Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not dressed as a vagina

So, despite all your fantastically creative suggestions on what I might be crafting for the dog as a costume, I didn't give in and somehow transform Jada's expertly (if I do say so myself) crafted Tootsie Roll costume into one of an anatomically correct vagina.

Maybe another year, Crazies.

For this year, however, Job 1 was rewearing the last and final (in the sense that I hadn't been able to rewear it yet) bridesmaid dress in my expansive collection.

As I've told you before, my Halloween Mission is always to use one of my bridesmaid dresses as part of a greater costume so that I can feel like I got my money's worth and so that I can be completely uncomfortable for another day of my life.

Well, that last one is sort of an accepted side-effect of wearing the dresses, but charming nonetheless. At least I don't have to wear the shoes. Because that would be unbearable.

FYI: Dye-to-match shoes are many things, including: ugly, tacky, uncomfortable and Evil To The Core. So you know.

And also, so you know, (because I like to keep you informed of all the minutiae in my life) my sister blessed us with flip-flops as footwear to accompany the orange dresses, so at least at that wedding my feet were comfortable as all get out. The rest of me, well, it suffered from the aggressive boning in the bust of this orange beast, but I endured.

Moving on.

Do you see this boning action? Wow. That sounds awful.

Because I've learned to love Bubba's assessment of our costume theme ("The candy that's left at Thanksgiving because it's crap.") better than my mine ("Classic Halloween Treats"), I'm sort of going with that for our debut at the work Halloween bonanza. I feel it's more amusing and will better explain away any untoward behavior Jada might exhibit while, say, squatting in her costume.

We'll see if she'll even go to the bathroom with this getup on, because she gets all wigged out when I put the raincoat on her and refuses to pee or look me in the eye, so I suspect that her bathroom-going parts will be on strike until I remove the offending costume.

Fun topic!

Sitting and squatting are different. She sits like a fiend. Costume or no.

So, yeah, that's about all I'm prepared to share with regard to Halloween, vaginas, bridesmaid dresses, handmaking dog costumes and just Shame in general.

And since NaNoWriMo starts tonight, you can begin expecting regularly scheduled meltdowns that will last throughout the month of November.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh the drama of squash.

Dear Donk,

Remember those randomly occurring pumpkins from my 2008 garden?

NO?? Pffffffft!

Just kidding, I barely do either. Going along with my theme of garden forgetfulness and all.

Well, even though it looked a lot like I let that volunteer plant go crazy and take half a raised bed and then its babies sat and decorated my sideboard for a few months and sat out on the front porch in an out-of-season-decor way holding on a loose brick before bringing them all in and roasting them and pureeing them and freezing them in our chesty for no good reason -- I did not.

Did you get all that?

Basically, all of that effort (of which there was precious little aside from the processing part at the end) didn't go for nothing because TEE DAH I made something with some of the puree and that something was this month's Craft: along challenge - creamy pumpkin pasta.

But before we get to the meaningful reason of why you'd come to read this post, let me bore you with the minutia of processing volunteer pumpkins and share with you a shockingly common discussion topic in our household.

That being: What the fuck are we doing with XYZ thing and why is it sitting out?

See, there are two big controversies at play in this particular instance. One - we don't have a lot of space in our pea sized house, and, Two - Bubba hates seasonal decor. Especially when it's out of its season.

And, in this particular instance, I had six smallish to mediumish pumpkins sitting out on our not-huge porch and it was the middle of February - long past the harvesty seasonal times that might call for pumpkiny decor.

I knew that my time to dispatch the pumpkins had come, but I let them hang out there on the porch anyway, because there was a loose brick fragment I needed to keep in place and balancing six pumpkins on it was the fix I was ready to provide at time.

(Later I would employ the magic of Gorilla Glue and then even later still (now) we'd be employing the magic of a Real Live Contractor - but that's a story for another day)

Anyway, one day Bubba strode into our house, fresh from a rainy trip to the hardware store, and declared that it was high time for the pumpkins to go. What with us being closer to the current year's Halloween than the previous year's and all.

I agreed and told him that I had been planning to roast them and puree them anyway so I should just do that right now, then. I did not register any raised eyebrows at my declaration, but I assume there were a few. Even if they happened when I wasn't looking. And even if I was one of the ones raising an eyebrow.

Basically, the theory of roasting pumpkins and processing them into puree had crossed my mind, but the whole thing seemed so labor intensive for an end product that I could easily just go get five minutes away at TJ's, that I'd sort of started coming to terms with composting the pumpkins when their numbers were up.

Suddenly, though, I was compelled to make good on this gardening venture and see it through to fruition, even though that fruition was only theoretical and beholden to no man.

Oh well, you know how I am about this whole "to fruition" thing.

So, with a rainy day ahead of me and, apparently, nothing better to do in the whole wide world than reduce a sinkful of pumpkins down to a freezer bag of puree, I got started.

Hello, fuckers.

Folks - let me tell you - despite the fact that I will use this puree and it does taste as fabulous as pumpkin puree can taste - this is a process I will forgo in the future in lieu of some fine canned pumpkin from TJ's because WOW this took forever and produced very little.

Which is why I haven't told you about it for now. Because I didn't want you getting the idea that my life was so small and pointless that I'd spend half a day making pumpkin puree because the process is obviously so labor intensive that only psychopaths would be interested.

I get self-conscious, what can I say.

However, if you're a psychopath and want to get puree from your pumpkins, you can follow this process. Or, if you just like to see how I tortured myself one rainy day this past February, you can read along and quietly snicker to yourself or start dialing the local loony bin.

Hey, sometimes we all do pointless shit.

