Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Of Lights and Chairs and Bathroom Bins

No, this is not a home furnishings review.  This is war.  This is what The Man and I go around and around and around about.  This is "he-drives-me-crazy-whens" and "she-needs-to-watch-herselfs."  This is what marriage is.  Or what our marriage is anyway.

I do something--or don't do something--that makes The Man spitting mad.  When I am standing at the bathroom sink getting ready in the morning or after my evening shower, I use a Kleenex for whatever needs to be done, and then I toss it in the general direction of the trash can, you know, generally to the left and down just out of sight.  But sometimes the bin is rather full, and the Kleenex bounces out and lands on the floor next to the bin, sort of behind the toilet, and definitely not where The Man wants it.  So he gets after me to watch where I'm throwing things every single time I need to dispose of a simple Kleenex or Q-tip.  If it was a snotty Kleenex, sure, I can understand why he gets up in a huff, but grab an unused corner and assume I meant for it to go in the bin.  I'll try to do better next time.  (Nevermind that taking out the garbage is his job.)

It's not all rosebuds and lollipops living with The Man either.  I don't know if it's a "cannot" or a "will not," but he has ever-so-rarely pushed in a chair or turned off a light.  Maybe it is his stubborn streak refusing to cooperate.  Maybe he just doesn't care about our power bill or my stumbling-into-chairs problem.  I don't know what his problem is, but this is one fight from which I won't back down.  Every time he doesn't push in his desk chair, I have to move it just to get to my desk--impossible with both of my hands full with a project or breakfast or something else.  When he doesn't push in his dining chair, I have to move it to get to the piano.  These chairs are in the way.  We don't have the space luxury to not push in a chair.

Apparently he's never heard of task lighting either.  We have two Ott lights, several lamps, and plenty of cozy reading spots.  What does he choose?  The overhead light and his desk chair.  The crappiest lighting we have that casts the most horrific shadows and sallow color on everything it touches.  Even with new (stupid) lightbulbs, the lighting in there is atrocious.  If we open the window on a very sunny day, turn on the overhead light, and both Ott lights, we can only marginally fix the lighting in that room.  It's bad bad.  Just don't turn it on in the first place.  Use task lighting.  Use a flashlight.  Use something, anything else that you will remember to turn off at the end of the session.  (I'm not talking about quick trips out of the room to get food or pee, I'm talking about leaving the room to watch a movie or go to work or something.  There is some rational thought to my request.)

I don't think his request for me to be a little more careful is unwarranted.  I'm trying.  I really, really am.  He hasn't had to remind me in months to pick anything up or watch where I'm throwing things in the bathroom.  I also don't think my request for him to push in chairs or turn off lights is all that crazy.  Are we both nuts?  Or is this just how marriage is?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Found MY Foundation

When it comes to make-up, I'm picky.  Like with most things, I tend to buy the same item over and over again if I know I like it, trust it will last, and feel like I'm getting a good deal.  But what about trying something new?  Ugh.

I recently went on a research expedition into the world of foundations.  There are so many options out there, so many colors and finishes and liquid-to-powders and powders-to-liquids.  I was overwhelmed before I even got started.  But with the help of Makeup Alley, reviews, and a few good words from family and friends, I was able to narrow down the criteria for the Perfect Foundation:

- Long wearing.  This is foundation we're talking about, the bedrock of my entire look.  I shouldn't have to touch up my foundation at all during the day.
- Light-to-medium coverage.  I must be one of the only people on earth that doesn't want to cover up every freckle on my face.  I'd look so silly without my freckles!
- Non-greasy or oily.
- Contains SPF10 or higher.
- Inexpensive, like <$15 regular price for an item that must last at least two months of near-daily use.
- Easy to find in my area in person.
- Comes in my skin color, which is to say, "off white" rather than "off tan."
- Good for sensitive skin.  We're talking really sensitive skin.

