Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ask a question, it's not illegal

It's a PC.
I wandered through the past two days in a whine-and-cheese malaise, but I seem to be finally coming out of it.  Crazy thing happened yesterday.  I came home from work to find J looking very crumpled.  He got a form email from a Google person he hadn't heard from before, saying they appreciated his application, but blah blah blah.  WTF, mate?  My first instinct was, "This is a mistake."  Since I make them all the time, I figure a huge company with thousands of applicants probably does too.

Seriously, a totally crumpled spouse.  He'd been looking at the email for an hour and a half like a nerdy little Hamlet.  Further confirming my theory, the last email he'd received was all about how to prepare for his technical interview, including websites to digest and books to buy.  Even though an employer is under no obligation to treat people nicely, I knew Google wasn't going to say they'd give an interview then give you the ax just because they can.  J didn't have an interview time scheduled yet (late in the week was the tentative plan) but it didn't seem right to me.  Since it was 5pm here, that meant it was 3pm there, giving his recruiter maybe enough time to get back to him on a yay or nay.

I was chasing the dog around the yard just 10 MINUTES LATER when J came out shouting, "It was a mistake! I have an interview on Monday!"  As much as I've been trying not to put all our hopes on this, we did get rather fixated.  This is a pretty big interview, but it's only the first one, so if it doesn't happen, that is not weird at all.  He should be so proud of himself for landing an interview so quickly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Lady of Idaho

Two Christmases ago, I gave my father-in-law a potato I won on eBay.  I can't remember exactly why I did this, but he ended up thinking it was very funny and sent me out to Hobby Lobby the next day for a length of red velvet to serve as a backdrop.  He is a novice photographer, and loves a challenge.  I finally got around to framing the photo he took and hanging it very prominently in our house.

Here is the photo of said potato, where I first heard of its fame:

from The Kitchn

My alternate name for it was Mary Mashdelene.

Sit tight and relax

Is it ok that I am just trying to go with the flow and see what awaits us? There is nothing I can do to get J a job, other than not make him go insane. All he seems to need is affection and the occasional errand.. so can I stop being neurotic now?  I promise to take it back up once he has an offer.

This feels good.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cactus Hat: Part 3

J models the cactus.  Moments later, it pops off of his giant head.

Paper pulp and toothpicks

Barrel Cactus!

Close up on spines
Things are going well with the hat.  Tonight, the paper pulp will dry, and tomorrow I'll do one last layer of newspaper and paper mache to reinforce the needle globs (not sure what else to call them).  Then it's time for a lot of painstaking painting.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cactus Hat: Part 2

Many thanks to J, who has been acting as my cactus flower consultant.  He think I'm not being realistic enough, but I'm just happy to see him interested in one of my projects.  We are taking some time out re-watching Battlestar Galactica*, which is a delightful distraction while felting and entering grades (him, not me). 

Also: a lot of people who have the fancy phones are playing Angry Birds**.  This game, well, it kind of makes you angry.  J found me an alternative to all those bloodthirsty birds, namely Tiny Wings.  He bought it on his iPhone, and lets me steal it anytime I want to play the game.  The sole point of the game is to move forward, there's no killing, no dying, and the soundtrack is so cute!  It was a well-spent dollar.


**I have friends who would likely have advanced degrees by now if not for this game.   Yeah, I know you're reading this.

Oh yes, that phone interview

I made myself scarce yesterday afternoon so J could have his phone interview with the Googles.  A friend took me out for a beer since I was acting so emo, and I couldn't help but check my  phone over and over to see what time it was.  It was only about 40 minutes, and he said it went well.  We'd brainstormed lots of good questions, and he got to ask most of them.  The technical interview will be next week.  I'm amazed at how smoothly this process has gone.

In a display of what might either be sanity or forced failure, I decided yesterday not to apply for the library job.  After all these years waiting and supporting J through his studies, a little open space always twinkled before my eyes.  I imagined there would be some time between resigning from my current job and starting a new one somewhere else, where I'd be able to walk the streets of my new town and learn about it.  Have a little time to get my bearings before jumping back in full time and getting my bearings on the weekends.  Friend from last night said that wasn't weird at all, and owed to me as a PhD widow.  I haven't been saving for nothing.

Still, I should work on a cover letter for it, just as an exercise.