Witness ye, Pointless Shit.
Let's start with the roasting. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil, heat your oven to 400 and top your pumpkins. After which, scoop the inner crap out (If you're an irretrievable psycho, you can rinse those seeds and make plans to toast them, but I didn't because that's too far even for me) and cut them into wedges or halves or whatever shapes make them all fit on one baking sheet because LORD KNOWS you're not going through this twice.

I don't take two trips from the car with groceries and I'm SURE AS HELL not taking two trips through the oven for pumpkin puree. No sir.

Let the pumpkin roast in the oven until a fork can easily pierce the skin and it feels soft inside. Warning: this takes forever.

Remove the pumpkins from the oven wearing two oven mitts and a back brace because WOW they're fucking heavy.

Let them cool on the stovetop for a million years or until you can manage to cradle the pieces in one potholder-covered hand while scooping out the flesh with a spoon in your other hand.

Admire how the remnant skin looks like something from an old Friday the 13th movie. Move on.

Place a strainer over a bowl and plop all your cooked pumpkin in the strainer. With the back of a big spoon (and then your hand because you feel like the spoon isn't doing it fast enough) press the pumpkin so that the liquid drains out into the bowl below.

Do this until you have a nice smooth consistency in the strainer. Then scoop it all out into a clean new bowl and have at it with the immersion blender to make it super smooth.

Once you're done with all that mess, amaze yourself by fitting six pumpkin's worth of puree and half a day's work into ONE gallon sized Ziploc bag. Pat the puree flat in the bag (after sealing it) and, using your finger, "break" the puree inside the bag into four individual squares. These perforations will let you thaw and use smaller amounts later because who in the whole wide world is going to need a gallon's worth of pumpkin puree at once?

No one, that's who.

I kinda didn't think this would work, but it totally does.
Warning: You'll feel like you're wasting your life.

Then throw this carefully compartmentalized pumpkin puree into the freezer and freeze it flat. Then, when Bubba buys you a chest freezer for your birthday, put it in there *knowing* full well you'll never use it but because you're a sentimentalist when it comes to your own wasted time and efforts, store it in there anyway and then try not to look at it when you go to the chesty to store all your tomatoes.

The guilt is ongoing.

Ten months later, surprise yourself by going freezer diving (totally dangerous, I was nearly killed by a frozen tomato avalanche) to retrieve the forgotten bag of pumpkin puree to make FINALLY TEE DAH the creamy pumpkin pasta of this month's Craft: along challenge.

Death-defying pumpkin
PHEW. That was a long time coming.

After retrieving the bag and marveling at your frontierswomanness easily break off a brick of pumpkin, slide it into an inferior zippie bag (I don't know why these little ones suck, but they do, the plastic is too thin) and let it float in the small part of the sink in warm water for about ten minutes, or until it's thawed. Since you pat it real flat in the bag, it thaws fast.

Put the rest back in the freezer, then.

Now, if you made it through all that and you still want to make this creamy pumpkin pasta, let me advise you not to skip the sausage.

I did and the results were a tad bland. I didn't have anything other than spicy sausage at home, so I skipped it altogether and I suspect that was a mistake and the spiciness would have been AOK if I'd been willing to go out on a limb, which I was not because I was using The Precious Pumpkin Puree of Yore and didn't want to befoul it with some not-explicitly-included-in-the-recipe ingredients.

In this case, excluding the sausage should be considered a not-explicitly-included-in-the-recipe ingredient - so do what you must to procure it.

Aside from aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall that though, the recipe was simple, quick and provided a good base onto which I could load a nice big pile of fresh broccoli from the farmshare.

And, lawdy, if I don't love me some broccoli freshly steamed in lemon juice and sprinkled with sea salt.

This is a new experimental view of cooking.
Whaddya think?

Notice the broccoli off to the side, there? After this photo, I just put it on top.

So, yeah, that's the story of how I finally used some of this puree to make something and then was too lazy to go to the store for sweet Italian sausage. Sometimes I can be such an asshole.

Good thing I had that awesome broccoli. And good thing I have another labor intensive pureeing project in my future because I guess I just didn't get enough of that the first time around.

Happy crafting, doll.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gather 'round, whores and bitches. [PRIZES]

Wow - apparently y'all are bigger fans of sewing books than you are of homemade pickles. Who would have guessed?

OK, well, I probably would have if I'd thought of it before now. Which I hadn't. Because that's a weird thing to think about. Even for me.


What is important is announcing the winners. Because I know that's why all you whores are back today.

Do you like how I keep calling you whores and bitches? Where do I get off?

Anyway, whores...

The proud and SUPER DOUBLE LUCKY winner of the soon-to-be-available (WTF, Storey Publishing? I thought the book release was yesterday.) One-Yard Wonders book is Betsy.

And the proud and SUPER EXTRA DOUBLE LUCKY winner (because this calendar is already available for shipment per Amazon right now) of the already available Sewing: 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar is Carla.

Congrats whores and bitches! Now send me your mailing addresses (and full names, unless you want your shit mailed to Apples and Onions Betsy, which is fine by me but whatever) to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com so I can ship you your shit.

OK. I'll stop calling you whores and bitches now. It hardly seems nice. Given you're winners and all.

The rest of you though? You're on the bubble.


I'm very punchy this morning. I think I'm just excited that Bubba's coming home from his trip to Cambodia today. Yay! No more single dog momming it around town. *Throws handfuls of dog kibble in the air*

Tomorrow I'll be back to boring you with the exciting world of pumpkin puree-making (no, for reals) and meadow grass-growing (again, for reals. Thanks for the reminder, Dena!), but for today you can all bask in the glow of prize awarding.

