really see these in the after pictures, but they are covering the drain in the floor under the green table.
  • VIRSERUM frames: $13 and $25, from IKEA. I sprayed the mat of the smaller frame yellow with some leftover spray paint I had on hand.
  • EKBY MOSSBY shelf: $20 from IKEA
  • EKBY ROBERT shelf brackets: 2 @ $7.50 = $15, from IKEA
  • GRUNDTAL swing-out towel holder: $15 from IKEA
  • Rug: from Target, $15-20
  • Heat-resistant iron/ironing board holder: from Amazon for $20 back in January. The bummer is it sat on the laundry room shelf for eight months. The bonus is that I don't even remember spending that $20.
  • Metal garbage can: from TJ Maxx for around $30. Maybe $35.
  • Leaf-shaped bowl for collecting little items that fall out of pockets in the laundry: Already had it upstairs, unused, in the china cabinet, but I think I got it from TJ Maxx last year for $5-8.
  • Glass jar labeled "family fund": BURKEN, from IKEA, $5. We are so totally going to Disneyland in 100 years with the change I find in the dryer.
  • Total: Somewhere in the range of $320-$350

    August 07, 2014

    Lisa: also, they're British

    Me: "I was watching this show, The Bletchley Circle. It's everything that I like."
    Blake: "Women power, solving crimes, and...books?"
    Me: "...and the 1950s. How did you DO that?"

    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, don’t 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.

    Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they're fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men—friends, coworkers, strangers—giddy over these awful pretender women, and I'd want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who'd like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I'd want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn't really love chili dogs that much—no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They're not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they're pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you're not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn't want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version—maybe he's a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn't ever complain.

    I waited patiently—years—for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we'd say, Yeah, he’s a Cool Guy.

    But it never happened. Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation! Pretty soon Cool Girl became the standard girl. Men believed she existed—she wasn't just a dreamgirl one in a million. Every girl was supposed to be this girl, and if you weren't, then there was something wrong with you.

    I was probably happier for those few years—pretending to be someone else—than I ever have been before or after. I can't decide what that means.

    But then it had to stop, because it wasn't real, it wasn't me. It wasn't me, Nick! I thought you knew. I thought it was a bit of a game. I thought we had a wink-wink, don't ask, don't tell thing going. I tried so hard to be easy. But it was unsustainable. I hated Nick for being surprised when I became me. I hated him for not knowing it had to end, for truly believing he had married this creature, this figment of the imagination of a million masturbatory men, semen-fingered and self-satisfied. He truly seemed astonished when I asked him to listen to me. He couldn't believe I didn't love wax-stripping my pussy raw and blowing him on request. That I did mind when he didn't show up for drinks with my friends.

    That was pure, dumb Cool Girl bullshit. Again, I don't get it: If you let a man cancel plans or decline to do things for you, you lose. You don’t get what you want. It's pretty clear. Sure, he may be happy, he may say you're the coolest girl ever, but he's saying it because he got his way. He's calling you a Cool Girl to fool you! That's what men do: They try to make it sound like you are the Cool Girl so you will bow to their wishes. Like a car salesman saying, How much do you want to pay for this beauty? when you didn't agree to buy it yet. That awful phrase men use: "I mean, I know you wouldn't mind if I…" Yes, I do mind. Just say it. Don't lose.

    So it had to stop. Committing to Nick, feeling safe with Nick, being happy with Nick, made me realize that there was a Real Amy in there, and she was so much better, more interesting and complicated and challenging, than Cool Amy.

    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 Elizabeth’s 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 doesn’t necessarily keep teenagers sexually unawakened. It just breeds the kind of ignorance that results in a pregnant teen saying to her dad, "But I don’t 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 I’ve railed against before here) had the particularly heartbreaking effect of making an innocent victim of kidnapping and repeated rape feel so worthless she wasn’t 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 don’t know her and I don’t 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 there’s 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.


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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.


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    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.

    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?

    February 24, 2012

    Lisa: fever all through the night

    Some people need their phone taken away when they get drunk. Maybe I should have mine taken away when I have a fever. Here's what happened when Sarah texted me, concerned, after reading my tweet a few nights ago. (Original questionable spelling and grammar choices preserved for your enjoyment.)

    Tweet: Low: tried to turn down electric blanket because it was burning my face; it was unplugged. High: invented new videogame
    Sarah: Oh no Lisa, YOUR FACE.
    Lisa: Told you
    Lisa: Don't worry blanket turned on now. I AM INVINCIBLE
    Lisa: Also nanotechnology just became self aware. So loud
    Lisa: Small comfort: it seems to be chaotic neutral. Hhahahahahhha
    Sarah: I don't know what that means but I hope you wrote down your video game
    Lisa: Easy, first person shooter where the camera is actually a separate character
    Sarah: Dave thinks that maybe you should see a doctor.
    Lisa: Too cold there
    Sarah: What is your current temp?
    Lisa: No idea. I wwould have to find thermometer. Blake left with girls
    Lisa: He made me take advil i'm sure i'll be better soon. The nanobots
    Sarah: Lisa, please don't spontaneously combust. It's very important to me.
    Lisa: Mwah

    January 25, 2012

    Lisa: Google search: Google search

    Some days are just like this.

    January 13, 2012

    Lisa: Well played, Melinda Clarke's publicity team

    UPSIDE: If your television or low-budget movie production needs an attractive, seductive brunette of a certain age, you're in luck! There are three nearly identical actresses who have been capably filling that niche for years. One of them is sure to be free (probably Musetta Vander).

    DOWNSIDE: If you are Polly Walker or Musetta Vander, all your acting credits are going to Melinda Clarke, because NOBODY KNOWS YOU ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE.


    Sarah knows Melinda Clarke as Lady Heather, the so-called "Moddom" from CSI. Melinda played another brothel owner on Firefly, but you might remember her best as Julie Cooper on The O.C.. IMDB says she played a Siren on Charmed. Obviously.

    When I see Musetta Vander, I can't think of anything but the praying mantis substitute teacher on Buffy. Apparently she also--like Melinda--played a Siren (this time on O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and some kind of corset-wearing villainous lady bodyguard on Wild Wild West.

    Before some extensive Googling, I'd pretty much forgotten I'd seen Polly Walker as the "elegant" Jane Fairfax in Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma and (much further back) the beautiful but jaded Caroline Dester in Enchanted April. More relevantly, she appeared as Atia of the Julii on Rome, a character confusingly but aptly dubbed Julii Cooper on Television Without Pity. She hasn't played any characters named "Siren," and there don't seem to be any photos of her online in fetish wear. If there weren't so many completely nude stills from Rome, I'd be forced to call her the classy one.


    Honestly, if I told you these were all the same woman, you'd believe me, right?


    I explained to Sarah that I was doing a little research in preparation for this post, and she inadvertently proved my point:

    Lisa: "I had to physically stop myself from searching the Internet for photos of Polly Walker in a corset. Ten pages of Google Images results and nothing!"
    Sarah: "What? There MUST be screen captures of her in a corset from CSI!"
    Lisa: "Yes. The problem is that was Melinda Clarke."


    Blake peered over my shoulder at these three photos and emphatically stated they looked completely different. Then he pointed at the middle one (Musetta Vander), and said, "That looks like the lady who played Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke). You know, the girl from Rome (Polly Walker)." SERVED, SERVED, SERVED.

    July 24, 2011

    Lisa: our life now

    A month ago, life at our house changed forever, and--I think--for the better. On June 21st at 7:46 pm, Hazel Madeline Smith was born. While I was in labor, Nora wrote Hazel a message in my notebook. Jeff helped her spell it, but I think the idea and the words are all Nora.

    There's something so difficult but so incredibly magical about a three-year-old opening up room in her life for a new baby sister. I can't wait to see their relationship grow, and I can't believe how lucky I am they're both mine.

    April 23, 2011

    Lisa: 2010 ornament: Dita's Sleep Mask

    As you probably know, Sarah hosts a Christmas ornament exchange every year. I know she still has some to show from this latest exchange, but take my word for it--the ornaments are just getting more and more awesome and we have so much fun coming up with something and then seeing what everybody else has made. Before I let it get too much later in the year, I wanted to show those of you who weren't in my swap group what I ended up making this time.

    Preface: it probably doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, but for each swap I try to make an ornament that represents something that has been influencing me in the last year--either in subject matter or in technique. The first year we did the exchange, I had recently discovered knitting and was getting excited about the crafting potential there, so instead of glass balls I made little balls of yarn, each topped with a tiny pair of knitting needles and the beginnings of a miniature scarf. Our second year, there had been a LOT of discussion about zombie apocalypse preparedness plans, and I planned to buy Blake largely zombie-themed presents. A zombie ornament seemed like the next logical step. For 2009, I got obsessed with amigurumi and nerd culture, and crocheted tiny Cthulhus for everyone.

    In 2010, I started getting more into vintage beauty, burlesque, and specifically the incredible Dita Von Teese. I drove away the few male readers we had left babbling on about it, and the rest of my free time sewing dresses from vintage patterns. Sarah and I and some of our girlfriends also had fun checking out a local burlesque troupe, the Voodoo Darlings. And don't tell her parents, but a certain like-minded friend and I actually went to see Dita perform at the Crazy Horse in Las Vegas. So fun.

    But I digress. When it came time to decide what to make for the 2010 exchange, I couldn't stop thinking about an image Dita had posted on her twitter feed, featuring her beautiful self holding up a glamorous Moschino sleep mask over her eyes. I decided (because I am possibly cracked) that miniature versions of the sleep mask would make awesome Christmas ornaments. The fact that I had a lot of the fabrics I needed already on hand made it an even more attractive option, since we were pretty broke at the end of the year.

    I copied the shape of the mask and the style of the lashes and writing as best I could, swapping out "Dita for Moschino" with the more fitting phrase "All I Want for Christmas." I'm sure these details were hand-embroidered on the original, but in my slacker way I substituted carefully-trimmed printable iron-ons. I decided to line the back of the mask (which you can't see in either Dita's photo or the photo of my finished product) with a dark red satin, and I stitched in little loops of black satin ribbon on each side to accommodate either ornament hooks or a longer ribbon (for practical use by the very small-headed).

    Once I had the system down and the materials in hand, I decided to make a few full-size sleep masks as well, as Christmas gifts for some of my friends. The larger version has sewn-in long ribbon tails instead of the little loops. I hope Dita would approve!

    April 14, 2011

    Lisa: It almost looks like we're real adults!

    The dining room really only got an accidental makeover, when Sarah and E helped me paint it green along with the living room. Again, though, the only photos I had were really old (and never before posted here), so I thought it would be fun to post those along with some updated ones.


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

    These photos were taken soon after we moved in, with our little apartment furniture awkwardly trying to fill the spaces of a real house. The green and white table was a hand-me-down from my dad's mom, but it was stained dark brown before I repainted it to go in the kitchen of our second apartment right before we moved. You can spy it in its original home in the background of these photos. The black locker-style IKEA cabinet was purchased in 2004, when Blake and I took Sarah and David to Balboa Island. This is the trip when Sarah got the worst sunburn I've ever seen on the back of her legs, but still trooped around IKEA with me the next day and then rode all the way back home with flat-packed furniture on the back car seat between us. The accent wall was painted that dark green when we moved in, and it's been bugging me for SEVEN YEARS.


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

    The rug that matches the one in the living room (they're two sizes of the IKEA GEDSER) was an awesome surprise Christmas gift from my parents last year. The updated chandelier is also from IKEA, and I blogged about installing it back in 2005. Blake and I bought the dining table and chairs in the summer of 2006, and he gave me the little table that holds cookbooks and Miss Petunia's tank for Christmas--possibly in 2007, since you can see evidence of its existence in these photos from 2008. The white cabinet that has doubled our kitchen-related storage capacity was a windfall from Blake's company when it was shut down last April. The painting of pomegranates in a bowl is one of the two Jamaica Trinnaman pieces I got for graduation in 2005, and you've seen it before surrounded by Christmas decorations. And...the roses are left over from a baby shower I hosted for a neighbor. I think that's it!

    April 13, 2011

    Lisa: Living Room Makeover

    On Monday, I mentioned how excited I am about my progress on the house list, and today I want to share the room that I think is the most drastically different. Here are some very, very old before photos I found deep in the bowels of my laptop:

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

    Now, these aren't really fair before photos. They were taken very soon after we
    moved in to our house, and if you haven't actually been in my living room it's going to look like I went and bought a TON of furniture and art. There's no way we could afford to do that--in fact, we've been slowly acquiring everything over the years.


    1. I bought the Jamaica Trinnaman painting over the fireplace in 2009, and it's been mentioned here and seen on Facebook here.
    2. I mentioned the big Jamaica painting over the buffet I got for graduation in 2005 (and it showed up behind the cardboard Jeffrey here).
    3. My amazing family and friends chipped in on the Kathy Peterson painting (over the chair) for my birthday in 2009, as seen on Facebook here.
    4. The rollerskate-themed prints have been seen on twitpic here (they used to be in the dining room, and then moved in to the living room on a different wall than where they are now). Sarah bought me the Leia Bell derby girl as a Christmas gift in 2009, and I bought myself Rollin' by Ryan Brinkerhoff early in 2010. I tried not to, but I couldn't fight it.
    5. We temporarily inherited an upright piano when my brother David moved to New York for grad school in 2008.
    6. Blake and I bought each other the leather armchairs for Christmas in 2007 (when I also made the throw pillows for them), and my parents gave us the coordinating leather storage ottoman that year as well.
    7. When my parents moved to Spring City they didn't need their tan chenille sofa from the music room any more, so they passed it on from storage to us (possibly in 2007?). The green couch (and its ottoman) went down to the basement family room soon afterward. A lot of swearing was involved.
    8. Blake bought me the side table next to the couch as a Christmas gift in 2005.
    9. The family photos above the piano are new this (2010) Christmas from Busath, tweeted here (But I love the photos! Sorry about the angry tweet!).
    10. I bought the yellow bird on the mantel at Craft Lake City in 2009.

    BUT. The point is that you can see the original wall color and the basic dimensions of the room. The major differences from what we had a few weeks ago are the addition of the bookcases, the subtraction of our green TV cabinet (and some surface clutter), a little rearranging, and the new sage-y green paint.

    Without further ado, the afters:

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

    April 12, 2011

    Lisa: I couldn't find a pun about blinds that didn't make me cringe

    I have to admit, I kind of love watching Get It Sold. We're not selling our house, so I don't need to follow all the advice about neutralizing and depersonalizing, but a lot of the updates Sabrina does are very inexpensive but make a big impact on the overall look of the house. And when I say inexpensive, I mean stuff that real people could do--in a weekend--not a $20,000 budget for a glorious HGTV bathroom. It's also a great reminder that the unfinished projects you've been putting off/living with forever don't really take that much time or money to finish, and they can make a real difference in how happy you feel in your house.

    Naturally, we had one such project hanging around that I decided to give the Get It Sold treatment. We have white wood-look vinyl blinds in our bedroom. I don't know if you're intimately familiar with the workings of these babies, but the top of the blinds (which is metal and holds all the mechanisms for tilting, raising, and lowering the blinds) is supposed to be covered with a decorative strip of vinyl molding. This strip is held on with two or three little plastic clips. Unfortunately, these clips are really brittle (especially after a few years), and it's almost impossible not to crack or break one as you take the molding off (or put it back on) when you're removing the blinds to wash them. At some hazy point in the past, the broken clips from all over the house got replaced with ones from the (admittedly more hidden away) bedroom, and we didn't put back those molding strips. Now, I'm sure you can just buy more clips wherever vinyl blinds are sold. The bad news is that the molding strips themselves (not sold separately and custom-cut to the size of our windows) got thrown away or lost somehow when they weren't attached to the window. DUN DUN DUN! The good news is that this was even easier than I thought it would be to fix. Photos and easy-peasy instructions below!

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

    1. I carefully measured the length we would need the new molding strips to be.
    2. Blake and I went to Home Depot, hoping for the best.
    3. The regular molding area didn't have anything like what we needed, and after asking around a bit we headed back to where they sell blinds.
    4. The blinds guy first told what we didn't want to hear, that those pieces are not sold separately. Then he thought for a minute out loud about how Home Depot custom-cuts them to size when people buy new blinds. He motioned us back to the area with the cutting saw.
    5. Sitting right there out in the open next to the saw were two fairly long strips of vinyl molding, left from an earlier customer's sale. The blinds guy picked them up, measured them, and asked if they would work for what we needed. THEY WOULD!
    6. We crossed our fingers and asked how much Home Depot would charge to let us take those off their hands. WHAT'S THAT? WE CAN HAVE THEM FOR FREE? Awesome.
    7. We stopped in one more aisle for a pack of industrial-strength Velcro. I knew I wasn't going to mess with those stupid clips any more if I could help it.
    8. When we got home, I cut the molding to the exact dimensions we needed with our trusty miter box and saw.
    9. Then I applied one side of the Velcro pieces to the metal top bar of the blinds (a strip at each end and a piece in the middle of the longer section), and the corresponding other side to the back of the molding. This way you can get the molding off with a good tug, and the metal clips holding the blinds into the window frame aren't impeded in any way. BAM.
    10. Press the new molding into place.

    And that's it! No more visible metal bars with stickers listing the dimensions and previous owner's name! Pretty, finished blinds for only the cost of a pack of Velcro. We're not mentioning the paperclip situation for now. Ahem.

    April 11, 2011

    Lisa: Progress! (nursery edition)

    You guys probably haven't noticed (because I can't imagine that anyone really cares), but I have been checking stuff off my before-the-baby-comes house list like crazy. Blake has been awesome, and Sarah and E have helped a ton as well. Thank goodness for tax refunds, too.

    I took some (confusingly blurry) photos of Nora's spruced-up room with her new bed and rug. I haven't reassembled the crib yet to put in there, but we have measured everything out and the new furniture arrangement will fit the crib if we take out the rocker and the easel. I'm not sure if the magnitude of this discovery is clear, but our rooms are pretty tiny and I am VERY excited that it's going to work to have the girls share the upstairs bedroom.

    As a reminder, the before photos are here. It's not so much a redecorating as it is a rearranging. Still, it means a lot of work and Nora is super excited about her big bed (and about her future roommate).

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

    April 04, 2011

    Lisa: Happy birthday to us!

    Happy eighth birthday, Two Loose Teeth! Here's hoping the upcoming year will be more filled with pithy posts than the last year has been. Thanks for being my blogging buddy, Sarah. I can't think of anyone I'd rather share my brain with.

    And now I will pretend that I made this tooth-shaped cake in honor of this momentous occasion, instead of for Marci's dental-hygiene-themed Crown birthday last summer. The face is modeled after the illustrations in this awesome picture book. (Edited for later reference: I baked the cake in the same cupcake-shaped pan I used for Blake's mushroom cake for his Super Smash Brothers Brawl birthday party [see it on Facebook here] and then shaved it down a bit to shape the roots and crown of the tooth.)

    February 24, 2011

    Lisa: home improvement wishlist (the big one)

    Since the motherboard on our furnace fried earlier this week and we unexpectedly had to get a completely new furnace installed, the items on my pre-baby house wishlist are seeming a bit more out of reach. So, I figure I might as well get TOTALLY unrealistic and make a list of all the other stuff I want to do around the house, ever. (Disclaimer: these projects have not all been approved by Blake.)

    Outside (here it is before I painted the front door dark purple)

  • replace the front aluminum awning and wrought-iron supports with some kind of wooden pergola or cloth awning that is prettier and more updated
  • add a matching mini-awning over the side door, since that's where we always come in from the car, and there is a lot of getting rained on while we unlock the door
  • replace the aluminum roof over the back patio with a wooden pergola
  • get rid of the storm door in front (which effectively sweeps callers off the porch when opened) and the cracked screen door on the side
  • install rain chains (instead of downspouts?)
  • Kitchen

  • paint over the dark red vampire's lair faux finish (which you can kind of see in the second image here) with a navy blue, like Ralph Lauren's Anchor Blue IB94
  • paint the side entry (and attached stairwell) that leads into the kitchen a lighter blue, like Behr's 590D-5 Windsurf Blue, with white paneling
  • replace the "decorative" tiles over the stove with something more my taste (Can this be done without ripping out all the tile? It's just sort of a vignette surrounded by the regular kitchen tile, which I'd want to leave intact.)
  • Downstairs Bath

  • rip out all of the self-stick vinyl tile, a vinyl all-in-one shower, contractor-basic vanity, medicine cabinet, faucets, and lighting, and dropped panel ceiling (unless we have to keep it for plumbing/electrical access)
  • completely redo the whole thing, more stylishly and with a more functional layout
  • I'm not even touching the work we should probably be doing to get the yard in shape and get all of our storage beautifully organized, let alone routine maintenance. Oh, and someday I want to paint the downstairs bedroom, hallway, and family room. SEE, YOU CAN'T SQUASH MY DREAMS, FURNACE!

    February 20, 2011

    Lisa: refeathering the nest

    In a practically lethal combination of pregnancy-induced nesting and reading a LOT of Young House Love, I've come up with a list of house-sprucing projects I want to try to do before the baby is born.

    As a bit of pre-explanation: I already convinced Blake to let me pull up the carpet in our little hallway as an experiment, and what Sarah and I uncovered is good enough that I think we'll continue in the upstairs bedrooms as well. We have also already started buying one or two of these items each month, in an effort to spread out the costs and avoid buying everything on credit at the last minute.


    Nursery (see some before pictures here, although it's evolved a lot over the last three years)

  • buy and assemble Nora's new, bigger bed
  • give away Nora's toddler bed
  • rip up the carpet, install quarter-round, and buy an area rug
  • pare down Nora's clothes and toys
  • move most of the toys downstairs into the family room
  • go through our storage to unearth the old baby stuff
  • touch up the paint on and reassemble Nora's old crib
  • replace the ugly, dated ceiling fan with a cute light fixture?
  • Living Room

  • buy BILLY bookcases for each side of the fireplace
  • buy a flat screen TV to fit inside one of the bookcases
  • paint the living room (and possibly also the adjoining dining room and hallway) a color like Behr's 410F-4, Mother Nature
  • give away our green TV cabinet (which you can see half of here)
  • move books and TV components into the new bookcases
  • buy new throw pillows to better coordinate with the artwork that's in the room now?
  • Family Room (see some before pictures here)

  • move the fancier books upstairs into the new living room bookcases
  • pare down our collection of movies, video games, and books
  • make room on the bookshelves for toy baskets or bins
  • set up a real playroom area for Nora and the baby, since the majority of the toys are going to be moved down here
  • Master Bedroom (see some oldish before pictures here)

  • pull up the carpet and install quarter-round molding
  • recover my DIY headboard with new IKEA fabric
  • buy a new duvet cover and linens--possibly white with black accents
  • hang new art/family portraits in black frames
  • sew a new cover for the laundry sorting basket (possibly from the wrong fabric I bought with the headboard in mind)
  • pare down display items
  • replace the ceiling fan with a pretty light fixture (Honestly, we will probably give both of the ceiling fans one more summer to prove their worth before getting rid of them.)
  • So. Thoughts? I'll try to post updates if and when I get around to actually completing any of these projects. Let me know if you want to put your name in for the toddler bed or TV cabinet (or the dish display rack, for that matter), or if you have any last minute warnings or advice.

    January 31, 2011

    Lisa: Tool of the Week

    When I found out I was pregnant for a second time (yay, us!), I was faced with a bit of a (head-) hair dilemma. I didn't want to fume out the fetus with a lot of nasty chemicals right up near my (eye, nose, and mouth-type) sensitive membranes, but I also wasn't ready to grow out nine months' worth of ashy, light brown roots. I did a lot of research on more natural hair-coloring methods, including henna, but I wasn't left with a lot of hope regarding either their effectiveness or any increased gentleness.

    Time passed. My roots got more obvious. Finally, in a fit of desperation I rushed into a nearby drugstore, intending to just get a box of the regular stuff and open some windows and hold my breath while I slathered it on. BUT! The drugstore didn't carry my preferred brand (or was out of my preferred color? I don't remember) and I found myself in the dye aisle, searching for an alternate solution. Enter...

    (Beware, Angela Martin starts talking to you when you open that link, and I couldn't figure out how to turn her off.)

    Allow me to tell you why this product is awesome/what makes it different.

    1) It's guaranteed to match any brand of home or salon color, and even lists the popular brands and their colorways on the side of the box.

    2) It's significantly cheaper than the regular, full-application box.

    3) It comes with significantly less product. This is probably why it's cheaper. HOWEVER, this is a plus in my book. As a long-time same-color dyer, I was following the touch-up application instructions in the full box anyway. That means that after applying dye to my roots, I was supposed to finish by combing it through the rest of my hair, resulting in an unattractive ombre effect that was darkest at the ends. Also, there was so much more dye than I really needed that I was probably overapplying, in an effort not to waste what I'd bought. The Nice 'N Easy has just enough dye to apply to the roots over my whole head--no anxiety about throwing half a bottle away.

    4) The dye is mixed and delivered in a different format--with a little dish and brush instead of the squeeze bottle. The little brush that comes with the Nice 'N Easy lets you apply just the amount of dye you need right where you need it. With the squeeze bottle, I found I was applying a ton of dye pretty inexactly. No more sploogeing it out past your hairline!

    5) You wait with the dye on your hair for less time. The box I was using before was a 25-35 minute wait, but Nice 'N Easy takes only 10-15 minutes.

    6) The dye doesn't seem to contain a foaming agent that you work into a lather before rinsing it out in the shower, like the L'Oreal did. I don't know if that's better or worse, but I haven't noticed a major difference.

    7) The only slight downside I see is that the Nice 'N Easy doesn't come with the tube of conditioner that is the best part of any box of home hair dye. This isn't a huge deal for me, because I never use those up before I get a new one, and thus I have a bit of a stockpile.

    SO. To sum up: less dye on my hair for less time means fewer fumes to sting my eyes and make me start worrying about hurting the baby. The lower price is just a bonus. Plus, I've been using just touch-up packs for four months now, and I haven't noticed any weird stripeyness from not dyeing my whole head in between. I call that a win.

    (Edited to add parenthetical explanations for sensitive, dirty-minded types.)

    December 22, 2010

    Lisa: 2009 ornament: Cthulhu

    Since I'd been so obsessed with making amigurumi earlier in the year, I decided I had to crochet some for the 2009 ornament exchange.

    I'd been wanting to try a pattern from my new Creepy Cute Crochet book, and some nerdy reading on the internet helped me decide that tiny Cthulhus would be just the thing.

    I got started in early December, making all the pieces assembly-line style.

    I find terrible/awesome movies from the past are the best to watch while crafting. Start with The Cutting Edge. Use the time when you're actually looking at the screen to contemplate the inexplicable hotness of D.B. Sweeney.

    I thought when I got to assembling the heads, little tentacles and eyes and hanging ribbons and all, that I was almost done. I was wrong. Because you know what takes an excruciatingly long time? Crocheting TEN of the same amigurumi all at once. Heaps of thirty tiny tentacles, twenty tiny arms, and twenty confusingly-shaped wings can get overwhelming.

    Anyway. Once the pain of construction was past, and I just had ten cute little baby Cthulhus staring up at me, I picked up some white fold-down bags and blue ink from Xpedx. The uppercase O stamp from my alphabet set was perfect for simulating sucker marks across the top, and I just wrote the theme title across that in coordinating blue Sharpie. Success!

    November 04, 2010

    Lisa: vine house

    I think instead of building a treehouse, I want to build a vine house like the one we saw at Red Butte Garden. Here's what I'm thinking:

    1) We were going to have to build a fake treehouse anyway, sort of more of a playhouse up on stilts NEXT to a tree, since we don't have any backyard trees large enough to support a real treehouse. This way we're not dependent on trees.

    2) It's got to be cheaper and easier to build than a treehouse, since there's a lot less wood involved and the walls and roof are mostly chicken wire. Plus there's no floor, just packed dirt.

    3) It still feels cozy and private for kids, but parents can keep an eye on things through the walls, and you don't have to climb any ladders to extract reluctant kids, a la the McDonald's playplace.

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

    Next up: research. Are there kits you can buy? I love the curved shape of those rafters, and that might be a bit beyond my woodworking abilities. Also, I might need to make another trip to Red Butte with a measuring tape. Who wants in?

    October 26, 2010

    Lisa: last minute costume, awesome edition

    Maybe you weren't planning on dressing up for Halloween this year--a valid if unexciting choice--but then you got invited to a costume party. Don't hide at home because it's too late to put together a cool costume! If you can work a space, future, Tron, or robot costume into the party's theme, you're in luck. This might be the easiest and cheapest costume I've ever put together, and it's well within your capabilities.

    1) Find a basic black dress and some black boots you already own.
    2) Buy a couple of different colors of masking tape at the hardware store (usually in the paint section) and a roll of SILVER METAL-LOOKING TAPE from the area with the heating/duct repair stuff. This metallic tape is a dress-up miracle.
    3) Lay your dress flat or put it on a dress form if you're a sewing dork like me, and start laying out the tape in a cool pattern. You might want to sketch out your design idea on paper first, to avoid repositioning tape too much. In my experience, the masking tape isn't sticky enough to move around, and the silver tape is just sticky enough that you start worrying about the dress underneath if you're taking it on and off.
    4) Tape up your boots, too, IF YOU DARE.
    5) Check the dollar store for some glow-stick necklaces or bracelets. I taped some sticks to the side of a headband so they'd stick up out of my hair, too.
    6) The dollar store is also a good place to find chunky, brightly colored plastic earrings and bangle bracelets. Intermix them with glow-bracelets.
    7) Dig out a pair of black tights with no holes and put on the whole shebang. DONE.

    I didn't even look lamer than everyone else at Val's Future party! Proof here and here. I now pass this costume secret on to you. See you at the Tron Legacy premiere?

    October 21, 2010

    Lisa: Battlestar Birthday

    Do you know Jennilyn? I hope so. She is a relatively recent (and very welcome) addition to Crown Tuesday Mondays (if you can call 8 months or so recent).

    Anyway, we had an inaugural Birthday Crown for Jennilyn back in March, featuring a Battlestar Galactica theme. There were tiny Battlestar Minimates, dog tags, eye patches, water guns, spacey-looking pencils, tic-tac "stims," raider-shaped cookies, wife-beaters (to wear backwards), terrible drawings of the Battlestar logo, and a robot mask fashioned from a dollar store shield. I'm sure there was something involving paper with the corners cut off as well. Marci provided cinnamon rolls, and Brian surprised Jennilyn with the complete Blu-Ray set (featuring poseable Centurion).

    We love you, Jennilyn. Please never leave us (like stupid Battlestar Galactica did).

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

    October 13, 2010

    Lisa: let's win a cargo bike!

    If I win a MADSEN Cargo Bike, I solemnly swear to:
    a) give you a ride around the block in the bucket
    b) give your kid/pet a ride around the block in the bucket
    c) go buy treats for everyone and bring them back to the party in the bucket
    d) peddle something charming and/or delicious from the bucket
    e) reduce my carbon footprint by carrying my own stuff/kid in the bucket

    I could go on, but isn't it just simpler for you to click on the banner and help me win? You've always been a giver.

    Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

    Bonus points: leave a comment mentioning what you would like me to carry with my new cargo bike.

    October 11, 2010

    Lisa: hoopin'

    You guys know me and traditional exercise: I pretty much hate it. But something about the current hula hooping fitness craze caught my interest. Maybe it's the retro appeal. Maybe it's because I have positive memories of hula hooping as a kid. Maybe it's because you can burn up to 600 calories an hour while looking almost like you're holding still. Who knows? But I do know the purpose of having a blog, and that is to embarrass yourself in front of a large audience whenever possible. SO. Here's a creepily silent video of me doing all the hooping tricks I currently know. Maybe in a few months I'll be posting one where I look a lot thinner and have a more impressive repertoire. It could happen. More importantly, if you saw me over on Health Month and I said I exercised, this is probably what I was doing.

    October 04, 2010

    Lisa: deck the halls with skulls and pumpkins

    Since it's officially October and Halloween season, I thought I'd post photos of some of my decorations from last year. Maybe it will give you guys ideas for something easy and festive, and give me a little motivation to figure out something new.

    For our dining table centerpiece, I drew some inspiration from the much more glamorous glittery version over at Martha Stewart. I bought two sleeves of styrofoam bones from the holiday aisle at Michaels, and arranged them on my cake platter with a few rubber mice from Nora's toy box. The sparkly black fabric around the base was a sample from the early days of Concert Black that's been sitting in my fabric stash for a few years.

    The pumpkins on our porch are from the local grocery store and sold by the pound. I got a bunch of different varieties and shapes, and just stacked them together in a way that I thought looked cool. I had to break the stems off a few of the lower pumpkins to make them nest right, but I didn't try to attach them to each other or anchor the stacks--pumpkins are pretty heavy. I took a styrofoam skull (also from Michaels but too big to fit under my cake dome) and screwed it down on the stem of the topmost pumpkin of one stack. After Halloween, just yank that thing back off and you've got a perfect Thanksgiving display.

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

    By the way, you don't have to worry about the pumpkins rotting--and real ones are so much prettier than the plastic monstrosities at the craft store. A month or two (UNCUT) outside in cool fall weather, and the pumpkins will look pretty much the same as when you put them out. Ours even froze solid as the weeks got colder.

    September 28, 2010

    Lisa: this is what awesome looks like

    The hood of my neighbor's car. Are there really any words?

    August 26, 2010

    Lisa: Craft Lake City 2010

    Sarah, Jeff, Nora, and I ventured out to Craft Lake City a few Saturdays ago. It was easily the best craft fair of the summer. Possibly the best craft fair of the state. NO, OF THE YEAR! Okay, to be honest I'm not really sure what the competition is or what I'm talking about, but what I'm trying to say is that Craft Lake City is awesome and we had a great time.

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

    As you can see, I held back and only bought two things this year. The booths were just as great, but...blah, blah, times are tight, etc. ANYWAY. The adorable crayon roll is from Urban Patchwork. Here's her Etsy shop (no crayon rolls) and blog. It was tiny bit pricey, but I couldn't resist; it's so beautifully made and handy, too. So much sweeter than collecting the crayons at the bottom of my purse into a ziplock bag. (Isn't having a kid glamorous?)

    The pink flower earrings are from jellabee; here's her blog and Etsy shop (and another one here for her cute kids' stuff). I wish I could find some evidence of this type of jewelry in one of those spots--she had tons in her booth, and I've already had people ask where I bought my earrings. (ETA: On further investigation, it looks like you can just buy the flower cabochons and then glue them onto posts or bobby pins or whatever all by yourself. Easy peasy.)

    The last photo of me and Nora is at the fun kids' activity booth, where we made a bird feeder out of an old milk jug. Despite her serious expression, Nora loved gluing on the pompoms and paper shapes. The result is hanging in our backyard--just because the birds seem to find it repellent doesn't mean we won't treasure it (at least for a few weeks).

    I also picked up cards from Easily Amused (super cute softies!), babyGgear (that orange sock monster is still calling to me), and Vintage Fern (charming and cheap appliqued dish towels would make great hostess gifts!).

    I noticed It's the Little Things had a booth again. This time, some flower headbands that I don't see in their shop caught my eye. I thought I was being so good, keeping my purchases to a minimum and taking cards of things to consider later, but very few of the artists have much stock in their Etsy shops--and the selection is always narrower than it was at the fair. Next year I'll save my pennies in advance and just go ahead and buy the things I like.

    I coveted the stuffed sewing machine in the Nifty Kidstuff booth (again) after looking at it periodically online all year, but it's still just too pricey for me to consider buying for Nora. Maybe it's more of a grandparent thing to spend $60+ on a child's stuffed toy. Similarly, on our way out, Sarah spied these gorgeous tote bags with awesome interior pockets made from adorable Japanese prints from Elsa Bags (sorry, that particular bag isn't in her shop). Again, I wish I was the type of person who had $80 to drop on a cloth tote bag, because these really are beautiful.

    I also loved the hand-embroidered skirts from Cory Bushman of Songs of the Sea. They're thrifted pieces that are cleaned up and then stitched with quotes from Tolstoy (among others) and whimsical graphic designs. Each one is completely unique and just incredible. I should have taken the time at her booth to search through and see if there were any at all that would have fit me, because her Etsy shop is empty and her blog hasn't been updated in a year.

    Also: these are the Japanese-fabric-covered-button barrettes I bought last year but couldn't source. Apparently the mysterious "am" stood for Anne Michelle.

    If I had one suggestion for the organizers of Craft Lake City, it would be to better publicize the artists. In the fair's program, artists are listed alphabetically by name, but most booths have a shop/brand name that they publicize. If you know one but not the other, there's a disconnect. I also asked three employees where I could find the Beehive Bazaar booth (I knew they were listed as a sponsor and must be there somewhere), but nobody knew where to find them and there didn't seem to be any way to look it up. Including a map, shop names, and even artists' websites in the program would be super helpful.

    To the artists: please, PLEASE brand yourself in a memorable way, have cards that are easy to grab, and then have something waiting for the people who take the time to track you down online! I can't be the only person who went to Craft Lake City, saw something awesome that I didn't get, and wanted to fix that a week later.

    August 24, 2010

    Lisa: infomercials can be convincing

    Me: I'm thinking of buying a shake weight.
    Sarah: Bolsters your biceps and your sex life. Think of all the relationship bargaining power in your future.
    Me: Clearly, they are a turn-on...as are taut upper arms.
    Sarah: Ha!

    August 13, 2010

    Lisa: What you need? Baby, I got it.

    It's taken me three weeks of swimming workouts to finally feel like I'm bringing the right stuff with me and that I haven't forgotten anything. If you're swimming (and showering) at a gym, this list might help you. Otherwise, it's pretty much just here for me, so that next time I get motivated I won't have to start from scratch.

    Here's what to assemble:

    1) Old messenger bag. It can really be any smallish bag. Dig around in the back of your closet. I bet you have something that will work. If it has a zipper pocket in front to throw your keys and wallet into, so much the better. The important thing is that you're not using this bag for anything else--you will want to just leave it packed with your swimming stuff all the time. The bag has to be big enough to hold...

    a) Padlock. You probably have one kicking around in a drawer from some kind of previous gym or school situation, but in case you don't (or you didn't write down the combination), Kmart has a bunch of options. Get one in your favorite color so it's easy to spot.

    b) Goggles are really important if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the pool. More important than I thought. I just got some crappy ones at Walgreens originally, but it only took me a few days to upgrade to a pair of Speedo women's Vanquishers, and I love them. Plus, I bought them at a great local swim shop (Poco Loco); the woman there was super friendly and helpful.

    c) Hanging toiletry caddy, which I thought I got at REI, but could just as easily have come from ShopKo or Target. You probably got one for traveling before the airlines started making you pack everything in clear ziplocks. The exact brand or type doesn't matter, as long as it's fairly small/basic, can get a little wet without getting ruined, and has a hanging hook. Mine also has a little mirror velcro-ed into the top that has come in very handy. Stock that baby up with...

    i) Travel-size containers of your face wash, toner, and moisturizer. Buy travel-size toiletries or find some tiny refillable bottles. Just test your bottles for leakage first.

    ii) Travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Shampoo can be from hotels or the trial-size section of the store if you're not picky about your product, or fill up an empty bottle with your favorite. The conditioner tubes that come in hair dye boxes are a good size, if you do your own coloring. I think body wash is easier on-the-go than worrying about bar soap in a box. Use a small quick-drying puff or just your hands to lather up.

    iii) Disposable razor

    iv) Trial-size hair gel and wide-tooth comb

    v) Cotton pads, which you can use to apply your toner and then quickly sweep up your hairs that came out in the shower so you can throw them away when you get out. Nobody wants to step on someone else's hairs. I bought a little snap-closed plastic box of cotton rounds in the trial-size section, and I've been refilling it from my regular package.

    vi) Small deodorant and purse-sized perfume atomizer

    vii) Chapstick (Pool water is DRYING.)

    d) Cheap rubber flip-flops (try Target or Old Navy) to walk to and from the pool, and to wear in the shower. Fungus is not your friend.

    e) Small makeup bag (another thing you just have kicking around) containing...

    i) Redness-reducing eye drops. Especially important if your goggle situation is sub-optimal.

    ii) Backup makeup. If you're like me, you have a drawer of reject makeup products that you don't use every day. Dig out a passable mascara, some eyeshadow, and a lip stain (for example). The idea is to pack a bare-bones makeup kit that you can just leave packed in your swimming bag all the time. You don't want to be thinking what makeup to pack at 7 am or to find you've forgotten to bring something you need.

    iii) Wisps, in case you forgot to brush your teeth before leaving the house. It was early!

    iv) Feminine hygiene product of your choice. One or two should be enough for emergencies.

    v) Sample-size body lotion

    f) Refillable water bottle. You might not feel thirsty after swimming, but you are.

    2) Plastic shopping bag. You know you have some from all those times you forgot to bring your reusable fabric bags into the store. Perhaps in your IKEA bag keeper? The night before you're going swimming, toss the underwear for the outfit you're going to wear into the plastic bag, and stuff it into your swimming bag. While you're taking your shower (in the tiny stall with no place to put down your stuff), you can hang your clothes in the bag on the towel hook so they don't get wet. Then when you've gotten dressed, roll up your swimsuit in your towel, and put the whole damp roll in the plastic bag to take home. (bonus: recycling!)

    3) Swimming suit. If you have a fashion suit (like I did) you may spend your entire workout tugging it into place. I bought this old-lady skirted Speedo, and I kind of love it. I will admit that I sewed some low-profile bra cups into the lining for a bit of extra shaping and coverage. I think I saw what a difference that could make in my shirred halter-top suit, and I couldn't resist. Anyway, just wear your suit under your clothes on the way to the gym. Then you don't have that awkward moment where you're wondering if you should just get naked out in the open in front of the lockers, or go into a toilet stall ("but I'm not peeing!") or shower stall ("and I'm not showering!")

    4) You will need a place at home to hang your swimsuit and towel to dry. This seems obvious, but putting on a damp suit is unpleasant. Rinse your suit out in the shower after you swim, and wash it on the weekends. Easy peasy!

    August 08, 2010

    Lisa: One on One

    Since I was trying out No-Spend Month back in June, I wanted to come up with a birthday gift for Angie that I could make myself, using mostly materials I already had on hand. One passing reference to Hall & Oates later, an idea was born.

    Here's the finished product: A throw pillow proudly featuring the head of Daryl Hall on one side and John Oates on the other.

    Here's the inspiration image I started with, showing our boys in all their '80s glory.

    I tried to convince Sarah she needs a pillow with Horatio on one side and Grissom on the other, but she just said she hated me. Confusing. Anyway, more info on the process after the jump!

