I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

26 April 2007

Holy Sh*t!

I come back from a looooong walk to the library, and this is what I see:


SWAT, in Des Moines?!


I didn't realize the gang problem was THAT bad!


Look at them, taking cover behind the armored veehickle. Do you see the rifle over that one guy's shoulder?

It seems they were using the house across the street for training.

Something to Look Forward to in December!

Remember the Lord of the Rings years? Remember the pleasure in knowing that December would bring a great movie to enjoy? I do. And I remember how sad I was the first December without a LOTR movie coming. How, gray, bland, and lifeless the arrival of the twelfth month seemed.

But we may have a reprieve. Can it be? I hope so! The Golden Compass is coming out in December. They better do the novel justice, because it (and its partners) is one of my "lost on a deserted island" must-haves.

Thanks to Cate, I visited the movie's Web site. You, too, can get a daemon. The programming is a bit wonky, but persevere!

My daemon: Skaene.

25 April 2007

What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would…

…take seven forms to fill out for the Probate Court, filing fees (who knows how much that’ll be?), cross-country airfare to California to attend the Court Hearing (maybe), an eighth form to change the birth certificate, and a ninth form to change the Social Security card. Not to mention needing to change the passport. Just so that we could call a rose a &%$#& rose!

Maybe I should back up a little.

When we were engaged, the Consort and I had discussions about our name. My first thought was that we’d keep our own names. The Consort didn’t really like that idea. What would we do when we had kids? How would people find us in the phonebook? If we were a family, we should all have the same last name. He didn’t care what it was, I could choose what we’d be, but it should be the same. His arguments sounded reasonable to me. We also had to make a decision soon-ish because he was starting to get published, and he wanted people to be able to find all his previous published work easily.

At the time, I didn’t like hyphenated names (don’t ask me why; I was pigheaded that year). So, I suggested that we both change to FirstName MyName HisName. My maiden last name would become our middle names. Although the order would be flipped from traditional European last names (think Spanish: Jose Gallego y Cardenas. They also use a form of this for official documents in Belgium), both parts would be integral to our Selfhood.

Great. We subsequently have two kids. We use the same format: for example, Trixie MyName HisName.

Then, I noticed something. When I signed a document (a check, a letter, etc.), I would sign Imperatrix MyName HisName. That was the deal, right? We were going to use both parts. BUT. The Consort signed things Consort HisName. Because he didn’t use his middle name in his signature before we were married, so he wasn’t using it now.


So, we changed to using the hyphenated version. We were known as the MyName-HisNames. I signed the girls up for school as MyName-HisName. When my wallet was stolen, I had to get a replacement Social Security card, and I brought in a copy of our marriage certificate. The new card said Imperatrix MyName-HisName. For some reason, the Consort needed a new SSN card. His new card said MyName-HisName. His passport says MyName-HisName (mine, being an EU passport, says MyName—whatev).

The girls’ SSNs, as well as their passports, say … HisName.

Now, I realize this is not such a big deal. But it is. When we travel, our seat assignments have to match our passports. When we switch school systems, they may give us a hard time. And remember, the deal I made with the Consort way back when was, we’d all have the same last name.

I decided that because we needed to renew their passports, this would be a fine time to get everything sorted out. This morning, I downloaded Social Security form SS-5, request for new card and/or new name, brought in their old passports, their current SSN cards, official report cards from school (where they are known as MyName-HisName), and their birth certificates.

Social Security won’t change their names.

The form is unclear, you see. It states that school documents are accepted as identity confirmation. Not, however, as legal name status. Sorry for being such a goober, but I thought that identity was legal name. And it isn’t like we’re wanting to change their name from Impera MyName HisName to Sunshine HappyGirl or somesuch. We just want to change Impera MyName HisName to Impera MyName-HisName. Just a HYPHEN change. All the parts are there. We aren’t kidnapping them from their birth parents. We. Just. Want. To Have. The. Same. Surname!