Cactus Hat: Take One

I dug myself out of the dumps yesterday afternoon and made some goo for paper mache.  As soon as it started to thicken on the stove, my mood change was instantaneous.  I grabbed a few balloons from my stash (oddly, always kept with the flashlights) and blew one up a little bigger than a basketball.  It's hard to judge how big to make it (1) because I've never made a barrel cactus, (2) I can't try it on my head if it's still a sphere and (3) I don't know how big this person's head it.  My head is on the small side, so I have to keep that in mind.  J has a very large head, so he can't be a model either.  Just hope!

My moveable studio

My paper mache recipe is just heat water on the stove, add salt, and slowly add flour until it starts to get thick. Ta-da!  I'm a fan of brushing the glue on the form, adding strips of newsprint, more glue, more newsprint.  I put about three layers on today, so I'll let it dry overnight and add 3 more tomorrow.  I'm thinking that'll do the job.

I haven't made paper pulp since I was in junior high, but Instructables has a bevy of information on paper mache.  I intend to use the paper pulp to make little knobbles (like the cups on an octopus, maybe?) to go up the sides of the cactus.  I'll stick the "spines" into these as they are drying.  I think this will be the most involved part.  All I need are a few colors of paint, and I am on my way.

You don't know how small my hands are! That could be the size of a grapefruit for all you strangers know.

As for making it stay on a person's head, I think I may try to sew a simple cap and have it on the inside, with earflaps to hold it on.  If all goes well, it will resemble a green, spiky beehive hairdo.   And bonus! My first attempt at making a cactus flower.  I am using a little artistic license.  This one is felted, thanks to FirstStitch's teachings.  Who thinks it's a good idea to see what these would look like shellacked?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Me and the DMV: A taste of what's to come

Today is a university holiday, so I have it off.  I've spent today buying replacement lightbulbs and paying bills, sitting at the DMV trying to smile in order to make myself feel happier.  But it is just not working.  I keep looking at this dreary day and hoping that's not what's making me feel so low.  If it is, Seattle may not be so great for me.  I never noticed how often the sky was just pure, cloudless blue until I started reading about the weather in the Pacific Northwest.  I understand why they have vampires.

J has a short phone interview today with a Google representative.  It is not the big scary one, but it's his first phone interview for a job.  I have promised to be out of the house.  I am feeling his nervousness.  Afterwards I am taking him out for a meal.  I have yet to eat more than a small bowl of oatmeal today.

When I am sad or confused, I can't eat.  I forget how to make food or just get really bogged down in making decisions. I am currently staring at some frozen samosas that I do not want to unfreeze or eat.  A friend tells me I am disassociating from my current situation because it is too much.  I don't want to believe that, because this is just a taste of all the change and stress we'll go through.  All this time hoping and  complaining about moving on, and I freak out the second we start to go forward.  I've  cancelled plans with friends twice and backed out of a creative project just in the past day.  I'll admit I felt a lot better afterwards, but I really hate to disappoint people.

The highlight of my day will be starting a project for a commissioned Halloween hat.  My patron (who purchased my cherry hat previously and wants to collect more of my work ;)) pretty much let me decide what it would be, and I chose a barrel cactus.  I took a stack of newspapers from the DMV and will start making the form today.

Now, I really should eat before I decide to take a nap and waste the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carried Away: Pacific Northwest Edition

Sorry about that.  The phone interview, of course, was J's.  One day exciting job news will be about me.  Oh wait, here it is!

This weekend, while we made our city rankings, I was looking at all of their library websites looking for job openings.  Absolutely nothing, but that doesn't get me down.  When you're looking for such a specific job in a limited field, it would be too good to always find something.  I've saved a few month's salary, so I'm not too worried (naive much?) but today I looked at one of the libraries and a very good position is open! Not so good that I'm not qualified for it (who's a librarian? Not this guy) but good in that it sounds like awesome fun/hard work and pays well.

Too bad I have never even been to that state.  The application/cover letter is due at the end of March, so what is the hurt in going ahead and having that ready?  I would, of course, discuss this with my colleague, but if he doesn't get a job there, I will not be far enough along in the process to burn a bridge.  So a gal from Arkansas had to pull her application? No one will even blink.  Do I want this job?  I'll have to do a little more research on their library and the goals of the job, but I think so.  I would very much like to get back into the public library setting, and I think after my current job, I'm bringing some more mature assets*.