    What I bought for this project:

    needle punch tool (really too small for regular yarn)
    Build-a-Bear faux leather Harley Davidson jacket
    green lipcord trim (from JoAnn's but not online)
    tiny iron (which I am taking back because it was crap and wouldn't get hot enough to transfer anything)

    What I had on hand:

    off-white cotton duck
    printable iron-on transfer paper

    poly batting
    plain white toddler-size t-shirt
    puffy paint
    two colors of brown yarn
    needle & thread
    fabric glue
    embroidery hoop (borrowed from Sarah)

    Order of operations:

    1. I traced the shape of the hair/mustache areas on the back of the fabric, and started needle punching according to the instructions included in the needle package. I adjusted my technique a bit to compensate for working with yarn that was clearly much too large for the type of needle I had. (There was more yanking the yarn through the needle and holding it in place in the fabric than there should have been.) After all the yarn loops were in, I drizzled fabric glue over the back side of those areas to anchor everything in place.

    2. I splatter-painted Oates' t-shirt, and tracked down a mini leather jacket to cannibalize for Hall. I cut them apart, strategically placed things as best I could, and sewed them in place. The idea was to use three-dimensional materials to emulate a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object, and it was as confusing as it sounds. I wanted to use the real neck trim, zippers, placket, etc., whenever possible.

    3. After throwing out the idea of sewing with actual human skin I tried to iron the skin-area transfers directly to the spaces between the hair and clothing, and failed miserably. I had saved the iron-ons for last because I knew from washing Nora's pillowcase that the surface of the transfers can crack and scuff if they're messed with too much. This left me with some very tiny areas to try to press bits of transfer into (Sorry about your ear, Hall. It's not happening.). I thought a miniature iron was the answer, but it didn't get hot enough. My final solution was to iron the face and hand transfers onto another piece of smooth cotton fabric, and then to sew that fabric into place on the pillow sides. The look isn't as seamless as I wanted, but I think it works.

    4. Once the pillow sides were done, I pinned the lipcord trim to one of the sides and sewed it in place with a zipper foot. (You might want to check out a tutorial like this one for more step-by-step help.) Then I pinned the two halves of the pillow together, right sides together, and sewed around the edges again, catching the lip part of the lip cord between them. I left a bit open for turning, flipped the whole apparatus right side out, and stuffed it with batting. Use small chunks of batting for a smoother pillow. Then I hand-stitched the opening. Voila!

    August 01, 2010

    Lisa: Croquembouche

    I had been considering trying my hand at making a croquembouche--which is a fancy French cake that is basically a tower of cream puffs held together with carmel and surrounded by a web of spun sugar--and Kaeleigh and McKenna's joint Great Gatsby birthday party (which I already mentioned in this entry on vintage hairstyles) seemed like the perfect opportunity. Plus, croquembouche is the perfect cooking project for me: impressive result, fairly easy to put together, and not at all practical or nutritive.

    I was running super late for the party and trying to get out the door, so I didn't have time to take photos of the completed dessert. It was glorious, though. There were sparkles and sugar daisies. Anyway, I swiped a few pictures from Kaeleigh's Facebook albums that at least give pictorial evidence that my croquembouche really existed. (If you check out those photo albums, be sure to look for the Robert Redford movie being projected on one wall, which made an incredible backdrop.)

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

    This entry from La Cerise was the most helpful when I was putting my croquembouche together. Lots of sites like this one will give you more help on how to make caramelized sugar if you haven't done that before, and I'll tell you my number-one secret to making this project super manageable and fun: frozen cream puffs from Costco. Yep. More info on croquembouche construction after the jump!

    Here's what I learned when I made my croquembouche:

    1. Unless you're a baking purist, just buy one big box of frozen cream puffs at Costco. Seriously, they taste fine and using them takes all the hard, boring parts out of this process. You can even just pull them out of the freezer and start assembling the tower while they're still frozen. By the time you're ready to serve (long before, probably), they'll be defrosted. I noticed that Astrid at La Cerise had frozen her homemade choux before assembling, which gave me the idea--and I wouldn't even have attempted to make a croquembouche without this shortcut. I am too afraid AND too lazy.

    2. The paper cone upturned in a vase on La Cerise is genius--absolutely the way to go. I wish I had buttered mine so it would have slipped off a bit more easily.

    3. Be prepared to work FAST. You have to keep the caramelized sugar warm enough to stay pliable without browning it too much. Have everything ready and laid out with a plan in mind before you start the sugar process, and don't leave the sugar cooking on the stove and go start working on your hair. Even if the sugar does get too brown, though (as mine did), all is not lost. It makes the finished caramel have a more crackly texture and a more bitter flavor, which is actually kind of good. The crunchier caramel is more structurally strong than the delicate cream puffs, though, so they're hard to get apart without bursting or breaking the puff. If that happens, just use a fork to break off a hunk of tower wall onto your plate. Problem solved.

    4. Caramelized sugar burns like a mother, and you're reaching down into a paper cone with a handful of it and pressing it into a mass of more hot caramel. For heaven's sake, be careful and have some cold water nearby.

    5. Strings of caramelized sugar get everywhere--when you're swooping each dipped cream puff over to your paper cone and especially when you're whipping a spun sugar cage around the finished product with a fork. Then those little strings harden like the candy they are and coat everything in your kitchen with a hard, sticky shell. I wish I had covered my work area with a layer of aluminum foil, like Chica and Joe did when they made the candy jewels for their incredible Princess Peach cake.

    July 29, 2010

    Lisa: Stone Fruit Tea Cake

    When I saw what a great review Amy gave this recipe on Angry Chicken, I had to try it myself. It sounded like a perfect storm of everything good:

    1) cookie AND cake (cakey cookie? cookie-like cake?)
    2) stone fruits (but with the flexibility to use a fruit of your choosing)
    3) easy to make
    4) slight veneer of healthiness since you don't add sugar to the fruit filling (making it a totally justifiable breakfast food)

    Looks good, doesn't it?

    Except it wasn't. I mean, it was fine. I would give my version a resounding "meh." I take full responsibility, though. I think I have identified the problem: I used whole wheat flour. Here's the situation. I bought two large bags of whole wheat flour on different occasions after Nora was born, thinking I'd magically become healthier. But (and I keep repeating this to myself) you CAN'T JUST SUBSTITUTE WHEAT FLOUR FOR REGULAR FLOUR IN EVERYTHING. Especially light/sweet baked goods, which is largely what I use flour for. It gives even the most decadent recipes a sort of toughness and a "seems kind of...healthy (frown)" flavor. Possibly more importantly, it is browner than regular flour. Perhaps this is obvious. But when you think the top of your baked masterpiece is a nice golden brown, it is in fact barely darker than the color of the flour itself. What I am saying is that everything I make with wheat flour has a tendency to turn out underbaked. But what are you going to do with all that flour? Clearly, I chose, "continue making mediocre quasi-healthy desserts."

    Amy's review is so good, though, that I think this might be worth trying again--as soon as I can justify buying more WHITE flour. I originally found the recipe (which is from Rustic Fruit Desserts) through this review on Gourmet. It looks like it's still linked, but either you have to create an account to view it now, or the content has been taken down. To the library!

    June 16, 2010

    Lisa: chivalry

    2 am. Silence. I adjust the bedsheet.

    Blake: "Are you happy now?"
    Me: "...Yes?"
    Blake: [pompous windbag voice] "Good, because your happiness is paramount to my LIFE."
    Me: "Aw."
    Blake: [snores]

    June 07, 2010

    Lisa: Viewing candy marketing is not a right.

    Overheard in the checkout lane at Jo-Ann's.

    Five-year-old boy: "Mom, I really, REALLY want to go to baby-bottle-pop-dot-com. Can I go to baby-bottle-pop-dot-com? Please?"
    Harried but very well-groomed mom with Dolce & Gabbana purse: "No, you haven't earned that privilege."

    Two minutes elapse.

    Boy: "Mom, if I fill up all my stickers, can I go to em-and-ems-dot-com?"
    Mom: (busy with one-year-old, who keeps throwing things out of the shopping cart)
    Boy: "Okay, well I am going to keep this wrapper, so that I remember to go to em-and-ems-dot-com. OK, Mom? I am going to keep this wrapper. Mom?"

    I have so many questions.

    June 03, 2010

    Lisa: label me

    One of the things I love about my new closet office is that every drawer and box has a little slot for a label. I had Sarah come over one day and help me type up some labels, old-school-style, with typewriters and white cardstock.

    (Please excuse the poor photography and the grimy handle from the exactly Nora-height drawers.)

    Some of the labels are typed with the IBM Selectric that I made the oilcloth cover for. Here's how it looked before it got cuteified:

    I found a few never-before-posted pictures of Nora playing with/on my Selectrics, right before she cut the side of her face open on the black one (and earned the nickname 'Scarface'). Needless to say, the black Selectric got sold and the other one got put away in the craft room very quickly.

    The script labels were typed with another machine I bought at the same time--a Smith Corona SL 480, which is an adorable small travel-friendly typewriter with a snap-on cover. I haven't found much of a use for my typewriters other than a few small crafts like this one, unfortunately. Ideas?

    May 31, 2010

    Lisa: Office Redo (part deux)

    When I left my job at the library to work at home on Concert Black, I decided it was time to give my closet office a makeover. It was functional before, and I still liked the idea of an office using unexpected space that I could hide behind doors, but I thought it might be soul-killing after a while if I actually felt like I was going to work in a repurposed closet.

    I had a gallon of paint sitting around that I'd bought with the idea of painting the sewing room--until I figured out that bright coral pink was a terrible choice. I took the paint back to Home Depot and had the paint guy add in some new pigment to create a usable color. He was great, giving me helpful advice about what colors we could reasonably get without overflowing the can. We ended up with an inoffensive warm dark brown--probably not something I would have chosen originally, but I think it works really well in the small space of the office.

    The desk and shelving and a lot of the accessories are from IKEA, and I did a ton of measuring and planning on the IKEA site and with an employee in the store before I bought everything. Unfortunately, I still ended up with some shelving pieces that wouldn't work in the tight space I had designated for my "shipping station" (on the left in the photos below). I dragged Nora back to the store by myself and manhandled her and a bunch of really long pieces of steel, with only one minor altercation with an IKEA employee. Marci's dad lent me a Sawzall, and I cut down some of the new pieces to the right size before assembly. Success!

    Better, right? So, why did it take almost two years for me to blog about this? Because that's how long it took me to hang that magnet board on the wall.

    May 28, 2010

    Lisa: Tools of the Week

    I consider myself fairly lipstick-impaired. During my formative years, the vast majority of my dress-up occasions involved playing the flute--an activity I cannot perform while wearing lipstick. It wasn't until I saw photos of myself singing with Voices as an adult that I realized lipstick is the only thing keeping me from looking like a particularly lipless decaying corpse. Unfortunately, the only decent lipstick I have owned for the last 10 years or so is an old tube of Clinique Plum Brandy that I'm sure I stole from my mom. It was time for me to woman up, do a little research, and take the plunge. Here's what I found.



    The internets told me that matte lipstick is the best for vintage looks, but there aren't many drugstore-level choices around nowadays. This is a good option to try, to see if you like the effect before you spring for MAC or something even more glamourous. The color I bought is In The Red, which is a bit more on the orangey side than I expected from seeing it in the tube. I still like the color with the right outfits, though, and I love the texture, especially when I first put it on. It does get eaten off my lips pretty quickly, but I think that might happen with all lipsticks. Anyway, it's a bargain at $6 for a pack of two through Amazon right now, so you can afford to reapply as often as you like.



    YouTube makeup tutorials convinced me I had to try these. At $12.50 apiece, they're not as cheap as the Revlon lipstick, but still somewhat reasonable. Plus you only use a teeny bit at a time, so the tiny tubes should last a long time. Lip Tar (which does not contain actual tar) applies wet like a gloss, but is highly pigmented like a lipstick. Both of the colors I tried (Plum and Vintage) are great: dark and rich with a shiny finish. The plum looks pretty improbable in the tube--it's really bluish--but on, it's awesome in a vampire-y sort of way. Lip Tars are really made to be mixed with powder pigments or with each other to create custom colors, but I'm not that advanced yet.

    There's definitely some feathering action with the Lip Tars, which I think is more common with lustre-finish lip colors, but that can be minimized by layering over a base of lipliner. It helps with darker/brighter lips also to create a really sharp lip line with concealer and a brush on the skin around your lips. I did find that the pigment of the Lip Tar sort of sinks into the cracks in your lips, so that when the main surface of the color gets eaten off, you're left with a really bizarre Jack-the-Pumpkin-King kind of look. A little more Lip Tar or even just some lip balm smeared around to pick up and spread the remaining color can salvage things.

    So. That's what I've been playing with so far. What's your favorite lipstick?

    May 05, 2010

    Lisa: Plain Jane or Wacky Sailor?

    I just finished making a skirt with this gathered skirt tutorial from Gertie's NBfBS (which I just wrote about a few days ago). I'll put more details about my skirt-making process after the jump, in case anyone is interested, but meanwhile I have a pressing question for you. A question involving yellow-gold rickrack. And a hot pink petticoat.

    Exhibit A (sorry about my ironing issues):

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

    Exhibit B:

    I love the skirt's shape with the petticoat, but is it too much? Is it the pink that makes it too much? Or is the pink only too much when combined with the yellow rickrack? I like the rickrack because it is oversized and fun and gives some interest (and a little more fullness) to the plain skirt, but does it make the previously perfectly serviceable skirt tacky and ridiculous? I was thinking about a possible nautical vibe to go with the navy skirt fabric, but then I sort of lost control in the aisle with the gold trims. Maybe the idea of trim is good, but the yellow rickrack is the wrong choice. Or maybe I should whole-hog it and throw some gold anchor buttons on the waistband. I fear I have completely lost perspective.

    Here comes the important bit: please help me end this madness and vote on your favorite version!

    One of the things I liked about Gertie's tutorial is that there is no pattern to buy! You just take your measurements and plot out some rectangles. Finding some 100% cotton fabric that was around $1/yard (in the form of a clearance duvet cover at Bed Bath & Beyond) meant an almost free sewing project--the exact opposite of my usual undertakings.

    Since I didn't have much to lose, I also tried out a few new techniques and used THREE specialty presser feet for my machine! Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to use my new ruffler foot. I had to fiddle around with it quite a bit and do some test ruffles to figure out what settings I needed to make the 80 inches of skirt fabric gather down to the length of my waistband, so it probably didn't save me a lot of time in this case. I wrote down the settings on my homemade pattern, though, so next time should be faster.

    I also used the blind hem foot that came with my machine for the first time (following this great tutorial). My hem isn't as invisible as I'd hoped, but I think that was the fault of user error and some possibly sloppy folding. When I get the technique down better, I think it will make a very professional-looking blind hem --great for big skirts that would take yards and yards of hand-hemming.

    Lastly, I pieced together my crappy-but-functional plastic invisible zipper foot and set in a zipper with this tutorial. I don't know what crafters did before the internet.

    Verdict: I will DEFINITELY be making this skirt again. It's a relatively easy, flexible project, with a cute, wearable result. Maybe next time I'll use a border print or a stiff taffeta.

    May 04, 2010

    Lisa: sexy?

    Sarah sent me the following text messages yesterday:

    Sarah: I can hear Rocco humping his bed and it is...intimate.
    Lisa: Ew.
    S: I. Know. But who am I to say stop? He deserves a fulfilling life? Ugh.
    L: Ew! But...dogs don't wear condoms, so I guess it is the more responsible choice.
    S: Dogs also don't have the only 100% effective form of birth control: Levis.
    L: Good point.


    S: Aaand I now have Showtime.
    L: Your TV situation confuses me.
    S: Me too! Anyway. You should come over sometime. I bet we could see some titties.
    L: Who doesn't like a good pair of titties?
    S: They're the Sara Lee of anatomy.

    This morning during the Diane Rehm show, I heard a radio commercial I had to investigate further. It was for PajamaGrams (now including pajama jeans!) Apparently, 'the gift of relaxation' is great for Mothers' Day. For a mere $45 - $75, you can have the loungewear of your choice delivered in a periwinkle or pink organza hatbox. (Yep. Organza. Hatbox.)

    The good news is that pajama jeans (essentially wide-leg "jeggings" as far as I can tell) are still a 100% effective form of birth control: not because of their sturdy fabric and construction, but because no one wants to become intimate with someone wearing a pair. And can we just revel in that trademarked fabric name for a moment? DORMISOFT. I'm not going to say that this particular garment symbolizes the downfall of society, but...it is clearly a gift for someone you hate.

    May 01, 2010

    Lisa: hair-suit

    I have naturally wavy/curly hair, and since becoming an adult my attitude has swung like a pendulum between the extremes of 1) celebrating curly hair and decrying the media position that wavy hair is ugly and messy, and 2) forcing it into smooth submission. Recently, I tried a modified version of the "curly girl" method for a while, but now I've swung back into something more styled--using hot rollers regularly. My dad asked if I started doing my hair differently to distance myself from my billboard doppelganger, but it's probably more a case of just getting bored with having the same look every day. Plus, I've been getting more into retro looks lately, and the only decade my natural hair is reminiscent of is the 1980s. Hot rollers are actually surprisingly fast and low-maintenance. There's no tiresome (and damaging) blow-drying or flat-ironing, either; the rollers are my only straightening agent.

    But...remember how I couldn't stop raving about Grey Gardens yesterday? Sarah could testify that a good part of what was making me drool with each new outfit was Drew's fabulous 1950s hair.

    Barring having a team of experts on hand for styling and touch-ups, what do I need to do to get my hair to look like that? Online research suggests having my hair cut specifically for curling--the words 'wedge cut,' 'undercut,' and 'double cut' have been thrown around. But how do I convince my much trendier stylist (who seems to give me a mullet no matter what I ask for) that this is what I want? Salt Lake City isn't exactly full of salons that specialize in retro cuts.

    In the meantime, YouTube is a great source for instructions and tutorials for retro hairstyles. I've been wearing a modified version of this easy pin-up "pomp" fairly often. (You can see it on Facebook here, here, and here.)

    I also tried out this faux finger wave bob for Kaeleigh's Great Gatsby party (photos on Facebook here and here) and I was really happy with how it turned out and how easy and approachable it was compared to doing real finger waves. I think the key to shiny hair with the waver is Redken Spray Starch (mentioned in the video), which is tricky to find in stores these days, but gave me a much better result than my Britney concert attempt. I also didn't bother straightening first, but just brushed out pieces of that day's curly style and mashed them into the waver's hungry jaws.

    Next up, I want to try some real victory rolls, or maybe this victory rolls and ponytail combo that is supposed to be good for second-day hair. But...that's not really what my hair looks like on the second day after washing at all. Maybe I need to do some more research. Or maybe the texture difference is a result of pin-curling instead of using hot rollers. I think I'll try one of these two videos to set in some pin curls, and see what happens. The part two videos from both of these channels is making me think I need to buy a new brush first, but I can handle that.

    Last but not least, four blogs I've read in the last two weeks have recommended a book called Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques by Lauren Rennells (check out her blog here). I wish my library had it, so I could check it out right now. As it is, it will probably languish on my wishlist for a while. But who knows? I may break down and need something to hold me over until Dita's book comes out.

    April 30, 2010

    Lisa: Glee, Gertie, and Grey Gardens

    I hope the few of you who suffered through my long entry on vintage-y fashion aren't too sick of the subject. One page/idea just keeps leading me to another, and the internet is suddenly big and exciting again.

    1) I love Glee. This should not be a shock to you, since a) it is awesome, b) there is singing, and c) there is dancing. There is also one adorable guidance counselor with the cutest, matchiest, most bow-adorned cardigans, blouses, pencil skirts, vintage pins, and (!) sweater clips. I'm sure the character's OCD (and having a full staff of behind-the-scenes television professionals) helps with the immaculately maintained clothing and perfect hair, but I can squeal about her outfit pieces just the same. If you want to find a whole community of fellow squealers who will tell you exactly where Emma's clothes can be bought, try What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear?. There are a LOT of Polyvore sets featured, if that's your kind of thing. It is
    technically a shopping blog focused on one (admittedly really great) look, so if you're trying to be frugal, stay away. Found via Go Fug Yourself.

    2) Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing is a sort of Julie & Julia experiment, with the blogger talking about her journey making all the pieces in the 1950s guide, Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. I think having a directed project like that is kind of a great idea. It gives your blog a good theme to start from, which I think would help a lot in marketing your site and getting a following. Plus, there's always the book to go back to when you get stuck on interesting things to write about or need motivation. I can't lie, I kind of have a blog crush on Gretchen right now. I love her retro-but-quirky look, and the things she sews (from the book and otherwise) are lovely. Her writing style and her brand of feminism are appealing to me, too.

    If I had one tiny complaint about Gertie's NBfBS, it would be that when you click to read more of each entry "after the jump," the post opens in a new browser window. I guess you can just close that window when you're done reading and the old window you clicked in from will still be there--no waiting for that page to reload! --but when you close the wrong window, can't hit 'back,' and have to find your place in the archives all over again, it's really annoying. I'm surprised she chose that system, especially since her external links open in the same browser window and necessitate clicking 'back' to finish reading an entry. Anyway. My new-found love is not diminished by this very minor inconvenience, and I'll be checking back soon for sewing progress updates. Found via WWEPB (Gretchen is, OF COURSE, also a fan of Glee and Emma Pillsbury's style).

    3) Sarah and I finally watched HBO's Grey Gardens on Monday. It's the fascinating story behind the Maysles' cult-classic documentary, and Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange were both awesome. You can read about writer/director Michael Sucsy's inspiration and process here. Engrossing story aside, the costumes Drew Barrymore wears as Little Edie Beale in the 1930s through the '50s (before things spiral out of control) are just gorgeous--and I think they're even prettier in the film than in photos.

    You can see lots more of Drew's incredible costumes on Jezebel and Grey Gardens News, and there's also an interview with the costume designer reproduced here.

    The Beales' house is almost its own character in the movie, and it goes from luxurious and tastefully bohemian in the 1930s to completely run-down, overgrown, and squalor-ridden by the 1960s. Visual Vamp (who actually met the Beales in the '70s) talks about East Hampton style and the movie sets. I wish I could find a better set of the National Enquirer photos that were taken of Big and Little Edie in the house at its most squalid, but there is a house tour up at the New York Times that shows the condition of the house after clean-up, when Little Edie finally sold the property.

    Happy clicking!

    April 26, 2010

    Lisa: Lovin' a follow-up

    Maybe you remember my rant about the McDonald's Playplace last May. Nora and I stopped at McDonald's after our library visit today, and I let her play for a bit while I gathered some pictorial evidence for you.

    Here's the ludicrous evacuation procedure I mentioned:

    In case my camera phone quality is too substandard, here's the exact text.



    1. Manager will get childrens [sic] attention.
    2. Manager will instruct children to leave play equipment.
    3. All parents should wait for their children and should not enter the play equipment.
    4. Manager will complete a circuit of all play areas to ensure all are clear of children.
    5. Everyone is to move to the main doors and exit to assemble point. [sic]

    I don't think I need to say again how ineffective I think step 2 would be in an emergency. I am curious about step 4. Are prospective managers asked to perform this circuit of play areas during the interview process, to make sure they have the necessary flexibility (and diminutive size) to navigate the little gerbil tubes? If they're over four feet tall, I think they might have a hard time--and the Hamburglar agrees with me.

    Last, and possibly grossest, is the "record" of past Playplace sanitations. The last time someone who had a grease pencil sanitized this particular play area was in 2008. TWO YEARS AGO. Do you think it was sanitized again in January of '09, and the hapless chemical-sprayer just rubbed out bits of the old numbers when he realized he'd forgotten a writing implement? I would like to believe so. Especially considering my daughter just crawled around in there for half an hour.

    April 23, 2010

    Lisa: dress-up closet

    We finally rented Fantastic Mr. Fox to watch with Nora last week, and I fell in love with (among other things) Mrs. Fox's yellow housedress. I love a vintage dress anyway, but this sunny a-line one with a tiny apple print, an adorable stand-up collar, and an empire waist is so tailored and cute. Add a brooch and a few pockets on the front for holding art supplies, and it's pretty much perfect. You can see more of it here at Design*Sponge and The Handmade Experiment.

    Thinking about retro dresses naturally sent me back to the Bettie Page Clothing site again, where I've spent a lot of time lately hanging around looking at the same dress over and over. I bought this Bettie Page dress a while ago, and the quality is great. I've gotten a ton of compliments on it, too. Does it strike anyone else as odd that one of the only places I've found consistently modest but stylish and sexy dresses is a costume/fetish shop? But I digress. The only thing keeping me from just buying the rust-colored one has been the price--but when I got an email about a birthday sale (enter code BETTIE BDAY at checkout for 25% off until April 26!), I couldn't resist. Plus, Blake bought it for me as an early Mother's Day gift because he's a model husband.

    Searching around for housedresses online inevitably led me to A Dress A Day, a blog about sewing and wearing vintage dresses and skirts that's been around for years, and has the clunky old blog template to prove it. For some reason I decided I absolutely had to read all the archives at once, which is taking a bit of time. I'm enjoying them a lot, and getting more excited about sewing along the way. I even posted a page on the Vintage Sewing Patterns Wiki about the pattern I used to make my dress for Jillian's funeral party, which I still intend to blog about someday...AHEM. I do wish the A Dress A Day archives were heavier on dresses Erin has sewn herself, and lighter on adorable vintage patterns that have already been snapped up by someone else. Mostly because I keep falling in love with things I can't have.

    I can (AND WILL) have this reproduction Vogue pattern Erin mentioned, though! Isn't it cute, with the little pintucks on the front and the big, full skirt? I started thinking about possibly making it in a cotton batiste, and some idle online searching led me to Belraf Fabrics. I clicked around on some prints I liked, and almost before I knew it, free batiste samples were winging their way to me through the postal service. For free. DID I MENTION THE SAMPLES WERE FREE? Very exciting.

    Another site I dug up in the Dress A Day archives is StyleShake, which I want to try out next time I'm feeling flush. They let you design your own creation (using quite a few possible building blocks) and have it made-to-measure for around $100. StyleShake would be great also for outfitting your bridal party in coordinating dresses that they can customize to work for their tastes and body types (sort of the next logical step from the David's Bridal-type mix-and-match styles). I really like how the photo galleries range from classic to trendy to avant garde.

    Somewhere along the way, I came across Vintage Vivant. I don't know why it surprises me when I find something new (to me) on the internet. Don't worry, I got caught up on all her archives, too, so it's just like I've been reading all along. Amelia wears vintage every day, and has a tattoo by Sunny Buick, the artist behind the most beautiful tattoo of all time. Looking at the hilarious embroidered slips Amelia sells in her Doublespeak Etsy shop also got me thinking about vintage slips as a possibly awesome lengthening tool/modesty enhancement for some of my summer dresses that are a tiny bit on the short and skimpy side. Or maybe I could make or embellish something with my new ruffler foot. You non-sewing, non-wearing-used-underwear types might be interested in the (possibly-Utah-based?) Vintage Hem.

    Thinking about vintage slips reminded me of What I Wore Today (which I used to read religiously a few years ago, and just now figured out is still going strong!). Whether or not you like Kasmira's style, I think she'll make you braver about wearing dresses and skirts, pairing unexpected pieces, layers, and colors together, and remembering to accessorize.

    Speaking of accessories, it's really hard for me to look at dresses without thinking about the shoes that will go with them. You know how everything on Modcloth goes out of stock in about two seconds? Well, I did manage to grab these green retro mary janes with cone heels a few weeks ago that would be perfect with a vintage silhouette. Unfortunately, now I've also seen these even more retro metallic Veronica t-straps with even cone-ier heels. Of course, Modcloth is sold out, but maybe I will save my pennies and order them right from the Seychelles website.

    Unless I'm too busy donating all my time to orphans and developing new mathematical theorems, of course. Or cleaning the baseboards (in a dress). You never know.

    April 15, 2010

    Sarah: Facebook Commentary

    For you Facebook users: Do you feel like the latest redesign of Facebook has buried any vaguely interesting content that about what your friends are saying and instead presenting you with... well, not much?

    Luckily, there are still ridiculous ads. And luckily my sister is hilarious. Observe:

    From: Lisa
    To: Sarah
    Subject: question

    What degree do you think these ladies are pursuing?

    From: Lisa
    To: Sarah
    Subject: too busy to get a degree?

    Yeah, when I saw this picture I was like, "that girl looks BUSY."

    I like that girl. And I have a lot of ideas about how we can take photos together. A lot of ideas.

    Lisa, start applying the frosted lipstick. I'll be right over to start weaving myself into your hair.

    April 12, 2010

    Lisa: Wolf Business

    For my last birthday party, Sarah and the girls planned an awesome Mad Men-themed party. To keep the theme a surprise from me, she led me to believe I was getting (under protest) another Twilight-themed party to go with the New Moon movie release--this time, appropriately, heavily featuring wolves.

    To keep the farce going, Sarah printed out a wolfy party invitation and passed them out to a few friends in front of me. In a central place of honor on the invitation was this drawing of a very well-developed, anthropomorphized wolf.

    I wish I could tell you where Sarah found this gem. DeviantART, possibly? What I do know is that there were several conversations about his (its?) abs. And about how (and why) the artist decided to stop drawing when he finished the abs. We ultimately decided it was because he HAD to, for decency's sake. Because what do you imagine would be featured directly below that well-highlighted six pack? A very well-highlighted wolf-schlong, that's what. A big bowl of were-bit stew, is what I'm saying. And no one needs to see that.

    Apparently, the creators of Dragon Age: Origins agree with me. When I glanced up at the Xbox game Blake was playing one evening several months later, I caught part of a serious conversation his dwarf, Trog, was having with a gang of very menacing werewolves. With visible abs.

    "Wait, pause. Can you pause this? Hold on. I have to go get my camera RIGHT now. I have to send a picture of this to Sarah. This answers SO many questions."

    You are welcome, Deviant Artists! Your well-muscled and possibly bipedal wolves no longer need to hide their shame under a blank piece of paper. You can now feel free to sketch them running through the woods, confident in the knowledge that their most wolfy parts are safely shrouded in self-fabric loincloths.

    April 09, 2010

    Lisa: she said/she said

    Arguments I have had with my daughter in the last week:

    • Brains make you smart vs brains make you strong
    • If we had another baby, would it be Nora's little brother, or Nora's son?
    • Whether it's pirates or vampires that suck blood

    So far I think we have both only succeeded in becoming more convinced that we are each correct. And so it begins.

    March 26, 2010

    Lisa: you can't hide talent

    My father, esteemed and eminently respectable attorney, doodled an imaginative interpretation of the hand of Robert Baden-Powell during church. Luckily, Sarah's sticky fingers did not allow this masterpiece to pass unnoticed into the wastepaper basket.

    (Click to enlarge.)

    March 19, 2010

    Lisa: A Love Story

    Seven years ago I admitted having a dream featuring both David Boreanaz/Angel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Four years ago I got an Angel action figure for my birthday and brought him to the Crown for some photo ops. Last year, Sarah bought me a vintage 1999 action figure of The Rock at Miah's wrestling match. So, you can see that this meeting was prophesied, long-awaited, and finally inevitable.

    When Angel and The Rock ventured outside of their respective residences (possibly a holding cell and a cardboard box at the intersection of Jabroni Drive and Smackdown Hotel Boulevard) and found each other, the first instinct of each was to fight. Angel's heart really wasn't in it, though--much like the events of the episode his tiny plastic accessories are modeled after. Knowing it was a risky move, Angel dropped his knife and went in for a hug. But The Rock is only human, after all--his heart softened and he accepted the embrace. His trademark single quirked eyebrow might have led passers-by to believe his initial surprise was something more cynical, but deep inside The Rock knew his life would never be the same lonely road again.

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

    This is pretty much the best use of my new homemade light box I could think of. Sorry, everybody. Or maybe I should say YOU ARE WELCOME.

    March 09, 2010

    Lisa: Bridges

    I should have known it was a bit ambitious to think I might blog every day of February, when I hadn't blogged at all for months. In the interest of keeping things going on the blog-front, and in honoring one of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges, on his recent Oscar win, I bring you this:

    Lisa: Tron: Legacy
    Sarah: Yeah, it goes without saying that we'll be seeing that, right?
    Lisa: Yes. It should. Although you did not make sure i saw Crazy Heart as instructed.
    Sarah: Ha. YET.
    Lisa: Also how could you not be awesome when your dad is this guy?
    Samuel Harvey Graynamore
    Sarah: Hee hee. Seriously. (Also, how did i not know that until now?)
    Lisa: I just looked it up. It makes me just as happy as Keifer/Donald Sutherland.
    Sarah: Hee. Seriously.
    Lisa: Also he is the guy from the Airplane movies.
    Sarah: I have never seen Airplane.
    Lisa: Well, he is basically Leslie Nielsen, but wackier and less annoying?
    Sarah: Hee. That's good.

    Lisa: Bridges
    Sarah: Who is squishy Bridges over there on the left? Because in that photo? Jeff is lookin feeeeeeine!
    Lisa: Well there is a reason I like him, doy. And Beau Bridges. I think also an actor?
    Sarah: Whoa, really? He usually doesn't look that squidgy. He usually looks like the love child of Jeff Bridges and John Ritter.
    Lisa: Fencing on Fairfield
    Sarah: Ha. That makes me uncomfortable.
    Lisa: Hee. Peace & Love Beau Bridges has what i like to call an "eyebrow situation."
    Sarah: hee

    Lisa: Too bad Jeff Bridges and Val Kilmer aren't farther apart in age. They could have played a convincing father/son.
    Sarah: hee
    Lisa: Val Kilmer has become Bridgier than Jeff Bridges
    Lisa: Hee. I know, right? Like, "why is Lisa sending me this unattractive and yet unsurprisingly run-of-the-mill photo of Jeff Bridges?"
    Lisa: Oh no, Val: Val Kilmer Fat Whence Iceman??
    Sarah: I did not need to see that. That was unpleasant.
    Lisa: His abs were a national treasure. HE DID NOT PROTECT THEM AS HE SHOULD HAVE!

    Lisa: Just saying. With great power comes great responsibility.

    Lisa: Whoa: Fotos
    Sarah: That was Jeff Bridges as the lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers and I was not prepared for that.
    Lisa: Heeeeeee. Sorry.
    Sarah: But also, nice onramps, Jeff.
    Lisa: Right.

    Lisa: This is my favorite Jeff Bridges: Full Jeff Bridges
    Sarah: Hee. That is the Jeff Bridges equivalent of the Swingers Vince Vaughn.
    Lisa: Well I like that Vince Vaughn, too.
    Sarah: Exactly!

    It's good for a girl to know her type.

    February 14, 2010

    Lisa: platters

    This is the present that ate Christmas. I don't know why I thought it would be really easy and inexpensive to just throw together a homemade pottery platter for my mom, but I did. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. On the bright side, 1) she ended up with two awesome and humongous new platters to replace some that went missing from storage, 2) I got to force Sarah to spend a lot of quality time with me, and 3) I think I also get to check "sign up for a pottery class" off my list.

    We didn't get any photos of our first session at Rob's studio, but we spent a lot of time squeezing blocks of clay into flat slabs, cutting those into circles (for the platter bases), turning those on the wheel and scraping them with spirals, extruding more clay for the platter sides through a homemade template on a Play-Doh contraption on steroids, and painstakingly attaching and shaping the sides on the wheel.

    Rob let the platters dry in his studio for a while, and then put them through their first firing. He's the one who suggested we make two platters--so that if one broke in the kiln, we'd still have a presentable gift for my mom. Rob's watchful eye and expertise kept them both intact, and I brought the fired platters home and sanded off the really rough bits.

    Back at the studio for our second session, Sarah (who was really sick and a SUPER good sport) and I chose glaze colors and mixed them up by hand while Rob built a form to hold the glaze. It had to be wide and deep enough to dip the platters into, but also maximize the amount of glaze we had. There is a surprising amount of math that goes into pottery-making. We wiped down the sanded platters and carefully dipped them into the glaze. While they dried a bit, we bailed gallons and gallons of glaze back into the garbage-can storage bins. Then we had to scrape the glaze off the bottoms of the platters so the final firing wouldn't melt them onto the kiln shelves.

    Rob put in one more marathon kiln session, and the platters were done! Dishwasher, microwave, and even oven safe (if they would fit in any of those handy devices), and large enough to serve four children...to a table of hungry child-eating monsters.

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

    Thank you again to Rob Marquardt, scientist-artist, and most of all to Sarah, for helping me to bring even my most ridiculous ideas to fruition.

    February 13, 2010

    Lisa: A New Hope

    These gifts for the Bossyths (that is, the beautiful and talented Valori, Jillian, and Kaeleigh) were some of the first I decided to make, and some of the last to be completed.

    Perhaps I should explain. 1) The Bossyths love costumes more than anyone else I know. It only seems fitting that they should own one of the most iconic costumes in cinematic history. 2) I happened to already own a very large quantity of stretchy white fabric. 3) Everything is more awesome in multiples. 4) Wouldn't you enjoy arriving at Yuma Haus for a night of relaxed TV viewing, only to find one of the ladies of the Haus lounging in a Leia costume? I thought so.

    I improvised a pattern using this helpful advice. I ran into trouble twice: once when I cut the neck openings too large (right after being specifically instructed not to) and again when I left the main body of the dresses twice as wide as they needed to be. Thank goodness, both errors were ultimately fixable.

    You can see photos of the ladies good-naturedly wearing their costumes here (on Facebook) or here. E made the awesome matching belts as her gift.

    February 12, 2010

    Lisa: The Eye of Jupiter

    For my dad the painting lover, I finished an oil painting I'd started years ago. I realize that space photos are an odd subject for such a traditional medium, but something about the layers of gases around the Great Red Spot reminded me of brush strokes in thick paint. Plus, I think images that seem abstract but are actually realistic are kind of fascinating--maybe I can attribute this to reading Powers of Ten a million times as a kid. Whatever. Clearly I cannot articulate this in an intelligent fashion. Also, sorry about the lackluster photography.

    February 11, 2010

    Lisa: purse-frame clutch

    I meant to post a few blog entries while we were in Spring City for the holiday weekend, but my cute family (and The Invention of Lying) seemed more important at the time. What do you say we just back-date a few entries, get caught up, and pretend this little lapse never happened? It's not like these Christmas present entries aren't already a month or so overdue.

    I decided to make Marci a purse-frame clutch, which is another project I've been wanting to try. I started with this purse frame, which I found on Etsy. It was very important to me to find a kiss lock frame with really big balls. I tried looking around for patterns, but I guess there's just too much variation between purse frames for a traditional pattern to work. I ended up following this tutorial from U-handbag instead.

    The black-and-pink tweed fabric and the pink lining were from my stash, and I bought some Platinum Bond Super Fabric textile adhesive to glue the fabric into the frame. The gluing was by far the trickiest part of making the clutch. Tucking the fabric edges into the frame opening and getting them all to stay in at once without getting gobs of glue on the rest of the purse fabric was almost impossible. I ended up using the end of a metal knitting needle to poke things into place, and luckily the dry adhesive can be picked off the metal frame.

    A little more thoughtful measuring would have served me well here, and I think I also made things more difficult for myself by using thicker fabrics and by deciding to add pleats at the last minute--which made things thicker and even less exact. The sewing involved is really easy, though, and a clutch is really small and can be finished quickly. Quick projects are so satisfying.

    February 10, 2010

    Lisa: a cunning piece of knittery

    I made this Jayne hat for my "shiny"-saying baby brother, Jeff. He didn't recognize it immediately, which I admit did make me doubt his Firefly credibility a tiny bit. I didn't doubt the accuracy of my hat replica, because it is clearly spot-on.

    I used this pattern from Heather on Craftster, which was great. The yarn is Lion Brand Homespun, which is the only thing the regular craft store had that was rustic enough and came in remotely close colors. I've had a lot more knitting experience since last time I used Homespun, and besides, I'd say the yarn is easier to knit with than to crochet with. When you're crocheting, you have to figure out what loop to pick up from the mass of your project; with knitting, the loops are already on the other needle. Anyway, since I had to buy three huge skeins, I probably could have spent less on something more appropriate at the real yarn store, but whatever. Jayne hats for everyone!

    I am notoriously bad at checking my gauge, and I was worried the hat would turn out way too big for Jeff's smallish head, but it was perfect! Jeff even humored me by wearing his hat everywhere he went for an entire week.

    February 09, 2010

    Lisa: feather earrings

    Mallory's present was another one that could have used a bit more advance planning.

    I decided to make her some crazy feather earrings, which I've seen around a lot (most notably on the lovely Jillian), and I just grabbed some feathers and jewelry findings at the craft store and figured I'd wing it.

    Luckily, I tried on my first attempt before wrapping the box. They went down past my boobs. Now, maybe if you are Jillian you can pull this off, but I think it takes a certain level of commitment to accessorizing that I wasn't sure Mallory shares.

    I ripped them apart carefully, cut the feathers down several inches, and tried again.

    I didn't take a photo of my third version, which came about because I remembered after wrapping the box that Mallory doesn't have pierced ears. Luckily it's not hard to swap out hooks for clips. If you think about these sorts of things before you start, though, this project is easy and fun! I want to make a pair for myself now.

    February 08, 2010

    Lisa: Laptop Sleeve

    You guessed it, another homemade Christmas gift! This one was for Angie.

    I had been thinking about making a minimalist laptop sleeve, possibly out of pretty oilcloth, when I saw this one at geeksugar. It was exactly what I had in mind: no fussy extra handles or pockets, just a pretty, slim sleeve that would protect her computer inside another bag.

    I struck a deal with Sarah for a piece of her Corner Station oilcloth (which is exactly the same print as the one in the article photo), and purchased a pattern I thought would work from Etsy.

    The pattern--from Sew Spoiled--is great and easy to sew. Overall it was clear to follow and I was happy with the result. I had hoped the sleeve would fit a bit more closely, like the one in the geeksugar photo, but it has a little extra room. At least this way the zipper won't scratch Angie's laptop, and maybe she can throw in a little makeup bag for cords and a USB key or something.

    My major regret is that I didn't choose more carefully the way the pattern would lie on the outside of the sleeve. I was so concerned with using as little of Sarah's oilcloth as possible that I didn't even check what the squares I was cutting would look like. On the pieces I ended up with, the arched feather motif seems VERY prominent (and Angie is not what I'd call a bird lover), and it's a little off-center as well. She was really sweet about it, though.

    I do like the bright green fleece I found for the lining, and using fleece kept things cushy and protective--minimizing the repercussions from my not interpreting "heavyweight fusible interfacing" in the instructions as "fusible fleece."

    Like a lot of my handmade gifts, I'd say this project was generally a success, but there are a few things I would change if I were to make it again. If only I could have made rough drafts for each present! Angie (or anyone else) if you want a revised version in time for the next appropriate holiday, let me know.

    February 06, 2010

    Lisa: book character softies

    When I saw this adorable dollhouse created for homemade versions of Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola on sweet sweet life (found, I think, via loobylu), I knew Nora had to have her own Charlie and Lola dolls.