I found a winner!  Almay Truly Lasting Color liquid make-up.  It contains SPF15, is about $12 in my area, is non-greasy, comes in "ivory" which is my exact skin color between my freckles, is a medium-coverage foundation, doesn't cause break-outs or irritate my skin, and it lasts all day.  We're talking sixteen hours of wearability here, and I usually need no more than twelve.  Plus it's not hard to wash off when I do want it gone.  I usually top off the liquid foundation with a little matching powder for a little extra softness and shine reduction.

You must think I'm crazy for being so excited, but I've never once been able to find a liquid foundation that actually works for me.  We're talking love-at-first-wear here, so it's a big deal.  BIG deal.  I am so excited!

(Okay, the fourteen-year-old in me is so excited!  The grown-up in me mildly enthused... ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In case anyone every thought we were mature...

We visited our local Izzy's recently and  left them this very helpful comment card.  

(Sorry about the very crappy picture, but their lighting left much to be desired.  The food was great though!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Participate: What Do You Know?

A conversation with a friend recently got me thinking about what I know.  Well, about what I know I know.  Those things I can do.  The things, the thoughts, the processes that I understand and can explain.

She mentioned that there are lots of things she thinks people think she should be able to do, but she's never done those things.  Like changing a tire on a car.  She has never done it.  But she should be able to, right?

Stop and take a minute to think about all of the things you can do.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Now take your individual skill set back in time a hundred years.  How is your ability to navigate the Internet going to help you?  How will you explain the concept of a wireless device to Joe 1911?  Can you translate your ability to multitask between document crafting, e-mail writing, Facebook stalking, web surfing, and blog following to any tasks that existed just a short hundred years ago?

But wait.  What about all of those things people did a hundred or two hundred years ago that you have never done.  Are you comfortable saddling a horse and caring for that horse as your major form of transportation (or even pleasure riding)?  Would you know how to churn butter or skim cream off warm milk?  Can you pickle and preserve vegetables to last through the winter? What about polishing silver with non-commercial cleaners or crank-starting a car or making clothes?

Now you're thinking about all of those things you can't do, right?

It makes me mad when older generations call younger generations "stupid" or "inferior" or "worthless and lazy" without considering the changes of time and space.  I've had coworkers and other older adults get frustrated when I tell them that I have no clue how to diagram a sentence (or drive a stick-shift car).  I didn't have to learn that in school. Instead of learning sentence diagramming, I was busy with four years of French, learning every instrument I could get my hands on, advanced math classes, and instant messaging my friends (ICQ!, waaaaay before text messages) every chance I could get.  It doesn't mean I'm stupid or inferior, it just means I haven't had the opportunity to learn that skill yet.

What can you do that amazes people around you--and where did you learn how to do that?  What can't you do that you wish you could do (money not being an issue, legality still important)?  What things or processes do you think people have forgotten about that we should re-learn?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Young Become "Lost Generation" amid Recession: a Response

You can read the full article and comments here.

As a member of this "Lost Generation," I take considerable offense to the comments saying "young people are whiny slackers who were spoiled by mommy and daddy."  They also say, "just work harder to find a job."  Or they comment, "don't get degrees in fields that aren't hiring."

I am a young person.  I'm a late 20-something that was definitely not "spoiled" by my parents.  Who put me through college?  Who paid for my food, gas, insurance, healthcare, and fun?  Uh... yeah, that's right, I did.  My parents supported my decisions, and they were there if I needed a little cushion, but I paid them back every cent.  From the time I left for college, I was financially independent.  Spoiled with love, absolutely.  Spoiled economically, not even a little bit.

Why are kids not moving out and continue to live with their parents well into their twenties?  They have no where else to go.  Housing costs were so high three years ago that I would never have been able to save up for a 30% down-payment.  Rental costs in my town are still astronomical.  My city has a vacancy rate of less than 1/10th of 1%, so moving anywhere is out of the question.  Any of the neighboring communities are nearly that bad.  Kids around here don't have a choice!

