Saturday, May 30, 2009

If you give a mouse a cookie Mandy a birthday banner

It started with a birthday banner.

Two, actually. There were still two birthday banners up from Jack's birthday party. Yes, from a month and a half ago. Don't judge me.

But Angela was on her way, and that was really the only thing that needed to be done to have a fairly clean house, since my husband is pretty much the coolest person ever.

So I took the birthday banners down, and took them to the guest room, where we keep the wrapping paper and birthday stuff under the bed. The bed was already made (clean sheets and everything!) since, again, my husband is pretty much the coolest person ever.

I decided I'd better check to make sure the guest bathroom was still clean. I mean, I had cleaned it the night before, but you never know. And it was clean.

All this reminded me that Angela and I would be scrapbooking this weekend, and I wasn't sure if I had any 12x12 pages for my Project 365 album. So I went looking for them.

In the process, I found my honeymoon album, which still needed journaling, so I decided I would do that with Angela instead. But I decided that maybe my un-scrapped Project 365 pictures should go in a regular slip-in album so they'd all be in order and ready to scrap later. So I picked up an empty album from my bookshelf and went looking for the pictures.

Twenty minutes later, I still couldn't find the pictures. So, of course, I gave up, and took the album back to my office bookshelf.

That's when I saw the sewing machine.

My sister-in-law, who learned to sew recently and is now making all kinds of cool stuff, including dog collars, inspired me to start trying to sew again, so I thought the first step to actually doing that is setting the machine up in my office.

So I started setting up my parents' card table.

But it was ugly.

That's when I decided to cover it in fabric.

And that's how we end up here, at this little crafting tutorial.

Like I said before, this isn't actually my card table, if you want to get technical. Actually, in this neighborhood, we pass folding tables, chairs, scrapbooking/stamping supplies, eggs, milk, flour, lawn bags, name it... around constantly, and pretty much anybody could have anything of anyone else's at any given time. So it was a community table, if you will.

Now, I went the girly pattern route, since, well, I'm a girl. But a solid fabric would work just fine as well, and maybe even a green felt-covered card table would a more fun poker table than a plain old card table.

I noticed that there was a little space between the top of the card table and the sides. If I was REALLY making the card table over, the first thing I would do would be to repaint the metal sides, but again, not my table, so this had to be temporary if necessary.

So I didn't have to actually remove the top of the table to "re-upholster" it, all I really did was cut the fabric the right size and push it through the slit on all the sides. I used a bobby pin, then a Creative Memories multipurpose tool (which I bent, and therefore decided that it was not smart to continue using that), then a guitar pick to do the job.

After I covered it in fabric, making sure to stretch it tight on all sides, I used a regular stapler to attach the fabric underneath. Because the staples come out easily, the "temporary" thing is still in play, though I suppose you could make it less temporary by gluing it under there or using a heavier stapler.

The whole thing took me about a half an hour (if that) and cost me nothing (I guess it cost me the fabric and staples, and almost a multi-purpose tool, but that was all stuff I had on hand.) And voila! A new look for "my" new "sewing table!"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think there is something shiny over there I need to be distracted by.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm just going to say it.

I don't care about the environment that much, unless doing something about it benefits me directly. This earth is not my home, and I don't need to go insane trying to conserve every single resource. However, I will do my part to recycle and eat things that are good for me. But not because it's trendy.

I think it's weird to breastfeed your kid until they're 5, but that doesn't mean I don't want to breastfeed my kid at all.

I don't like cats.

I don't take facebook seriously and I do clean house every so often for both my safety and sanity, but if I actually hurt a real person's feelings by unfriending them, I would apologize.

It is not my job to judge others. I do, however, have my own opinions about what is right or wrong, and I have a right to those opinions.

I think people who use bad spelling and grammar are lazy.

I think bad words are sometimes appropriate, though I usually choose not to use them because I'm intelligent enough to come up with 5+ letter-words to express my feelings.

I believe every word in the Bible is true. Whether it's politically correct or not.

I think that parents who refuse to discipline their kids are crappy parents.

I think that everyone - Christians, Muslims, Jews, gay, straight, black, white, purple - everyone has the right to say what they want, to believe what they want, and to worship what they want in America. I do not think that it is the government's job (or anyone else's job) to decide what is and what is not okay to say or think.

