Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Birchbox!

My very first Birchbox came today. Well, it probably came many days ago, but we got the mail from the post office today, which happens maybe twice a month, so I got my first Birchbox, all my bills, and a package from Aerie, too.

It looked fancy. I mean, that box is PRETTY.

And it turns out, that wasn't even the real box. Somebody's getting a hand-knitted baby sweater in this fancy box. I mean, it is even LINED with pretty striped paper. This is a fancy box, meant for fancy things.

And inside, it was even more fancy. There was a little postcard announcing that it is March and that Spring things are contained within the box.

And on the other side, there was a list of everything inside the box PLUS instructions on how to use everything! That is good because I am clueless. And then I opened the tissue paper and saw...

Pretty things! There was TEA from Mighty Leaf (Organic Earl Grey, Chamomile, and Green Tea Tropical) and the pillow box has a piece of Ghirardelli Cherry Tango Square (yummy chocolate). Tea and chocolate being the fastest way to reach my heart.

There was also Agave Healing Oil Treatment, Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion, Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum. PLUS, there was a tiny theBalm How 'Bout Them Apples Cheek & Lip Cream sample in "Pie." It's a lovely shade that seems to work well with my incredibly pale skin.

The Gilchrist & Soames lotion has a lovely scent that I am miraculously not allergic to, which is awesome.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Learning to Sew, Part Four: It Doesn't Have to Be Pretty

I had some free time on Sunday afternoon, so I spent some quality time with the sewing machine again.

I'm discovering that there's a trick to cutting out fabric. A trick I have yet to learn. Or, well, I learned it, but only after I cut out the fabric for my second drawstring bag. Here it is: Measure out what you need. Say, 17" length. When you've measured out your 17", put your ruler down so that it covers the part of the fabric you want to use. This leaves the waste fabric uncovered by the ruler, so if your rotary cutter doesn't stay as close to the ruler as you want, you're not messing up the good fabric, you're messing up what would have been scrap anyway.

photo by designsbykari via Flickr, modified by me
Seems simple, but it took me two completed projects to figure it out. Imagine that, using the ruler to protect the fabric you want to use for your project! Shocking.

Anyway. I cut out the fabric for bag #2, badly because of the rotary cutter thing and also because I didn't pay much attention to the numbers on my mat and therefore cut everything 1" shorter than I ought to have. This made an accidentally sized-down pattern, but since it was a bag, it did not matter.

When my pieces were cut out, I sat down at the machine (which Mum had fixed in about five seconds). And then I began to sew.

I quickly discovered that there is a right direction to put pins in fabric and a wrong direction to put pins in fabric. The wrong direction is when the head of the pin is facing the machine and not you. Why is that wrong? Because if the pin is facing the sewing machine, and you sew up to the pin, you'll have a heck of a time removing the pin without first lifting the needle and the foot. Also you stab yourself. But you would have done that anyway. I certainly did.

It's also important to not remove the pins too soon. And to make sure you're smoothing the fabric so that it doesn't bunch. And that you make sure you're sewing in a straight line by guiding your fabric as it goes into the machine.

Do you want to guess how many of those things I actually did?

Another important tip: Did you know that you can turn a sharp corner without stopping, lifting the needle and foot, rotating the project, lowering the foot and needle again, and then continuing? You CAN. All you have to do is lift the FOOT and leave the needle in place. That gives you a SHARP corner.*

And if you're me, and you decide you can make a curve instead of a corner, it is a good idea to plot out the curve and go slowly so you have two curved edges that are the same. Otherwise, you have a Franken-bag, and it is asymmetrical and bizarre. But that's fine.

When I was finished sewing the edges and making the French seams, I sewed around the top edge. I tried to do this in a continuous line. That did not work so well. The back-stitched part of that edge looks more like a "z" than a line. I am calling this an artistic choice.

I finished the first bag and then went back to the one I'd hand-sewed. I then stitched over everything with the machine so I could have more practice with the machine.

Here is a sucky picture of both bags. And my laptop. This is visual evidence that bags were sewn.

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My next project is an apron. The pieces have been cut (with help, so they're the proper size and shape), and sewing will commence soon. If I'm lucky, the apron will look like an apron and be usable. That's all I can hope for at this point.

* By "sharp" I mean you find a way to accidentally stab yourself with a straight pin again. Because you will.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Learning to Sew, Part Three: Ignoring the Problem

An important part of sewing things is ignoring the sewing machine altogether. I'm proud to report that I am highly advanced in this particular facet of sewing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Learning to Sew, Part Two: Assessing the Situation

Yesterday, I looked at the sewing machine again and again as I walked past it. I must have looked at that thing 20 times. Maybe more. PROBABLY more.