Work harder to find a job?  Say what?  My husband was unemployed from the moment he got his MBA and project management certificate.  That's right, he has a master's degree in a field that--when he started the graduate program--was an incredibly open field.  Job opportunities were being thrown at graduates.  When he finished in 2009, he couldn't even get a job flipping burgers.  He was overqualified.  He worked his ass off eight hours a day, nine sometimes, submitting thousands of applications all over the northwest.  He had interview after interview for jobs.  Companies were hiring internally.  Companies wanted more experience--and he couldn't find a job to get any!  A car dealership ended up giving him a part-time job.  That dealership had three employees working as courtesy drivers, every one of them with a master's degree or higher.  (Now you know where kids with bachelor's degrees won't be able to compete.)

I have a degree too.  I studied the sciences.  I have a well-rounded education from a major university.  Do you know how much money I was offered in my first job right out of college?  Below the poverty line.  We're talking a full-time State of Oregon employee.  Below the poverty line.  I have qualified for food stamps more in my adult life than I have not--yet I've never taken that money.  Why?  Because my parents taught me how to manage my money.  That whole "not being spoiled" thing taught me to rely on myself.

So what if I'm part of this so-called "lost generation."  Just don't lump us all together and call us whiny, spoiled slackers who don't know how to work hard to find a job.  You know what pisses me off more than being called a slacker?  Someone unwilling to get out and interact with young people, some armchair blogger who doesn't have a clue how hard young people are working to find jobs, start careers, and begin life away from our parents.  And if it's your kids you are calling slackers, it's your fault.  Please think before you stay stupid things in comment sections.  All the "lost generation" wants is a chance at happiness too--and the opportunity to work for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Apartment Maintenance Goof #84395

I swear I saw the maintenance guy breathing and walking at the same time once, but I have no proof that occurred.  Judging by his latest attempt at repair in our apartment, I could very easily have been mistaken.

This summer has been warm.  Too warm for my taste.  The heat has also made our apartment door unhappy.  The door began to stick a little in July, and by the end of August we had to slam our door with our full weight behind it just to get it to close.  The deadbolt didn't come close to throwing the full length.  Oh no, it gently rested upon the strike plate and called it good.  Our front door's biggest security feature was the vast amount of effort it took to open the door.  Yay.

We let the weather cool down for a couple weeks, you know, doing what it eventually does in Oregon, but the door didn't relax.  The door became even more angry.  One day it just wouldn't close.  I was terrified the neighbors around us were going to get mad at the noise, so I broke down and called in the... "experts."

I gave the complex permission to enter our apartment and fix the door while I was at work.  Upon arriving home one day last week, I was greeted by a front entry mat covered in wood dust.  I put my key in the lock, gave it a twist, and it gave easily.  The door opened with no creaks or groans, no using of a sprint and shouldering the door open.  Slick.

Aaaaand that's when I looked up and noticed that the bonehead struck again.  He shaved off our door casing!  Rather than gently shaping the top edge of the door, he de-weatherized our door.  No more paint, no more weather strip, nothing.  The only thing between the door and the door frame is sunlight.

Are. You. KIDDING?!

But the deadbolt goes through the strike plate now.  Some tiny part of me considers this a success considering there are three holes in the door frame from the "handy" people attempting to get it correct.

Just before we left for Seattle, I did a solid lock-down of our apartment.  Windows shut and locked, doors shut and locked.  We take security seriously at Chez Jaggy.  I locked the handle lock, pulled the door shut behind me, and went to lock the deadbolt when I discovered our new and exciting door feature: the bottom lock is useless.  If you lock the bottom lock and pull the door shut--completely shut--you can simply push the door back open.  Unless you use the deadbolt, our front door is no more secure than an open one.

I don't know what Bozo McFixy did to our door, but it's just as bad as it was before he mangled it.  I am terrified to call the main office and have them send him back out to try again (that'll be four times since we moved in just one year ago--and the seventh time total for our apartment).  I don't think I can handle another bad job.  Makes me think that I should go into the construction business just to sort people out on what not to do.  ARGH!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seattle Redux

The Man and I left last Wednesday to go to Seattle, Washington, on a business trip.  His company sent him to the Bothell offices to meet and greet the other employees up there and have some training sessions or something, and since I didn't add any cost to the trip for them, I got to go too.