    From there, things sort of spiraled out of control, and she had to have dolls of ALL of her favorite book characters. Luckily, it was harder than I thought to find suitable illustrations of the characters standing alone in a way that made sense for being cut out of context and played with, so the pool was limited a bit. As you can see, we also ended up with George and Martha, the Powerpuff Girls, Cynthia Rylant's Hansel and Gretel, the No No Yes Yes baby, Alice, Eloise, and Edith.

    I scanned the images from Nora's books and printed them onto iron-on sheets with my hand-me-down inkjet printer. I love printable iron-ons, and I always keep a few packs on hand for spontaneous crafting. Anyway, I ironed the images onto some off-white cotton duck I already had--actually some old curtains from our first apartment--and cut matching backs out of a set of coordinating fat quarters from JoAnn's. You can kind of see the backing fabrics in this photo:

    Nora's still a bit young for her dollhouse, but I think the more she gets into it, the more these little softies will get used. And they're so easy and inexpensive to make, I could always add in a few new ones (maybe even mini family members?) to keep things interesting. Plus, I like the idea of incorporating her favorite characters but retaining the feel of a homemade, non-commercial toy.

    February 05, 2010

    Lisa: Voices Photos

    I got to use my trusty photo printer for another Christmas gift--framed photos for the girls in Voices, the a cappella singing group I joined in the fall.

    First, I made Sarah come to one of my concerts, with the express purpose of taking a workable photo. She performed admirably. Next, I got rid of red-eye and flash-related clothing transparency in Photoshop (very advanced for me).

    I printed the photos and put them in a bunch of RIBBA frames I found at IKEA, and finished them off with a raffia bow. Easy peasy--and I think it definitely counts as homemade.

    February 04, 2010

    Lisa: Model Train Photos

    My father-in-law has the most incredibly intricate display of model trains that I have ever seen. He has been asking me for years to take photos of all his trains and the little vignettes he has set up, so that he can a) have a record of them in case he ever dismantles things or starts over, or b) write an article about them for one of his beloved train magazines. This Christmas, I finally got around to taking the photos, and I think it was the most well-received gift I have ever given.

    I took about 70 photos and burned them onto a CD, printed around forty of the good ones on my little 4x6 photo printer (my second-best Ebay purchase ever), and got three 8x10s of my favorites printed at Walgreens. Bam. Favorite daughter-in-law of all time.

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

    Not bad for a point-and-shoot, right? Plus, it was fun to take the real version of these photos.

    February 03, 2010

    Lisa: Typewriter Cover

    Another homemade Christmas gift for you today!

    For Sarah, my favorite typewriter collector, I made an oilcloth cover for one of her typewriters. She and I bought matching IBM Selectrics at a county surplus sale, so I had a handy-dandy model at home to try the cover on.

    My Selectric came with the standard-issue black plastic cover, which was getting brittle and had a few holes in it. I carefully cut the original cover apart along the seams and used it as a pattern for the new one.

    The oilcloth is from the adorable Corner Station, and I'd been hoarding it until I found the perfect use. One precut piece was exactly enough for two typewriter covers--so I made one for Sarah and one for myself to replace the one I cut up.

    The super-skinny bright green binding tape is from JoAnn's. I forgot to bring a scrap of the oilcloth with me to match when I picked it out, but I think I actually like it better less matchy-matchy.

    February 02, 2010

    Lisa: Nintendo Cross-Stitch

    My decision to make all homemade Christmas gifts this year gave me a great excuse to try some crafts I've been wanting to do and to finish some projects I'd started and then abandoned. These cross-stitched dish towels featuring classic Nintendo characters are one of the latter.

    With their matching gun-arms, I always thought Samus and Megaman would make a cute couple. Almost as cute as Angie and Dave, who I hope are using these towels in their tiny kitchen right now.

    The cross-stitchable towels are available at most craft stores--I think I got mine at JoAnn's. For the patterns, I found pictures of the 8-bit characters online (try looking for game packaging and sprites), and then mapped the pixels out on graph paper as best I could.

    February 01, 2010

    Lisa: Who will tell the internet these things if I don't?

    1) In roughly an hour I am seeing an ENT about the possibility of getting my tonsils out. I have to admit, I am somewhat terrified. But...if it means that I get strep less often (or even maybe NEVER), then it will be worth it.

    2) A lot of things have been happening lately, and I've been crossing things off my list (yay!), but I haven't gotten up the energy to actually blog about any of them. SO. I have just decided to attempt to post every single day of the month of February. I'm sure the one reader we have left will be shocked. Plus, depending on how much Lortab they put me on for my (possible) tonsillectomy, things could get a little crazy. At the very least, there will be a lot of drool. Something to look forward to.

    3) Dripped pie filling had made a smoky mess in the bottom of my oven, so today I decided to run the self-clean cycle. It's been going for three hours so far, and everything in my house smells and/or tastes like burning. My eyes feel like burning. Nora actually asked to go down for a nap early--I'm guessing in self-defense. Moral: put a drip pan under the stupid pie next time, goofus.

    4) I am presenting for your enjoyment photographic proof of my billboard doppelganger. She can be found on Highland Drive, directly east of the Home Depot, advertising the Generations Project on BYU TV. Uncanny, isn't it? I, for one, am completely freaked out.

    January 10, 2010

    Lisa: two great tastes

    This summer's video re-creation project: Beyonce's If I Were a Boy character and Steven Seagal (:Lawman) are partners. Let me know if you want in on this incredibleness now.

    December 24, 2009

    Lisa: Jiminy Christmas

    In an offering that's less spontaneous and funny than Sarah's interview from yesterday, but just as full of the holiday spirit, here's Jeremy's interview with me from Christmas 2007.

    Holiday Interview
    An emailed interview with other Loose Tooth, Lisa.

    What an honor. Here you go!

    1) What’s your favorite holiday cuss word?
    Jiminy Christmas

    2) What’s your best childhood present?
    I think the Christmas I got my first flute was the most memorable. My parents were worried that I’d be disappointed if I only had one small present to open (even though it was expensive), so they let me stay up and help them put out the Santa presents for the other kids. It was so fun to be in on the surprise!

    3) If you were in control of all things Christmas what would we see and what we we see disappear?
    There would definitely be less working, and more time to make fun Christmas crafts or do holiday baking, or even just wrap presents.

    4) There have been people concerned with Santa’s chubby image, that it might have an unhealthy effect on children. What do you have to say to that?
    I think it is great to have a positive role model with a more “jolly” body type. And at least kids will have a realistic picture of what a diet of only cookies and milk can do to a person.

    5) What’s the worst gift you have ever received?
    Hmm. Probably the sweatshirt with handprints appliqueed over each breast. Thanks, Grandma! Also, it had been purchased six months earlier, so I could only get store credit–toward another appliqueed sweatshirt.

    6) Everyone knows that Santa’s elves make the toys for billions of people across the world. How do you think they manage?
    Well, luckily they have been bred especially for that purpose. I mean, they must have evolved to be the best, fastest toy makers around, right? I know that if I were a comely young she-elf, I would go for the most successful guy in the toy shop. Also, lots of coffee.

    7) Do you have any last Christmas thoughts for our readers?
    It doesn’t have to be perfect.

    I hope that’s OK! I can’t wait for Sweeney Todd tonight.


    Thanks Lisa. We appreciate your time and your fantastic blog.

    December 23, 2009

    Lisa: The laws of mistletoe are unflinchingly rigid

    At the funeral yesterday, Mallory pointed out that we should make sure our favorite of Jeremy's blog entries were archived somewhere, in case his Wordpress account eventually expires. In the spirit of the Christmas season, I thought you all might enjoy his interview with Sarah.

    (Found here, as long as that link lasts.)

    [10:44] hobbes8u: A Holiday Interview with Two Loose gal Sarah?
    [10:45] Sarah: i’m game!
    [10:45] hobbes8u: YES!!
    [10:45] Sarah: yes!
    [10:46] hobbes8u: So Santa has been caught steppin’ out on the missus, to save Christmas how would you handle this tabloid scandal
    [10:47] hobbes8u: I know I know I ask the tough questions
    [10:48] Sarah: ha. awesome question. well i hear that the elves have an in-house marital counselor (polygamy can cause domestic strife, after all, and aren’t they like the smurfs with only one female?), so i’d rush the Claus’s off to some couples therapy.
    [10:49] hobbes8u: great great
    [10:50] hobbes8u: What’s the worst Christmas no-no?
    [10:52] Sarah: hmm. knocking over the christmas tree or neglecting to leave cookies and milk and a little note for santa. also, one must always obey the rules of mistletoe. the laws of mistletoe are unflinchingly rigid.
    [10:53] hobbes8u: I had no idea. I remember one time I did forget cookies and milk and the next day I found my father murdered. My mom cracked open a bottle of champagne and went to Cancun.
    [10:53] hobbes8u: But that was cause she hated him.
    [10:53] hobbes8u: Anyway
    [10:54] Sarah: did daddy catch mommy kissing santa claus?
    [10:54] hobbes8u: umm no I think it was the cookies. WAIT!! I’m interviewing you!
    [10:54] hobbes8u: What is your favorite Christmas cuss word?
    [10:54] Sarah: tis the season for BALLS!
    [10:55] hobbes8u: It is a popular one
    [10:55] hobbes8u: haha
    [10:55] Sarah: yes, well christmas is all about tradition
    [10:56] hobbes8u: Yes speaking of tradition, what is way to modernize the Christmas tree to really give it that futuristic look
    [10:57] Sarah: tiny spaceship and alien ornaments would be cute. a hoverboard beneath the tree?
    [10:58] hobbes8u: lovely
    [10:58] hobbes8u: What is your very favorite childhood Christmas present?
    [11:01] Sarah: the christmas i remember most vividly i received a desk and a clock radio. i felt so grown up! i wasn’t all business, though. i also received some pretty china dolls and of course clothes.
    [11:02] Sarah: the dolls were a different year than the desk and radio. my parents aren’t loaded or anything. sheesh.
    [11:03] hobbes8u: hahaha loaded as in drunks?
    [11:04] hobbes8u: sorry I strike the question
    [11:05] Sarah: well, they’re neither floating in beer nor in a pile of money like scrooge mcduck
    [11:06] hobbes8u: I always wanted to swim in gold money. He always made it look so comforting. I bet it’s harder to save a person drowning from gold though
    [11:06] hobbes8u: As a blogging celebrity, do you have any final words about the holidays?
    [11:06] hobbes8u: You know for the kiddies
    [11:07] hobbes8u: (the readers)
    [11:08] Sarah: ha! you’ve made my day. i would say that christmas is about family and friends. if other details fall through the cracks, it’s alright! just enjoy your time with the people that matter. there, was that adequately cheesey?
    [11:09] hobbes8u: It was delightful. Thank you and have a Happy Christmas!
    [11:09] Sarah: you too!

    November 30, 2009

    Lisa: plus, he loves beards

    Maybe you remember almost two years ago, when I mentioned David Malki! and his video, Me vs Comic-Con: Who's Better? Well, just in case you've forgotten, I'm mentioning him again. Like, for example, his comic? Wondermark? It's really funny and dry, and often makes me think for a moment, take a second look, and THEN laugh out loud. It's meticulously crafted with vintage engravings in Photoshop, too. I know that because I recently watched part of a Let's Make a Wondermark live stream. It was somehow funny, voyeuristic, fascinating, and slightly boring, all rolled into one. Plus, as a bonus, it reminded me how completely lacking my own Photoshop skills are.

    But you know what I might like best about Malki!? His Twitter feed. Or maybe it's how he's offering a free sketched-in artist edition of his book, Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death, to ten of the bloggers who post about him this month. He's nice like that. You should check him out!

    October 08, 2009

    Lisa: Craft Lake City review

    I find it's most helpful to review an event two months after it happens, so that everyone who might once have cared has already forgotten about it. That's why I'm telling you now how much I loved Craft Lake City!

    The craft booths were everything I wished the disappointing shopping at Swiss Days and Peach Days would be. Instead of seeing the same vinyl cutouts and magnet boards at every booth, there were tons of alternative and/or slightly subversive crafts, and fun and unusual fabrics galore.

    Here are photos of my (reasonably priced) booty:

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

    1. A skirt for Nora for next summer, from Noelle O Designs.

    2. A horse finger puppet from Nifty Kidstuff, which has the cutest details--like a bright green lining to match the bridle.

    3. My mom shopped Nifty Kidstuff too, and found Nora a doll that she can practice fasteners on. Nora named her Betsy Buttons, after this book. (Seriously, this girl makes so many cute things. How much do I want this little fabric sewing machine for Nora?)

    4. Grandma also bought Nora some cute hair ties with fabric-covered buttons, but unfortunately they didn't have any maker-identifying packaging.

    5. I had a hard time tracking down these ribbon-covered hair clips online (they're just marked 'am'), but I think the buttons covered with Japanese fabrics are darling, and they inspired me to make my own ribbon clips.

    6. This little yellow papier-mache bird was an impulse buy at Beehive Bazaar, and I love having him on my mantel.

    I also loved the fascinators and headbands from Its The Little Things, but I didn't have enough cash to buy one at Craft Lake City. Instead, I grabbed one of her cards and bought a hat for Jillian's funeral on Etsy later.

    The family rockabilly band that was so cute was Mad Max and the Wild Ones.

    Here's more of Nora enjoying them:

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

    Anyway, I hope that Craft Lake City becomes an annual event, and that they have even more awesome booths next year. If I had one suggestion to offer, it would be to the crafters whose great wares were for sale: make sure your packaging is branded, and list your website right on it if you have one. That way, the love can keep going long after the festival is done.

    September 29, 2009

    Lisa: Oh, Carmine.

    Look I know he's in a wheelchair now and all, and is dealing with a lot of mental trauma, but could someone please cut poor Danny Messer's hair before he starts looking any more like Fisher Stevens?

    It's got to be hard enough working with Gary Sinise every day without that kind of spectre looming.

    September 17, 2009

    Lisa: Tool of the Week

    I'm probably going to sound really stupid on this one, but I don't care. This simple cable was enough of a revelation for me that I want to share it with any other idiots who might be in need.

    What I'm talking about is a cable that has a headphone-style audio jack on one end, and RCA-style audio plugs (you know the kind, they're the red/white components of the standard red/yellow/white TV cables) on the other end. Something like this.

    I have no idea where we got this handy-dandy cable, since I just found it in our cord box at a very opportune moment. It must have come free with something we bought in the past, because I had no idea it even existed until I was holding it in my hand, realizing it would be the perfect solution to our current problem.

    Two ways I've used this cord in the last two weeks:

    1) When we hook the laptop up to the TV to watch movies on the bigger screen, the Apple mini-DVI-to-video setup only sends the video signal to the TV (not the audio). In the past, I've had to unplug the speakers from our desktop computer, lug them up from downstairs and set them up on top of the TV cabinet, since the laptop's internal speakers aren't loud enough. This new cable allows me to feed the audio right into the TV as well, using the TV's built-in speakers that are controlled by the TV remote.

    2) When Sarah and I were rehearsing a few days ago, we wanted to sing along with a background track that I have as an mp3 on my laptop and iPod. Since I don't have speakers for my iPod, and again the laptop speakers were too soft, I just plugged the iPod into the TV and used the internal TV speakers instead.

    So. What seemingly obvious/inexpensive thing has made a huge difference in YOUR life lately?

    September 14, 2009

    Lisa: Chocolate Blues

    While I was on tour with the Tab Choir, I visited a tiny yarn shop in Independence, Missouri. I bought a skein of pretty yarn as a souvenir, with the idea of knitting something for Nora when I got back home.

    One skein isn't really a whole lot of yarn to work with, but it was just the right amount for one of the adorable hats from this book. I finished it off with pompoms made out of some of my leftover Ribby Cardi yarn for a little contrast.

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

    I know, making a winter hat in July seems incongruous, and the photos of it on my sundress-clad daughter look ridiculous, but this was a quick and fun little project that got me kind of excited about knitting again. Maybe someday I'll even sew the zipper into my otherwise-totally-finished Ribby Cardi!

    August 27, 2009

    Lisa: buy my love

    If get your Two Loose Teeth fix via a blog reader, you might not have noticed the new Etsy widgets in our sidebars. Instead of featuring books and movies that we never got around to updating, you can now see items from Sarah's Anderson Ink shop on the left, and the Two Loose Teeth shop (currently selling some toddler hair barrettes I made) on the right.

    Mostly, I started making some clips for Nora, and then they were so fun and easy to make that I got carried away and made more than one two-year-old could ever wear. So. Do you know any little girls who need a set?

    August 24, 2009

    Lisa: Carla & Henriette

    Some exciting new work developments and a general fog of ennui have meant that things at Casa Smith (and here at Two Loose Teeth) have been woefully neglected. Thankfully, the fridge now contains more than condiments and takeout boxes. The dishwasher, washer, and dryer are all running, and both bathrooms are almost painfully clean. It's just...I don't have any more energy left for being creative.

    Luckily, it's Movie Monday, and I can skate by on the genius (and athleticism) of others much younger and more capable than myself.

    August 14, 2009

    Lisa: got my hair did

    Twitter and Facebook are good times and everything, but I must admit they have contributed to the lack of posts around here. Luckily, I felt the following Facebook interaction deserved a little pictorial embellishment.

    Lisa: New haircut: might be awesome, might be Three's Company.

    Sarah: HA! I can't wait to see it. [Sarah knows that Three's Company also means Janette from SYTYCD, whose haircut I HATE.]

    Angie: Might be Indigo Girls?

    Lisa: Might be Kristen Stewart playing Joan Jett.

    Dear readers, I will let you decide for yourselves.

    July 15, 2009

    Lisa: they grow up so fast

    I meant to post these pictures on Sarah's birthday, and to tell you all what an awesome person she is and how proud I am of her. Luckily, I still feel the same way three days late.

    Congratulations also to Mallory...

    ...and to Valori, who graduated at the same time! I love you guys.

    I took some pictures of Nora, too. What do you want? I'm a mom.

    June 15, 2009

    Lisa: Total Eclipse of the Heart

    Found via Dita Von Teese, who knows something funny when she sees it.

    June 06, 2009

    Lisa: The package goes in the box. If you know what I mean.

    Some of you know that I work from home, sending out orders for my online business. Thanks to the wonders of Click-N-Ship, my mailman can pick these packages up right from my front porch (for free!) and get them on their way. When I first started doing this, I bought a clear plastic tub with a flip-up lid to corral the slippery Tyvek envelopes and protect them a bit from the weather. It worked fine, but wasn't doing much for the aesthetics of my front porch.

    I clearly needed a prettier, more permanent solution. Here's what I came up with:

    As a side bonus, the mailman and the UPS/FedEx guys deliver my incoming packages into the box now, so they're out of sight and protected from the elements as well. Materials and more details after the jump!


    After a little research, I chose this unfinished toy box from JoAnn's. The size was about right, and I wanted a box with a hinged lid that could be raised from the top with one hand. On Sarah's excellent recommendation, I painted the pieces before assembly.


    Our new porch light, house numbers, and mailbox are all either oil-rubbed bronze or black, so I chose Hammered Dark Bronze Rustoleum spray paint. Supposedly, it's good for outdoor applications. I primed it first and put on a coat of clear polyurethane after I stenciled the letters on. I always forget how much spray paint it takes to cover something--this project used three full cans each of primer and paint.


    I had some leftover Fern Green Patio Paint, which I already knew was weather resistant. I used that with some 2-inch block letter stencils I picked up at JoAnn's. I'm kind of a slapdash stenciler, but I figured that gives the box a pleasing rustic quality.


    I bought a mailbox flag replacement kit with an official-looking jaunty red flag at our local Ace Hardware, and adapted the instructions a bit for screwing it into wood rather than a thin metal box. As you can see in the photos, the flag is attached on one side, so when it is 'raised' it sticks out past the front of the box. So far, it seems to be an adequate system for signaling the mailman that there are items to pick up.

    June 04, 2009

    Lisa: Seriously Cute Crochet

    My animals aren't as cute as Sarah's, and my photos certainly aren't as well taken, but I had to share the little amigurumi I've been making from the same book.

    Next up: zombies, ninjas, and robots...unless I go with E's suggestion of crocheting Nora an amigurumi Halloween costume, in which case I'd better get started now.

    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 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 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?


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


    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.


    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 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.

    April 24, 2009

    Lisa: I know, it isn't Thursday

    I think it's time...for some MAUDLIN PIX. (If you want to know more about this feature, you should ask Sarah, but she might be too busy over at her spiffy new blog to answer. Or you could take your cue from Andrea, who's been doing it better for longer.)

    Here's one from the vaults. Obviously, part of what makes this photo so great is that it tells a story.

    April 23, 2009

    Lisa: little bunny foo-foo

    It's hard for me to believe that Nora is old enough to notice what holiday it is and if she gets a present or not--but this Easter I had to face the facts. Since Blake is pretty adamant that Nora not eat candy (and I'm not actively encouraging candy either), I wanted to make her something special that would take her mind off the lack of chocolate eggs.

    This little bunny and her blanket are made from this mmmcrafts pattern, and are sewn from some of Nora's outgrown baby clothes. I used felt, embroidery floss, thread, and batting that I already had, so the only thing I had to buy was the pattern itself. My dad made the cradle for me when I was a baby, and my mom brought it up from Spring City so that I could pass it on to Nora. Tender, right? I mean, I'm pretty much the best mom ever, wouldn't you say?

    Unfortunately, my gift was completely overshadowed by the gigantic pink plush Care Bear Nora's great-aunt bought her at a secondhand store. Nora tackled that thing and rolled around with it, giggling and giggling. Ah, well. Maybe this sleepy little homemade bunny will grow on her.

    (Oh, and if you think that I copied Angie's wedding colors, then all I can say is thank goodness I have people with really good taste to mooch off of.)

    April 20, 2009

    Lisa: I think this settles it once and for all.

    As evidenced by this conversation, Blake and I have been arguing zombie apocalypse plans for years now. I can't even explain how gratified I was when I read that Mighty Girl's plan involves taking over a Costco too--not building a stupid walled compound. To my knowledge, Maggie has never been wrong before. Eat it, Babe!

    If you like discussing zombies and the related contingency plans (which of course you do, because you are awesome like me) you might enjoy this article by Robert Brockway, brought to my attention by Dave T., who used to read this blog until we got boring. I laughed out loud four times, completely blowing my "I've just got to get this work done" cover story.

    April 17, 2009

    Lisa: Live Life to the Fullest

    In October of 1992, my deepest aspirations apparently included:

    1) Playing pieced-together sheet music on the flute
    2) Graduating
    3) Getting married
    4) Wearing ill-fitting clothing

    and let's not forget,

    5) Becoming a tiger.

    Ah, junior high school, with your ridiculous assignments and even more ridiculous students. We couldn't get to high school without you.

    April 16, 2009

    Lisa: Ur jus jellus!

    Sarah documented the majority of our Britney experience (and I'm sure she'll share many unflattering photos here), but I thought you might like a little preview:

    If you don't recognize immediately that those shirts are made according to the tutorial featurette on the Crossroads DVD, then that is why I am here. TO OPEN YOUR EYES.

    April 10, 2009

    Lisa: Mmm! The invigorating scent of "you may have vomited recently!"

    Dear Crest,

    Congratulations on Vivid White--a triumph, really. One question, though. Instead of Invigorating Mint, don't you think you should just come right out and say wintergreen? Then the people who wish they could brush their teeth with Pepto Bismol would know right away which tube is for them.

    Oh, and would you mind passing on a message to your friends at Secret? A squishy goo that is pushed up through a grate when you twist the base can't honestly be referred to as a Conditioning Solid, am I right? Let's try to stay away from outright lies in our product copy.


    Sensitive Gag Reflex

    March 23, 2009

    Lisa: Jailhouse Pop

    This feature brought to you by HK Magazine:

    Jailhouse Pop
    What's the worst thing about being an incarcerated Cantopop celebrity?

  • Prison karaoke machine doesn't have your 2003 hit song, "Love is Somewhat Necessary"

  • Large, hairy inmate has taken liking to your high cheekbones and dreamy eyes

  • Orange jumpsuit clashing with orange highlights

  • Thrice-daily gruel going straight to your ass

  • Trying and failing to construct a shiv out of an acrylic nail extension
  • March 03, 2009

    Lisa: comorbidity

    Overheard in the movie theater restroom.

    Woman 1: When I went to the doctor for my ear infection, there wasn't even a note in my chart about me being an addict. They could have prescribed me anything! I mean, there should be a NOTE!
    Woman 2: I know, that's why I'm so mad I threw away those leftover Percocets.
    W1: Hold on, let me take these real quick. [Drinks from the sink faucet.] I can't believe they gave me two 50s instead of one 100. The 100s are totally stronger than two 50s.
    W2: Totally stronger.
    W1: I told my doctor to write me a prescription for the 100s instead, because they're exactly the same, but she wouldn't. Like, I KNOW they're addicting. I'm an addict. But I have ANXIETY!!

    March 02, 2009

    Lisa: Silent in the Grave

    One-minute book review of Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn.

    Read it!

    February 25, 2009

    Lisa: Tool of the Week

    Last week, Blake and I suddenly found ourselves in the market for a new vacuum cleaner. The Hoover we got for our wedding is now quite aged, and though it has served us well over the years, it recently stopped picking up much of anything at all. Since we now have a toddler who seems equally interested in holding up and inspecting every bit of debris she finds on the floor, and in carpeting our home with Cheerios, it's more important than ever that we have a functional vacuum.

    On the strength of a glowing recommendation from E, we investigated and eventually purchased a


    and so far, we love it. It's bagless, and watching that clear cylinder fill up completely with dirt, dust, and rug fuzz the first time we used it was simultaneously appalling and satisfying, in a way usually reserved for the popping of really juicy zits. Of course, it has a HEPA filter for making the air cleaner while you vacuum, but even more of a selling point than that is the attachments that actually WORK. You know that grody little line of dusty carpet at the edge of the baseboards, that the vacuum doesn't really reach? Yup. No longer a part of my life. And it may have been some kind of post-purchase-euphoria-related placebo effect, but Blake swore that the carpet even felt cleaner when he sat on it.

    Some of the online reviews criticized the Bissell as being too heavy, but it doesn't seem to be any heavier than our old vacuum, so that didn't bug us. Plus, Blake does a lot of the vacuuming, and he doesn't mind lifting heavy things. It gives him a chance to flex his manly muscles.

    If I had to complain about anything, it's that the Bissell is maybe a little bit too awesomely strong. It vacuumed (or at least enlarged) a small hole along a seam of our area rug--but it's nothing that can't be fixed.

    Incidentally, my mom pointed out that the problem with our Hoover might be nothing more than a broken belt, and her suspicions were only strengthened when I looked at her blankly and just repeated, "Belt?" Apparently you're supposed to check and maintain these mysterious "belts" on a regular basis. Blake opened up the bottom of our old vacuum, and sure enough the belt was just hanging there, lifeless and snapped in half. I picked up a replacement at the grocery store (right next to the vacuum bags, which I've been buying for years) and we're going to fix the Hoover up and keep it downstairs. Win-win!

    February 23, 2009

    Lisa: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

    Given Angie's idea of different angles for each day and my current penchant for Photo Booth, I thought I'd try out Movie Mondays. Sarah's not as jazzed about the idea, but I'm hoping I can win her over.

    Here's today's offering--I think you'll agree that what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm. If you've seen me dancing, you know this already.

    February 20, 2009

    Lisa: Something Different

    I probably should have written myself a script.

    January 29, 2009

    Lisa: 25 random things

    1. Diet Coke allows me to be the best version of myself. This has been confirmed by outside sources.

    2. I secretly believe that if you heat-style greasy hair, it sort of cooks the grease into your hair again, like a hot oil deep-conditioning treatment. That sounded less gross in my head.

    3. My genuine laugh is too loud to be considered strictly ladylike.

    4. Who am I kidding--even my normal voice is too loud. Someone once told my boss at the library that he should hire quieter employees.

    5. The best (and arguably only) reason to own a gun is to be prepared for the impending zombie outbreak. Better make it a shotgun.

    6. I have been blogging for the same ten readers for almost six years.

    7. I'm sure your McMansion is very nice, but I'd choose a smaller, older home every single time.

    8. I am incredibly clumsy (see current black eye). I have a very real fear that I will fall down the stairs while holding Nora and kill us both.

    9. I can't remember a time, no matter the number on the scale, when I didn't want to lose ten pounds. It's nice to have a constant in life.

    10. I make Blake change his shirt because I love him.

    11. It's fine if you hate Obama. Seriously. Just don't tell me it's because he’s a Muslim who wasn’t even born in the U.S.

    12. Just because something is in print (on paper or online) doesn't make it true. Check. Your Effing. SOURCE.

    13. I desperately need a new water heater. Invigorating cold showers are starting to lose their appeal.

    14. I am cripplingly intimidated by everything my mom can do.

    15. I'm in love with my daughter.

    16. I love routines. Someday I'll put all the right pieces together to form the ultimate routine, and it'll just be perfect week after perfect week from there on out.

    17. There were three people before Blake who I believed I was going to marry. Don't worry, if you're reading this I can almost guarantee you weren't one of them.

    18. If I had to choose, I'd say James Bond is hotter than Aragorn. Of course, Jim Halpert is hotter than both of them. Not sure what that says about me.

    19. I think I could leverage my librarian skills and my natural stalker tendencies into being a damn fine private investigator. Maybe someday I'll find out for sure.

    20. If your proposed activity includes a) dressing up fancy and going out, or b) sitting on a couch with a blanket and fuzzy socks, I'm sold.

    21. If there are garters involved, I will buy it.

    22. I love being asked for advice.

    23. I go to church because I think it's important to have a spiritual aspect to your life, and to try to be a better person than you already are. Church is one possible framework designed to help you do that.

    24. I can't wait until it gets warm enough to ride my bike again.

    25. I have found that people usually turn out to be more awesome than you gave them credit for.

    January 26, 2009

    Lisa: Pork Roast

    Remember how I'm trying to find main-dish recipes that I can memorize and make regularly? Well, I think this pork roast is easy and delicious enough that it might fit the bill. It's the first crock pot recipe I've tried that I'd classify as an unqualified success, and there's no sign of my pet peeve of crock pot dishes--the instruction to brown the meat before putting it into the crock pot. To me, the whole point of crock pot cooking is that the recipe is super easy and basically preps/cooks itself while you're at work or whatever. If you have to spend a bunch of time getting everything ready to go in the crock pot (including cooking things on the stove), then you might as well choose a regular recipe that doesn't take four hours to cook.

    But I digress. Aside from adding a bit of cooking time--I think every crock pot is a bit different--and wishing I had one of those handy gravy-fat-separator dealies, I hardly had to think about it. If you decide to make this (and I think you should), save yourself a headache and cut the roast into nice slices with the electric knife when you're ready to serve. Also, see if you can talk Blake into making mashed potatoes to go with it.

    Recipe from Simple & Delicious after the jump. My additions/changes are in brackets.

    Pork Roast with Gravy, from Taste of Home: Simple & Delicious, February 2009

    This home-style supper can be made [a day ahead]. Strain and skim the cooking juices, cover and store all in the fridge. Then reheat the pork to 165 degrees and finish the gravy in a pan [the next day].

    1 boneless whole pork loin roast (3 to 4 lbs.)
    1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth
    1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. pepper
    2 tsp. cornstarch
    2 tsp. cold water

    1. Cut roast in half; transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the broth, red pepper, onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and seasonings; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for [4-6] hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees and meat is tender.

    2. Remove pork [and reserve some for another use if desired].

    3. For gravy, strain cooking juices and skim fat; pour 1 cup into a small saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

    4. Slice pork; serve with [mashed] potatoes and gravy. Yield: 4 servings.

    January 25, 2009

    Lisa: diet

    I ate hummus, which is totally good for you (+1)
    On tortilla chips (-1)
    By spreading it onto each chip individually with a knife (+1)
    (My chips kept breaking (-1))

    Eh. A draw. I think I've earned some cake.

    January 24, 2009

    January 20, 2009

    Lisa: no means no

    Dear Walgreens cashier,

    Please do not expose my one-year-old daughter to the sight of your plush caveman singing Do It Like They Do on the Discovery Channel. Similarly, hide away your mechanical puppy holding a valentine heart and offering an inappropriately sexual R&B message. In fact, maybe stay away from the animatronics altogether. She's saying "no" for a reason.


    Common Sense

    January 10, 2009

    Lisa: advanced

    Lisa: Are you teaching her how to juggle?
    Blake: Yep! Well, I'm trying to. She's totally going to impress all her kindergarten friends.
    Lisa: Yeah she is. And her teacher.
    Blake: She'll impress EVERYONE. Except Dave. Dave'll just be like, "I've been juggling since I was three."

    January 08, 2009

    Lisa: Loves getting a little lacy.

    Ah, Victoria's Secret Semiannual Sale catalog. How I love thee.

    For a mere thousands of pennies, I can send a box hurtling toward me through space containing something naughty, something nice, the very good, and the very bad. And by very bad, I mean horrendously pun-tastic catalog copy.

    To wit: "The lace is on for frill seekers."

    December 19, 2008

    Lisa: it came upon a midnight clear

    Christmas is in less than one week. I'm not sure how that happened, and my guess is that things are getting a little crazy for you, too. Too crazy maybe to stay caught up on reading your blogs. Shall we agree to just let each other off the hook for a few days? PHEWF.

    November 28, 2008

    Lisa: Echinoderms (the low lifes)

    Thank goodness Blake's mom had the forethought to save this science assignment. That's right, my friend, it's a comic book in which the phylums battle it out for control of the world--and the echinoderms WIN.

    Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

    Blake may not be able to take full credit for this masterpiece. There seems to be a dispute over authorship with his friend Brian. All I know is that I couldn't let that keep me from immortalizing it here.

    November 27, 2008

    Lisa: Turkey Day (And pie day. And roll day. And potato day.)

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I have to go slip into a food coma now.

    November 26, 2008

    Lisa: Lil' Brudder

    When Dave and Angie got married, my parents placed upon my humble shoulders the responsibility of creating a life-size cardboard standup of our brother Jeff. He's in New Jersey until next summer and couldn't be at the wedding in person, so I guess they figured this was the next best thing.

    Step one: have Jeff take an appropriate picture of himself.

    Step two: purchase a ready-made cardboard standup of George W. Bush. Trust me, these things are readily available, reasonably inexpensive, and a lot easier than obtaining your own large-scale printout and backing it with cardboard. Print out Jeff's face and neck (No, really, W's neck is gross and not at all fitting for a healthy 19-year-old boy.) on a regular color inkjet printer and cut them out. You might want to do a few of slightly different sizes, so you can try them out and see what proportions look right. Glue Jeff's head over George's, getting creative with the neck and collar area. Slap a printout of Jeff's missionary badge on the jacket for verisimilitude.

    Step three: scare yourself silly on at least five separate occasions, walking into a darkened room and catching a glimpse of Jeff's lurking, shadowy form out of the corner of your eye. Put a bright face on things when you help your baby girl become friends with an uncle she's never met.

    Step four: secretly hope your parents get the standup out for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

    Miss you, Jeff! I can't wait to hug the real thing.

    November 25, 2008

    Lisa: a cardigan is not enough

    I don't care how good her legs are for her age. You shouldn't let your grandmother go to the grocery store without pants.

    November 24, 2008

    Lisa: you could put your weed in there

    Before it got too cold outside, I did a mass harvest of my herb garden, stuffed the spoils into ziplock bags, and marked them with their contents and the date. Now if I have the urge to make my own lavender-scented bath products or season a dish with fresh sage, I can just pull the ingredients out of the freezer. I felt like Ma frickin' Ingalls, putting away stores for the winter. Sarah had a different reaction when she saw my stash: "Um, Lisa? Did you know your deep freeze is full of marijuana?"

    In other domestic news, for the first time in weeks I haven't had to spend Nora's naptime sewing or hot-gluing. At long last, I scraped, cleaned, and re-painted the bathroom ceiling. Woot!

    November 23, 2008

    Lisa: happy birthday to me!

    Blake planned an incredible Twilight birthday party for me with Sarah's help, complete with blood-red drinks,

    goody bags including glittery vamp-skin lotion,

    and a huge cake depicting a vampire/werewolf battle.

    Oh, and of course we saw the movie, which was kind of awesomely serious and cheesy and mockable.

    My only disappointment? Not getting to see Edward's enormous, satin-draped bed. Oh, and the fact that the restaurant staff somehow got the impression that I'm a rabid Twilight fan.

    Edited to add pictures, courtesy of Sarah!

    November 19, 2008

    Lisa: last one!

    I think I mentioned before that one of the costumes I get to wear in the Music Man is a ridiculous sailor-collared "athletic" outfit. I snuck mine home after rehearsal last night to alter it to fit a bit better. If you think that shirt looks baggy and shapeless now, you should have seen it before.

    If you have never been in a play before, you might be blown away (as I was) by the level of characterization that even the most minor characters get. Not only is the newlywed Mrs. Squires (that's me) ridiculously in love, but she also married into money, and likes to show it off by wearing a million different expensive (and slightly insane) outfits. Anyway, the point is that I thought Mrs. Squires would add a little extra something to her gym uniform, so I borrowed a big Gerbera daisy clip for my hair from Sarah's collection.

    Here's my final costume in action (pre-alteration). You can't see them in the photos, but those black bloomers are worn over opaque white tights and high-top Converse All Stars. Sexxaaay!

    There's still time to change your mind and come see the show! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

    November 14, 2008

    Lisa: in the best Delsarte tradition

    I told you! I get to wear a ridiculously decorated faux toga. Bonus: I decorated it while watching the season finale of Mad Men with Sarah. Now, every time I put it on, I think of Don Draper. Unfortunately, every time I put the toga on, I am also reminded that my hair will never be as awesome as Joan Holloway's.

    In action:


    We open tonight! I hope I see you there.

    November 12, 2008

    Lisa: I don't know how I can ever wait to see

    Sorry if I've been a bit one-note, but practicing three days a week has sort of kept the play at the forefront of my mind. Anyway, we open this weekend, so it will all be over soon enough.

    The shirt is from Steve & Barry's, and I made the skirt myself using this pattern. The humongous, tulle-topped hat is my favorite of the ones I made. It's not so great for tight backstage quarters, but there's a certain satisfaction in forcing your stage husband to bend down and peer under the brim in order to sing into your face.

    [Edited to add a shot of the hat in action. It is fully three heads wide.]

    November 09, 2008

    Lisa: "Wow. That's really...bright."

    As with the last ensemble, the outfit was provided for me, but I decorated the hat myself. (Good thing I've had lots of practice.) The blue tulle around the hat hangs down in front to form a veil around my face.

    So, yeah. When you get to the church, I'll be the one in the pulsing, radioactive ball of blue.

    [Edited to add a shot of this costume in action.]

    November 08, 2008

    Lisa: You've Got Trouble

    What goes with a blue-and-shocking pink gown with padded-out hips? A hat featuring lovebirds in a love nest, of course.

    You know you want to be there.

    November 06, 2008

    Lisa: prop

    This is but a preview of some of the costume-related entries to come. So many hot-glue burns, so much tulle, so much unbridled joy. Nora is going to have the best dress-up box ever.

    November 05, 2008

    Lisa: change

    After Nora and I rocked the vote in the freezing rain, we needed a treat. Just because she ate some of hers in the cart at the grocery store doesn't make it any less celebratory.

    Don't worry, Nora's Obama onesie was safely covered up by her hoodie while we were at the polling location, as per Utah's anti-electioneering polling place rules.

    I'm thrilled that Obama won so handily, and I'm really proud that the race was so close in Salt Lake County. WE DID THAT.

    I'm scared, however, that over 20,000 people in Utah think that Super Dell should be governor.

    November 03, 2008

    Lisa: just doing my part

    Blake arrived home from work and found me in my office, printing something out from my computer.

    Lisa: Hey! How was your day?
    Blake: Blegh. I spent all day neutralizing chemicals.
    Lisa: Oh yeah? Well, I neutralized [whips finished Obama poster out of the printer and holds it up] THE OPPOSITION!

    Don't forget to vote tomorrow, everybody!

    November 02, 2008

    Lisa: Today!

    Sometimes you take stock of your life and realize all you do after 10 pm is lie on the couch playing Apollo Justice. Then you email your friends in a panic until they agree to get pretty and go out on the town with you. You choose the Tavernacle, of course, since there's something to watch besides each other AND it involves loud singing. Somehow your camera phone makes its way out of your purse, becomes self-aware, and posts the evidence of your debauchery on the internet. There, there, it's OK--Apollo Justice will be waiting on the couch for you tomorrow night.

    Luckily my phone happened to catch a rare appearance of Mallory's WOW face.

    And these are my new lacy stockings, which Mallory showed to the table next to us by pulling my leg up perpendicular to the floor.

    And this account simply wouldn't be complete without a shot of Sarah's fiance and one of the piano guy with the hair getting his butt grabbed by an extremely inebriated woman of a certain age.

    November 01, 2008

    Lisa: Take Three

    I know some people think that since Sarah and I write this blog together, it doesn't really count when we do NaBloPoMo, because we don't EACH post every single day. All I know is that we write more, better entries when we have a challenge.

    Let the slightly more regular blogging begin!

    October 28, 2008

    Lisa: that's what they call a win-win-WIN

    Before it becomes completely irrelevant, I should post these pictures from our VP debate party. Nothing goes with talking points and winking like nachos and Palin Bingo!

    You can tell how much fun everyone's having by their eagerness to smile at the camera.

    October 22, 2008

    Lisa: clarification

    Dear Everyone Ever,

    Pro-Choice is NOT the same thing as Pro-Abortion. Protecting a woman's dominion over her own body is not synonymous with advocating or condoning baby murder.

    Can this be the last time we ever talk about this?


    October 13, 2008

    Lisa: Tools of the Week

    Contractor Series Mini-Roller

    Meredith was not kidding, this little roller is a life-changer. It completely eliminates cutting in with a brush, and makes small areas a breeze. I'll never paint without one again.

    HELMER Drawer Unit

    By far the most impressively designed and packed piece of IKEA furniture I have ever purchased. A pleasure to build (yeah, I said it) and a handy little set of drawers, too.

    October 04, 2008

    Lisa: bittersweet

    Today is my last day working for the library, at least for the near future. My feelings about this are so mixed, but I think excitement for the next phase of my life is winning out.

    Thank you, thank you to Dawn for helping me find library science, to the University of North Texas for allowing me to earn an MLS without leaving Salt Lake (and Blake), and especially to the Salt Lake County Library System for hiring and training a brand new children's librarian (and for working around my pregnancy, delivery, and new motherhood for as long as they did). I consider this my career, and I'll be back, refocused and ready to work harder than ever in just a few years.

    Thank you also to Concert Black, for making this change possible, and to my mom, whose vision, drive, and very hard work has made our little company run so well that instead of working on it "on the side," it can be my main job. I can hardly believe that I'll be writing myself a paycheck for filling those website orders from home.