I think Taylor Swift is a fabulous song writer, and I do like her singing whether it's in tune or not.

I laugh at sexist jokes, and I'm not at all offended when a man jokingly tells me to "get back in the kitchen where I belong." I'm secure enough with my intelligence and competence as a woman to laugh at stereotypes. 

I'm inclined to believe (gasp) the Big Bang Theory and the views on an Old Earth. Because it doesn't really matter. Either way, God created the heavens and the earth. That's all I need to know, really.

It is not okay for wives to talk to their husbands disrespectfully (and vice versa). Even so, I still do it sometimes.

I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that there is only one way to get to heaven.

I don't care all that much about politics, and I'd really rather watch The Office than the news.

I believe killing people is wrong. And I believe babies are people as soon as they're conceived. I don't believe I have a right to choose to kill someone else just because they live inside my body.

So there.

Disagree? Good! This is America. You're allowed to. In fact, leave a comment about it!

Because even if you do, I think we can still be friends


Note - This post was inspired by Lindsay Ferrier over at Suburban Turmoil. She wrote an intelligent post the other day about why she thinks review posts and personal posts shouldn't mix. Evidently there was backlash from a bunch of other bloggers about her not being a team player because she disagreed with them. Boo. Hoo. Heaven forbid we don't all think alike. 

Good for you, Lindsay. Good for you. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Farewell, facebook friends

Finally! My favorite, familiar friends on Facebook are my only friends on Facebook. Flippin' Fabulous. Freakin' Fantastic!

Okay, enough alliteration. (For now.)

Yesterday, it was time to clean house again on Facebook. It's just something I do every so often. I ended up de-friending 50 Facebook "friends" that I don't actually "know." (And by "know" I mean really know or ever have the intention of talking to again. I technically "know" them, I guess.) Here's how the twittering went while I was cleaning house:
  1. If you were too popular to talk to me in high school, it's time to unfriend you.
  2. If your feed updates are always annoying or your profile pics always scary, it's time to unfriend you.
  3. If I have to click on your name or profile picture to figure out who you are, it's time to unfriend you.
  4. If you're friends with my husband, but we still haven't met, it's time to unfriend you.
  5. If I sat next to you in one class my freshmen year in college and haven't seen you since, it's time to unfriend you.
  6. If your new last name confuses me every time I see it on the feed, it's time to unfriend you.
  7. If I never liked you when I knew you in real life, it's time to unfriend you.
  8. If you're on my friends list & I don't remember if I know you from high school or college, it's time to unfriend you.
My guess is that these people I de-friended will never notice the difference. The truth is, these aren't real relationships. It's a waste of time. I could keep them as a tick mark on my "friend list," but that's all it would be. It's superficial. And I don't care for superficial things.

Do you think that's fair? Are you offended when people unfriend you? Do you even notice?

American Idol Idle

Update - We both did it! I can hardly believe we pulled it off.


I'm going to do it this year.

I'm going to try not to find out who won American Idol until Jack gets home and we can watch it together. You would think that since he gets home only a few hours after it airs that we could successfully stay in the dark until we have time to watch it on the DVR.

But it's harder than you think. It's. Everywhere.

Last year, I was in the grocery store when Idol was on, talking on the phone to my father-in-law. All of the sudden, I heard him say something to my mother-in-law.

"Oh, who won?" he asked her, casually. Just as it occured to me what he was asking, I heard her in the background.

"David Cook," she answered.

I dropped the can of green beans I was holding, dropped to my knees on the hard aisle floor, and raised my arms in anguish.


Actually, that last part didn't happen. But I can embellish because it's my blog. I was also sitting on a unicorn. So there.

But my father-in-law felt completely terrible about ruining it for me, so that made me feel better. I always like to make people feel terrible.