It looks like we’re going to have to renew their passports with just HisName. The passports are expiring in June, and it takes at least 7-8 weeks just to run the paperwork through Probate Court, before moving on to amending the birth certificate, then the SSN, then the passport. The California County Info Web site does not state in an easily accessible place what the court fees will be. Nor is there an easy FAQ bullet point about whether this is feasible to do from out of state. And whether our saying, “We goofed when we filled out the paperwork twelve years ago” will be enough excuse for them to allow a name change. (Not that my explanation eight paragraphs earlier would necessarily get a judge to grant the change, either.) And although the Web site says, “You probably don’t need a lawyer to change your child’s name,” I’d really like to know if, considering our out-of-state status, and the frivolous (not that I’d call it that, but the Court might) nature of the name change, it might be better to flush college savings down the drainhire a lawyer.

So, since finding this out earlier today, I have had two flour tortillas slathered with Boursin, and washed the snack down with a chocolate chip sandwich. As you can see, I’m taking this very well. *snort*

24 April 2007

Breathing Down My Neck

Got a deadline today. I can make it, but it won't leave time for me to blog. You all should go browse at The Worsted Witch (it's not what you think). It's a clearinghouse for all sorts of eco, lefty, crafty -- ergo cool -- posts. Check out her recent post on the Deadly Chemicals in Cotton.

23 April 2007

A Balanced Weekend

It's always a joy to have a weekend with the right balance of work and play. Being a list-maker type, I like to do the work part first, because then the work to be done doesn't weigh heavy on my mind. So, on Saturday morning, the Consort and I cleaned up the big room in the basement:

This is a weight off my shoulders, as it was one of the Big Chores that needed to be completed before we left for New Hampshire. Then, we celebrated the beautiful weather and Earth Day (one day early; I always think of it as April 21, because the solstices occur on the 21st of their respective months) by taking a walk in the woods. We followed a trail we hadn't taken before, and ended up at the Des Moines River, where we played in the mud, in the water, and climbed fallen trees:

Impera pointed out a bald eagle to all of us, too.

On Sunday, I went through winter clothes and summer clothes with the girls, we cycled our wardrobes to the correct season, and collected three large plastic bags of clothes to donate to the Salvation Army. In the evening, we had friends over for potluck.

It was a good weekend.

20 April 2007

Random Fridayness: Audio-Video Installment

Video: Stephen Colbert's report on rBGH.

Audio: A distillation of yesterday's Alberto Gonzales hearings. (Senators are so entertaining!)

Audio: A commentary on the French election process.

Audio: Another example of how the US is all talk and no action on stopping real terrorists. *Sigh*

19 April 2007

This--We Can Offshore*

Originally uploaded by friuduric.

All of my clients' work includes references. Most of my projects style References as numbered, in citation order (that is, the first paper cited in the body of the article is 1, the thirty-first reference cited is 31, and so on). Another chunk of projects don't number, but list the cited papers in alphabetical order in the Reference section. Both of these styles are easy to check. Either I skip merrily through the paper, searching for superscripts (keeping track of the series as I go), and easily notice when there's a problem: 21, 22, 24--oops! they must have cut some material for the final version, losing a citation in the process! Or I check each in-text author group name (Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe 2003) with the alphabetized list in the back--either it's there, between Dance and Tsing 1996 and Kicken and Screemin 2007, or it isn't.

One client, however, numbers the references in the Reference section, but the numbering only represents its alphabetical placement. For example, they may begin the Introduction by citing work by Zapata and colleagues, but the citation number, instead of being 1, is 137 (seeing as Zapata happens to be last of the 137 references, alphabetically).

This isn't normally a big deal when there are 137 references--or even when there are 214. I've made up a grid, and I do the whole "search for superscripts" thing, but mark off the citations in the grid as I go, rather than keep track of an increasing number list in my head.

Every two years or so, there's a doozy of an article, with upwards of 593 references to check. This is not fun, my friends, not fun at all. And it's what I was doing earlier this week. Click on the picture (and view the large size), you'll see, I'm not joking about the number of references.

