Friday, May 29, 2009

Jo-Ann Fabrics: This is not your granny's sewing shop

I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics today. (surprised?) And, I just want you non-Jo-Ann shoppers to know what it's really like in there. I've always thought that it was filled to the brim with 75 year old ladies buying quilting fabrics and maybe some little girls who aspired to be crafters...for a day.

But, no.

One time...I was sitting looking at patterns in the Butterick pattern book and started asking a stranger questions like she was some expert. (I'm convinced everyone there has a doctorate in sewing.) She was older, heavier, had a deep raspy voice. Anyways, she gets to telling me how S.R. Harris was a WONDERFUL place to get fabrics for her belly dancing costumes. No kidding. Of course, I immediately pictured her all beaded and bare-bellied dancing on the Butterick patterns table. That's how everyone's brains work, right? no? hm.

One the lady was cutting for me at the table, she told me how she used boning for her corsets (obviously.) for the annual Renaissance festival...and how the boning doesn't really hold it's shape when you're working with steam (oh. helpful to know for all the times I'll be wearing a corset while I am in a steam room??). I made a mental note, this is where Renaissance junkies hide the other 360 days of the Jo-Ann. hm. Oh, and just so you know, she looked like this guy from The Princess Bride: a corset. hot. i know.

One time...I asked this lady how she was going to use the yards upon yards of metallic fabric (aka lame, pronounced lam-ay) she was having cut. I should have guessed. No. I wouldn't have guessed that she was making metallic prayer shawls for some rites-of-passage ritual for some cultish sect of the Catholic church. (I double checked with my Catholic neighbor. These sistas is not legit!)

One tall blond was looking at vinyl and offered to help me with this huge bolt of curtain lining. I'm always curious what other people are working on. So, making an assumption I asked, "What are you going to cover?". Because she had bolts of vinyl. She answered "models". "That'll be toasty for them," I replied. "Well, not really. They won't be wearing much else...just some fur. It's for this post-apocalyptic punk-rock lingerie show. I design lingerie." I'm thinking, LINGERIE DESIGNERS SHOP AT JO-ANN FABRIC??? She went on to complain that NO ONE sells stretchy black lace. I thought, dude. the internet??? But, instead I acted like that was a real bummer and went on my merry way.

This gets me thinking...Wouldn't these little reality vignettes make a great ad campaign for Jo-Ann???

Anyway, just make sure to break the silence next time you're in line at the fabric store (or wherever), and ask, "So...whatchya workin' on?" You'll likely be very surprised.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why am I chewing on a towel like Jerry Tarkanian?

A guest post by the man who rubs my shoulders, blesses the children every night and who is not playing softball this season, a.k.a Brent.

It all started as a freak softball injury last June. Not the one where I blew my knee out rounding third base or the time I hurt my back in the outfield. No. It was more random and dorkier than those.

Apparently, my baseball shoes are designed for looking cool and a little light jogging. Certainly not for running home from third base like Usain Bolt. That's the kind of misuse that will cause you to eventually end up chewing on a towel like it's a pacifier. Somehow, I managed to crush the big toe on my left foot as I raced across home plate. Shouldn't athletic footwear help prevent injuries instead of cause them?

I knew something was wrong immediately, but not yet completely aware of the seriousness. Maybe it was just stubbed or the nail got bent a little. It couldn't be that bad, right?

A week later I still couldn't put a sock on without wishing I could inject a vicodin/percocet/morphine combination super drug right into the toe. It felt like it was being squeezed by Andre the Giant.

*note redness, swelling and bluish tint under nail

I rarely go to the doctor so Jenna called the nurse hotline for me. (I rarely make phone calls either.) They told her pressure from under the nail was causing the pain and it needed to be released. I could either go to an urgent care center to handle it or we could pretend we live in a third-world country and the only doctor lives in the next village which is a three day journey... and our only camel just died.

Jenna likes to play doctor anyway (not in that way). She couldn't wait to begin the procedure.