But this year... this year maybe I can pull it off. I just have to avoid the following:
  • Phone conversations with my in-laws, who watch things live like animals.
  • Text messages or calls from people who may be watching American Idol live anyone.
  • Listening to the radio.
  • Logging on to any kind of news website
  • Reading any blogs that are updated in my RSS feed reader after 7:30 p.m.
  • Logging on to twitter, where Matthew Turner will no doubt be giving us a clever play-by-play
  • Logging on to facebook, where anybody and everybody will announce the winner with their status changes
  • Logging on to myspace Like anybody ever does that anymore
  • Checking my e-mail, lest you people leave a comment to this post telling me who won
  • Going to the gym, with all the millions of TVs (Darn. Can't work out tonight. Waa.)
  • Going to a neighbor's house, where they will surely have it on in the background.
  • Going outside, where a neighbor may yell the name of the winner out of excitement as they skip down the street.
  • Eye contact with my dog, who may have a sixth sense about it and tell me who won with her eyes
There's probably something that I'm missing. I'm going to get told about it. But on the upside, I get to find out how the Amish live tonight.


Update: I got this e-mail from my brother this morning - 

I didn’t know it was hard not to find out who won… In fact, I still don’t know. Regardless – my one single goal of 2010 is to make sure you know who wins American Idol before you watch it. I don’t know how yet, but I will. Beware.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Husband, sweet husband

There's nothing like coming home after a long trip... a clean house...

...and a made bed (with a set of clean sheets!)...

...and a sweet note (and sweet chocolates!)...

...and a beautiful bouquet of flowers (see the super-cool vase? That's the answer to the picture riddle!)...

...and many loads of clean, folded, and put away laundry...

...and two Sunday papers (for coupons!)...

...and one happy (and fed!) dog... make one happy wife!!

What's that you say? I live in a fairy tale? Yes. Yes I do.

It's good to be home!!!

R.I.P. Chivalry?

Yesterday, after I landed in Dallas, I picked up my luggage and went outside to catch the shuttle back to the super-cheap remote parking at the airport. When I got on the bus, I realized that it was extremely packed. I placed my bag on top of one of one of the other many bags that cluttered the aisle of the bus and grabbed one of the potentially-swine-germ-covered poles and held on for dear life. As I looked around at the men and women who were sitting, I couldn't help but think one thing:

My husband would have stood up.

Now, just to clarify, I'm not offended when men don't give up their seat for me on a bus. It actually makes me feel a little awkward and guilty when they do. I also don't mind standing on a bus - I'm young and have relatively good balance, and heck, we burned our bras for this, right? Equal rights come with equal responsibility to stand on busses and open our own doors. I get that.

But that doesn't change the fact that I'm impressed by the gentlemen who still do it. Chivalrous men. I have never once been on a bus, subway train, or shuttle with Jack when he wasn't among the people standing if there weren't enough seats for everyone. It's not even an option for him. It's a reaction. A woman gets on the bus without enough seats, he stands up and insists that she sits. His dad is the same way, and in my opinion, they raised him right.

So what do you think, readers? Is this just a southern thing that you don't see anywhere else? The men I work with refuse to walk through doors before me most of the time, because they insist on holding the door for women. Jack always goes to my passenger car door first and puts me in the car before going to his own. Is it because they live in the south and it's what we do, or is it the way they were raised?

Ladies, does your husband hold doors and stand up when women do? If not, do you wish he did? Men, is it second-nature for you to do these things, or do you think equal rights mean that you're off the hook? Do you think chivalry is dead?

Monday, May 18, 2009

A picture riddle

So... what do you think it is? Leave a comment!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Boston: Day 1

So today's my first full day in Boston with my brother (Shane) and sister-in-law (Cassandra) and so far I'm having a grand time. This morning, Ajax, their 90-pound greyhound, rudely woke me up by jumping on me was my alarm clock this morning. I can't complain too much, though, because he just laid down and went to sleep again, which means that he's an alarm clock with a snooze button.

After we got ready, we headed to downtown Salem and ate at the New England Soup Factory for lunch, which was absolutely delicious.

After that, we came home to hang out with Ajax's dog walker, Angela, who brought her greyhound (Ajax's girlfriend, Raynah) to play with Ajax and a puppy she was walking/grooming named Jake. He's a little cocka-poo and he's so flippin' cute. Shane told her that she could groom him in their guest bathroom so she wouldn't have to go home to do it and so that Ajax got to spend a little more time with Raynah. After she was done, Angela asked Shane for a broom so she could clean up all Jake's black hair from the bathroom floor, but he told her he'd take care of it.