*In light of my past experiences with hubris, let me make clear that I DO NOT wish to lose this client to an offshore outfit, I DO NOT. It's just the 600-ref reference check part that I don't mind offshoring. Just so we're all clear. OK? Gods of Fickle Hubris, are you listening? (OMG, what have I done?!)

18 April 2007

John Edwards, I Always Thought You Were A Smooth-Talking SOB Who Would Say Anything to Be President…

[John Edwards’] campaign committee picked up the tab for two haircuts at $400 each by celebrity stylist Joseph Torrenueva of Beverly Hills, CA…

FEC records show Edwards also availed himself of $250 in services from a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H.
Associated Press, April 18, 2007

“Because we have not yet realized the promise of America; we still struggle to live up to the idea. There are still two Americas here at home, one for the powerful and another one for everyone else…” Remarks by John Edwards as prepared for delivery, Manchester, New Hampshire, March 17, 2007

One reason the cost of the cut was so steep even by Beverly Hills standards is that Torrenueva went to Edwards rather than the candidate coming into the stylist's salon a block off Rodeo Drive.Associated Press, April 18, 2007

“As part of his efforts to combat global warming, Senator John Edwards announced today that he will make his campaign ‘carbon neutral.’ Edwards believes global warming is one of the great challenges facing America and the world and that we can all take immediate action to decrease the amount of carbon we produce.”John Edwards for President Web site

Edwards, 53, who has made alleviating poverty the central theme of candidacy, has been criticized for building a 28,000-square-foot house for $5.3 million near Chapel Hill, N.C. The complex of several buildings on 102 acres includes an indoor basketball court, an indoor pool and a handball court.Associated Press, April 18, 2007

"Global warming is an emergency and we can't wait until the next president is elected to take action," said Edwards. "Each of us can take responsibility in small ways to make a big difference. I encourage all Americans to conserve energy in their own homes and workplaces and help fight global warming."John Edwards for President Web site

“In the richest country in the history of the globe, we have more millionaires and more billionaires that ever – but we also have more Americans living in poverty – 37 million people unable to fulfill their basic needs of food and shelter, no matter how many jobs they work – not less.”Remarks by John Edwards as prepared for delivery, Manchester, New Hampshire, March 17, 2007

17 April 2007

They Make it So Easy for Us, It's Almost Not Fair!

Iowa City, Ia. - Latinos and immigrant-support groups said they are appalled at a University of Iowa College Republicans event Thursday that would pit "illegal immigrants" against the "border patrol" in a game of capture-the-flag.

The event at 5 p.m. in City Park is meant to call attention to the need for tougher immigration laws, said Greg Baker, a U of I sophomore from Earlham and president of the College Republicans.

"Immigration is becoming a very huge issue, similar to abortion. People feel very strongly about it," Baker said. The game "takes a serious issue that people argue over and uses a nice, fun way to get the idea across."

Uh, not really (unless your definition of "nice" involves cultural insensitivity,parochial thinking, and just plain rudeness). You people are the cream of the crop of the Future of the Republican Party? Good lord.

The goal is to cross the dividing line representing the United States-Mexican border and capture the other team's flag.

As the Consort asked this morning, what exactly would the US team capturing the Mexican flag represent? (I don't know, were they snuck into the Axis of Not So Evil, But We Could Definitely Kick Their Butt?)

I would have labeled this as Io-whaaat?, but it seems this genius idea has been tried on campuses around the US. Full article here.

16 April 2007

Bag Lady

First: An Emendation. Cate asked in the comments to this weekend’s post about the patterns I used for my Secret Pal package. Sorry about not including that info. The doily-looking one was made with a pattern on the label of the Sugar N Cream ball of yarn. I think it is this one. Note that I had to end the pattern two rows early because 136 stitches do not fit on my 8-inch double-pointed needles very well. I had to use clothespins to block off the points so the stitches wouldn’t keep slipping off.

The two-color round one is made from this pattern. Easy peasy.

I made the soap sack with this pattern, although I used size 7 needles and the Sugar N Cream cotton. Oh, and instead of a ribbon, I made a crochet cord to tie it up.

