Saturday, November 28, 2009

Decaf is my kryptonite

Abe and I went out for breakfast this morning with an old friend. We went to our usual breakfast place, and ordered our usual breakfast coffee. But it tasted burnt, so I very, very nicely asked our server for a fresh cup. (I used to wait tables on busy Saturdays too. So I mean it when I say I asked nicely.)

I was yawning as I finished my second cup. We all were! That's how we knew we'd been decafed. I got home and slept ... slept ... slept. It wasn't just a litte cat nap, it was a New York City Napathon. I woke up disoriented, with a headache. Like I was drugged! And half of my Saturday was gone. So a lump of coal to servers everywhere who think they're too busy to brew the regular.

Friday, November 27, 2009


They say that behind every crafter, there is a room full of unfinished crafts. If that were true of me, there wouldn't be room for Abe in our little one-bedroom. So I'm very proud to announce that my number one unfinished craft is complete!
I started this apron last year for Kimberly's birthday. I made some good progress before my sewing machine started "acting a fool".* My dad can fix anything, so he came over recently to help me set my machine aright. And we were off! I finished the apron shortly before Kimberly's birthday this year. (All the good crafts do seem to go to her house.)
This was the first thing I've sewn without any kind of pattern, and I made it from an enormous wraparound skirt I bought at Goodwill (by enormous, I mean like Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt, in which we could all wear it together for traveling in order to pay much less for our tickets). This was brilliant on my part, because it means the cute details came ready-made: red hem tape! a button! flirty red lining! The key to this project is finding a massive enough skirt to begin with (and one with a cute lining, since it will show). You need enough material for the bottom half of the apron (I used the existing front of the skirt to get the wraparound detail), the top half, those seam allowances, and all the ties. I had enough lining to make a pocket, and just to be cute I reused a little of the hem tape across the top like so:
Fabric and notions - buttons and hem tape - can be a little pricey, so reconstructing an existing garment is a great way to save your cash. All in all, a success, and a project I'd recommend if you're going homemade for your gifts this holiday.

*Do you like that? It's a little something I picked up at work, along with the cough/cold/flu that knocked me out for most of the month.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from the Kovaches!

I was unable to recruit any turkeys for this picture, because Franc kept giving them the "dinner" eye. So I settled for a picture of Franc thankful for Kina (who's just thankful that my crazy cat lady holiday photo shoot is over), with their Trader Joe's Turkey and Giblet dinners. Cheese!

Here's to your Thanksgiving holidays - may you have a wonderful day with family, and may your turkey dinner not come in a can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If all dogs go to heaven, is there a special place for me in hell?

I just gave Franc and Kina their monthly treatment for flea/tick/ear mite/heartworm/hookworm/roundworm/for-the-price-it-should-clean-the-litter-box-too. We have a sort of routine for this by now. Kina is smaller and has more secret places to hide, so I get her first. I have to sneak up behind her and take advantage of her desire to cuddle. (This may be why she's not big on the cuddles.) As soon as the tube is empty, she takes off. Franc catches on to what's happening, and makes a dash for it. He has to take a fat kitty-sized dose, so I sit on him. And then they both hide under the bed to sulk and probably lick it all off.

I thought they were just being difficult about taking medicine, until I dripped a little of the solution on my cell phone case. And it melted the plastic.

So toot that horn, Advantage, for your 100% percent effectiveness, because enough acid will kill anything! And I now I fear PETA may be coming for me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fly away, bird-induced headache! My 'Spool' Bird Mobile is complete.

A few months ago, I fell in love with this. It was the perfect project - I would improve my hand-sewing, and have an adorable birthday gift for my two year old sister-in-law. The sewing went pretty well - so well, I had plans to make another in all white for Christmas, and another for you, and while I was at it, one for every pregnant person I know (which is a lot; it's an occupational hazard). But that all changed when I got to assembling the blasted thing, and turned into this.