    Thank you most of all to my little Nora, for coming into my life so fortuitously. You have brightened it and made each day better in a way I could never have imagined. It has been hard for me to leave you every day (even with people who love you as much as Sir, Grandma, and your dad do) and I can't wait to be home with you to watch you changing and growing. I feel like I'm growing because of you, too. And of course, I'll be there to make sure you have on pants.

    Phewf! Enough sappy stuff. See you all online.

    September 30, 2008

    Lisa: What, you don't have a decoupaged business card holder?

    Before everything went insane, Jeremy, Marci, Mallory, and Sarah came over for a super Saturday craft day. We pooled our craft supplies and everybody brought treats, and it was awesome. Sarah came up with the idea to decorate office stuff, and I went a little crazy with Mod Podge and some scrapbook paper.

    I promise, more real entries to come when it's not my last week at work.

    September 16, 2008

    Lisa: don't worry, he's not a democrat either

    Before camera phones, we just had to tell our friends about the crazy cars we saw driving in front of us. Now, we can show a photo of said craziness to the entire world. Isn't this a magical time?

    I'm not sure you can read the fine print there, but if you prove him wrong (presumably on ANY of the text written on his vehicle), he'll pay you $5. Not bad! Although you would have to talk to a crazy person. So...not great.

    September 04, 2008

    Lisa: Adieu, adieu, to yuh and yuh and yuh

    Another thing I'll miss about summer: the fleet of strollers outside the door of our church on Sunday mornings. Yes, that's three double-wide strollers you see in the picture. Crazy Mormons.

    August 29, 2008

    Lisa: you can't hug a photograph

    At the beginning of August, we went to an outdoor showing of Goonies that combined three of Nora's favorite things in the world: being outside, live music, and macaroni and cheese. Not to mention some of her (and my) very favorite people. Don't worry, I have already forgiven Sarah and Mallory for sticking pens in my hair while I was lying on the blanket.

    The girls and I let Blake and Nora get to bed at a reasonable hour, then headed to Wal-Mart for midnight purchases of Breaking Dawn. Unfortunately, no one told me to take off my "I was bitten" pin before we went into the coffee shop, so I embarassed myself in front of the barista. Mew!

    Farewell, Summer. I hardly knew ye.

    August 27, 2008

    Lisa: in the closet, that's my stuff

    There was this incident. With the dish brush. And then I suddenly had to get rid of a bunch of stuff from our storage room. Maybe it's best not to ask.

    If you're interested in any of these items, click on the picture to go to the ad or auction!

    C-wind calculator ribbon wood DVD rack vibrating baby seat mirror over-door pantry 2 black speaker stands IBM 210 typewriter ribbon (2) maple6 software Sims game package black TV cabinet navy couch cover Boppy pillow and cover solid wood Mission headboard IBM Selectric II typewriter Hitachi 20

    August 20, 2008

    Lisa: does anyone want some herbs?

    I don't know if anyone remembers our herb garden project, but I thought I'd post an update since things are going so well.

    Here's a view of the whole garden, the HUGE comfrey plant (What does one use comfrey for? I guess I should have researched that before planting.), mint, sage, and our little champion tomato plant. We've picked ripe tomatoes four times now, I think. Sorry, I'm blocking the sun with the camera in some of these shots.

    So, does this count as having a vegetable garden? I think so. Now, to find a way to use some of these goodies before they go to waste...

    August 18, 2008

    Lisa: This is going to be awesome.

    I can see the resemblance:

    ETA: A few costumes I might have to look forward to.

    August 08, 2008

    Lisa: Red Dawn

    Lisa: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1234719/
    Sarah: Ohmygosh.
    Lisa: http://www.themovieinsider.com/m4854/red-dawn/
    Sarah: They're remaking it?!
    Lisa: A remake. Yes. I was seeing what movies were scheduled for 2010, in case it brought up any awesome costume ideas.
    Sarah: WOLVERINES!
    Lisa: Blake is going to plotz.
    Sarah: Plotz?
    Lisa: It's a real word!
    Sarah: I don't doubt that, i suppose, I just don't know its meaning?
    Lisa: PLOTZ: To burst, to explode, "I can't laugh anymore or I'll "plotz." To be aggravated beyond bearing.
    Sarah: Hee. Awesome. Thank you.
    Lisa: Thank the Dictionary of Yiddish Phrases.
    Sarah: I wish I knew more Yiddish.
    Lisa: plotz (pläts) intransitive verb
    INFORMAL to be overcome with emotion; give way to excitement, anger, delight, etc. Etymology: < E Yiddish platsn, lit., to burst, explode < MHG platzen

    Lisa: Are you going to plotz?
    Blake: Absolutely.

    August 05, 2008

    Lisa: one man's garb is another man's...garbage?

    Lisa: BS!
    Blake: Hi hotness
    Lisa: I am getting so excited about your costume for Comic-Con. So excited that I might condone you growing your beard out and putting beads in it.
    Blake: What is my costume? I am not aware of what is going on.
    Lisa: Well...I was thinking you could wear your kilt and dress as THE HIGHLANDER! What do you think? You could carry a sword?
    Blake: Yes, I would be The Highlander. I would like to carry a sword and have a braided beard. But if I am to do that I need to start growing now.
    Lisa: Hmmm. Well, what if it wasn't really BRAIDED so much as kind of scruffy? Maybe you could get beard extensions. Or have little beaded pigtails instead of true braids.

    Lisa: So, what costume are you going to wear for Comic-Con?
    Sarah: Hee. Sailor moon, of course.

    July 29, 2008

    Lisa: wait for it...

    I have so much to tell you, Internet! I've been...

  • Riding my bike in a parade

  • Falling in love with the Osmonds

  • Watching Nora take her first unassisted steps

  • Visiting an old friend and her brand new baby in the hospital
  • and so much more, really. Unfortunately, I should be spending my at-home computer time getting caught up on the accounting work I've been putting off. The only new content I have to offer is this ridiculous picture, made here. (Thanks for getting me through that last few minutes of the workday, angry chicken! How did you know I was looking for a way to more widely distribute photos of myself?)

    See you next week!

    July 23, 2008

    Lisa: Feisty

    Last Thursday, Sarah and I saw Feist at Deer Valley. She was AWESOME. I already thought her voice was unusual and cool, but it's even more unbelievable live. Plus, she kept teasing the Deer Valley crowd about their lawn chairs and their roasted red pepper caviar hummus with quail's eggs, which was good times. She also had a pair of amazing shadow artists performing behind her, projecting images onto the back wall of the stage--it was worth the hour's wait for dusk after the opening band.

    As the icing on the cake, we ran into Andrea and her friend and made them come sit with us, and Dave and Angie even stopped by on their way to the fancy seats.

    The only thing that could have made the night better is if Blake and Nora could have been there. Oh, well. I'll leave you with a message from Sarah:

    Peace, bitches!

    [Edited to add: I just noticed that the girl over Sarah's shoulder in that first picture is reading Twilight. Awesome.]

    July 21, 2008

    Lisa: This is why we are married.

    I admit it: I got sucked into the Twilight books AGAIN. I thought I was too good for that, but the new one is coming out in a few weeks and I couldn't fight it. (For the record, I have actually liked them better the second time around. Don't you judge me.) Anyway, Blake saw me reading one the other day, and started asking questions about this particular vamp universe. You might recall that we've watched a few Buffy episodes and other vampire movies in the past...suffice it to say that each oeuvre comes with its own mythology. Well, I guess I could have just said, "I don't know" or, "who cares," but I'm a librarian. When faced with a reference question, I must find the answer.

    Via email:


    I thought you might be interested in Stephenie Meyer's (the author's) answer to your question from yesterday.

    Q: Is it possible that a human could kill a vampire?
    A: Er, not really. A big enough bomb would probably be hot enough to burn a vampire, but the vampire would have to agree to hold still and let it hit him.




    Though I appreciate her answer in terms of mythology she just might as well have said it takes magic fairy dust to kill them. "No humans can kill vampires because they have a mystical force shield around them, or rather a miasma that defies the laws of physics."(haha) If it is a big enough bomb they wouldn't have to hold still they couldn't get away. It is not heat that does damage from bombs but rather kinetic energy so if we can determine how much kinetic energy it would take to pierce their skin then we can see whether or not a shot gun can produce enough kinetic energy. She does not understand thermodynamics and kinetic energy but I am preparing the equations just in case she ever asks me. Sorry I am a big nerd but am thankful for your e-mail.




    Well, I don't know about the laws of physics, but it's not a forcefield. It's because they're super hard, super strong, and super fast. Here's more:

    Q: Why do they sparkle?
    A: They sparkle because they have turned to substance that is somewhat like diamond. Their bodies have hardened, frozen into a kind of living stone. Each little cell in their skin has become a separate facet that reflects the light. These facets have a prism-like quality-they throw rainbows as they glitter.

    Q: How about stakes through the heart? Reflections? Photographs? Holy water? Garlic? All that traditional vampire lore.
    A: Bunch of garbage. I think all of them get addressed in New Moon except garlic and stakes. But you try shoving wood through granite.

    Q: Do the vampires have blood in their veins even though their heart no longer pumps? What would happen if they were cut or injured in some way?
    A: Most human fluids are absent in my vampires. No sweat, no tears, no blood besides that which they ingest-they don't have their own blood. They do sort of have saliva-the venom makes their mouths wet, at least. When they drink blood, it runs through their body and makes them strong. It floods through their old blood ways, though they don't have circulation anymore. It lightens their eyes and flushes their skin slightly. If a vampire were cut, there would only be blood if he/she had freshly drunk blood (and drunk a lot). Otherwise, there would only be a bit of venom. It would be like cutting into granite.




    I am already figuring out the necessary kinetic energy it would take for a thrust object or projectile to penetrate granite. The initial calculations do not bode well for most normal weaponry but several high powered rifles whose bullets reach teminal velocity in their descent can pass through almost 4 inches of granite. It still may not kill one but it certainly could ruin his or her day. Also interestingly enough a projectile like an arrow if propelled near the speed of sound can pass through 6 inches of granite assuming the arrow is made of a similar material. I guess I should invest in a shotgun for zombies and a guass rifle for vampires. But this is just my initial investigation. I am also looking at chemicals that will eat through diamonds. What about a diamond chainsaw blade hmmmmm, interesting. Can I get a chainsaw for Christmas?




    I love you so much. But also, don't forget the super speed.




    So true. I will have to develop a suit like Batman in a comic book set in the future where he had to square off against Superman. These vampires seem a little like Superman so that is what I should try to defend against, or say screw the whole thing and just hope they want to turn me instead of just eat me.


    July 08, 2008

    Lisa: no cruising yet

    Bicycle Shop Gentleman: Hi, need a repair?
    Lisa: Well, kind of, see--
    BSG: Your front wheel's on backwards.
    L: ...Yes.

    July 07, 2008

    Lisa: congratulations!

    We love you, Angie and Dave!

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming soon...

    June 23, 2008

    Lisa: the fall

    Dave: I'm calling to give you a movie recommendation: The Fall.
    Lisa: Oh yeah?
    D: Yeah. And this should mean something to you if no one else--it's by the same director as The Cell.
    L: The Cell? Really? With Jennifer Lopez?
    D: I mean, you loved that movie, right? Even though no one else did? Except, this one, instead of being ridiculous and stupid, is the best movie of the year.
    L: ...Thanks. So, what's it about?
    Angie: It's everything you could ever want in a movie.
    L: Everything? Is there singing and dancing?
    D: Yes.
    D: Well, nobody's crunking [sic] or anything. But, yes.
    L: Well, it sounds like I'd better go see it!
    D: Take Sarah. She'll like it too.

    Anybody want to go?

    June 21, 2008

    Lisa: Friends don't let friends wear men's golf shirts.

    You know those golf shirts they ordered for everyone at work? Yours doesn't really fit, does it? Like, it's somehow simultaneously too big AND too small? Maybe because you are not six feet tall and shaped like a sausage? I think I can help.

    First things first: find a good show on Tivo, so you don't get bored, and plop the baby in the walker. Hi, cutie!

    Double-check your measurements against your trusty dress form (you can even make your own if you don't want to splash out for this invaluable tool).

    Okay. Turn your golf shirt inside out and put it back on the dress form. Your shirt probably doesn't have side seams now--we're going to create side seams in order to give it some shape. The process is the same whether it already has side seams or not, really. Just grab the fabric at the side of the shirt, under the arm, and pin it together close to the dress form, keeping the pins marching in a fairly straight line down the side. If there's a place where the shirt is already somewhat snug, like at the hips or whatever, then you only need a tiny pin tuck to keep the illusion of a side seam going. You're going to pin the body of the shirt and then continue the line of pins around the curve at the armpit and along the bottom of the sleeve. Trust me, there's enough room in that sleeve to take out an inch or so.

    Unpick the ribbed material from the bottom of the sleeves. Just detatch it from the sleeve--don't unpick the stitching that keeps the cuff in a circle. Set those sad-looking things aside for now.

    Time to start sewing! Don't bother cleaning off the table first; this is enough domesticity for one day, don't you think? Anyway, you should stitch along the line of pins you put in earlier, pulling them out as you go. After you do both side seams with a straight stitch, change your machine to a zigzag and add a row of that OUTSIDE the side seams. Trim off the extra fabric right next to the zigzag stitch. If you have a serger, this can all be done in one step (but...you are probably a very competent seamstress and don't need my help).

    Let's address those monster sleeves. You can cut at least four inches of fabric off of each of those. This isn't an exact science; eyeball it, then fold over the fabric on top of itself as you go, using the cut-off bit as a guide so that you trim off a straight piece. Throw those pieces away, or make one into a headband a la 1990s Seventeen magazine featurettes.

    Once you have the sleeves trimmed down to size, pin the cuff back on. Make sure you think this through before you start sewing! Right sides go together, and the underarm seams go together. If your shirt is still inside out, you will be pinning the cuff inside the sleeve. Then stitch a straight stich and zigzag stitch (like the side seams) right along the rough edge of the ribbing.

    If you haven't tried your newly curvy shirt on yet, you might want to do that now to measure where the hem should be. Put the shirt on inside out, and pull the hem up over the shirt until you like the length. Pin it in four or five places so it'll stay in place while you pull the shirt back off.

    The bottoms of knit shirts are usually finished with a double row of straight stitching. To copy this look, just sew around the hem twice with a straight stitch, picking a place on the presser foot to measure against for the second time around. When you're sure that you haven't hemmed your shirt too short, trim off the extra fabric.

    Voila! Isn't that better? You just lost twenty pounds, visually. Work will be 45% more bearable today!

    June 20, 2008

    Lisa: Friday, Fries, and Frolf

    Last week, Nora and I had 45 minutes to kill before meeting my mom to shop for a Father's Day gift, so we decided to finally try the zucchini fries I've had my eye on at Woody's Drive-In.

    After we got our food, we drove to Creekside Park for a picnic. Here's Nora, eating a quesadilla and trying to charm the nearby kids into coming over and making friends. It worked.

    My raspberry shake was really good, and the zucchini fries were okay for a novelty food. They're strips of zucchini, battered and deep-fried--kind of like a heavier, wetter version of vegetable tempura.

    There was some kind of frisbee golf tournament happening at the park; at least, I hope so. About fifty men in their twenties and early thirties--the majority of them unfortunately shirtless--were just hanging around, throwing frisbees at poles at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. If it wasn't a tournament, I am terrified for my generation. Don't worry, though, I documented some of the half-naked frolfers for your viewing pleasure:

    June 19, 2008

    Lisa: I said who do you think you are

    I went to the hair salon on Tuesday.

    Stylist: "What's that paper? Aw! Did someone bring a picture?"
    Lisa: "Um. Maybe. No making fun!"
    S: "Let's see it! What do you want?"
    L: (Hangs head in shame, unfolds printed-out Word document and thrusts it at the stylist.) "Pob me."
    S: "Hee. All you had to say was 'Posh Spice.' Wow, you even cut and pasted these in here and everything! You're serious!"
    L: (Laughs uneasily.)

    I think it turned out OK, though.

    Sorry about the mirrors--it's surprisingly difficult to photograph the back of your own head.

    June 12, 2008

    Lisa: how about I make you a nice sandwich, and we'll forget this ever happened?

    I was innocently enjoying this unspeakably nerdy article on retconning in comic books when I stumbled across the words, "they like the taste of your sandwich."

    I think it was lunchtime. "Mmm, sandwich," I must have thought. I made an immediate mental note to add this turn of phrase to my everyday speech. To my lexicon, if you will. I tried it out in several contexts:

    1. In place of "I like the way you think"
    2. In an "I find you adorable" sort of situation
    3. As an "I'm picking up what you're putting down" substitute
    4. As my Facebook status

    I am saddened to report that I had a 0% success rate. People did not like the taste of my sandwich, if you know what I mean. I know, I know, you don't--that's the problem. It either came off as nonsensical or vaguely dirty, depending on the audience and the topic at hand. I'm afraid "I like the taste of your sandwich" will have to be retired (along with such gems as the exclamation, "that's over the COUNTER!").

    Now, more importantly: ham and cheese or peanut butter?

    June 06, 2008

    Lisa: perhaps the three plagues are dorkfaces, cover bands and cologne

    June 05, 2008

    Lisa: practically zero calories

    I couldn't resist these tiny 4.23-ounce Haagen-Dazs minis (with a little "spoon" inside the lid!) when I saw them on sale at Harmons for $1 each. They're the perfect size; you can eat the whole container in a satisfying way, but you get to skip the self-loathing that comes with polishing off an entire pint in a single sitting. Plus, there's the extreme cuteness factor.

    Of course, I had to use a regular-size spoon for faster delivery.

    June 04, 2008

    Lisa: What would Freud say?

    When my mom saw my new repurposed-thread-rack finger puppet display system sitting on my table, she exclaimed over the simultaneous cuteness and uselessness of finger puppets. We got to talking about them, and...I think this needs to be quoted directly.

    Mom: Hee. A Freud puppet might be funny for intimate moments. [holds up one finger as a puppet, wiggling it] "Are you ready for some...therapy?"
    Lisa: [condescending psychiatrist voice] "Does someone have an oral fixation?"

    That's right, I took it to the next level. With my mom.

    June 02, 2008

    Lisa: raspberry almond blondies

    I've been reading about Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share everywhere, especially on Angry Chicken, so I had to check it out from the library and see it myself.

    All of the recipes sound amazing, but you have to start somewhere, right? I went with the raspberry almond blondies (recipe after the jump).

    Fresh raspberries were a ridiculous $7 a box at the grocery store, so I bought frozen rasberries instead. I thawed and rinsed them, but I think frozen fruit still has a significantly higher water content than fresh fruit. I'm pretty sure this was the problem with my lemon blueberry yogurt bread, too. The blondies came out great, but took 30 minutes longer to cook than the recipe called for.

    Martha's Raspberry Almond Blondies

    makes 16

    9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
    1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup sliced almonds (about 3 ounces), toasted (I just spread them out on a cookie sheet under the broiler and turned them with a spatula once they started getting brownish on one side.)
    2 2/3 cups raspberries

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with one longish piece of parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over two sides. Butter parchment.

    2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

    3. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Or cream in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in 3/4 cup almonds.

    4. Pour batter into prepared dish; smooth top. Scatter berries and remaining 1/4 cup almonds over batter. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 55-60 minutes. If you use frozen berries, plan to add about thirty minutes to your cooking time, checking often.

    5. Let blondies cool 15 minutes. Transfer blondies to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares. Blondies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

    May 26, 2008

    Lisa: this should cover it

    Sometimes you just have to use your camera phone to take a picture of the car in front of you.

    In case it's hard to read the individual 2-inch letter stickers adhered to the back of this mini-van, they spell "A SIGN OF DISTRESS/NOT OF DISRESPECT." This confused me for a few blocks, until I saw the white sticker in the lower left corner of his rear window. You can't tell in the photo, but the sticker has a drawing of an American flag flying upside down, along with the same slogan. I'm not going to get into a discussion of proper flag etiquette, but this gentleman's message inspired a blanket-statement bumper sticker of my own:

    May 24, 2008

    Lisa: sour cream chocolate chip coffee cake

    For our Mother's Day dessert, I made chocolate-chip sour cream cake (recipe from the Boston Globe, after the jump). It was tasty with the chocolate chips, but I think it would be really good without, also--as a regular coffee cake, or with raspberries or something swirled in.

    Yum! We had ours with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.


    Makes one 9-by-13-inch cake

    1 stick of butter, at room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    3 eggs, separated
    16 ounces sour cream
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    12 ounces chocolate chips

    1. Have ready a greased 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

    2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks, sour cream, and vanilla.

    3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture.

    4. Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, then fold into the batter. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the chocolate chips.

    5. Pour half of the cake batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Pour remaining batter on top, then cover that with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.

    6. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

    Adapted from Deb Perelman

    May 23, 2008

    Lisa: no more nougat

    Ants ate my Toblerone. This is the universe telling me that I am too fat to be eating a Toblerone.

    On the other hand, I won the Toblerone in a drawing at work. I never win things. So, that could be the universe saying, "Go ahead. Eat a Toblerone. You've earned it!"

    STOP MESSING WITH MY MIND, UNIVERSE! I am feeling very fragile right now. Yes. What? Yes! Because ANTS. ATE. MY FRIGGIN TOBLERONE.

    May 22, 2008

    Lisa: orange rolls

    I thought orange rolls would go nicely with our American potluck, and boy, was I right. The jello was fun and everything, but this pull-apart concoction was so amazingly, evilly good. It may become a Christmas morning tradition at our house.

    It's easy, too--and if you don't have four hours to let the rolls rise, you can follow the quick-rise directions on the roll package. Recipe (from add to desired taste) after the jump. Reader beware: only make this if you have a lot of people to share it with, or if you want to gain approximately ten thousand pounds. Because you will eat the entire thing.

    Easy Orange Rolls

    1 package frozen rolls (Rhodes)
    1/4 cup melted butter
    5 Tablespoons sugar
    2 Tablespoons orange peel

    Preheat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar and orange peel in large bowl. Add FROZEN rolls, stir to coat. Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray. Pour rolls into bundt pan, making sure all of sugar mixture is on rolls. Cover with towel and let defrost/rise, about 4 hours. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Turn out onto serving plate immediately and pour frosting over top.

    1/4 cup butter
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 Tablespoon orange juice
    1 Tablespoon orange peel

    Mix with mixer until smooth.

    May 21, 2008

    Lisa: and the path leads...to puke

    Yesterday I was tooling around online, looking for retro jello recipes to link, and I found a posting from someone looking for recipes for their fifties-themed bridal shower. "Ooh! A fifties-themed shower," I thought to myself. "Fun! I love fifties things!" That made me think of Avocado Memories, and I spent a while there, remembering the awesomeness of Wes's family home and getting caught up on stuff he had posted in the last few years. One of his recent additions was a tribute to the Spirograph, a toy I also had as a kid--and that, in my mind, will forever be associated with puke.

    Once upon a time, when I was still little enough to ride in the basket of the shopping cart, my dad was pushing me around the store while he got some shopping done. I started feeling queasy, but before I could get Dad's attention, I threw up. I held my mouth closed as tightly as I could so I wouldn't make a mess, tugged on his sleeve, and pointed frantically at my mouth. Dad, thinking I was playing some wacky little-kid game, puffed out his cheeks and pointed at his own mouth, nodding his head. Unfortunately, at that moment, another heave hit me, and it was more than I could hold in. Puke sprayed out of my mouth, and probably all over me and whatever else was in the cart. I've blocked that part of the story out, because it is disgusting. What I do remember is that my dad felt so bad that he bought me Spirograph, which I played with happily all afternoon in bed.

    He also made me a puke-catching system out of nested paper grocery bags, which my mom promptly threw out and replaced with a proper barf-bucket when she got home.

    Anyway, thanks for taking care of me, Dad! Sorry about the mess.

    May 20, 2008

    Lisa: Ruby Red Layered Jello Salad

    When I was assigned a side dish for our last Freaks and Geeks potluck (American-themed in homage to Sarah's impending departure), I knew I had to make jello salad. What's more American than jello salad?

    This salad sounded perfectly gross-yet-delicious. An inch-thick layer of pure sour cream? It cuts the sweetness of the fruit jello perfectly. A whole can of cranberry sauce in the top layer? What is jello anyway, if not jellied fruit sauce? Spoon it up. Best of all, it's pretty and translucent and unnaturally red, as jello salad should be. (Recipe from Ping on GroupRecipes, after the jump.)


    1 (3 ounce) package raspberry flavored gelatin mix
    2 cups boiling water
    1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
    1 pint sour cream
    1 (3 ounce) package cherry flavored gelatin
    1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
    1 (16 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce


    1) Dissolve raspberry gelatin in 1 cup hot water. Add frozen raspberries, and stir until well mixed. Pour into a glass bowl. Refrigerate until almost firm, about 30 to 60 minutes.
    2) Spread sour cream over firm gelatin. Refrigerate.
    3) Dissolve cherry gelatin in 1 cup hot water. Stir in crushed pineapple and cranberry sauce. Chill until partially set, about 20 to 40 minutes.
    4) Spoon cherry gelatin mixture over sour cream layer. Chill until firm, another hour or two.

    Note: This salad is most attractive when made in a crystal bowl so the various layers can be seen.

    May 19, 2008

    Lisa: I can't drink that

    Sarah and I were loitering in the drink aisle of the grocery store, trying to find the perfect flavored lemonade, when we spied some very appealing packaging.

    It was a small, dark blue glass bottle, with little bumps on the sides and a silver screw-top. "I'd buy this one just because the bottle is so pretty," one of us said, turning the drink around so we could read the name.

    "Oh. Never mind."

    I think the marketing person who chose the name Bawls and the marketing person who designed the bottle are two separate individuals--and the person designing the bottle knew he had to do some of his very best work to overcome that name. A noble effort, too--it was almost successful. Unfortunately, the problem is compounded because Bawls Guarana Exxtra (now with more energy, perhaps?) comes in a white version of the same bottle. If you want the original, you have to request the "blue Bawls."

    Thank you, but...no.

    May 18, 2008

    Lisa: apple tart

    In an effort to use up a bunch of overpriced apples I had purchased for a library program, I found myself searching Tastespotting for good-looking apple recipes. Somehow I still ended up at Smitten Kitchen, with the Simplest Apple Tart.

    The tart turned out gorgeous AND delicious. The only trouble I had was with the dough--there just didn't seem to be enough of it. I rolled it so thin that it kept tearing, but it still barely made it to the edges of the dish. There wasn't enough dough to wrap up over the tops of the apples, and it certainly wouldn't have worked galette-style. Or maybe my dish was too big, and I had too many apples. I don't know.

    Recipe after the jump.

    Alice Waters’s Apple Tart

    For dough:
    1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
    3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

    For filling:
    2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    5 tablespoons sugar

    For glaze: 1/2 cup sugar

    MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

    DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

    PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

    OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

    BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples.

    BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

    MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.

    REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

    BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

    May 16, 2008

    Lisa: Hand-drawn Friday

    We had our Bon Voyage party for Sarah and Marci at the Crown, and I felt the occasion called for a little festive headwear. I did an image search for some of the famous landmarks they'll be seeing in Europe, and drew simplified versions onto colored paper. Voila! Crowns at the Crown. It's not the first time, but it might be one of the best.

    Canal houses in Amsterdam

    Parliament building in Budapest

    London's Tower Bridge

    Tyn Church in Prague

    Roman Coliseum

    Hairy Coo from Scotland

    I miss you guys!

    May 15, 2008

    Lisa: lemon blueberry yogurt bread

    This bread tasted great and looked pretty good considering what a hard time it had coming into the world. The recipe (from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen, after the jump) calls for a cup of yogurt that makes the bread super moist. Knowing this, I didn't worry when--after cooking for 50 minutes--the knife I used to test the center of the nicely browned loaf came out clean, but wettish. I soaked the bread with lemon juice glaze, let it cool in the pan for ten minutes, then turned it out onto a cooling rack. Immediately, the uncooked, heavy, wet center of the bread broke through the top crust and started dripping out onto the counter. I quickly slipped the pan back down over the bread, held the rack to the pan and flipped the bread back in, and popped the whole mess back in the oven for another TWENTY MINUTES. The edges got quite brown, but the center seemed to have firmed up. After the bread was cool and I sliced it up, it looked pretty good--I only ended up throwing out two slices from the very middle, where the crater at the top was most visible.

    Anyway, I probably wouldn't make this again, at least not without keeping a very close eye on the baking time and temperature. If you're trying this recipe, I might suggest a lower temperature for a longer time. Other changes: I used a little more lemon zest than called for, and regular frozen blueberries instead of miniature wild blueberries (because, seriously?).

    Smitten Kitchen's Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
    Adapted from Ina Garten

    1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    3 extra-large eggs
    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed (miniature wild blueberries are great for this, and pose the least risk of sinking)
    1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

    Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

    Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

    When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.

    May 14, 2008

    Lisa: quirky

    Jessica of How About Orange posted six of her "unremarkable quirks", and I felt inspired to do the same.

    1. The sound of a spoon clonking around the inside of a glass blender jar is one of the nicest sounds I have ever heard. It's at least 30% of the reason I make blended frozen drinks.

    2. I really like stalking. And spying. And covertly collecting information on people of interest. Not in a creepy way, of course. But, you? Yeah, you with the hair? I have Googled you.

    3. Figure skating (singles, pairs, ice dancing, whatever--give me a spangly costume featuring illusion netting and someone swooping around effortlessly balanced on two tiny blades, and I'm sold) is the only sport I really enjoy watching on TV. Are there community ed skating classes for old people? Do you want to sign up with me?

    4. Serial killers fascinate me. If I start looking things up in the Crime Library, I get sucked in for hours. I don't let myself read much true crime, because I'm afraid it would become a habit--and there are probably more uplifting (and better written) things I could fill my mind with. Maybe four years old was too young to start listening to Sweeney Todd...no, I jest, you can never be too young for Sweeney Todd.

    5. I love typing, and when I get going, I can type almost as fast as I can talk. It's like talking with my fingers, and for some reason that's a little thrilling. Maybe in another life I'll get a job as a court stenographer--but I'd want to do the voices when I read back the transcripts, and I'm pretty sure that's frowned upon.

    6. I have written and published on the internet a three-chapter piece of fan-fiction. It may or may not be romantic in nature and was recognized as a featured story on the site. I am simultaneously proud and ashamed. Try to find it at your own risk.

    May 12, 2008

    Lisa: herb garden

    It took us at least three Saturdays, but Blake and I finally finished the herb garden we started a month ago (and have been planning since January). It turned into a much bigger project than we anticipated, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. The idea was that the garden would fill the triangular space created by the edge of our patio meeting the angle of the driveway. It's an awkward space to mow, and I thought a raised garden bed would solve that problem AND look nice there.

    First, I mapped the whole thing out on paper and took all the measurements. Then I marked off where the garden would go, using a makeshift system of skewers and the ugliest yarn I own, Mr. Brown. We were out of string. You can see in these pictures that there are a few weird features in this corner of the yard, including two different types of wrought iron (the fence and the posts holding up the awning over the patio), two different types of cement bases for the posts, and some little braces connecting the fence to one of the posts--I assume to give stability to the fence. I was hoping the garden would sort of camouflage some of these idiosyncracies.

    Blake cut the sod out of my marked area...

    ...and we picked up some redwood decking at Home Depot for the sides of the raised bed. The guys at the Depot cut it to the lengths I had measured and everything. Blake had to do a little extra cutting to make a hole for one of the wrought iron braces to go through, but that's it.

    The corner brackets are made by a company called Frame It All, and I found them at a garden store in Bountiful called J&L Garden Center. The brackets are great, because they allowed us to build something that was much more complex and nice-looking than our carpentry skills would have allowed otherwise. You can use them with any 2x6 wood, too, not just the plastic stuff sold by Frame It All. A few caveats, though:

    1) The included instructions only work if you're putting your garden (or sandbox, or whatever) out in the middle of an open lawn. Otherwise, you'll need to figure out the installation on your own.

    2) There are two types of brackets--Anchor Joints and Stacking Joints. I think you'd only need the Anchor Joints if you have really loose, sandy soil. If you have rocky clay, like we do, give yourself a break and use the Stacking Joints for both levels. Trust me, that six-inch stake will be stable enough.

    3) The copy on the box says that the joints adjust to any angle. This is not exactly true. There is a minimum angle, which is why they recommend using at least a four-foot timber between each joint. Our first layout had a very narrow angle at the top of the triangle, which was too small for the Frame It All brackets. We changed the layout a bit, picked up a few more brackets to accomodate the jog around the post anchor (and a few more boards), and ended up with a shape that I think I like better anyway.

    After we cut out another strip of sod, we laid out the boards and anchors where they would ultimately go, to make sure everything would work. Luckily, I had measured things right!

    Blake and Sarah helped dig the holes for the stakes, and we got the boards and joints all in place and screwed together.

    We took three trips to the garden store for bags of dirt, because we completely underestimated the amount of dirt it would take to fill up the garden. I think it was ten bags of compost and potting soil all together.

    After the fresh, smooth dirt was in, it was quick work to plant the herbs and things we had bought. There's parsley, two kinds of sage, rosemary, thyme, two types of oregano, comfrey, two different mints, and I think a few others, plus several sweet williams (a Mother's Day gift from my mom) and a couple of the strawberry plants we got from the Turnbulls.

    We left a little space to plant something that will climb up the post that is inside the bed. Now, if we can just manage to keep everything alive and looking nice! One of the lawn sprinklers is inside the new bed (Blake added some pipe to make it taller), so at least our efforts shouldn't be foiled by a lack of watering.

    May 08, 2008

    Lisa: Strawberry 100%

    From the back of a book I checked in this morning:


    The hero (me, Junpei Manaka!) sneaks up to the roof to see the sunset. When he opens the door, he startles a mysterious beauty. She panics and runs away, but not before Junpei has caught sight of her adorable strawberry print panties...in EXTREME close-up. With that vision forever burned into his memory, Junpei embarks on a quest to find the girl, and the panties, of his dreams!


    Oh, Junpei. We've all been there. May your quest for the perfect strawberry print panties be fruitful.

    May 05, 2008

    Lisa: headboard

    The other day, I started vaguely considering a minor bedroom-revamping, and I priced some upholstered headboards online. That morphed into looking for instructions on making your own upholstered headboard, and then suddenly all the raw materials were at my house, waiting for me to do something with them. Funny how that happens.

    Anyway, one day while Nora was down for a nap, I brought the baby monitor outside, dragged the chipboard and foam out of the garage, and got started.

    I got the foam pieced together and glued by the time she woke up. I hadn't really thought about how I was going to glue the foam together, but I remembered from Cockeyed that contact cement might work. I wasn't sure what contact cement was, and I knew I didn't have any, so I googled it. Hmmm. That container looks kind of like blue glue, doesn't it? I dug the blue glue out of Blake's bag of sprinkler stuff and used that--it's stinky, but it worked fine. It didn't take much to get the edges to stick to each other.

    For the headboard's arch, I traced a template I had found online, printed out, and taped together. After I had the shape marked, I used Marci's RotoZip saw to cut it out. This is the perfect tool for this kind of application. The RotoZip is basically a drill, but with a little guard added around the drill bit, and an extra handle on the side for stability. you put the guard right up against whatever you're sawing, and then move the drill wherever you want, making a freehand cut. So, it's not intimidating to use for anyone who has used a drill before. It doesn't make a perfectly smooth or straight cut (especially in a material of varying content, like chipboard), but that's OK when you're planning on covering your cut with thick layers of foam and fabric, and you just need the right overall shape. Thanks, Marci!

    Meanwhile, Nora was being a superchamp, yelling back at the saw and thinking we were playing an awesome new game.

    Once I had the wood cut out, I wrestled it on top of the foam and traced it with a sharpie. I used my trusty electric kitchen knife to cut the foam. That's what the instructions said to use, and when the lady at JoAnn's used an electric knife to cut the length I needed, I figured it was the way to go.

    Nora thought the knife was almost as fun as the saw.

    After I brought Nora inside and got her set up with some toys, I laid out my fabric, right side down, and lugged the wood and foam inside and centered the foam on the fabric. I trimmed the extra fabric a bit.

    I got some big covered button kits (the only kind sold at JoAnn's) and made some buttons with the scraps I had trimmed off. I pinned the fabric loosely to the back of the foam, flipped it over, and figured out where I wanted to place the buttons. Then I sewed the buttons through the fabric and foam, and through another button on the back side to keep the thread from pulling through the foam. Here's the thing. In my experience, tufting with buttons is harder than you think it should be. For one thing, if you're using a covered button, the loop that your thread has to go through is on the back of the button. If your button is pulled into the foam really deeply, how do you get your needle back through that loop for another pass? It doesn't seem like one thickness of thread would be strong enough to keep the button tight against all that foam, either. And the first time you're pushing the needle through, it's tricky (and hurts your fingers) to push the needle in as far as you can while simultaneously compressing the foam to get the needle to poke through the other side far enough so that you can grab the tip and pull it out. I am convinced that the pros have a different set of tools to use when they're doing deep tufting--possibly including a very large needle, very strong thread, and some kind of button system with an open-faced (?) button on each side of the foam, which is easy to pull tight and allows for a decorative covered button to be snapped on afterward. Anyway, my buttons aren't as deep as I'd like, but they look OK.

    Once I had the buttons sewn in, I unpinned the fabric from the back of the foam, laid the chipboard down on top of the foam, and stretched the fabric as tightly as I could around the back of the board, stapling as I went. In a few places I had to pull the staples out, smooth things out a bit, and staple again, but it worked pretty well. I'm really glad I believed the part of the instructions that says to glue the board to the foam ONE INCH BELOW the top of the foam, even though they are cut to the same size. This allows the top of the foam to curve back around the board, making a nice round edge at the top of the headboard, instead of a slope ending with the hard edge of the board. With the headboard being so big and heavy, it was hard to get the fabric pulled tightly enough while keeping things smooth. Maybe enlist a strong person to help.

    Speaking of strong people, I got Blake to help me prop up the headboard above our bed so that I could take this extremely anticlimactic picture of the final product. I don't know what's going on with the focus and the lighting and the colors here, but I'll post some prettier pictures when the whole revamping is done.

    foam: $40
    fabric: $18
    button kits: $10
    chipboard: $8
    Everything else I already had or made Sarah dig out of her storage unit.
    Total: $86

    If I were going to do this over again, I'd use a lighter but still rigid material (MDF?) instead of the chipboard and a slightly thinner foam covered with a thin layer of quilt batting to soften the edges of the foam. I think I'd also cut the foam a bit larger than the backing, so that it would wrap around the edges more. I'd definitely try to figure out some way to get the buttons sewn in more deeply. All in all, though, I'm happy with it--and it was certainly cheaper than buying one readymade.

    April 29, 2008

    Lisa: chicken & broccoli quiche

    Soon after I had Nora, my awesome friend Gabrielle brought over dinner. It was SO GOOD, you guys. It was a salad with homemade dressing (in a container that I complimented so much that she got me one for my birthday), and a deep-dish quiche with broccoli and chicken. Blake loved the quiche so much that he called Gabrielle and told her so. Possibly more than once. Gabrielle thoughtfully included a handwritten copy of the quiche recipe, and I finally got around to making it last week. Why didn't I do it before? I'm kicking myself, because it is so easy and so delicious. Anyway, this is definitely going to be one of the ten recipes I memorize.

    Gabrielle's recipe is after the jump. Things I added are in bold. If you want to kick the whole thing up a notch (both in taste and in difficulty), make it in the homemade crust of your choosing.

    Edited to add: I only have one glass pie pan, so I made the second quiche (which wasn't eaten yet by the time I took pictures) in a square baking dish. It worked fine, but the crust--which started out round--looks a little funny. Don't you judge me.

    Gabrielle's Chicken & Broccoli Quiche

    Serves 6. Cooking time 35-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    1 unbaked 9" pie shell (I use Pillsbury) These are in the refrigerated section near the Pillsbury crescent rolls in the tube. Get the rolled up refrigerated kind instead of the kind in the freezer section that are already in a pie tin, because then you can bake the quiche in your own dish and crimp the edge yourself so that it looks more homemade. Tricky! They come two to a package, so you might as well make two quiches at once.
    2 cups fresh broccoli, cooked and drained
    1 whole chicken breast, cooked and chopped Or chopped and then cooked, which is how I did it since I was in a rush. Small pieces = faster cooking, plus they don't have to look pretty because they'll be covered with delicious, delicious egg and cheese.
    6-8 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into 1/4" cubes When I was buying the cheese, I forgot I was doubling the recipe, so I bought an 8-ounce brick. When I figured out my mistake back at home, I threw in 4 additional ounces of cheddar that I had on hand. The cheddar was tasty in the finished product, and I ended up with about 6 ounces of cheese per quiche. Disaster averted.
    3 eggs
    1 cup heavy cream I also only got enough cream for one quiche, but I added a cup of milk to make up the difference in volume (skim is what I had on hand). I didn't notice a difference, and there was a little less fat, so...whatever. Your mileage may vary.
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    chives (green onions) to taste

    Leave the pie shells out of the fridge for 15 minutes or so before unrolling. Unroll pie shell and place in pie pan while you prepare the other ingredients. Sprinkle broccoli in bottom of the shell. Top with chicken, then cheese. In a small bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs, cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until blended, but not frothy. Pour over cheese mixture; sprinkle with chives. Bake in 375-degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you have some extra, sprinkle grated swiss over the top for the last 15 minutes of cooking.) Let stand at least ten minutes before cutting.

    Since I made two quiches but only needed one, I pulled the other out of the oven at 35 minutes and stuck it in the freezer. The interwebs tell me I can warm it up in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes. I'll let you know how that turns out.

    April 28, 2008

    Lisa: potato leek soup

    We tried our second recipe from Everyday Foods a while ago, and it was a definite improvement over the last effort. Blake cooked while I held Nora and dispensed unhelpful advice, and he was very competent and patient. The soup was good, but not good enough to bother heating up and eating later, apparently--we ended up throwing the leftovers out a week later. If you have a recipe for a main dish you think I should try, please let me know. I can always find a dessert recipe that sounds good, but I struggle more with the main course.

    Recipe after the jump--things I added are in bold.

    Potato-Leek Soup

    serves 4 * prep time 15 minutes * total time: 45 minutes

    6 medium leeks (about 2 1/4 pounds), whites only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, cleaned
    2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1 baking potato (8 ounces), peeled and diced We used two potatoes, and I'm glad we did. The soup was still fairly thin.
    Coarse salt
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup snipped fresh chives mental note: chives are green onions, dummy

    Leeks can be extremely dirty and are best cleaned after they've been trimmed and cut. Soak cut leeks in a bowl of cool water; lift them out, replace the water, and repeat until no grit remains at the bottom of the bowl. Drain on paper towels. Good luck "lifting out" chopped up leeks. I think we used a colander.

