Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My brain needs a hobby.

You may not remember this, but back in the day, I said something to a swap buddy about wanting to learn embroidery. 

It was pretty far back in the day, so don't feel bad if you have no recollection of this since I barely do myself.

I'm a little forgetful sometimes. There. It's out there. Shit out of horse.

Anyway, this nice swap buddy of mine indulged my whimsical wishes and sent me a Stitch-it Kit with her swap project and I was very excited. The whole time (years) it sat on my craft shelf, just looking at me with its "Remember - YOU wanted to embroider - so here I am whenever you're ready. Bitch." look on its face.

That Kit is really a lot mouthier than I would have expected from a pink box. 

Anyway, after all that time, I finally busted open the box and did something with all that thread. 

Well, to be truthful, I used very little thread, but I used some of the thread which is an occasion in itself given my lackluster attention to this craft BUT STILL.

See I had a project I finished last fall that I'd crafted with the full intention of giving it to my goddaughter when a gift-giving holiday presented itself. And then I made her something else for Christmas, so this bag got put back on the shelf, again for "future gift-giving". 

Now her birthday is this Saturday, and as I went to retrieve it from the shelf, yet again, I decided it needed some more specialing up because it's sat around for so long that my guilt had sort of taken over. Like it wasn't as special as it should be if I've let it sit on a shelf for six months. 

This is how my brain works, folks. Somehow the special-ness of gifts somehow degrades if that gift sits on my shelf for too long. Who knew that my brain had shelf lives associated with gifts? What IS it doing in there?

My brain needs a hobby.

ANYWAY.

I have been watching Wendy specialing up these cute Library Totes, like, forever, and I keep telling myself that these would be great ways to special up this gift for Emma, as though I could get enough of my shit together to do it all.

As though. I'm delusional.

While I imagined I'd make the bookmark, the hand-carved bookplate stamp AND the embroidered library card pocket, I only managed to get to the pocket. Because, apparently, embroidering two inches of muslin really takes it out of me.

I might have started sweating while making that flower. 
What? You didn't know that was a flower?

But in case that reason's not good enough, I thought of a few more ways to justify my laziness:
  • Three-year-olds don't know what to do with stamps.
  • You can't stamp a library book anyway. That is how one gets one's library privileges revoked and I won't be responsible for starting this child on a life of crime.
  • I doubt you need to bookmark pages of a picture book.
  • She's three - she's going to put her dollies in here and take them for a swim in the pool - stamps, bookmarks and even embroidered pockets aren't going to make a damn bit of difference. In fact, I bet they'd just ruin those dollies' afternoon swim.
On the bright side, she may be able to get a bunch of dollies in there.

So, I gave up, embroidered the pocket, sewed it on AS THOUGH MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT because holy crap what if I fuck it up and have to re-embroider another piece of fabric - shit! And then wrapped it with a princess card and a savings bond because that is all I know how to do as a godmother who knows nothing of children.

Eventually, I'm going to have to get better about giving gifts to this child so that Bubba and I don't become those people that always give crappy gifts like we all have in our lives.

You know what I'm talking about. That aunt that always sends you ridiculous Christmas sweaters with blinking reindeer noses or the uncle that shops for everyone's gifts from the Harley Davidson store. You laugh, but this is a real thing that happened. To Emma's mom, my best friend, so I know this issue is ripe in her mind as her beloved daughter opens gifts from her devoted public. 

If she's not on the lookout for Emma's future "shitty gift-giving relatives", I would be disappointed in her mother's intuition. Not that I have any (intuition or kids) or could judge anyone's habits with their children, but you know.

So, I'll be looking to y'all next year for gift suggestions that would please a four year old chatterbox. She likes pink, the swing set, her little brother and hiking with her papa. Feel free to start brainstorming now. 

I'll need to make up my lack of child-relation skills with really, really good birthday presents. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't blink or you'll miss it. + Random experiments


Alright, so we're done then. With the garden planting.

After half a year of mulling and hatching and wringing of hands over seed catalogs, the garden is planted - and with much less fanfare and drama than one would expect from my Second Most Anticipated Event of the Year.

The first being the ripening of the #1 tomato, you know.

So funny, that.

I can wear out my brain thinking about corn varieties and soil amendments and should I try to start my own tomato plants even though I know they're only going to die when I forget them outside for nearly six months and then, when the moment arrives, it's over in 10 minutes and the only thing to do is sit back and admire and then go take a nap on the lawn with the dog.

I see some saucy parallels in this scenario that I won't detail for you, but I think you know what I'm saying.

What I will detail for you, however, is the contents of the garden. An activity that I'm certain will take longer to type out than it did for me to actually complete.

One day, this picture should be more green than brown.

Bed 1 (left to right): Silver Queen Corn
Planted in blocks rather than rows according to direction from my corn-growing pal, Kris. Thank you, doll - I'll endeavor to not fuck up my first crop of corn, although I have heard horrible stories from people about the terrible fates that befall corn crops. And here I thought the big worry was keeping weird kids out of the vegetables. Hmph.

Bed 2: Lemon cucumbers (2), Kentucky Blue Lake beans (on the tepee) and 2 rows of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce (under the tepee for shade)

Bed 3: Better Boy tomatoes (2) and Sweet Basil (6)

Bed 4: For 1 more week, fava beans, but after this coming weekend, same as Bed 3: Better Boy tomatoes (2) and Sweet Basil (6)

Before I get ahead of myself, I should tell you that I planted tomato and basil seedlings rather than seeds because,
  1. I am not good at hardening off tomato plants. As you know.
  2. My basil seedlings aren't ready yet.
So don't get mouthy with me about it. These are my shortcomings and I hold them close to my heart.

We're still awesome even if we haven't lived in the breakfast nook for two months already.

New this year is The Random Tomato Experiment where I turn under a whole crop of fava beans (sorry, no Hulk Hummus until the farmshare comes through) into one tomato bed and then pit it against its neighbor plants in the non-fava bed to see how boosty that nitrogen fix really is.

I've heard that if you turn under fava bean plants BEFORE they make beans, all the nitrogen they sucked into their roots will go into the soil and make it Super Boosty (scientific term, obv.) rather than waiting until after you've harvested the beans to turn the greens back into the soil.

We shall see.

Perhaps it will just make big bushy leafy plants that produce the same amount of tomatoes (an obvious theory), but since I just came upon this advice while trying to decide whether to pull the favas so I could plant tomatoes or just leave them there to make beans for me, I'm opting to call this an experiment so that I can get the tomatoes underway in a manner that makes me seem strategic rather than wasteful of beans and impulsive.

