Sunday, November 30, 2008

diy spa.

A few weeks ago I went to a spa party, which is basically just an exercise in making me feel bad about not taking care of my skin properly while trying to get me to buy expensive lotions. The first goal worked really well, the second one, not so much. I figured, why spend so much money on a face mask made with volcanic ash when I can make my own using food from my kitchen?

I started on this site which has a bunch of suggestions with yogurt and honey, because I pretty much always have those. I tried a face mask first.

Moisturizing Mask

- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1-2 tablespoons oatmeal, cooked and cool (or, just add water to dry oats at about a 2-1 ratio if you don't feel like cooking it)

Mix together and put it on your face, yo. Be careful not to drip oatmeal all over your house. Also, it's really tasty but maybe don't eat it off your face. Rinse off after 10-15 minutes.

Then there were my hands. Lately they've been feeling like awful sandpaper and nothing really helped. So I clicked on the first google hit and found this recipe:

Oatmeal Hand Scrub

- 2 tablespoons oatmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix together, rub it on your hands, then wash off and moisturize. You probably don't want to eat this one, unless you really like oatmeal and salad dressing.

The verdicts? Who knows how well they really worked, but my hands and face feel nicer, I think. And I didn't have to spend a ton of money on it, throw away unnecessary packaging, or kill baby seals with exfoliating things! Hooray!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

the panda.

So, my friend Joel likes pandas. He likes them so much that he once had people call in and leave voicemails asking questions of a panda. Then he wrote little songs based from the perspective of the panda. Joel makes funny songs. You should listen to them!

Anyway, a long time ago Joel commissioned me to turn his stuffed panda into a puppet. I said, sure! And then he went and traveled around the world so I got lazy and put the panda on the shelf. (Really, this was necessary, because if not shelved my kitty would start attacking it.) Then something totally unexpected happened, he CAME BACK. Well, it was expected, it just came up faster than I thought. (By the way, Joel takes really nice pictures. You should look at them!)

The sum of this story is that I finally made the panda into a puppet. It wasn't super tricky, but it could still be improved and I might try to fix it some more. Also, it needs fashion accessories. I know, you just want to see the puppet, right? FINE HERE IS A VIDEO.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ramsey hill.

[Editor's note: we found this draft from the summer and decided to include it since the writer could think of no other suitable content.]

Four years ago, I had just graduated from college and moved back to the Cities. It was a big time for me - graduating, starting grad school, and also getting my very first car. I was ambitious with my first vehicle and decided I was okay with a manual transmission. So there was another first - learning to drive a stick shift.

While learning to drive a stick was a somewhat harrowing experience in and of itself, I soldiered through and was doing pretty well after a few weeks. Except I was deathly afraid of hills. I would make mental notes of hills while driving, so I could avoid them in the future. (Oddly, I do a similar thing now, but with possible bike routes instead.)

One night, I was driving to meet up with some friends who lived near Dale and Grand. This was back when my geographical knowledge of both St. Paul and Minneapolis was pretty poor. (Hey, I grew up in the suburbs! I hadn't lived there for four years!) I was looking for parking and couldn't find any - I was probably scared of parallel parking at the time too - so I ended up driving down Grand to...well, I didn't know where. I was lost and needed to find my way back. At the first light, I took a left and started driving up Ramsey Hill.

Ramsey Hill, the shortcut between highland and low land, and one of the few hills in the the Twin Cities that rivals the hundreds of hills in San Francisco or Seattle. So in reality, really not a huge deal.

But I was a new stick shift driver, and I was terrified. I chugged up in second gear, thinking to myself that this was the biggest hill IN THE WORLD, psyching myself out for what could be at the top. A stop sign? A light? Perhaps it just levels out with no forced stops! But I knew I could only be so lucky.

At the top is a three way stop. By the time I got there I knew I couldn't worry about turns, I had to go the direction that would get me farthest up the hill. I don't really remember everything at this point - I know I stalled first, and then to compensate I revved into oblivion to take a right, causing a faint burning smell.