Even if you didn't win a prize. Because, you know, you could still go enter yourself in the Storey Publishing contest for fabric. Unless you live out of the country. In which case you're a little SOL, but that's not my fault, so let's just agree to be mad at these anti-Non-US contest-havers and go on with our lives.

For the record - I ship internationally. So, if you ever win a prize from Finny and you live somewhere far far away not in the US - I will send you your prize and so there.

Just so you know. I love all you whores. US and non.

I feel this is a good time to end this post.

Oh wait - HI JANA! So random, but Jana and I used to work together and it was really fun to see her picture right there in the comments, so I had to say hi. I'm like that. Also - your hair looks cute - it's dark - I like it muchly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Contests + Prizes! Also known as shameless self-promotion.

You may not know this about me, but I'm totally not modest at all.

HA! You totally did know that.

Anyway, since that's all out in the open and you know what a whorish self-promoter I am already, we can go forth with the news without any shame.

Or, just, less shame. Still swearing though! Always with the swearing.

Guess who's got a pattern in the new One Yard Wonders book?

ME, bitches!

And, like, a bunch of other super talented and probably way more modest people, too, PLUS the fabulous Ms. Junie Moon who has FIVE FUCKING PATTERNS (such a good thing I love her, otherwise can you imagine the smack I'd talk right now?) in there for you all to gape at and drool over.

The beauty of this book is its stash-busting powers, if you ask me, since all these wantable things can be made with just one paltry yard of fabric that you know you have just lying around in a big Tupperware in the closet not getting used, but I'll let you decide for yourselves what the beauty of this book really is. And if it just happens to be the photographs of my pattern that you find especially beautiful, well, I am prepared to accept that.

And if you are super fucking excited for the release of this book like I am (or you are just vaguely excited but have some single yards of fabric you'd like to dispatch - which is also fine whatever), leave me a comment today (10/28/09) and I'll send the winner (picked by the random name chooser thingee) a copy of the new book YAY!

Phew - said that all in one breath there.

And, if you want to hedge your bets (which, I would, because I'm that way), you can also go to the publisher's website and enter to win a yard of fabric a month for a year. If you manage to win both things, then, well, you're a lucky little fucker and I don't know why you're still working full-time because you could obviously just be entering contests for a living.


If you're still here after all my yelling, swearing and breathless self-whoring, and you want to win something ELSE - I should tell you that I also have a pattern in the Sewing: 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar. I believe mine falls somewhere at the beginning of July.

And if you don't like *my* pattern (which, what what's wrong with you?), odds are you'll probably find at least one other pattern in there because there are, like, more than a hundred. Yes, that means that some patterns cover more than one day, but let's not get hung up on technicalities right now.

If you want to throw your hat into the ring for either of these deals, leave a comment like, "I want shit with your name in it." or something to that effect, and I'll let the random name chooser thingee do the rest.

Do all this comment-leaving today, 10/28, and I'll announce winners tomorrow, on Thursday, 10/29. That way, if you don't win (sorry, losers), you can still go buy a copy of this book while it's still hot from the pressroom or wherever they hatch these things.

Because you know there's nothing like a warm craft book on a cold day. Or something.

OK - that's all the self-promoting I will do today. Promise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remember my garden? Yeah, I just did, too.

Not that long ago I planted the fava beans, as is my now second year tradition, and right after that, I forgot that I had a garden for the most part.

I've been out there twice to pick tomatoes, but beyond that, the back garden has gone into its winter phase, which is to say that it's now Jada's spa (read: toilet) and home to the Apple Tree That Doesn't Grow.

So, imagine my excitement this morning when I went out to check on my kumquats to find that HEY! OVER HERE! the fava beans were all growing and shit.

We're all standing here at attention and everything, woman.

Thankfully I have automatic irrigation out there, otherwise who knows what shape they'd be in right now (dried, probably) and boy would I be sad that I actually went along with this moon phase nonsense in the first place just to let them fail because of my own negligence. And you know I'd be all blaming the moon phase or whatever.

Stupid moon phases make plants grow worse! I'd be saying, but whatever.

I wonder how many other theories I've tested poorly just to determine in my own pea brain that they're faulty when the faulty is ME? Eh. Hard to tell.

Anyway, the beans are alive, getting taller by the day, apparently, and making the Money Chicken nervous. He tends to get lost in the greenery every summer and now he'll get the same treatment in the fall and winter.

And why is he called the Money Chicken? No idea. That's what Bubba calls him and since he had that name before I started calling him, "Hey you fucking asshole, stop cutting my hands when I move you!", it has stuck.

We compromise, Bubba and I.

The Money Chicken looks on nervously.

And, in case you were interested in the progress of the kumquats, the original reason I dragged my lazy rear out to the garden in the first place, I can assure you that they're doing nothing and look the same as last time we did this.

I could have just posted the same photo as before, but I had already hauled the camera with me, so here you go: Kumquats, a still life.

I'll be impressed when they produce enough for me to eat in more than one sitting. This isn't even a challenge.

And since there's precious little fall color around here, so that I have to go stealing it from friends' Facebook updates (Hi Freiberg, Germany - your fall looks nice!), I was really sort of happy to see that the hard-won yarrow (I had to HUNT THIS SHIT DOWN - it was unreasonable) has grown in to the new landscaping nicely and is blooming with abandon.

I'm worth it.

And then we've always got the nasturtium. I never realized I'd like these flowers so much, but they bloom forever, are super sturdy in a vase and will take abuse like none other. Seriously, I ripped out this whole bed a few weeks ago and TEE DAH, the nasturtiums are blooming again.

