Thursday, September 29, 2011


I often have trouble sleeping. I'm exhausted until I hit the pillow, where I'm suddenly wide awake. I oversleep in the morning, but feel groggy all day. For a while, I tried taking my meds at 11pm and going to bed at midnight; problem was, I'd loose track of time and suddenly it's 2 am and I haven't done either. Which is unfortunate only in that a side effect of my meds is drowsiness, which I can take advantage of by taking them about an hour before I intend to go to bed.

Solution: Set an alarm for medtime and bedtime.

I set two alarms on my ipod, at 11pm and 12am. Different sounds, and I named the alarms to re-inforce it. I've been doing this for 5 days now, and it has made a difference. I fall asleep within half an hour, and wake up at a decent time, without an alarm. I haven't always gone to bed at exactly midnight, but it's the cue I need to finish what I'm doing and get in bed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wooly Sheepy

After I had been knitting a while--that is, some of my projects turned out mostly all right--I started a tradition: I knit a baby sweater for each baby in the family. And sometimes close friends. This tradition started three years ago, when my cousin Cora and her husband had their first child, a smart and smiley little boy. They recently had their second child, a little girl, and I'm a little late in mailing the sweater.

Sheepy Time, by Laurie Undis, published in Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting (2010). 

I added to the tradition this time:

A stuffed sheep of my own design. I wanted to incorporate a lot of texture, so the body uses bobbles, the belly is reverse twisted stockinette stitch, the neck is stockinette stitch, the head is moss stitch. It sounds like a lot, but when you hold it in your hands, it's just enough to make you want to feel all of them.

The construction is different, cast on at the butt, then knit the underside; then the body, picking up stitches at the CO edge; the two parts are then joined, and the neck and head are worked in the round.

The pattern is available for free(!) as a Ravelry download.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I picked up some late-season blueberries. I love me some blueberries. Seriously, blueberries make everything better. During peak blueberry season, July-August, I've been known to eat them by the pint. But these late-season berries were a bit tart to eat by the handful, and I hadn't made cookies in a while. I had some oatmeal on hand that I wanted to use, but not enough for Oatmeal Cookies. Since I am neither  Master Baker nor Chemist, I found a basic recipe online and modified it. These have a nice, cake-like texture.

Blueberry Awesome Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
3/8 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and white sugar. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and orange zest, mixing well after each ingredient.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon. Blend dry ingredients in with wet ingredients, mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press blueberries into top of cookies. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring to cooling racks.

Modification Details
The original recipe called for almond extract instead of vanilla, and lemon zest instead of orange. It did not call for oatmeal, brown sugar or cinnamon. It called for one egg instead of 2, and 1/4 cup of milk instead of 3/8; and folded the blueberries in instead of pressing them in. Lastly, the dough was covered and chilled for 4 hours. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Everyday Essentials

    Intense ShadowBlast
    Covergirl intense shadowblast primer and shadow
    I love this 2-in-1 primer and eye shadow! Quick and easy to use, just swipe on lids, blend, then let dry. It stays put until I take it off, without creasing or wandering. Use it by itself, or layer regular eye shadow on top for a more dramatic look. Often, I use the Forever Pink shade on the entire lid, and then use a darker pink pressed powder eyeshadow as liner. 

    Naturally Glossy Mascara

    Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara
    I am picky when it comes to mascara. I just want a little something to make it look like I'm awake and focused, but not so much as to be overwhelming. This is the only mascara I use, it fits the bill perfectly. But if you prefer a heavier lash, this isn't for you. 

    2218835.jpgMaybelline Color Sensational Lip Stain
    I love this lip stain! My fiancé doesn't like the way lipsticks or glosses feel when he kisses me, so I've searched long and hard for a solution we both like. This is nearly perfect. Once it's on, it feels like soaks into the lip instead of sitting on top of it (like lipsticks and glosses), and it doesn't dry out the lip. It stays on through heat, sweat, eating, make out sessions. The only drawback is that the color is much richer than I expected, but it's not enough that would keep me from wearing it.

    Fall TV I'm Excited About

    New! Ringer (The CW) Tuesdays @ 9 ET. Premiers September 13.
    Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a six-month sober ex-stripper in the Federal Witness Protection program, who escapes to visit her twin sister (also played by SMG). Twin sister goes missing, ex-stripper assumes the twin's identity, unaware that twin sis has her own enemies.

    You had me at Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    Dancing With The Stars (ABC) Mondays at 8 ET. Premiers September 19.
    Dancing With The Stars Results (ABC). Tuesdays at 9. Premiers September 20.
    I haven't watched the last several cycles DWTS, but I'm excited about this cast. Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), Chaz Bono, David Arquette, Elisabetta Canalis (George Clooney's ex), J.R. Martinez (soap star and war vet), Kristin Cavallari (Laguna Beach, The Hills), Nancy Grace (Casey Anthony-obsessed legal journalist), Ricki Lake (Ricki, Hairspray), Rob Kardashian (Keeping Up With The Kardashians), pro-basketball player Ron Artest, Chynna Phillips, and pro-soccor player Hope solo.