Now: On To the Topic At Hand. In my ongoing quest to use my stash of Guatemalan fabric, I spent a good portion of the past few days making bags. Here’s Trixie modeling them, pretending that she’s at the bus stop after a long day of shopping:

One of them, you’ll notice, is not made of the Guatemalan fabric, and you may see a close up of it at a later date, as part of a package for someone. But I had the sewing machine out, with the right bag-making needle on it, so I decided it would be a good idea to get it done now rather than later!

I also finished up the project on size 15 knitting needles: A string market bag (notice how Impera is in such a rush to fill her bag with farmer’s market goodies, she’s got her back to us [actually, she came back from a sleepover birthday party, and was looking a bit peaked):

I used the MagKnits pattern, but I made the alterations as described at Disdressed. This was a fun and fast knit (and I guess I can’t say that I’m a one-project-at-a-time knitter anymore!). If I were to do it again, I’d probably knit it in the round to eliminate the side seams (seaming up size-15 holes creates a bit of a conundrum, you see). But—do they even make circulars in size 15?

I said in the comments that I was burned out sewing-wise, and that’s true. I also made another skirt (not in Guatemalan fabric), but because I underestimated the ease needed (I overestimated last time and had to take it in quite a bit), it doesn’t really fit. It will fit one day, so I suppose it has become my “Goal Skirt.” But it was a bit of a blow. So although I have plans for this stuff:

(I know you won’t guess what I’ll be making with them. It’s not what you think.) I may not feel motivated to actually start that multi-item project for a few days. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as I have put aside my editing projects too long. Time to go back to being an income-producing member of society!

13 April 2007

Current Events Quiz

Good morning! It’s Friday, which means that it is a perfect day to start with a pop quiz! Here you go:

[The administration official] apologized for his role in [the inappropriate dealings] to a few hundred staff members assembled in the … atrium, only to be greeted by booing, catcalls and cries for his resignation.

Is this:
A. Attorney General Gonzales discussing the recent firings of the US attorneys.
B. Paul Wolfowitz discussing the hiring of his lover by the State Department.

“In hindsight, I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations,” Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Mr. Wolfowitz was talking about:
A. His aggressive pro-war stance in the lead up to the Iraq War.
B. An arrangement made for his love interest to transfer jobs and receive a pay raise to the tune of $193,590 from $132,660 (tax-free because of her status as a diplomat, and exceeding the salaries of cabinet members).

Extra credit.

What did the staff association at the World Bank say publicly about this issue:

A. It declared that it was “impossible for the institution to move forward with any sense of purpose under the present leadership.”
B. It provided a press release stating that “we trust in this administration’s track record for prompt and above-board responses to such questions in the past, and know that this will all be straightened out in due time.”

The World Bank has cojones? Who knew!

(If you don’t have a free NYT account, get a temporary one at bugmenot.com.)

Now, I'm going to spend the rest of the morning relishing the image of a roomful of bankers cat-calling and shouting down a speaker. I'll never look at a person in finance the same way again!

10 April 2007

My Visual DNA

This was fun to do, and it's pretty spot on. You can read my visual DNA, and then go make your own. let me know if you do it.

“Are You Pregnant Yet?”

When the Consort convinced me that we were grown up enough to start trying to get pregnant, we told those close to us. We told our housemates (because we needed to make sure it would be OK with them if we added a baby to the mix of 5 adults), and we told our family.

It took about six months of trying to conceive. Which, really, isn’t very long, all things considered. But some things considered, it was a terribly long half-year.

Telling our housemates was useful; because we took turns doing all the chores, including cooking, everyone got into the pre-pregnancy and peri-pregnancy eating rules (remind me one day to tell you all about the Brussels sprout week; ugh). We were all young, and although our housemates were excited about the potential pregnancy, no one (other than the Consort and I) was invested in getting a baby out of the deal.

Our parents, on the other hand, were. I began to dread answering the phone because, likely as not, I’d be asked whether there was any news to report. The mothers were just so darned excited about the possibility of grandchildren (the fruit of our loins would be the first grandchild on either side). I didn’t really worry that there was anything wrong with me, but having to say, week in and week out, that, no, I wasn’t pregnant yet, got old fast.