    1. In a large saucepan, combine the leeks, broth, potato, 2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

    2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, transferring it to a clean bowl as you work. (To prevent splattering, fill the blender only halfway, and allow heat to escape: Remove the cap from the hole in the lid, and cover the lid firmly with a dish towel.) Blend a little longer than you think you need to, so the potato blends in well and isn't still grainy. Stir the cream into the pureed soup, and season with salt. Garnish with the chives. Serve immediately.

    3. If desired, chill the soup: Cover loosely with plastic wrap, adn chill until cold, at least two hours and up to two days. If necessary, thin with water, and season with salt. Serve the soup in chilled glasses, garnished with chives.

    Cook's note:
    Depending on the weather, serve this comforting soup hot or cold. You can quickly chill it by placing it into a metal bowl set into an ice bath; stir frequently until the soup reaches the desired temperature.

    April 25, 2008

    Lisa: Sorry, Mom.

    I thought I'd kick off Handwritten Fridays with a few truly useless but laboriously handwritten items that have (against all reason) survived for THIRTEEN YEARS since their creation.

    You see, kids, in the dark days before text messaging, public school students annoyed their teachers by passing long, detailed notes to each other, expounding upon the controversial topics of parental injustice, how close they were to failing Bio, and the heartbreak of unrequited love.

    If that student of yesteryear were lucky enough, the object of her unreturned affections might pass her a sweet, encouraging note like this:

    (Yes, since you ask, I had a crush on him for five years. Can't you see why?)

    April 10, 2008

    Lisa: they put the "bling" in sibling

    Some of my innate awesomeness obviously rubbed off on my brothers and sister, because...

    David is trying to decide between the architecture programs at Columbia and Virginia Tech (assuming his dance career doesn't work out), and I couldn't be more excited that he and Angie just got engaged.

    Sarah (as you know) is on her way to Europe for a study abroad program, and will graduate from the U with a major in Being Completely Awesome next fall.

    Jeffrey is serving selflessly in the slums of New Jersey for one more year, and then will return to his school for slightly socially awkward geniuses.

    I'm so proud of you guys! I could just sit on you and poke you in the ribs all day.

    (Happy Sibling Day, everybody!)

    April 05, 2008

    Lisa: Marathon Stats

    All this looking back reminded me that I intended to collect all the numerical data from our marathon entries, put it into Excel, and generate some kind of graphical representation. Because I'm a nerd and I like stuff like that.

    Anyway, here it is at long last:

    For each data series, you can see a line linking the actual data points (the jagged line) and a smooth line indicating the overal trend of the series. In general, as we added more distance, our spead decreased. We might have gotten in better shape, but that improvement was obviously directed toward distance, not speed. My weight stayed pretty much the same over six months of training, but my body fat percentage did exhibit a small downward trend. Now you know.

    April 04, 2008

    Lisa: five years

    I can hardly believe it's been five years since we started this thing. I don't think we've really reached my initial goal of "being awesome just like Defective Yeti," but it's been fun and, you know, full of self-discovery (or at least self-indulgence).

    How else does a terrible scrapbooker document her travels to the exotic locales of California (Several times, I guess. Hee.), Massachussets, Maryland, Illinois, Southern Utah, Scotland, and England?

    Where in real life would I find someone willing to hear about me learning to knit or starting to cook? Suddenly caring about politics?

    And you know I would have forgotten exactly when and how I did some of the stuff on my 29x29 list, like buying a house, going to grad school, starting my career (where I meet such interesting people), finishing a marathon, and having a baby.

    Five years of Two Loose Teeth means a few entries I read again and smile. I'm glad there is published proof of Scrabble pee, my feelings on personal grooming, an attempt at instant messaging without a keyboard, Thanksgiving panties, humiliation at the car dealership, waxing philosophical about books and religion, feeling a mom's love for the first time, or just sharing the good times and the not so good.

    Most of all, it means five years of blogging with the best pal a gal could have. Thank you, Sarah, for being my same-brain-sister and my best friend, even though I was totally mean to you twenty years ago. Here's to the next five.

    April 01, 2008

    Lisa: Do this, don't do that--can't you read the sign?

    Quite a prodigious collection of passive agressive notes for one 8'x10' break room, don't you think?

    This one reads: "If you make a mess on the table, sink, or in the frig or microwave, Please use these wipes and clean up after yourself immediately. Thank you. [smiling sun]"

    I especially like the escalating comment penciled in on the bottom corner here: "I didn't know water made a mess! [signed,] Deeply offended Jean"

    These two should be viewed as a set--the sign asking people not to leave coats at the table, and a sweater left at the table. The sweater's owner has been flaunting her disregard for that sign for weeks. Well, days.

    Let's round out the set with a sign-up sheet for cleaning (only 7 of our 20 employees took the bait on that one), a "helpful" warning that personal belongings deemed objectionable will be thrown away by an anonymous judge, and a notice of paper towel machine changes (I don't even know).

    March 28, 2008

    Sarah: LOLisa

    Because we like to join internet phenomena long after their "best before" date, Lisa and I (and Mallory and Marci) have long joked about LOLCats, their ridiculousness, the mystery surrounding their charm, and so on. I suppose I've already hinted at this schtick here.

    Perhaps because we'd already joked about it, a string of emails from Lisa first confused, and then utterly charmed me. See, i could just picture my adorable sister giggling uncontrollably over her keyboard as she wrote these messages. You should imagine a similar image. It greatly enhances the experience when you know how much she was cracking herself up:

    Date: March 5, 6:40 pm
    Subject: You can thank me later.
    Body: LolCat Bible

    Date: March 5, 7:48 pm
    Subject: I don't think there are enough thank yous in the world.

    Date: March 5, 7:52 pm
    Subject: Obviously this is a sickness.

    And then, weeks later, the best email yet:

    Date: March 27, 9:55 pm
    Subject: LOLNora
    Body: Nora has a message for you.


    March 27, 2008

    Lisa: lemon bread

    I've been looking for a dessert recipe that sounded fresh and spring-y, but that would mail well so I could send a treat to my brother Jeff. A coworker suggested a quickbread, and after a little looking around, I thought lemon bread sounded perfect.

    The recipe I used is from Muffins & Quick Breads, from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library (recipe after the jump).

    I finished baking the bread at around midnight, and turned the loaves out on the racks to cool. I considered leaving them out all night, but after puttering around for half an hour, I decided the bread was cool enough and wrapped one up in foil and sealed it in a padded mailing envelope, and put the other one on a plate with foil over it (because doesn't lemon bread sound delicious for breakfast?). The bread smelled so good, I had to slice a piece off the second loaf and eat it right then. It was delicious. The crumb wasn't as fine as it looked in the picture in the book, but that might be because I didn't chop the almonds fine enough, or because I cut it with a dull knife while it was still warm. Anyway, thank GOODNESS I tasted a piece (and took pictures), because...the ants.

    The next morning, when I came into the kitchen, I noticed a thick trail of my tiny nemeses emerging from the edge of the cabinet by the dishwasher and leading across the front edge of the countertop, directly to the foil-covered plate of lemon bread. After shouting "oh NO!" loud enough to wake up Sarah, I whipped off the foil, and confirmed my fear that my newly-baked loaf was swarming with ants. Stupid little sugar-loving bastards.

    Anyway, there was some crying. Some yelling. Some detective work. Some poison spraying. But we lived, and Jeff's (antless) loaf got mailed off all right. Thanks, Mom and Blake, for your help with all of that.

    Shall we remember the bread that was?

    Lemon Bread


    1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) vegetable shortening
    1 cup (8 oz/250 g) sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/4 cups (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) milk
    1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
    1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) chopped pecans

    1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease and flour a medium (8 1/2-inch/21-cm) loaf pan.

    In a large bowl combine the shortening and sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl stir and toss together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the shortening mixture, along with the milk and lemon zest, and beat until blended and smooth. Stir in the pecans. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until a thin wooden skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour.

    While the bread bakes, make the lemon syrup by combining the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside, stirring occasionally; don't worry if the sugar does not dissolve completely.

    Remove the bread from the oven and, using a fork, gently poke the top in several places. Stir the syrup, then slowly drizzle it over the hot bread. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    Makes 1 medium loaf

    Cooks' note:
    This recipe carries a double dose of lemon: grated zest in the batter and lemon syrup poured over the bread after baking. For a heavenly dessert, bake it in 2 miniature loaf pans, then top the slices with berries and whipped cream.

    March 22, 2008

    Lisa: tortilla soup

    As my mom pointed out the other day, I haven't really turned out to be much of a cook. ("You're more of a career woman!" was how she softened the blow.) That said, I think it's really important when you have a family with kids to sit down at a table for a homemade, nutritionally sound dinner every night and talk to each other. Well...now the theoretical kid has become an actual kid who is starting to eat solid foods, so I guess I'd better get this cooking thing figured out.

    I checked out a cookbook from the library, and I'm really excited about it. It's called Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. The photos are gorgeous as always with Martha, and the recipes sound tasty and easy, using regular supermarket ingredients. I got Blake to go through the Spring section with me, and we marked all the recipes we thought would be fun to try. We're going to make a new one each week.

    This week's effort was tortilla soup (recipe after the jump), and it was okay. The soup itself is super basic, just chicken broth with shredded, boiled chicken in it. The interest is all in the toppings you add--even the "tortilla" part is a topping. Also, garnishing a brothy (as opposed to creamy) soup with cheese is a little odd. The cheese doesn't blend in and make the soup creamier; it turns into melty self-contained globs floating in the broth, or glomming around bits of chicken or your spoon.

    What I wish I'd known beforehand: The instructions as written require you to own two pots large enough to hold more than 8 cups of soup. I only have one pot that big, which meant some last-minute improvising, leading me to momentarily forget about the tortilla strips burning in the oven.

    Verdict: The soup was fine, but I probably won't make it again.

    Tortilla Soup

    Serves 4 * Prep time: 30 minutes * Total time: 30 minutes

    For the soup

    4 skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
    1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1 jalapeno chile, diced (with seeds for more heat)
    6 corn tortillas (6-inch)
    3 tablespoons canola oil
    Coarse salt

    For the garnish

    1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (5 ounces)
    4 large scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
    1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
    1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
    1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
    1 lime, cut in wedges

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large pot, bring the chicken, broth, jalapeno, and 8 cups of water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; let cool.

    2. Brush both sides of the tortillas with oil, stacking them as you go. Cut the stack in half, and then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Place the strips on a rimmed baking sheet; bake, tossing the strips occasionally, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

    3. Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the broth in the pot, and strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean pot (you should have about 8 cups). Shred the chicken with a fork or with your fingers, and return it to the pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Divide the soup among serving bowls, and add the tortilla strips. Garnish as desired.


    The chicken can be cooked up to a day in advance; cool, then store the chicken and cooking liquid separately in the refrigerator. Shred the meat just before using. You can also use the leftover or store-bought roasted chicken in this soup; use two quarts homemade or reduced-sodium canned chicken broth instead of the cooking liquid.

    March 20, 2008

    Lisa: 29 x 29

    When I was making my list of things I want to do, I started thinking about the things I've already done. I think everyone should do this--we all need a little pat on the back and a reminder that we've experienced some pretty cool things.

    In the last 29 years, I have...

    1. Backpacked through Europe
    2. Become a regular at a restaurant
    3. Bought my own house
    4. Chosen a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch
    5. Collected trilobite fossils
    6. Cooked with fresh herbs I grew
    7. Danced in the rain like a crazy person
    8. Earned a Master’s degree
    9. Finished a marathon
    10. Found the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies
    11. Given birth
    12. Hung my own art in my home
    13. Landed a job in a career I love
    14. Laughed until I peed my pants
    15. Married someone who thinks talking nonsense as I fall asleep is charming
    16. Performed in front of an orchestra (four times)
    17. Picked fresh raspberries
    18. Printed using an old-fashioned letterpress
    19. Seen the Grand Canyon
    20. Shopped for honey at a Trappist monastery
    21. Spent the night on a train
    22. Started my own business
    23. Stayed up all night reading a book
    24. Stood in four states at once
    25. Swam with a sea turtle
    26. Touched a stalagmite
    27. Tried water-skiing and snow-skiing
    28. Worn something I knitted
    29. Written a blog featured on Boing Boing

    March 19, 2008

    Lisa: 35 x 35

    I'm turning 30 this year, a milestone that I think typically comes with a lot of soul-searching and maudlin whining about getting old. Time is going by faster than ever, and I was starting to get concerned about waking up one day as a sixty-year-old, having no idea how I'd gotten there and wishing I'd done more along the way. When I saw Maggie's list of 100 Things to Do Before I Go, it seemed like the perfect way to take control of the next few years of my life and accomplish some things--big and small--that I want to do for myself. Instead of 100 things to do before I die, my list is 35 things I want to do before I turn 35. I work better with a deadline.

    1. Appear as an extra in a movie
    2. Attend a fancy-dress ball
    3. Be debt free
    4. Build a tree house
    5. Buy a new car with cash
    6. Eat off the fancy china more than twice a year
    7. Find the perfect signature scentB&B White Citrus
    8. Fly first class
    9. Give homemade Christmas gifts December 2009
    10. Go on a photo safari in Africa
    11. Help someone learn to love to read 10/29/12
    12. Ice skate at Rockefeller Center 12/31/09
    13. Inspire someone to become a librarian 3/20/08
    14. Make Nora the Halloween costume of her choice, like my mom did10/22/11
    15. Meet an honest-to-goodness celebrity
    16. Memorize (and regularly use) ten main-dish recipes
    17. Order room service in a five-star hotel 3/23/09
    18. Own a fabulous designer bag or pair of shoes
    19. Paint every room in my house a different color
    20. Quit my job and work from home9/4/08
    21. Rent a scooter in Greece
    22. Reupholster a piece of furniture myself
    23. Sew Nora’s baby clothes or Christmas pajamas into a quilt 4/12/09
    24. Sign up for a pottery class December 2009
    25. Sing in a musical 11/14/08
    26. Spend money only on essentials for one month June 2010
    27. Start a vegetable garden 8/20/08
    28. Stop needing validation from other people
    29. Tailor all the clothes in my closet so they fit just right
    30. Take ballroom dance lessons
    31. Teach Nora to knit or sew
    32. Walk along the Great Wall of China 3/29/09
    33. Wear a bikini on the beach without being embarrassed
    34. Weave a rug on a loom
    35. Write and publish a book

    March 11, 2008

    Lisa: local flavor

    Just Cook It

    A month or so ago, some friends brought over a meal from Just Cook It, and we all made it together. It was some kind of Thai chowder with chicken, and it was DELICIOUS. The idea is that you sign up for however many meals you want (certain dishes are only served on certain days), and the groceries and a detailed recipe calculated for the right number of people will be delivered to your door. The groceries were beautiful and fresh, and we got just the amounts we needed. Just Cook It serves a very limited area (eastern Salt Lake City), and the meals aren't much cheaper than dining out, but if you enjoy cooking but hate the shopping and meal planning aspects, or if you want to look like a much more accomplished chef than you really are, it's worth a try! I think it's a great option for a date or social gathering where the cooking is part of the activity.

    So Cupcake

    When a cupcake bakery opened up less than two miles from where we live, Sarah and I had to go check it out. The bakery is called So Cupcake, and it's a very cute little shop in a very ugly building. The cupcakes have cutesy names like "So High the Moon Lemon," but we ignored that and got several to try: red velvet, lemon, mocha, and carrot cake. They were all tasty, but my favorite was carrot cake, followed by the lemon. The cupcakes themselves were moist and good, but it was the frostings that really stood out. Tasty--and how fun to have them so close! I figure that if we walk there, we can justify the calories of the cupcakes...

    Mighty Leaf Tea

    Mighty Leaf isn't local, but you can purchase their tea online or at a nearby Wild Oats. After seeing a recommendation on Mighty Girl, I ordered a sample pack of different herbal teas, and so far they've been really good. As Maggie said, they're a definite step up from most bagged tea, but you still have the convenience of the tea bag. I'll let you know which one's my favorite one I get through the whole selection.

    March 08, 2008

    Lisa: Kudos on your correct usage of "amongst." Ugh.

    I use plenty of long and arguably obscure words in conversation, so I'm not sure why I got irritated the other day when someone I was talking to used "amongst." I was all ready to find out he was using the word incorrectly, but a little research turned this up instead.

    among vs. amongst

    Dr. Grammar: "Both are correct and mean the same, but among is more common."
    Columbia Guide to Standard American English: a few minor but confusingly-worded differences, such as "amongst has a rather dusty-genteel quality...among is often followed by a singular collective."
    Blurtit: "the word "among" should be applied to contexts when people, or things are stationary (they remain in one place), while "amongst" is used more frequently for people or things that are in a state of motion."

    Consensus: Among is more modern and colloquial, where amongst is more formal and British. Other than that, they're pretty much interchangeable. So...if you use amongst in regular conversation, you will be correct. Pretentious, but correct.

    I was similarly foiled when I tried to find justification for my smirk at the large "KUDO" hand-written on a printout of an email posted in the back room at work. Although I did find kudos in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as expected ("praise given for achievement"), there was also an entry for kudo. To wit:

    Some commentators hold that since kudos is a singular word it cannot be used as a plural and that the word kudo is impossible. But kudo does exist; it is simply one of the most recent words created by back-formation from another word misunderstood as a plural. Kudos was introduced into English in the 19th century; it was used in contexts where a reader unfamiliar with Greek could not be sure whether it was singular or plural. By the 1920s it began to appear as a plural, and about 25 years later kudo began to appear. It may have begun as a misunderstanding, but then so did cherry and pea.

    So, there you go. Dumb people are allowed to just make their own words. And that is why you'll find me watching Cops in the evenings, pencil in hand, taking notes ON OUR FUTURE.

    March 05, 2008

    Lisa: it's easy being green(ish)

    I'm not going to try to justify my choice to use disposable diapers for Nora, but I will admit that I feel a guilty twinge every time we take a bag full of the little bombs out to the trash. I figure the least I can do is try to balance things out a bit by lessening our environmental impact in other ways. As we all know, white people love saving the earth without having to do that much, and I'm no exception. We're not single-handedly halting global warming or anything, but these things are super easy AND make me feel better about myself.

    1. Reusable grocery bags. We have enough plastic shopping bags under the sink to last until we die. Last time I was at Trader Joe's, I bought a cute grocery tote made of oilcloth. It's super sturdy, and big enough to hold a decent amount of groceries. We're getting better at remembering to bring it to the store with us, too.

    2. Seventh Generation laundry detergent. Our local market now sells high-efficiency Free & Clear detergent, which is fragrance-free and vegetable- (instead of petroleum-) based. I bought my first bottle the other day, and as soon as I try it out, I'll let you know how it is.

    3. HP print cartridge recycling. When I was replacing the print cartridges in our Photosmart printer at work, I noticed that the new cartridges now come with postage-paid envelopes so that you can send in the old cartridges for recycling. I sealed those babies up and dropped them in a mailbox the next day. Easy peasy!

    4. Reusable soap dispensers. Instead of buying new pumps for the kitchen and upstairs bathroom every time we use up the soap, I got some refillable pumps at Target and a giant refill bottle at Costco. I had a slight misstep with a metal soap pump that corroded from the inside out, but now we have two glass soap pumps (and a matching lotion pump for the kitchen) and all seems to be well. Theoretically, it's cheaper this way, too.

    5. Refillable metal water bottle. I have a hard time drinking enough water when I use a cup. I don't know why--it's stupid, really. I don't mind the taste of tap water, but I just don't get around to drinking water out of a glass. When I was pregnant, I'd buy those big flats of water bottles at Costco, and have a bottle with me all the time--convenient and effective, but wasteful. It's supposedly harmful to keep refilling the same disposable bottle, and even Nalgene bottles are apparently leaching chemicals now. Then I read about SIGG bottles on ljc, and they were just so cute I had to go get one at REI ( Blake waited very patiently while I dithered around, choosing the perfect one). My only complaint is that the cap has so many threads that it takes forever to unscrew the silly thing. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my principles!

    So, there you go. Five easy ways I'm being a little more responsible. What else should I be doing (within reason)? What do you do?

    March 03, 2008

    Lisa: Babies for Obama

    Since Nora had so much fun voting for Obama on Super Tuesday, I thought she might like a campaign shirt of her very own. I designed a graphic to look like his other swag and had Zazzle (who I've (used previously) print it up for me. I got it a little big, so that she can wear it this summer when the election's closer.

    Don't be jealous. You can buy one too! I think I get like a dollar for each onesie sold--and I'll donate any proceeds to the campaign.

    Zazzle's changed their site around, so here's the fancy new link to my gallery:

    February 28, 2008

    Lisa: thanks for the heads up

    This morning, I finished up helping a middle-aged gentleman on one of the public computers, and then walked back to the information desk. The other librarian on duty was helping a customer at the desk.

    Librarian: You might want to wash your hands.
    Me: O...Kay...
    Librarian: (hands me a canister of Clorox wipes)
    Customer: He's filthy.
    Me: (wiping my hands) What?
    Customer: I saw him sneezing into his hand and then licking it. Over. And over.

    February 25, 2008

    Lisa: tender mercies

    Why are cashiers trained to give you your change with the dollar bills on the bottom and the coins balanced precariously on top? Why? This may seem like a convenient setup for the person offering the change (all parts visible and in one hand), but for the recipient it's a disaster waiting to happen. The customer must grasp the end of the offered dollar bill without touching the hand of the cashier, and then hope they've grabbed enough of the limp paper to maintain the slightly curved structure that will support the much heavier coins. If the customer is in a car at the drive through, then they must carefully navigate the bills and their coin payload (which they must only guess at the presence and exact location of, since the drive-up window is six inches above the customer's head) carefully down through the car window without tilting it too much to one side, thus allowing the coins to slip off their perch and tumble down under the car, never to be seen again. If this happens (heaven forbid), the drive-through attendant invariably looks down at the ground between the building and the car and says "Oh." They do not offer to replace your lost coins.

    HOW DO WE CORRECT THIS TRAVESTY, you cry? I am happy to report there is a simple and painless solution. After removing your change from the till, cashiers should:

    1) drop coins directly into your palm, then
    2) offer paper bills.

    See? It's actually faster for the cashier because she doesn't have to combine the coins and bills (which she had to grab from separate little bins) into a stack before handing them to you. Everybody's happy.

    February 22, 2008

    Lisa: afternoon delight

    Sarah: Note to self: stop saying "afternoon delight." It is weird and unfunny to everyone but you.
    Lisa: Afternoon delight=creepy. THEY ARE HAVING SEX.
    Sarah: So you think sex is creepy?
    Lisa: That song is creepy. Surely you cannot argue with that.
    Sarah: I know what I know. I have disassociated the song from the phrase. Now I just use it willy-nilly, though, which is frowned upon.
    Lisa: Well, of course it is. Because you are conjuring up pictures of adults home in the afternoon, having sex.
    Sarah: Adults? Why is it worse with adults?
    Lisa: Hee. I don't know, but it is. Because...they should be at work? Teenagers are expected to sneak home in the afternoons and be having sex. The adults are just being lazy! BESIDES THE PHRASE AFTERNOON DELIGHT IS JUST GROSS. It's like a dessert name, but then you realize what they're talking about! Sunny Delight. Turkish delight. Old men saying young girls are "a delight." When is the word delight ever used besides in those situations?
    Sarah: Looks like it IS a dessert:

    February 21, 2008

    Lisa: give, said the little stream

    Nothing makes you feel more virtuous than giving a little of your hard-earned money away to a worthy cause. If you want to feel better about yourself and about mankind and the future of your country, try donating a few dollars to...


    The Dewey book drive, organized by Pamie, sends books to libraries in need--and has been going strong for five years.



    Barack Obama's campaign is close to reaching one million donors. As he says,

    If we can reach our goal of one million donors by March 4th, we can send a powerful message that the Washington establishment and big-money interests cannot ignore. As one million people with one voice, we can tell them that their days of dominating Washington are coming to an end -- the old politics are crumbling and a new voice is breaking through. Our voice.

    Or, if you're strapped and can't give anything yourself,


    read this story about a little girl and her family who were given the gift of words. Then go about your day, feeling good about the kind of people that give tangible support to a family they've never met, or an ordinary man who became an extraordinary father, or a girl whose spirit and determination can overcome incredible obstacles and will touch your anonymous heart right through your computer monitor.

    February 19, 2008

    Lisa: mystery man

    Several weeks ago, my neighbors erected this papier-mache figure in their front yard. You can see, it's impressively large...but what is it? Or, who is it?

    Is it a bizarre tribute to President Hinckley and his puckish nature? Saint Valentine or an elderly cupid? A tribute to the sculptor's grandfather, who loved acting in community Shakespeare productions?

    February 08, 2008

    Lisa: window shopping

    People make such pretty things. If you already bought everything on Mighty Goods and need a few more ideas, try these:

    Zhivago Capelet
    Pollen earrings
    Mavis softie
    artisan undies
    Floral Dots tee
    Gummy Bear Necklace
    Zombie Escape Plan journal
    Little Teapot onesie
    Howdy key-ring pouches
    screen printed wall art

    I found a lot of these sellers in Craft and ReadyMade (which is now carrying its own printable shrinky sheets--buy them here!).

    Lisa: calling all Mormons

    Now that your beloved Mitt is out of the race, might you consider voting for Obama? What if Utah went Democrat this year? Let's blow America's minds, people.

    February 05, 2008

    Lisa: I'm just saying...

    To Whom it May Concern:

    If you complain to my boss about my appallingly loud voice and even go so far as to suggest that vocal volume should be taken into account during the hiring process, I may be less inclined to help you with your computer problem.

    Lisa: we voted

    Nora and I voted for Obama. What about you?

    February 02, 2008

    Lisa: Claremont

    I've been missing my baby brother, Jeff. After a year away at Harvey Mudd College, last May he left for a two-year missionary stint in New Jersey. Sarah and I drove to California to pick him up from school, and he took us on a tour of the gorgeous Claremont Colleges while we were there. I thought I'd post some pictures of the campuses because 1) they're pretty and 2) they make me think of Jeff.

    Harvey Mudd is where Jeff found his people. It's a small, private college that focuses on math, science, and engineering. Bill Nye the Science Guy is speaking at their commencement next year. The architecture has some kind of proto-Aztec vibe, featuring decorative "warts," where the students hang their unicycles. Really. Here's Jeff's dorm (Case), the dining hall, and the man himself. There are a few more pictures after the jump.

    Pitzer College has xeriscaped gardens and the buildings are covered with murals (many painted by students). Here is the Grove House restaurant, the Interhueman mural, and some kind of tower. More pictures after the jump.

    Claremont McKenna is one of the larger of The 5Cs, and is big on the social sciences. We caught them setting up for graduation festivities.

    Pomona College is where Real Genius was filmed (but the movie is based on CalTech, a Harvey Mudd rival). Their mascot is a chicken. I know Jeff told me more about all the colleges when he was showing us around, but this crap is what I remember. More pictures after the jump!

    At Scripps College, the women's college, we met up with Jeff's friend Sally for an insider's tour. Scripps is beautiful, and is full of little walled gardens and things, so I took a ton of pictures (lots of which are after the jump). The center picture here is the common room of one of the dorms, if you can believe that.

    If you read World War Z (WHICH YOU SHOULD), you might remember that a bunch of Claremont students barricaded themselves inside Scripps and fought off thousands of zombies. When I got to that section of the book, I stopped reading and yelped to Blake, "Jeff survives!" He had no idea what I was talking about.

    The five Claremont Colleges are on one contiguous piece of land, and share a central library:

    More from Harvey Mudd:

    More from Pitzer College:

    More from Pomona College:

    More from Scripps College:

    January 30, 2008

    Lisa: yard work

    Blake and I never had a yard before moving into our house, and it has been kind of a rude awakening. I thought about the furniture we'd need for our new place, but not rakes and shovels and fertilizer and lawnmowers and all of that. I also underestimated the time it takes to keep things looking really nice over the entire growing season.

    The previous homeowners thankfully had a pretty low-maintenance system going. I always intend to weed everything on a more regular basis, but we've been able to keep things basically in control between the automatic sprinklers, one or two pruning sessions, and a (usually) weekly lawn-mowing. But who doesn't want to improve on the status quo, right?

    Spring 2005

    I bought some planters on clearance at JoAnn's, and filled one with flowers and the other with herbs. The herbs hung outside our kitchen door (theoretically for easy cooking access)...

    and the flowers beautified our (non-functional and somewhat hideous) lamp post. I was totally proud of myself for buying some black chain at Home Depot and improvising a hanging system for this planter.

    Spring 2006

    I picked up two more planters for herbs, and added one on the other side of the kitchen door and one around the corner over our trash cans, to counteract the delicious warm-garbage aroma. I really liked the look of the planters flanking our kitchen door, but they had to get watered every day or they'd dry out in the bright summer sun. That just gave me an excuse to buy a cute watering can and feel all domestic!

    We also bought two lilac bushes for the empty corner of our back yard that gets tons of sun and had previously been planted with tomatoes (turning the soil acidic). One of the bushes is doing great, while the other looks sickly and will probably have to be replaced.

    Spring 2007

    I had really ambitious yard plans last year, but I got pregnant. We started off well, ripping up about half of the black weed-blocker fabric under the top layer of dirt in our flower beds and tilling out the weed-infested area behind our garage for a future vegetable garden. We even cut down the bizarre eight-foot-tall bush-tree at the corner of the house (you can see it on the right of the top picture here) and let it grow back as a regular bush. Soon, however, lifting heavy things and bending down in the heat was mentally and physically out of the question--and I didn't even pull out the planters again.

    Spring 2008

    This year maybe I'll be able to get to the projects I meant to do last year--a vegetable garden and a raised herb plot off the back patio. The vegetable garden will go behind the garage, where there is a separate sprinkler station so that we can set the timing however we want. There's plenty of sun back there, and the weeds are thriving, so I think it could be a good place for it. The herb plot will go in the weird triangular space between the back patio and the fence separating the yard from the driveway--it's really hard to get the lawnmower in there anyway. LJC is my inspiration for both of these. I want the herb plot to be in sort of a raised box, like this, and I love her four-square veggie garden. I think I'll plant our vegetables in rows, though, since the area behind the garage is more of a rectangle than a square. Maybe when it gets warmer, Nora will love spending time outside and can keep me company while I work on the garden. Who knows?

    Spring 2009

    Sometime down the road I want to put in a little flagstone patio with a pergola over it on the side of the garage, to make some shade in that end of the yard. I also want to replace the aluminum awning over the back patio with a pergola, and get new (possibly fabric?) awnings for the front and kitchen doors. Onward and upward!

    If you've done any of these things before, please share your tips with me in the comments. Assume I know nothing.

    January 23, 2008

    Lisa: fiat


    From the Latin fieri, "let it be done."

    1 : a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort
    2 : an authoritative determination : DICTATE "a fiat of conscience"
    3 : an authoritative or arbitrary order : DECREE "government by fiat"

    (via Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)


    Tiny italian car.

    January 15, 2008

    Lisa: news of the nerdy

    Like every self-respecting librarian, I have the comic Unshelved emailed to me every day. It's a little like Dilbert, in that its humor lies in the everyday follies and frustrations of the workplace--but the workplace is a library instead of a cube farm. I don't want you to think it's just a Dilbert knockoff that only appeals to librarians, though--Unshelved is hilarious in its own right. The authors also do something I love with their Sunday strip: the characters "talk about a book they've read in full-page full-color comic strips" that often mimic the style of the featured book. The authors call it the Book Club.

    In a tenuous segue...

    One day back in August, I was reading my daily installment of the Unshelved blog (for those of you hoping to up the nerd quotient of my entry, this blog was accompanied by a strip featuring Jayne hats), and came across a mention of the comic Wondermark, its author David Malki!, and his video Me vs. Comic-Con: Who's Better?. Since I hadn't yet encountered the time vortex, I gave my curiousity the reins and watched the 16-minute video. If you have the time, and you like things that are funny, I recommend clicking that link. I discovered an intense love for comic book nerds that I didn't even know I had. I shouldn't be surprised, I guess, given my penchant for nerds of all kinds, including...

    Johnny Lee. Blake came home from work today and blew my mind with these Wii remote projects (which you have probably already seen if you read more tech blogs than I do). Using the technology of the Wii game system, Lee has created a head tracking system (making the 2-D TV screen appear 3-D), a low-cost interactive whiteboard or tablet display, and finger tracking (so you can control the computer by waving your hands in the air a la Tom Cruise in Minority Report). Something is wrong with the world if Johnny Lee isn't handed an amazing job or a lot of funding.

    I can't even force a segue here, so I'm going to stop pretending this is a linear narrative. For those of you who live in Salt Lake, Ken Jennings (who I interviewed here!) is appearing thanks to the King's English bookshop on Thursday, January 31st to host a trivia challenge and sign his Trivia Almanac, which came out today.

    Also announced today was the MacBook Air, a disgustingly thin and gorgeous new laptop perfect for people who are always on the go or who want a portable addition to their desktop system. Considering the jaw-dropping Macworld keynotes this year and last year with the iPhone, I'm hoping next year Steve Jobs will be announcing the introduction of the disposable paper cellphones you can buy from a vending machine like on (the absolutely terrible) Ultraviolet.

    January 09, 2008

    Lisa: In case you were wondering...

    Despite being married to a high school football-playing jock, I have no interest in football--I didn't in high school, and I don't now. And forget watching football on TV; on Superbowl Sunday, I only watch the halftime show. That said, I have fallen in love with Friday Night Lights.

    As a relative newcomer to high school football culture (and certainly to the all-encompassing version that surrounds Texas high school football), I suddenly found myself needing to know the difference between a cheerleader and a rally girl--and whichLyla Garrity is.

    Exhibit A: In FNL's first episode, Lyla says she has to go to "rally rehearsal," so I figured she was a rally girl.
    Exhibit B: At the end of episode 2, the Dillon rally girls are shown delivering baked goods to their Panthers in a sequence that ends with Lyla bringing Jason a cookie in the hospital. Is this because she's his rally girl, or does she do it (and does he forego the services of a rally girl) because she's his girlfriend? Incidentally, (just like Wallace's spirit boxes on Veronica Mars) treat-bearing rally girls apparently do exist in real life.
    Exhibit C: The show definitely considers cheerleaders and rally girls to be two separate things. Lyla notes their uncharacteristic alliance (and by implication, their accustomed rivalry) in making Jason's banner. The casting calls for extras support this, noting that 'cheerleader' is a specialty role, while rally girls (though required to be "super cute") receive standard pay.
    Exhibit D: The Wikipedia entry on cheerleading doesn't mention rally girls at all, but I love that the neutrality of the article is in dispute.
    Exhibit E: TWoP forum participants know all. BananasFoster explains that being a cheerleader is more prestigious and exclusive, while anyone can be a rally girl. TexasTumbleweed agrees, adding that the rally girls are indeed the providers of spirit boxes and banners. It sounds like rally girls are a lot like what we called "pep club" at my school.

    Verdict 1: I think Lyla must be a cheerleader. She's often shown on the sidelines of the game, cheering in the uniform and with pom-poms, just like my school's cheerleaders. Plus, she was dating the star quarterback--clearly a role only a cheerleader can fill. "Rally rehearsal" must have meant practicing for a rally, not practicing with her fellow rally girls.
    Verdict 2: I have spent too much time thinking about this.
    Verdict 3: I love the internet.

    January 05, 2008

    Lisa: I flew there in a miniature plane

    In an effort to...

    1) clear out the old "draft" entries that have been hanging around, cluttering up the back end of our blog, and

    2) celebrate Sarah's love of CSI and the miniature killer storyline,

    I'm posting these "model village" pictures I made almost two years ago, inspired by this post on LJC.

    The instructions to make your own fake model village pictures can be found here. Happy Photoshopping, to the two of you out there who haven't tried this yet!

    December 31, 2007

    Lisa: chocolate chip cookies

    As part of the splurge that precedes every good diet, I made chocolate chip cookies. Not just ANY chocolate chip cookies, mind you--these cookies from Gourmet on Epicurious, found via Super Eggplant. These cookies are by far the best I have ever made. They are big, chewy without being too thin or raw, and completely delicious. Blake ate three, which is saying something considering his usual abhorrence of sweets. The recipe is kind of finicky (yes, I actually measured out 1 3/4 tablespoons of an egg), but I followed every step except for flattening the mounds of dough with a moistened palm. Gross, right? Anyway, they spread out just fine on their own. [Recipe after the jump in case that link ever dies.]

    Thanks, Sarah, for your help--and for the use of your hand mixer after mine ingested its own power button. On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know how to get melted butter out of clothing? Washing it in cold just makes little butter balls on the surface, and I'm afraid hot will just melt it back in again.

    For those of you who are much more domestically advanced than I am (and I don't kid myself, that is probably most people), regular chocolate chip cookies might seem too elementary. To you I give Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze. You're welcome.

    Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Gourmet | October 2003
    Adapted from Carla Rollins

    Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 2 hr

    Servings: Makes about 28 large (4 1/2-inch) cookies.


    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 oz)


    Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
    Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

    Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.

    Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.

    Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.

    Cooks' note:

    Cooled cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.

    December 26, 2007

    Lisa: a stake of truth

    Blake: (Science talk)
    Lisa: ...
    Blake: Sorry for being a wonder killer.
    Lisa: You're like a non-wonder killer. You kill the wonder I wasn't even wondering about.
    Blake: I'm like a vampire slayer, but my stake is the truth!
    Lisa: HA! Aw, I wish you could kill vampires with the truth. (Voices) "You use too much hair gel." "Aaah! I'm melting!"

    December 22, 2007

    Lisa: Muffuletta

    This year, the girls exchanged gifts at Jason's Deli, a chain that prominently features the muffaletta on its menu. No one in our group wanted to order the muffaletta, because we didn't know what it was (and no one wanted to ask what it was, for fear of looking dumb). Also, we couldn't bear to involve ourselves in a dialogue including the words "whole, half, or quarter muff."

    Thanks to Wikipedia, I can now report that the muffaletta is a huge sandwich defined by its bread (a round, foccacia-type bread, not a muffin or English muffin as some of us guessed) and by the presence of a spread made of olives.

    In other Jason's menu news, a Po'Boy is a sub sandwich made on a baguette, and "Spud au Broc" joins "Moons Over My Hammy" and its compatriots in the category of "menu items too embarassing to order by name."

    December 20, 2007

    Lisa: Free Rice

    If you enjoy...

    a) Word games
    b) The self-satisfaction that comes with having a higher vocabulary level than other people
    c) Wasting time at work
    d) Ending world hunger
    e) Flashbacks to the ever-increasing-difficulty structure of the GRE exam
    f) All of the above

    ...then you should go play FreeRice. They give 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program for every word you get right.

    (Thanks, Shifted Librarian!)

    Lisa: another man's treasure

    I can never resist the seasonal aisle in the grocery store, mostly because of atrocities like this:

    Yes, you are reading that right. Holiday. Hip-hop. Doberman. Who dances and raps Jingle Bells. Who twists and moves to the groove. Thank goodness I am not the first person to document this. I'm not sure why this toy is so specific--why is it not enough just to be a holiday doberman? Or a hip-hop doberman? Or a holiday hip-hop...person? The good news is that if you are in the dog-owning hip-hop-blasting christian kitschy-animatronic-singing-toy-loving demographic this product targets, the Holiday Hip-Hop Doberman can be yours for only $14.99. Brought to you by your friendly neighborhood grocer!

    December 15, 2007

    Lisa: A Satisfied Ewe

    1) I hate the word 'ewe.' I don't know why, exactly. I think it's picturing the spelling of the word while I say it, since I don't have an aversion to saying 'you.' It's just so completely NOT spelled phonetically. It is saying, "Just try to sound me out, young reader! I am ready to trick you, HAHAHAHA!"

    Whatever, shut up. It's distracting.

    2) I appreciate a good pun as much as the next person. Puns in product and/or business names can be clever, incorporating multiple relevant meanings. But a pun for no reason is just using the WRONG WORD.

    Case in point:

    Mutton is not on the menu, and this restaurant's clientele does not include sheep. So...why? And this is just gratuitous:

    That said, their Navajo Tacos are tasty.

    December 14, 2007

    Lisa: Can I fluff your pillows?

    All of Sarah's holiday domesticity reminded me to post about the pillows I made for our living room. Blake and I gave each other two leather armchairs for Christmas this year, and I wanted to celebrate finally having adult furniture with the addition of some pretty new throw pillows. Nice-looking throw pillows are surprisingly expensive, but I thought I could make some on the cheap using the upholstery fabric I had left over from making my needle case. $75 worth of pillow forms and fancy trims later, I got all the pieces cut out and ready to sew. Four simple seams, right? Zip, zip, zip zip, turn it inside out and stitch it up, right? Well, sort of. It is really tricky to hold the trim tight enough against the zipper foot and keep all the layers lined up straight. If I were doing this again, I'd sew the trim onto the right side of one of the pieces of fabric first, like my mom suggested.

    Here are the finished pillows:

    [ETA: These pictures looked fine on my monitor at home, but on my work computer they're super dark. I'll try to take some more with all the lights on!]

    November 29, 2007

    Lisa: let it snow

    Now that snow is finally falling outside, things are looking all Christmassy! I thought it might be time to get out the tree and the decorations.

    I forgot one of the garlands, and some sections of the lights aren't working (which means some tedious bulb-by-bulb checking), but it's still festive!

    November 27, 2007

    Lisa: happy macbook to me!

    I'm finally getting all moved in to my pretty new MacBook. It is so much faster than my old PowerBook!

    Leopard has some nice upgrades, too, but also some things that are different enough to take some adjusting. There's been only one downside so far: all of a sudden the text in Safari started acting all crazy and overlapping or not appearing at all. I took this screencap so that I could ask all of you geniuses for help.

    Anyway, it's all fixed now with some thingy I did in Terminal that I didn't understand, found on this thread. Hurrah for Google!

    Unfortunately, now I'm slightly worried about the magnetic power cord connection. I set my computer down on the couch and left the room for a second. I heard a popping noise coming from the living room, and when I came back, the twist-tie keeping my camera's USB cord neat had been sucked up against the empty port. This seems bad, somehow...an electrical socket that pulls small bits of metal into itself. It's almost like my computer has become self aware and is TRYING TO BURN DOWN MY HOUSE!!! Almost.

    November 15, 2007

    Lisa: be still my nerd-loving heart

    John Francis Daley is the new Adam Brody. Dr. Sweets, indeed.

    November 07, 2007

    Lisa: accessory clips

    When I hung up the letter hooks in Nora's bedroom, it started an addiction that could only be fed by adding more hooks. Blake hung some little brass hooks in my craft closet for me that are now holding gift bags, and I ordered three more hooks from Restorers (through Amazon) for Nora's room.