FANCY.

But really, when you even try to compare fava beans to tomatoes, those beans hardly stand a chance, so tomatoes it is. Plus, random experiment! Fun!

If you'd like to say your farewells, I won't judge you.

Bye bye.

And while I was getting all experimenty with the plants, I decided to take it to the next dorky level and do something the Kitchen Gardeners International did last year, which was to track the cost and results of their home garden to see what kind of value they were getting from their crops.

What? Track things via spreadsheet AND grow vegetables at home? Together, at once in one fabulously A/R activity?

Yes. I will do this.

So, my goal at the end of the season is to be able to see what I've grown, how much it cost to grow it and how much I saved by growing my own rather than buying it elsewhere. Plus, I'll see where it all goes (canning, giveaways, composter, etc) and whether we really ate everything we thought we would so that when I sit down to do my six months of mind-grinding mulling over the seed catalogs, I'll have a little more information with which to make my decisions.

Also, I'll be able to tell Bubba in no uncertain terms that while cantaloupe sounds like a fabulous idea in springtime when he hasn't seen a melon (the fruit kind, you naughties!) in six months, growing them in the garden is a waste of space since someone never eats as many as he says he will.

Whatever. It's fine. I liked my melons. Hah.

So, let us begin the year when spreadsheets and gardening became one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's 70 degrees, so obviously I'm knitting.


Yeah, in true Finny form, the weather is warming up and I'm choosing this time to begin a sweater for Bubba.

And you know I'm using wool since Bubba can actually wear wool and also because it's the most punishing fiber to handle when you're me and the temps get higher than 32 degrees.

I just hate wool and I realize that makes me an outcast in this world of knitters.

SORRY! I'm allergic! Or my skin is a big pansy, whatever. I don't know the technical reason why my skin freaks the hell out when it comes into contact with wool of any blend or saturation. I call it an allergy because that makes it seem more legit, but really it could just be that my skin is ultra-sensitive or an anti-woolite, I don't know.

Again, I can thank Philigry for this particular inspiration to knit man sweaters, since it was her Cobblestone that sent me to that place where all I could think about was knitting a sweater for Bubba that he could wear next winter for our ski trip.

And while I did present the Cobblestone as an option, Bubba chose the Seamless Hybrid from Knitting Without Tears because I think he wanted to test the legitimacy of the "without tears" claim or at least see if it could produce "Knitting Without Swears", which I think we all know is impossible.

For me.

FYI: This is not Bubba. This is Bubba.

Anyway, it was this rendition on Ravelry that had me thinking it might be a possibility for Bubba, since this guy has a similar build and maybe I was swayed by the color, I can't remember exactly. But Bubba liked it and so I ordered the book, a few sizes of Addi Turbos that I didn't already own and a truckload of Cascade Superwash in Como Blue so that I could exchange it upon receipt for a more normal color like Navy.

The Como Blue, I do not recommend it. It's a little too teal. And now that I look at this photo, it also strikes me as a little too teal. What is my problem? Anyway, we're knitting with Navy now and that's just fine by all of us.

And so far, very few swears! Granted, I'm only about 1/4 of the way up the torso of a patternless sweater knitted in the round, so there *shouldn't* be too much swearing going on, but I will say that given the work I've had to do to get to this point of mindless and enjoyable patternless knitting in the round, it *should* be nice and swear free.

I will have you know that, for once in my life, I actually knitted a gauge swatch.

(Hold for applause)

Then, THEN, I went on to measure, GASP IN HORROR AT THE WRONGNESS OF MY STITCH GAUGE, realize that I needed a smaller needle, realize that I didn't have that smaller needle in my possession, order the two next smaller sizes of needles from Jimmy's, WAIT a few days, receive the new needles, reknit the swatch and then GASP IN GLEE AT THE RIGHTNESS OF MY GAUGE on these smaller needles.

Oh yay and it's about fucking time, already.

So, I feel like I've earned my mindless and enjoyable patternless knitting in the round. Also because I had to do math before I could even cast on the first stitches because that is how this book works.

You may not know this about me (you know this) but I was told that there would be no math. Ever. But, alas, there it was. And it was asking me to do multiplying and measuring and there were words like "precise" and "exact" and "you'll fuck it up if you don't pay attention" and it was a little intimidating. Also, there wasn't actually any swearing, but that's how my mind translated "if you're off by even 1/3 of a stitch, your sweater will not fit properly".

I'm sure I'm not the only one who would take direction this way.

SO - I was vurrrrrrrrry careful to follow the directions exactly. Because we don't want another incident where I knit all gleeful and mindless for rounds and rounds and rounds only to realize that WTF?! this thing is so huge.

I can't have that in my life again. It was too sad.

I'm really hoping beyond hope that this sweater, when completed, will fit like a muthereffing dream and I won't have to put it in the To Be Frogged With Shame bin like the other one. For the record, I'm thinking that, once frogged, that beautiful silk yarn will become a long-sleeved version of this sweater that I already know fits like a normal sweater should. I think I can be trusted to knit a few sleeves and add a few inches to the bottom without fucking things up too badly.

It'll certainly be an improvement over the hot mess I've got on my hands now. Just taking up all kinds of space in the stash and everything. Ugh, it annoys me.

ANYWAY - this is about Bubba's sweater and how it's coming along nicely and I've followed the math instructions (triple checking, of course, since my math sucks bags) so it should do what the pattern says it will do, which is "fit perfectly" and "without tears".

Since I don't do a lot of crying, I feel like this is a pretty safe bet.

Perhaps I'll have to come up with a "Knitting Without Swears" book for those of us who scream profanities during times of stress rather than curl up in the fetal and cry into beers. We'll see.

Be sure to come back in a hundred years to check my progress on this sweater. Since you know it takes me forever to finish these things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: No promises

Look close. It's there.

As you all know, I'd like to have my garden planted already so that I'd be all lined up and growing as I was last year at this time. Unfortunately, the weather's been too cool for that and I've been forced to wear tights on my morning runs (BARF) and also forgo the garden planting a while longer.

Although I *may* give in this weekend and get to planting because I have no patience.

After that I may also have no plants, because it will certainly freeze and kill everything, but I think we know how impulsive, impatient and unreasonable I can be, so it's likely that I'll go out and plant some seeds this weekend just so I can have the pleasure of standing next to the garden, wiggling my fingers over the soil like a sorceress and screaming "GROW, MY BEAUTIES" like a woman off her nut.