It just sat there, probably still slightly disassembled. It did not put itself back together.

I finished hand-sewing the French seam while watching a deplorable show I found on Netflix called Breaking Amish. I made it through half of one episode.*

Now I have to sew along the top to finish off the tube that the cord will go through, and the drawstring bag will be finished. Then I will iron it and stare at it for a while. Then I will move on with life. Hopefully to this project, which I have fabric for already. I have washed said fabric, and I have the thread. I have to cut it out and stitch it together, and I think I can do that tonight. We'll see.

Then I will have a snazzy apron to wear while I am making this for dinner, sometime this weekend. Probably Sunday. Maybe earlier.

That apron will never get done fast enough for me to wear it while making that. Never.

You can't hear it, but I am sighing loudly.

* I could not believe it. Here are young people, curious about the outside world, encouraged by TV producers to go off and experience life, all while all parties involved mean that there is no way any of them can ever go home again. Is the TV show going to fund an education, help them find work outside of their community, give them the counseling they'll need after everyone who has ever loved them suddenly refuses to see or speak to them? No. It is an awful show.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Learning to Sew, Part One: Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine

Fabric in hand, I approached the machine. It sat in a cabinet, nestled in a cocoon of pattern bits and fabric scraps. I carefully reached out and picked it up by the handle, gingerly moving it to my table. I plugged in its foot. I clicked on its power switch.

Its light flashed on, illuminating the surface of the antique Singer sewing table. It seemed to stare at me, and I stared back.

I had a small drawstring bag. I had begun sewing the bag by hand. I thought I would finish the French seams on the machine, because the hand-sewing needle had stabbed me in the finger that morning. I had not forgiven the needle. I still have not forgiven the needle.

It was threaded already, with the wrong color. I needed to wind the bobbin. First, the bobbin would not turn. Then I convinced it to wind, but it began winding madly and unevenly. This happened two more times, before Mum came around the corner, explained that the bobbin did not go up and down, and showed me how to guide the thread myself.

That worked.

It had been 45 minutes at the machine before I succeeded in winding the bobbin and Mum threaded the machine. Don't you judge me. She took pity on me and knew that I would never accomplish anything without her help. She put the bobbin in the bottom drawer-ish place. I advanced the needle and it picked up the thread from the bobbin. I advanced the needle WRONG, but it still caught the thread. This was victory.

I put fabric under the foot and lowered the needle (correctly). I then stitched a nice straight line right down the side of the bag, exactly where I wanted it to go.

This was some crazy kind of victory. 

I lifted the foot, pulled the fabric out a bit and cut the thread. Then I flipped over the bag. And it looked like an explosion had happened, an explosion of thread. It looked like this:

photo Stacy at Fresh Stitches
That wasn't what it was supposed to look like. I showed Mum. She said it was bobbin tension. I watched many bobbin-tension YouTube videos. Many. They mostly said what Mum said: to slightly change the tension, sew, and see what happened.

The same thing happened. Twice.

That was when I decided to take out my thread and leave. I opened the drawer-ish place to retrieve the bobbin. I wanted my thread back. When I opened the door, a piece fell out. It was a ring-ish piece.

And then I took out the bobbin, and another piece came out, too.

I examined both parts. They are not broken. Neither is the area they came from. It is possible that the pieces were never in their respective places properly, causing the problem above. What this meant to me was that my night of sewing was over. Nothing was accomplished, unless dis-assembly counts as an accomplishment. (It doesn't.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Mother and the Reason I Can't Use a Sewing Machine

When I was a child, my mother liked to sew. She sewed clothes for us, then dolls and and other crafty rustic things that she sold. She made us all manner of stuffed animals, and quilts, and curtains and pillows. She could sew anything.

We were small then, and, naturally, Mum wanted to prevent us from using the sewing machine to accidentally kill ourselves. That was a real possibility, because The Brother had a thing for pressing buttons and turning knobs on the stereo. The Brother almost deafened himself permanently with the stereo, and Mum was certain her sewing machine was next on his radar, especially after the stereo was removed from the home due to mechanical failure that may or may not have resulted from a toddler cranking up the volume to the maximum level, then turning on the radio.

Mum's sewing was dangerous, mostly because there were always escaped straight pins, and I have a clear memory of giving The Brother a ride on my back and putting a hand down on the ground only to have a straight pin enter my palm, bend, and curve under the skin in a half-circle. I also have a clear memory of pulling out the pin.