    I knew I wanted to hang her blessing dress and the gorgeous handmade blanket she got from her anonymous "secret grandma," but that left one empty hook and a long narrow space in the middle. With Sarah's help, I brainstormed an accessory holder.

    Here's the result:

    I'm really happy with how it turned out, and the whole thing took less than two hours to make. Endless variations are possible to suit your needs and tastes. Instructions and the materials I used are after the jump, if you're interested.


  • 1/3 of a yard of pink cotton with a print of tiny white circles, found in the quilting section

  • 1 yard of dark green satin ribbon with decorative edge

  • 1 yard of light green grosgrain ribbon

  • 1 package of silver curtain clips

  • 1/3 of a yard of thin batting, which I already had in my fabric stash

  • a piece of stiff cardboard I had lying around
  • green thread
  • Steps:

    1. I cut the cardboard to the width I wanted, getting rid of the bent-up corners in the process. Then I set the cardboard on my fabric and cut around it, leaving plenty of extra fabric to wrap around the back.

    2. I pinned the dark green ribbon down the center of the right side of the fabric, and just stitched right down the center with the sewing machine. Easy peasy.

    3. The next step was a little bit tricky for me, since I'm not really a good spatial thinker. I centered the cardboard on top of the fabric and ribbon, and marked the top center and bottom center of the cardboard with a pin. Then I messed around with the clips, the light green ribbon, and some pins for a while, until they looked right. The idea is that the light ribbon threads through the clip rings, which are held in place by one pin through all three layers in the center of the loop. These pins will be replaced with stitching in the next step.

    4. Next I replaced the pins with stitching. I slid the rings on each side away from the pin, carefully removed the pin without letting the ribbon slip, and backtacked over the light green ribbon a bunch of times.

    5. I cut a piece of batting a bit smaller than my fabric.

    6. Then I plugged in my trusty hot glue gun, and while I was waiting for it to heat up I ironed my fabric so the final product would be nice and smooth. Placing the fabric right-side down, and the batting centered on top of it, and the cardboard centered on top of that, I folded the two ends over the cardboard and glued them down. I took special care to make sure the ribbon stayed centered on the cardboard, and pulled each end of the ribbon tight while pressing it into the glue. Don't burn yourself--hot glue hurts like a mother.

    7. Folding the corners like wrapping a present, I pulled the sides in tight and glued them down, too. While the glue was still warm and slidy, I turned the project over to the right side and made sure things looked smooth and not puckery from the front. Then I took the leftover light green ribbon and glued it in a loop to the back side of the top edge. If I'd wanted to get fancy, I could have cut a panel from the leftover fabric, ironed the edges under, and glued it to the back of the project to cover the empty cardboard and rough edges. Nora was getting hungry, so I bagged that idea, but I might still do that sometime if it starts bugging me. It would definitely look more professional and finished that way.

    8. Ta-DA! I used five of the curtain clips for optimum future flexibility. I'm only using three of the clips now (see the top picture above), but in the future I might want to display different items, and I wanted to be able to accommodate various sizes.

    October 30, 2007

    Lisa: Tools of the Week

    #1: IUD


    Target didn't have the annoyingly-packaged silver Pure Pigment Shadow Stick I usually get, so I bought Molten Metal in Scene Steel-er to try instead. It is AWESOME. The packaging is totally pleasing, with a lipgloss-style foam tip applicator. You shake together two layers of clear liquid and silty pigment, and then swipe it on. It's shimmery but not too heavy, and stays on all day. I'm totally converted--no more scratching my eyelids with the plastic edge of the Shadow Stick!

    October 24, 2007

    Lisa: meeting of minds

    Lisa: Adam Baldwin is by far the best looking Baldwin. It's not even a contest.
    Sarah: I didn't realize he was even really one of the Baldwins. He looks different enough.
    Lisa: Yes, he is one of the brothers. [ETA: Sorry, Sarah. He is NOT one of the brothers. I apparently completely skipped over the words "no relation" in his IMDB bio.]
    Sarah: Plus he doesn't have the slicked hair. The Baldwin helmet.
    Lisa: Good point. Or that bloated, drunken smirky look! So. I was reading IMDB, as one does, and I couldn't help but notice that one of the comments on his profile was titled "his butt." So...I clicked on it. Because, OBVIOUSLY.
    Sarah: mmhmmmm
    Lisa: The thread was completely bizarre. The first commenter was all, "Has anyone seen his butt?" And someone replied, "Yes, in some show (blah blah), it was nice."
    Sarah: lol
    Lisa: And then the first commenter said, "So...was it soft and squeezable, or hard and muscly?"
    Sarah: HA! Why didn't she just see for herself, since she needed such detailed descriptions??
    Lisa: So then another commenter was like, "Um. That's a weird question. It's hard to tell from TV, but it looked pretty muscly. HERE'S A PICTURE."
    Sarah: Well? did it look muscly?
    Lisa: It did indeed.
    Sarah: That's weird. That's the sort of investigating you do on your own.

    Ten minutes pass.

    Lisa: Admit it, now you're curious about Adam Baldwin's butt.
    Sarah: Vaguely. Are you wanting to send me a picture?
    Lisa: No. As you said, that is research that should be done on your own.
    Sarah: Well, at least not with STRANGERS.

    Ten more minutes pass.

    Sarah: So are you going to show me Adam Baldwin's butt, or what?
    Lisa: Ha! It is linked from his IMDB comments. Or you could probably Google it. But boy, will your face be red when you get fired for Googling "adam baldwin butt!"
    Sarah: lol

    30 minutes pass.

    Lisa: So, did you look it up?
    Sarah: No. I don't want to be fired!
    Lisa: Probably wise.

    October 19, 2007

    Lisa: your secret is safe with me

    Lisa: Can I just say that big sweaters cinched in with little belts never looks good in real life? Just on the models in the Victoria's Secret catalog.
    Sarah: Yes.

    Sarah: Lisa. I might buy leggings soon. I'm apologizing in advance.
    Lisa: NO. SARAH.
    Sarah: I CAN'T HELP IT. I'VE BEEN RESISTING THEM FOR OVER. A. YEAR. They've slowly broken down my defenses.
    Lisa: It is a slippery slope!
    Sarah: What if I never wear them as if they're pants? What if I wear them with little shrugs and heels, and cut little holes in the backs where they rest on my calves?
    Lisa: You are sentenced to watching Chocolat again to remember the flattering timelessness of 50s fashions, because blousy shirts and skinny jeans/leggings are NOT FLATTERING.
    Sarah: NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT BLOUSY SHIRTS! I would not wear leggings with a long shirt. I hate you for suggesting that. This conversation is over. Just know that when i show up somewhere with leggings, you were warned beforehand.
    Lisa: What are you going to wear them with?
    Sarah: I would wear them with dresses, not blousy shirts, bitch.
    Lisa: What about opaque tights instead?
    Sarah: Opaque tights run. Plus, you can't wear open-toed shoes.
    Lisa: Um. Leg coverings are worn in winter. Winter is not the time for open-toed shoes. I am just saying this for your own good.
    Sarah: I am not fighting with you anymore about leggings.
    Lisa: I was only fighting you because you ASKED ME TO A YEAR AGO.
    Sarah: Okay, well now i am just saying that it might happen and there's nothing more to be done.
    Lisa: OK. You have released me from my obligation. Also, what are your feelings on sweater dresses?
    Sarah: Ummmm, I like them in the VS catalog, but they can be lump-magnifying.
    Lisa: "Pleated cami has a luster so bright you'll radiate at every angle." I don't think that is a good thing.
    Sarah: No. Not unless you're that one super hot model. Not Giselle, the other one. The brunette! Who's super hot! But not Adriana Lima, she of the huge lips.
    Lisa: Hee. Oh, THAT one.

    Lisa: Can i just say that a tube top should not have pockets?
    Sarah: Now, with extra middle-widening!
    Lisa: Also, an easy way to pull the top RIGHT OFF YOUR BOOBS.
    Sarah: hee
    Lisa: Do you know how many times i have almost bought that oxford shirt bodysuit?
    Sarah: So many times.
    Lisa: It's wrong. I know. It has a thong bottom.
    Sarah: My question is, do you really want your nice oxford shirt to be wedged in your ass crack all day? I think not.
    Lisa: I know! Thank you. But...it looks so cute and sleek and stays tucked in to your low-rise Marisa-fit butt-lifting pinstripe pants!
    Sarah: I'm not arguing that with you. But...the ass crack. On your shirt.

    October 09, 2007

    Lisa: calorimetry

    Instead of going to the yarn store like I wanted to last week, I forced myself to dig out an unfinished project I already had. The girls and I all bought yarn to knit Calorimetry together, but after a few introductory knitting sessions, our impetus kind of fizzled out. I thought I could finish mine pretty quickly, thus satiating my need to knit AND allowing me to figure out any tricky bits in advance so that I can help the girls with the pattern if any of them ever decide they want to work on it again.

    Here's the finished product, which (in spite of the unflattering picture) I really like. Basically, it's a sort of headscarf that buttons at the back of the neck, so that your ponytail or whatever can stick out the back.

    The pattern says "It is very important to obtain the correct gauge for this piece," so instead of just skipping the boring gaugeing altogether, I went ahead and knit the little square with 5mm needles and the yarn thickness that the pattern calls for. My square was too big, so I figured that if I knit the whole thing on 4.5mm needles instead, it would turn out about the right size. I didn't bother gaugeing again, which was a mistake. My first product was the humongous thing in the photo below.

    I started again, but this time cast on 80 stitches instead of 120. The pattern uses short rows, working in a 2x2 rib until a certain number of stitches remain on the end of each row. I knitted 7 instead of 15 of the repeated decrease rows, and just did enough increase rows so that I had the right number of stitches on the end of the row again. That probably makes no sense if you don't knit or haven't read the pattern, but suffice it to say that this was a pretty easy pattern to knit and to alter. My second attempt was a success--the version on the bottom of the photo below turned out to be exactly the right size. I found a button in my tin that fit the buttonhole, stitched it on, and it was ready to go!

    Knitting time (if you only knit the smaller version): four hour-long dramas with no commercials.

    September 28, 2007

    Lisa: maybe if i just put a picture of myself next to the doorbell, that will scare them off

    When I read Mindy's rant about door-to-door salespeople, I remembered how I felt when we first moved in to our neighborhood. I'm not normally a fan of door signs, and the 'no soliciting' signs you can buy are pretty hideous. On Gabrielle's recommendation, I took advantage of a trip to Color Me Mine with the girls to make my own. The colors are a little off in this picture, but here's the result:

    Anyway, it works like a charm on everyone who knows what "soliciting" means.

    In other Perschon-family reading, I tried the Celebrity Morph that Charles posted about, but after the site tried to match my face with Dave Navarro, Lance Bass, and Robert DeNiro, I gave up. Sarah, you don't still think you're the mannish one, do you?

    September 19, 2007

    Lisa: all you need is love

    Nora of mine,

    When I hold you and look into your eyes, sometimes I feel a surge of confidence and empowerment. Sometimes I feel a debilitating sense of self-doubt and inadequacy. But every single time, I feel love unlike anything I have ever felt before. I'm pretty sure that that love means I will do everything in my power to take care of you.

    We'll be okay, baby.

    September 01, 2007

    Lisa: career day

    I love being a librarian, don't get me wrong, but we all have days when we think we might want to try out another profession, right?

    Here are a few I think might be fun:

  • small bookshop owner, a la The Shop Around the Corner (but preferably not a bookstore being edged out of business by the nearby big box retailer)
  • owner of a store that sells fancy paper and custom stationery, etc., printed on the in-house printing press
  • private investigator (because some people actually get paid to be all nosy and stalkerish)
  • August 30, 2007

    Lisa: Can you dig it?

    If we lent you our VHS copy of Shaft, will you let me know? I was totally planning to pack that bad boy in my hospital bag.

    August 28, 2007

    Lisa: In which I try to bore you to death with completely insignificant details.

    For better or worse, the nursery is pretty much put together! It feels good to have that task done. The polka-dotted fabric bin on the lower shelf of the white table holds board books and tub books. You can see the Boppy pillow hanging out on the seat of Blake's grandpa's rocker.

    The dresser is full of baby clothes and linens that have been washed with Dreft, folded and sorted by size, and put into labeled drawers. The IKEA frog is sitting in a Bumbo baby seat next to George and Martha and a sweet little baby sock sorting thingie I found at HomeGoods. I made the print over the dresser in my letterpress class--it features my favorite quote from Peter Pan.

    The top two shelves of the bookcase are full of baby supplies, and the bottom shelf is picture books. The art is two pages from an advance copy of You Were Loved Before You Were Born, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Karen Barbour. The book is due out in January.

    Under the window you can see the gift Marci got us--the first baby item Blake and I picked out together. Above the crib are the letter hooks I talked about here. Since I took these pictures, I got some big clear totes at Target to go under the crib: one for extra diapers, one for blankets, and one for stuffed animals. We're still waiting for our Sophie bumper and crib skirt to arrive from Pottery Barn.

    The light must have been a bit different for this photo, because the wall color here looks closer to how it looks in real life. Anyway, you can see we've been messing around with the toys on top of the bookcase and on the shelf above it. We swapped out the fancy (and arguably creepy-looking) dolls I had when I was younger for the Cabbage Patch Garden Fairies I adopted in college. And of course we had to dig out my Boo doll and press her belly a bunch of times. The soccer-playing Build-a-Bear was a gift to Blake from the girls he coached one year, and the other one is Olivia, who Blake gave me for our anniversary three years ago.

    TA-DA! She'd better friggin' love it.

    August 27, 2007

    Lisa: Buy a shredder. Now.

    If, like me, you don't take identity theft that seriously, you should probably read The Torn-Up Credit Card Application, from the genius who brought us How Much is Inside. Rob tore up a junk-mail credit card offer, then taped it back together and filled it out, requesting a change of address and using a cell phone number. The helpful folks at Chase sent him a brand new credit card, no questions asked. Friggin' terrifying.

    August 21, 2007

    Lisa: Through Any Window

    Jenna Fischer is such a babe. Read about her experience shooting the video on her MySpace. And the video is directed by the nerdy guy from Lane's band!

    August 16, 2007

    Lisa: I knew I hung on to those hideous socks for a reason...

    So, if you live nearby, I have an odd request. I'm trying to collect (as cheaply as possible) costume pieces that 8-year-old boys could use to make themselves a superhero outfit. I bet some of you might have appropriate things lying around, such as...

  • a cooling gel-filled eye mask
  • striped knee socks with separate toe compartments
  • elbow-length satin gloves from prom
  • pieces of old dance recital or Halloween costumes
  • a stretchy sequined headband that pulls your hair
  • a ski mask
  • brightly colored opaque tights
  • ill-advised novelty boots from the clearance rack at Wal-Mart
  • spare shoulder pads
  • a reflective emergency blanket

    If you don't have costume stuff to share, or live far away, I'd love more ideas of cheap, commonly available items that I could use!

  • August 06, 2007

    Lisa: There was no "giant pregnant stomach" body type.

    About a month ago, when ljc posted her Simpsons avatar, I checked out the Simpsons Movie site and tried making a few. The Simpson avatar maker is like a less-sophisticated version of the Mii-maker; you choose facial features, hairstyle, etc. that you think match your own. I came up with a fairly decent one for Blake, but I didn't think there were enough options to get a real likeness, so I didn't make one for myself.

    Burger King's Simpsonizer supposedly takes a photo and actually morphs it into a Simpsons-like character. I'd seen a few surprisingly good likenesses, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. You still get to choose skin color, hair color, accessories, and body type, but it's in the guise of tweaking your Simpsonized photo, instead of starting from scratch. I tried it twice. The first time, my Simpson-self was a middle-aged black woman. The second try was a lot closer, but had long, glamorous dark red hair. Here's what came out after a bit of messing around:

    Not too bad, I think! I mean, completely ridiculous of course, but not bad!

    August 04, 2007

    Lisa: Kudos! (mmm. kudos.)

    My parents finished the vast majority of the work on their amazing property in Spring City in time to show it off at Jeff's farewell party in May. I stole some before pictures from a few of Sarah's old entries so that you could see the difference side by side.

    Here's the side of the big stone barn before:

    And here's what the barn looks like now:

    You can kind of see my sign hanging over the trellis in front of the door. The back of the barn is gorgeous, too, with giant glass french doors looking out over the back yard. Like Sarah said, my parents cleared out all the stalls and things so the barn can be used for summer parties. Now I just need to convince them to buy a Thelma's Frozen Lemonade machine to keep out there.

    Here's the slightly sketchy-looking entryway of what we call the "big house" before:

    And here it is after:

    Here's what the top of the turret on the corner of the big house looked like before:

    And here's the turret in all its current glory:

    This doesn't show it to its best advantage, but here's the gorgeous new kitchen in the big house:

    I couldn't find a before picture, but here's the vastly improved "little house:"

    The little house got fixed up first, and it's where my parents have been living during the bulk of the remodel. It's tiny (just a kitchen/living room, one bedroom, and a bathroom) but darling, and my parents uncovered and highlighted some great period moldings around the huge windows. Now that the big house is fixed up, they've moved in there and the little house is now a guest house for when we come to visit!

    August 02, 2007

    Lisa: my love is like whoa

    I thought I was already a pretty big Office fan, but my Mindy Kaling love has grown by leaps and bounds since I found Things I've Bought that I Love, to which she is a frequent contributor. TIBTIL was linked on not martha, and I was thinking "this girl is awesome and hilarious and I want to be her" and then there was a picture and it was Mindy Kaling and my brain exploded.

    (You can thank me later.)

    Lisa: you almost make me forget about tacos

    Happy anniversary, Blake! Thank you for being so sweet and patient with me over the last six months. You're going to be a great dad. Congratulations on the job offer!

    August 01, 2007

    Lisa: after

    I got my car back a few weeks ago and it's all pretty and whole again. Thank goodness for car insurance, because I sure didn't have $6000 to fix it.

    July 31, 2007

    Lisa: hooked on phonics

    Back in June I mentioned that I bought some letter hooks for the baby's room. I got them hung on the wall over the crib soon after that post, but it's taken me a month and a half to download the pictures from my camera. AT LONG LAST, here are the hooks in their natural habitat:

    Here's a closeup of the hooks. I want to get some prettier hangers, but these work for now.

    And this is why everyone keeps asking me if I'm having twins:

    July 27, 2007

    Lisa: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll ride your cruiser to the grocery store

    Find out the Walk Score of your neighborhood (via not martha). Our neighborhood got a 65, which I figure is pretty good for the suburbs. This is a fun tool, but I think that (like the Hotspotr wifi map) its accuracy and ultimate usefulness depends a lot on individual businesses updating their listings.

    I didn't know I needed to read a presidential debate in YouTube comments, but I did. You do too. Thank you to the always hilarious Matt from Defective Yeti, who inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

    And thanks to Mallory, who emailed me this awesomely horrible fan art and poetry. Yes, the evil Hot Topic-managing hag Carissa's nemesis is now a published writer.

    And this is here mostly so that I don't lose the links before I get around to these projects, but maybe they'll be of interest to you, too: How to Digitize Cassette Tapes, and a few software possibilities for making photomosaics, all on Lifehacker.

    July 19, 2007

    Lisa: Jack Bauer would get this all straightened out.

    When Gabrielle's good friend Anne flew to Oregon to visit her parents last month, her husband (a German citizen and a Muslim) was detained by U.S. Customs and then sent back to Germany with no explanation. Anne and her family have no rights here, and the situation may never be resolved. Please spread the word if you can.

    Here's the article from the local paper in Eugene.

    July 18, 2007

    Lisa: practical knowledge

    I was in Provo last week for another children's literature symposium, and here's what I wrote in my notes:

    Venison is the least nutritious meat you can eat. It is 11% protein at best, and always wormy. Beaver is the most nutritious meat you can catch in the wild--it's very high in protein, and tastes a lot like beef.

    I would trust Gary Paulsen on that.

    July 16, 2007

    Lisa: I just don't know how to feel

    I just got poked in the stomach repeatedly by a 13-year-old boy.

    Him: (POKE.) Are you pregnant?
    Me: Ha! Yes.
    Him: (POKE. POKE.) Can you help me on the computer?

    July 07, 2007

    Lisa: you can have what's left of me

    A little bird named Sarah told me that SOME people have been complaining that I never blog anymore. That is because I have forced my usually razor sharp brain to become banal and empty.

    There are important things I could be thinking (and blogging) about, but I choose not to. Delivering a baby? Avoid. Breast-feeding, or worse, breast PUMPING? Avoid. Finding a way to reduce my work hours? Figuring out a childcare plan? Changing my entire life to become a parent? Avoid, avoid, avoid. Why? Because these things are simultaneously the most stressful (to me) and most boring (to you) subjects in the universe.

    Here are a few things that are left among the cobwebs. Worth blogging about? Maybe I'll let you decide.

  • Finding a comfortable position on the couch while watching a movie was the highlight of my week--possibly my month.

  • I spaced out in front of the bathroom mirror at work thinking about my pretty, pretty hair.

  • I have a constant nagging fear of not getting my projects for class done in time.

  • I have found my true nemesis, and that nemesis is ants. Ants are the zombies of the insect world. No matter how many you kill, there are always more ants. No matter how many possible entrances you find and spray full of ant poison, the ants find a new weak point to breach. You can't demoralize them by killing a bunch of their friends. If you break the trail and clean with bleach, the ants will not shrug their shoulders in confusion and head home. But I digress.

  • I bought a cruiser, which I can't ride until after the baby's born and can't tote her around on/behind until she's a year old. BUT IT IS SO PRETTY! (I'll post pictures once I put the fenders on!)

  • Celgene is flying Blake first class to New Jersey to interview for a job.

  • I have noticed I'm not alone in thinking So You Think You Can Dance is the best show on television, and Mary Murphy is one of the best things about it. You can see my nerdy boyfriend Benji from last season dancing with Xtina in the awesome Candyman video.

  • June 19, 2007

    Lisa: state of the nation

    I kind of can't believe how much bigger my belly has gotten in the last three months. (for comparison purposes)

  • Baby - 14 1/2 inches long and kicking like crazy. She hates my other organs for some reason--maybe she feels they threaten her precious uterus.

  • Body - I embody womanhood. Right?? RIGHT????? I have to keep telling myself that.

  • Hair - I got a hideous haircut before we went to California. If only I had read this part of my new favorite book: "A very pregnant woman who wants to cut her hair is not really looking for a new hairdo, she is looking for a new, nonpregnant, look, and I'm afraid that's too tall an order for a haircut." Live and learn, I guess.

  • Puke - Only sometimes when I brush my teeth.

  • Heels/Lust for Life - Check. It's become a point of pride now. I MIGHT have gone to a movie last week wearing scrubs, sneakers and a hoodie, but those reports are unconfirmed.

  • Lisa: upping our Google count for "knobs"

    I've been working on painting our hand-me-down crib and dresser white to match the new side table for the baby's room, and I wanted to get some knobs for the drawers that would tie everything together. I decided on some cut glass knobs from Anthropologie, and while I was there I couldn't resist these letter hooks.

    I am afraid buying decorative knobs might be addicting. Now I want to replace all the drawer pulls and doorknobs in our house.

    June 11, 2007

    Lisa: Why don't you give me a nice papercut and pour lemon juice on it?

    The preliminary estimate for the damage on my car is $4500, so it might be considered totaled. Oh, and the other driver is claiming that his car isn't safe to drive. Awesome.

    June 07, 2007

    Lisa: I saw the sign

    I finally finished my dad's Christmas present--just in the nick of time for Jeff's farewell party Memorial Day weekend. It's a sign that will hang outside the big stone barn on my parents' property in Spring City. My dad had the shape cut out of wood, painted it with chalkboard paint, and screwed in some hangy-hooks. My job was just to paint the lettering on each side.

    This side is for when there are special events in the barn--they can write in the name of the event with chalk.

    This side is the side facing the street most of the time--when there's not a special event going on.

    I used stencils and a special weatherproof paint. As always with a new craft project, the most time-consuming part was going to different craft stores to track down the supplies. I found Patio Paint on the JoAnn's website, but not in the store itself. Roberts had Patio Paint, but not the stencils I wanted. I went to Michael's last, and they had by far the best selection of stencils and stenciling supplies. NOW YOU KNOW.

    Lisa: ouch.

    If they wanted a birds-eye-view diagram, they should have been more specific.

    Thank you, Marci, for rescuing us. Sarah REALLY had to pee by the time you got there. Thank you, Blake, for taking care of all the insurance phone calls. Thank you, other driver, for being nice to the pregnant lady who couldn't stop crying.

    June 05, 2007

    Lisa: You will NOT be assimilated. Sorry.

    Can I just say that I hate (HATE) those little bluetooth ear-clip phone thingies? There is no faster ticket to Tooldom. If you wear one while you drive to avoid accidents, fine. If you work in a call center and your company has those instead of wired headsets, fine. Wear it at work. No one (NO ONE) needs to wear one all the time. If you must wear one while tooling around your own home, so be it--but for the sake of all that is good and holy, take it off when you venture into the public realm.

    June 04, 2007

    Lisa: and stay away from my frozen burritos

    In case you didn't already see it on mimi smartypants, Passive Agressive Notes has compiled a collection of real notes that is awesome in both size and content. I think my favorite is still the note from Sarah my parents found after a night out:

    Dear Mom,

    David and Jeff are mean and horrible [or other random tattling]. Please tell me that I am adopted and not related to THOSE PEOPLE.


    If you aren't as creative as Sarah, and are stuck not knowing exactly the right words to skewer your nemesis, try these cards from Glarkware.

    June 01, 2007

    Lisa: try to catch me ridin' dirty

    I think I'm going to sell my mountain bike and buy a cruiser. With a basket and a bell. I'm not really the daredevil off-roading steep-hill-loving uneven-terrain type, you know?

    Anybody want a practically new Diamondback Traverse?

    May 08, 2007

    Lisa: what to expect when you're expecting a vampire baby

    Blake and I watched two episodes of Heroes last night, which brought up some very important issues that had to be resolved before we could go to sleep.

    1. If you could have any mutant power, what power would you choose?
    2. Are Magneto's powers stupid?
    3. If the baby could have any mutant power, what would you want it to be?
    4. If the baby could be any horror-movie creature, what would you want it to be?

    These questions were tricky to come to a consensus on, particularly because Blake answered in this highly irritating fashion:

    1. Magneto's powers.
    2. No. They are AWESOME.
    3. The power to make sound waves into light. (I was able to bargain him into controlling the weather.)
    4. A vampire.

    May 07, 2007

    Lisa: people who try not to laugh out loud at their computer monitors at work (cracker division)

    I heartily endorse Sarah's addition of How About Orange to her favorite sites. Without How About Orange, I would never have found Threadbared, and I would never have been so delighted by vintage patterns with wacky captions that I started reading right at the beginning, and I would never have found this family on their way to the weekly meeting of the Racist Memorabilia Collectors Club (Cracker Division).

    My life is so much better today than it could have been. Thank you, Sarah.

    May 03, 2007

    Lisa: voila

    In our fabulous language, there is sometimes a gap between a written word and its spoken equivalent. Spanish doesn't have this problem--each vowel is said the same way, every time. Their rules of pronunciation are simple and finite. Not so with English. English is full of EXCEPTIONS to the rules. Some of the rules even have exceptions built right in: "I before E except after C or when sounding like "ey" as in neighbor and weigh." What kind of rule is that?

    This gap presents a problem for readers and non-readers alike. People who have read the word but not used it in conversation often betray their ignorance with an incorrect pronunciation, while people who have heard the word used out loud might stumble when it comes time to write the word down--and no amount of dictionary searching will help BECAUSE THE SPELLING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. See "segue." I think the French are usually to be blamed for this.

    Imagine my embarassment when I read Imogene's Antlers out loud to my mom as a child, and in the crucial scene where the fancy (French) milliner reveals a new hat he has created to hide Imogene's offending appendages, I confidently exclaimed "VIOLA!" Like the string instrument. I'm sure Mom was very nice about it, all "Heeee. Oh, sweetie, it's pronounced WA-LA!" I could have shrugged it off, or nodded in comprehension. I chose to be mortified.

    Now. Let's all learn from my childhood mistake, shall we? When you look at the words "wa la" on the screen after typing them, your instinct tells you that these are not real words. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT. Type "voila" instead. Use italics to indicate a foreign language. Smirk to yourself about how smart you are.

    April 23, 2007

    Lisa: It's a girl!

    And I think she likes karaoke.

    April 20, 2007

    Lisa: one track mind

    While I was setting up the auditorium for our "War of the Worlds" No Girls Allowed program, a four-year-old boy wandered in and gasped with delight at the alien party streamers I was draping around the edge of a table. He picked up a stuffed puppet.

    Boy: "Look! Two zombies on there!"
    Lisa: "I think those are supposed to be astronauts."
    B: "Astronauts! And they're in a planet!"
    L: "Um, I think that's a space ship."

    He picked up another stuffed toy.

    B: "This one is a zombie!"
    L: "That one's an alien."
    B: "..."
    L: "Do you know what an alien is?"
    B: "Aliens aren't even real! They live in space! They couldn't be on Earth because that would be CRAZY!"
    L: "Yeah."
    B: "So why are you decorating with all these zombies?"
    L: "And astronauts and aliens?"
    B: "Yeah!!"
    L: "Well, because we're having a program today about aliens and outer space."
    B: "AND ZOMBIES????!!!!"

    April 19, 2007

    Lisa: buy me some peanuts and crackerjack

    Spring means baseball.

    And baseball means Marci and Mallory eating the world's biggest hot dogs...

    ...with radioactive relish.

    And finding out Sarah's true feelings for me.

    Goodnight, boys. Let's play again sometime.

    April 18, 2007

    Lisa: stone cold sober

    This is why we are all glad that I don't drink. And before you ask, yes, my jeans are screenprinted with a silver design featuring glued-on rhinestones.

    Thank you, Mallory, for bringing this moment of glory to my attention.

    April 17, 2007

    Lisa: word to the wise

    When I am in the middle of helping someone else,

    1) Do not slam your hand down on the counter and shout, "WWWWWWWWWAKE UP!!!!"

    2) Do not follow that up with an enthusiastic statement about how people don't have to be quiet in the library anymore.

    3) When I turn my attention to you, do not ask me an asinine question about whether we have a certain tax form that you already know we don't have ON THE DAY TAXES ARE DUE.

    4) Do not finish our interaction with an exhortation to "SMILE!!!"

    See, I normally give exemplary customer service. I pride myself on it. But when you hit me with all of the above, I have no alternative but to give you the bitch stare of death through the fog of rage that has suddenly enveloped me. Two other customers rushed over and immediately started empathizing with me, which means that either you JUST WENT TOO FAR, or that they took pity on the pregnant lady who looked like she was going to burst a blood vessel.

    Either way, please, don't do those things.

    April 15, 2007

    Lisa: help

    I have a couple of things I need to get done in the next few weeks.

  • dig the grass out of all our flower beds and fill up the empty space with bark chips

  • paint the downstairs bathroom

  • get the paint I bought for the sewing room re-tinted (since I was obviously smoking crack when I purchased bright coral pink) and paint the sewing room

  • touch up all the white trim and ceilings in the rooms we've painted so far

  • find out what the baby is (we've got our fingers crossed for a human boy or girl)

  • figure out what the crap is going on with maternity leave (Is six weeks enough?)

  • sign up for a childbirth class

  • deposit checks in three different bank accounts at two separate banks

  • miraculously fix the DVD burner in my laptop so that I can burn a copy of the prenatal yoga video I checked out from the library and now owe $8 in fines on

  • pay library fines

  • find somewhere to swim that I can afford AND that isn't gross
  • April 12, 2007

    Lisa: research

    The labor stories of other women are alternately hilarious, reassuring, and terrifying. Here are a few I've read lately:

    Mighty Girl

    Here's what I know:
    1) Women have been doing this for thousands of years. My body is made to do this.
    2) I will be giving birth in a hospital, not at home with a midwife whose idea of an amenity is shaping the umbilical cord into a heart.
    3) The epidural is my friend.
    4) Blake and Sarah and my mom and dad got me through the end of the marathon. They can get me through this.

    April 11, 2007

    Lisa: perilous pastilles

    I think Tootsie Rolls were originally developed as a weapon, or at least a joke candy. See, if you start to eat a Tootsie Roll that's too big (as most of them are), they glue your teeth together until you start to choke on the copious amounts of chocolate-flavored spit that have suddenly been produced out of nowhere. This should be a deterrent, right? The funny thing is, Tootsie Rolls are so delicious that when you finally stop coughing, your hand automatically reaches into the bag for another piece. My theory is that when the would-be pranksters wouldn't stop eating the tasty morsels themselves, the makers shrugged, all, "Huh...well...the customer knows best!" and started marketing them without the irony.

    And don't get me started on the delectable danger that is Dots.

    April 06, 2007

    Lisa: Bunnies, bunnies, it must be bunnies!

    As Andrea mentioned, we read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for book club last month. Because it was a kids' book, and because I'm a little craft-obsessed, I had everyone make a bunny out of felt. I was hoping to make these little guys, but I couldn't find the book in time. Instead, I printed some of blue by you's photos for inspiration.

    I love how all the bunnies came out so different and so fun.

    Meet my rabbit, Randall:

    April 02, 2007

    Lisa: Internet, work your magic.

    It seems like all the books I can find on decorating a baby's room or making baby-related crafts are super cheesy and overdone, syrupy-sweet, or just plain hideous. Itty-Bitty Hats is an exception, and I can't wait to get started on the pumpkin hat.

    Can anyone recommend other titles for me that won't bring back the morning sickness?

    March 31, 2007

    Lisa: office, redux

    Since the office next to our bedroom is eventually going to become the baby's room, last weekend we moved the bookcases and desk downstairs to the family room. I was worried it would feel too crowded down there, but actually I think it's an improvement--it's looking like a real room instead of just a few stray furniture rejects in a weirdly long space. Here's what the family room looks like now:

    In the first and last pictures there, you can see a big set of white louvred doors behind the black office chair. A while ago, with inspiration from various design magazines, catalogs, and books on organization, I made the inside of the closet (which is quite deep and included outlets for power and telephone lines) into an office. It's not as pretty as the mini-office I linked, but it's functional and I can close the doors on the whole thing to make the room look neater. I do all my work for Concert Black from there. Before and after:

    With the furniture out of the way, it was a lot easier to repaint the office/nursery. The old paint color was like Kermit after a hearty meal of radioactive waste, and we don't want the baby to go blind or anything, so we painted over it with a much softer, more minty green I had already bought for the downstairs hallway. An improvement, don't you think? And I still like how the green looks against the other paint colors in the nearby rooms and hall.

    Thanks, Blake and Sarah, for all your hard work and help!

    March 30, 2007

    Lisa: corndog karma

    A few nights ago I got corndogged. In case the name isn't enough of an explanation for you, corndogging is a prank in which the pranksters obtain a large quantity of frozen corn dogs and drive them into the prankee's lawn stick-first in the middle of the night. With any luck, by morning the corndogs have defrosted, and have become a smelly and tantalizing treat for the neighborhood pets.

    The first problem with the fact that I was the victim of this harmless but irritating attack is that corndogging is my signature prank. I INVENTED IT.

    Secondly, this meager attempt barely qualifies:

    THIS, my friend, is corndogging:

    Live and learn. Oh, and stay off my lawn!

    March 28, 2007

    Lisa: dental hygiene is so hot right now

    Sometimes the Fergie-bot says some stuff that the kids out in the suburbs can't understand. This time, the confusion-causing lyric was found in Glamorous:

    Livin' my life
    In the fast lane
    And I wont change
    By the Glamorous, oh the flossy flossy

    Investigation was obviously called for. After verifying that the lyric is indeed "flossy flossy," I checked the sometimes helpful (but always offensive!) Urban Dictionary. There were two helpful definitions that actually predated the song:

    1. Extremely flashy or showy.
    2. Someone who is hot, sexy, or banging.

    Yahoo! Answers also chipped in with:

    3. Ornate or showy in a flashy, often almost vulgar way.

    Now I'm wondering if Jennifer Lopez wasn't just talking about dental floss when she said "if I wanna floss I got my own." Thoughts?

    On an eerily related note, Sarah bought me a toothbrush that plays Let's Get it Started by broadcasting sound waves through my teeth and directly INTO MY BRAIN. That's what the package says, anyway. It's awesome--now I in the mornings I shake my thang AND brush for a full two minutes!

    March 27, 2007

    Lisa: dude looks like a lady

    Is it possible that hot rollers induce mannishness? One would assume that artificially curling one's hair would result in a more feminine appearance. Strangely, no. Each time I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface, I am somewhat stunned by the incongruous man-face peering out from the center of a soft cloud of curled hair. A dark day for all of us.

    March 17, 2007

    Lisa: checking in

  • baby - lemon-sized

  • uterus - grapefruit-sized

  • breasts - two glorious California oranges

  • ass - don't ask

  • belly - sticking out even more than usual (Yep, that's a maternity dress.)

  • puke - less frequent

  • heels - holding steady

  • lust for life - intact (If you can still bring yourself to accessorize, all is not lost.)

  • March 09, 2007

    Lisa: Tool of the Week

    Over the last 15 years or so, I've tried a lot of mascaras. Luckily, I wasn't makeup-age during the era of the colored lashes, but I've tried every tube my mom ever bought (Clinique, Arbonne, and various other high end stuff), every brand they sell at the drugstore, and some things in between.

    By far, the best mascara I've ever used is...


    The tube is divided in half, with one end being a whitish "lengthening primer" and the other end the black top coat. No lie, this mascara does make my lashes look significantly longer and more full. My natural eyelashes are barely average, but when I started wearing Intense XXL...

  • My mom (who historically only comments on my eye makeup to say that it makes me look like I've been crying) said my eyes looked very glamorous.

  • Defying husband stereotypes everywhere, Blake told me my lashes looked "long and luxurious."

  • A woman I was helping at the library told me I should be an EYELASH MODEL. No, really.
  • This is obviously no ordinary mascara. Try it! And tell me about your favorite beauty product in the comments!

    March 06, 2007

    Lisa: well-heeled

    Sometimes people question why I spend time or money on 'unneccessary' grooming procedures. Other people ask, "how can you stand to walk in those things" or, "why are you always all dressed up?"


    Excellent grooming goes a surprisingly long way to make up for a lack of natural beauty. Our friend Jennifer Aniston can testify to that. "Excellent grooming" means a regular regime of waxing or shaving, moisturizing, finger- and toenail care, hair upkeep (cut and/or color), daily hairstyling and makeup application, and making sure that whatever clothes you put on constitute an "outfit." You don't have to spend a lot of money on any of it, and it shouldn't be overdone (if all the makeup you need is lipgloss and mascara, great), but it has to be done. I've talked before about showing respect for your body by taking care of it, and I hold to that, but I think for me it's mostly about being prettier.

    Why skirts and heels? Well, quite simply, I think the Fifties look of heels and a skirt with a nipped-in waist is just the most flattering for a traditional female figure. Plus it's easier to pull off a classy, old-school glamour thing than to follow trends--especially when you're no longer 16 years old, over 98 lbs, or don't maintain the figure of an 11-year-old boy.

    Heels look feminine and graceful. They make your legs look longer and more shapely, and change the contour of your butt for the better. Plus, you look like you're putting just THAT much more effort into looking nice.

    Like all of you, I wear pants when the activity calls for it. However, for a woman with hips, a skirt is more flattering than a pair of pants EVERY TIME. And contrary to popular argument, I find that skirts are often more comfortable than pants, due to the lack of restriction around the lady bits.

    Yes, you have to be slightly more conscious of your body when you're wearing heels and a skirt. Wearing a skirt forces you to be ladylike--keep your knees together or risk exposing yourself a la Britney. THIS IS A GOOD THING. What's so bad about comporting yourself like a lady? Sitting with your legs wide apart in jeans still looks vulgar, even if your panties aren't technically visible. Walking in heels, feeling a skirt brushing against your legs--it makes you feel your femininity. Own it.

    I think I dress like a 50s TV housewife for another reason. Even though I consider myself a feminist, deep down I still think I should do (or at least be able to do) everything June Cleaver did. But...I don't really cook much. I'm not the best housekeeper. I'm not always sweet and kind and unruffled, waiting, martini in hand, for my husband to get home from work.

    But I CAN look the part. I can be the best at walking in with a skirt and heels, a smart-looking coat, and a pretty bag. And you know what? We can eat take-out. We can hire someone to clean our house. But it's still frowned upon to pay someone to be sexy for you. So...I figure I picked the most practical of the three.

    March 02, 2007

    Lisa: street smarts

    Q: When is a good time to take my car to the dealership downtown for an oil change that is 3000 miles overdue?

    A: 7:00 am, before the streets are plowed, during a blizzard.

    Bonus points: Remind the service guy that a part needs to get installed. When he asks you what part, tell him you have no idea. Watch while he looks up the record of your last visit, where someone painstakingly typed in all caps, "CUSTOMER STATES SHE HIT SOMETHING VERY HARD, AND NOW THERE IS SOMETHING DANGLING DOWN BY THE TIRE. SHE SUGGESTS JUST TRIMMING THAT PART OFF BECAUSE MAYBE IT ISN'T IMPORTANT."

    March 01, 2007

    Lisa: Thank you?

    I never know what people are going to say to me at the information desk. I think some people don't know what a librarian is, while other people are just strange. I try not to take it personally.

    "Gosh, you're so bright--why do you work at the library?"

    "So are you all volunteers?"

    "Gee, you'd make such a great secretary. Maybe I'll offer you a job!"

    "You have a master's degree? Really? Seriously? So...did you always know you wanted to be a librarian?" (No. Actually, I got my undergraduate degree in music.) "What do you play?" (The flute.) "Oh. I...don't play the flute."

    "You're the smartest girl in the world. And not only that, you're pretty good lookin'! I can say that because I'm old, so it's not a threat."

    "Did you know your thyroid gland is enlarged?"

    "Can I ask your advice? Do you think half a stick of dynamite would be enough to blow up this whole library?"

    Edited because I just had to add one more from today:
    "You always look so nice when I come in here. I prefer brunettes with white shirts and black skirts, and you always look very nice."

    February 28, 2007

    Lisa: There is someone here inside

    Until recently, my family owned a Scrabble game with light pink letter tiles. A special collector's edition? No. You see, in the early 1980s, Scrabble was sold in a dark red fabric-covered box. The letter tiles were plain wood, just like always. One day I was doing whatever it is kids do to entertain themselves, when I felt a vague need to pee. Sure that this inconvenient urge would eventually just go away, I remained ensconced on the throne I had built by cushioning the Scrabble box with a decorative throw pillow. Perhaps you have already guessed that I eventually peed through the pillow and through the red box, transferring the dye from the box to the tiles WITH MY URINE. Gross, I know. Arguably grosser? The fact that my mom just washed the whole thing off and we played with that Scrabble game for years.

