Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random Thoughts

A very quick random thoughts:

*Just as a reminder, our Open Discussion of The Lovely Bones will be on Monday. If you've read the book, please take a moment to stop by and leave your thoughts on it.

*I wanted to thank everyone for your very revealing comments on my Siblings post. It was definitely a subject everyone had an opinion about and I found them all fascinating. The topic of siblings, be they good or bad, definitely struck a chord with people.

*As some of you are aware, I got a nasty anonymous comment on this post when I mentioned I wasn't able to do anything financially for Haiti, but I was making pillowcase dresses for African girls. Well, imagine my joy when Susan at Freshly Picked, the author of the pillowcase dress tutorial that I've linked to, oh umpteen times, put out a call for folks to make dresses, send them to her, and she'd see to it that they would get to Haitian refugees relocating to the Dominican Republic. I'm going to be busy in the coming weeks (more on this later in the week) but I do hope to get at least one dress made and sent off. And because you can never have too much of a good thing, here is the (new, revised) pattern.

*And as a final note, I really loved this short little post over at Mama Urchin about one of the most important jobs we have as parents.

See.......I told you this post would be quick.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Can't Really Take Credit For This One

I'm responsible for this skirt that the girl is wearing, but to say that I made it would be a bit of a stretch. It originally belonged to my mom, but she didn't love the fit so she passed it on to me. It fit me, but came up pretty high on my waist, which is not a feeling I enjoy. So mostly it sat in the closet.

When I was purging the house of crap a few weeks ago, the skirt didn't make the cut. But I couldn't just throw it away. I love the earthy green designs on it, the gauze-like cotton, and the unfinished edges between the tiers. So, vowing to do something with it, I tossed it into the ever growing pile of unfinished projects atop my sewing machine.

Over the weekend it occurred to me that it would be wrong to chop up the skirt too much, it's so adorable as is. So, all I really did was cut the skirt in half at the widest part and then sew in an elastic waistband.Because the new waist area is the old hip/ass area, there is a ton of fabric to this skirt, making it super flouncy and girly. Perfect for spins and twirls.What more could you want from a skirt?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Siblings

Recently I read a couple of posts about siblings (here and here) over on Neurotic, Yet Classy. As I read about the author's experiences growing up with brothers, I felt sad. As a young girl, I always wanted an older brother. Someone to watch out for me at school or give me brotherly advice. For a while I even fantasized about my imaginary older brother, he was sorta like Scott Baio from Charles in Charge. He always had all the answers and would stop at nothing to keep me out of trouble.

As an adult-an only child adult-I would love to have a brother or a sister. There are so many times that I wish I had a partner in crime with whom to compare notes about what it was like growing up in our family. I'm always a little jealous when my husband calls his sister and as soon as she picks up the phone he asks, "Do you remember the time.....?" And almost immediately she knows exactly what he's talking about and usually adds some little tidbit from her own memory bank and the next thing I know they're taking another trip down memory lane.

I have no such lifeline to my past. Sure, there are my parents, but they saw things through the eyes of adults. Adults who were busy with jobs and bills and their own lives. This isn't to say they were bad people, it's just the nature of adulthood to not always be bothered with the little things that seem so monumental to children. So I have to rely on my own memory and my own perspective.

As I watch my own children, I'm so glad that they have each other. Sure they fight and argue and at times it gets so loud that I want to stab myself in the ear just to make it all go away. (Is it possible that this inability to deal with noise comes from being an only child? Hmmm....) But ultimately, they get along well and I know that their relationship will only get better as time goes on and that they'll always be a part of each others lives. Even if for no other reason than to talk about me and their father.

What was your sibling situation? Are you close to your siblings now? Is anyone else out there an only child?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Listing

Reading:: I just finished The Time Traveler's Wife last night. Sigh. All of you who suggested this were so spot on. I didn't want it to end and was so heartbroken when it did, that I actually cried. I couldn't sleep last night, tossing and turning thinking about Henry and Clare. When this book first came out I dismissed it as something I wouldn't be interested in. That was my loss because I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite books of all time and I wish I had read it sooner. Next up on the reading list: Atonement.

Watching::
Away We Go. Has anyone else seen this movie with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph? It's been sitting on my nightstand for at least a week, waiting to be watched. Hopefully Jay and I will get to it tonight. (While we're on the subject of movies, have any of you seen The Time Traveler's Wife movie? Does it do justice to the book? Should I avoid it at all cost?)