Thoroughly freaked out and probably shaking then, I took a right at the first possible street to get my bearings together. After calling my friends, I knew where I needed to go, I just needed to turn around. Only I was on...another hill. Smaller, but still a hill. Somehow in the process of turning myself around, not wanting to back down the hill of course, I found my car completely perpendicular and blocking the entire dead end street. This wouldn't normally be a problem, except that I couldn't seem to drive forward, instead I would only slip backward. Commence more freaking out. I took some deep breaths, moved the gear shift around, and well wouldn't you know, I was in neutral.

After that near anxiety attack experience, it took at least a year to get over my fear of hills, and I also vowed to never drive on Ramsey Hill again. Until one night last summer. Because of construction and road closings everywhere, I ended up driving home on W. 7th St. Although there were many other routes to take, I decided to face my fear and take the shortcut up Ramsey Hill, now a familiar fixture in my neighborhood.

[Editor's note: this is where it stopped before.] To sum up a very long story, I drove up the tallest hill ever and it wasn't bad at all. To think, for YEARS I've been afraid of that thing! Now I can conquer it!

[Editor's note: As of press time, the writer has still only driven up Ramsey Hill twice.]

Monday, November 24, 2008

on why i blog.

I used to write a lot more. College was a happening time. I had a column for a year in one of the student daily newspapers, and later I wrote reviews and such for a music magazine. I had a purpose, and I had an audience. This doesn't even include the many papers I had to churn out for classes, which were often a source of pride as well. (Best moment: when my hot philosophy TA thought my paper on exploitation was so good that he wanted a copy of it, talk about academic swooning. And yes, I totally went to office hours just to see him.)

And in the past seven years or so, I don't think there's been a time where I haven't had some outlet on the internet for writing. Even this blog has been around for three years or so, though I think it took a year and a half or more to get used to the idea of telling people about it.

Still, I often wonder why it is exactly that I keep up with this thing. When everyone and their mom can have a blog, when adding to the internet pollution sometimes seems at its best, self-indulgent, why continue? I would say that I write this for me, but that can't be entirely true. I write far too self-consciously in this space for it to be purely for me. I am constantly aware of the dangers of blogging, of putting myself out there on the internet for anyone to find, and I think my writing often suffers as a result. I stick with the safe topics like food and crafts. Even with my safe topics, I don't feel as though I've found a niche, and I'm still unsure of who my audience is.

Wow, that's quite enough introspective rambling for now. This is mostly motivated by my friend Sarah, who called and informed that she really enjoys this blogging (mostly) everyday thing, which made me happy and also blew me away because I tend to forget that people read this. So, like...if you read this on a semi-regular basis but never comment or tell me in any other way, I would totally love to know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

how to save a sweater.

I have this sweater. It's brown, supposedly made of cashmere (though I'm wary of that), and I got it for a dollar or so at a church sale. It's a nice sweater, though I never wear it. The collar is too thick, and the fit is not quite right, but I kept it around. Now it has been saved and improved, thanks to this super easy tutorial on how to reconstruct a sweater.

I didn't take a before picture, but here it is!

sweater re-construction

It might be my new favorite thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

things i generally don't do.

I was reading this New York Times article about what Happy People Don't Do, and guess what it is? They don't watch TV. And I thought, hey, that's me! Usually happy and not watching TV! So in keeping with that, a list.

Things I Don't Generally Do

- watch TV
- eat processed foods
- cook meat at home
- throw up, ever
- push-ups in any way that could actually be considered a push-up
- read comic books
- watch Star Wars
- buy CDs (anymore, anyway)

That's all I got for now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

on planners and cycles.

I used to have three planners, and they looked like this:

1. School Agenda Book - Extremely important, but also highly work based. It has things like days off, meetings, and lesson plans. It's so valuable I even keep the previous year's version around for ideas.