Perhaps my neighbors are missing this variety of comic relief in their lives, so it's possible that my backyard antics are in demand from others than just my nutty self.

Anything's possible.

Given the delayed direct sow gardening however, I did start some seeds indoors. And, miracle of miracles, some of them are starting to sprout, even given the 40 below status of our breakfast nook/tiny seedling nursery/off-kitchen storage/dog dining area/apron house/spare kitchen seating area/garden library.

And the big news here is that the Adopted Crop of 2009, Lemon Cucumbers, are among the first sprouters.

No sign of the bean or corn seeds. Guess they don't appreciate growing in trash. Prima donne.

So, yes, technically the basil sprouted first, being all overachievey and what not, but one of the cukes poked its neck out this morning during Inspection Time and so now it's official - Adopt a Crop 2009 is underway.

That's right, neck first. Sorta weird now that I think about it that way.

In the sense that one of the seeds is sprouting and maybe *MAYBE* it will grow happily in its little recycley greenhouse until it has a couple sets of leaves and then maybe *MAYBE* I will harden it off properly (biggest Maybe of them all, really) and then maybe *MAYBE MAYBE* (this word has lost all meaning now) it will get planted, grow, produce fruits that ripen and get harvested and turned into pickles for one of y'all to enjoy as an adopted pickle visitor in the form of chips.

Phew. That's a lot of maybes BUT STILL, it could happen.

And that's all I need at this point. The point where it's 60 degrees outside but I'm wearing a sleeveless dress anyways because it SHOULD be spring and things SHOULD be growing and I SHOULD be in flip-flops day in and day out already, but sadly I'm not.

Token California comment here: It's OK because we need the rain.

To get through these MAYBE and SHOULD BE times, I do things like sow seeds indoors, wear sleeveless dresses in cold weather, make cold salads for dinner (Hi Bubba, red cabbage coleslaw tonight!), listen to Spring Training baseball while screaming at it like it's regular season and basically pretend my ass off that it's summer already.

So, one could say, that I'm something of a faker right now. But as long as the seeds are coming up in their recycley greenhouse, my sanity level will remain just at Criminally Insane levels.

Now is not a safe time to visit.

Monday, March 23, 2009

01:01:37*


I have discovered a new enjoyable training tactic. One that gives me something to live for as I'm working through my Supah Techinical Training schedule that likes to tell me to run the same long run milage for a month and then just keep increasing it by a mile every month until Race Day arrives.

Hi, boring.

I also realize that this tactic may not be a *new* tactic as much as it is just *new to me*. Which is good enough - I mean, what do I care if it's not new to other people since I'm not other people.

You know what I'm saying.

ANYWAY.

The new enjoyable training tactic I've come upon is this: Feel like a rockstar by running a short race during a long training month.

Like, once you've reached a decent distance in your race training, say - your long runs are longer than six miles, sign up for a race that's shorter than your longest training distance, like a 10K.

It makes you feel like a super hero AND the race isn't super I'm Going To Die hard AND you can have a nice break in the midst of your Supah Technical Training under the guise of "Racing".

Example: Right now, I'm in my Month of Nines, meaning my long runs are nine miles for the month of March, and I ran the Mermaid 10K yesterday, which was a paltry 6.4 miles.

Wait? Did I say 6.4?

I thought a 10K was 6.2 miles?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Too bad the Mermaid crew tacked on an extra .2 for good measure at the end there. According to the announcer woman who was wearing a Halloween costume mermaid skirt thing and yelling into the mic, anyway.

WHOOPSY, people.

Anyway, whatever. I'm over it.


This was before the race when it wasn't raining but was, indeed, quite cold. As evidenced by Bubba in a hood. This is rare.

But, I'll tell you what, this was a nice little run. A run that made the idea of doing nine next weekend and 10 the following four weekends seem less mind-numbing.

The will to go on - that's what I need in the middle of half-marathon training, ya'll. I'm a simple person with simple needs.

So, good times - I got to take a break from my nine milers in a way that didn't make me feel guilty about only running six, the weather didn't turn out shitty like we were expecting. I smiled. I sang along with my iPod (of course I did not actually sing out loud. Don't be crazy.) and even smiled for the race photographer who undoubtedly took a horrible picture of me which I will not be sharing with you all. Apologies.

[UPDATE]
This is the race photographer's photo. Look at how it is not as horrible as I imagined. That is why I'm sharing it with you.

Also to prove to you that I was indeed smiling while running. An act that might suggest that fun was being had. Also, notice how none of those ladies are wearing American flag shorts. Those ladies were just passed. BY ME.

Right before this, I was singing along to California On My Mind by Wild Light.
Which, given the lyrics, is pretty ironic.

Also, nice tights, douchebag.


I had fun?

Perhaps.

Best part was that I was officially in the single digits with my pace! 9.55 to be exact. YES. Yes, that is how I like it. YES!

Whoa.

And not to be a prissy little bitch or anything, but after some of my previous experiences of being dusted by 70 year olds in American flag shorts, I feel that it's important to tell you that I passed people.

Yes, like, I ran past them because I was going faster than they were. And *they* weren't even 70 year olds in American flag shorts. They were, like, fit women in normal gear running at respectable paces and in no apparent physiological despair. AMAZING!

Perhaps the tights aren't the worst thing to happen to my running career.

They may, however, be the worst thing to happen to my fashion career. If I had one of those. Which I don't.

Oh, also, I took 6 minutes off my last official 10K time, which isn't too shabby and makes me feel like all that speedwork torture was a good idea instead of a creative new way to punish myself.

Ok, so it's not the Inaugural Seattle Rock N Roll Half or Full Marathon, but if you're finding it hard to summon the enthusiasm to get out and do your long runs, maybe swap a 10K in for one of your long runs and feel like a hero for the day.

Or do a 5K and REALLY kick some ass.

Right now I'm thinking of a particular 5K notorious for its abundance of American flag shorts-wearers and how they deserve a good dusting from someone in proper shorts.

*Technically, I broke the 1 hour mark on this run, if you use my actual pace (9.55m/m) and multiply it by what the race distance SHOULD have been (6.2) because then I would have done this 10K in 00:59:21. Which would have been great to have as a final time, but NO. Instead I ran an additional .2 miles and have an extra 00:01:37 all to myself. Yay.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That tank top I was knitting

I had this grand plan of how I was going to carry on my I'm a psycho tradition of a First Day of Spring outfit with that tank top I was knitting.