Eating:: Chocolate Avocado Pie. I know it sounds so very weird. But I've made it before and it always goes over well. It's delicious and a great way to sneak something green into the children.

Loving:: This little surprise from Mag that I found in my mailbox yesterday:I had planned on editing the photo so that it would be all big and obnoxiously gorgeous, but sadly, Picnik is down this morning so I couldn't do any editing magic. The post it note at the top reads, "Thought you might want to read this." Why yes Mag, I do. (Thank you!)

Before I go, I wanted to thank all of you for your wonderful and funny comments on my last couple of posts. I truly believe that I have some of the best blogging friends on the interwebs. In so many ways, every last one of you are a constant source of inspiration to me. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The One Where Tammie Helps

I remember an episode of Friends where Phoebe and Joey argue about there being no such thing as a truly selfless good deed. When you do something nice, you usually get something in return, even if it's just a good feeling. I tend to agree, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. So what if you get joy by doing nice things? Even if that's the only reason you do something nice, is that really the worst thing in the world?

I've been in a funk lately. I feel frustrated and stuck and helpless. I've had the remains of a migraine for three straight days. Add to that some sensitive lady issues that are stressing me out that I'll probably have to see the doctor about, and I'm just a bundle of nerves.

And then there's the news. Honestly, I know what's going on in Haiti, but I've stopped watching. That probably sounds callous but I just can't do it anymore. Watching all those people suffering and me not being able to help them only makes me feel more frustrated and helpless. I just want to do something.

I know a lot of folks are donating money to various charities. Which is awesome, but right now all of my money goes to my own personal charity, the "Get out of Florida" fund. So then I thought of making something and donating it to the Craft Hope Etsy shop, since so many of my blogging people are doing this and it seems to be going rather successfully. But I'm not confident enough with my talents and abilities and I know I'd be tempted to go shopping in the name of "needing supplies." Then I thought of just buying something from the shop, but again, I don't want to spend any money and really I'm trying to empty my house at the moment so bringing new things in seems counterproductive. I was at a loss for a way to help.

Then I came across this charity, Little Dresses for Africa, which "provides relief to the children of Africa." (It's a Christian based organization....so, well, there's that. I'm hoping that "relief" isn't another word for "Bibles.") But anyway, one of the things they do is gather up homemade dresses and pass them out to needy gals in Africa. I can do this. I know it's not Haiti. I'm not so stupid and privileged and white that I believe for one second that this is the same as providing life saving water for someone. But it's something I can do. Right now. With supplies I have on hand. So that's what I've been doing for the last few days, making dresses. And while I've been doing it, my thoughts haven't been on my problems and I haven't felt as helpless. And further more, it's given me a wonderful feeling and I like it.

Suck it, Joey Tribbiani.

(If you want to make little dresses for needy girls, here again is the link to the charity, and here are the instructions for making the dresses and sizing and mailing info. I've made pillowcase dresses before, but I still found their instructions a bit vague. If you need more detailed directions, head over to this tutorial at Freshly Picked. It's flawless.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Random Thoughts

Just some quick randomness this morning:

*I've tried to read 3 different books since finishing The Pilot's Wife. (Life of Pi, The Diary of Ellen Rimbaur, Love in the Time of Cholera.) None of these books held my attention and I've ended up tossing them to the side. I think The Pilot's Wife was so good that it ruined me for other books momentarily. Fortunately, I was (finally) able to get my hands on a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife and so far I'm loving it. Another library score was Atonement, but I still can't seem to find Outlander, and I've been to three different branches of my library. I'm starting to think the women of my town are hoarding this book.

*In other book related news, I've finished my write up for The Lovely Bones and I'm thinking the Open Discussion will be on Monday, February 1st. Ultimately, I had mixed feelings about this book and I can't wait to discuss it with all of you.

*Last night Jay and I were having a discussion about short men, which was prompted by another discussion we have quite regularly about Tina Fey's husband. To the best of my knowledge, (which is based solely on entertainment websites so take it for what it's worth), Tina Fey's husband is a full inch shorter than she is. She's only five foot four and a half.I assume she's wearing heels in the above photo.

