sometimes when you sew a skirt

:: Sometimes you start sewing a skirt with trepidation.
:: Because the last time you made a skirt, the reception was iffy.
:: But you're really excited about this one.
:: Because you've already made one skirt.
:: Even if it was "crafty."
:: So you start sewing.
:: And it's going great.
:: Until you insert the damn invisible zipper and realize you did it wrong.
:: So you take it out and try again.
:: And that damn invisible zipper still didn't go in right.

:: And then you have a meltdown.
:: You might not have the heart (or time) to pick up the skirt again for another week.
:: And when you do, you still have to tackle that damn invisible zipper.
:: Twice.
:: Because you did it wrong.
:: Again.
:: And then you realize that you put the waistband on upside down.
:: Because you sewed the waistband on upside down, you thought you cut the skirt pieces out wrong and trimmed off the "extra fabric."
:: So you take the whole skirt apart and re-cut the skirt front and back pieces.

:: And you sew the whole thing all over again.
:: Including the damn invisible zipper.
:: Twice.
:: But the waistband is on correctly this time.
:: Phew.
:: So you stitch-the-ditch and trim your thread until you're ready to hem.
:: And you try our your blind-hem presser foot this time.
:: You love it.
:: You press the skirt.
:: And try it on.
:: But you don't post any pictures of you in the skirt, because you couldn't get a decent one no matter what you tried.

:: For a second skirt, it's not that bad.
:: Maybe even a little less crafty than the first one.


dreaming versus doing

I spend lots of time on the internet. Lots. And most of that online time happens at work (who wants to spend time at the computer at home when that's all you do at work?). When I'm not making FedEx labels, sorting invoices and expense reports to send to the corporate office, calling couriers, restocking the three Coca-Cola fridges in the office, or getting hot chocolate at the Pearl Bakery, I'm reading blogs, finding new blogs to read, adding items to my Amazon Universal Wishlist (genius), and since last week, pinning on Pinterest (addiction).

Resulting from this continual online investment is a bevy of new blogs in my Google Reader and almost 150 Pinterest pins amassed within one week. I have so many ideas for home decor, parties, crafting, DIYing, recipes, and color combinations, not to mention the punctuation and signage art with which I want to adorn everything. And don't forget my new wardrobe that exists only in Pinterest pins and the birthday parties I'm ready to plan for my imaginary children (let's just say that when I have a girl, she'll be set).

In this idea-collecting process, I've found creative energy and motivation, an excitement for the endless possibilities available to me. That's a fun feeling. One of my priorities is to create a beautiful home and do that while living within our means. The ocean of blogs and websites overflows with ideas to achieve both those ends. In cases like this I love the internet.

The thing is, my imagination gets ahead of my life; I don't have the time (or the means) to do all of this all at once. I make time for many things I love, and that also means I have to pick and choose. I also have other domestic responsibilities, like laundry and grocery shopping (we're currently on day three of really needing more dish soap), so I have to balance the necessary things with the nice-to-do things. Balancing my wants and needs isn't difficult usually, but there is an aspect that is especially frustrating about my current situation: I wish that I could spend more time doing instead of dreaming. And really, don't we all?

So right now I'm doing as much as I can and still dreaming so that I'll never run out of things to do. And with Pinterest on my side, I'll probably never be low on ideas.


Costco splurge

While at Costco today (yes, I know--Costco on a Saturday is one of the worst ideas) I bought these tulips.

They were bright and springy and joyful. Everytime I look at them I feel happy.


an epilogue

{The story didn't end with the teenage boy assuaging my concerns about the
leftover lunch in the parking lot.}

The kind boy told me that he worked nearby and that I could use the bathroom at his job. I was extremely grateful and started following him down the street. I started to turn into an arcade, thinking that he was employed there. The teenage boy, probably thinking that I was anticipating another wave of nausea and needed a bathroom ASAP, said that he worked somwhere else. He thought that the arcade probably had a bathroom too and then wished me well.

Inside the door of the arcade was a brusque man who asked for my ID.

{Yes, readers, I was being carded to use a bathroom so I could wipe the vomit from my nose.}

I tried to explain my situation, that I had absolutely zero intentions of staying--I really just needed to clean myself up before boarding the train. Yet, he insisted on seeing my ID. After clumsily groping in my bag to find my wallet while trying to best keep my nose and mouth covered, I showed him my driver's license. As I made my way back to the black-lit, seedy bathroom, the employee instructed me to "not make a mess."