    The problem in this instance (and, to be honest, throughout my entire life so far) was that I didn't "listen to my body." In fact, I HATE listening to my body. Even as an adult, I always wait too long before I give in and run to the bathroom. I don't sleep. I drink Diet Coke instead of water. For some reason I feel the need to constantly assert the fact that I am in charge. My body is not the boss of me and I'll do it 'cause I want to and not 'cause my body tells me to! Obviously this is very self-defeating behavior, but what can you do?

    Well, my body is getting the last laugh. For the past several months, all I've done is listen to my body and try to anticipate and fulfill its every physical need. Why? Because now my body has the leverage it has always lacked: puke. Don't get enough sleep? PUKE. Don't eat enough? PUKE. Don't eat the right thing? PUKE. Don't eat at the right time? PUKE. Move too suddenly or in the wrong direction? PUKE. (Can you hear the maniacal laughter coming from the vicinity of my stomach?) Nothing says "I am not in charge of my own body" like a good round of vomit, especially when you hate throwing up as much as I do.

    Say it with me: one more week. I've been in charge for 28 years--I guess I can listen to my body for one more week. I'll even throw in six more months of above-average consideration.

    But if you see a pleasantly pink-tinted Scrabble game at D.I., think twice before buying it.

    February 26, 2007

    Lisa: I'd like to thank the Academy

    Helen Mirren always looks amazing at awards shows--gorgeous and sexy but age-appropriate. I'm so glad my favorite act of the Oscars recognized her hotness too. Here's to aging gracefully! I don't know about you, but I plan to stick a picture of Ms. Mirren to my bathroom mirror.

    February 13, 2007

    Lisa: hint, hint

    Normally I hate Valentine's Day with the fire of a thousand suns, but don't you think these would make a great V-Day present?

    Besides, if you have to wear this knit jersey tent, the least you can do is put on a pair of kickass sexy red heels with it, right?

    Lisa: tick tock

    Because it is my life's mission to copy Maggie in every possible way, I had to get a pregnancy countdown ticker. Mine looks like this:

    It'll be at the very bottom of the main page of our site until I get tired of it.

    February 12, 2007

    Lisa: the secret is out

    Maybe some of you already know, and some of you have already guessed, but I am having a BABY. Yes, that's right, I am GROWING A WHOLE SEPARATE PERSON INSIDE OF ME. From SCRATCH. It's kind of blowing my mind. Here's how it went down (conception excluded [obviously]):

    1) Four weeks ago I stopped drinking Diet Coke because I thought I was getting an ulcer.
    2) Three and a half weeks ago I thought my reproductive organs had shriveled and died, possibly crumbling into a black powder.
    3) Three weeks ago I was getting really tired of having the stomach flu.
    4) On January 23rd I finally figured out what was going on and took a pregnancy test. I broke the news to Blake by walking into our bedroom at 6:00am brandishing the test. "Um. Blake? This stick says we're going to have a baby."
    5) Two weeks ago our immediate families found out through the postal system--a tiny slip of paper wrapped around a little plastic baby and stuffed into a small mailing tube with tissue paper. I was too shy to call everyone.
    6) Last week we started referring to it as Las Plagas, which of course makes me The Infected.
    7) This morning I had my first prenatal doctor's appointment. Not only did I get to HEAR the HEARTBEAT, but I saw a little blob wiggling around on the ultrasound screen! It is confirmed: something is definitely in there.

    This isn't a blog about a baby, so I'll try not to get obnoxious or too boring, but having a kid is going to be kind of a big thing for me. You may be hearing about Las Plagas from time to time--consider yourself warned.

    February 09, 2007

    Lisa: appetizing

    You know what sounds good to me today?

  • Grilled American cheese on Wonder bread. Or maybe open-faced grilled sharp Cheddar on sourdough with a big slice of tomato on top.

  • ham-and-pineapple pizza (Best cold pizza breakfast ever.)

  • raw chocolate chip cookie dough

  • brussels sprouts
  • What? I'm completely normal. No, really.

    January 22, 2007

    Lisa: not in the best of taste

    My stomach has developed a sudden and inexplicable (but nonetheless vehement) hatred for bile. I have tried explaining that bile and my stomach should just get along, that they could in fact work together in perfect harmony, but to no avail. Whenever my stomach detects the presence of its arch enemy, the offending bile must immediately be expelled. Alas.

    January 14, 2007

    Lisa: Supercharged

    Every electronic gadget we buy seems to come with its own proprietary charging cord and adapter. I've been wanting to make a charging center to hide the resulting ugly and inconvenient cord soup residing in the bin on our kitchen counter. At first, I was thinking of a painted wooden box, with holes drilled in it for the cord ends to poke out of. Then I got inspired by these ribbon boxes, and Sarah helped me develop the final idea.

    Here's what went into it:

  • 10 1/2"x8"x6" cardboard Memory Dock box, purchased at Roberts

  • Power Sentry Home Office Computer Surge Protector, bought at Target

  • #1 X-Acto knife from Michael's

  • 2 packages of Jo-Ann ScrapEssentials brushed silver oval bookplates

  • 1 package of Jo-Ann ScrapEssentials silver mini-brads
  • As with most craft projects, shopping for the supplies took far more time than the project itself. It seems like I used to see those cardboard photo boxes everywhere, but maybe they've fallen out of fashion. Once I got the stuff, all it took was cutting the holes in the box with the X-Acto knife, and attaching the bookplates around the openings with the brads. I was initially planning on using grommets or eyelets (like in the Martha Stewart version), but I couldn't find any big enough for all the plug ends to fit through.

    Here's the result!

    January 12, 2007

    Lisa: Maybe there could be a point system for sins.

    Sometimes I think the church is simply a program engineered with the lowest common denominator in mind, aimed at corralling the largest percentage of people possible into heaven. It's kind of like Weight Watchers.

  • Every week you meet with a support group of people who share the same goal--weight loss.

  • At that meeting you are instructed on healthy ways to lose weight, learn mechanisms to cope with the urge to overeat, or hear inspirational stories of those who have succeeded through Weight Watchers before you.

  • You are provided with a point system: guidelines on the amount and type of food you can consume. If eat the right number of points, you will progress toward your goal.

  • By following this very structured program with the support of your group, you will remain focused on your goal and gain the tools you need to reach it.
  • If you follow the program, Weight Watchers works--there's no question. But...it's not the only way to lose weight, right?

    January 11, 2007

    Lisa: M-F-E-O

    Lisa: I think I need more Tim Gunn in my life.
    Sarah: Hee. Don't. We. All.
    Lisa: In my head I just imagined his voice saying "Where's Andrae?" and I started giggling.
    Sarah: Andrae= googley-head, which adds hilarity.
    Lisa: TOTALLY. I think Tim Gunn would make me sack up and offer me some much-needed direction in all areas of my life.
    Sarah: It's possible. He's good like that.
    Lisa: Plus, I can picture him looking at my hair and sort of shaking his head with his hand on his chin, all "Well.....make it work!"
    Sarah: Speaking of hair, I really liked [our cousin] Heidi's and I've been wanting to dye mine ever since we saw her at Christmas.
    Lisa: It was so pretty! But...your hair is already dark? And her hair is straight but with enough wave/body to make it do the swoopy styled thing.
    Sarah: Yeah, but I want to dye it darker. Plus, it's growing out anyway. I have to do something with it.
    Lisa: OH MY GOSH.
    Sarah: What?
    Lisa: Nothing. I temporarily went insane and was like "We could have twinner sculpted Jetson hair! Just alike!" and then I had to remove that part of my brain with a scalpel. Apparently I left some bits.
    Sarah: Don't make me giggle out loud. I love that part of your brain. Can I keep it? Maybe in my pocket or on a saucer somewhere in my house?
    Lisa: Hee. I have it in a jar and keep it in the back of a very dark drawer, pulling it out only occasionally to bark "BAD BRAIN" at it. Then I shake the jar a little before replacing it.
    Sarah: Oh, that makes me sad.
    Lisa: Don' t feel bad for the Jetson-hair-twins part of my brain. It should be punished.
    Sarah: No, no! If you don't want it, let me have it!! It needs sunlight, Lisa. I can give it WHAT IT NEEDS. Plus, I love Jetson hair. Many of the side ponytails of my youth were inspired by the Jetson daughter.

    January 10, 2007

    Lisa: Bored Now

    I think the girls are getting tired of me taking their pictures at Crown Burger every week. Does that mean I will stop? NEVER.

    January 03, 2007

    Lisa: Wax On

    Factoid: it is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of your own eye. But aren't my brows fabulous?

    Today on my lunch hour I went to the spa for a bit of judicious waxing, and I got to thinking about why more people don't wax. Here are the common obstacles I see:

    1) It hurts.

    Well, yes. It does hurt. BUT BEAUTY IS PAIN. No, I'm just kidding--if it was too painful, obviously it wouldn't be worth doing. Look at it this way: have you ever groomed your brows with tweezers? You know how much it hurts when you pluck just one hair? Well (and if you haven't waxed, you'll just have to trust me on this), if you yank out a whole section of hairs at once, it hurts about the same amount as plucking just that one hair.

    Admittedly, most of us do not go after our bikini lines with tweezers, and that skin is certainly more sensitive--but what's the alternative? Shaving, with the associated razor burn and immediate prickly regrowth? Waxing the bikini line hurts, a lot, for about one second per cloth. That's six to ten seconds of pain, total, for two weeks of clean skin. Compare that to one or two days of clean skin followed by a week of itchy discomfort.

    There's also anecdotal evidence that each time you wax, it hurts less. I don't know if that's from gradual desensitization, or because there's less hair to deal with each time (pulling hair out by the root often damages the root and a new hair won't grow there), or if it's just less scary because you know what to expect. Your mileage may vary.

    1.5) Something will go wrong and it will RIP OFF MY SKIN/BURN ME/AIIIIIIIEEEE!!!!

    Well, I guess if you were bleaching your own hair you could potentially give your scalp a chemical burn and your hair would all fall out. This is why we leave it to the professionals. Your waxer should be a licensed aesthetician who has gone through hundreds of hours of classroom training and clinical application.

    2) I don't want someone else all "up in my business."

    Okay. That can be kind of uncomfortable--but it's not as bad as going to the gynecologist. For one, you get to keep your panties on. And your waxer will be super professional; if she wasn't, she wouldn't get any repeat business.

    2.5) I am embarassed to have a stranger see what I look like.

    Trust me, your waxer has had clients who are much fatter and hairier than you are. Also, if you DO wax, those areas will look better and you'll be less insecure the next time!

    3) It costs money.

    Yes, services cost money. Just as you can dye your own hair or paint your own nails, you can wax your own brows or whatever area suits your fancy. There's going to be a quality tradeoff, though, due to inferior commercially available products, a lack of expertise, and your not being a contortionist. Also, I personally have never had the guts to do my own waxing--but a stranger won't chicken out before ripping off that strip!

    Any hair-removal regime is going to cost something, whether it's razors and shaving cream, depilatory cream, or waxing supplies. You have to decide if the benefits of going to a professional are worth a few more dollars from your budget.

    4A) My brows look fine naturally.

    Yeah, maybe they do. But...they could look better. Even if you stay with your natural shape, there will be hairs that are "outside the lines." Get closer to the mirror. Yes, other people can see those. Brows are one of the most overlooked facial features, but one that can make a huge difference to the appearance of your eyes and your whole face. An aesthetician can help you determine a brow shape that will flatter your face, and will help you achieve that shape without overplucking.

    4B) No one sees my bikini area anyway.

    Maybe no one sees you naked. But what if you get invited to go swimming or hot-tubbing? What if you get in a car accident and the doctors have to cut off your clothes?

    More importantly, YOU see your bikini area. Just like wearing pretty underwear that no one else sees, you will know when you are well groomed and you'll feel sexier and more confident. Plus, that pretty underwear will look even prettier without unsightly hair sticking out of it.

    And...ladies, it must be said: if you are married or in a committed sexual relationship, then sack up. Your husband/boyfriend sees your bikini area, and even though he loves you no matter what, he will appreciate your grooming efforts. Keep the romance alive!

    4C) Only sluts wax their bikini lines.

    No. Clean and well-groomed women who have respect for their bodies and take care of them wax their bikini lines. You don't have to go Brazilian, and you don't have to shave in your boyfriend's initials. Your lady bits are not inherently dirty. Admitting that you have a bikini area and taking proper care of it doesn't mean you're showing it to all the boys.

    4D) I am a dirty hippie.

    I can't help you there.

    December 29, 2006

    Lisa: I am just hoping that they don't have sink pudding.

    In the drive-through line at McDonalds this afternoon, I made a startling discovery.

    McDonalds? Lives. In. Squalor.

    December 27, 2006

    Lisa: The Illustrated Librarian

    Thanks to Santa, I am wearing a temporary tattoo that says "Read or Die." How awesome is that?

    December 26, 2006

    Lisa: good advice

    As if I needed another reason to love Ken Jennings:

    If both time and money are in short supply this winter, use your body. Romance a lonely librarian. As the movies have taught us, when librarians take off their dowdy glasses and let their hair down, some are real lookers.

    (Thanks, Dave!)

    December 23, 2006

    Lisa: No, I haven't written my Christmas cards yet. Why do you ask?

    We met Sarah at the delicious Sampan at South Towne after work for a gift exchange with the girls. I'm doing my part to beautify the internet by posting some of the pictures.

    Here's the lovely Sarah...

    And the awesome wind-up sumo wrestler set she got from Mallory...

    And here's Mallory, looking fetching as usual...

    And of course, the ravishing Marci.

    Merry Christmas, ladies! I love you.

    December 22, 2006

    Lisa: Boogie Woogie Santa Claus

    As promised, I'm posting pictures of our Christmas lights...

    Also as promised, Mallory took us to see the light show in Murray that is animated and set to music. When we got there, a long line of cars was inching along, each waiting for their turn to see the show. I passed the time by taking pictures, of course.

    Blake was the first to be blinded by my flash--which was probably poor planning on my part, since he was the one driving the car.

    Even though I was obviously taking the lion's share of the flash's assault, Jeffrey was so blinded he couldn't even open his eyes. Amateur!

    In that last one, imagine Jeff's face looks like this (the only picture from the bunch in which he toughened up and pried his sensitive little peepers open):

    I'm not sure how Mallory escaped the photographic onslaught--possibly because she was in the passenger seat right in front of me and was shielded by the headrest.

    The house right before the one with the animated show sported some serious lights, too.

    Finally, we got to "Christmas Utah," and it was worth the wait. Let's just say there was quite a bit of undignified clapping and squealing coming from our car. It was really hard to get decent pictures when the lights kept flashing on and off, but you get the idea--and if you want to see it in motion, try the link above.

    Thanks, Mallory! I think this will be a new Christmas tradition.

    December 21, 2006

    Lisa: Huh. So, I guess smart people...read books?

    The Shelf Life newsletter with my Ken Jennings interview has finally been published!

    Here's the interview as I submitted it:


    Local Jeopardy champion and Brainiac author Ken Jennings took time out from his book tour to answer a few questions.

    Do you have a memorable library experience you could share?

    My mom is actually an elementary school librarian in Utah County. But my most memorable library experience probably happened in fourth grade. We had gym class before recess some days and after it on other days, and I got the schedules confused and accidentally skipped gym to sit in the library reading Encyclopedia Brown books, thinking it was recess. It took me about 45 minutes to realize that I was missing, not recess, but the fourth-grade mini-track meet out on the soccer field. My assigned partner for the three-legged race was ticked.

    So, the only time I ever cut class in my life (well, until college), I wound up in the library. Nerd!

    How many books do you read a week?

    A week? Wow, that's ambitious. You guys do know that some people, like, have jobs and TVs and stuff, right?

    Actually, I've been traveling a lot lately for the Brainiac book tour, which is a great chance to catch up on reading. I'll read five or six books in a week if there are enough cross-country flights in that week. If I'm home, I'm lucky to get through a book a week.

    What book is on your nightstand right now?

    Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. And in the same stack, also unfinished: that new Brian Wilson biography and a collection of old Little Lulu comics.

    What is your favorite genre to read?

    Novels, especially ones with that faintly literary sepia-photo cover you see on Vintage Books trade paperbacks. That way I look really highbrow when I'm reading on a plane.

    Is there a book that has changed your life? How?

    Monetarily, it's Mike Dupee's How to Get on Jeopardy!...and Win! by a mile. But more personally, I think back to the books that changed my sense of humor, like Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh or (especially) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I read that when I was fourteen and it blew my mind. I wrote and talked like Vonnegut for the next three years.

    Who are your favorite authors?

    Writing today, nobody's better than Ian McEwan or Haruki Murakami. Going a little further back, George Eliot. Dostoyevsky. Fitzgerald. Poe. Too many to name. It's like choosing between your children, if your children were only witty, insightful geniuses all the time.

    Do you remember a favorite book from your childhood?

    I remember every favorite book from my childhood. To this day I could draw you a diagram of Professor William Waterman Sherman's unique hot-air balloon gondola in The Twenty-One Balloons or tell you every secret entrance to the junkyard headquarters of the boy detectives in "The Three Investigators." But I was also the kind of information-sponge kid who would pore over The World Almanac when the new one came out every November, which is, admittedly, a little weird.

    What product would you love to endorse if the opportunity should arise?

    Not to toot my own horn too much or anything, but I'm pretty much a genius on the Etch-a-Sketch. Portraits, landscapes, abstracts...I can do it all. I think I should be the celebrity spokesperson for Etch-a-Sketch.

    Will you be writing any more books?

    Absolutely. I had such a great time traveling the country meeting trivia nuts and putting together their story in Brainiac...I definitely plan to keep writing. Probably a book of trivia, now that I've written the book about trivia. After that--well, part of the curse of being a trivia buff is that you find yourself interested in virtually everything, so that means there's no shortage of subjects I'd like to write about.

    What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

    I don't feel like I have any how-to-break-into-writing advice, except that a 75-game streak on a major syndicated quiz show is a pretty good way to get a book deal. But when it comes to process, I guess the lesson I learned from Brainiac is that almost any subject, no matter how abstruse, is fractal in nature: it becomes endlessly interesting if you just look close enough. If a book about American trivia culture, for crying out loud, can be successfully received, then anything can. So have the courage of your convictions, authors. The things that obsess you will also interest others--if you can just figure out the right way to present them.


    I assume that when the printed version is posted online, it will be found here.

    December 20, 2006

    Lisa: in the name of all that is holy

    Blake put up Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time this year, and they look awesome--he screwed in little hooks and everything! I'll post a picture soon to immortalize his efforts in pixels. Meanwhile, our humble little light display got me thinking about the gloriously wasteful festival of worldly excess that is American Christmas, perfectly epitomized here. I think every American dad aspires to a holiday light show like this one. As he should.

    (Video AND INSTRUCTIONS via Lifehacker.)

    December 12, 2006

    Lisa: Tired

    I went to Maryland to help with a friend's wedding last week, and I put 500 miles on my rental car. Here's how (not in chronological order):

    1. Washington, D.C.

  • Christmas shopping

  • 2. Silver Spring
  • Got completely lost coming home from Washington, D.C.

  • 3. College Park
  • Bought vases and rocks for reception table centerpieces

  • 4. Laurel
  • Bought emergency kit supplies

  • ring bearer pillow

  • corsage pins

  • CD sleeves for wedding favors

  • frame for grandmother's gift (she sang the Lord's Prayer during the ceremony)

  • 5. Bowie
  • Returned the ring bearer pillow

  • Christmas shopping

  • 6. Millersville
  • Wedding chapel

  • Reception center

  • Picked up reception center key

  • 7. Odenton
  • Bought lunch for everyone

  • 8. Gambrills
  • Just passing through!

  • 9. BWI Airport

    10. Glen Burnie
  • Mother of the bride's home

  • Made bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages, and floral cake topper

  • Assembled various gift packages

  • Assembled emergency kits for bridesmaids

  • 11. Woodberry
  • We got completely lost trying to get out of Baltimore--but on the plus side, we passed the streetcar museum and a bunch of homeless people digging through a mountain of trash!

  • 12. Baltimore
  • Sightseeing

  • 13. Westfield Hills
  • Rehearsal dinner

  • Bought groom's wedding band (yes, Sarah and I picked it out and everything)

  • Bought flower girl's shoes

  • Got manicures

  • Picked up parents' gifts

  • Bought ring bearer's gift

  • Christmas Shopping

  • 14. Annapolis
  • Hotel (where I left some of my clothes--they said they'd ship them to me)

  • Bought bride's shoes

  • Returned bride's shoes, which didn't fit

  • Bought bride's hairpiece

  • Bought fish for reception table centerpieces

  • Procured delicious mini-pitas and deliciously evil hummus
  • Congratulations, Auntris! But...it's good to be home.

    December 11, 2006

    Lisa: Where are the elves when you need them?

    This is what Blake wants for Christmas. I think the insanity is actually a selling point.

    P.S. If any of Santa's little helpers (that's you) see a Wii for sale anywhere, let Santa (me) know, OK?

    December 01, 2006

    Lisa: Book Festival

    Now that everything is covered in snow and ice, I'm really starting to miss the fall. It's my favorite season, but it always seems to rush by so fast! In honor of the Season That Was, I thought I'd post a few pictures from a day of perfect fall weather.

    A month ago, Sarah and I went to the annual Great Salt Lake Book Festival at the downtown library.

    Since I'd never done it before, the first thing we did was to walk down the skywalk. It's a great place to take pictures of the city.

    This is on the roof of the library:

    At the tippy top of the skywalk, we found this at the beginning (or end) of the stairs. I think more things should have words on them.

    Can you make out the Beehive Bail Bonds sign? I don't know why I love that sign.

    At the bottom of the skywalk, there's a plaza that offers a nice view of the City and County Building, which you can see behind Sarah.

    My favorite part of the Book Festival by far was the hands-on stuff sponsored by the Book Arts program at the University of Utah. We made paper out of jeans:

    ...and put together these really neat little notebooks. I think I need to buy a bone folder, an awl, and an X-acto knife so I can make more of these at home.

    For lunch we headed up the street to Cafe Rio, where we tried to determine if this gentleman in front of us in line was in Halloween costume or not. Thoughts?

    Then it was back to the Book Arts area to make another book, this time featuring a secret message compartment and a very saucy witch.

    Lest you think I completely avoided the educational parts of the festival, I also got to see Shannon Hale demonstrate how to use a slingshot.

    Blake, Marci, Charles, Mindy, and Charlie joined us for dinner, and I managed to hold Charlie for almost five whole minutes before he heard his dad's voice and started to cry. All in all, a success!

    In other bookmaking news, we made these at a recent library program. The covers are cut out of pastel-colored manila folders, and the pages are just regular printer paper folded in half and tied in with a narrow ribbon. Easy peasy!

    November 30, 2006

    Lisa: make like a tree and leaf

    I finally finished the Branching Out scarf I started last May, and I wore it for the first time today! I actually finished knitting it quite a while ago, but I lost motivation before weaving in all the ends. Here's to finishing a project! And here's the finished product:

    The color is much closer to the picture with the flash, but the picture without the flash shows the detail much better, so I included that too. It really wasn't that complicated to do the lace pattern once I got the hang of it. Next up, blocking the Ribby Cardi!

    November 29, 2006

    Lisa: Wanna read? (If you could hear my voice, you'd know that was a Willow reference.)

    If you're looking for some fun, easy reading for the holidays and you're interested in helping out a glamorous but approachable librarian (that'd be me), I'd love it if you'd consider reading one of these kids' chapter books and letting me know what you think!

    Grimoire: the curse of the Midions, by Brad Strickland
    Moose's Big Idea, by Stephanie Greene
    Shamer's Daughter, by Lene Kaaberbol
    The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood, by Barb Bentler Ullman
    Ugly, by Donna Jo Napoli
    Wabi: a hero's tale, by Joseph Bruchac

    They're all possible nominees for the Beehive Award for children's fiction. Here's the official review form (it's a Word document), but just leaving your rating and a short comment in the comments area here would be great.

    ETA: Who am I kidding? It would be MORE THAN GREAT! Feel free to leave a request for your reward of choice in the comments area too.

    November 27, 2006

    Lisa: Tales of Eternia

    Sometimes when I get in bed feeling a little stressed, I ask Blake to tell me a story to take my mind off things. Here's what happened last night:

    Lisa: Tell me a story.
    Blake: Okay. (Thinks for a minute.) Once upon a time, in a magical land, there was a boy who was a prince. And he had a cat.
    Lisa: A pet cat?
    Blake: Yes. And it was a scaredy-cat.
    Lisa: Hee. This sounds like a good story. What was the cat's name?
    Blake: Cringer.
    Lisa: That's a good name for a cat! What was the boy's name?
    Blake: (Pause.) Adam. And Adam had lots of fr--
    Lisa: Wait! Did Prince Adam have a friend who had no legs but wore a dress and a hat and could fly?
    Blake: HAHAHAHA! YES! HOW DID YOU KNOW?!?! (More uncontrollable laughter.)
    Lisa: (Punching Blake in the arm) You tricked me! You tried to tell me the story of He-Man!
    Blake: (Laughing) I thought you'd figure it out by the time I got to Castle Grayskull!

    Then we told each other the stories of several cartoons, discussed the irritating Snarf/Thundercats and Pluto/Goofy dichotomy at length, and I tried to explain the plot of the Smurfs movie with the magic flute (which I was very fuzzy on) and how it was disturbingly different from the TV cartoon.

    Thanks, Blake! It might have been He-Man, but your story did the trick.

    November 26, 2006

    Lisa: you can take my breath away

    Real men sing karaoke.

    ...And apparently wear very shiny suits. Rawr.

    (Thanks, More Than That!)

    November 24, 2006

    Lisa: two hearts that beat as one

    Since Sarah and I are pretty much the same person, we've been sending each other text messages as mental notes to ourselves. Here's what we wanted to remember tonight:

  • Add Fame and Rocky Horror Picture Show to the Netflix queue.

  • Marci says: "I had a dream that I was engaged to Usher and Justin Timberlake saved me from him."

  • Set up TiVo season passes for Nocturnal State and Making the Video.

  • Sunglasses at Night is somehow related to Dead Man's Party. Possible vampire connection?

  • Send Sarah an email with some sweet YouTube videos.
  • November 22, 2006

    Lisa: go on and teas me

    I think non-tea-drinkers who are considering becoming tea-drinkers need a guide to help them through the process. I know I could have benefited from such a guide.

    Why you want to drink tea:

  • Hot drinks keep your hands and your belly warm on a cold day.

  • Unlike coffee, hot tea is calming and can help you relax or fall asleep.

  • Many teas purportedly have medicinal properties; for example, certain teas might soothe a sore throat (especially with the addition of honey and lemon).

  • Lots of varieties of caffiene-free herbal teas are available that are perfectly acceptable for even the most religiously conservative.

  • Tea is delicious.
  • Why you don't want to drink tea:

  • Tea is disgusting.
  • What you can do:

  • Don't bother with apple-flavored teas. You'll just find yourself thinking, "this cider is really watery." Ditto for other fruit flavors--tea is not Kool-Aid and it will never taste like Kool-Aid.

  • Don't put milk in your tea. It's disgusting, and if you want a milk-based drink you should just go for hot chocolate. On second thought, if you are forced to drink a fruit tea, you could try to make it palatable by adding a ton of creamer and sugar. But...then it's not tea anymore, it's Strawberry Qwik.

  • Try an herbal tea that is made from an HERB. Specifically, an herb that is grown solely for use in tea. I recommend rooibos or honeybush. They sound freaky, but take my word for it, they're good. If your hotel room, buffet table, or break room only offers Lipton or Celestial Seasonings, the chamomile is a relatively safe bet.

  • Drink it plain or add honey and lemon to taste. You will probably add honey and lemon at first and then start liking the tea more and more on its own.

  • Buy a teapot. Everyone wants a teapot, right? Now you have a reason to buy one. Make it a cute little one that holds enough water for two regular mugs or one big travel mug. Teapots are handy for making the boiling water for instant oatmeal, too.

  • Buy a travel mug that seals well. Not only does that mean it won't slosh onto your hand or into the cup holder of your car, but your tea will stay hot for a suprisingly long time. Don't burn yourself.

  • Beware the blood orange tea at Cup of Joe. It is incredibly delicious, but you will be asleep on the table while your chai-swilling friends are still snapping enthusiastically at the beat poets.

    Happy drinking!

  • November 20, 2006

    Lisa: The Family Dean

    Seems a bit incestuous, doesn't it?

    November 18, 2006

    Lisa: I hate you so much right now

    Advertisers must be wary of association with the scandal-fest that is Nip/Tuck, because FX seems to play the same two commercials over and over during the show. One (a set of trailers, actually) is for Dirt, starring Courtney Cox. The other causes me to involuntarily gouge out my eyes with the nearest sharp implement, shrieking ineffectually at the TV screen, "A SHRUG IS NOT A SHIRT!!!!!!!!"

    It is hard to watch Nip/Tuck with no eyes. FX, have mercy!

    November 16, 2006

    Lisa: I told you so.

    So, remember when I was talking about how I thought there was a Ghostbusters cartoon with a gorilla, and how everybody thought I was insane?


    While I was looking for the answer to that mystery, I came upon this rather complete listing of cartoons from when I was a kid which not only made me sing the Thundercats song out loud but also serendipitously gave me the answer to another puzzle.

    Now when I say, "Remember that cartoon with the animals with words on their shirts? And the words were like...what they were THINKING?" you'll know what I'm talking about. So, no more glazed looks, guys, ok? Guys? HELLO?????

    November 14, 2006

    Lisa: share the wealth

    Don't you think my little brother Dave (a.k.a. "Mr. Moneybags") should buy me a nano for my birthday so that I can play the running game with him? When I suggested as much to Dave, he merely scoffed. I guess he just doesn't love me 150 dollars worth.

    When Sarah and I intimated that he could be our benefactor or patron, David pointed out that we would have to do something for the money. I think his exact words were, "What are you going to do? Blog?"

    I think I need to get myself some hobbies.

    November 12, 2006

    Lisa: a week in pictures

    I had a hard week this week, but the best girlfriends in the world kept me busy and helped me through it.

    Tuesday, I voted (here I am at my polling location)...

    and then Sarah and Marci met me at Crown Burger before Nip/Tuck. Mallory couldn't join us because she was listening to Pete's concession speech.

    Sarah was concentrating very hard on drafting our proposed changes to Crown Burger's wikipedia entry. I'll let you know when we post them BECAUSE IT WILL BE AWESOME.

    Wednesday, Molly and I started watching Firefly.

    Thursday, we ate at The Pie and Marci treated us to Pride and Prejudice at Pioneer Theater,

    where I wore my new shoes...

    and we were told we had no class by these fine denim-clad people.

    Friday, we went to the Ben Lee concert at Saltair, where we heard Under the Influence of Giants,

    Rooney (otherwise known as the band from The O.C. fronted by the guy from Princess Diaries),

    and Ben himself, who was adorable and awesome and wearing a suit made of gold glitter.

    I hope Sarah talks more about the concert, because (Mallory's hate of Rooney notwithstanding) it was really fun.

    Saturday was wallow day. I met Sarah at her apartment with egg burritos and we watched music videos and assorted mindless MTV programming pretty much all day. Mallory and Marci joined us after dinner for Newsies. It probably goes without saying, but we sang along. Loudly.

    Thanks so much, ladies, for being there when I needed you. You are fun and funny and smart and beautiful, and you make life bearable.

    November 10, 2006

    Lisa: I'll be seeing you

    I tend to find something I like and stick to it. I like routines. I revel in traditions. I am a creature of habit. I know you think that doesn't sound exciting, but you will be jealous. Why? Because I am about to tell you about one of my favorite traditions. And that tradition is reading City Weekly's "I Saw U"s at Cafe Med.

    First, you have to understand the awesomeness of Cafe Med.

  • Their menu features my favorite cuisine (Mediterranean).

  • It's a local hole-in-the-wall place on a busy street in a crappy neighborhood, which means that every time you go there, you feel like you're discovering a hidden treasure.

  • The decor is insane. There are animatronic butterflies, cement yard fountains, light-up plastic grapes, pillars that serve no architectural purpose, and a giant King Tut sarcophagus.
  • They have a stack of free City Weeklys by the door that you can read while you are waiting to be seated.
  • I think the awesomeness of the "I Saw U"s speaks for itself:

    malibu barbie
    I called you malibu barbie. You looked so annoyed. I definetly was not trying to insult you but I am not very good with words. So lets try again. You are a fine looking woman. Will you go out on a date with me?
    When: Friday, October 13, 2006.
    Where: maverik
    You: Woman
    Me: Man

    Mr. Green Lexus!
    Hey you Mr. Green Lexus with black and red rims! I saw you @ 3300 south and 300 East. I would love to meet you and take you for a crazy ride! Please let me know you are available. I look like Angelina Jolie...but bigger lips! Interested?...meet me at Bad-Ass coffee co. Friday after 3:00pm, Ask for Kelly.
    When: Tuesday, October 10, 2006.
    Where: 3300 S. 300 E.
    You: Man
    Me: Woman

    November 07, 2006

    Lisa: my crybaby you'll be

    I told Sarah about the Children's Book Club blog that I'm a part of, and asked her if she had any book suggestions.

    Sarah: You should write about that "my baby you'll be" book, because it is GUARANTEED to make you cry every time you read it.
    Lisa: I know. It's like the Butterfly Kisses of books.

    Speaking of ridiculous songs that make you cry, 'tis the season again for the "when Mommy meets Jesus" song, so prepare yourself. I find keeping a few fast-food napkins in the glove box of the car is adequate. On the other hand, if you like being manipulated into tears, maybe you should read this book series BASED ON THE SONG.

    Sorry, I just had a rage blackout.

    In other timely topics, don't forget to vote today! If you live in Utah and want to check your polling location, try this handy site.

    Edited to add: read the recap of the Jesus Shoes MOVIE here.

    November 04, 2006

    Lisa: Turkey Dinners

    Background: Sarah has the charming but somewhat inexplicable tradition of buying Christmas panties from Old Navy every December. She wears them all year round. I think it is obvious to everyone that I, as part of my sisterly duties, am obligated to tease her about said Christmas panties.

    Lisa: I am so sorry about your baggy wedgie. You should stop at Old Navy for some Thanksgiving panties.
    Sarah: I hate you.
    Lisa: No, I was serious! You should! And I'm sure the Halloween panties are on supa sale.
    Sarah: Dude... DO YOU THINK THAT OLD NAVY WOULD HAVE PANTIES THAT HAD A FAN OF MULTICOLORED FEATHERS ON THE BACK?? Because that would be cute. Plus, then you could shake your tail feathers. I'm just saying.
    Lisa: HA! That? Was brilliant. Victoria's Secret sells holiday panties with like Santa fur and stuff on them. They should totally sell Thanksgiving ones with feathers.
    Sarah: And they could also sell a... sexy pilgrim hat? A bra with some sort of pilgrim collar?
    Lisa: Heeeeeee. Besides, Puritan lingerie is the ultimate oxymoron!
    Sarah: Yes, like someone says "is nothing sacred?" And we say NO!
    Lisa: Do people really care about keeping the Puritan tradition sacred? Just wondering.
    Sarah: Lisa. We could make a whole line of Thanksgiving underwear. A pair could just say across the butt, "You SHOULD be thankful!"
    Lisa: Or it could say, "Thanks but no thanks!" Or, "No, thank YOU!" Or, (OR!!!!) "Thanky Panky."
    Sarah: I hope you are saving all of this somewhere.
    Lisa: Seriously.

    November 02, 2006

    Lisa: This is thriller, thriller night

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    I guess I did say I wanted to do something more low-key for Halloween this year, but working until 9 and then going to Crown Burger might be a little lower than I anticipated. There was no Zuul. There was no Leia. Pretty much we sat around taking pictures of each other...taking pictures of each other. I think all that partying (or, you know, campaigning, or school, or work, or whatever) has taken its toll.

    Not that it wasn't awesome, because it was! Plus, after Crown Burger we headed to Nip/Tuck night at Marci's, complete with midget sex (sorry you missed it, Mal!), murder by omission and the associated kidney thievery, Alanis as a controlling lesbian, and plenty of snarky debauchery from our pal Christian.

    I just wish I'd worn a costume.

    October 30, 2006

    Lisa: Rack

    Last week, Mallory asked me if the expression was "rack your brain" or "wrack your brain," and I was forced to admit that I didn't know.

    A ridiculously small amount of research turned up this excellent answer by Joann Hill at Random House. The whole thing is quite interesting if you like that kind of thing (which I do), but here's the relevant paragraph:

    The word rack in racking (one's) brain is thus spelled. That is because it derives from the rack, the medieval instrument of torture on which a victim was slowly stretched. (This stems from the familiar rack 'a framework'.) This rack was used as a verb meaning 'to torture on the rack', and hence in the transferred sense 'to torture', and then figuratively 'to stretch or strain', which is the sense in rack (one's) brain.

    Fortuitously, 'rack' is also my favorite euphemism for breasts.

    October 23, 2006

    Lisa: Calling all Brainiacs.

    What should I ask Ken Jennings when I interview him for the library newsletter? Should I try to do something humorous (like the Onion's A/V Club) or high-concept (like questions in the form of answers, Jeopardy-style)? I'm afraid I will come across as either too boring or too dumb.

    So...what do you want to know?

    October 21, 2006

    Lisa: not a bad day

    After I got yelled at by an old man in the Harmons parking lot (the note he left under my wiper: "the fact that you didn't see even see me tells me that you need to WAKE UP") and then accidentally honked at a cop, I needed a pick-me-up. Mallory and Marci came through.

    One of Mallory's favorite things to do is go to the Friday-night Gallery Stroll, and I'm always glad when she convinces us to go. This week we started at Finch Lane, since they were showing Shawn Rossiter's 90-foot Tiamat, which circled one whole room of the gallery. I'm a Shawn Rossiter groupie, and I loved Tiamat and the idea behind it, but I am still disturbed that on November 4th it will be cut up and sold for $50 per square foot. I get it, but...it still seems wrong. Besides, someone has already spoken for Adam's groin.

    Then we went to the Rio Grande train depot gallery where Simon Blundell, Mallory's mentor, had some photos being shown. The pretty art people in their glamorous clothes were out in force, and so were the sesame seed sugar cookies. Awesome.

    Blake joined us for dinner at Paradise Bakery, where I almost had to throw down with a lesbian couple who were insulting my salad, and then we all met Maureen at the theater to watch the brain-meltingly awesome The Prestige. Between that and Little Miss Sunshine, I am regaining hope for American cinema--I think the last time that I enjoyed a movie so much was two years ago.

    October 20, 2006

    Lisa: ouch.

    Something is very wrong with my neck.

    I think I slept on it funny, and then I turned my head in a weird way while I was leaning over putting my shoes on this morning, and something went "ping." In my neck. Now whenever I move my head there is a sharp pain at the base of my skull and sort of a pulling feeling down the left side of the back of my neck. I keep sort of pushing on the area of greatest discomfort, but I don't think it's helping.


    October 19, 2006

    Lisa: Tool(s) of the Week

    I don't find infomercials to be a particularly pleasant or effective marketing technique, but I must admit that there are some good as-seen-on-TV products out there. Especially...




    It's hard for me to admit, but Jessica Simpson and Diddy sold me on Proactiv. That ridiculousness aside, now that I've tried it, I don't think I'll ever go back to another skincare regimen. My skin is softer and clearer and more glowy than it ever has been, and new boxes magically appear on my doorstep when I need a refill. The only downside is that my purple towels now have giant pink bleached spots from the benzoyl peroxide--but it was time for new towels anyway, and I was already planning to replace them with white. Problem solved!

    It's only been a few weeks since Marci introduced me to Turbo Jam, but so far I am loving it. The routines are relatively easy to pick up, go by quickly, and leave me completely sweaty (which I figure has to be good). I can't wait for my "ripped, rock-hard abs."

    Lisa: there is beauty all around

    Some days, the little things feel extra special.

  • I don't think there is any better feeling than hitting the snooze button and hopping from the cold room back into the warm bed, especially when you have enough blankets so that the covers feel heavy but not hot and the pillows are arranged in a perfect cushy nest. It's not really conducive to getting to work on time, but we all have our priorities.

  • I have been lusting after Aveda Rosemary Mint shampoo ever since I became an instant addict with the little bottles at the Hotel at MIT. Like a good girl, I used up all the shampoo in the house before stopping at Rutted (a salon between my home and work with a very unfortunate name but, on the bright side, selling Aveda products) to buy a liter of Rosemary Mint and a pump. I used it this morning and IT IS AWESOME--just as good as I remembered. It is all minty and tingly and refreshing and the rosemary is kind of savory smelling and not too girly. It's good for my hair, too. Plus then I used my new hair gel, which smells like Nerds candy, and it was like a match made in heaven. Two great tastes that (surprisingly) taste great together.

  • The 2007 Knitty wall calendar came out today, and I was idly clicking through the pictures used for each month when I happened upon this:

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is what is called nerdy hot. Do not underestimate the power of the nerdy hotness. Do you see those garters? The miniskirt? Who can say that knitting is just for grandmas now?
  • Edited to add a link to this adorable knitting animation, found via Heather. For those of you at work, it can be watched without sound .

    October 14, 2006

    Lisa: When she was good, she was very, very good

    Yesterday I got a real haircut and it was AWESOME. Ann Marie at Sacred Roots was recommended as someone who specializes in curly hair, and for good reason. She first looked at my hair when it was dry, paying attention to my hair texture, type of curl, and which areas were more or less curly than others. She cut the general shape of the desired style while my hair was dry. [For those of you who don't have curly hair, this is important because sections of hair with different amounts of curl can be cut to the same length when wet (and straight), but bounce up to different lengths when the hair is dry.] Then she shampooed me (complete with head and neck massage!) and neatened up the cut on my wet hair. Then she dried my hair with a diffuser, all the while giving me tips on styling and products. Ann Marie had read the books and websites I had read, and was familiar with the anti-shampoo philosophy--but encouraged me to do whatever worked for me. She is even going to a workshop in New York with Lorraine Massey next month. Plus, Ann Marie was super nice and the right amount of chatty and kept telling me how great my hair was. It was like a beautiful dream.

    As an added bonus, afterward I got to put on a fancy dress and eat fondue at The Melting Pot for Molly's birthday. It totally made up for the four hours I spent cleaning on Friday morning (yay, me!). The question now is what should I do tonight when Blake is out with the guys? Block the sweater I finally finished knitting? Paint the sewing room?