We skedaddled out of Corvallis by 9:15am and were in Seattle traffic by 2:00pm.  We stopped a couple times on the way to stretch our legs (Wilsonville, Chehalis, Olympia) and eat lunch.  After missing an exit, we had an adventure through Seattle and Ballard to get to the Ballard Locks (Chittenden Park, two names for the same thing).

The picture above is from the big boat we got to watch travel through the locks.  It was really neat seeing how everything works, watching the boats go up and down through the gates, and watching the fish swim up/down the fish ladder.  We didn't have time to get this far north on our honeymoon two years ago, so it was nice to check this one off my list.  Cool park, scary streets with awful traffic nearby, and the occasional exciting bum. Seattle has much less exciting and outlandish bums than Portland (lookin' at you Burnside...), but that sorta makes them more scary to me.

We hopped over to Bothell and waited around for a few hours before meeting up with The Man's coworkers for dinner at Bonefish.  His clam linguini was less than stellar, but my steelhead and au gratin potatoes were quite good.  They had some "Bang Bang Shrimp" appetizer which was perfectly spicy, and we all tried a bacon-wrapped scallop that was perfectly cooked.  I can see why people like scallops, but they're not really my thing.  The bacon was good though--apparently I like seafoody bacon.

Thursday was rather quiet for me.  The Man went to his meetings, and I went shopping/browsing at Bothell's Country Village.  The stores are sort of a mini-mall overrun by ducks and roosters and other game birds.  The little stationery store was delightful, and I could have moved right into the fabric store there for life.  The toy store was pretty good.  Otherwise... no need to return.

I grabbed lunch by myself, then The Man called to see if I would drive the group to a restaurant for lunch, so I sat while they ate.  I had to take them all back to work, which was fine, but then I sort of had to kill an afternoon somehow until they all got done working.  The Sims only held my attention for about fifteen minutes.  I set out to do some clothes shopping.

Not too far north of Ballard is the Alderwood Mall.  I must say, we're talking Washington Square caliber, not some crappy Heritage Mall, Albany, Oregon, mall.  Coach store.  Nordstrom.  Yeah.  Swanky.  They also had the usual suspects, so that made me happy.  I stuck to J.C. Penney for my first trip to the mall.  Yes, first trip.  Because within the next 48 hours, I made four trips to the mall.

I know how bad that sounds, believe me.  I am not a mall rat.  I really do dislike shopping.  I don't enjoy crowds.  And I'm such a deal-waiter that I never want to spend money on myself.  "It'll go on sale, I can wait."  "Well, I can get this cheaper somewhere else."  "Maybe I can make this..."

In four trips, I scored.  I got professionally fitted for my bra size and bought two bras that actually fit and look beautiful and are comfortable.  I won't even mention the price, but they fit, and that's everything for me.  I also snagged two jackets for $15 each, some Worthington dress pants and a beautiful Worthington dressy shirt for $40 together, some Clarks shoes that are actually too narrow, which is jaw-on-the-floor amazing.  The right shoe is perfect, but I'm going to take the left one down to the shoe guy  in town and have him stretch it just a tad.  I'm tellin' ya, the Clarks sales guy needs to become my personal shopper, he was that good.

We had dinner out in Kirkland one night at a Mexican restaurant where we ate our first fry bread.  The Man and I determined we are not allowed to eat that anymore since we have absolutely zero self-control around it.  SO delicious!

Our last night in Bothell was definitely the best.  We were able to ditch the big group and have dinner together, just the two of us.  We chose a local Italian place called "Gratzi."  Between our appetizer, entrees, a glass of wine for The Man, my pop, and our shared cheesecake dinner, plus tax and tip, it was a cool $75.  The appetizer and bread courses were amazing, and my lasagna was delicious.  But the cheesecake, oh the cheesecake... New York Style with a pecan crust, chocolate topping, and served in caramel.  Best cheesecake I've ever had.  Thanks to The Man's company for picking up the bulk of that check, too!

We left Bothell on Saturday morning and were in Oregon by 1:30pm.  I must say, crossing the Columbia back into Oregon never fails to make me happy.  Something about the greenness, the better tasting tap water, the lack of sales tax... it's always good to be home.

