Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Everything I Know, I Learned from Billy

My eyes are up here, you jerk.

Because I am a nonconformist, I pride myself in doing the opposite of  the norm. So, when all of the other Gettin'-in-Shape New Years Resolutionists (Jennifer, thanks for my new fave expression) dropped their declarations like a pair of sweaty athletic socks, I picked 'em up. So to speak. Which really just makes me a post-conformist. But whatever.

So a coulpa weeks ago, I dusted off my embarrassingly giant workout tape/DVD collection and started sweatin'. Not to the Oldies, mind you. I can proudly say that there is no Richard Simmons in my fitness library (heehee, Fitness Library...would a Fitness Librarian still wear oversized safety glasses with her polyester sweatsuit and terry cloth arm bands?) 

I think the unitard is cutting off circulation to her brain.

My favorite selection from my cache are the Billy Blanks workouts. When I first met Billy, he was doin' Tae Bo and I was totally into it. I'll never forget the night when I was still living with the fam that I decided to don my sweats and bust a Tae Bo. Billy and I were round house kicking the tar outta my imaginary opponent (Richard Simmons), when I heard a voice behind me say "Am I doin' it right?". It was my brother Kris with his socks pulled up to his knees, a towel around his neck and a mock look of exertion on his face. I nearly jumped out of my sweats and my skin. Needless to say, I now have a severe case of lookin'-over-my-shoulder paranoia whenever Billy and I do our thang.

 I don't know what bothers me more, the blatant chauvinism or the fact that she's exercising in a vest. 

  One of the things I like best about the workouts are Billy's little life coaching tidbits. Or Billy-isms as I like to call them. I made a list of them and find them to be like daily affirmations of the comical sort. So, here they are:
"I wanna see it in your eyes, focus. Sometimes you may slip away but you gotta stay focused."
I don't know if it's all of the time off I've had lately, but I feel like I've started to lose focus on some things. Started to give up on some things. So, gonna try the focus thing.

"Give some to get some so give it all ya got."
I don't think you can "give it all ya got" to everything. So I'm thinking this is where the focus part comes in to play. Once I narrow down what's worthy of focus and let go of the rest, I think I'll be better able to give it my all.
Okay, now why doesn't my sports bra make me look like that!? 
Marilyn Monroe, you are so totally awesome.

And lastly there's:
"So when you leave this room, make sure you left everything right there on the floor. Don't take it with you."

Okay, I'll be honest with you, I can make no correlations with this one. Does he mean hypothetically, like don't take my worries or my stress? Or, like, for real don't take my smelly shoes and socks? I dunno. Gonna have to ponder this over my upper cuts and reverse round house kicks (take that Richard Simmons. And please invest in more clothing and less Jheri Curl).

Monday, February 15, 2010


Looking at the blizzard outside...and freezing! So, why sew another summer dress? Because until winter dresses without sleeves are invented, this is all I can currently craft.

I am not a multi-tasker. I am a multi-asker ("Can I have the garden salad with the dressing on the side? And no onions? And extra croutons?") and often, after a trying day at work, I think I could easily become a multi-flasker, but for me, juggling more than one thing usually means many balls on the floor. Wow. That sounds bad. But you know what I mean. 

 Oh sure, she looks cute. But turn your back for a second and she's whiskers deep into your cupcake.

Let's use these cupcakes as Exhibit A: Whilst baking them (and by "baking", I mean opening the box of Duncan Hines and dumping the contents into a bowl), I was also cleaning, laundrying and facebooking. As I slid the cupcake tray into the oven, I turned back to the counter only to notice that the 1/4 cup of oil that was to be added was sitting patiently on the counter. I swore I heard it say "Are you forgetting something?". Ugh, I hate smart-alecky ingredients. Have you ever tried to squeegie cupcake batter out of paper cupcake holders? I don't recommend it. Needless to say, it really put a cramp in my multi-tasks.
My Funny Valentine...with his tasty Marshmallow Billy Bob teeth. Speaking of marshmallows, the results of the Marshmallow Taste-Off are in: Campfire Marshmallows are the winner!

Realizing that doing more than one thing is not one of my strengths, I decided to begin and finish this dress without the interruption of other tempting, less difficult crafts. It took a lot longer than it needed to but I took comfort in knowing that Debbie was on speed dial and released the occasional tension by using my pin cushion as a voodoo doll/stabbing pillow.
From R to L: roll, ham, 1969 dress pattern and one of my fave sewing books, Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner.

During this process, I have not only learned that I am no multi-tasker, but that I also have a strong hatred for Arm Holes. Ugh. Just the sound of those two little words brings a snarl to my face. In fact, I've decided to start using it as my new curse-word substitute. As in, "That waiter only gave me 3 croutons! What an Arm Hole!"  
On a happy note, when reading Seams to Me, I read about the importance of ham and rolls. I ain't talking about Easter Supper. Lemme clarify: Seam Ham and Seam Roll. I bought them the other day and they were the best tools for ironing open the curved seams of my dress and worked well as a fabric weight and look kinda cute and preppy in my sewing room. So while I may be a muli-disaster, at least I have tools that are multi-taskers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The 1950's Butt-Tickler

Me trying to look 1950's domestic. Don't let the bowls and cookbooks in the background fool you -- I only bought them to match the decor.