Another low moment.


Jimmered dreams

The other night I had a dream that I was riding in a car with Jimmer Fredette. We were having a great time (because, you know, we're BFFs), when he exited the freeway by going the wrong way on an on-ramp. Instead of freaking out, I just said, "Whoa, you Jimmered that!"

Happy Sweet 16, BYU!

And yes, he can make it from here.


the daytime TV demographic

Because of the nature of my job (manning the front desk), it's hard for me to leave my post for long stretches of time, for example lunch breaks. I sign for deliveries, greet business visitors, and explain our company and office to the random people who come in. (And random walk-ins happen all the time. In fact, one happened just now.) So to facilitate my job responsibilities and my lunch breaks, I take my lunches here, in our mezzanine-slash-lounge, from where I can hear anyone entering or exiting the building.

I love it. I get to lounge in these chairs (which offer more modern trend than actual comfort) and watch TV for 30 to 45 minutes. My favorite show is Law and Order, which is on TNT all afternoon every afternoon. No joke.

After a week or so of this routine, I started noticing a trend in the commercials TNT aired during their back-to-back Law and Order episodes. I now know all about Binder & Binder, America's most trusted social security disability advocates. I know about Colonial Penn life insurance: they won't reject your application because of age (even if you're over 50), don't require a medical examination, and is only $0.35 a day. And don't forget the SunSetter retractable awning that makes it so you can enjoy the outdoors without baking in the sun.

So—I suppose I'm an outlier in the TNT daytime demographic. Still, I love my Law and Order lunches.

If only TNT aired commercials for 15-inch punctuation stencils to make my research easier. . . . Yes, punctuation stencils.


why I couldn't eat my dinner tonight

A couple of weeks ago I had some leftover Kraft mac and cheese for lunch. It did go for some time unrefrigerated, but it was only a day old. It should have been fine. Should have.

When I was eating it, I thought it tasted a little funny, but operating under the delusion that really it was fine, I kept eating. Eventually, after I'd eaten about half of it, I quit. Then my stomach hurt all afternoon. I left work as soon as the clock said I could, still feeling ill.

On my way to the train stop a few blocks away, my stomach started feeling more upset. Panicking, I realized that I was too far away from my office to run back. I looked around as my stomach ran out of time, and then I did the only thing I could think of: I vomited in a parking lot in downtown Portland. Not in a planter or trash can. A parking lot. A parking lot.

That was a low moment.


Fast forward to tonight. Last week we bought one of Costco's prepared food items to keep on hand for dinner. We had a steak-and-mashed-potatoes option last month and were impressed. Tonight when the chicken alfredo finished heating up in the oven, we tucked in, ready for some easy and tasty food. After only a couple of bites, however, I commented that the seasoning tasted a little funny. Then after another bite, the funny taste found definition: my mac-and-cheese disaster flashed in my mind, the picture of the soiled asphalt appearing clearly. I spat out my chicken and refused to eat another bite.

And that is why I couldn't finish my dinner tonight.

{To end on a funnier note, when I got sick in the Portland parking lot, a nice teenage boy stopped and asked if I was okay. I expressed concern about the state of the asphalt and asked if there was any city officer I could notify of the mess. I felt so trashy leaving my lunch there. The boy didn't look too sure of my question, but kindly answered, "Well, it does rain a lot here." Let's be so glad for that.}


hinting at spring

I saw these soft pink buds on some trees downtown, and my heart felt lighter. I didn't realize how ready I was for spring until I saw the flowers in the rain.


my latest "craft" project

My sewing has been progressing nicely. I finished up curtains. I've had a few more fabric-buying excursions, and I've even bought fabric for a pattern that's not in my sewing book. I'm that serious now.

Last night I finished my first clothing project since the skort I completed when I was nine. I made a wraparound skirt. When I picked out the fabric, I even had a whole outfit in mind for this skirt. It was a great transition project into apparel sewing because it combined new and old concepts into something that wasn't too hard and still increased the sewist's confidence.

I found a few things I could have done differently, but I thought that, for a first piece of clothing (since I started sewing more seriously) I did pretty well. It's even green for St. Patrick's Day. {Please excuse my lanky post-work hair}

So when I came into work today and one of my co-workers complimented me on my skirt, some pride welled up inside me.