Do you remember this plan I hatched while I was up to my eyes in snow?

Yes, well, perhaps the snow jinxed this outfit somehow, because it's not coming together as I'd hoped.

The tank top, while the right size and not at all fucked up in the pattern department, sadly, has some punishing too-short straps and the length of the top itself is just shy of perfect.

I'd like it to be longer is what I'm saying. And what I'm really saying is that I ignored all the 300+ people on Ravelry who'd already knit this and said that if they were to do it again they'd add a few more inches to the length but did I listen? NO.

So, now I'm one of them! Yay! I fit in!

For the record, if I were to knit this top again (I MIGHT! SHUT UP.) I would add a few more inches to the length. And then I'd post some sort of threatening note to my Ravelry project page for this tank top to convince all future considerers of the Razor Cami to "just knit that extra few inches because otherwise I will fight you." Or something a little more convincing. Whatever - my intentions are good!

See how this would be cuter if it were just a few inches longer? You see.

And then I'd follow this girl's instructions for the straps because hers came out much better. The funny thing is that I suspect that she just followed the pattern's instructions for the straps and that is the perfect way to get me to do it any other way because I suck at following pattern details that fall at the end of the pattern.

The important thing for me to remember, during these moments when I derail myself completely, is that I CHANGED THE STITCH COUNT at the beginning of the pattern so that it would fit me perfectly (god I'm a tard sometimes) and when I get to the end and start to nod off, I have to make those same changes when finishing, say, THE STRAPS, so that it will fit perfectly at the top as well as the bottom.

Oh.

These straps were placed based on where they should be on a larger sized tank top. Whoopsy.

See how the straps are set way wide on my shoulders? Yes, that is not comfy. Also, they are a tad short so the armpit strangling is at its choking best when I put this on and dare hold my arms at my sides. I don't think much blood made it from my brain to my fingers during this brief photo shoot.

And then the last thing, which honestly never occurred to me even though I looked at about a hundred of these FOs in Ravelry, is that it *may* not be work appropriate. Even when worn over a Tshirt or tank top. And this is to no fault of the tank top itself, but more my, um, busty-curviness and the way it takes this tank top from a demure and cozy top to a lusty pseudo-corset.

Anyway. I think I'm getting a mite conservative in my 3-0s because this issue probably wouldn't have passed through my mind 10 years ago, but here I am, feeling like I might be the future office whore if I wander around with my gals stretching out this tank top in such a way.

No, I would not be wearing those jeans to work. Or outside of our house for that matter.

So, sorta sadly, this post is more about what I did wrong with this pattern and how I'm going to fix it so that I love it like I'd planned to love it than a post about how I will be skipping into work like a fruity dumbass tomorrow in my It's The First Day of Spring and Yes I Made This outfit.

Now that I write that out, I don't really feel so sad. Funny, that.

Perhaps I should say some of my ideas out loud to myself (and you guys) before I go trotting off to do something that sounded cool in my head but in real life might be kind of retardo?

Moving on though...I will be fixing these straps later and not feeling bad about abandoning my special-made First Day of Spring Tank Top outfit because I will be wearing my Leaf Tshirt outfit instead as I will be spending the First Day of Spring in the unspringy weather of San Francisco tomorrow.

Hi. I enjoy 70 degree temps and sunshine on my First Day of Spring, Mr. The City. Please do not give me this foggy cold bullshit. Jerk.

But at least I'll be wearing a skirt (albeit a long one) and something handmade (even if it's not a tank top) and it will be spring somewhere (but probably not in SF).

Best laid plans and what not.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The day I do prizes & premeditated murder.

Apparently I've been very prize-y lately because they're stacking up.

Apparently I've also been a little blase about the whole GIVING prizes after I offer them thing, too, because they've been, well, stacking up.

Today, I fix all of this.

For those of you who, way back in the day, said you wanted my cootie-free Covert Bathroom Storage invention, today's your lucky day.

Life is a little strange when Lucky=Tampons.

Well, for one of you it is. Kristin, specifically.

YAY! Congrats!

No one, including your poor house guests (woe) will have to stare at the turquoise and blue box in your bathroom anymore. Also, how is it that we can have so many things in common even down the brand of tampon?

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeird.


Anyway, gaze upon the all-mighty random name chooser machine and then send me your home address to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom so I can mail you off your fabulous prize.

Although, given our sameness, I *should* just *know* your address, because it's probably the same as mine minus the state and zip, but still, send it. You don't want someone else covertly storing their bathroom necessities, do you? No, you do not.

Yours may not look exactly like this. So you know.

And, hey - weird pesto loving people, you're awesome! I had no idea people would be even remotely interested in this bizarre arugula product, but hey, there you are. All 23 of you, saying you want the weird pesto and I'm not even going to play the "maybe they all just want something for free?" game because what good does that do anyone?

None. None at all.

So, lucky Katie D., winner of pesto and seducer of the random name chooser, send me your full name and home address to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom and I'll send you off this weird arugula pesto of mine with a big 100% warning that you may not like it. I mean, it is *weird* after all.


And also, you said it made you want to plant it, so maybe if you like this pesto, you plant some seeds and then you tell me about it because that kind of thing does it for me. I like to see the love out there, rather than just in my own backyard where it may only live because I'm a crazy person.

See, it's hard to be sure unless you see other people doing it. Then I feel normal. ISH.

Anyway - now all the prizes are dispatched and I don't believe I have anything else out there pending a winner, so let's get back to the real show around here which is me premeditating murder for the upteenth ill-fated year in a row.

What?

I planted some seeds indoors even though I know they're totally going to croak when I try to put them outside for the first time and then forget them out there overnight.

Yay?

That's 2 lemon cukes, 1 Silver Queen corn, 2 Sweet basils, 1 Kentucky Blue Lake bean.

Now, I am still planning to direct sow all of these seeds when we get to a steady 70 degrees during the day (it's supposed to get to 70 for the first time today. We shall see.), but since I saw this tutorial on the Craft: blog, I decided to take some of my recyclables and roll the dice on starting seeds indoors.

I mean, it's just a few seeds, right? And it helps me get through the I have beds ready for planting and seeds to go in them but not enough heat and I can't take it days until 70 degrees shows up for good.

Thank god I don't live where it doesn't warm up until May. My head would pop, I'm pretty sure.

Anyway, even if they don't take or die in the hardening off process, the whole mess can be composted (containers and all) and we can pretend like it never happened.