Mum didn't want us messing with the sewing machine. She wanted us to leave it be. When we asked why, she would tell us a story. A story about what could go wrong when sewing machines attack.

The story takes place when my mother was in high school. Mum had long blonde hair she could sit on, and wore platforms so often everyone thought she was four to five inches taller than she really was. And she was in home economics class. Back then, according to Mum, you were actually taught how to sew actual things. And by that, she means you had to sew things AND finish them AND then you had to turn them in so the teacher could grade them. It wasn't like my home economics class, in which all we did was fill out worksheets and bake things.

Mum was staying after school to work on a project. So was her friend, Debbie Wampler. Debbie, according to Mum, was a blast. Mum loved her. Debbie was sewing something. Debbie was not as familiar with sewing as my mum. Either that, or she was just really distracted, because the next thing my mum knew was that Debbie had used the sewing machine to effectively stitch over and THROUGH HER HAND.

"How did you get the thread OUT?" I would ask, each time my mother told the story.

The answer involves my mother and a seam ripper. Also maybe scissors.

Debbie was fine. Debbie finished her project and moved on with her life. She went to college, married someone, maybe had kids, maybe lives in a house or maybe an apartment. Probably she is well-adjusted and never has a panic attack when she hears a sewing machine. Debbie is okay.

I am not.

This is because the sewing machine is terrifying. The sewing machine contains maybe a bad fairy, maybe pure evil, probably even Satan. The sewing machine is waiting for you to touch it, so that it can kill you. The sewing machine knows you're afraid of it, and it wants you to feel that way. It wants you to know it knows you're afraid.

I don't know if it's the noise or the way it moves the fabric forward on its own or the way it LOOKS at you, knowing you suck and know nothing about what you're doing. Whatever it is, the sewing machine is the wrongest thing about crafting, and it keeps me from having skirts and dresses that fit me by lurking there, waiting for me to approach it, just so that it can scare me away.

I have purchased so much fabric. I have used next to none of it. This is all because the sewing machine is a thing of terror. I have tried many times. All of those attempts end in fear, panic, tears. But I am trying again. I am making a drawstring bag. First I am making the bag by hand. Then, I am making a second bag, using the sewing machine, because I will know the pattern and the construction of the bag well enough not to be confused. I will know I can make the bag one way, and, perhaps, I will believe I can make it another way.

If I don't come back, it was the sewing machine.

You will find me in the living room, curled up on the ground with one arm raised up above my head, drained bloodless, wrapped around and inside the mechanics of the sewing machine. There will be straight pins. There will be thread and maybe it will have wound itself into a makeshift rope, used to draw me closer to the mechanical monster.

The sewing machine will sit quietly, motionlessly. It will look much as it did before, though its hideous maw and needle teeth will be stained with my blood. You will think that it was an accident. But it was not. The sewing machine saw its opening and took it. Remember me, and tell your children of it. Tell your children of Debbie Wampler. Tell your children my name. Tell your children that the sewing machine is hungry, and fabric does not sate its lust for blood and flesh.

Laura and Emily Go to Comic Con

Emily and I with Tiny Batman

I suppose I should update all of you about Indianapolis Comic Con, which was the whole reason I made the Marauder's Map shirt in the first place. It experience.

Let me preface this by saying, I have no idea what a con is supposed to be like. I had never been to one before, nor had I spoken in depth with anyone who had. All I knew was that it was a kind of nerdy nirvana, a place where fandoms collide, and that it might be okay to be very excited about Harry Potter, the Avengers, and Welcome to Night Vale there. That assumption was correct.

The con also was incredibly, incredibly crowded. When my friend Emily and I arrived, we discovered hordes of people, some of them dressed normally, some of them looking as if they had raided the shelves of the local Hot Topic (perhaps for a costume, perhaps for everyday wear--we could not tell), and a select few appearing as though they had put the kind of work into their costumes that put me (and the 20+ hours I slaved over the Marauder's Map shirt) to shame. Others were the "cosplay girls" who horrify Jennifer and I, who wear the most revealing, trashy outfits possible in order to be slutty in public without being accused of selling anything. There were lots of grown men and women dressed as My Little Ponies. The Brother said it was more socially acceptable for women to dress as My Little Ponies than for men. I beg to differ.

Some of those costumes were amazing. The Indianapolis Star was there taking pictures. You should really take a look. Someone came as a Big Daddy from Bioshock, and his costume was so have to see it.

But more than anything, there were people. So. Many. People.