This is a situation where I must be careful to give J the attention and support he needs while going through this insanely nerve-wracking interview process, but also remember to keep myself in the picture.  There's such a small chance of this hair-brained scheme working out, but when an opportunity like this jumps up, how can you not try?  If he got an awesome job he liked, and I got an awesome job I'd be good at, then I guess "Confessions of a Trailing Spouse" could retire itself.  I think I would rename it "Jumbo Jibbles World of Proposterous Proportions".  Or something.

So, he is currently scheduling a small phone interview with Google, which could lead to a more intensive phone interview with a test of his computery skills.  I haven't seen him since he got the email, but I imagine he's more nervous than I've ever seen him**.

So, thanks to Ask a Manager (I've been a reader for five years now..) and a good friend who got herself a good job, I will start writing a cover letter and reading the library's website in and out.  I may have a snowball's chance of getting this, but I'm gonna go at it like it's a sure thing.

*That's making me giggle.
**I'm pretty sure on our wedding day he was mainly hungry.



Sequin crafts

A quick trip to the Salvation Army got me 10 packages of ice-blue sequins ($1) and a large, beige flat sheet ($2).  Let's talk about what happened to the former.

One dollar! (That's just 1.5 packs)

As for the latter, I was attempting to make a pair of Laupre's Easy Breezy Wrap Pants, but something went wrong in my head and I ended up with a kind of long-legged diaper.  It's unfortunate, because the beige sheet I found was a good weight and khaki-look, but I think I've ruined the whole piece.  I swear I followed the directions (of course, I hate directions, so I'm lying to myself) but it ended up looking like it'd need a lot of tailoring.  The pants are supposed to be really easy, so I'm missing something. I'll try it out again tomorrow night. : (

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Louisa Knock-off: GLAMOUR SHOTS

So many thanks to Kara-Line for making beautiful dresses and inspiring me to start sewing on my own.  This dress is an almost exact replica, except for some changes I made to the fitting on the sleeves and, of course, my lack of a serger.  I hope this is only the first of many dresses I make for myself, and someday get the skills to make them for other people, too. Picking a city based on search results

The internal referral J got for his Google application did the trick-- he received an email from a REAL PERSON on Friday.  He's gotten past the computers and has been asked to give his top three choices of location.  Google has offices in lots of awesome cities, but we narrowed it down to six, then to three:

1. Seattle, WA
2. Mountain View, CA (main headquarters)
3. Boulder, CO

We picked based on how likely J was to get a job at that particular location, whether we liked the area and all sorts of numbers (crime, cost of living, housing prices, weather).  Mountain View was a shoe-in since it's the main headquarters.  Some stats say it's more expensive than NYC, though, and that's scary.  We went ahead and stuck it there in the middle.  J left it up to me to pick the top location, and Seattle is big, similar to Portland, and I think I'd have the best chance at meeting people and finding things to do, also: jobs.

To chose between Seattle and Boulder (I've never been to either) I used to search for my interests.  I searched crafts, sewing, bicycles, feminism, ASL, libraries and made a judgment based on how much came up for each.  Starting out, though, I knew Seattle would have more.  Boulder is only a little bigger than where we live now.  J is familiar with Boulder, though, and says I'd really like it. Let's just say, though, I have never been skiing, and I've never had the urge.  I feel I'd be a waste of space in Boulder.  I like a bike-able city, though.

When we move, I will definitely use meetup to find some starter groups.  I'll admit, I'm already tired just thinking of how hard it will be to find new friends.

It's been a good Spring Break, though tomorrow's my last day of it.  J made a goal of finishing two applications per day, and so far he's doing it.  This is an extremely exciting time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finished: Trumpet skirt

I look like a sloppy cheerleader, but overall I think this worked out.  But NEVER AGAIN am I working with lining fabric when it isn't directly attached at all edges to the garment.  Ugh. Even with my hemmer foot, that part turned out super shitty.  Pictures!!

I'm learning an important lesson about palettes.  I love this color, but I don't have anything to wear with it (without looking like a cheerleader).  I should have picked a color that was more muted, so it would play nice with others.

Here's a shot of the inside, which I'm more proud of than the outside:

This was a good learning experience, definitely. I finally used some of the foot attachments my mom gave me, to some success.  I'll definitely be using a hemmer foot again.  But hemming lining fabric? Screw that. Not fun, not fun at all.

This also taught me that I would LOOOOOVVVVE a serger.  Finishing all the seams with bias tape looked good, but not every garment wants that much extra weight on the inside.  I also need a serger so I can turn these tissue paper cut-outs into fabric curtains:

Cut-outs by a friend, originally party decorations.