    How I Met Your Mother (CBS) Mondays at 8 ET. Premiers September 19.
    Who is Barney marrying? How will Lily and Marshall handle pregnancy and parenting? How will Robin address her lingering feelings for Barney? Who is the titular Mother?

    New! 2 Broke Girls (CBS) Mondays at 8:30. Premiers September 19, premier episode airs at 9:30.
    Basically, a funnier version of my life. Plus Kat Dennings (Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist).

    Castle (ABC) Mondays at 10.  Premiers September 19.
    Castle told Kate he loved her! But she's seeing someone else... And, oh, her boss/mentor confessed his role in her mother's murder, right before he killed himself.

    Glee (Fox) Tuesdays at 8. Premiers September 20.
    Back with more Chris Colfer!

    Body of Proof (ABC) Tuesdays at 10. Premiers September 20.
    Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) is so good at her job, but her personal life is a mess. Now that she knows her boss is dating her ex-husband, it will be fun to see how it affects her work life as she tries not to let it bother her.

    The Middle (ABC) Wednesdays at 8. Premiers September 21 with a one-hour episode.
    The characters are very real; they procrastinate, dates and deadline pass them by, the kids forget to tell their parents important things until the last minute, they aren't that good at their jobs, they don't quite fit in, they're awkward, and choose sometimes choose to take the lazy route instead of what they call the "good parent" route. As cheese wiz is to cheese, The Middle is to working-class midwest families.

    Modern Family (ABC) Wednesdays at 9. Premiers September 21 with a one-hour episode.
    If you haven't seen this show yet, which rock have you been hiding under?

    Harry's Law (NBC) Wednesdays at 9. Premiers September 21.
    Kathryn Bates is a tough, take-no-shit trial lawyer with a big heart practicing in inner city Cincinnati. She specialized in patent law before being fired for smoking pot in her office. The first season showed her finding her footing in trial and making peace amongst rival neighborhood gangs; she was out of her depth but plunged ahead anyway. Nathan Corddry place Harry's associate lawyer with a complicated love life; Brittany Snow and Aml Ameen's characters, the only weak links from the first season, have been dropped.

    Big Bang Theory (CBS) Thursdays at 8. Premiers September 22 with 2 new episodes.
    Bernadette and Wolowitz are engaged. Priya is moving away and ending her relationship with Leonard; which shows that she didn't take their relationship as seriously as Leonard did. Sheldon and Amy are growing into a more normal, adult relationship, where they may eventually (gasp!) hold hands. Oh, and Raj and Penny slept together. In Leonard's bed. And they were so busted. Oh and, the morning after, sober Raj still can't talk to Penny.

    Community (NBC) Thursdays at 8. Premiers September 22.
    At the end of last season, Pierce left the study group. Only then did the group realize that they were pretty mean to him the last two years, and they would miss him despite themselves. Or they just feel really guilty. Jeff and Annie's sexual tension is explored behind the backs of the rest of the group. John Goodman as the new head of security; the Dean in a pink, sequined dress; and the executive producers promise to "have more fun that we did last year, than the first two years combined."

    Parks & Recreations (NBC) Thursdays at 8:30. Premiers September 22.
    Leslie can either run for city council or date Ben, her boss. She can't have both; running for office while dating her boss would be quite the small town scandal. In the past, Leslie has always put career before everything, but she's never had anyone as special as Ben. What will she choose? Whichever, the ramifications will play out for at least the first half of the season.

    Grey's Anatomy (ABC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 22.
    This is a pivotal season for Grey's. EP Shonda Rhimes has suggested that some original cast members may decide not to renew their contracts, including Mer-Der portrayers Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey. Can the show survive without them? I don't think so. Their relationship has always been at the center of the show. Can they mend their marriage after Meredith destroyed Derek's Alzheimer's trial? They just adopted a baby, how will that affect their relationship while sorting it all out? Also, Cristina plans to pursue abortion despite her husband's objections, Calzona hit minor new family speed bumps, meek April attempts to manage bold, presumptuous residents, and Alex licks his love wounds.

    The Office (NBC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 22.
    New boss, new CEO and another pregnancy (Pam's).

    Desperate Housewives (ABC) Sundays at 9. Premiers September 25.
    I've watched Housewives from the beginning, despite the inconsistencies in writing quality. Some of the middle seasons have been very soap opera-ish; too out-there to be relatable, but not enough to be intriguing. But in it's final season, it's getting back to basics. The neighborhood covers up the murder of Gabby's sexually abusive step-father, while Lynette and Tom finally get the divorce that's been brewing for the last 7 seasons.

    New! Pan Am (ABC) Sundays at 10. Premiers September 25.
    Taking place in the 60s, this highlights Pan Am's glory days. When airline stewardesses were glamorized and flying was a luxury. I just really hope real-life con-man Frank Abagnale Jr is incorporated.

    Happy Endings (ABC) Wednesdays at 9:30. Premiers September 28.
    The best Friends copy since Friends.

    Private Practice (ABC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 29.
    Addison is the apex of a love triangle between Sam and new series-regular Jake, while taking steps to have a much-longed-for baby. Violet goes away for a weekend, not  knowing her husband, Pete, was having a heart attack while he was home alone with their toddler. Meanwhile, the fate of the practice is at stake.