You'll pretend with me won't you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tutorial Tutorial [Tutorial]

What? You're confused already? Come now, friends. Let's learn us somethin'.

So, I'm writing a Tutorial Tutorial upon request, since my ways are a little mysterious and doesn't everyone just want to get to the bottom of what the F I'm doing with my tutorials and how do they get PDF'd and linked up and why do they look like that and how.

Don't they?

Well, some people who emailed me do, and that's enough for me. And if you happen to be one of the people that thinks my methods are full of shit, feel free to skip this post and come back when I'm talking about mixing cocktails or something.

Onward!

To give you a little background (because I can't just give you the skinny without a really long ass story first), I was posting these tutorials/recipes/planting instructions and using other people's tutorials/recipes/planting instructions and all the while I was annoyed because in order to take them to the sewing machine/kitchen/garden/etc with me, I would have to print them out and it would always take a billion pages to print and that is wasteful and stupid. Plus then I'd have this stack of papers for one friggen tutorial that could really have been condensed onto one page.

So, sometimes I would open Word, like it was 1997 in my house, and copy/paste the whole business onto a page so that I could condense it myself. Then I'd print the one page and be happy that I only had one page, but pissed that I had to spend all that extra time.

ANNOYING.

When I started creating my own tutorials here, because I'm self-involved and imagine that people want to make things that I invent in my pea brain, I decided that I wasn't going to be that Annoying Tutorial Guy anymore, and actually provide tutorials in a format that begets printing/transporting elsewhere.

Because as green and helpful as it may be to just say, "take your computer with you to the kitchen when you go blending up a vat of tomato sauce", I think we know that it's not happening.

At least not for me. I don't have a place in my kitchen that would keep my laptop safe from hot splattering messiness, so printing is necessary. I just don't think risking the ThinkPad's life for the sake of one sheet of paper makes any sense. But that's me. You decide how much you value the integrity of your machine.

So, here I am, with printable tutorials, which, if you exist near a printer made after the millennium, you could actually print double-sided and only use one measly sheet of paper. And then, if you're like me (You might be! I'm not the only freak around here!), you can slide that one measly sheet of paper into your crafting binder for future use. And when you go to the machine, garden, kitchen, you won't have to wrestle a stapled stack of crap while you're also trying to tame some aggressive chard.

Now that is nice.

So, how does it work? Yeah, let's talk about that.

Tutorial Tutorial
Print this thing
Materials:
A copy of CutePDF (Free)
Word processing software (I use Word. Imagine that.)
A Google Site (Free)

To make:
Create a PDFd tutorial
Basically, create the layout for your tutorials in Word, including slots for images, materials needed, instructions, header logo, project name, copyright logo, etc. I found the best way to make a template that worked for me was just to write up a tutorial, paste in pictures and move the info around until it all fit onto 1-2 pages and was easily readable/understandable.

This layout, which was based on an actual tutorial, was better than me just sitting there designing an "it looks pretty but never fits all the stuff I need" template, which I've been known to do. In the past. It's all in the past now.

Then save your doc as a template (ex: Template_Tutorial.doc) AND ALSO as whatever the tutorial is (ex: Hoop_Scarf_Tutorial.doc).

Go back to your tutorial and click Print.

BUT WAIT - When you choose the printer to Print your copy, choose CutePDF rather than the HP whaddyacall that lives in your closet. Or whatever.

This will prompt you to name your PDF, which I'd suggest naming the same thing as your .doc. (Ex: Hoop_Scarf_Tutorial.pdf) I have a folder for all my tutorials (docs and PDFs) so they're easy to contain.

That was an added bonus, that last part. Enjoy.

Now you have a PDF of your tutorial, so no matter who opens it and no matter what kind of machine they're using (Hi, Mac people. I know you're there.) your document will look just the way you saved it. As long as they have Adobe Acrobat. Which they should. Unless they actually DO live in 1985, which I realize is still a possibility. Albeit a shameful one.

So, now you have a tutorial and a template and the tutorial has been PDF'd. The magic! But how do we get it out to the clamoring masses?

Google, der.

Create a Google Site (*You'll only do this the first time around.)
*If you don't have a Google Site yet, you can get one for free as a part of your Google Account, which is also free. In fact, everything Google is free, which is lovely.

*Enough pimping, just go to sites.google.com, and if you're already signed in to your Google Account (if you're signed into Gmail, you're already in), you'll get a "Welcome to Google Sites" page with a friendly little button to "Create a new site".

Why are we creating a whole website right now? Well, we're not. But we are creating a place for your fancy ass PDFs to live so that you can link to them from your blog, so stop yer whining.

*Click "Create new site" and from the Home page, which is the page to which you'll next be delivered.

Once you've arrived on your new home page, look down at the bottom there to the button that says "Choose File".

Click that. Choose your PDFd tutorial from wherever you saved it. Upload it.

This PDF now appears at the bottom of your home page under Attachments.

Now, if you wanted to, you could make a page here. You could do some designing or get fancy. I have not done this, but that's because I have this blog and, well, that's plenty for now.

Link to your tutorial
Write up your tutorial as wordy and long-winded as you like on your blog/website, using all kind of swears and disjointed storytelling to get your point across.

Then, at some point in your post, offer the tutorial to readers to print. I don't care how you do this, but I just put "Print this thing" right before I launch into my mind-numbing directions and then link it direct to my PDF.

To get the link, just right click on the attachment on your Google Site (it'll say something to the affect of Hoop_Scarf.pdf) and from the menu that appears, click "Copy link address".

Now go back to your blog and highlight, "Print this thing" or whathaveyou, and paste this URL as the link by clicking the "link" button in your blog program or by adding it as the URL in your HTML code.

You know, < href="the link you just copied">Print this thing< /a >? You know.

And then publish your post. Done.

Next time you get a wild hair to post a tutorial, just take an extra 5 to create a new Word doc from your tutorial template (which, remember, you saved as Tutorial Template.doc somewhere on your hard drive) and resave it in the same folder as the new tutorial (ex: Cashmere_Cuff_Tutorial.doc), then print it to CutePDF, upload it to your site and rip the URL for linking from your blog.

And since you're all ginned up and running wild with hyperlinked (there's a good word from 1997) tutorials, you could even add a tutorial menu (or recipes or...or...) to your blog so that people don't have to bloody their knuckles digging through your blog to find them.

Wouldn't THAT be nice? I thought so. See sidebar.

GOOD TIMES.