How does one go about releasing the pressure under a toe nail? The nurse suggested using a paper clip. What!? She almost certainly works at a Denny's now. Here's how it went:

Step 1 - Find a sharp object. In our case, one of Jenna's trusty sewing pins (after realizing the paper clip clearly was not up for the challenge).

Step 2 - Heat the end of the object. Make sure it is hot enough to pierce solid keratin.

Step 3 - Twist the heated, sharp object into the toe nail repeatedly until blood or water oozes out.

Step 4 - Insert towel in mouth to manage pain.
look familiar???

In about 30 minutes, we struck gold and the thing was shooting up like a geyser.
okay...maybe not geyser-like, but wow.

And so concludes our very own home surgery success story!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

hey there, it's spring

1. You I can't garden, wrap up the end of the school year, take care of a family and blog at the same time.

2. Latest quote from Miles 90 seconds ago:
"MOMMY! Why won't this work?" Reading to himself quietly aloud, "Ohhhh...lower the presser foot....NEVERMIND!!!"
That's right. I'm letting my boy sew again. He rocks.

3. There are more birthdays in May than I ever realized. My super sweet oldest sister, Amanda, turns 40 the same day a really awesome friend turns 30! And after this month is done, our boys will have collectively attended FIVE birthday parties. That's a lot of trips to Target.

4. Reading Life of Pi. Why did it take 70 pages to get into it? I think I'm way too distracted.

5. But, here's the strange thing. I don't feel totally distracted?! I mean, I've been really quiet lately. I haven't been quick to pick up the phone or touch base with anyone. I've kinda been a hermit compared to my usually extroverted self.

6. I plan on being fully addicted to So You Think You Can Dance this Summer. Usually addictions get in the way of parenting, but it REALLY feels like family life gets in the way of addiction.

7. Hold up. Apparently, Miles needs help sewing. See? Children get in the way of addictions. Be right back.

8. Last winter was SO long that I'm praising God nearly every time I see that trees actually have green leaves. So, what if it's thirty-something degrees outside today. (yes. i'm serious.) It's colorful and fresh.

9. Been thinking how helpful it is to be offended by someone if you take it in the right direction. Lately, I ask myself, "Do I do that?" and "What is the best way to respond?" It takes lots of time and thought and lots of dying to self, but in the end, with the Lord's help, it can bear good fruit.

10. Miles just brought me an Ant Farm starter kit. Anyone have any experience with this? By the way, here's a quote from the box, "Watch ants live, work and tunnel in the nutritious, non-toxic gel..." Yep. Nutritious AND Non-toxic. nice.

11. Minnesota floors have it bad. Wet boots in the winter. Dirty gardening feet in the spring.

12. Speaking of Minnesota...We had a great visit over an AMAZING dinner with Jenny (the Foodie!) and her family last night. They live five doors down. We've HARDLY seen them for months! This made me realize that there are TWO seasons in Minnesota: Social and Anti-social. Just how it goes. We'll see Jenny and her family almost everyday for the Summer. I can almost guarantee it.

13. Did you know I am the hair dresser of the family? Self-taught and not so bad. I have a love-hate relationship with it like I do with ALL my duties (cooking, cleaning, so on...). Brent knows this. So, he doesn't actually tell me he needs a haircut. He just fluffs up his hair and gives me that, "Hey, notice anything different?" kind of look. Makes me laugh. Sometimes, I even feel inspired to cut his hair. I should go do that now.

14. But first, I'll let you know that this girl... really a crazy, crazy toddler. She is insanely busy. She's the kinda kid that you're secretly happy when she feels sick or gets hurt because then you FINALLY get a cuddle. She's that kind of kid. She is mischievous. In fact, this is more like her:

This is quintessential Jillian.

