Pinable Moment.

I am terrible at even the very basic computer skills, like knowing what an RSS feed is or how to use real photo editing software.  This is why I only joked in Bikini Body about putting my words of wisdom on a generic gorgeous background and pinning them to Pinterest, and why I didn’t actually do that.  Not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I didn’t know how to.  (I am more ashamed of admitting to that than I was to confess that I run out for terrible wine when I feel emotional distress.)

Today, however, inspired by a commenter who suggested that I really should go ahead and make an inspirational-quote image worthy of classroom walls, I discovered the Instaquote app, which does what any good smartphone application should; namely, it makes all this remarkable technology accessible for idiots like me so that we can finally realize our dreams of putting text over appropriately modern photos in order to immortalize the incredibly profound things we say.

Behold, the Bikini Body Pinterest Image:

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Feel free to pin away, everyone!

Wait a Second.

Myrtle, did I do an okay job obscuring her identity?  I drew and re-drew that mustache, like, a lot of times.  Then I gave up.

Myrtle, did I do an okay job obscuring her identity? I drew and re-drew that mustache, like, a lot of times. Then I gave up.

Saturday was the Fiece’s second birthday party, which was, as expected, the cutest.  The Fiece was in top form, guilting me into giving her fistfuls of M&Ms, promptly counting all of them and naming their colors, and then running around the house with her most favorite gift, a doctor’s bag full of tools, saying in a satisfied voice, “I have a diagnosis!”  (For real.  That happened.)

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Things the Fiece has trouble saying:

1) Chips.  She says, “SHips.”

2) Chocolate.  “SHocolate.”

3) Sarah.  “Sawah.”

4) Green.  “Geen.”

Things the Fiece has no trouble saying:

1) “I have a diagnosis!”

Just so we’re clear.

Anyway.  Fertile Myrtle used some Pinterest ideas to spice up the party.  She entertained the toddlers with a fun project

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and put cupcakes in glasses filled with chocolate, which is pretty much the way to my heart:

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I was impressed with her use of Pinterest “pins” in real life, as when I was really into Pinterest, I spent all my time pinning shit and very little (read: zero) time actually doing any of the things.  (If you are interested in checking out some more things I haven’t done with my life, you may follow me here.)  She inspired me to log back in after weeks and weeks and start poking around in the internet bulletin board again.  I was about two minutes into culling through pins when I stumbled across this.  THIS, the most amazing “craft” I have ever seen in my entire life.  (I know I’m prone to exaggeration, but I mean it this time.  It is the best.)  The fact that someone had this idea and implemented it and posted it online, and then someone else liked it enough to share it with everyone she knows, is just too much.  I immediately left Pinterest and came here to tell all of you about it.

Thank you, Pinterest, for showing me that there are people more terrible at home improvement projects than I am.  Even I know that a stencil and spray paint do not a stone walkway make.

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If you haven’t already, you should check out Pintester.  I am jealous every day of my life that I did not create that blog first.

Adventures in Reheating.

My favorite meal in all the world is one my mother used to make when I lived at home.  It is, you might say, my mother’s recipe, although it isn’t a concoction ripped from the pages of my great-grandmother’s cookbook.  (I don’t eat meatballs or chicken soup or brisket, so I’m essentially a pox on the family).  My favorite meal in all the world is made almost entirely from items sold in packages at California grocery stores.  I consider this processed nightmare of Mexican chefs and dietitians everywhere a recipe because I’ve tried it with other boxes and cans and with homemade components and nothing, nothing compares to the culinary victory that is my mother’s combination of products.  Nothing.

It is as follows:

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Prepare as directed.

Prepare as directed.

Prepare as directed.

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Fry corn tortillas in vegetable oil. Shape into taco shells.

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This is an avocado. It is a fruit. Do not fear it’s natural skin and large seed. It will not hurt you.

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If I ever find myself requesting a last meal, it will be a feast made in twenty minutes from this collection of store-bought delights.

My mother, who is actually a fantastic cook and an excellent baker and an extraordinary cake decorator, hates me for referring to this as a one of her “homecooked meals.”  In my defense, she once fed this to someone who prides himself on gourmet cooking and he told her it was the most delicious Mexican food he’d ever had, so as far as I’m concerned she is a genius.

Job well done.

Job well done.