Just to hammer the point some more, I'll ask you to notice the "Print this thing" link at the beginning of this tutorial. Yes, you can print this tutorial, too. Although I feel like that would be retarded given the lack of splattering tomato sauce involved in creating a PDF, but you make the call.

Soon, we do prizes for this and this.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Craft: along March - Reinventing Pizza Night

I've never really talked, in depth, about Pizza Night in our house, but let me assure you that it is the most important of all the bullshit themed dinner nights because it's the one we've been observing the longest and also, it's pizza, so it's the best.

See, for all of time (since Bubba and I have been together, so about 9 years), Friday night has been Pizza Night in our house and we love it for many reasons.

1. It's pizza, so obviously delicious.
2. I don't have to cook anything, so YAY for me.
3. Bubba doesn't have to do any dishes, so YAY for him.
4. There's leftovers for lunch.
6. It's good fuel for my Saturday AM run.
5. We used to have a rad pizza guy who we called Dark Halo because that's what his car's windshield said on it and he would always be bumpin' some serious gangsta rap when he showed up so we'd know to come out from the backyard to get our pizza. Plus his face was all pierced in a million places and he was nice so we loved him. The new guys aren't nearly as awesome.

I'm sure there are other reasons, but for me, #2 is enough. The fact that I don't have to think about what to make, what I need to get to make it, when I need to get home and cooking to make it happen, etc makes me extra happy on Friday afternoon after a long week of work. It's relaxing. It's easy.

Call pizza place. Tell them to bring dinner. Drink cocktails until they arrive. Eat dinner. Done.

That's the best!

Until we got bored of our pizza place. And then all the surrounding pizza places. And then Bubba started waxing nostalgic about his favorite mystical pizza experience of all times at this phantom pizza joint called Happy Joe's.

"Oh Happy Joe's," he's been saying, "you had the best sauce. Why doesn't anyone make sauce like that anymore except my wife who totally makes the sauce like you guys do but refuses to make pizza for me. *Sigh*"

And then he'd look at me with those sad Bubba eyes and begin the pining away for the reincarnated Happy Joe's pizza which he thought would make it appear before him as though by magic.

It gets a skosh dramatic around our house, you know.

While I'd normally do whatever I could do with my culinary skills to make Bubba happy, pizza was one of those no-no things. Because it meant giving up a night when I don't have to do any work for my dinner and because I've had a lot of fights with inert yeast that fails to become a fluffy pizza dough.

Replacing a night of complacent dining ease with frustration and crushing of spirits is hardly my idea of a good time. And so, we kept ordering pizza from the Not Fun pizza guys and the disappointment over said pizza became increasingly evident.

"This pizza sucks more than last week." was uttered last Friday by someone who will remain unnamed.

It was at that point that I revealed my big plan to make pizza for Sunday's dinner and, SCARY, go back into the water with the pizza dough.

Enter this month's Craft:along challenge: 5 minute pizza dough

My first note for this recipe is that you should, in no way, only allot yourself 5 minutes to make this dough. It takes a full 2 hours to rise, which makes sense to me since it contains yeast, but for some people who want pizza NOW and don't understand the unique properties of yeast, this might come as a mean surprise.

Just saying, don't get all ginned up to have a pizza in 5 minutes because it's not happening.

Second note: Unlike my beloved No-Knead Bread, this dough requires kneading, which is fine because I don't mind. It's kind of fun. If you're into that kind of thing.

Aside from that though, this is a fine pizza dough recipe that I managed to make the first time through without any catastrophic failure.

I know, I was shocked, too.

So, I made up this dough, put it in the bathroom for a couple hours because that the only room in our house where it gets over 40 degrees, and then proceeded to cross my fingers that it'd actually rise like yeasty items are said to do.

I was so sure that this was going to be a disaster that I almost didn't take a before shot.

And what do you know, it actually rose like a good kid.

I guess I should have zoomed out a little, but this dough totally doubled in size. Nice.

While it was doing the magical rising, I compiled the toppings (why do I hate this word?) for our individual pizzas since I'm more of a white pizza gal and Bubba's more of a Make it Just Like Happy Joe's Pizza guy.

That's gorgonzola, olive oil, basil and mozzarella sitting with my G&T.


To detract a little more from the ease of Pizza Night, I went on to make The Sauce from a jar of homecanned tomatoes because I am, let it be known, The Best Wife Ever. Yep.

Also, my The Best Pizza Sauce Ever. Yep. is just The Best Tomato Sauce Ever. Yep. with some added oregano and a bit more wine. Still though - The Best. Just ask Bubba.

That's The Best Pizza Sauce Ever. Yep. with some pepperoni and black olives. Just like Happy Joe's. Oh swoon.


Thankfully, he was excited enough about the coming to fruition of this Dream Pizza to put on a little show for me while I lazed in the breakfast nook, admiring my swollen feet.

This never touched the floor. True story.

After all the dramatics, our pizzas came out beautifully and we enjoyed them properly with a nice happy hour and some catching up of Family Guy on the new DVR.

Why yes, it does look good enough to be on TV! That's what I said!

This was apparently a perfect reincarnation of the Happy Joe-ness. FINALLY.

And now I will go home and get some dough rising because, LO, Pizza Night has been reinvented and we're making pizza for ourselves tonight so we can properly mourn the departure of Dark Halo, as overdue as that particular gesture might be, and also so we can feel superior to the local pizza joints because of our sauce and homemade-ness.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bubba-built-me-something-for-the-garden news

Last week when I realized that shit.shit.shit. the garden was going in at this time last year and I was doing The Science and we were on our way to tomatoes and shit.shit.shit I've done nothing yet it nearly sent me into a full panic.

I began to plan.

I began to track my seed shipments.

I began also to realize that I'd be following all my upcoming long Saturday runs with hours of yard work to catch up, which, YAY because that never tries to kill me or anything.

Thankfully, last weekend (Which is two weekends ago now. Yikes.) I made it out to the back .40 to pull the weeds before Bubba could go at them with the Evil Round-Up. And even though he's a fan of the "just fucking nuke them" strategy, I still have this annoying hang-up that does not allow my brain to justify growing organic things over here while dousing over there with disfiguring chemicals.

I'm an incredible pain in the ass. This is true.

Somehow though, even with my Pain in the Ass status, Bubba still came out to help me instead of letting me pull weeds and think about what I did or whatever you do to kids when you want them to learn a lesson or lie in the bed they made or whathaveyou. That was nice of him, I thought.