I’ve remembered that six month period lately because I’m starting to feel the same way about our not yet having found a place to live out in New Hampshire. It was so exciting to tell people about our decision to spend next year in NH. But now, I dread meeting some of these people out and about. When I go to the chiropractor’s, she asks, “Are your New Hampshire plans gelling?” Uhhhh, no, nothing’s changed since I came in last week—but we have decided which school district we want to live in, and that narrows it down significantly! When I chat with the middle school librarian and the other mother who helps me with the lunch bunch book chats on Thursdays, they ask, “So, do you have a house yet?” Nah, ’s too early, I say. But they look at me doubtfully. They think I’m being cavalier; their frowns tell me I’m not taking this seriously enough in their view.

But I am! It’s just that… I have yet to meet a landlord who in April is trying to rent out their house for a July 1 start date (well, except for us, that is*). My sister-in-law sent the Consort a bunch of online listings last night, and they all had March 15 or April 15 lease starts (plus they didn’t allow pets and the rents were—gulp!—three times our current mortgage payments).

Our Spring/early Summer schedule isn’t helping much, though. I really want the Consort to be the one to go on the house-hunting trip because he grew up in that area and would be able to triangulate any potential living place’s location with the places we need to be near (NH is all mountainy and foresty, and I have never been able to wrap my brain around how one can head east out of town and end up in the village to the west of where you started). However, he’ll be in Nicaragua for the latter two weeks of May, and he’ll probably be off to a conference in NYC at the end of June (this was a shock to me because until this morning, I thought the conference was at the beginning of June).

So, we’re planning to send him out there at the beginning of June (that jives with what a realtor friend of my SIL said would be the best time to go looking, too). That’s more definite than getting pregnant ever could be. (And if we still can’t find anything, we can live in my MIL’s RV until we do. Hah!)

*A new hire at the University has emailed back and forth with the Consort about coming to see our place. It’s just him and his dog, though, so our house may be a bit too big and costly for him. We’re pushing the “find a roommate” idea. Yesterday, the Consort came home to tell me the man was coming to town tomorrow to apartment-hunt, and would like to take a look at our place. Good thing I have nothing on my desk right now, because I need to make like a tornado and clean this place up today!

09 April 2007

Sharing Random Weekend Thoughts: Updated with Randomness #6

1. Easter was fun, if a little cold. Where by "little" I mean that all the bulb flowers in the neighborhood are officially dead, their almost-opened buds, stems, and big fat leaves flopped over in a freeze death. The blossoms on the pear trees are most probably dead, too. And it seems that the apples may not make it, either. Considering we'll be gone during the pear and apple season this year, and that whoever rents our place won't be into harvesting our pesticide-free gnarly-lookin' pears and apples, this is probably a good thing. But it's sad to see, nonetheless. (We may get snow tonight and Tuesday.)

2. The hunt was held indoors:

Notice the regimented organization of the loot (this is the only way we can make sure that all the eggs have been found.) Although the girls are too old for it, they got bubble solution, jump ropes, and silly putty. I was proven wrong about the silly putty -- they played with it all afternoon. And the loot has to be split four ways, even though there are only two hunters (so although there was much loot, it's not as excessive as may seem).

3. Many of the decorated eggs were eaten:

4. The Consort and I realized yesterday that when we return from sabbatical, Impera will have ONLY FOUR MORE years with us before she goes off to college -- FOUR measly years! I am NOT ready. The Consort said he now understands why parents urge their kids to start producing grandkids: Once you have your own, you kind of get addicted to having little ones around!

5. We can no longer ignore the fact that our cat is a junkie:

Can you see that? (You may have to see the large version of the picture.) The Consort put up a box of chicken wire around the catnip, because last spring without it the cat chewed the plant down to nubbins. It worked like a charm last year: he'd chew at whatever growth came up above the chicken wire. This year, after a few weeks of sneaking his paw under the box to drag a bit of catnip out, he's weakened the structure enough that he can stick his whole head under the wire to chew voraciously at the drug.