(P.S. Yesterday, Fertile Myrtle told me that when she gets email alerts that I’ve published new posts, she feels compelled to stop whatever she’s doing and read them immediately.  That makes me feel really powerful.  Dear friend, what were you doing just now?)

Wordless Wednesday: Shadowlands

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(For the record, I am extremely proud of this. Extremely.)

Look what I did! I know this is Expert Level: High School Freshman, but I’m impressed with myself. I’m a person who spent more of my childhood chasing my friends around with the corpses of my pet fish than playing dress up, so this is huge.

And all it took was the abject panic that I would roll up to a “gala event” looking like I just woke up.

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Release from Gel.

Today, I made the very difficult decision to end my love affair with my gel manicure.  It was still totally chip-free and gorgeous, but had grown out enough at the bases that it was starting to peel up and annoy me.  Because I am cheap and I did not want to be tempted into getting yet another expensive manicure while getting this stripped by a professional, I decided to attempt to remove the gel at home, using a technique I dreamed up using 1) things I spied at the nail salon and 2) various DIY guides online.

My nails when I began the process (a full two weeks post-manicure), still perfect and lovely, but just grown out enough to upset my delicate sensibilities:

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I began by gathering my supplies: ten pieces of cotton ball, acetone (or as close as to acetone as I had at my house), and ten 3X3 squares of tin foil.

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I then soaked one cotton piece in the acetone at a time, placed it directly over a nail, and then wrapped the fingertip in foil to hold the cotton to the nail.  I was experimenting with my left hand only, and had no trouble doing it all with one hand.  If I, She-Of-No-Hand-Eye-Coordination, can manage this, anyone can.

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My Googling led me to believe that the little tin foil acetone mummies should remain in place anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes.  I am a notorious five-year-old and love silly fingers, so I enjoyed this part.  In retrospect, I could have enjoyed it longer, because ten minutes was not enough time for my gentle acetone to do its job.  I’d suggest closer to 15 or 20 minutes.

Upon removal of the foil and cotton, the gel had lifted from the edges of nails, but was still quite thick and sticky near the center of the nails.  I ended up cutting a few Q-tips in half and using the blunt cut ends of the sticks to push up the stubborn gel.

My nails mid-scraping (I apologize for the especially horrific quality of this photo):

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This manual removal process took approximately forever.  I ended up replacing the tin foil/cotton wraps on all the nails but the one I was working on at the moment, which leads me to my conclusion that a wait time of closer to 20 minutes might be helpful.

I started wrapping my fingers at 2:26 pm and was finished scraping the last of the gel off my five left fingers at 2:54 pm.  It was a total blast.

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When I was finished, I rummaged through some crap under our bathroom sink and managed to find two nail “salon boards,” which I used to buff off the last of the gel polish, which left me with:

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It’s now 7:45 pm and I have yet to start on my right hand, because I am so not looking forward to repeating this process.  However, despite how labor intensive this was, I think it was a DIY win.  The gel manicure has been removed and my nails are not destroyed.  And now I can give myself a normal polish manicure before a big school function I’m going to on Friday without paying someone to stick my hand into a UV lamp.

Finally, just for the record, I used my still-manicured right hand to scrape, scrub and douse my left fingers with acetone and it survived, totally unscathed.  I’ve said it before and I’ll gladly say it again: if the gel manicure wasn’t so expensive (or so mildly terrifying in its impenetrability), I would do it all the damn time.

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The fingernails of my right hand, still completely intact despite squeezing nail polish remover all the place for twenty minutes this afternoon.

Valentine’s Wreath!

The other night, I ventured out to my local Michael’s craft store and bought some supplies for my first Valentine’s Day decor project.  After doing some recon at the store, I realized I could only scrounge up enough cute material for one of my ideas – the yarn-wrapped wreath (I drew inspiration from wreaths like this).  My lack of options was initially disappointing, but eventually I concluded it was for the best, as it means I can go craft store hopping over the weekend.  That’s very exciting.

When I cooked up my Valentine’s Day dreams, I decided in advance that I wanted the pieces to be subtle (read: not strictly red, white, pink and purple and covered in hearts), so I chose colors that, in retrospect, make this thing look like it could hang up in our house all year long (which, if I’m honest, is actually pretty spectacular, because it means I don’t have to make too many more of these.  This is great news because while I am crafty, I am also lazy).