Later, when we were telling Cassandra (who had been at work all day) about Jake's haircut, she was like "Oh THAT'S what all the hair was! I didn't want to say anything because I thought it was something Mandy did. I couldn't figure out what she had been doing in there!" Ha. Hello, I'm Mandy. I go to others' houses and trim my hair off 2 inches at a time and leave it all over the floor, just to make you wonder.

After playing with Raynah and Jake, we headed back out to mini-Boston downtown Salem to take Ajax for a walk and do a little exploring. The mini-Boston thing is true, though. They have a red line going along the sidewalks (a mini-Freedom trail), a mini-U.S. Constitution (actually the "Friendship"), a mini-Boston Common (Salem Common), and a mini-Boston Beer Works (Salem Beer Works). It's kind of funny. Who needs Boston when you can have mini-Boston plus witch museums?

On our walk to the Salem Common, we saw this guy:

Don't even try to tell me that's not Hurley from LOST. You know it is. Who knew he lived in Salem and has a golden retriever?

After the walk, we went to Dairy Queen, where I waited in a very long line for our Blizzards because it was such a "hot" day, according to the woman behind me in line (it was 70 degrees!). We ate them while we unfortunately listened to a group of very loud, not-very-intelligent women talk about possible reasons they were having trouble losing weight, including colon issues, siliac, and the fact that they haven't had any surgeries that have prevented them from eating for a few days like their friend had ("Gosh, wouldn't that be great! I'll bet I'd lose weight really easily if that happened! Ahhahahaha!!")

Here's a thought ladies - you're at Dairy Queen. I'm guessing the Blizzard you're eating as you ponder why you can't lose weight is doing just about as many favors for your flabby stomach as my Blizzard is doing for mine. Let's either make peace with that or choose not to eat the Blizzard, kay?

On our way home, we saw a Burker King marquee sign fail:

Yes, everyone. Get your "Start Trek" glasses!

Not much else is worth mentioning, except that 1) we ate at a Brazillian BBQ (read: unlimited meat) place for dinner (yum), and 2) There's a place called "Bunghole Liquors" here that always makes me wonder whether they just thought that name was funny, or it's just an unfortunate family name and there's somebody out there named Todd Bunghole.

Based on their website that I just found, I'd say it's the former.

Update: Looks like there's a good reason for it after all.

There's a colorful history to the original Bunghole Liquor store in bewitching Salem, Massachusetts. You see, the Bunghole used to be a funeral home. And during Prohibition the owner and his buddies, like many others at that time, used a slang word to refer to their secret drinking spot in the basement. The slang term they used was "bunghole," as in "Psst, meet you tonight at the bunghole."

A "bunghole" is simply the hole in a cask or barrel.

Read the entire history here.

Oh yeah, and by the way, I'm going to the Celtics' Game 7 on Sunday night. The plan had been to leave on Sunday morning, but I decided it would be worth the extra fee to book a different flight to see an actual playoff game this year. It might be my only chance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Love: a temporary insanity, curable by marriage

I'm not naive. I know the happiness is supposed to end sometime. You know, the actually wanting to be around each other. The butterflies, the laughing until you cry, the dates. Why else would there be so many jokes about how terrible marriage can be? I knew we would have to learn to live with each other without the "in love" feeling. The happiness would wear off.

So when we'd been married about 3 months, I braced myself. We're all settled in now, so the "newness" was wearing off. Maybe it would end then.

But instead I came home to find a super-nice little note from Jack that made me feel warm and fuzzy.

Maybe the day-to-day stuff would get to us, and we would be upset that we made a gross mistake with our toothbrushes, and get into a fight. 

Instead, we laughed about that and the other little stupid things that happen to us.

And I'm sure the little romantic things end in the first six months, right?

Except they didn't.

Maybe when we buy the house, I thought. That's when we'd become unhappy. Financial problems are a big deal in marriage, and perhaps the strain of being responsible for a mortgage would do the trick.

Instead, we set up a plan to save our money and buy things a little at a time, reinforcing what I knew about Jack before we were married: he is an incredible head of our household and I feel completely taken care of knowing that he's in control of our finances. 

Okay, I knew what would do it. It's when we started fixing up the house together. Everybody says home repair and renovation will test any relationship. 