So, we pulled most of the weeds (the rest will get demolished when we start redoing the yard - but that's later - focus!) and reacquainted ourselves with Skinny the Apple Tree who'd begun to disappear behind the overgrowth.

Before. Monstrous.

After. Less monstrous. And hey! There's Skinny! (Back corner)
It was a nice time, before I removed the cages from the winter vegs and shifted my focus to the actual garden tasks that needed to take place before I could have my love affair with summer vegetables.

I had to do The Science, for sure.

And I had to turn the soil.

And I had to amend said soil.

And I had to stand and stare at the whole thing a lot because that is my typical method for any exhausting project - to stare when feeling overwhelmed. You can imagine that tackling something like this after running 9 miles can be a little overwhelming since your body is like, BITCH, STOP ALREADY, but your mind is like, BITCH, WE NEED TO PLANT THINGS.

It's an overwhelming time, y'all. And so I stare a lot. It keeps my Crazy on the inside, if only momentarily.

After the turning, testing and amending of the soil in three of four beds (the fourth is still occupied by the fava beans which have not yet done their thing. COME ON ALREADY.), I came to a stopping point that had me stumped.

And after a few minutes (a full hour) of staring at the stumptastic bed, Bubba came back out to see what what was up. Or more likely, he came out to see if I'd had a physical breakdown and was unable to transport my weary body back into the house, but whatever, there he was. And with an unbelievably perfect answer to my stumpy question.

The question was this: How the hell can I build a contraption for my beloved Kentucky Blue Lake beans (Hi, Bean Twin Elizabeth! Are we excited yet?) that is, at once, wide enough to accommodate half of the 3'x8' bed and also tall enough so that the beans can really stretch their legs, all from materials I have on hand?

See? Hard stumpy question, that one.

I have always grown beans and snap peas on 4 ft fences, but that's proven to be too short for them and I've always had to help them out by wrapping their flailing fingers around the top of the fence after about a month of growth, which doesn't do anyone any favors. And by "anyone" I mean me because I need a lot of beans and these short fences make for fewer beans.

I mean, sure, I could go out and procure some fancy pre-built bean pole contraptions or buy long bamboo poles, but that all seemed somehow unnecessary because, in my head, we had to have *something* around this fucking place that could serve as a proper bean support.

Thankfully what I *do* have is Bubba because he thinks of things that don't even cross my pea brain. Things like why don't we use this leftover conduit and wire from the garage project which just happens to be in 10 ft sections and would be ever so tall if constructed properly.

OH WHY DON'T WE JUST?

He's vurry smart, this Bubba.

So, after about 30 seconds in his mind (and many days in mine - I'm slow) he'd gotten the conduit down from the rafters in the garage, the ladder up in the garden and BAM! Bean Tepee to the Stars.

To the Stars, y'all. It's very tall.

Oh, and of course, I immediately got out there with my twine, upcycled clothes hanger spikes (I'll show you these some time) and anal-retentiveness to string up the future homes for my beloved beans.

Bubba imagines the beans way up there.

And then, once showered and properly soaking in cocktail hour, I went back out and surveyed my industrial chic bean tepee that could not be finer, taller or more sturdily constructed from materials that we just had taking up space in the garage.

And to think, these were just a few feet away the whole time.

Also, please notice that this is level AS ALL GET OUT.

I love that a lot.

Also, I need daily temps to get to 70 before I can plant a damn thing so I'm trying really hard to be patient with our 65 degree days (I KNOW - IT'S SNOWING WHERE YOU ARE AND I'M SORRY.) because I know we also need more rain and it's also only March.

*Sigh* I'm not long on patience, folks. This is well-known.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: Arugula Visitor


Since I got all weepy over the closing of last summer's Adopt a Crop going off on its merry and grown-up way to its new adopted mommy, why don't I just do that again. Right now. For the Winter Adopt a Crop: Rocket/Roquette/Arugula.

The Winter Edition of Adopt a Crop was one of those ideas that I have because I'm sad and missing something and trying to swap the thing I really want (tomatoes) with what I can feasibly have (a vegetable that's not afraid of the frost).

I do this sometimes (think American Eagle jeans for $20 rather than Sevens for $185) and sometimes it works out (see: jeans example) and sometimes it fails miserably (see: Kraft Mac and Cheese rather than Velveeta Shells and Cheese).

I'm happy to say that while arugula is no tomato (obv.), it is a fine winter green that satisfies my need to have a decent salad regardless of the weather outside. In the summer, I make salads almost entirely from my tomatoes and, I think, I'll be making my winter salads mainly from arugula for many future winters. So - I'm calling this winter swap for tomatoes a success. Mostly because it has distracted me from my longing for warm, succulent, rich garden tomatoes that taste like tomatoes instead of sand like the ones from the grocery store do.

OK, nothing distracts me from tomatoes, but the arugula has been good. And I will grow it again. And eat a lot of it.

Why? Because this shit is so easy to grow, is delicious and lends itself to things other than salad. It's diverse, people. Dynamic. Flexible.

It is the tomato of the leafy green world.

If you don't believe me, let me tell you all the things I've done with this easy ass crop that grew abundantly from one (one!) packet of $.99 seeds:
  • Swapped it for basil in Thai Chicken Soup (I need to tell you about this. Remind me. AWESOME.)
  • Put it on pizza
  • Added it to tomato soup
  • Used it as greens in a million salads
  • Made arugula pesto
  • Added it to rice noodles
  • Ate it straight from the garden
  • Slid it into sandwiches instead of limp lettuce
  • Chopped it up in tuna salad
  • Froze it into cubes for future use

Really now. That's a lot of work for one packet of seeds that ended up taking very little room in my garden. I think the space I planted was about 2'x2'. And all the water it needed came from The Sky. Plus, it didn't even balk at frost, wind, cold or rain. And when I harvested it and then let it sit in the sun in a big black bucket for 4 hours, it perked right back up when I rinsed it in the sink under cool water.


If nothing else, this shit is resilient. And I hear it's good for you too, or something.

All good reasons to love this crop and then maybe grow it on your own. Or, if you're brave enough to try something as exotic and bizarre as pesto made from something other than basil (Thank you to Farmgirl Susan for this arugula pesto recipe), maybe you want to adopt this crop?

Oh yes, you want this.

We sent some off with our neighbors (the nice ones, you know), but the batch I made was huge, and I have enough to send some off with one lucky adoptive parent. When it shows up, you can treat it as you would any delicious pesto - spread it on something, stir it into some pasta, swap it for your usual sauce on pizza, dip something in it or just eat it with a spoon.