It ended up being 8:30 pm by the time I was able to squeeze this in and for the sake of expediency, I used my cell phone’s camera, so I’m sorry both the lighting and the quality of most of these photos are so terrible.  They definitely aren’t up to Pinterest standards (but I am totally pinning this anyway.  I am a shameless self-promoter).

Let’s begin:

 1: Gather together a skein of yarn, a styrofoam wreath ring, a few sheets of felt (I ended up using three), a glue gun, fabric scissors and some (optional) assorted do-dads, like those pink fabric flowers I was forced to buy in desperation when I couldn’t find an appropriate pink felt.

Plug in your glue gun.  This is important.  For eventual gluing.

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 2: I began by making a large felt flower that I envisioned sitting between the two pink ones I bought.  After looking up some felt flower tutorials online and reading them through Valentine’s-rose-colored glasses, I chose to make a flower with heart-shaped petals.  If you are feeling brave or particularly artistic, you can cut the felt into hearts freehand.  However, if you are feeling like me, you can use a pen to draw subtle heart shapes on a piece of paper for five minutes before landing on one that looks (literally) halfway decent, only to then have to fold it in half to cut its other side into the same shape as the side you liked.  Then, use your paper heart as a guide to cut out several heart-petals.  I cut out nine and ended up only using eight.  You may use your discretion.

The ends of the petals can be blunt, as the next step is to cut up the middle of the petals about 1/4 inch, so that they look like little molars with stubby roots.  (Does anyone else see that?  Or am I just super gross?)

While you’re still busy cutting felt, cut out a square of indeterminate size.  I know.  That’s really helpful.  I didn’t measure mine – I just ended up trimming almost all of it away when I finished the flower.  The purpose of this square is to act as a base for the gluing of your petals, so a good measure is to place a ring of five petals (or however many you plan on using for the outermost, largest ring) onto your spare felt and then cut out a square large enough to accommodate them all.

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 3: Next, take up one of your little petals and cross the right side of the bottom cut over the left side.  Use your glue gun to glue the right side on top of the left side, so that your felt petal curls up like a flower petal, like so:

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 4: Now, you can start gluing the petals to the felt square base.  I started at a far corner of the base and glued down only the pointed tips of the petals, making sure to place the tips close enough at the base to create a slight overlap in the petals as they fanned out.  I used five petals for the first ring and then placed three more petals in a second ring inside the first:

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 5: I ended up with a ton of extra felt at the base, which I then very unceremoniously hacked away at with my scissors until it couldn’t be seen peeking out from under the flower.  I rolled a small piece of extra felt into a stamen (sexy!) and glued it into the center of the flower to fill in the empty space.  I’ve seen other, more thoughtful people use gorgeous buttons to combat this empty-hole problem.  I, however, did not have the forethought to buy one and I am not a woman of patience.  Thus, I improvised with a tiny cinnamon-roll of white felt.  I’m a fan.

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6: Next, I tore open the yarn packaging, used the glue gun to secure the free end of the yarn to the styrofoam wreath and then spent the next 75 minutes wrapping the yarn around the styrofoam form.  At first, I wrapped pretty meticulously, making sure that each successive length of yarn lined up precisely with the wrap before, but by the end, I was a wrapping maniac, really only making sure the wraps never overlapped, before I would then push all the wraps down the wreath to line up together in a beautiful, thick yarn coating.  (I’ve just typed “yarn” so many times, I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense.  Please provide feedback.)

When all the green styrofoam was covered, I cut off the yarn, glued down the free end (on the same side of the wreath as I’d glued the first end, for consistency) and then placed and glued my large felt flower and the two pink fabric ones.

7: Almost immediately after “completing” the project, I decided it was too boring, so I cut out (freehand!) two wavy cloud shapes:

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 8: Then, I pinched them together at the ends and glued them, thus leaving me with two vaguely leaf-shaped pieces of felt:

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9: I slapped those underneath the pink flowers and voila!

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Super cute, no?!?  It took forever, but was worth it.  Unfortunately, because I can never be satisfied, I still thought it needed more pizzazz.  10: I found a font I liked on Microsoft Word, blew up the first initial of our last name to font size 500 and literally traced it from the laptop screen onto a piece of paper, which I then cut out and pinned to some leftover felt before cutting that out and gluing it to the wreath:

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10. Done!

I think it’s more balanced now and I adore it.  This may be a crafting win and no one is more shocked by that than I am.