Nice one, fellas.

And, to keep with the Forgot all about the garden! Whoops! theme, I got three packages in the mail that reminded me that I should stop opening emails from High Country Gardens and Burpee. So, you know, I now have to figure out when I'll be planting garlic sets, Siskiyou gaura and hey fun! almost 800 wildflower bulbs.

I'm sure I'll be back soon with an update on how my hamstrings won't allow me to move from a prone position.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A really long explanation for my dog's Halloween costume

Firstly, I'm afraid that some of you need to seek out the greater resources of Google Images to refresh your memory on what a vagina does and does not look like. But, if you don't want searches for "what does a real vagina look like?" clogging the annals of your browser's history (do you like how I worked in "annals" there? I'm laughing at my own jokes right now.), let me tip you off by saying that it does not at all look like the photos you see on this blog.

Lest you think I've taken my picture taking too far.

And I know that you're just being your witty self, Decca, and that I totally laughed out loud into my laptop (whilst spraying tea hither and yon) when I saw that your guess for Jada's costume was haHAha - a vagina.

Also I've stored this away as an idea for future Halloween costumes. For the dog. Because I'm obviously an abusive pet owner with a strange sense of humor.

OK - on to the dog's actual costume then...


Just kidding. Sorry, too funny to resist.

For many of you (Hi geniuses!) this wasn't a hard costume to guess because even though I thought those clues were shitty, they apparently were not OR you all have imaginative minds that can conjure up costumes in which crazy people might dress their dogs so that they will match an orange bridesmaid dress.

You people lead bizarre lives, you know that? I mean, that's just insanity! Who matches dog's outfits to bridesmaid dresses?

Oh right. Me.

Anyway, Jada is going as a Tootsie Roll, which I hope you find as amusing as I do.

Jada, personally, finds it to be a delicious idea.

And how did I think up this masterpiece of animal abuse? Well, here's the story.

Didn't you want the story in addition to the dog photos? Sure you did. Here we go.

So, I was knitting the #1 sleeve of my sweater-in-progress when my mind wandered off to Should I Dress Up For Halloween Land. And in this land I wasn't sitting well with the idea of not dressing up.


Because, at my office, we treat Halloween like it's all the holidays plus a rollicking carnival rolled into one, when judged by the enthusiasm of the festivities and the widespread participation of the employees.

Everyone dresses up. Or so it seems. I mean, there are a lot of people that just look like a freak every day, so you can't really tell if that's a costume or if they are just wearing their weekend drag outfit, but for the most part, people dress up, make merry, enter their dogs/kids/selves/teams in costume contests, eat a lot of food shaped like spiders and drink suspiciously-colored beverages.

And to not participate would feel weird. Like being the only vegetarian at Oktoberfest or something.

So, this was weighing on me when I decided that I should definitely dress up, but if I was going to dress up, I needed to wear one of my bridesmaid dresses in order to get another wear out of something that was, in most cases, otherwise unwearable.

And before any of you lovely friends of mine who honored me with the title of bridesmaid in your wedding get all "Well, pfffffff! If she didn't like the dress, she should have said something!" or "I had to wear a black dress in your wedding HOW UGLY" or whatever, let me just say that I happily wore your dress to your wedding and no matter how many times you say, "It's so cute you can totally wear it again!", it's still not true.

I just don't lead a life where I can wear a two-toned orange satin dress or a tea-length pink dress with sheer overlay or a floor-length sea foam number with corset or a gold halter dress with train or a red wrapped-bodice gown bestudded with rhinestones. I just don't. And you should be glad, because if I did, we might have never crossed paths and become the great friends we are today.

OK? We all feel better now? Good. And feel free to reuse your hideous black dress from my wedding as a trash bag. No hard feelings.

Back to the issue at hand - my costume. See, while the pink, red, gold and sea foam dresses weren't that difficult to work into costumes (Stepford Wife, Evil Tooth Fairy, The Drunk Bridesmaid, Emmy Award, costume for my "Wear a Bridesmaid Dress to a Bridal Shower" party), the orange dress (Hi Chelle! Love you!) was more of a challenge.

Last year I was thinking of wearing the dress and going as Lisa Simpson until I realized that Lisa's dress is red rather than orange. Boo. Then Bubba and I hatched the idea of the Evil Tooth Fairy and that went better with the pink dress, so off I went to haul it out of the spare bedroom closet for a second Halloween go around (that's three uses right there! WOO! Thanks Lin!).

We batted around ideas for the orange dress, but they were all fruity or stupid or not amusing enough to motivate me to pull together other pieces to make into a costume. Things like, "Halloween Fairy", "Autumn", "Pumpkin Lady", "Tanning Booth Fatality". You can see why I was left uninspired.

Until this sleeve-knitting moment when I started thinking about orange things other than pumpkins that have to do with Halloween. Not surprisingly, my mind immediately went to candy. And what is the most classic of all Halloween candy? Candy corns.

Not because they're delicious, mind you, but because they've just been around forever and I think we keep handing their legacy down through the generations because we're each afraid to be the one who finally goes, "You know. These aren't good. We should just stop making them and instead focus our efforts on making bigger Reese's peanut butter cups." Because that, friends, is a real Halloween candy. And I think the peanut butter inside is vaguely orange, right?

Anyway, aside from the fact that candy corns aren't all that good, they are still inextricably Halloween-ish and, in great part, orange in color. One might even say that they are one of the classic Halloween treats. Right up there with popcorn balls, wax lips, Smarties and TEE DAH! Tootsie Rolls.