6. Alanis Morissette doing My Humps. How random is that?

05 April 2007

Book Review: Sew What! Skirts

As promised, here are my first adventures with my new book, Sew What! Skirts by Francesca DenHartog.

KathyR asked, “Can an impatient novice with a low end sewing machine accomplish any of these skirts? Not -cough- that I know anyone like that.” Yes, absolutely. This is a book for people who know how to sew straight lines and how to take their measurements. If you know how to use the buttonhole feature of your sewing machine, great! If not, no problem, you can still make skirts with elastic waistbands. I like zippers, so if you can put in a zipper, you’re golden (If you've never put in a zipper, DenHartog talks you through it, it’s really easy). So, Kathy, you can go ahead and tell your friend that she should give it a try.

The book begins by explaining how to make an individualized pattern for the two basics: the A-line skirt and the fitted straight skirt.

First, as you all know, I made an A-line skirt with that blue and black fabric. Cate commented, “I like how the stripes are not quite vertical.”—Erm, that would be because I folded the skirt in half when I took the photo the other day. As you can see, I did cut the fabric along the grainline (sorry this one’s so fuzzy):

Here’s a side view:

The next day, I used the red stripey fabric and made a straight skirt, with an attached pleated bottom edge, so I’d be able to walk in the thing without needing a slit up to there:

And, because I’m enjoying myself, another side view:

The book suggests different ways to finish the top of your skirt. You can add a sewn-in waistband, you can add a facing (which helps it sit more smoothly on your waist), or you can just add bias tape. "Bias tape?! How slipshod! I would never finish with bias tape! How unprofessional!" I thought to myself (remember this bit of pretension later, OK?). So I made facings for these two skirts. Because I had very little red left after cutting out the skirt pieces, I improvised with the facing for that one:
Now, what I used clearly doesn’t “go”, but considering no one will see the facing but me, I let it be. I like this idea of using different fabric for facings (it makes for a little surprise when dressing, and really, who doesn't need a little "surprise!" in the morning? [as long as it isn't of the "ooops, I must have eaten too many of those cinnamon rolls!" variety]). I’ll be using this random facing idea more often. But—probably not this random, next time.

I should mention about here (because you may have just noticed the turquoise zipper) that I was able to do this unplanned sewing in part thanks to a yard sale purchase from, oh, about four years ago. My eye caught sight of a box of zippers, for some unbelievably low price—maybe $5 for a shoeboxful?—and I brought the shoebox home, where I promptly put it aside. I mean, really, zippers in colors such as fuschia, teal, spinach, and tomato bisque? What was I thinking? Who would ever need zippers in such godawful colors?
Clearly, the four-years-in-the-future me. (Because if you put the zipper in correctly, others won’t ever see the tomato bisque zipper.)

As I said, If you’ve never put in a zipper, don’t worry, the author explains how to do it. She also shows you how to make a drawstring binding, and a sewn-in elastic waistband. (There’s also a description of how to make a sewn-in waistband with buttonhole closure above a zipper. But that would take more cut pieces than I wanted to do this week.)

I was on a roll, and I wanted to make the wraparound skirt included in the book. Now, here is where I ran into some trouble, and I believe it’s due to a typo in the book. I could be wrong, but so far I haven’t been able to explain it any other way.

There is a pattern for a skirt made from two half circles, sewn together. It looks very nice; but it takes over 5 yards of fabric. You fold the fabric, take your waist measurement, divide it by 6, and use a piece of string and your chalk pencil (actually, I used a graphite pencil; these are easy breezy summer skirts, after all) to mark the arc for the waistline cut and the hemline cut (sounds difficult, but it’s not; I’m just setting the stage for you). But! The author says, you can use the same idea to make a wraparound skirt, with only half as much fabric. Simply add about 12 inches to your waist measurement (for the overlap), before dividing by 6, and use that number for the arc line. Except—this makes one half circle (plus the 2 extra inches), the half circle which represents HALF of your waist. (Are you following me? For the wraparound, you should divide by THREE, not SIX, since the half circle will become your ENTIRE waist measurement, rather than half of your waist measurement.)