I later discovered that the reason for this was that the convention center could, in the area the con was being held, hold 6,000 people comfortably. The people planning the con expected 10,000 over the entire weekend. On Saturday, there were 15,000 people who bought tickets. This is not counting the people who showed up and did not buy tickets, including the many, many people who waited in line for hours and were turned away at the door because the room was too full for more people to come in. I'm sure there were well over 15,000 people there. It was...uncomfortable. The entire thing had sold out by 3:00 PM, which was just after we'd left due to the insane crowds.

Emily and I with stormtroopers from Star Wars Indiana
Imagine footage of a festival, or New Year's Eve in Time's Square, or that awesome colored chalk festival in Asia, or maybe a subway during rush hour. Add about a thousand people. Maybe 2000. Then you have what it was like at Indianapolis Comic Con. When I walked into that room, I was not claustrophobic. When I left, that had changed. If one person had panicked in that convention center, we would have all been trampled to death. If there had been a fire--let's not think about what would have happened then.

But the whole experience was so different and new, I would not have traded it. I would have just shown up very early, preferably with a large security escort. I'm wondering if the whole thing will take over the convention center completely next year, so that there will be plenty of space. I hope.

I found, overall, most of the exhibits were genuinely dedicated to comics and only comics. I had expected more of a range. There was one booth that had costume supplies for cosplay, but that was all we saw that wasn't comics and prints of comic book art. Have any of you been to a comic con before? Is it normal for the exhibitors to only be comics?

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Marauder's Map Shirt, Part 2

It's DONE. It's finished. I am all done, there is nothing left to do, I'm free, I'm free, I'm FREEEEEEE!!!

I spent four hours on the floor last night finishing everything off. I touched up the paint along the button band, and then I laid it carefully out on the dining room table and took this picture for you.

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Never mind the shiny, still-wet paint. Never mind how blurry it is. Never mind how none of the buttons are buttoned because wet paint and therefore the text does not line up properly (but it does when buttoned). Also never mind that this picture was taken with a light right over the shirt by me, standing on a chair and leaning over at a strange angle. It's good. It's fine.

I'm just so glad it's finished. I'll never have to work on it again. It is a FINISHED PROJECT.

I am shocked it turned out so well, really. The truth is, I am no artist. This shirt is an aberration. I have no idea how I was able to draw any of this. I am a stick-figure artist. This is so out of my art-league. I am still in shock that it looks decent and is actually wearable.

And now that it's done, I will tell you how to make your own, because I am nice like that AND because I will never be making another one, no matter how much I love you. It was too much, and it stopped being fun about three hours in.

To Make a Marauder's Map Shirt

You will need: 
White shirt, dress, tee, etc.
Brown paint
Paint brushes (as tiny as possible)
Paint pens, fine tip
Marauder's Map images for reference
A ruler (or several)

  • Prepare your canvas. This means you'll need to obtain a plain white shirt, dress, etc. as cheaply as possible. I picked mine up for about $4.00 at Walmart on big-time clearance. I wanted it to be over-sized, so I went for a men's shirt. WASH IT BEFORE YOU BEGIN.
  • Tea-dye your shirt. This is relatively easy to do. You need a big pot, tons of tea bags, and hot water. Here's a tutorial on how to tea-dye things. This was cheap fabric, so it sucked up the dye very evenly, so I went back through and added blotches of tea to make it look aged.
  • Get as many images and details of the Marauder's Map as you can find. There are loads of high-quality images on Google you can print out. Use these for reference. I found this map really helpful.
  • Plot out where you want different parts of the map to be. I did the detail of the map on the back, close-up hallways and footprints on the sleeves, the front of the map over the front of the shirt, the Marauder's insults to Snape went over the panel just below the collar on the back, the far away view went on the get the idea. Look at each piece of the shirt as a different panel of the map and decorate accordingly.
  • Draw out your map. I did this all freehand. I had a ruler to make sure my text was straight, but that was it. You can always use images you find and iron-on transfers for your shirt, but I find they print out nicely, iron on okay, then flake off after a bit of use. Not worth the money. It was way cheaper to buy up a bunch of fabric pens and draw right on the fabric. Make sure you put something (I used cardboard for the sleeves and a plastic mat for the body of the shirt) between the front and back of the shirt so that the ink and paint will not leak through to the other side.
  • For the front image of Hogwarts, I drew the school, then added lettering. I used brown paint for the center section. After I painted, I let the shirt dry and outlined the letters again to make them stand out.
Good luck. If you have questions or want advice, leave a comment and I'll do what I can to help!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Marauder's Map Shirt, Part 1

The Marauder's Map shirt is still a work in progress. I worked on the front yesterday, and it was way more labor-intensive than I thought it would be. I ended up glad that the library was closed yesterday (another snow day), because I realized by the evening that I would never have finished the shirt for Saturday if I hadn't had a full day to spend on it.