He's a perfectly good looking man with nice blue eyes and a decent head of hair and together they make an adorable couple. But I just couldn't be with a shorter man. I like to feel like a wee dainty petite flower and I wouldn't feel that way with someone smaller than myself. So then Jay posed the following question: Assuming all other things are equal (intelligence, personality, other areas of attractiveness, etc...) would you rather be with someone significantly fatter than you or significantly shorter than you?

Me personally, I'm going with fatter. Your thoughts? When choosing a partner do you have other weird hang ups that would automatically eliminate someone?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review:: The Pilot's Wife

This story begins late one night. Kathryn is awaken by a knock on the door. It's Union man Robert Hart and he's there to inform her that the plane her husband Jack was piloting has exploded off the coast of Ireland and there are no survivors.

Kathryn is obviously quite devastated and tries to hold it together for the sake of her daughter, but it all gets even more difficult as investigators begin to suspect that Jack is responsible for the explosion and she finds out he had a secret life she knew nothing about. Of course, by the time the news media gets a hold of this information, it's total mayhem and Robert Hart extends his stay to help Kathryn deal with the ensuing drama.

Eventually, Robert and Kathryn grow close, and he even travels with her to England in a search for more answers to all the questions that Jack's death opened up. At first, this part kind of irritated me and I dismissed it as too predictable. But after some thought I can see how it could be possible to have feelings for someone who's helping you through this type of a situation. Plus, the relationship only goes so far, which I thought was realistic.

There were parts of this story that moved incredibly slowly, but I liked it. I felt as if I was there with Kathryn, experiencing her grief and anger along with her. Although this is total chick lit, I feel like all the emotions in the story are real and genuine and it never gets too mushy or saccharine sweet.

I suppose if I have one complaint, it's the theme of the story, which is a question that's asked throughout the book, "How well can we ever really know a person?" Kathryn answers this at the end of the book by dismissing her own naïveté and reasoning that someone who is "dedicated" to keeping secrets will cause "no suspicion, because they truly don't want to get caught." I don't necessarily agree and I think that kind of reasoning does a disservice to true partnerships and maybe gives people, not only an excuse to not fully get to know their partner but a cop out if something bad happens. I mean, if you reason that no matter what you do, you can't ever know someone, then what's the point of even trying?

Plus, I feel like there were a lot of red flags in Kathryn's marriage that she never picked up on. Her husband's past and childhood were secrets that he never really wanted to talk about, claiming them "too painful" to discuss. When he traveled overseas, she could never reach him but always had to wait for him to call her. These are things I would think wouldn't be issues after fifteen years of marriage.

I'm going to be completely honest, I wanted to hate this book. One being the damn Oprah sticker on the cover. For some reason, that's always a turn off. Then there's the whole plot, which just sounds soooo Lifetime. But I loved it. I loved the story and the characters, especially Robert. (Sigh. Is it possible to love a fictional character?) I was a little sad when the book ended. Because I wanted to keep this party going, I looked to see if there actually is a Lifetime movie based on it. There isn't. But there is a made-for-tv movie starring boring people I don't care about like Christine Lahti and Campbell Scott. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It Makes Me Smile

First off, I wanted to thank you all so much for your kind words on my last post. Honestly, I felt so cruddy and without hope yesterday and your words helped pull me out of my funk a bit. It helps so much to know that other folks know what I'm talking about or have been there and gotten through it. Really, thank you.

Moving on.

I've had an idea floating around in my head for a new recurring segment on the blog that I've just never bothered to put it into action, but today seems like the perfect day. I'd really like to do a series of posts about the little things in my life that make me smile or brighten my day. The small things I love. The things that, when I'm wandering through my house in purge mode, I'll never throw away. So without further ado, I present to you part one of It Makes Me Smile.
The Tammie mug.

I have no idea where this came from or how long it's been in my house, but I do know that Jay brought it home and it's his idea of a joke. I'm not a morning person, especially before I've had my coffee. In fact, my morning behaviour can be described as monstrous or vicious. The family knows not to even make eye contact with me. Sometimes for laughs, Jay will bring me coffee in bed in the Tammie mug, usually saying something like, "Wake up Sunshine" or my personal least favorite, "Rise and shine, Angel of the morning." Of course this makes me want to kill him but because I haven't yet had my coffee, I can only summon enough energy to call him an asshole and vow to get my revenge later in the day.

Even though the whole routine irritates me in the morning, it always gives me a chuckle later in the day because, you know, it's just sort of our thing.