I will not provide the spoon, but this is my preferred method for eating anything spoonable. Why bother with extra vehicles that take up valuable belly real estate when all you want is the stuff on the spoon?



Perhaps I learned this while properly appreciating Nutella? I can't say for sure.

Anyway, if you are a free-spooning pesto lover or just adopted arugula as this winter's crop because you wanted to see if I'd plant my cat (her name is Rocket, you know) - leave a comment to the effect of, "I want some of your weird pesto" and I'll do the random name picker thing again and announce the winner.

Just comment by this Friday, THE THIRTEENTH SCARY, and I'll announce the Winner of the Arugula Visitor next week. Perhaps on the same day that I announce the winner of the Covert Bathroom Storage since I seem to have forgotten about that whoopsy! I remember now!

And now we can all consider ourselves wiser in the ways of arugula because now I know that it's not just for salad. Even though I totally sin my ass off by making entire salads of just arugula and no other greens and for some reason that's wrong but who makes up these rules? Obviously not me, but I'm telling you, now that we're all Arugula Wise, we can do whatever we want, including making whole salads from this one green and then also making pesto from it while we miss tomatoes. And basil. And fresh corn. OH! And green beans!

Garden update coming shortly. There's news. Fancy Bubba-built-me-something news.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

As if you needed another apron tutorial [TUTORIAL]

Look, I know there's a bajillion how-to-make-an-apron-from-a-towel tutorials out there, so I realize I'm not bringing anything new to the table, but I hope you'll still appreciate that I was finally moved to make one of these things and it's only because my mom is a supah sassy broad.

What?

Historically, I've done a very good job ignoring tutorials of this variety (not that I haven't made an apron or two in my day) because I've never been inspired by any towel to the point where I wanted to wear it around my house.

Call me crazy, but a brown coffee stained dishtowel just does not say, "Fun Home Attire" like, say, an oversized Tshirt from a local event might.

So, the towels have stayed in the kitchen basket, waiting for me to use them for mopping up a kitchen explosion or perhaps tears from when I'm wrestling with some onions. I assume they also get used for drying dishes per their god given name, but that's not my department.

Until last Hanukkah, that is, when my mom removed her censor completely and stopped trying to restrain her inner sassypants. Not that she's not a saucy lady all of the time, but she does a really good job of hiding it behind her "I'm the nicest gal alive" facade.

Needless to say, I didn't inherit this fine and useful trait.

Anyway, in and amongst some very thoughtful and lovely gifts (she knows me real well, this mom of mine), she stowed a spicy kitchen towel bearing a caption that everyone at the Hanukkah party thought was *oh just hilarious and perfect* for me.

Oh tee hee. Isn't that adorable that my whole family thinks I'm a bitch.

I guess the secret's out.

And when I got this thing home and came to terms with the fact that it's not just my blogging friends that know what a snarky bitch I am, but in fact my whole extended family, I decided that I should really own it.

And what better way to own a personal flaw than to wear it on your person? And then maybe wipe some of The Best Sauce Ever. Yep. accidentally across the front while explaining to your neighbors that your mom is actually quite nice but she drinks and then buys silly things that are totally *just kidding* and therefore here I am wearing a towel proclaiming my poor attitude.

Ah yes, our family is very refined.

What I'm trying to say is that this towel moved me to making an apron and now I will show you how I did it because it was really easy and I have used this apron a lot since I made it if only so that I can wear a bad word and a crazy lady's face while I make dinner and drink.

It's what you might call a Life of Balance and Priorities, my friends. Be advised.

And don't worry, this tutorial won't take NEARLY as long as it did for you to read the post so far. Sorry about that.

Finny's Naughty Towel to Apron Tutorial
Print this thing

Materials:
Kitchen towel
1/2" twill tape or ribbon in whatever color
Thread in whatever color
Fabric marker
Fray check

For the record, your towel needn't include swears.

To make:

Hold the towel up vertically (as though you were going to wear it like an apron, right?) and mark one horizontal neck strap line where you'd want one of the neck strap holes to be.

Then mark one vertical line on the side of the towel where you'd want the waist tie hole to be.

Fold your apron in half vertically, matching long edges, and mark the other horizontal neck strap line on the opposite side of the towel.

Along the long side of the towel, mark the other vertical waist tie line so that it matches up with the line you drew previously.

This is so that your neck strap and waist tie holes are equidistant from the edges, centered and all that jazz.

Can't have you all off-kilter and looking crooked in your apron made from a towel, that'd be ridiculous and also confirm everyone's suspicions that all you're doing in that towel is making gin cocktails.

I might have had a G&T *while* I made this. You'll never know.

Now, per the lines you just marked, set down at the machine and sew yourself four buttonholes, one for each line you marked.

I swear it gets easier every time. Really.

For the record, I only fucked up one of my buttonholes this time which is an all-time record for me. Also, no one was bleeding or crying when I was done, which is noteworthy.

With your buttonholes all sewn and happy, take out that twill tape and weave it through the neck strap holes at the top of your apron, starting at the back of one side, weaving through the front and back through the front of the other hole. This will create a little neck strap, which I'm sure you already surmised because you're smart like that.

I broke that necklace. Sad.

Swing that bitch over your head and pin the top corners of the towel back over the straps so that the straps are now contained in a nice little terry channel. At the base of this channel should be your two waist tie holes, so fold the towel corners accordingly.

You can also draw a sewing line to follow, if you're simple like I am.

Sew this channel and backstitch at both ends. This is because you'll be yarding on it when you're putting it on and fitting it, so you don't want any seams ripping free. That shit pisses me off.

Don't ever look at the back of my aprons, mom. Bad things. Bad things.

Once you've sewn the channels, feel free to cut off any extraneous towel. No one will know you took scissors to a fine and thoughtful gift unless you blog about it when you know full well that your mom reads your blog.

Hi mom. Sorry.

Now that you're all sewn and cut, weave your twill tape through the waist hole, through the side channel and up and around the neck holes, just like you'd imagine, and if you need a little help coaxing that tape through there, put a safety pin through one end because that's always helpful.

I always use a safety pin. Remember, SIMPLE.

You can trim the tape to fit and add some fray check at the ends if you're fancy.

Then, put it on and go make a cocktail. You'll need one when you try to explain why your mom "who seems so nice" gave this to you and how you're not really a bitch you just play one on the Internets.

Mmhhmm. Yes. That sounds believable. I'll go with that.