Here is the back. One arm is finished as well.

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It was a lot of work, mostly because if you look closely at the rooms on the replica of the Marauder's Map, you'll notice that the shapes aren't really drawn with lines, they're a Latin (or Latin-like) phrase written over and over again, some right-side up, some upside down, all in script. I wrote it out so many times. So many, many times.

Yesterday I worked on the front.

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And eventually ended up with the front the way I like it. I have to add in the Whomping Willow and the flags and pennants, and the paths leading out of the doors. But I think it turned out much better than I thought it would.

Still, I have reached the point in this project where I now think it sucks, I suck, and it will never be finished. I also think that, if by some miracle it IS finished, I will look like a freak wearing it, because I am a freak and only weird people make Marauder's Map shirts, even sucky ones.

In short, it's therapy time. Lots of therapy. So much therapy.

More work tonight, more work Friday, and it should be finished. And then I can check myself in to a mental health facility, so I can work through all this need for perfection and this endless sense of inadequacy that plagues me. Either that or I'll go to comic con in Indy. One of the two.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Random on a Tuesday

Yesterday I took a box from a shelf and accidentally cut/scraped my wrist deeply on the shelving unit. Sunday I gave myself a second degree burn. Saturday my own fingernail cut me and drew blood. Today I woke up to discover an inexplicable bruise on my other wrist, the one that wasn't already injured.

Can I have an outfit made of bubble wrap? People keep saying I need one and I agree. I think it would look good on me, plus, with all that plastic, it's bound to help me slim down just like wrestlers do, only I will not have to wrestle anyone afterwards.

During all of this, I have picked out three different colors of Butter London that I want. Here they are.

Who am I kidding?

I finished two knitting projects this weekend. I did this to avoid working on a special project. I am making a shirt that is the Maurauder's Map from Harry Potter. Mostly I am making it to have a shirt that literally IS the Marauder's Map, or would be if my Hogwart's letter had ever come and I had learned to enchant things. But it didn't and I haven't. I was inspired by this project I saw on Pinterest, but since I have no desire to wear a short dress or reveal my d├ęcolletage, I instead purchased a men's work shirt, tea-dyed it, and am painstakingly reproducing different panels of the Marauder's Map all over it. This will be my Halloween costume until I die. Also it will mean I can go to (potentially) a comic con or maybe someday (if I am lucky), Leaky Con, with people who are in full costume without looking as though I 1) do not belong or 2) am not normal enough to be allowed out in public with the rest of the population. I am weird enough as it is. I don't need to give anyone a real reason to put me in an institution.

I mean, I am a danger to myself (see paragraph one). We don't need to give the men in white coats a REAL reason to lock me up. There's no yellow wallpaper here. Everybody's nice and stable. Ish.

I'll have pictures of the Marauder's Map shirt, too. And then you will all stop making fun of me for creating a hugely intricate Harry Potter costume (because it will be too cool to mock) and for being a cosplay girl, because when you see it, you will realize it does not count as cosplay. It isn't cosplay if you can take off a layer and you are no longer in costume, the same way as a rubber mask or wearing vampire teeth with your normal street clothes does not count as a Halloween costume.

Really, I will me mortified to even wear my Marauder's Map shirt. But I am trying to be brave and to try new things. It's hard. I figure since this is Harry Potter, I will be able to cope with it better and maybe avoid having a panic attack on my doorstep and running back inside to change. Maybe. Wish me luck.

I also want everyone to know that this exists:

If you know me well, you know why it matters to me. (Hint: it is only partly due to Tom Hiddleston.) Really, if you take anything from this blog post, let it be the image of Tom Hiddleston wearing the best of all accessories, the headlamp. Gosh, I love headlamps. (Also Tom Hiddleston, but not in a creepy way.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It Is Possible to Fangirl Nail Polish

I'm at home, doing laundry against my will, and thinking that it would be great if I could just buy another Butter London color, or maybe 12 more, and then line them all up in a row and look at them for a while.

I'm actually regretting not having extra fingers or toes, just so I have more of an opportunity to use this nail polish. I was even tempted to begin a board on Pinterest dedicated only to their nail polish colors, and I HATE when people pin nail polish and manicure pins. Those things gross me out, usually. But Butter London is so pretty, and so perfect, that I actually want a nail polish board.