2. Google Calendar
- Fancy and digital! In this I note days off, some meetings, appointments, and certain very important social events (usually far off in the future, like weddings).

3. Personal Planner
- A small thing, I used it to write days off, certain meetings, appointments, and also cryptic markings that designated my menstrual cycles.

After a while genius me thought, why are you writing the same things in multiple planners? Streamline! And I toyed with this idea for a while until I remembered a site I had seen this menstruation tracking website, mon.thly info. And that solved the whole But how will I know when my period is coming? problem. I like this place: it's pretty and pink and it keeps track of lady business way better than pen and paper can, with standard deviations, predicted ovulation dates and lots of other cool stats. [Note: all of these stats are useless if you're on the pill or the ring or anything else, which makes me sad.] In fact, it's so great that I'm upset that my quick stint on birth control completely ruined my cycles and averages. But hey, I'm not pregnant.

Anyway, long story short: natural hormones are pretty neat. Digital planners are nice. And if you take my work agenda book away from me, I will cry (possibly more when I'm hormonal).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


[Now back to regularly scheduled programming - the post I was going to write last night, but was too full of rage to do so.]

Stuffing is one of my most favorite foods that I only eat for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, since the only way I've made it myself is with Stove Top. But no more! Now I shall conquer the world with stuffing whenever I please! (And whenever I have extra bread, which I may need to buy more often.) Oh, you say you want to know too? OKAY!

stuffed pumpkin

1. Make the Croutons

I used about 6 slices of getting old wheat bread, cut them up into large crouton pieces, drizzled with olive oil (with salt, pepper, and garlic) and baked in the oven at 400 degrees. I don't remember the exact time, but until they're brownish and crisp. (20 minutes or so?)

2. Prepare Your Stuffing Holder

For me, this was emptying out the cavity of a large pumpkin I bought mostly for decoration. I've heard any type of squash works, or really any vegetable that can be stuffed. Or hell, put it in a glass baking dish. That works too. Or, I guess a dead animal, though that freaks me out.

3. Add Stuff To Your Stuffing

I sauteed onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, and celery in olive oil first. Then I mixed this in with the croutons, along with 1/2 cup or so of water (stock would also be good), some more olive oil, and some shredded parmesan cheese. I hear there are many other delicious things to add...such as fresh herbs, chopped nuts, or even chopped fruit? You can go crazy here.

4. Put The Stuffing In The Stuffing Holder And Bake!

In this case, into the pumpkin it went (and fit perfectly, imagine my luck), and then into the oven (@325, but later hotter because of my impatience) for a reallllly long time because it was a big pumpkin. The good news is the stuffing turned out delicious. The bad news is that the pumpkin was a bit bland. So maybe oil that veggie cavity before you stuff.

5. Eat

Um, duh. Did I mention I like how often this post has "stuff" and "stuffing" in it? Nice.

Monday, November 17, 2008

what's wrong is right, or something.

I usually try to make this blog a happy place about babies and mittens and baked goods, but today is tough. I'll attempt to balance it out, though.

Just A Few Things That Are Wrong With The World

1. Laundry. Hi, if you live in an apartment building with two washers and dryers and have two or more loads of laundry to do, AND you are well aware there are people waiting behind you, you had better well get to your shit in a timely manner. (Brought my huge basket down at 6, estimated arrival of clean, dry laundry? Oh, 11? 12?)
2. I can't transfer anything onto my external hard drive unless I erase it all or dump it somewhere else since I used it on a PC first and I'm a very sheltered mac user. Oh, also, I only have 1.6 GB of space on my iBook.
3. Schools in the Twin Cities are more segregated than ever, over fifty years since Brown v. Board of Education.
4. Since we're speaking of the world, I don't like this tilt business and the winter darkness it creates.