And maybe it would have while we peeled the seemingly endless wallpaper off our master bathroom wall... if we could have stopped laughing that we were singing so loudly and so badly to the radio that surely the neighbors would call the police soon.

Except that he didn't. A year had gone by, and he even went as far as rewarding that sort of behavior.

Getting super-busy with life might do it, I thought. Our house is a mess! I basically live out of laundry baskets full of clean clothes and our living room is cluttered with coupons to clip, bridal shower invites to respond to, and bills to pay. Surely now we'll feel the pressure of life and start getting on each others' nerves. 

But, for some reason, instead of that, we're whispering  to each other and giggling late in the night when we go to bed on the weekends, like kids at a sleepover. And we're getting up on Friday mornings off together and laughing until we cry as we wrestle around on the floor with Maggie in our pajamas. And he's saying things so funny that I have to pick up my phone and twitter them right then. And we are happy

For now.

But I know better. You can't fool me. Nobody stays this happy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice. Ugh.

I’m getting seriously sick of Donald Trump and his idiotic producers and his idiotic show. 

We finally watched the Celebrity Apprentice finale last night. What a waste of three hours.

Last year he picked jerk-face Piers Morgan over played-the-game-with-so-much-integrity-he-should-be-in-the -hall-of-fame Trace Adkins. And now… Joan freaking Rivers.

Annie was obviously the better player in every way. Every. Way. Plus she wasn’t some spoiled brat who verbally assaulted others (in what was supposed to be a “professional” situation. HA!).

Joan Rivers. What a horrible woman. Anything for ratings, I guess.

Go make a donation to Refugees International. Annie deserves it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blog Tip of the day - Subscribing to only a certain category in your reader

Note: If you don't know what RSS Feeds or RSS readers are, check out this post by Tip Junkie and it will help you figure it out!


Okay, so this isn't a blog design tip, and the instructions here for wordpress blogs and here for blogger blogs (so I'm not actually giving you any new information), but I thought I'd tell you about this in case you may find it useful like I do.

The reason I was looking for category-specific feeds is because of my new venture in couponing. I love the blogs that help me out, but some of them have stores that I don't have in my area, like Rite Aide or Publix. 

If I really just want to get an update on Kroger's deals every week from Southern Savers, I can just subscribe to their Kroger category feed in my RSS Reader and I don't have to sort through the rest! Awesome! 

If you only read my blog for my crafting entries, you can do the same thing with my "crafting" category feed. Not that I want you not to read every single entry I write, but if you don't read them anyway, why should you have to sort them yourself? 

You can also do this with blogs with multiple authors!

Hope that helps you!

Couponing - the first month

Total money we spent in April on groceries:

We budget $300. In case you're not doing the math, that's only 61% of our budget. And I think I can do even better than that next month. In addition, I bought a bunch of items we didn't really need right then, because they were on sale and we were beginning our stockpiling.

This month, I gave the whole "couponing" thing a shot. I didn't really think it was worth it until my friend Tiffany started posting about all the amazing deals and free stuff she was getting doing it, so I decided to give it a try too, not expecting much.

It's been really great, actually. 

Long gone are the days of going to the grocery store and paying $150 or $200 for one trip a month. Now, I go to a few stores a week and spend about $10 each time for a lot more stuff than I was getting for my $10 before. I'm really actually enjoying playing this game!

Sure, the cutting and organizing the coupons is quite a bit of work, but having the blogs and websites we have these days have made it almost effortless to find the right deal with the right coupon.

My favorites are (in order of how much I like them) Southern Savers (for Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens), Couponing 101, (for Tom Thumb, Brookshires, and Albertson's), and Craving the Savings (Sprouts and Market Street). 

Coupon Tom also has a searchable database of coupons, which comes in really handy. 

Southern Savers also has a basic price list of what you should be paying for stuff with coupons (varies some based on region), which has proved very helpful for me!

It's become kind of a game to me now; I got 12 reams of paper for $4 at Staples. I got 12 items at Kroger and was paid $3.66 for it. I've gotten a bunch of free stuff (shaving cream, asprin, etc.) at CVS with their Extra Care Bucks (ECB) program. The only downside is kicking myself when I pay too much for something.

Give it a shot! You just might like it!