Fingernails are still gross.

But Butter London is the opposite. Butter London is perfection in a tiny bottle. Even the names of the colors are perfect.

I'm going back to knitting this shawl now.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It Finally Happened

I am an accident-prone sort of person. I have fallen down stairs, I have had shelves filled with books give way and dump their contents on my face, I have been stung by wasps, fallen in rivers, been thrown into a pond, almost fallen off a mountain, I've been burned, been stabbed by a knitting needle, had a splinter go so far into my arm that it stayed there for three years, I've slipped on ice, tripped on perfectly smooth sidewalks, on gravel, on tree roots, I've fallen up stairs, tripped and rolled down a hill, I've skinned my knees, elbows, hands, face, and (somehow) my pelvic bones...the list goes on. But until today, I had never been hit by a car.

Today I was hit by a car.

I was walking through the Wendy's parking lot on my way back to work. There was a white four-door Kia sedan in the parking lot. It was occupied but not in gear. The brake lights were not on. The car did not appear to be running.

As I passed behind the car, the driver threw it into reverse and began to back out. He then bothered to check behind him and slammed on the brakes. The car came to rest pressing gently against my left knee.

Now, I will not have a bruise from that. I did not even feel any pain. It felt like a light touch, like when someone touches your arm. Gentle. The only thing I felt was surprise. The dirt and salt on the car did not even leave a mark on my pants. So, I'm perfectly okay. But the fact remains, I was hit by a car today.

The man in the Kia waited for me to finish passing behind his car before he quickly backed up and sped away. He did not even come to a full stop before leaving the Wendy's parking lot. Needless to say, he did not apologize for hitting me (if he was even aware he had), nor did he check to see if I was okay. He just got the heck out of there, as quickly as possible, probably because he didn't want me writing down his license plate number.

It was probably the best stress-test I could have ever taken. It turns out, my heart is in great shape. Luckily, so is my left knee, because if it wasn't, I would have to deal with ANOTHER person's insurance company, and I am just about sick of insurance companies. U.S.A.A. still hasn't doled out all the money for my medical bills from way back in August. So no, thank you, I would really prefer not to have any new injuries. If I'd been hurt by this dude, the first thing I would have done is call my uncle the lawyer, and then make a call to Night Vale and ask the Sheriff's Secret Police to give me a hand bringing down the mighty hammer of justice upon the villainous driver of the white Kia sedan. The driver of the white Kia sedan would be given no mercy. He would have been pursued my unspeakable forces of nightmarish proportions. There would have been no safe place for the driver of the white Kia sedan to go.

But he didn't actually hurt me, even a little bit, so we are cool.

Meanwhile, I can now tell people with great honesty, I was hit by a car.

I Still Suck at Beauty Blogging and I Found Another Thing I Like

I accidentally found the best nail polish ever. This is a thing that happened.

I went to T.J. Maxx, which is a holy place. It has everything, and it has it cheaper than at other places, and the only store that compares with its majesty is Marshall's, and Marshall's is owned by the same company as T.J. Maxx. It is like a surprise every time you go there. One day you'll find the perfect handbag, the next you'll find the Le Creuset dutch oven you've wanted for the last five years, in a discontinued color and therefore for over half off. Another time you'll find a whole rack of exercise clothing, with the perfect running shorts for $5 each. It's the happiest place on earth, and I go there any time I can.

I was sorting trough their soap section (they have lovely soap) and I found a tub of nail polishes, and one of them was Butter London in the color Thames.

This is rather a bold color, but I had actually seen Butter London at Ulta before, so I figured I would try the polish even though it was BRIGHT. I would use it only on my toes, anyway.

Butter London is better than all the other nail polish. I am not joking. It is better than Opi. It is better than Essie. It is better than any other kind, because it was designed for people who suck at painting their nails.

When I paint my nails, I paint mostly skin. Also I paint wavy lines, I paint some sections twice, I miss other sections altogether, and when I'm done, I smudge the polish within five minutes. This is because I have a tremor, and it seriously cramps my manicure style. Or it would if I had any style, manicure or otherwise.

But this stuff, I tell you. It doesn't make brushstroke lines. At all. This means you only really have to use one coat of polish, if you want to. If you want to have the polish as dark as it looks in the bottle, a second coat will accomplish that perfectly. You don't need four coats. It dries quickly, but not TOO quickly--meaning you can indeed fix your mistakes. You can FIX MISTAKES. I think this is because the polish is slightly thicker than the average polish, not watery or drippy. It is just...BETTER.