Just A Few Things That Are Right With The World
1. When you leave your lock in the locker room, a nice person might put it in the lost and found.
2. I forgot about the fundraiser cookie dough in the freezer. That just about saved me.
3. Homemade stuffing baked in a pumpkin, made from homemade croutons. MMM.
4. Further laundry complications have led me to only think of three things.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

happy birthday.

Dear Mia,

You were born a little over a year ago, a tiny cute ball of wonder who slept through the entirety of my hospital visit. I was in awe of you, even though looking back, during those first few months you were pretty boring.

But as every month went by you grew up a little and learned a little more. You started to recognize me and smile when you saw me, or even cry when I left (aw). You learned to to stand, to sit, to play the piano, to babble, to crawl, to point, and to dance and stomp your feet to the most unlikely of songs. Watching you change bit by bit every time I see you has been a joy.

I can't wait to see you grow up and talk and become the smartest little lady there ever is.

Auntie E

(This is my favorite picture of us.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

one time i tried to write a song.

I was in college, I had a wealth of file-sharing services available to me, and I was just getting into indie music. This is what happens under those circumstances:

1. You want to be in an indie rock band yourself


2. You want to date someone in a band, though not necessarily a good one

So, I bought a cheap electric guitar from my brother's friend, put some stickers on it so it spelled out my name and glowed in the dark, and learned some chords. Even though my I could never seem to fit my hands around the neck quite right, I still learned a few tunes - mostly along the lines of Liz Phair, That Dog, and Elliott Smith.

And of course, if I was going to fulfill my rock band dream, I better start writing. So I wrote a song. Now, I was listening to a LOT of Go Sailor at this time. (Think twee. Very twee. Example.) Therefore, my song ended up being an extremely twee ditty with no more than three chords, with lyrics about having the same shoes (hello, converse!) as a boy and dreams of doing cutesy stuff with said boy (while wearing said shoes, of course). No, I don't think the song was based off of any real boy but rather a fictitious version of the perfect boy for me.

No one ever heard this song except maybe the kids who had dorm rooms next to mine. And it shall stay that way forever. I don't even know where that guitar went, honestly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

to run or not to run.

Some friends brought up the possibility of running Grandma's Marathon in June. I am totally on the fence on this one. So, I'm making more lists.

Reasons to run a marathon:
- Bragging rights.
- Ability to eat whatever I want, I mean we're talking ice cream and chocolate every day without guilt.
- I've already done it, so I know I can.
- It is pretty empowering and all that.
- If I train in the winter/spring I won't be ruining my summer with training.
- I have a lot of trouble staying up past 11 on Friday nights anyway, so why NOT run an insane amount on Saturday mornings?

Reasons not to run a marathon:
- Been there, done that.
- Such a huge stressful time commitment.
- The last time I trained and worked at the same time, all I did was run, work, and eat.
- Uhh, it's hard and stuff.

Crap there are totally more reasons in the pro column. This was not my goal!

Monday, November 10, 2008

probably the only time i will discuss economics at length.

Analysis of the Sub-Prime Economic Meltdown and the Resulting Effect on World Markets™, as requested by Tim.

Dear Readers, I know in these times where people are throwing economic type words around left and right, well, things can get a little confusing. That's why I have been solicited to explain it to you.

You see, the people, they want houses. They want houses with bedrooms and backyards for the kiddies to run around in. They are sick of throwing their money away on an apartment with paper thin walls and water damage! And they also hear that building equity is a good thing, whatever that is. But what about the money? That's okay, house-desiring friends! Mr. Sub-Prime Mortgage Man is here to help!

Sub-Prime, you say..what's that? Don't you know your prefixes at all? It means below prime. That doesn't help either? Okay, I'm going to quote a former student on this one.

Teacher, I think...not good.

Yes, exactly. Not good indeed. So here we are, the happy new homeowners with their not good mortgage. This is where the World Markets™ come in. No, not the Japanese Stock Market they keep talking about on NPR. Cost Plus World Market! Proud seller of "unique, authentic, and affordable" household goods. Also, imported wines and foods at low low prices.