I felt even further validated when he asked me where I got it. "Oh, I made it!" I confidently answered.

"Oh, I was wondering. It has that crafty feel to it."

. . . Thanks? All my confidence, pride, and validation went mostly out the window.

While I do aspire to be a craft master, I want the things I make to have style. Especially the clothes. I don't want my clothes to look like a craft project. Which apparently, right now, they do.

So with a little more trepidation than I had before, I'm headed into my next skirt project. Or, should I say, craft project.


springing forward

I've always hated the switch from standard time to daylight savings time, if only because I lose an hour of sleep one night. And really, that's not the worst. Inconvenient, sure. But the same thing happens when I fly from Oregon to Colorado, and it doesn't bother me then.

So I can't explain why I've been disproportionately tired this week. I don't know if it's simply my body recovering from a busy few days, or if my fatigue really can be attributed to the time change. And it feels like each day the tiredness worsens. This morning I overslept by 20 minutes, fell asleep reading on the bus, had a difficult time rousing myself approaching my stop, and am currently willing my body and mind to stay alert in its semi-cloudy state.

Tonight I may or may not shoot for a 9:00 bedtime.


12 of 12: saturday

01. Nothing says Saturday like pigtails.
02. Practicing my violin piece for church
03. Target--obviously
04. A long overdue conversation with my mom
05. Serious vacuuming--you see those chairs Josh put on the table. Like I said: serious.
06. Josh's bloody stump of a finger. He had a small run-in with a knife--he's a-okay.
07. A nap snippet
08. Fabric Depot with Jessica
09. Dinner at Five Guys
10. Hanging with our neighbor (well, the Wilsons' neighbor) Daniel
11. A good game of Dominion
12. Clean sheets--delightful

perfectly delectable

Do candy bars get better than the sublime chocolate-pretzel-caramel-peanut–peanut butter combo?

I think not.

{Please excuse the mirror image--iMac Photo Booth, you know. PS--That's a Take 5 bar, in case the mirror image was inconvenient to read}


things I could write about but won't

This week I've been in a blog block. I'm at a complete loss of something to blog about. Life this week has been, well, boring. And not to say that I'm bored with life, because really, I love boring. I love routines, and I love normal.

I could blog about how I left my umbrella on the lightrail yesterday morning and how I remembered in time to go back to see the doors close and the train pull away as I saw my polka-dot umbrella sitting on my seat, abandoned. {Can you say run-on sentence}

I could blog about how I'm ready to dive into more Russian lit. Dostoyevsky, to be specific.

I could blog about my serious cleaning plans this weekend.

I could blog about how, through tears and frustration, I persevered and fixed my sewing machine.

I could blog about my dreams of sewing a wardrobe comprising solely skirts and dresses.

I could blog about the feelings I had when I read an email from a co-worker urging us to donate money to relief efforts in Japan instead of "only praying," so that we could "do something that might actually help."

I could blog about how I'm really excited to start subscribing to the New Yorker. I just love magazines.

I could blog about my budding enthusiasm for March Madness this year, thanks in no small part to Jimmer.

I could blog about how Mom's musical week and Emily's exam week coinciding was not my plan. I'd like my daily phone calls and g-chats back, please.

I could blog about how I'm currently more in an "input" mood, that is I'm reading a ton—blogs, magazines, books—and how my output inspiration (you know, blogging) is idle.

I hit these blog ruts every now and again, and I know I'll pull out. Maybe I'll finally buckle down and get the apartment spiffed up enough to take pictures so I can show you our first married apartment. Maybe I'll dive into a committed cooking project that I'll document. Or I might just sit down with a BG and watch Gilmore Girls and let inspiration hits when it feels like it.

{Remember, tomorrow is the 12th—get your cameras ready! And at least I can count on a weekend post with 12on12, right?}



Adjusting to full-time work has been an adventure, to put it positively. I can't pinpoint why a full-time job has been so straining on me this time, because I've worked full-time before. This go-around, however, has put me through its paces. And it's not the job itself. I like my job. It's not glamorous by any means, and it's not an editing or writing job (which was a hard pill for me to swallow), but it's interesting. I like my co-workers, and I feel valued professionally. As far as administrative jobs go, this is one of the best.