Imagine trying to hem THAT.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dissertation Go Time

J turned in a rough draft of his dissertation yesterday.

(This song cracks my shit up.)
We were both home at 5PM, and he'd narrowly missed his advisor (the norm).  He handed me the stack of papers, and I read that he had thanked me by name at the beginning.  I had no idea that was done, and I got a little teary that I was important enough to be mentioned in a paper about things I absolutely could not explain.  I was thanked for my "patience and support".  I probably could have done better on the patience part.

So, that was the really happy news yesterday, and I'm still a little high from it.  I also found out a close friend was offered a job that will be really good for her.  Good news abounds.

J's set to defend in late April, which will hopefully give him enough time to make edits before the graduation deadline.  His parents have already called me regarding festivities, and his sister may fly in from the East coast.  This will be the second graduation I've been through with him, and if he won't act excited, I'll be excited for the both of us.

I've had a few people hearing about his impending graduation remark, "So you'll be gone soon!"  I wish it were that easy.  I am curious what J will be like when he is no longer a student.  I hope he doesn't take the road I took, which was getting really depressed and direction-less. But he always seems to take a slightly different road than me, so I think he'll be OK.  I think he'll be great.  I'll make sure he stays clear-headed.

All gifs courtesy of Gif Party by the amazing Molly Lambert.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Two people have asked me (in just the last three days) if I'm going to have children.  Granted, one was a man from Yemen and one was a nurse, but WTF, mates?  For the latter, I'd gone in for a non-baby prescription refill and a problem with my toenail.  Babies? What?

Having children is something I've thought of. A lot.  I've read lots of books. I read blogs.  I talk to people my age and older who are parents.  I'm not shying away from the subject.  J and I talked about having kids before we decided to get married, and one of the things that attracted me to him was that he would make a really good father*.

My doctor asked me if I was thinking about having kids, and I told her I had an IUD that was good for another three years.  She said, "Well that could be taken out today!" And I replied, "BUT IT'S GOOD FOR FIVE YEARS AND THAT'S WHY I HAD IT PAINFULLY THRUST INTO MY UTERUS."  Ok, I did not all-caps at her, but I was flustered. I gave her my reasons why it's not something I personally wanted to do yet, reasoned arguments about pursuing my interests, spending time with my spouse and keeping my body mine.**  Her response and tone made me gag a little:

"Well, that's just the educated person talking".

Let me remind readers that I work on a college campus and this was the campus clinic.  She went on to say that most parents never crack a book about it and do just fine.  I couldn't shake the feeling that she was on the "Just jump in!" bandwagon.  Regardless of my want for children? Our financial readiness? Lady, love doesn't keep anyone alive. Especially in this economy.  I usually really like this APN, but she sounded judgy and I kept expecting her to say, "You'll change your mind!" which is incredibly rude.  How do you know my mind better than me?  Or worse, what if I change my mind after I have a baby?  No one ever tells a woman who wants kids that she'll regret it one day, that she'll change her mind or that she's selfish. These are common slurs tossed at childfree women.  To pull a comment from Where are the child-free role-molels?"
When I was growing up people kept saying "you'll change your mind". I wonder how many folks ever tell reproduction-inspired young women that they might someday "change their minds".
When I was younger, I never said things like, "I will never have kids", because I realized that I was still turning into the woman I'd become.  Almost 30, I'm pretty sure I'm almost a finished entity. And I'm slowly becoming more interested in spending the rest of my life with J and only J.  If that's what we decide to do, you can bet that I'll be berated but no one will probably question his decision.

No Kidding: On being childfree and really liking kids
A typical dose of judgment in which I wonder if this person is really trying to convince herself.
Why is it selfish to be child-free?
A whole series parodying that selfish "bitch" who chose not to have children!
That really depressing NYTimes article about unhappy parents (does not apply to everyone but gives me pause)
9 Reasons to Have/13 to not

None of what I'm saying is to judge anyone for having kids.  I wish I had a drive to do it, and maybe I will later.  But if I don't, I'd like to live my life happily without anyone telling me what I'm missing.  I already get that from meat-eaters.  All. The. Time.  This subject has just been so front-and-center for me lately.  All my lady-blogs are blowing up with it, people I know, friend's parents. The only person who hasn't really bugged me is my mom***.