Obviously, the new homeowners need to decorate. This is good for World Markets™, and it's also good for the homeowners since they may embellish their abode with worldly goods at lower prices than Pier 1. Everyone is happy. The homeowners are happy, World Markets™ are happy, and the not good mortgage provider is happy.

Then a bunch of stuff happens, but it's really way too complicated to get into here. IN SUM: The happy homeowners can no longer pay their not good mortgage. This makes the mortgage man sad. Furthermore, it makes the World Markets™ really sad because if the happy sad homeowners aren't going to buy these elephant bookends, then WHO WILL?

Don't cry, little elephants. Someday you will be loved.

This is where we're at now. The not good mortgage dudes are feeling sad, but we don't really feel too sorry for them. The homeowners are desperately trying to sell their worldly household wares on ebay. As for the World Markets™, they are having a giant sale on everything. With an extra 10% off anything elephant related.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

how i like my eggs.

- with fully cooked yolks.
- in a sandwich, with cheese and meat.
- scrambled, with a little milk mixed in, and not overcooked.
- not cold, unless they're hard boiled.
- hard boiled, and still a little warm.
- in quiche, with pretty much anything.
- in an omelet, but probably only one I make myself.

(Dear readers, would it be possible for you to think of silly short essay assignments for me? PLEASE?! I'll make you eggs.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

bring it on, cold weather.

A long while ago, probably when Spring was just about to start, I was at the thrift store and spotted a sweater. It was striped with loads of colors, so many colors it was almost obnoxious, but if there are only two things for which I am a sucker (and trust me, there are way more than two), they are stripes and bright colors. Here, why don't I just show you:

sweater before

A little much, yes? (If you recognize it, it's definitely one of the holiday sweaters from the Gap a few years ago.) I knew I probably wouldn't wear it, and it was also too small. Shrunken, in fact. In the crafting world this is known as felting, and most crafters spend their hard earned quarters washing and drying old sweaters to shrink the wool, which then makes it suitable for a wide range of projects. I looked at the shrunken sweater and thought, Wow, I won't even have to deal with that! And thus, I bought it immediately.

Months went by, and it was warm outside, and the sweater sat in my closet. Then today hit with its cold and wind and I was annoyed. And cold. And sick of having all my cheaply made gloves and mittens fall apart. So, I cut up that sweater and made mittens. Then I said, hey, there's still a lot of sweater left! I cut off the sleeves and made a scarf to match.

mittens and scarf

(This is the place where I would give you a tutorial but there are many on the nets. Here is one. Here's another.)

Oh hey, recognize that coat? Yes, I done bought it. It is the most expensive article of clothing I have ever purchased, but I just consider myself a small (and fashionable) hero for the economy. And now with my new colored accessories, I am so ready for winter. I think. Ask me in December.

Friday, November 07, 2008

dear michelle obama.

Hey Lady Michelle,

Can we talk about hope? Because I have a lot of hope in you as the new first lady. I hope that you will become the next presidential style icon, the next Jackie O.

Thank you for wearing this in my town - I love the color, and the necklace. It is a totally classic look that suits you perfectly.

Even in pants (jeans?) you still look classy, in a new Americana way. I look at you and I can't help but think of Jackie, who was an icon herself.

Now, I haven't enjoyed every fashion choice you've made, but there's enough goodness in there that I have good feelings about this. I hope you stay with the bright colors, and stay away from the pants suits of first ladies past. And I can't wait to see your inauguration gown.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

bulldog - lowertown.

I knew I didn't want to be alone in my apartment on election night - I would have been way too jittery, incessantly clicking refresh on news sites, and mostly just going a little nutty. So the best option was to get out with a friend and have some beers.