Okay, I am totally prone to bragging, so let me just say this and get it out of my system and then I promise to not bring it up again for another 10 seconds: I MADE THIS DRESS! I know, I can't believe it either. Probably because it's only partically true. Ahem, lemme correct myself: I MADE THIS DRESS WITH THE HELP OF MY GREAT FRIEND DEBBIE (and by "help" I mean she did all of the hard, incomprehensible, rocket science-esque parts).

Speaking of, here she is workin' hard while I snap artsy photos and drink yet another of her delicious vodka, pomegranate and lime juice concoctions. She could really go in the cocktail biz.

Debbie and I have been planning our weekend of Memphis Craft for-evuh. I drove there right after school on Friday (while listening to Shudder Island on tape...yikes!...it got so spooky in some parts that I noticed myself driving slower and slower down the highway, even jumping when the CD accidentally skipped) and after a hot bowl of steamy soup and some delish cornbread, we jumped right in to the making of this dress:

Next on my fashion agenda: Bring back the dish-washing gloves with bangles look. Tres chic!

It's a pattern from the late 1950's/early 1960's that I found thrifting. This is my favorite era of dress and I've accumulated quite the stash of these kind of patterns. I have always wanted to sew from  them...but having never been very successful with patterns, following directions or anything that involves concentration and brain power, I've never tried...until now (please read last two words in your best James Earl Jones voice).

This portion of the pattern even stumped Debbie, though only temporarily. Notice the italicized writing: The portion of zipper which extends below waistline seam is free. That's right, a Free Zipper. Hangin' loose, free as a bird.

So following a pattern wasn't as impossible as I'd always thought, but it's definitely time consuming. I mean, the dresses from that era were no one-hour-and-then-you're-done affairs. They involved a lot time, focus and attention to detail. You know, the stuff my dresses from Forever21 seem to be lacking. We managed to knock out all hard parts which left me to finish the hem, the sleeve hem, buttons and belt. Oh! And the Butt-Tickler! 
  One of my kindergartener's clay snowman, sculpted in a 1/2 hour, thank you very much. I dare say all of these snowman brought us the good luck of a SNOW DAY!

Thankfully, I have the good fortune of a snow day today! With my time, I checked all of those dress to-do's off my list. Except for the dangling, butt-tickling zipper...I think I might keep that for a while!
Thanks again, Debbie and fam for having me! I had the best time...

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's the End of the World

 Our venture out on Sunday took us to parts of our neighborhood that the snow rendered unrecognizable. Isn't it funny how a blanket of white can drastically change the look of things?

Maybe it's because of all of these end-of-the-world movies I've seen of late (The Road -- thumbs up, take double dose of prozac before viewing and Book of Eli -- thumbs diagonal), but this winter blast made me feel isolated and alone. Not in bad way. Just in a spooky where-is-everybody? kind of way.

Thank goodness I had The Terminator with me to keep all of those sled-wielding, snow-crazed children at bay.
We ventured out to the movies on Friday, at the height of the ice/snow storm because we're geniuses. And I'm married to the Terminator, so nothing was going to stop our movie-going adventure. I wasn't so keen on the idea, but Mitch assured me all would be fine. I began to question his confidence when he suggested I throw a blanket in the car along with an extra set of socks, hat and gloves. At the time, my hands were too full of chocolate, twizzlers and a jar of peanut butter (standard movie going snacks), so I pretended not to hear.

We hiked up what felt like a mountain (but probably qualifies as a lump) in our neighborhood and captured this view of the Cool Springs area of Franklin. 

  Needless to say, the movies were deserted. As was all of Franklin. When we left the movies at 7pm, everything was closed...all of the shops and most of the restaurants (expect for the McDonalds, of course. It's good to know that even in desperate, apocalyptic times, I will still be able to satisfy my Mac Attack). And no one was on the road. We contemplated doing donuts on Cool Springs Blvd...but them Franklin cops are sneaky. Just like in the zombie movies, you never know where they might be lurking...but you always know they're there.
My new fave recipe to warm up on a cold winter's night: Gluvine.
It's a German thing...and it'll put the heat back into your veins.

But now that things are starting to thaw, I'm seeing life again. I can hear the neighbor shoveling his drive (which I find to be the stupidest activity ever. My hair dryer and extension cord worked just fine.) and kids sledding up and down the hills. Even the mailman dropped by to insure that I get this week's ValuPak coupons. Good to know I'll be able to save 20% on wall-to-wall carpeting during a cataclysm.

Dump some red wine, mulling spices and sugar (pictured is blue agave because it looked more fancy in the photo). Simmer for 20 minutes, stain out the mulling spices and viola! Gluvine! Drink it hot.

So I guess it'll be back to school and civilization for me tomorrow. I suppose it'll be nice to see other living, breathing, nose-picking beings for a while. Maybe.

Other than drinkin', hikin' and movie going, I managed to create some belt buckles (not shown, duh), a bird house and some wall pockets. Whenever I say "wall pockets" I have to sing-song it, like "hot pockets..."

I got nuthin else to say...so I guess I'll just end this with "I'll be back."
(I'm rolling my eyes and shaking my head too...what a dork.)