And, say it along with me, wouldn't it be cute (stupid, retarded) if I went as a candy corn and Jada went as a Tootsie Roll?

We could be, like, (and this is where Bubba's opinion and mine diverge) Classic Halloween Treats! Since, you know, we're such treats to begin with.

Bubba thought we could be, "The candy that's still leftover at Thanksgiving because it's crap.", but I found that to be slightly less inspiring and more of a mouthful, so we decided to go with my idea instead. Not that I'm going to be creating name tags or anything, but if we need a title for the Group Costume Contest (oh yes, I'm *this* big of a loser right now), then mine will fit better on the sign-up sheet. I think.

I'll feel better about myself anyway.

After this unfortunate decision on the naming rights of our project, Bubba's input sort of stopped until Jada was presented in the various phases of her costume development. This was so that he could tell me how skilled I was at making candy-shaped outfits for our dog.

Because, of course, first I had to make the body and make sure it fit before moving on to more decorative aspects like the ruffled collar/wrapper, stunning red stripes and authentic Tootsie Roll lettering, and who better to judge the fit of a dog's costume than the man who was busy dialing the local loony bin to see if they offered a pick-up service for deranged seamstresses.

It's hard to tell from the photo (and her sad face), but her tail is wagging very happily in all these shots.

See how her tail looks blurry? Yes - that's joy.
You can actually see the blurry tail in this picture. I promise - authentic happiness.
Despite his objection to costuming the dog, Bubba did agree that the costume creating went well and that our dog looked as much like a Tootsie Roll as was possible given her fur, legs, size and general dog-ness.

As for my candy corn costume, well, there's an orange bridesmaid dress involved, but beyond that, I haven't put together enough of it to model it for you, but I will. And to hold you over until that glorious moment arrives, you can enjoy looking at my new yellow shoes that I'll probably wear to work after Halloween prompting people to wonder what other Halloween costume items I've worked in to my regular outfit rotation.

What? You didn't think I was going to buy shoes I couldn't rewear did you? That'd be crazy.

None of those bridesmaid dresses, though, that's for sure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's guess some more because that was fun.

Ah, you know my shame.

And it's not the shame of a Christmas tree skirt, a Snuggie (formal or otherwise), an outfit for a concrete bird or yard gnome (I'm now frightened of the Midwest), an outfit for a choir boy or any person of the cloth (yeah - I think the church has a Shoot on Sight order on me), a giant dog doo bag, toilet seat cover (yeesh, those things freak me out) or a pirate shirt.

And while "Halloween costume for a friend's child" is a close guess (nice, Kris), CLP and Nutsy Coco were right on the money.

I'm making, or rather have made, a Halloween costume for Jada.

Feel free to think mean things about me or judge me if you're a big fat Judger, because I've gone over to The Other Side of pet ownership by creating an item of clothing for my dog.

I KNOW - it's retarded - BUT she comes to work with me and at work we love Halloween so much it's like everyone here is seven years old and since I'll be dressing up for Halloween and, of course, bringing her to work with me, I thought she could dress up in a coordinating (not matching - *coordinating*) costume so that we could (brace yourself, this is where it gets more shameful) enter the Group Costume contest, or at least I could enter her in the Pet Costume contest because we have one and it's funny.

Of course, until now I considered the Pet Costume contest to be ridiculous and retarded and oh how sad that pug is dressed as a lobster and it doesn't make any sense, but when I thought up my own costume in a moment of bridesmaid dress reuse brilliance, a coordinating costume for Jada fell right into place.

Sound absurd? Oh, it is. I'll assure you of that.

How absurd though? Well, let's guess...

Using the shitty clue of the above collage as guidance (and yesterday's, too, if you want), please feel free to guess at the costume I created out of scraps in my stash for my, until this year, uncostumed dog.

And yes, these tightly cropped photos were taken as she modeled this costume for Bubba and I, her tail wagging all the while.

Sure, I lured her from the comfort of her enormo doggie bed with handfuls of treats before I festooned her with this Halloween finery, so maybe that's why she was so super cheerful, but I daresay she pranced the catwalk (dogwalk? no matter) for Bubba and I and appeared to not be bothered by the bizarre new nightly rituals taking shape in our house.

Before now, the most "dressed" this dog has gotten is when it's raining and we torture her with a doggie rain coat. This sounds stupid, too, just like a Halloween costume, but I am not lying when I say that she takes five seconds to dry off after a walk with the doggie rain coat and that is a lot shorter (hours shorter) than when we dry her off after a no-raincoat walk.

For a short haired dog, she's awfully absorbent.

Anywaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay - enough about my poor abused dog, who is, like, the best sport ever.

You all feel free to guess at Jada's costume, which is ready but for just a final top stitch, and if you're real good and want to go out on a limb, go ahead and guess at both of our costumes using the following consistently shitty clues:

1.The bridesmaid dress I'm reusing this year is orange.

2. Our costumes go together thematically, but do not match. Which is obvious given that her costume doesn't contain any orange. Hey! Another shitty clue.

3. Our costumes only share one color: white.

4. Both of our costumes, combined, will only cost me a total of $24.99, as all of the materials/bits/pieces/details were sourced from around the house except for a new pair of shoes for moi because HELLO I don't have any shoes in *this mystery color* yet.

Not helpful? If you can guess Jada's costume, I'll tell you what the theme is and I bet you'll guess our Costume Shame pretty quickly.

I will, however, not be telling you what Bubba's calling our costume theme, because it makes me feel sad and like I wish I'd have thought through the implications of our theme a little better so that I could avoid adopting one with such unfortunate associations.

Yeah, I'm sure that's not super helpful.