After some deliberation Stephanie and I decided to head to the new Bulldog in Lowertown. Here's how to make a bar in downtown St. Paul viable: have a built-in and trusted clientele who are already friendly with your locations in that other city across the river. When we got there, there were maybe four empty chairs in the only place. It hasn't even been open a week! They had lots of flat screen TVs, a nice beer list, TATER TOTS, and a whole lot of 90s music. Actually, that was almost weird. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love 90s music...but we're watching the 2008 election on mute while listening to the Counting Crows and the Gin Blossoms? My only complaint is that at one point they changed one of the TVs to a hockey game. Hello, elections come only every four years! People play hockey everyday or something.

So there's my initial review of the new Bulldog. Ladies and gentleman, we do have hope - hope for some semblance of nightlife downtown.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

hopes and dreams.

Eight years ago I was a freshman in college. My roommate and I were up watching CNN freaking out over results. I remember talking to people online and going over how Florida was all that mattered anymore. It was late. They called it for Bush. I don't remember our exact reactions throughout the dorm, but they weren't good. We went to bed exhausted and full of disgust. The next morning we woke up to a world of confusion.

Four years ago I was in grad school, and somehow my memories of election day are not as clear. It seemed a lot less hopeful, as Bush was an imcumbent, and Kerry just wasn't that inspiring. All I distinctly remember is wondering how so many people thought Kerry shouldn't secede when Bush clearly had a majority of the vote. And even though this was hugely disappointing, I think it fit my image of Americans at the time - so it all made sense in a cruel way.

Today I have hope. Not too much. But I do have a good feeling that isn't based so much on electoral maps. I hope it isn't crushed.

Monday, November 03, 2008

today's fashion and food tips.

-Do wear that entirely cute but completely unforgiving pencil skirt to your friend's birthday party, especially when he requests formal attire (as that is his way). Do pair it with a cardigan, scarf, and and contrasting belt.
-Do not, while wearing said skirt, order a plate of cheese and meat, AND potatoes au gratin, AND beer unless you're comfortable with feeling bloated for the rest of the night. (I believe the verdict was: grimly decadent.) Really, cheese on top of cheese with beer on the side? With that cinched waistband that has nowhere to go? What were you thinking?

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Okay okay, it's not really a secret that I adore soup. In fact, I almost bought a soup cookbook today. One of my favorite Sunday night things to do is to make a giant pot of soup. For a while, I've used this guide as my recipe for veggie soup. I'm going to summarize here, along with my changes.

1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil or butter. (For a while I wasn't doing this, and it always needed more flavor. This helps.)

2. Add water (8 cups) and bouillon cubes.

3. Add beans (I use lentils) and rice (I use brown).

4. Add herbs and spices (unfortunately I tend to use dried since it's what I have on hand most easily). Also, a parmesan rind if you have one! Yum.

5. Let this heat up while cutting a bunch of other veggies. (My favorites: parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots.)

6. Add the veggies and simmer simmer simmer.

7. Eat! (And eat. And eat. For lunch! Just bring a glass bowl for the microwave.)

In other news, I have not yet registered My guess is there are probably enough soup oriented blogs out there.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

one time i tried to write a novel.

It's November, which is when National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is attempted by writers all around the world! Now, I wouldn't even call myself a writer, but I've always liked the idea.

What's the problem? I really don't know how to write fiction at all. My one attempt (seven years ago?) was laughably a memoir, with additional little fantasies I would want to happen in my real life. (Such as meeting a boy in a record store, and the like.) And on top of the hideous non-fictioness of it, I barely even finished!

So instead I've decided to declare November as the month where I try to post to this blog every day. (I will apologize upfront, dear readers.) This is also known as NaBloPoMo, but on this site it appears that EVERY month is a good one to update every day. Isn't that just an exercise in which to be thoroughly annoying? I mean, if you attempt to write a novel nobody has to read it.

Anyway. That's my intro for the month, and I will try not to pollute your feed readers with too much trivial stuff. Alright, time for this BLOG PARTY to get started!

(In other news, it's 9pm on a Saturday so I should really be out. Woo.)