Also, no chipping.

It was so good, and somehow looked perfect with my skin tone, so for the first time in ages, I wore nail polish on my hands.

I thought it was magic at first, and I figured that it was just chance and that I would never have the same results again. But I did. I can paint my nails now. I woke up one night and thought, "Maybe I can paint my nails with ANYTHING..." So I painted my nails at two in the morning just to see if it worked with other polish and no, I did not change. I still suck at giving myself a manicure. Butter London is just that much better.

It is so much better that I went into Ulta yesterday and bought a color of my choosing at full price instead of waiting for it to end up in the discount bin at T.J. Maxx. That's how good Butter London is. Here's the one I picked, Aston, if you're curious.

I went home, painted my nails, and it doesn't look like a girl with a tremor painted my nails. It looks like someone with SKILLS painted my nails, and it only took me five minutes to do this. I didn't need my normal nail polish remover-soaked q-tip to correct mistakes. I didn't have to take a long bath afterwards to get all the extra polish off my hands. I just painted them and went on with life. It was so freeing.

And yes, Jennifer, Butter London comes in pretty blues.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Expensive Noise

Right now, I'm coming to terms with the fact that a man looked at my car and then ripped a big piece of it off with his bare hands.

I keep telling myself that he did this so he could fix my car, and my car does need fixing, so it's not  a bad thing. Also, that the piece could have fallen off on its own, maybe at high speed, and maybe hurt someone or something. And we don't want that.

But the fact remains that a man ripped a chunk of plastic off my car WITH HIS HANDS. (This was the rear spoiler, in case you were wondering.)

Needless to say, he determined that the spoiler could not be reattached. Instead it must be replaced. I knew the sound the spoiler made was an expensive sound, but I was sort of hoping that it would be expensive in the way a tube of epoxy is expensive and not expensive in the way that a whole new-to-me chunk of car will be.

Oh well.

After the man ripped off the spoiler, he told me he is going on vacation, so it would be at least two weeks before he could do anything to repair it. At least there is no longer duct tape all over my car. Still, I bet a vacation would be more fun than buying a replacement spoiler. I am not even going to look up how expensive a gently-used spoiler is. Not even Googling that.

I lied.

It's looking like anywhere from $150 to $200, not counting the labor involved or any paint work...Please excuse me while I walk outside and light myself on fire.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Garage Doors, Library Etiquette, and Cutting Your Own Hair at Work

Francis has gone hillbilly. It is so upsetting. Our garage door glitched out somehow last night--none of us are sure what happened or how--but it started closing on its own and then changed its mind when it realized my car was backing out, but the decision came too late. As it went back up, it caught Francis' rear spoiler, and pulled one side free of its moorings. And it scratched the paint. Stupid garage door.

It is the freakiest thing. The door was open. Mom saw it was open. I saw it was open. None of us touched anything, and yet, spoiler disconnected, then reattached with duct tape until I can get Francis to a body shop to have him repaired.

Needless to say, there were tears.

Stupid garage door.

In other news, this morning was my last day of house-sitting, my last moments with the chickens, which I have discovered are very soft animals. Chickens are SOFT. They are like clouds. And they love bread and corn and other things that aren't snow. They are afraid of snow. It's pretty adorable.

Right now I'm really being distracted by this guy in the lobby. He is playing a LOUD game on his cell phone and coughing like a dying man. I would go over and tell him to shut off the phone, but it sounds like TB out there, or chronic lung fungus, and I don't want to die.

Fine. I talked to him. Still hasn't changed the volume. 

People. The library is not for cell phone video games, loud arguments, dying of highly communicable diseases, hiding from your parole officer or the police, free babysitting, or explicit internet searches. I don' t even know why I have to write that. 

The library is, however, for cutting your hair, because yesterday was the third time I ended up in the break room bathroom during my lunch hour, trimming my bangs. This time I did not use craft scissors. It was premeditated, so I went down to the store and bought hair scissors, or shears, or whatever their official name is. They were designed for a teenager, because they are white with neon polka dots, but that beat tiger print, and it was way less expensive than the plain black pair (which I wanted) because the polka dot pair didn't come with a full cape for elaborate hair cutting. Who needs a cape to cut bangs? Not me.

I have improved greatly at bang-cutting, to the extent that now I am able to 1. make them look relatively even, 2. use the technique my hairdresser always uses (meaning not cutting horizontally, but making tiny vertical snips that keep your bangs looking natural and not blunt and terrifying, and 3. I can even keep the angle to them. These are all great accomplishments.