Start guessing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shameful mystery project

I would come right out and tell you what this shameful mystery project of mine is, so that we could all wallow in the shame together and so that you could maybe tell me that you, too, have completed similarly shameful projects that are also mysteries because I don't know of them which means you've not told Finny of your shameful ways (shame!), but I thought it might be more fun to let you guess what it is that I'm working on that is so shameful that even though I've been confronted with similar suggestions in the past, I've always ignored them because I found them to be, well, shameful.

And that was probably the longest and most grammatically horrifying sentence I (or maybe anyone else) has ever written. Sheesh. Slap me.

Anyway, my point is not to scare you with my shameful writing but rather to give you some shitty clues (including the not helpful photo collage) so that you can guess what shameful project I'm working on using the following materials:

(This is shitty clue #1) brown Kona cotton left over from a recent zippered pouch project, white muslin left over from some random projects I don't recall, red fleece left over from the scarves I made two Christmases ago, adhesive Velcro left over from a recent project during which I determined that adhesive Velcro was never to be used again for anything I planned to wear or use more than once.

Shitty clue #2: Just because I find this to be a shameful project, there are manyMANY people out there who think these types of projects are adorable, hilarious, necessary for survival and so on. So, you know, it's not like I'm making a fleece and Velcro dildo here or anything. Which might be painful rather than shameful, but let's move on.

Shitty clue #3: The final product of this shameful project isn't for me. Yes. That is correct. I'm making shameful things for others because that's the kind of evil giver that I am. Be my friend?

Shitty clue #4: I don't know. See - that's a pretty shitty clue.

I went home from work last night with the premise for this shameful project just acookin' away in my mind, but had to temper the shameful inspiration with a condition. The condition was that I could only make this thing if I could source all the materials from stock on hand in Finny's Closet Stash of Horrors.

Part of me *knew* I didn't have everything I needed, so I think my secret inner self thought that it was saving me from my evil outer self by making this condition with my whatever self so that I wouldn't go home and create this abomination, but as it turns out, having that many selves bouncing around in one's head means that there's not enough room in there to recall exactly what one has on hand in the Closet Stash of Horrors and WHOOPSY I did have everything I needed.

It also means that one's head is Crazy.


I guess I *will* make this shameful thing that will have Bubba rolling his eyes at me for the foreseeable future, even though he agreed that, so far, it was being executed expertly and that my skillz were sharp for such shameful applications.

Some people can build houses, I can craft shameful things. We aren't all dealt an even hand, friends. Sorry to tell you.

So, I set out to start this shameful thing last night, after we'd finished dinner and during the Monday Night Massacre known as the Broncos play the Chargers. Oh, L.T., what has happened?

Thankfully, I had The Shame to distract me. And, ironically, while crafting The Shame from scratch and without a real pattern (shitty clue #5), I realized I was having one of those rare and blessed sewing moments where everything I sew does not turn to shit.

I'm not going to go as far as saying that my sewing turned to gold, because this is The Shame we're talking about here, but the usual events that mark my Everything I Sew Turns to Shit moments were mercifully missing.

So, you know, the thread didn't fly out of the needle every other stitch, my bobbin didn't start balling itself up in a big nasty temper tantrum, I didn't cut on the wrong fold or sew something inside out or, like, sew my sleeve down to the table.

I felt, at one point, like I should pull some of my other WIPs out of the pile and put my good sewing juju to work on unshameful projects, but alas, I was shoulder deep in red fleece and making muslin ruffles using that handy trick I learned from Amy Butler when I made that tunic, so I forged ahead - wasting my Everything I Sew Does NOT Turn to Shit time making The Shame.

I'm sure this will come back to haunt me when I'm making that jacket from Chic & Simple Sewing, but for now I'm just grateful that cutting up semi-big swaths of stash fabric (shitty clue #6) for a final project that, while shameful, will not be useless or a horribly executed waste of time or trash can fodder.

Tonight I hope to get on to the final details of this shameful business, which will turn its Shame level up to 10. And for those of you who haven't had to turn a knob on a radio/stereo/receiver in this lifetime because you're younger than I am and have only had audio equipment with touchwheels or buttons, I have two things to say to you:

1. Fuck you
2. In the olden days there were big knobs on stereo receivers that went from 0 - 10 (or 30 or 40 or whatever depending on the power of your particular device) and "turning it up to 10", for us kids, was, like, the most extreme way to express something. We also said "rad" a lot and "hella", but that's another story for another day.

Also, I still say, "rad" a lot.

Also, if "turning it up to 10" wasn't extreme enough to express the radness of something, like, say, a TV show or song on the radio, another popular phrase which we (Bubba and I) still use frequently today, was "break off the knob!"

As in, "This radio station is so rad, you should just break off the knob!" Usually this was followed by the DJ exclaiming the "Hundred thousand watts of music power!" or some such nonsense, but since this is a lesson in Shameful Crafting and not in Finny's An Old Lady, let's just focus on you entering your guesses in the Guess The Shameful Project Contest.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Running is the anti-Snoopy

In an effort to stave off any more guilt, I went back out for a run this weekend so that I could say that my Post-Race Break Week was just a little more than a week, but not TWO weeks because that would be ridiculous.

It would have also been fabulous, luxurious, relaxing, productive and a lot of other really great things, but the thing I was most focused on was Fatness.

Because when weighing the pros and cons of going for a shortish-long run all the pros (see above) were outweighed by the very heavy con (Wow. Awful pun.) - Fatness.