(If anyone is interested, I'd love it if you all would share some of the things floating around your house that never fail to cheer you up a bit. Consider this an invite to steal my idea.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

On Goals

This past weekend I spent all my free time throwing things away. I know I've said this before but ever since Jay and I first put the plan in action to move our family to Oregon, I constantly look at everything in my house and ask the question, "Do I want to move that across the country?" Saturday I filled two trash bags with things I didn't want to move and I'm sure there are more to come.

I've been really optimistic this year about my goals and our impending move. That came to a crashing halt this morning.

Jay and I were discussing The Big Move, and we agreed it might be best to put it off a few more months, just to get our finances in better shape so that all aspects of the move are less stressful. We had planned to move this summer. We would like to move during the summer months so the kids school schedules aren't disrupted. So, that means we could be moving as late as summer of 2011. Ugh. This rips me apart inside because mentally and emotionally, I'm so outta here already. Everyday that I am alive here in Florida, seems like an eternity.

I'm definitely frustrated by this setback because I don't want to get complacent and continually put off the move until the conditions are "perfect." The way I see it, it's a move across the country with children and pets, the conditions are NEVER going to be perfect. But I also have to be realistic and I know that the move will be much easier with more money.

Of course there is always the option of pulling the kids out of school for a few weeks so that we can make the move when we are ready. But do I want to do that?

So that's where I'm at this morning. A little bit bummed. A little bit muddled. Trying to not drown it all with a mid morning glass of wine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Various Sewing Bits and Issues

A while back Dawn sent me a shirt that she had bought for herself, then decided it was "too young" for her. I tried on the shirt and came to the same conclusion. So, Dawn had the idea of turning it into a dress for the girl.

So that's what I've been working on.
For three months.

I worked on it today with the intention of finishing it once and for all, but I'm stuck on the sleeves. As you can probably tell:Everything else came pretty easily. I started by ripping all the seams and taking everything apart. Then sewing it all back together, taking everything in as I went so that it would be kid-sized. I'm not sure what I need to do to make the sleeves please me, but I do know I'm going to have to take them off again to find out. That idea doesn't excite me. So for now it sits atop my sewing machine, where I glare at it from time to time.

Because I wanted to sew something, I made a simple drawstring bag for the girl to carry her Strawberry Shortcake stuff in:Strawberry seems happy doesn't she? She should be. Lately the dogs seem a bit too interested in her sweet smelling head. By giving her a bag to hide in, I probably saved her life.

And now I have a sewing related conundrum and I'd love to hear your thoughts. When I was about 4 years old, my family briefly lived in Washington state. The wife of my dads boss made my family a queen sized patchwork quilt:Even though the colors are very late seventies, I love it. Not only do I adore the fact that it's handmade, but it's also the warmest, most comfortable blanket that I own. I'm amazed that after all this time (almost 30 years), it's still in tact. There are no seams coming loose and the rick rack trim has stayed in place.I have comforters that I bought from Pottery Barn that didn't hold up as nicely. The main problem with it is that when my late dog Lulu was a puppy, she chewed a few holes in it:I never had any intent of throwing it away. So, when winter comes, I drag it out and put it on my bed, either under my everyday (non holey) bedspread, or I shove it in a duvet cover. I tend to think duvet covers are a pain in the ass so more often than not it just goes under the bedspread. But there is a part of me that wants to *fix* it somehow. What, if anything, would you do?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review:: The Bean Trees

This was the third book I read by Barbara Kingsolver. I always get a little scared when I begin one of her books because I'm just sure that she is far too brainy for me and I won't get it. (Why do I keep underestimating myself?) Then I read it, inevitably like it and want to write about it here. Then the fear comes back and I get a knot in my stomach, certain that whatever I have to say about the book won't do it justice. Kingsolver crams so much into each one of her books that I know I'm missing something.

Anyway, the main character is a young woman named Taylor Greer. She, unlike most of the girls she knows, manages to avoid getting pregnant in high school. She saves up some money from her job at a hospital and now wants to get out of her podunk town in rural Kentucky, hopefully to some place with a bit more to offer. She kisses her mama goodbye, packs up her shittastic car, and decides to head west until her car stops running. Along the way she stops at a diner to eat. On her way out she's given a small child who would have otherwise been in grave danger.