Well, not quite home.  We stopped at the Columbia Sportswear outlet at Woodburn where The Man scored some beautiful fleece pullovers, and we both found medium-weight softshell jackets in black and a little OSU orange.  Licensed OSU stuff.  Columbia stuff.  Over half-off.  Yeah, we bought them.  We didn't let them out of our sight, out of our hands, not even at the checkstand where the store guy was casually sporting the bad colors.  Harassing did ensue.  Let's just say we love our Beavers more than he loves his 'Ucks.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.  I collapsed into my own very wonderful bed a little early last night, sleeping well past 9:00am this morning.  It was so nice to get out and see new things and try new food, but dammit, it feels good to sink my toes into non-scary carpet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paint Chips in a Frame

Pretty neat, huh?  It's a grid of paint chips.  I "painted" with paint chips.  I actually made art that I would pay money for in the store for free.  And we all know how "free is the best price" right?  Right.

I got the idea from Pinterest and lots of other sites where paint chip art is all the rage.  Though I tend not to be an "all the rage" crafter, I did know that I had art issues in my bathroom and a very small budget with which to solve those problems.  Paint chips seemed like a cheap way to fail--that is, if I was going to fail.

The project started with a trip to Home Depot.  I'm not advocating Home Depot over any other stores, nor do I particularly suggest they have better paint chips than anyone else.  Their store is geographically closest to me, so that's where I went.  My sister joined me, and she helped me pick out a few colors from the Behr Premium Plus display (since they have huge single-color chips!).  For the record, these were the colors I chose:

Echo, UL250-3D
Darkest Grape, UL250-21D
Heather Plume, UL250-7M
Tibetan Temple, UL250-2D
Café Olé, UL130-19M
Coconut Shell, UL140-5D
Chocolate Swirl, UL140-3D
Berry Wine, UL100-23D
Sweet Molasses, UL130-23D

I also picked up a piece of white poster board from the craft store (oooh, $0.59 expense!) and two Command hooks to hang the frame that I already had.  I think I spent about $6 on two extra large picture frame hooks.  That takes our grand total for this project to a whopping $6.59.  For art.  Pretty art.  That matches my bathroom curtain perfectly.  Jaggy 1, budget 0.  :)

I cut the paint chips into 1" squares with a paper trimmer.  Then I figured out how big to make my grid based on the frame and the spacing I wanted between my chips.  I have 11 columns and 14 rows of the chips with 1/4" spacing.  That fit exactly into my 16"x20" frame with about a 1.25" border.  Yay for the math ending up super easy.  The pattern of paint chips is completely random.

I think the art ads a great modern touch to my bathroom.  The shower curtain has silver and brown leaves on it, plus the brown and black counter top adds its mis-match-ed-ness.  We have a sort of brown-black nightmare going on everywhere.  Even the flowers beside the picture are both white and off-white.  Seems I can't win with apartment decorating.

But the paint chip painting?  It's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ironing Board Re-Do

Let me start by saying that I have a really nice ironing board.  I enjoy using it.  It's a bit cumbersome to get out, set up, and put away, but that's not a big deal most of the time.  What bothers me is the width.  When I'm ironing quilt blocks, the ironing board just isn't wide enough.  It works wonderfully for shirts and large things that I can do in sections, but it just doesn't work for blocks.

Since no other ironing board available is much wider than mine, I had to make my own.  And cheaply, too.

I recently purchased a new double-sided cutting mat.  This acquisition replaced my old, very worn mat.  The 1" line was so faint from being cut on so many times that I frequently didn't use that end of the board.  But I didn't want to throw away such a useful tool, so I held on to the old cutting mat for a few weeks.  After watching a few YouTube videos of other ironing mats from people around the web, I determined I had the perfect core for my new mat.