Even though, during an impromptu dinner date night with Bubba on Friday (Fun! We went out with three dimensional people! I wore jewelry!), I admitted that since my last race, I've lost 4 pounds. Even though there's no way that can be anything other than 4 pounds of muscle since HELLO look at these oysters on the half shell spread out before me - it's not like I've been eating low cal during Post-Race times.

That would be insanity.

Anyway and also - I had a wedding to go to over the weekend and wanted to wear my new and never-yet-seen Supah Tight dress with my sparkly Wedding Going Shoes (I can't find any other occasion to wear them. Due to the sparkliness.) and wow is that one dress where a Lunch Snoopy isn't welcome.

Thank you to my good friend, Kiesha, for that apt naming convention.

Given the tightness of the dress and the likelihood of a Post-Race Break Week of Oysters and Other Assorted Naughtiness Snoopy, a run was definitely in order.

So, run I did.

I went out for a six miler at the not so early hour of around 7am and it was fine. A little humid out for my tastes and there was that pesky sun ball again and wow there sure are a lot of cars on the road at this hour, but the run itself was, like, pretty nice.

Especially since it was only six miles and it was acting like Fall around our neighborhood this weekend, so I got to crunch leaves with my feet, appreciate pumpkin vines crawling out from under people's fences and think mean things about those fuckers who already have Christmas decorations edging their Jack-o-Lanterns off the porch.

I think I was out for around an hour, since I did my usual 6 mile route, but since I didn't wear my Garmin (OH THE FREEDOM OF RUNNING FOR THE HELL OF IT RATHER THAN FOR TRAINING) I didn't get any exact times or elevation charts or splits or fanciness like that.

I can say, though, that when I put on my Supah Tight (but still appropriate for a wedding because I brought a wrap, OK) dress, there was no Snoopy to be seen. Yay. The run did its job.

Of course, after having lunch, cocktails, appetizers, dinner and a hundred drinks, I'm sure I looked like Snoopy after Thanksgiving Dinner, but I have to assume that everyone else was drunk enough by then to let such details pass before their eyes without recognition or memory.

Plus, it's not like I was the only one who had dinner and those bacon wrapped scallops, so I'm sure there were other Snoopies to see. Just saying.

And since the run went so well and I will have to make my way through a 5K next month and because I'm going to Palm Springs this weekend instead of putting myself through the Silicon Valley half marathon like my neighbor is, I'm going to go back to my weekly morning short runs in an effort to maybe best my 5K time on Thanksgiving.

Because lord knows I can't go a week without a new annoying goal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Witness me melting the hell down.

I've ignored a lot of laptop stickers.

I've gazed past Tshirts and pretended to be paying attention to traffic when faced with window clings.

I've conducted my blog-following life in Reader and so have been widely ignorant of web badges of all types.

In fact, I've made a practice of being outwardly ignorant about all these blogging and webby monikers and acronyms.

NaNoBloMo? What is this thing you speak of? Surely *I* don't know. Sounds sort of erotic, if you ask me.

NaNoWriMo? Is this something made up by Apple? I see product placement all over this.

365 Days? OK. I realize that's not an acronym, but what does it mean?

I'll tell you what ALL of these mean, folks, WORK.

Hard, busy, slaving, soul-crushing, self-doubting, finger sweating, anxiety-inducing, sleep-sucking, creativity-sponging, daily time-rationing WORK.

And because I have finished the training and running of two half marathons already this year and have only the hehe I'm not training for that 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving upon which to set my goal-driven sights and apparently need something personally and mostly uselessly stressful in my life, I finally gave in and admitted that I knew the meaning of one of these nerdy acronyms.

And by "gave in" I mean, I stopped ignoring emails from close friends encouraging me to take part in said acronymic event, stopped searching my calendar *to the bone* for somethinganything that would keep me legitimately tied up for the month of November and unblocked the websites in my browser that had been hiding behind the firewall as though they were full of porno and I was my own eight year old kid.

Which makes no sense. And also I didn't do that last one because, can you even do that?

Anyway, what I'm saying is that I held out a really, really long time and feigned ignorance until I was weak and impressionable and finishing up my second week of the glorious Post-Race Break Week with just a little bit of guilt wandering in and out of my goal-free mind when I finally decided to stop being such a fucking pussy and just sign up already.

Sign up for what, you ask? Well, hop over from that reader or just lookie at that sidebar and you'll find out.

Finger too tired to click? Eyes too worn out to look right ----> over -----> there ---->?

I signed up for National Novel Writing Month.

Finally. After three years of pretending I didn't know what it was. Pretending that people on the Internets were all crazy and who has time like this and what would I write about and oh please as though I can work, run, sleep, blog, eat, garden, have Thanksgiving aaaaaaaaaannd write 50,000 words in a month. Please, now. Don't say crazy things.

Well, the crazy is out of the bag for you all to see. I've succumbed to peer pressure for the whateverTH time in my life and, rather than trying a new gateway drug or going under the bleachers with a football player (sadly - never happened), will be torturing myself to the tune of 50,000 words in November with the expressed written intent of being a "winner". Which means I actually write something with 50,000 legitimate words in it.

The prize? I think there's some sort of web badge. And, hey, I'll have 50,000 of my own words to keep me warm at night when Bubba's out of town. And, uh, I can scramble them all up Lorem Ipsum style and print them onto fabric at Spoonflower and then make myself a straightjacket?

Yeah, so there's not really a prize.

Unless you've thought that one day you'd maybe if you get a good idea or have a life-changing experience or an epiphany or witness something unbelievable write a novel and then TEE DAH! have managed to turn 31 without writing more than what one would consider readable squat and could really use written proof that you're not a total lost cause.

THEN - that is the prize. Proof that you're not a lost cause. Good enough for me.