Right now, most of you are probably thinking, “Huh?”

That’s exactly what I was thinking after I cut the semicircle and put it up to my waist. There was no way I’d be able to wrap that thing around my waist. I tried it around Impera’s waist, and there was no way I could make it work for her, either….



I used the semicircle, but sewed up both edges, because a wraparound just isn’t practical on a playground. She loves the swishing swirliness of it:
(I normally wouldn’t cut off her head in photos, as you know, but the poor kid had to have a filling replaced today, so the entire left side of her jaw was swollen and she looked pretty darn awful, believe me.)

I re-did the skirt in a similar fabric for me, but dividing by 3, rather than 6. I decided I like a little swish in my sashay, too, so I sewed mine closed like I did for Trixie:

I used my handy-dandy bias tape maker (best darn sewing tool I’ve purchased in a long time!):
to make enough bias tape to finish the top and bottom edge of both semicircle skirts (Yeah, yeah, eating my words; but hemming a really curved edge is a bitch to do, and I didn’t feel like cutting out any more fabric for waistbands.)

To sum up, I’ve had fun with this book, and I plan to make several more skirts for this season (including one for Impera, whether she wants one or not; are you reading this, missy?). Except for that one typo, the directions are easy to follow. The most important aspect of this book is the confidence it gives a nonseamstress (like me or you) to make something without a purchased pattern. Split Sister asked, “Can I have a skirt too?” Which I would have to answer—No. Making a skirt in this way necessitates some tweaking. Everybody’s curves are different, and I did have to adjust the angle of the A-line so that it looked good to me (there was too much flare if I followed the recipe to the letter). So I really believe anyone could make themselves a skirt using this book; but you’d just have to do it for yourself (and Split Sister, I know you have a sewing machine!).

Stay Tuned!

Don't you hate it when Real Life interferes with the Blogging Life?

(No it isn't the Boring Project -- that one just needs finishing touches. I'm good at bribing myself to do work.)

I've got two back-to-back meetings today, followed by a run to the dentist with Trixie to check a filling that may be falling apart.

The skirt book review will be completed for tomorrow, instead. To appease your righteous anger, I submit the following two random photos:

1. Doesn't the sailor on the far right look so young? Or is it just me (pinko peacenik that I am).
(AP photo.)

2. When I hardboiled some eggs on Monday night, one of them cracked and became...

...a gnome baby in a kerchief!

04 April 2007

Don't you think...

...that if it is "Iowa Severe Weather Awareness Week" that it might be a good idea to publicize? So that the Wednesday morning test of the tornado siren system doesn't come as a surprise to people, who may ignore the first siren blast, but by the second and third think, "Hmmm, this must be serious," and gather up their laptop and the dog and trudge to the chilly basement (considering we had snow this morning and expect a high of 43)?

A quick scan of the local radio stations comes up with nothing (although one of the frequencies is just silence, which freaks out these people even more), and a visit to the award-winning (harrumph!) newspaper results in no info, and it takes an Internet search (thank the gods for laptops and wi-fi) to a less than obvious site to figure out what the heck is going on.

This is not good, Iowa DHS people. Not good at all!

Let's Take a Break for Cinnamon Rolls

The red skirt came out really well. But I won’t show you pics today because I plan to make a wraparound skirt this afternoon (I’ve gone skirt crazy, I tell you!), and Cate got me thinking that this would work well as a book review, so come back tomorrow for graphics and commentary.