I covered the old cutting mat in a very tight "pillowcase" of InsulBrite insulated batting.  This batting has a layer of thermally reflective foil in it, and I've used it in potholders with great success before.  It is also very easy to sew and adds just a touch of softness inside the ironing mat.  The outside "pillowcase" is simply a pretty piece of fabric I found in the sale section at the craft store.  I modified the case to include a little piece that folds over and inside the outer case so that everything is neatly tucked inside with no batting showing.
Total cost (not including the original price of the cutting mat since it's recycled) was about $6.  Total headaches reduced by having a 18"x24" ironing mat?  Infinite!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Bench

As I mentioned last week, The Man and I have had seating issues since we bought new living room furniture.  We have enough seating, just not well-placed seating.  In order to put our shoes on, we have to walk past the front door to our shoe shelving, grab our shoes, walk back around the couch into the living room to put our shoes on, and then walk back out of the living room area around the couch and out the front door.  There is a little space near the shoe hutch, but otherwise there isn't much usable space in the entry area.  We labored for months about what to do for seating in this small area, comparing ottomans and benches until the information spilled out of our ears.  Most nicer ottomans were in the $50 range, but they only seated one person.  Since we're often going somewhere together and put our shoes on at the same time, that didn't seem like a good idea.

Enter ClosetMaid.  We have ClosetMaid cabinets in our bathroom and kitchen for extra storage, and they have been incredibly durable.  They're also very easy to assemble and move once whole.  And the price?  Originally just under $50, we scored a deal with 30%-off.  We were able to pick up a two-pack of the cube bins in black that took our total to just over $50.  (Yay to sales at Fred Meyer!)

But the pad cover that came with our bench was downright ugly.  We're talking tan-that-doesn't-match-tan ugly.  So The Man and I worked for an hour to pick out the perfect fabric that had browns and blacks in it.  Some bozo designed our apartment with both brown and black accents, so it's pretty much impossible to decorate.  We persist nonetheless.  Including the fabric, piping, and some batting to add to the foam pad, we pushed the total cost to about $60.  For two-person seating, that comes out to $30/seat.  Not bad considering what else was available that didn't even have storage.

The two black cubbies have seasonal shoes in them, dance shoes and sandals and such.  The center cube is what we like to call our "stuff in here needs to go somewhere else" bin.  We borrow books from people, or sometimes we buy gifts for people, and that's where those items go so they're not in our way or constantly being shifted from end table to coffee table to counter.  As you can see, we have a book to return to someone.

We are totally in love with our new bench, and we're enjoying not sitting on the floor or walking a half-mile every time we want to put on our shoes.  Also, more storage?  Bonus!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Coupon Schmoopon

Dear Jo-Ann Fabrics,

Thank you so much for providing customers with 40%-off and 50%-off coupons every week via e-mail.  Thank you for having Android and iPhone apps with extra coupons.  Thank you even more for sending coupons to me in the mail, sometimes with scratch-offs that make me feel like I could win the lottery really soon.  I really do appreciate all of the discounts!

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a sense of entitlement to coupons.  I'm not entitled to a discount.  But who do you think you are offering all of these coupons and then expecting me to pay full price for anything when I shop in your stores?  I live less than a mile from the nearest store, so it's not like I can't just wait for the next coupon to come out and make a quick trip or drop by on my way home from work or something.

I was recently in one of your stores, having forgotten my mailed coupon and phone at home, and requested at the checkstand if one of your nice store clerks could just grab the store's copy of your circular and scan the coupon for me.  They have done this dozens of times in the past.  The very slow clerk informed me that "all coupons must be torn up after use."  Excuse me?  As if your computer is going to recognize any one coupon from any other?  I simply handed him my goods, told him "no thanks," and walked out of the store empty-handed.  I'm not paying full price.  I can wait.  I can wait you out, Jo-Ann Fabrics.

While I'm at it, can you please sort out your Android app?  I have no problem accessing all of my coupons at home, getting them all tidy in my "wallet," and then heading to a store where all of my coupons are mysteriously gone.  The second I walk into your store the coupons all disappear.  Isn't that like false advertising?

How about we establish regular customers via special cards that automatically give the cardholder all of your special offers and coupons without needing phones or apps or paper coupons or circulars or any of that other marketing.  Just offer a card.  Simple.  Hey, if Safeway can figure it out, so can you.