The aspect that's been the hardest for me to accept is time. I've always been someone who needs time to herself. I don't function well when I don't have time to regroup and decompress. So when I found myself thrown into full-time work added onto an hour commute each way I felt panicked into thinking that I'd never have time make dinner, grocery shop, or do laundry, much less to indulge in leisure activities. {Note: Josh has taken up the slack most gallantly and has relieved me of much of the housework load}

So the past few months have been a mess of an often over-emotional me struggling to grasp quasi-adulthood and adjust like a normal person. I mean, people do this everyday. Who am I to complain about full-time work? And for me, full-time work does have a foreseeable end {in general, not specific—this is in no way an announcement}. When we have children, we're planning—fingers crossed—on me not working outside of the home. So this formal, eight-hour job should be a cakewalk. (Because, let's face it, mothering certainly won't be.) But full-time work isn't a cinch. At least for right now.

To the point of this post: lately I feel more adjusted. I don't exactly look forward to waking up at 6:00 every morning and getting home twelve hours later, but most of the time I don't wake up dreading my day. (Yes, I have had days like that.) Lately I've had more good days than hard ones. I may not have time to clean the bathroom every week or make dinner every night, and I'm finally accepting that that's okay for now. I'm blessed that my job is a good and stable one, that it's in an interesting part of town, and that it's two blocks away from Powell's. I'm blessed to have an empathetic husband, who listens, consoles, and vacuums. I'm blessed with stamina for socializing, because we have so many fun couples in our ward. I'm blessed with the miracle that I really have been able to find time for domestic responsibilities and hobbies.

The adjustment is finally settling down. I'm finally starting to feel more in control of my emotions. I'm finally figuring out that where I am right now, while not my ideal, is still a good place.

{Sidebar: Yes, I know that parenting will not make room for much alone-time and that I'll end up being even more frustrated in trying to keep a tidy house. Somehow, though, having mothering suck away my time seems different from IDL Worldwide sucking away my time. I'll be investing my time in my children, and somehow that has to be so much more worthwhile than investing my time in FedEx-label making.}


whatever-you-want Saturday

Yesterday we had a whatever-you-want Saturday. We didn't have any real obligations, so we did whatever we wanted all day.

We slept in longer than usual. I wasn't fully ready or dressed until after noon. Josh didn't change out of his pajamas all day. We played as much Super Mario Galaxy as we wanted and didn't care to count the number of 30 Rock episodes we watched.

I went to Joann's to take advantage of the 99-cent pattern sale and bought the maximum amount of patterns allowed. I sewed for the rest of the afternoon while Josh alternated between playing on the computer and watching TV with me.

And at 8:30 when I thought that chocolate chip cookies sounded especially good, I whipped some up. Just because I wanted to.

We concluded our whatever-you-want Saturday by falling asleep while reading in bed.

I'm a big fan of the whatever-you-want Saturdays.


Operation Superhuman Reader: February 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been seeing this book everywhere and finally decided to read it. It's popular for good reason: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a captivating and methodical crime thriller that holds your attention through the whole book. I especially liked how the mystery didn't feel contrived or obvious, but instead it's presented more slowly, increasing intrigue and building characters. I really got a feel for the characters in the book, and I felt treated like a smart reader. The mystery wasn't a jumble of childish, obvious clues, but instead consisted of subtle, developed clues that connected themselves more to the actual characters, and I liked that.

I read that the translated title in Swedish (the language in which the book was originally written) was Men Who Hate Women, and I find that more appropriate than its American re-title. I actually found the current title misleading, because I don't feel that that title character, Lisbeth, is the focal point; she's a critical character to the story, but I felt the story was more Blomkvist's than Lisbeth's.

This was a smart book with a compelling plot. I'll probably try out the next one.

Reader advisory: This book contains a fair amount of language, sex, and violence, though not so superfluous in my opinion. The violence is also specific to brutality against women, with one especially graphic scene.

View all my reviews

Peace Like a RiverPeace Like a River by Leif Enger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Told from the perspective of 11-year-old Reuben Land, Peace Like a River relates about a year of the Land family's life. I can't say that it's really about the family's search for their outlaw brother, because that story is more of a conduit through which Reuben and his sister, Swede, learn about miracles and God and family.