Okay...gotta go cut hair, finish sewing, start an ant farm...aaaand...if my nose is right, there's a poopy diaper in close proximity.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Holy Underpants, Batman!!! (holy, not holey)

So, we have some friends who like to get regular people to do BIG things for small countries with BIG needs. Through their journey of adoption, their hearts have grown bigtime for the people of Haiti. If you click on the picture above, you'll learn how easy-peazy-lemon-squeezy it will be for you to contribute to the desperate needs of your neighbors in Haiti.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

what's on the docket for this evening

Our dear Japanese daughter, Makoto has an art show. We were blessed to have such a talented artist in our home for two and a half months. If you're in town, come to her exhibition sometime from now through this weekend at Augsburg college.

If you want to read something that surprised me to gracious tears, you can read about her beautiful work called "Snow Crystal" here.

(I'll have more later. I started a post for her like a zillion weeks ago.)

liked this analogy

My favorite line from a stand-up comedian the other night:

"Dear Delta Airlines,
...dealing with your customer service is like talking to an insincere baby with amnesia..."

Oh my word. Comedian Eugene Mirman's Delta Airlines is my Qwest Communications right now.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

standing in the mirror with avery

One surprising thing about Avery is that he's very verbally affirming when it comes to my physical appearance. On those rare days when I slap on a little extra make-up and wear jewelry, he doesn't miss it. Better yet, he'll say, "You look really pretty." It's shocking really, because, as I've told you, he just doesn't say much.

A few weeks ago, we were both in the bathroom while I was waxing my eyebrows:

Avery: Why are you "ear"waxing your eyebrows?

Me: It's not earwax, honey.

Avery: Oh. Well, it looks good when you do it.

Simple. To the point. Affirming.

Yesterday, however, I looked repulsive as we both stood there looking in the mirror. My hair was frizzy. I was paler than usual.

Me: I look horrible.

Avery, pausing to take it all in: I think it might help if you wear a hat.

Simple. To the point. Honest. I had to laugh (and put on make-up and fix my hair...)

Friday, May 1, 2009

food for all my thoughts

1. Probably 3 times a year, I buy natural peanut butter figuring it's better for the family. And then I remember that I hate it. Oily, horrible spreadability, flavorless. Skippy has a natural peanut butter that doesn't have any of those problems, but it's so expensive compared to the regular. Talk to me, people. Am I horrible for just settling for your regular Jif or Skippy? (In the meantime, I'll be enjoying its deliciousness.)

2. Ever since I was a kid, I've enjoyed this random recipe which was almost certainly made up by my sister when she was 10 years old: Toast with cream cheese and spaghetti sauce. I'm going to have it today with green olives. I am psyched.

3. I could NOT sleep from 4am until almost 6am this morning. I was sure I was going to get up and make homemade biscuits for the first time in 10 years resulting in surprise and delight for the boys. Much to MY delight, I fell back asleep instead. But, maybe tomorrow...

4. I just bought 10 lbs of sweet onions. They were such a good price, but seriously...10 lbs? I'm thinking this is just the thing to finally motivate me to learn how to caramelize onions. Any other sweet onion recommendations?

5. How seriously do I have to take this "no feta"/"no bleu cheese" thing??? I flippin' love my unpasteurized cheeses. Is there such a thing as pasteurized feta? (I feel so convicted. I shouldn't bother you with such a question when I could just google it.)

6. Why is brisket so expensive? It seems like something that would be as cheap as salt pork.

7. I never cook in plastic. Just weirds me out. When my Mom said "steamer bags" the other day, all I heard was "cancer infusers". It's not you, Mom, it's me.

8. One of my many fears of having another child is that this one will have severe allergies. My heart breaks for the many of you that have to deal with food allergies. There should be a tax break for people who have to live gluten/corn/soy/dairy/whatever-free.

9. I learned that you do not completely mess up granola if you accidentally double the wet ingredients, namely OIL. But, it just messes with my head when I eat my double-serving-of-oil-granola. ugh.

10. I officially get more sleepy-eyed when I plan our menu than when I read the Bible.