Until you sort out your Android app, stock coupons in your stores, or come up with a rewards-type program, I can get my fabric at local fabric shops..  You know, those places that treat customers with respect and trust?  Places that remember who the frequent visitors are and offer discounts regardless of current sales?  Yeah.

I was so excited that you opened a brand new store in my town, but the more I visit, the more I'm disappointed.  Coupons schmoopons, you can do better.

Fed Up with Un-Savings,

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Of Mud Masks and Men

He started it.  I didn't coerce him or try to encourage him or anything.  I merely suggested it after he brought it up.

We were wandering the aisles of our local drugstore recently, and he became very intent on researching every face wash known to man right that second.  Between the eighty-six washes from Clean & Clear, the Noxema and Neutrogena empires, and the Dove/Olay/Aveeno kingdoms, we were both overwhelmed.  What do these chemical-laden soaps actually do for skin?  And acids?  All the acids?  How is stripping the living daylights out of his skin going to stop it from getting angry and oily every day?  Marketing gimmicks.  That's all I could see the whole aisle long.

We went home frustrated.  I remembered I had purchased some Queen Helene's mint mud mask not too long ago, and I know it's great for coaxing oils out of my skin, so I suggested it.  He wasn't too thrilled by the idea of slathering his very manly face with some woman swamp gunk.  After twisting his arm and a little bribing ("I'll do it too so you can make fun of me!"), he finally agreed to give it a shot.

I smudged his face from his hairline to his neck with green clay paste.  Ear-to-ear, even accidentally inside his nose a bit, and perhaps a bit too near an eye ("ow, ow, it burns!"), I got his face covered with greenness.  Fifteen minutes--and far too much nervous giggling--later, we took it all off.  I convinced him to let me follow up the mud mask with a "light, refreshing toner," or what I refer to as "burning in a bottle."  His face thoroughly swept of any oil, toned into submission, and tightly clean, we applied a layer of non-greasy face lotion.

And you know what?  It really helped!  Within two or three days, his face chilled out.  His acne has disappeared for the most part, and his face looks much healthier.  A couple nights ago, with our chores out of the way and showers recently completely, he came up to me, "Babe, do you think we could do mud masks again?"


Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor, Labor, Craft!

What can I say?  I crafted mercilessly this weekend.  Three glorious days of little else but stitching, cutting, ripping, and fray-checking.  Not one of my projects came out exactly as I had envisioned, yet each of them was a unique learning experience.

Saturday saw a very expensive (but still under $100) trip to the craft store to take advantage of Labor Day Weekend sales.  Who knew batting and diaper cloth were only worth $0.90/yard?  Oh, and diaper cloth?  Not for diapers.  You can forget about me making those for quite some time.  We also ventured over to Freddies for a screaming deal on a much-waited-for seating thingy near our front door.  Because sitting on the floor every time I want to tie my shoes? Yeah, that got old around day two.

The pretty little seat for the front entry area came with a hideous foam pad that The Man and I labored to pick out the perfect fabric for for at least an hour.  The sinfully ugly off-tan cover was replaced by Sunday with a very bold brown-black fabric that adds just the right amount of "pop" behind the couch.  We still need some batting for the foamy thing since--and I didn't even know this was possible--the foam is actually rock-hard.  It's like freeze-dried foam.  Crispety-crunchety-hardness.  Ick.  But we're not willing to shell out for memory foam, so batting it is!

I got the diaper cloth and some light blue gingham flannel to make my own lightweight towels.  I get tired of using terry cloth for everything, not to mention it is somewhat linty.  The diaper cloth (or birdseye cloth to some) is way soft and ultra absorbent.  These will also make excellent all-purpose kitchen cloths.  Since I am not sure how much I actually will use them, I didn't spend very much money on the fabric.  It's an experimental project in progress.

AAAAAANNNND!  The red duck cloth got repurposed from our first-aid kits into lunch sacks!  After fighting with insulated batting, plastic lining, and two layers of the duck cloth, I gave up.  The whole design got reworked into a single layer of duck with reinforced seams.  Y seams.  That I finally learned how to do correctly.  I attached a buckle and will give my new lunch sack a test-run tomorrow.