    Edited to add this picture of my haircut, taken the day after I posted this entry:

    October 12, 2006

    Lisa: La Coquette

    Elyse, I am sorry that you never blog anymore. Truly sorry. But you have forced me to transfer my love to another expatriate in the fashion industry: La Coquette. Not only does she have amazing taste and alluringly frenchy anecdotes, but it seems we are kindred spirits as well. To wit:

    It's in those mid-nightiest, I-bet-I-get-hit-by-a-bus moments that I start to think about all the ways my life could be better. I could use a little Topher Grace, for starters. I bet you're thinking we all could all use a little Topher Grace, but have you ever stopped for a moment at 3 am to think why? Have YOU ever thought about how his humor and boyish charm belie his emotional depth at 3 am in the morning? I'm just saying I could probably use a little Topher Grace more than you could, that's all.

    Thank you, Andrea, for the recommendation! Plus (as Andrea pointed out), Elisabeth looks a lot like Marci, so I am predisposed to a bit of a girl-crush.

    October 10, 2006

    Lisa: roll me in designer sheets, I'll never get enough

    I heartily endorse Sarah's addition of Not Martha to her favorite sites. I stopped reading when Megan hit a bit of a dry spell, and I am so glad to find out she started blogging regularly again and is (to my view) better than ever! Here are some of her links from the past few months that I have been enjoying:

  • I am lusting after these Modal "Pure Beech" sheets, recommended on Metafilter.

  • I want to make these Tea lollipops with rosemary twig sticks. Good for tea lovers, sore throats, or...people who just like lollipops.

  • Maybe I can get David to help me figure out how to make a sunshine jar.

  • I almost forgot about this sweater from the new Knitty that I want to make.

  • Pants. And by that I mean panties. And by that I mean delightful candy-wrappery goodness.

  • My Mom totally made stretched-fabric Marimekko wall hangings just like these back in the 80s. What a trendsetter!

  • Megan come up with some great storage solutions to make the tiny spaces in her new house work. I love what she did with the weird wall in the middle of her kitchen.
  • October 02, 2006

    Lisa: scared straight

    It is no secret (and nothing to apologize for) that Mormon culture values abstinence before marriage. Teachers working with young people in the church have been known to resort to all kinds of object lessons (such as The Clean White Handkerchief) and mantras (like Choose the Right) to reinforce the importance of this principle. Back in the day, I wore a CTR ring and even had a card tacked up near my bed that read "Don't trade what you want most for what you want at the moment." I have no problem with any of this. Unfortunately, those well-intentioned teachers sometimes went a bit too far. Those who know me may have guessed that I am talking about the lesson of The Tainted Muffin, which goes something like this:

    At the beginning of class, the teacher holds up a giant, delicious-looking muffin. I don't know why it has to be a muffin. I can't imagine that the teachers, with their pure minds, chose it for any specific reason. ANYWAY, the teacher asks if anyone would like to eat the muffin, and of course everyone raises her hand. The teacher then starts passing the muffin around the class. Each girl is instructed to touch, poke, lick, spit, step on, or otherwise violate the muffin. Once the muffin has made its way back to the teacher, she holds it up again, and again asks if anyone would like to eat the muffin. Predictably, no one wants the disgusting thing now. Then the teacher goes on to painstakingly explain how no one will want us if we allow our "muffins" to become...ahem...tainted. Let me clarify for those Young Women leaders out there who may have found me by mistake: THIS IS A HORRIBLE OBJECT LESSON. Where does repentance fit in? Forgiveness? Our intrinsic self-worth? I am afraid that this lesson contains more than just a little bit of dog poo. I only wish that I had known about the Twenty Dollar Bill at the time, so I could have beaten these teachers at their own game. Instead I picked up a few more unhealthy thought patterns. But hey--I guess it worked! At least THIS virgin bride wasn't stuck handing her husband a bare stem on the wedding night! (Thanks, mimi. It's not a sore spot or anything.)

    September 28, 2006

    Lisa: Just too white and nerdy

    Blake braved the wilds of the Internet today to forward me this Weird Al video. His sacrifice was not in vain.

    It's funny because it's true. And the Donny cameo doesn't hurt, either.

    September 27, 2006

    Lisa: I'm...sorry?

    I just tried to help a charming young girl seeking to further her education.

    Baby Momma: "Do you have the GED study guide for 2006?"
    Lisa: (I look it up.) "Well, we own a few, but they're all checked out. Would you like to put one on hold?"
    BM: "I'm in kind of a hurry. Do you have 2005?"
    Lisa: (I look it up.) "Yes, but it looks like those are all checked out too. I could put one of those on hold...?"
    BM: "I have to take the GED next week."
    Lisa: (Sympathetic noise.) "They probably have some online study aids."
    BM: "I don't have a computer."
    Lisa: "Well...we do have computers here that you can use." (I point to the public computers.)
    BM: "OK." (She stares at me. She obviously doesn't like this answer.)
    Lisa: "...They might have some study guides checked in at the City Library System or at a school library."
    BM: "Like, what school?" (She smirks. Obviously I am dimwitted because if she is taking the GED that means she dropped out of school.)
    Lisa: "The University of Utah library might have study guides like that."
    BM: "I don't have a car." (She just stares at me. I am obviously supposed to fix this problem.)
    Lisa: "OK. Well...I know there are a lot of bus routes that go up to the University."
    BM: (Kind of rolls her eyes and keeps staring at me.)
    Lisa: (I stare back.)

    Baby Momma's friend rescued me by coming over and telling BM that her dad might have a study guide from last year if he hadn't sold it on Ebay yet. Otherwise I don't know how I would have gotten out of that one.

    September 26, 2006

    Lisa: potty mouth

    I like to focus on the hard-hitting issues. You know, those relevant, timely matters that require extensive research. The subject I have chosen for today is automatic-flush toilets. I can only assume that the automatic flush feature was intended to create a more sterile public restroom environment. I'm sure the sequence of events is supposed to go something like this:

    1. Enter bathroom stall, closing and locking the door behind you.
    2. Lower trousers and sit down firmly on the toilet seat, to avoid the seat-splattering that inevitably comes with hovering. (YEAH, I SAID IT. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)
    3. Do your business.
    4. Stand up and reposition clothing.
    5. Exit stall without touching anything except the locking mechanism of the door, giving nary a thought to the unsightly contents of the toilet behind you, which will be effortlessly whisked away as you leave the bathroom stall.

    Unfortunately, the sequence of events I have encountered in real life often goes more like this:

    1. Enter bathroom stall, closing and locking the door behind you.
    2. Lower trousers and begin to sit down, only to hear the toilet start flushing. Jump back up in an undignified fashion to avoid getting splashed. Wait with pants down for the flushing to be over so that you can sit down. Hopefully you didn't wait too long before you decided to go.
    3. Do your business, accidentally moving slightly as you carry out normal bathroom functions, setting off the sensor that in turn activates the flush. Make a split-second decision whether to endure the possible splashing or to raise yourself off the toilet before your business is 100% complete. Repeat several times if the sensor is faulty, which it usually is.
    4. Stand up and reposition clothing. Look down at the toilet, which has apparently used up its quota of flushes and is now resting in a dormant state, ready to display its contents to the next user. Wave hand in front of sensor, to no avail. Look desperately around the plumbing apparatus at the back of the toilet for a button or lever that will manually activate the flush. If you find one, press it gingerly and proceed to step 5. If not, lift the toilet seat a few times, hoping that will somehow set off the sensor. When it doesn't, do a little dance in front of the toilet (remember, no one can see you). When the toilet doesn't respond, mime sitting down and standing back up. Glare angrily at the toilet bowl for a few seconds, then shrug when it finally flushes with no apparent impetus.
    5. Exit stall having touched not only the locking mechanism, but also the toilet seat and possibly a squishy plastic button that you know never gets cleaned.

    Am I alone? Does everyone else love automatic-flush toilets? Because I am afraid this is an instance of embracing new technology just because it is new, not because it is better.

    CNN, call me if you ever need programming ideas.

    September 25, 2006

    Lisa: I am the gatekeeper

    I was thinking about dressing as Pam for Halloween, but after seeing the original Ghostbusters last night for the first time, I'm thinking Zuul is the way to go. Seriously, how hot is she?

    Also, I might have fallen in love with Egon. So...I'm attracted to nerds. This is not news.

    Assignment for the internet:
    Until I looked it up just now, I was pretty sure that on the Ghostbusters cartoon, one of the team members was a gorilla. Wikipedia shows no evidence of this. Maybe there was a show on around the same time that featured a gorilla and a man wearing a khaki jumpsuit? And the gorilla and the man might have ridden down some kind of slide during the opening sequence? The first person to figure out what show that was gets a very special prize. Until then, this is going to drive me to Snorks levels of pseudo-memory-driven insanity.

    September 24, 2006

    Lisa: We're bringin' Buffy back

    Luckily, Sarah suggested we bring along a few props when we stopped at Crown Burger before heading to Darby's for the newly-reinstituted Buffy Night.

    If you look carefully, behind me in this picture you can see the guy who visited the men's room approximately 50 times during the course of our meal.

    September 23, 2006

    Lisa: cuff 'em

    I am powerless against french-cuffed shirts and the links that go with them. Mighty Goods never fails to showcase cufflinks that are unusual but understated and tasteful. My latest favorite is this set of Phillips-heads. They're great for a guy who is handy but still likes to dress up, or as good-taste maven Maggie so delicately puts it, "a not-so-subtle commemorative gift for when you're ready to take this relationship to the next level."

    Actually, if you need a thoughtful gift for anyone on your list, Mighty Goods is the place to find that perfect item she never knew she always wanted.

    September 21, 2006

    Lisa: size isn't everything

    Blake should know better than to ask me about upcoming library programs while I'm falling asleep.

    Lisa: I think Charlotte and the spider from Arachnophobia should have a Celebrity Deathmatch.
    Blake: But...the spider from Arachnophobia is like 100 times bigger!
    Lisa: But Charlotte is clever.
    Blake: But...it's just so much bigger than she is!
    Lisa: Blake. She writes words in her WEB. Haven't you ever heard that the pen is mightier than the sword?

    Lisa: Tool of the Week

    Even though I've had my Powerbook for years, I never took advantage of one of its handiest tools:


    Until now, that is. My awesome new phone is also equipped with Bluetooth, which means I can wirelessly browse the files (read: self-portraits) on my phone, copy them to my computer, and post them here for you fine people to see.

    See? Everybody wins.

    September 20, 2006

    Lisa: deal breakers

    I was just reading the comments for Heather's post on 'red flags' in dating, and it got me thinking about some of the guys I wasted my time on back in the day. One gem in particular comes to mind. Someone who I thought was worth dating just because he read interesting books. This guy...

  • told me I "could have played harder to get"

  • told me I should wear sexier clothes and more makeup

  • told me he liked tall girls (I'm 5'4"), black girls (they don't make 'em more lily white than I), and girls with glasses (I have 20-20 vision)

  • said that when he got married, he planned to tell his bride they were going on a romantic cruise for their honeymoon, but actually book them for an NFL cruise where passengers get to hobnob with pro athletes

  • planned to get married in the year 2000, purely so that it would be easier to remember how many years he'd been married
  • Believe it or not, I let him dump ME. My self-esteem was just that low. Thank goodness, I wised up and married someone who was crazy about me. I love you, Blake! And thanks for not taking me on an NFL cruise.

    September 19, 2006

    Lisa: she did it!

    It looks like my role model Pamie, who inspired me to start training for my marathon, has run hers. Now why didn't I think of Maui?

    September 18, 2006

    Lisa: maybe a new pair of shoes would help

    Do you ever find yourself wanting to stomp and scream and cry a little bit, because life just isn't fair? But then, because you're a grownup, you smile and go out and do your job like everything is fine? And then maybe you realize that you ARE fine, or at least no different than you were before, except a tiny little piece of your soul might have died, but the piece is really so small that probably you wouldn't have even noticed if you hadn't been looking for it? And after that, if you are feeling really maudlin, you might start wondering how big your soul used to be? Or what happens when it's completely gone?

    No? You don't? Yeah, me neither. I don't even know why I brought it up.

    September 17, 2006

    Lisa: somehow it's weirder than the accordion

    That, my friends, is photographic evidence that Dave's band has added a saxophone as part of their new song, Kimono and a Fan. I think I'm getting acid flashbacks to my days as a jazz band groupie. Good song, though.

    Canadians Among Us played at Kilby Court last night before Maritime (who were awesome, check them out).

    Lisa: All growed up

    Congratulations to our friends Grady and Charles, who both found out they passed the Utah State Bar exam yesterday.

    We're proud of you guys!

    September 15, 2006

    Lisa: Hashed

    It is always a bit disturbing to discover you've been using a phrase incorrectly for decades. The phrase I have in mind today describes the little parallel counting marks one writes, usually in groups of five with the fifth mark crossing over the other four and sort of grouping them into a pleasing, easily counted bundle. What have I been calling these marks?

    Hatch marks.

    "Hatch marks" does not exist as a phrase at all. I don't know if I just made that up, or if it's related to "hatching" (the use of fine, parallel lines drawn closely together to create the illusion of shade or texture in a drawing), or what. The phrase I was probably originally going for was "hash marks," but both the sports meaning and the mathematical one ( though both dealing with parallel lines) are a bit of a stretch. It looks like the phrase I should have been using all along is "tally marks" (there's even a little picture there to seal the deal). I guess that does make sense, what with "tallying" meaning "counting" and all. And the term "tallywhacker" is suddenly more clear.

    For extra learning power, "little counting marks" are actually called a "unary numeral system," and the five-mark bundles are referred to as a "five-bar gate." Try whipping those bad boys out at your next cocktail party.

    September 14, 2006

    Lisa: Growth Industry

    Recently, a "friend" suggested that, if I really wanted to start making more money, I could become a crack whore (Thanks, Wikipedia! Think Brittanica has an article on that?). I took this kind bit of advice to heart, and have formed a new life plan (complete with easy-to-follow steps!):

    1) Become crack whore. Give sex for drugs, but then sell the drugs instead of taking them myself, thereby earning enough money to...
    2) Finance plastic surgery, allowing for...
    3) Upgrade to high class "escort," trading sex for money (cutting out that annoying "crack" middleman) and making myself available to...
    4) Find a rich but lonely businessman with a heart of gold, a la Pretty Woman and...
    5) Get him to fall madly in love with me, which shouldn't be too difficult considering we have so much in common. Of course we would...
    6) Get married, in which case I would have so much money and spare time on my hands that I would naturally...
    7) Start a foundation to help crack whores like myself get started.

    I think this plan has some real potential, don't you? Aren't friends great?

    Lisa: Fight! Fight! Fight!

    The Wall Street Journal Online posted an awesome article Tuesday contrasting Encyclopaedia Brittanica and Wikipedia, and featuring an email exchange between Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder) and Dale Hoiberg (Brittanica editor-in-chief). They each have great points, but my favorite part is when they get heated, all "I can only assume Mr. Wales is being ironic." and "Fitting words for an epitaph!" and "Sneaky? I beg to differ." If you have ever found yourself doubting the reliability of the Wikipedia model or participating in a debate over the use of traditional vs. new reference formats (and what librarian hasn't), check it out. Fine family fun!

    September 11, 2006

    Lisa: breaking the silence

    We here at Two Loose Teeth have created a strong foundation of superficiality, bolstered by hundreds of entries completely concerned with the asinine and banal details of our own tiny little lives. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I was worried about a prediliction for the Spice Girls. Previous September 11th anniversaries were commemorated with unintentionally crude signage, Vanessa Carlton, or not at all. I shudder to think at what I have called apocalyptic in the past.

    I would like to think that I don't mention the really big things because others have already said it better, or that the shallow details I immortalize here are part of what makes me human--part of what it is to be an individual, a woman, white, twenty-something, LDS, from Utah, a U.S. citizen, whatever. That my superficiality is somehow culturally relevant or part of my identity, and something that I have to hold on to in the face of adversity or attack. I would like to think that. The truth is probably that I am just shallow.

    In the interest of having a soul, I would just like to state for the record that some things are worth remembering. So, here's to those who did say it better. And thanks also to those who work every day to make it possible for me to live in my comfortable little cocoon. When you're ready to get your mind off the serious stuff, come on over and get a good, healthy dose of the things that don't matter. There's enough here to go around.

    September 09, 2006

    Lisa: It's 11:30 and the club is jumpin, jumpin

    The girls and I got dressed up and went dancing last night. Aren't my friends pretty?

    Sarah was looking so sultry, I had to encourage her and Mal to go for the fake makeout. Luckily, Sarah's enormous hair disguises the fakeness, so everybody wins!

    Photographic proof to the contrary, Sarah was not drunk.

    See, here she is looking perfectly normal!

    Here I am with the lovely Marci...

    After a regrettable accidental car-flirting incident, we made it downtown. I tried to take some pictures inside the club with my phone, but fortunately for everyone, they turned out dark and blurry. You'll just have to take my word for it: a booty-shaking good time was had by all.

    September 06, 2006

    Lisa: Heigl's Dialectic

    The newly bloggerific Mindy brought to my attention the fact that Katherine Heigl grew up LDS. How did I not know this? It isn't mentioned in her rather extensive IMDB bio (which does happen to mention that she dated Joey Lawrence), so perhaps I can be excused. As Sarah so insightfully asked, WHY ARE WE NOT FRIENDS WITH HER YET?

    September 05, 2006

    Lisa: Labor Day (It's a Holiday)

    Sarah, Marci, Mallory, and I spent most of the lovely Labor Day holiday shopping. I promised Marci I wouldn't post the picture of her holding up a giant pair of tummy control panties, but I'm sure she won't mind if I post this super cute picture of her at lunch instead, right?

    Isn't Marci the cutest? Don't you want to date her? I know I do. Here I am with Sarah:

    I promised Sarah I would crop out any evidence that the camera flash rendered her shirt transparent in this one. Plus, seriously? Stop trying to ogle my sister's breasts. It's creeping me out.

    But enough lunch. There were shoes to be salivated over!

    Thanks, ladies! You're the most fabulous friends a girl could have.

    September 04, 2006

    Lisa: Just another priceless work of art/In his gallery

    This weekend Blake's parents cleaned out their storage shed, and Blake got to bring home a bunch of his old toys, including a fairly impressive collection of Battle Beasts...

    and M.U.S.C.L.E. men.

    I'm not sure what he's going to do with them now. Perhaps reenact Shakespeare plays or Austen novels?

    September 02, 2006

    Lisa: good intentions

    The plan after the marathon was to keep running three times a week to maintain my conditioning and avoid reverting into a complete heifer. The plan has failed.


    Use the elliptical trainer already IN MY BASEMENT to exercise 45 minutes a day, four times per week. That's one episode of Alias. Manageable, right? Plus, no waking up super early to drive somewhere and run in the blistering heat/freezing cold.

    I'm hoping that posting this resolution on the Internet will obligate me to follow through somehow. That worked great for the marathon and arguably the diet, but no so much for the schedule. I think I went too far with the schedule, though. I was being too bossy and was forced to rebel against myself. Besides, I want to settle gently and organically into a pleasing and comfortable routine, not join the damn Marines.

    ANYHOW, I would love to hear your self-motivation ideas. Pass them along in the comments.

    August 30, 2006

    Lisa: Heartbreaker, got the best of me

    Monday morning I was blissed out in front of a Grey's Anatomy rerun on the TiVo, when this promo caught me unawares. I admit I teared up a little. It was nothing compared to the Sobfest of May Ought-Six, which almost got me banned from TV-watching entirely. ("But what about Dean and OTHER Dean??? SOOOOOBBBBBB!!!!!!") And at least I wasn't the only one rendered emotional by one ridiculous minute of old footage.

    Apparently I'm also not the only one who has noticed that Katherine Heigl is the perfect woman. She is so gorgeous and glowing, and not all skinny and brittle like most of Hollywood. She looks like a real woman, but the most perfect real woman who has ever been born. She is totally on my list. Ahem.

    September 21st is either going to be the happiest or saddest day of my life.

    August 25, 2006

    Lisa: a long time ago we used to be friends

    I survived my ten-year high school reunion.

    Blake was a good sport and came with me to the dinner part on Friday night. Here we are with Melissa (left) and Emily.

    Here I am again with Charles, whose endlessly capable wife Mindy planned the whole reunion. In this picture I look about one-fourth as freaked out as I felt about the whole thing. My dress was pretty hot though--Sarah pointed out it was even worn to the premiere of Step Up by Arielle Kebbel, who played Dean's wife on Gilmore Girls.

    Saturday morning we had a picnic so that everyone could bring their kids. Below: Jaak, Molly, me, Blake (not MY Blake), and Marianne.

    The main thing I learned at the picnic was that all babies hate me. Seriously, I would try to hold them and they would look at me and scream, violently flail away from me, turn into a limp noodle in an attempt to slither down to the ground, or some combination of the three. I think they can sense my complete non-emanation of any kind of mothering vibe. Don't worry, Charles the 4th (below) was much bigger when I tried to hold him, so there was no actual breakage.

    Saturday night I felt somewhat redeemed because these kids don't hate me.

    They love me. But at least part of that is because I will draw pictures on the table-paper on demand. A tiger? A snake? A giraffe? Abraham Lincoln? You got it.

    A tiny baby monkey? There's nothing I'd rather do right now than draw that for you.

    In other but not less self-absorbed news, I now own a magenta RAZR phone. It is the awesomest phone of all time AND its camera has a special function just for taking self-portraits. That's right. Maybe I will use all of these...

    to make one of those photomosaics where all the tiny pictures (of my face) make up one giant picture (of my face). Maybe then the gods of vanity will be appeased. You can only hope.

    August 24, 2006

    Lisa: I have admitted I am powerless over TWoP

    I am quitting Television Without Pity cold turkey--at least the Office forums. Please suggest alternative but less addictive pastimes in the comments.


    August 21, 2006


    I know everyone already knows about


    but seriously. Where else can you find the Osmonds completely rocking out, Mormon-style (thanks, Heather!)? Or the worst music video ever? Or D-Bo dancing on Angel? And all on the same website?

    Thanks, YouTube, for improving my quality of life.

    Lisa: BookCrossing

    The awesome and hilarious illustrator Lane Smith mentioned BookCrossing in his latest blog, and I had to go check it out. Basically, the idea is that you register a favorite book with the site, then leave it somewhere. If someone finds the book, they read it, comment about it on the BookCrossing site, and then leave it for another reader to find.

    The site is a little heavy on the italics and hyperbole, and I think public libraries and charity shops essentially already meet this need, but the idea is still fun. The most exciting part to me would be to track who gets your book or where it ends up. Plus, you can take a picture of it next to some goats!

    August 15, 2006


    So, you know how sometimes clothes are made of spandexy material? Especially exercise clothes? And you know how when you exercise, you might sometimes sweat? If you're doing it right? Well, have you ever noticed that clothing made of spandexy material sometimes has a...stank...to it that doesn't go away with washing and just gets worse and worse the more you sweat in it? No? Well I have noticed the stank.

    Mariko noticed it too, and recommended Win detergent, which is apparently available not far from me at the Salt Lake Running Company. The thing is that my washer uses high-efficiency detergent, and besides I was hesitant to buy special expensive detergent from the expensive running store for only a few items.

    I have been unimpressed by Febreze in the past, but when I was at Harmons the other day, I couldn't help but notice a new flavor: Antimicrobial. I bought a bottle and gave it a try. No more stank! Success! And I can continue to use my regular high efficiency detergent and only target the stinky items.

    FEBREZE ANTIMICROBIAL: It Gets the Stank Out.

    P.S. I hope Sarah doesn't mind that I hijacked her category. But seriously, you should try this stuff.

    August 09, 2006

    Lisa: I love you, Fitzy

    Pride and Prejudice retold with dolls.

    Shh! Shhhhhh!

    Go read it now. You will thank me.

    August 06, 2006

    Lisa: everything in its place

    Several months ago, someone Blake occasionally works for hired me to organize his wife's office while she was out of town. Risky, I know, but I think the results were worth it. And for some reason I'm more motivated to organize other people's stuff than my own (who knows, maybe it's the fact that I got paid).

    Here's the desk area before...

    And after.

    Here's the inside of one of the cubbies in the hutch of the desk.

    The other end of the room has a window flanked by two armchairs. Here's the area before...

    And then after!

    We got a table/file cabinet thing that would hold legal-size documents to go under the window.

    For good measure, here's the newly organized interior of the office's 'supply closet.'

    So...if you know anyone else who needs help getting organized, let me know. I'm no Megan Benson, but if it involves drawers or bins or labels of any kind, I'm your girl.

    August 04, 2006

    Lisa: there but for the grace of god

    If I had a myspace, this would totally be my profile picture. Because I would be the type of person who has a myspace.

    In other news, the apres running pictures obviously were filling some kind of deep-seated need I have to plaster the internet with my face. HI, INTERNET!!!! IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING THIS IS WHAT I LOOK LIKE!!!!!!!! But at least I don't have a myspace, so thank goodness for small favors.

    Edited to add: Ugh.

    August 02, 2006

    Lisa: pants only, please

    At the Alexander McCall Smith thing I went to (which was awesome), I couldn't help but immortalize the vest I found in front of me. I am so happy to get to share that experience with all of you fine people.

    A few days later, at Chili's (that mecca of up-to-the-minute fashion), I saw these two shirts:

    At first I thought the shirt on the left was just patriotic, but upon closer inspection it turned out to actually be patriotic MICKEY MOUSE. Good times.

    Suddenly I understood what must have been the intended purpose of this sign i found in the basement of the Conference Center.

    Lisa: haircut

    On Sunday I went insane and hacked off a bunch of my hair. Sarah helped me even it out, and this is what we ended up with:

    Could be worse. Oh, I colored it myself on Sunday, too. Feel free to psychoanalyze my sudden need to change everything about myself. Or my ongoing need to take pictures of myself.

    P.S. Happy anniversary, Blake! I love you.

    July 21, 2006

    Lisa: waiting for people to die

    Last week I attended my third children's literature symposium at BYU, and as usual came away energized and more excited about my job. Seriously, they are geniuses to send us to these things.

    Shannon Hale, local author and Newbery Honor winner for her book Princess Academy, was my favorite speaker. Her subject was 'reading for pleasure.' She talked a lot about high school reading curriculums (curricula?) and how people often feel obligated to read the classics, which can make reading more of a chore than a pleasure activity. Shannon had a ton of energy and was hilarious. Here are a few of her points that I jotted down:

  • "Dickens was paid by the word. SUM UP." That reminded me of an interesting idea from A River Runs Through It that has stayed with me much longer than it probably should have. The father of Brad Pitt and NotBrad gives NotBrad a writing exercise. When he completes the exercise, BradDad makes NotBrad cut out half of the words he used, and then cut out half again.

  • High school reading lists are not going to change as long as people with certain attitudes are in positions of power. "What can you do but wait for these people to die?"

  • Literature is about options. We need to allow ourselves to explore many different types and styles of books.

  • Adults need to overcome their prejudice toward young adult literature. Shannon recently wrote an adult book (which she said was "much sillier and shallower" than her young adult titles), and after one rewrite her editor told her they were good to go. She said she was shocked, as she was used to rewriting for a year. Shannon said that adult readers are less discriminating--they are willing to overlook typos, and probably will read the book only once. Younger readers will read a book over and over, analyzing every detail.

  • She had us all take the following pledge: On this day, July 13th 2006, Shannon Hale, the famous and beautiful writer, told me I never have to read a boring book for fun again. Whether I have read 15 or 50 pages, if it is still boring, I can put it down. And if someone tells me that what I'm reading is too young for me because it is a picture book or a comic book or Captain Underpants or too short, I will tell them "You're wrong, thank you very much."
  • Other quotes heard at the conference...

  • "Never trust anyone who writes more than he reads." --Samuel Johnson (I think)

  • "Libraries are the repositories of our will to be free." --Leonard Everett Fisher (or at least the quote was mentioned in his introduction. Mr. Fisher himself is unfortunately a pompous ass.)
  • Nancy Farmer was really fun to hear from too, and I was so excited to get P.J. Lynch to sign my copy of Melisande (now out of print in hardcover)!

    In other news, I have accepted a job at a new library. I am sad to be leaving Whitmore, but I think it's a good move for my career. Wish me luck!

    July 19, 2006

    Lisa: Grizzly Man

    You would think a documentary about a man who gets eaten by a grizzly bear would be exciting enough to keep Sarah and David awake. You would be wrong.

    Lisa: freezer paper stencil

    Sarah sewed me a tote bag for no other reason than that she is super nice. All that was left to do was add a decorative element. I decided to try out the freezer paper stenciling Mariko mentioned, and I used some screenprinting ink Sarah bought for another project (because I am just a moocher like that). In keeping with my current Office obsession, I decided to use am image from the show's credits. I figured only fans of the show will know what it is from. Linds20 helped me find a screencap of the image, which I just cut out of the freezer paper with scissors. I'm not too skilled with X-Acto knives. Once I had the design cut out, I ironed the freezer paper to the fabric, stippled the screenprinting ink on with a brush, let it dry a bit, and then peeled off the paper. Then I heat-set the ink with the iron, so it should last through washings and stuff if necessary.

    Here's the bag:

    And here's a closeup of the stencil/screenprint:

    I love how it turned out. Thanks, Sarah!

    July 10, 2006

    Lisa: bedroom

    The painting adventure continues! This time I painted the master bedroom a dusky purple color. I love it! Here are a few before and after pictures.




    After (Obviously, there is a lot of supernatural activity going on here. I might need to call the Deans.):



    Again, one of my favorite parts is seeing the colors in one room from another room. Here's the bedroom wall against the yellow hallway:

    July 06, 2006

    Lisa: he always leaves ME satisfied and smiling

    I have never known TV love like this before. Dean is nothing to me. Adam Brody's show has become an unwatchable mess. Topher isn't even on TV anymore, although he does look hot in the Spiderman 3 trailer. Wentworth Miller may sing a capella and have graduated from Princeton, but his middle-distance stare is losing its charm. Angel--as much as it pains me to say it--was overrated, and Agent Booth...well, he hasn't been showing up on my TiVo this summer and I have to admit I haven't really missed him. But...Jim? and Jim and Pam? Some coherent analysis may be in order but I am finding it hard to type while in puddle form.

    June 15, 2006

    Lisa: Marathon

    Words cannot express how supportive and wonderful our familes and friends were during the marathon. I can only echo what Sarah said and add a big ME TOO. Thanks, you guys! I wouldn't have made it to the end without you, and I certainly wouldn't be considering running again next year (am I insane?). Thank you, Blake. Thanks, Mom and Dad for running us in to the finish line. Most of all, thank you Sarah for getting me through the months of training, putting up with my bossiness, and for being my best friend. I love you all.

    For the record, here are our average speeds, based on my pages to Blake as we passed various mile markers:

    Miles 1-3: 11.5-minute miles
    Miles 3-5: 12-minute miles
    Miles 5-8: 13-minute miles
    Mile 8: 14-minute mile
    Mile 9: 12-minute mile
    Miles 10-14: 13-minute miles
    Miles 15-16: 14-minute miles
    Miles 17-18: 17.5-minute miles
    Miles 19-20: 17-minute miles
    Mile 21: 21-minute mile
    Mile 22: 17-minute mile
    Mile 23: 18-minute mile

    Mile 24: 14-minute mile

    Final time: 6:16:57
    Place: 156 of 160 in my age group, 1866th overall (Hey, we got to the end! No mocking.)

    Here are the pictures the official marathon photographers took. I haven't decided whether to order any yet, since the thumbnails are SO TINY. Also, I think we might have been too late to get a finish line photo.

    130.5 lbs, 25% body fat (with wet hair)

    For an extra gross-out, here are my humongous blisters. I wore these special socks that have two layers and are supposed to prevent blisters, and I didn't get any blisters at all EXCEPT on the outsides of both big toes.

    June 02, 2006

    Lisa: T-Minus 11 hours and counting

    The marathon is tomorrow morning. If you would like to send a bit of support or encouragement our way, send a text message to (number removed) between 6 and 11:30 am Utah time.


    May 30, 2006

    Lisa: Training, week 15 to the end!


    I ran 3 miles at Sugarhouse Park, which took about 45 minutes. I think the shorter runs are to let our bodies heal up as much as possible before the marathon. It hurt to run, and I have to say that it felt more like injuries than just muscle soreness.

    131 lbs, 28% body fat


    Sarah and I mapped out a five-mile route on Gmaps Pedometer, which is a handy little tool. The only bummer part is that the maps don't show elevation, so we ended up running uphill quite a bit. It was no biggie, since the weather was gorgeous, sunny, and cool.


    On Monday I ran eight miles along Highland Drive and back, which took roughly an hour and a half. I wasn't too sore, which was good, and the weather was chilly but nice.


    On the Tuesday before the marathon--the last pre-race run!--I took 45 minutes to run 3 miles at Sugarhouse Park. The run wasn't bad, but it still didn't feel easy. I think those long runs really took a toll.

    131 lbs, 26% body fat

    May 23, 2006

    Lisa: office

    Continuing the painting saga, I painted our office a few weeks ago. The color is a bright grass green, and it turned out REALLY bright. I like the color a lot, but I'm still getting used to it. It's very invigorating, which I guess is good for an office--maybe I will be lots more productive.

    Here are some before and after pictures for you:

    I do like how the green looks against the yellow of the hall.

    When I saw the green paint with our red desk, I realized the colors matched our stuffed George and Martha perfectly! Not that there are any little Smiths on the way at the moment, but wouldn't a George and Martha nursery be AWESOME? Keep an eye out for George and Martha merchandise for me, would you?

    May 22, 2006

    Lisa: Training, Weeks 12-14

    On Sunday, Sarah and I ran from the beginning of the marathon route to my house. We were supposed to go 18 miles, but only made it nine. We ran in the hottest part of the afternoon, which was dumb, and Sarah was feeling pretty sick and dehydrated. It took us 2 hours to go the 9 miles. Even though we didn't get the whole way, we still rewarded ourselves afterward with Funfetti cake.

    On Tuesday I ran five miles at Sugarhouse Park, which took me an hour. The horrible stick-leg/bloody stump phenomenon strikes again!

    Sarah and I ran five miles along the marathon route, from the top of 21st South to La Puente. It took us an hour. 131 lbs, 28% body fat.

    On Saturday, we ran 18 miles: our longest run before the marathon! It took us three hours and fifty minutes to get from La Puente to the end of the marathon route. The last few miles were pretty hard, but we did surprisingly well! I think breaking up the run into two-mile segments really helps. Thinking about adding another eight miles is a bit daunting, though. Anyway, after the run, Sarah and I shored ourselves up with shakes and fries at Canyon Rim Park. 130.5 lbs, 29% body fat.

    I ran 5 miles at Sugarhouse again, and again my legs felt like sticks.
    129 lbs, 27% body fat

    On Wednesday, I ran four miles down Highland Drive and back, past the Cottonwood Mall, for a total of eight miles. Not a bad run at all, if lacking in scenic appeal.

    Thursday morning I went to Sugarhouse Park, but I only made it once around the 1.4-mile loop! I don't know if it was stiffness or injury, or because I had half a jar of low-carb peanut butter on celery for dinner the night before, or what, but I could barely move my legs. It was like I had no muscle tissue at all, just little tiny tendons trying really hard to pull my leg bones around. Ugh.

    Saturday's run was SO much better. I was in California with my mom, and I ran nine miles along the beach from Asilomar to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and back. The weather was ideal and the views were amazing. My legs were still pretty stiff, but the air felt rich and the run was totally manageable. It took me a bit less than two hours all told.

    May 06, 2006

    Lisa: Training, Weeks 9-12

    I have not given up on the marathon training, or on blogging--I promise. But it has been a bit of a bumpy road.

    Sarah and I ran four miles at Sugarhouse Park.

    Sarah and I were supposed to run 7 miles along Highland Drive, starting at my house, but she fell asleep downstairs in the cave bedroom, I fell asleep on the upstairs couch, and Blake fell asleep on the downstairs couch. There was no functional, alarm-regulated sleep to be had by anyone. Ugh. Once we woke up, we ran as far as we could along Highland while still getting to work on time. It ended up being about five and a half miles.

    We may or may not have run four miles at Sugarhouse Park on Friday. Neither Sarah nor I has any recollection of this, but it is on the schedule and I choose to believe that we went.

    On Saturday morning, Sarah and I ran from the church on Holladay Boulevard to the end of the marathon route, which makes fourteen miles. Running on Saturday morning instead of Sunday night was good, but I think we both felt pretty crappy by the end. The crappiness was compounded by the fact that we figured out several days later that we should have checked the calendar, because instead of going 12, 13, and then 14 miles, we were supposed to have done 12, 14, and then 16. DOUBLE UGH.
    For our carb-rich treat, we had Jamba Juices and bagel sandwiches from Einsteins. Delicious, but I felt a bit sick afterward.

    We ran five miles at Sugarhouse Park, which is three and a half times around. We haven't figured out a better five-mile route to run regularly, so for now we are just walking across the center of the park back to the car once we finish the last half-lap.

    For the rest of week 10, we decided to take a break. We were both busy, but more importantly I think we were feeling pretty burned out and discouraged. We were hoping that if we took a few runs off, we would return for week 11 rested, rejuvenated, and recommitted.

    On our first day back on schedule, Sarah and I ran our five miles at Sugarhouse Park.

    On Thursday night, we ran eight miles along the marathon route, starting at the beginning and finishing up at La Puente. I felt great! At the beginning, the running felt natural and easy, and I felt like I was really able to push the pace for the first time in a while. It was a great confidence builder to have a good longish run again--I think this was one of my top two runs, along with the five-miler on March 10.
    129 lbs, 27% body fat

    Just like that run on March 10, we followed the great evening run with a short run the very next morning, which is a bad idea. We knew what we were getting into this time, but because of scheduling issues this was the best plan we could come up with. Anyway, we were supposed to go five miles at Sugarhouse, but since I felt like I had about five tiny, simultaneous sideaches and a broken knee, I only made it 2.8.

    On Saturday morning Sarah and I ran sixteen miles (back on schedule!) from La Puente to 9th South and State Street. We decided in advance--before Thursday's run, actually--to incorporate some walking in a structured way. We walk two minutes after every two miles. This worked out great, because the two-mile chunks seemed really manageable, especially when compared to the entire run. We were still running by the time we got to the car! Unfortunately it took us about four hours to run the sixteen miles, which seems really slow. I felt that we were keeping a pretty good pace, though, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.
    For our carb-rich treat we had fresh raspberry shakes from Shivers. Yum!

    To start off week 12, I ran five miles at Sugarhouse, which took about an hour and five minutes. My hair was too unbelievably hideous to be photographically archived, so instead you get to see one of the beautiful trees that was in blossom along the loop.

    April 26, 2006

    Lisa: Boston, Day 3

    On Wednesday morning (March 22nd), after running, Janell and I took the bus (a 5-minute ride) to the convention center for the second day of our Early Literacy workshop. We left the workshop a bit early to see Nancy Pearl speak, but when we got there the huge auditorium was already packed. We ended up sitting on the floor along one wall. Unfortunately, the program ended up being mostly publishers introducing some of their new titles, but Nancy did introduce them and she was hilarious. She shared a few things I wanted to pass on:

    People clap before a speech out of faith and hope; they clap at the end out of charity.
    --Bishop Sheen

    She also told a hilarious story about finding herself locked, naked, in a hotel bathroom with a broken door handle. Her first thought was, "I am locked in the bathroom of the Mallory Hotel...and I have NOTHING TO READ." Instead of panicking, she then said to herself, "what would Nancy Drew do?" She got busy with a nail file and soon sprung herself from her prison. Only then did she look back into the bathroom and see the telephone next to the toilet.

    The publishers did introduce a few books that I added to my list of books to read:

  • The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

  • Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn, by Sarah Miller
  • Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (although that one seems to be a vampire romance...?)

    Anyway, Laura joined us for the afternoon, and we took a bus to Harvard Square where we couldn't resist taking a few pictures on the Harvard campus...

    ...and had lunch at a sort of mongolian BBQ place called Fire and Ice. Then we headed up to the Harvard Museum of Natural History (miraculously arriving during their few free hours) to see the glass flowers. We walked around Cambridge for a while, going in lots of fun shops, and then walked back to the hotel. Along the way back I took a picture of this building...

    ...which is next door to the Cambridge city hall. Back at the hotel we split up, and after dropping of some of our things, Janell and I took the T to Park Street, where the Loews theater is. One of the ladies from the library had gotten us tickets to see the premiere of Hoot, a movie based on the Carl Hiaasen book. We ate paninis (with more hot tea--BRRR!!) at the nearby Emerson Cafe (Which brings up a problem we kept having in downtown Boston: where do people eat? If you don't want Dunkin' Donuts or Au Bon Pain, I think you have to have a secret insider's map of the city.) and then ran through the wind over to the theater. Hoot was pretty cheesy (and approaching Ferngully levels of environmental consciousness), but kind of cute and funny too. Plus, Luke Wilson!


  • April 25, 2006

    Lisa: Boston, Day 2

    It has taken me awhile to get around to posting about the rest of my trip to Boston, because things have been super crazy at work and at home. But better late than never, right?

    On Tuesday morning (March 21st), Janell and I decided to walk from our hotel in Cambridge across the Harvard bridge to the convention center in Boston proper. The walk wasn't long, but it was freezing cold. The good news is that when we were crossing the bridge we got to see the MIT women's crew team out practicing...

    ...as well as some of the Smoot markings.

    Once across the bridge, we stopped at a convenience store for some hot tea, string cheese, and a blueberry muffin (Yes, I actually ate a muffin. And it was DELICIOUS.). Almost every person we saw walking around Boston was carrying a travel mug or take-out cup of a hot beverage, and as soon as I got my own it was obvious why. The cup serves as the best hand-warmer money can buy, and then when you are waiting for the bus you can take a few sips and warm your belly, too. Just make sure you have a cup with a lid that fastens securely, or you will slosh scalding tea all over your hand on the bus, like I did a few days later.

    Janell and I were in a conference on Early Literacy all morning, but on lunch we walked past Copley Square...

    ...to the Boston Public Garden, hoping to see the Make Way For Ducklings statue.

    After seeing the ducklings (the rest of the park was pretty bare and muddy), we had lunch at Au Bon Pain, which we don't have in Utah but that was everywhere in Boston. After lunch, we headed back to the Hynes Center for more conferences. At the end of the day, we walked next door to the biggest, most convoluted mall ever (well, biggest might be an exaggeration) and ate at the Cheesecake Factory. Not really an example of local cuisine, I know, but it was tasty and they do have sugar-free cheesecake.

    After dinner, we stopped at Trader Joe's (another chain that hasn't hit Utah yet), which was AWESOME. I got Blake some of the fruit slice candies he loves (Which I found out are called Boston Fruit Slices and I ended up seeing all over Boston. Curse you, Utah, and your lack of fruit slice candy!) and these low-carb tortilla chips made of soy and flax seed, which were actually really tasty. Too bad they don't sell them online!

    We took the bus back to the hotel and then stopped at the Star Market, which was ATTACHED TO OUR HOTEL, for breakfast groceries and more snacks. The only bummer part of the day was that I completely killed my feet by walking everywhere in stiletto boots.