As a narrator, Reuben isn't entirely reliable, but that's part of his charm. You have to infer into the story to achieve a fuller grasp of the Lands' true situation. Through Reuben and his childhood fallibilities I learned about the complexities of love and loyalty, and through his father, I learned about sacrifice, parental love, humility, and power. By the end I wished that Reuben had found more conviction in himself and his beliefs, that he had changed more than he did, but he's an honest character, and that goes a long way with me.

Apart from the emotions present, the story itself is beautifully written. Enger has a way of writing that captures the spirit of the words. He combines words into arresting rhythms that touch you and fit together so perfectly you couldn't imagine them being written any other way.

I haven't read anything like this book before, and I'm still processing it. It was unexpectedly emotional for me, and I admire the way Enger draws you in emotionally without you really realizing it until the end. This book made me feel, and I love that.

View all my reviews

The Power Of OneThe Power Of One by Bryce Courtenay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book makes it onto my top-10 favorites. Easy. My grandma recommended this book to me years ago, and I decided to re-read it (and given my deplorable reading retention rate, it was almost like reading it for the first time). The Power of One is a true coming-of-age novel and masterfully brings together so many themes and emotions so that as the reader, you're affected in intellectual, social, and emotional ways.

Throughout Peekay's childhood and adolescence you see the power that hope, love, grief, and dreams can have on an individual. I gained a greater understanding of the social and political implications of South African apartheid and the true damage of hate. Conversely I saw the transcending power that love can have on individuals and even entire groups of people. I became caught up in the emotion of the story, becoming very dedicated to Peekay's boxing and his dream to become the welterweight champion of the world. I loved the relationship Peekay develops with Doc and the love he cultivates for learning. The story's emotions are very real, from the tragedy and grief Peekay experiences to his successes in school and boxing. I appreciated Peekay's desire to please himself and not just those around him. His need to define himself, while perhaps a little pigheaded, is where the power of one finds its roots.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: "The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated." That's what this book is about: coming to believe in yourself and acting on it.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It's a mature read, if only because it's thematic. This is a book that I will think about often and one that will stay with me.

View all my reviews


the birthday cake

If you've tuned in within the past year, you might want to check out this post about Josh's birthday cake last year. I ended on mild success, but that success did not give me much confidence going into this year's cake. I'm baking in a new climate and the cake then was just for Josh and me, not a group. I felt the need to impress (I often feel this need and still am not quite sure what that says about me).

I thoroughly researched cake baking {again}. I read the entire cake section in The Joy of Cooking and all the tips in the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. After consulting Josh on the cake he wanted this year, I decided to make the time-proven new popular devil's food cake from the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, the chocolate cake my grandma and mom make, one of the cakes that has accompanied me through childhood and adolescent-hood and quasi-adulthood.

After my research I made the following adjustments to my baking method (and don't laugh at the obviousness of these implementations).

:: use the right sized pans for the cake recipe—I know
:: use cake flour instead of defaulting to the cheaper Gold Medal flour option
:: take out eggs and liquids early so they can rise to room temperature
:: use an oven thermometer so I know for sure I'm baking at the correct temperature

So Saturday night I began, a little apprehensive because if this cake failed I wouldn't really have time to redo it.

Imagine my relief when the cakes came out looking like this.

Sunday before heading over to Jeff and Karen's I had to make the frosting, white mountain frosting, the frosting staple of my formative years. And I was just as nervous for this part as I was for the actual cake-baking. White mountain frosting isn't guaranteed to set up every time, and Oregon not as dry a state as Colorado or Utah. I was nervous.

I meticulously followed the recipe, and after some serious egg-white whipping and a good measure of baking prayer (Grandma always said it's okay to pray over your cakes), the frosting set.

Such. relief.

What I'd like to change/investigate for next time:

:: How did Grandma (and Mom and every other cake baker I know, for that matter) get her cake layers so uniformly high?? If the tops of my cake layers were a representation of how high the whole layer was, I would be mindlessly giddy.
:: Double the frosting recipe.  I like my white mountain frosting plentiful on all sides, thank you very much. (Apparently I missed out on that Petersen-clan secret.)

Thankfully (oh so thankfully) the cake was a success at the birthday dinner. We took home the leftovers. And I may or may not have had cake for breakfast. And if you looked in my lunch bag today you'd see that I packed cake for dessert. Because lunch deserves dessert. Obviously.
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