Oh, and The Man bought me a plant.  I am now the proud owner of two plants.  Plant Deux was the Zygo cactus (Christmas cactus) if you remember, and Plant Trois is also a succulent.  I opted for a Kalanchoe ("collin-co-wee" or "cal-an-cho" depending on your preference) this time, a pinky-red flowering tropical succulent that I'm housing in my office since I have better lighting there.  We'll see how long it takes to die (because I? am an optimist.  Can't you tell? ha!).  [I need more parenthesis in that paragraph.]

I took the night off last night from crafting to go make tacos for my parents.  We needed to get out of the house a bit, and I needed a break.  Monday was far less exciting and included a lazy late afternoon and very lazy evening.  So lazy, in fact, that I didn't even make dinner.  We snagged some frosties and french fries from Wendy's before settling in for a night of screen time.

And yes, I did drag my french fries through my frosty.  Because the best dipping sauce for hot, salty fries is not ketchup: it's an icy, sweet, vanilla milkshake.  Don't argue with me.  That's just the way it is.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Of First-Aid Kits and Lunch Boxes

I'm a creator.  A dreamer.  A planner-aheader.  I'm even sometimes a thinker.  But I am not, however, always adept at making my creative dreams and plans a reality.

Take, for example, my first-aid kit debacle.  After purchasing a really nice kit at work for work, I realized we probably should have some sort of to-go kits in our cars.  We're usually driving up and down I-5, but for the rare outing to the mountains, beach, or in between, it might be nice if we had a few Band-Aids, some gloves, and maybe a deck of cards or something to play with while we wait for help.

So I started planning.  I researched supplies until I could tell you the differences between brands of CPR face masks, the average size of gauze rolls, and how effective instant cold packs are as time goes on.  I checked out all sorts of pre-made kits and bundles.  I wondered about soft-sided kits versus hard cases.  I've been to the end of the Internet and back looking at what other people put in their car kits.

And let me tell you, there are some weird people out there!

After days of tinkering, I came up with my "Ultimate List of Car Kit Supplies" (or something like that).  But I didn't want to throw all of these supplies into a random bin or bag and have to go digging every time I wanted to find a simple Band-Aid.  Because bleeding all over everything in the kit didn't exactly seem like a happy time.

I came up with a brilliant plan to sew my own kit!  Just get some red canvas "duck" fabric, some clear plastic stuff to make see-through pockets, and stitch it all up, right?  Easy.  Well, except that some of my items are bulky and don't fit into flat pockets, and I'm not very good at making bulky-pocket-openings still, and the whole project just got more and more complicated and had far too many doo-dads and got to be overwhelming.  And expensive.

So I started researching containers.  Paramedics get these really neat ultra-pockety bags for all of their little supplies, and that was just about exactly what I wanted size-wise, but the price was far more than I was willing to spend.  A tackle box was my next option, but it's hard to find a medium-sized box with just one lift-up tray in it (huge? easy to find; little tiny bins for little tiny things? also easy to find; medium box with medium spaces? ugh!).  Thus a trip to the craft store for craft storage.  Non-pink, non-frilly craft storage.  On-sale-because-I-live-on-a-budget storage.

I searched high and low, and waaaay down on a shelf behind some other bins was the perfect case.  It has medium bins and larger bins for the CPR mask and dust masks.  Everything has a home in the case, plus the clear lid makes finding supplies easy.  Even though I was determined to make my own case, sometimes I need to learn to save myself the time and effort and just buy what I really need.  Well, with coupons and on sale, which is how I scored my bins for less than $10 each!

Between ordering a few hard-to-find supplies on Amazon (CPR masks, Life Hammers, and cheap cards), the spree to Fred Meyer for basic supplies, and some ingenuity with other little bits and pieces, I think I came in under $60 for both of the kits.  That seems like a lot of money, but I have a lot of extra supplies in our bathroom cabinet now as well.  We won't need to buy Neosporin or Hydrocortizone cream for years.

Oh, and that red duck fabric that I bought?  Turning that into custom lunch bags.  More on that later though.