If you're interested in learning how to cut your bangs, you can use this tutorial, which is fantastic (as all Kate's tutorials are), or if you're lucky, you can ask Jennifer, the way I did. She has also trimmed my bangs, and she has skills.

One last thing of note--the Benefit eye cream is awesome. It really does decrease puffiness, and I've started using it in the morning as well as the evening. I love it.

The Plank Challenge Is Stupid

Before I start talking about the 30 Day Plank Challenge, I will tell you that I am a big cheater. Cheater-McCheaterpants. I have no shame. I regret nothing. I cheated and would cheat again, given the opportunity.

The reason for my cheating was this: a 30 second plank was boring and too easy. So was a 45 second plank. So was a one minute plank. I skipped ahead to a two minute plank and worked up from there. That is how long Jillian Michaels forces me to stay in plank during every DVD that I use, so that's what my starting number was.

I then cheated some more, mostly due to my own stupidity, jumping up to three minutes and then four minutes and then five, almost at random and without following the instructions. This is because I lost track of days and then figured I should be further ahead than I was, then ended up more ahead than I should have was a problem. Mostly created by my inability to count.

Probably because of all the cheating, I found that my abs could handle the plank for four minutes, but my arms were not interested in doing this. They really hurt, but only when I was using both of them, so I ended up doing a standard plank for three minutes, then a one-armed variation for one minute, then the other arm for the final minute. That's the only way I could make it to five minutes with no violent arm cramps, spasms, or muscle-explosions.

So I don't even know if my plank challenge counts. Whatever. It was stupid and boring. If you're going to do a challenge, do the squat challenge. Do a lunge challenge, or a crunch challenge! Do anything except the plank challenge, which is more boring than sitting in a chair and staring at the plain wall in front of you.

My next challenge is the 30 Day LBD Challenge*, taken from this website. I chose this impulsively after Kelly told me she was doing it, starting today. I thought, "Hey, this is perfect timing!" and then I told her I'd join her without so much as looking at the challenge first. Because that's how I roll, with very little forethought and next to no planning.**

* LBD stands for "little black dress." I guess the purpose of this challenge is to make you look good in a little black dress, but it would take an army of angels and other interventions from on high to make me look good in something like that. Also that name strikes me as pretty sexist.*** But whatever. I am more of a jeans and Harry Potter tee-shirt kind of girl. So this will be the 30 Day Jean-and-Fandom-Tee-Shirt Challenge for me.

** This is a complete lie, because I overthink and plan everything to death. I guess that is not the case with fitness, though. At least one aspect of my life is free of obsessive thinking.

*** I notice the majority of workout DVDs and online fitness stuff is targeted only to women. The instructors even say, "Let's go, ladies!" while looking at the camera, meaning you. This annoys me because what, you can't do a workout DVD if you're a guy? Also, why is it that fitness bloggers and trainers think that we need a "little black dress" workout? Don't we just need fitness and a healthy lifestyle? I find this vexing. So it's the 30 Day JFT Challenge from now on.

Monday, March 3, 2014

In Which Life Gets Better

I complain about prescription drugs a lot on this blog, mostly because it costs so much to keep myself alive when many of you are able to not pay money to keep breathing. I am really jealous of people who don't have to pay $400+ monthly just to breathe. That must be cool.

Every once and a great while, something good happens. Something that makes life better. And last night, while house-sitting, reclining with a nervous little chihuahua mix in front of a TV that may be bigger than my car, I discovered something that WILL make my life happier, easier, and yes, even better. The nasal spray my doctor prescribes me for the endless sneezing fits and nasal inflammation is now available over the counter.*


Not only that, the cost for said medicine has plummeted. The last time I checked (which, granted, was over a year ago), it was a bit over $200. Now it is $20 for TWO MONTHS worth.

I haven't been using this stuff, because it was too expensive to get it AND the two inhalers. Because really, if I have to choose between sneezing a lot and having my lungs give up and die inside me, I'm going to pick sneezing. Sneezing, as far as I'm aware, can't kill you. Not breathing does kill you. I know; I looked it up.

This is big news, because now I can get this medicine when I need it. Which means I might be able to skip my annual spring sinus infection and my annual fall sinus infection, meaning I want to throw a party. Sadly, I am no good at parties. But the thought is there. Maybe I'll just have a cupcake. Cupcakes are celebratory.

* If you're interested in knowing what this drug is, you can find out by Googling it. Honestly, if they're not willing to give me a discount on their drug, OTC or not, I'm not giving them a plug here. Drug companies don't get a free lunch on this blog.