*I was shelving books in the Parenting & Childbirth section of my library at the time, so it's not as weird as it sounds.
**I am not saying a pregnant woman or mother does not have bodily autonomy. I am frightened of mother mortality and icky American birth practices/attitudes.
***Who was put on a 5-year grandbaby moratorium the day of my wedding. She has kept her promise.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Warm weather coming and the need to be adorable

I am not a clothes horse, but I am always in search of the illusive piece of clothing that makes me feel wonderful. I have already found a few of them, and learned how to recreate another.  After my first success, I had dreams of a spring filled with handmade dresses and me always feeling wonderful, but my choices of patterned fabric in town are really sparse.  Nothing looks good enough to wear a whole dress of.  The only online fabric store I know about is Reprodepot, and they appear to be on hiatus. Sadface.

To the internet!  I found a handful of online shops that have great stuff, and if you know of others, please let me know in the comments.

Unfortunately the last one didn't have a cute logo I could link to (damn flash) but it is dern cute.

Trumpet skirt project

I couldn't find any fabric I liked for my next Louisa dress, so I decided to remake a skirt I've had for a decade: 

Doesn't look like much from the photo, but it's a beautifully put-together piece that fits me perfectly and looks good when I spin.  I thought it was called a tulip skirt.

It's 10 panels in cotton with a more vibrant lining and a zipper on the side. Since I don't want to take the original skirt apart, I am going to have to experiment with how the inner belt and lining work, but looks like the lining is just an identical version of the skirt.  So far it looks a little cheerleader-y, but when I iron it out I bet it'll look better.  Bright blue will be my color for spring/summer.  I am looking forward to storing my grey and black winter wardrobe.

One of the millions of seams.
Since there are 20 big seams to finish, I was feeling adrift without a serger.  I didn't want to make any more stitch lines on the right side of the fabric, and I also don't want ratty seams.  Someone suggested Dritz Fray-no-more, but I didn't want any sharp edges or weight added.  I ended up trimming the seam allowance to 1/2" and using bias tape to finish.  Yeah, it added weight, but it looks super professional (from my perspective).  Why didn't I take a picture??

Lovely lining fabric.
I don't mind the finished seam stitches showing on the right side of the lining, since no one will see it. This will definitely get done over the weekend, then I have a few days off for Spring Break!  I promise I will actually finish a project from a real pattern.  I don't know why I'm so hesitant. I HATE reading directions, that's why.

[Update: I just found a Simplicity pattern for a trumpet skirt that looks SOOOOOOO much simpler than this 10-panel one.  Urgh. Thank you internet for giving me a sign.]

Monday, March 14, 2011


J applied for two jobs last week, his first outside of academia.  So, in solemn respect for this milestone, a commemorative Blingee*:

Justin gonna get a job
Free Photo Editor

*Yes, ridiculous. But can also be used for literary lols:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lazy Sunday

I made a lot of plans today, and cancelled them all. No guilt.  I finished a pillow project, and it doesn't look too bad, just a little lumpy:

This isn't exactly what I was going for when I set out for Joann.  I love to sit up and read, but I hate sliding and having to scoot back up every few minutes.  A "boyfriend" pillow would be great, but they are ugly and I don't want to buy a pillow.  Ideally, I would purchase a chaise or a fainting couch (one day, oh one day.)

My friend Anca helped me sketch out the pattern, since I can't seem to think twice about something before cutting a big gash in it. Lo and behold, she took her eyes off of me and I made the inner pillow larger than the fabric for the case.  I pretended I did it on purpose so I could make little ribbon ties.

Detail on ribbon

I'm also not sure where I will put this, since our bedspread is red.  All that matters is that I actually accomplished something.

Yesterday I made the Mother's Day Corsage from  I took a tip from the comments to felt the petals into shape INSTEAD of using glue.  The tutorial said that the gluing took a while to set, and I don't think felting really took that long.  I ended up not using any glue.  Mine did not turn out as beautiful, but I'm sure that wasn't her first try either:

Next on the list is a replica of a skirt I've had for literally 10 years.  I bought some blue cotton similar to the color above, and some lovely lining (which no one will see).  I'll try sketching out the pattern today, but probably won't have much time during the week to work on it.  Spring Break is coming up, which shouldn't mean much to a working stiff like me, but my workplace is CLOSING for a few days for maintenance.  Once more, the freest of all free time.  And warm, too.

Bonus lazy pics:

She's just yawning.

Tiny dill pickle!