Taylor, now with a child, gets back in her car and drives on, finally ending in Tucson, Arizona. Here she meets Lou Ann Ruiz, a gal whose husband just left her and their newborn baby. The young women become friends and move in together, forming an interesting sort of family, wherein they work and take care of one another and the children. Taylor gets a job working for Mattie, the owner of the Jesus is Lord tire shop. Mattie leads a bit of a double life, also running a safe house for illegal immigrants, one of whom Taylor falls painfully in love with.

Even though this book deals with so many serious issues like child abuse, adoption, and immigration, it's mostly a light hearted book that left me totally inspired and in a good mood. The friendships that were made over the course of the story remained strong although the characters had to deal with some rough times.

I just found out there is a sequel to this book titled Pigs in Heaven, which I totally want to read even though it isn't on the list. But until then, Kingsolver has two more books I need to read that are on the list (Prodigal Summer and Animal Dreams), so I need to hurry up and shake my fear of her.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Listing

Missing:: Cheese. Today begins my fourth cheese free day. (In case you missed it, Jay and I are spending January without cheese.) It's been surprisingly difficult. I never realized how much cheese I actually ate and how often I added it, in some form, to what I was eating. Hopefully, when I go back to eating cheese, I'll be more aware of my habits. And don't worry cheese, I'll be back. I can't quit you.

Smelling:: The intoxicating scent of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. A large percentage of the girl's birthday gifts included this sweet smelling vixen. Delicious.

Inspired by:: A Collection A Day, 2010. A different collection everyday, just as the name suggests. The inner pack rat in me loves this sort of thing.

Watching:: Al Franken: God Spoke. I used to listen to Franken's Air America show all the time but I admit I haven't paid him much attention lately. This movie made me remember why I enjoyed him in the first place. He just seems to be a really likable guy. Next up on the Netflix Queue: From Hell. As much as I hate horror films, I'm fascinated by Jack the Ripper tales. Hopefully I won't lose any sleep after watching this one.

Reading:: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I usually hate historical fiction, so to be honest, I'm not loving it. But it's on the list, so I'm reading it. (As always, you can keep up with what I'm reading over on Goodreads, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Anxious:: To get back on schedule. The boy doesn't go back to school until tomorrow so we are still living in those nether regions between the holidays and real life. As fun and relaxing as it was, I'm ready to get back on track now.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Five

I live with a girl who turns five today.

When I was pregnant with this girl, we really wanted to have her here with us before the end of the year for tax purposes. (Is that crass? I'm not apologizing, just wondering.) Anyway, short of reaching into my birth canal and yanking her out with my own bare hands, I did everything to make her come. But, this one had other plans and wanted to do things her own way.In that regard, life hasn't changed much for her outside the womb. She's opinionated, sassy, loud, and stubborn.These qualities are rarely pleasant when being exhibited by a preschooler, but if she keeps it up, she's going to be one hell of a strong woman. In parenting her, I walk a fine line between keeping her behaviour in check, yet doing my best to not kill the awesome, exuberant spirit she was born with. Her personality is truly larger than life.As the years pass, I don't feel sad that she isn't my baby anymore. I'm excited for what's to come. I can't wait to see the adult version of this girl. I have a feeling she's going to teach me how to have a good time.Happy Birthday, Lucinda Rose. Here's to another year of keeping me on my toes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Decade Begins

(Saw this idea over at Dani's. Liked it. Stole it. We're friendly, she won't mind.)

In the past ten years I have (in no particular order).......

given birth to a baby girl to go along with the boy born the previous decade

bought a house, sold a house, then bought another house

learned more than I ever wanted to about remodeling a house (seriously)

learned to hold my liquor

had faith

lost faith

learned to have faith in only myself

reconnected with old friends

realized there was a reason I lost touch with 95% of those old friends in the first place

made new friends and kept them

realized what matters

more importantly, realized what doesn't

taught myself to sew

had the realization that I just may be smarter than I give myself credit for being

learned the value of a good face cream

spent more money than I ever should have and then saw the error of my ways

taken the boy to his first concert

went to the pool and the beach in a bikini (and I didn't die of shame)

learned that, for me at least, a $23 bottle of nail polish can sometimes be totally worth it

loved and hated (sometimes the same people)

The past decade has definitely had its share of ups and downs but I'm very excited for the next decade, especially the next few years. I have goals and plans and for the first time in my life, I don't doubt that they will happen. I'm trying out this optimism thing. We'll see where it takes me.