Hopefully you'll find the hand sewing therapeutic like I did, because by the time you get to the end, you'll be needing some therapy. Here are the other things you need to make your very own birdmobile:
  1. the bird pattern, which is a FREE pdf, right here
  2. scraps of fabric in coordinating prints. I chose pinks and greens, since those are the colors in AK's room.Tip: I harvested cloth from little girl's outfits from the thrift store. This is clever because they have all the right colors and you won't end up with tons left over.
  3. needle and thread
  4. cotton - to stuff the birds (I bought a terrible throw pillow from Goodwill and gutted it.)
  5. sticks
  6. topstitching or upholstery thread - that's to hang the branches from each other
  7. a dremel tool
  8. fish hooks, straightened
  9. hot glue/crazy glue
  10. the patience of a saint - or my father, since he is the only person I know who can get through (more than) five hours of balancing a bird mobile and still have his sanity
Once you've sewn and stuffed all your birds (I used 11), set aside a long afternoon to assemble your mobile. Since I found that tips about assembly were seriously lacking, here are some of the things that we learned:
  1. Map out which branches to put where, and start at the bottom.
  2. Don't be silly. Sewing the birds to the branches and tying the branches to each other would be simple enough, but because of the weight of the birds on the top of the branches, you end up with a batmobile. This is where the dremel and fish hooks come in.
  3. Use the dremel to drill a tiny hole in your branch(es). You'll insert the straightened fish hook into that hole, and thread your upholstery thread through the top of the fish hook. The fish hook is going to provide leverage, or something else that comes from physics, that will keep your branches from flipping over with the weight of the birds. See?
  4. Use the crazy glue to reinforce all your knots, because trust me - you're not going to want to do this twice.
  5. Hot glue is more effective than sewing in terms of keeping the birds upright on the branches; using both glue and thread will make it all more sturdy.
  6. For our easiest branch, we ran the middle bird straight through so that the topstitching thread runs through him, tying to the branch beneath him and the branch above him. This is an easy way to get your birds and branches balanced, so try to plan so that most of your branches can hang this way.
In the end, it's not perfect, but it's sure cute enough. I take comfort from Odgen Nash: "But a bird in the open never looks like its picture in the birdie books." Producing 11 identical hand-sewn sparrows escaped me, but I like to think that the movement and the sticks ("real sticks!" That's what the five year old at the birthday party liked) distract the eye from noticing my mistakes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Zen then, sore now

Today one of my clients said that I'm "thick as cold grits." And there was general agreement.

It was meant as a compliment, but it's not exactly what I wanted to hear after dragging my tired, lazy bones out of bed this morning to work out.

I went to a yoga/pilates class at 9:15, and afterward I was feeling so zen and great about life that I made a grievous error: I went to shop for yoga pants. I should clarify that while I'm a generally tiny person, I have the hips and posterior of a much larger, more African woman. And I think those hips may be the reason why yoga doesn't come from Africa. They don't make pants for hips like this. Of course I had to try on twelve pairs to realize it, and then I came home and cried over the cats' breakfast that I can't work out because I'm too fat to work out -- which of course was ridiculous. I meant too "thick."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sorry, Mom. No grandbabies.

(Also, sorry, Internet! Most of November whooshed by while I was busy breeding violent strains of a cough/cold/flu virus like the world has never seen before. I'm feeling better now. And I recommend the Vick's.)

Today at work, we kicked off three days of RealCare, which is not a program in which I pretend to actually care for three days in a row (but since you brought it up, we should probably consider implementing one of those). RealCare is that fake baby thing that they do in high schools to promote not getting pregnant, and that we're doing here to "increase awareness about issues related to caring for an infant." Like wanting to leave the fake baby in a dumpster and run for the hills? That's one issue.

As far as the program goes, the RealCare babies have only been activated for two hours, and let me testify! It works. At least, it works on me. And you can trust me: after the last 120 minutes of non-stop simulated baby crying, we are all in a state of dangerously increased awareness about issues related to caring for an infant.