I mentioned to isabelita the other day that I’ve got a really tasty cinnamon roll recipe (with maple frosting!). I’ve cribbed this from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, but, after comparing it to the generic Betty Crocker recipe, have cut the recipe down to a reasonable amount for a single family (hers makes 7 pans of the stuff!) This version makes one large pan (15–16 rolls). This became the snack of choice for World of Warcraft adventurers during Big Quest Saturdays. I wouldn’t make them too often if I were you. These are dangerous! (Note 1: We do NOT eat these all at one sitting, in case that wasn't clear) (Note 2: There are no pictures here, but if you go to Pioneer Woman, you'll see she's done a fun photo tutorial)

1 1/3 c milk
1/3 c oil
1/3 c sugar

Then cool to 100 deg. Sprinkle in

1 1/2 packets yeast

After it’s dissolved, add

2 2/3 c flour

Stir, cover, and let sit for at least 1 hr. Then add:

1/3 c flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Stir together. Roll out on counter to approx 15 x 10 inches. Drizzle on:

1/4 c melted butter
1/3 c sugar

Roll up to make a long log. Pinch the seam to seal it. Spread:

1 Tb butter in a pan (I use a 13 x 9 x 2 pyrex dish)

Cut rolls into 3/4 to 1 in. slices. Add to pan.

Let rolls sit for 20-30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 13-16 minutes.

During baking, make maple frosting:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
scant tsp. maple flavor (Mapleine*)
2 Tbsp milk (can go to 3)
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp coffee
pinch of salt

I usually can’t wait very long after they are out of the oven to spread on the frosting. Some of it will melt, but that’s part of the plan, right? Make sure you cover the entire top and all the nooks and crannies. Let the rolls cool until they can be handled (if I’m lucky, I can get people to wait 15-20 minutes), then devour! Mmmmmmmm.

Oh, and remember how I said that Trixie wasn’t into skirts anymore? While I was working on the red skirt yesterday, she asked to look through the book. She flagged the skirts that she would like me to make for her:

Holy cannoli! Thats -- six different skirts she's flagged!

*Mapleine is a maple flavor that comes in a bottle like vanilla extract. It's very common here in the midwest, but I don't remember seeing it on either coast. If you're intrigued, and would like some, let me know, we'll figure something out.

03 April 2007

Skirting the Issue

(I give up. I’ve been waiting for a sunny day to take the pictures I need for this post, but it’s going to be another day of thunderstorms and grayness. So I took the pictures in the semidarkness.)

Have you ever had a project that you knew you had plenty of time to get done, but it was boring the living daylights out of you? That’s what I’ve got on my desk right now. I really should get cracking at it, but the topic area just isn’t as attention-keeping as I thought it would be when I first took on this job. Blech. Instead, I’ll work on this crafty post, then I’ll get editing…

Four years ago, the Consort went on his first trip to Guatemala with students. Being a fan of the DK books The Material World and Women in the Material World, I told him the only thing I wanted was some traditional Guatemalan fabrics. I could then make skirts or dresses for the girls, and wouldn’t they look cute?

He obliged. I didn’t. Now, the girls have (mostly) outgrown the joy of wearing skirts—Impera completely (she sighed deeply when I made her wear a skirt to the James Galway concert she was invited to, and the Middle School Music Concert she played in), and Trixie practically (she still will wear one every now and again, but it’s mostly jeans, shorts, and skorts for her). And he’s planning a trip to Nicaragua. How can I ask him to bring me anything back if I haven’t done much of anything with the Guatemalan fabric? (I did make myself a vest with some of it, but other than that, it’s just been sitting in the closet.)

Enter the book I bought recently, based on a random blog post by a blogger I can’t remember: Sew What! Skirts. There are sixteen skirt ideas in the book, and after showing you how to make a pattern for a skirt based on your measurements, the authors set you loose to create what you will.

Aren't those fabrics cool? What was I thinking, letting them sit in a closet for four years?

I started with a very simple A-line skirt, that took me about two hours to make. (I made it yesterday afternoon, when I should have been working on the Boring Project.) This was my tester skirt.

Now I’ve got a sense of how to handle the loose weave of the Guatemalan fabric, where to place the darts I need for my curves, and I am ready to make a straight skirt with snazzy pleating at the bottom; probably with that red stripey fabric at the top of the first picture. Maybe this afternoon. It’ll be a good bribe, because first I’d have to get cracking on that Boring Project. What do you think? Would three hours of editing allow me to then make the skirt?

*Sigh* Oh, Motivation, where art thou?