    Late season debuts:
    Dexter (Showtime) Premiers October 2.
    House (Fox) Premiers October 3.
    New! Boss (Starz). Premiers October 21.
    Bones (Fox) Premiers November 3.

    Cougar Town (ABC)
    New! Alcatraz (FOX)
    New! The Finder (FOX)
    30 Rock (NBC)
    New! Are You There Vodka... (NBC)
    New! The Firm (NBC)

    For a complete schedule, check out

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Aren't they pretty?

    twine yarn ball lanterns
    I found these lanterns via Stumble Upon. So pretty! And so easy! 
    1. Blow up a balloon.
    2. Coat balloon in vaseline.
    3. Run twine or yarn through glue/corn starch/water mixture, then wrap it around the balloon.
    4. Once dry, pop the balloon!

    I might use this for my wedding. It'd look really cool hung with white twinkle lights!

    Successful Sewing Project!!

    When I was a kid, my mom sewed a lot of things for me: jumpers, jackets, dresses, barbie clothes, halloween costumes (my favorite was the fairy godmother; it was pink and it had a wand! I was 5), and a quilt when I turned 18 (family tradition, my brothers each got one, too).

    I always wanted to learn to sew, and Mom tried to teach me multiple times. Every attempt ended in a fight. My mom is a perfectionist; I am extremely independent, always have been. Mom wanted the end result to be flawless, which meant she did most/all the actual sewing. It was more important to me that I do it myself, even if the end result was a disaster.

    Fast forward a few years; I'm in my early twenties and moving into my first place. It was a tiny apartment, but cheap and well maintained. The living room had a huge picture window. It was the only window in the living/dining/kitchen, so the size was nice, but I felt like I didn't have any privacy. Since I rented and the walls were brick, I couldn't install curtain rods or make any holes in the wall, so I had to jerry rig something up myself. Making those curtains were the first sewing lessons with my mom not to end in a fight.

    It worked out pretty well. I sewed two curtain panels, one for each side of the window. I glued a 3M velcro strip to the back of the fabric, and glued the mated strip to the top of the venetian blind fixture. It worked out pretty well, and best of all, my landlord never found out!

    A couple months ago, my regular purse started to fall apart. I had free fabric from my future-mother-in-law, a red and gold brocade design with elephants that she'd picked up in Paris more than 10 years ago but never used. I also had a book of patterns, One Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins. I chose the Folklore Bag (p159).

    I had a hard time with this project. Nothing seemed to go right for me. The fusible interfacing wouldn't adhere. I lost every fabric piece at some point or another; I never did find the strap pieces. I couldn't get the inside lining to match up with the top band. I accidentally screwed up my sewing machine and it took 2 days to get it to work again. But with a little help from my Grandma, I learned a thing or two and it all worked out in the end. It might be a while before I attempt another sewing project, though.

    Ben's test of a good bag: Can I wear it on my head?

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Martha Stewart Weddings, Fall 2011

    A tip from Martha Stewart Weddings (Fall 2011):

    "If you decide to get married over an extended holiday weekend, book your wedding for a Sunday. Venue fees are less expensive, and guests will have Monday off to travel."

    So true! Ours is the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend 2012. The hotel gave us a 50% discount on the ballroom, and then threw 3 hotel rooms (one for us, one for my mom, and one for his parents), a free room the night before for the rehearsal dinner, and a free room the morning after for gift opening.  

    Also from this issue: tons of wedding dresses; an overview of floral styles; several gorgeous real weddings; three cute hairstyles (I'm thinking I might steal the braided knot); creative centerpiece ideas, and much more. 

    Cheap Home Entertainment

    When your dog is sleepy, cover his body and head with a big blanket. Wake him up, and watch him try to find his way out. Bobo, our labradoodle, did this last night. I wish I'd gotten it on video.

    Obviously, help him out before he gets too upset or hurts himself.


    I love a good bowl of oatmeal. With raisins, cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg... or blueberries and sunflower seeds... or apples and apple pie spice... I have a lot of fun with my morning oatmeal. But it's not just for breakfast.

    DIY Moisturizing Oatmeal Bath Scrub
    Throw 1/2 cup of uncooked oatmeal in a bowl. Add just enough milk that the oatmeal completely absorbs it (hint: add half of what you think you'll need, wait a minute, add more if needed), and about a tablespoon of honey, stirring until well mixed.

    Use the mixture in the bath. Rinse yourself well, and clean the tub after. It's easiest while the oats are still wet, just wipe and scoop with a damp rag or paper towel.

    The alpha hydroxy acids in milk exfoliate, while the fat, proteins and lactose moisturize. Because whole milk has more fat, it moisturizes better than 2% or skim, but use what you've got. Oatmeal is another gentle exfoliant. Honey moisturizes, and also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflamation properties.

    My fiancé loves the way it smells as is, but you can add a few drops of essential oil if you like. He also says there is a one-kiss toll to take an oatmeal bath. Payable to the person of your choice, of course.

    More uses for oatmeal...