Also, then, I maybe won't sign up for any more long distance races this year because you know how I get.

So, what this means is that my posts in November may cover topics like the merits of quiet Mac keyboards vs super clacky ThinkPad ones, the maximum recommended daily dosage of Excedrin when combined with black tea and those so-good-they're-fucked-up truffles from TJ's, whether any of you know how to train dogs to type, if you know where I can find a fuel belt with a laptop attachment and whether there's an app for NaNoWriMo and whether it's worth trading in my Blackberry to get an iPhone so I can use it.

It probably won't mean I'll give up blogging, though, even though it seems like one couldn't possibly average 1,800 words a day PLUS blog PLUS work PLUS whine like a snively bitch, but I'm here to tell you that I think I can.

Mostly because my snivley bitchitude is pretty strong. And I believe that it can fortify me in times of stress, much like some runners gain strength from the adrenaline of other runners in a race (not me, I cry inside instead). And also because you well know that I can't bear public shaming and this is pretty public when the counter is right there (or will be) for everyone to see and judge.


Now, what happens to my 50,000 word digital fish wrap come December 1? Dunno. I guess we'll just have to see if I live through the experience and have any hair left. Why is hair important?

When is hair NOT important?

I don't know why I feel so strongly about that last part.

Wow. I just realized how poorly this might go. Yay for December.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Boss Lady

Last weekend I went out to the backyard with the intention of showing the tomatoes who was boss.

And wouldn't you know that there were some dissenting opinions, so that showing has continued into this week.

Meaning that there were so many fucking tomatoes on those plants that I'll be showing them who's boss all week as I freeze/cook/puree/slice/chop/boil/toss them.

Thankfully, at the end of this week, I fully intend to have Boss Lady status - at least as far as the tomatoes are concerned. My status with the other members of the household (yeah, tomatoes are pretty much members of the house now, what with their reserved space in the cupboard and all) is up in the air, I'm sure, as Rocket has informed me that I'm "on the bubble" since she knows her Pelt Removal appointment is fast approaching.


In order to be The Boss of the Tomatoes in an appealing and satisfying way to more than just moi, I decided that I'd just work tomatoes into every single day of our weekly dinner menu so that Bubba could appreciate Boss Man status among the tomatoes, too.

Also, he is good to have around in food surplus situations because he is a boy and therefore can eat impressive quantities of food, even though he keeps up a super svelt frame. The fact that he keeps ratcheting back to the skinner holes on his belt whilst he hoovers up all the leftovers and snacks and always has dessert is just something I'm not going to cover right now because it friggen irks me.

HOW ARE THESE THINGS POSSIBLE? And, how come they don't happen to me?

Moving on...

To first give you an idea of the amount of bossiness I have to force on these plants, let me tell you that during my Saturday morning harvest, I walked away with 32 lbs of tomatoes. I really have to update the tracker with the recent harvests because they've been big ones and I think we may be approaching the 200 lb mark with tomato harvests this year.

In this case, it was more than my cardboard TJ's flat could handle, so I had to call the old broken bucket off the bench.

Put me in, coach!

And in case you can't really appreciate the magnitude of this harvest based on the angle of this photo, this is how much room they took up in my sink as I rinsed them. Which is to say, ALL of the room.

The tomatoes are two and three deep in there. Yeowch.

So, to go about handling all 32 lbs here, I thought first that I'd just freeze them all. Or, maybe, I'd can half and freeze half. Or maybe I'd have a canning-A-THON and can them all. And then rent out one of those POD things for storage.

But then I realized that I'm stupid.

I mean, all winter we make do with homecanned and frozen tomatoes, all the while longing for the coming summer's harvests of fresh tomatoes so that we can have things that you can't really have with canned or frozen tomatoes. Like, say, tomato salad and tomato pie and tomato sandwiches and basically anything you need a fresh tomato to achieve.

You can't be thawing out a frozen tomato to slice up for a salad because that is just nasty and weird.

So, DUH, I finally wrote up a menu of favorite fresh tomato dishes, parceled out the number of tomatoes I'd need to fulfill them and then processed (ie. cut out the stem holes) and froze the rest into gallon sized bags to feed the chesty.

That's eight gallons of tomatoes, there. Yah. Anyone up for chili?

It's funny how the chesty is nowhere near capacity. This thing is fucking scary.

I'm afraid to start stacking stuff in there because it'll get lost and will have to be hauled out with a crane someday.

So far, the menu's working as planned. We started the Tour de Tomato with the "Use While Fresh" basket looking like this:

And last night, after three tomato-heavy dinners, it looked like this:

And in case you're tired of me talking about all these tomato things rather than telling you what we've been doing with all these tomato things, here's the menu.

Sunday night: Tomato Pesto Pie (sans sausage because the store is so far away)

And rather than making a pie PIE, I made individual pie pockets. Well, you'd have to have really big pockets for these, but the crust forms something of a pocket, so just go with me, here.

If you like time-lapse photography, check this shit out - the tomato version:

Slice the dough > Add pesto > Add tomatoes > Add cheese > Add pesto > Add tomato > Cover/Crimp > Bake > Slice > EATYUM

When I make it again, I'll just make it the normal way.

Monday night: Creamy Tomato Soup

This didn't turn out as creamy as promised (by the recipe) because I pussed out and used 2% milk rather than cream but before you get all USE CREAM YOU RETARD! I just want to say that this was due to laziness (I had 2% in the fridge and the cream was all the way at the far away store - see "Sunday night: Tomato Pesto Pie") rather than Fear of Fatness and had there been cream in my fridge I so would have used it.

But, as it turns out, my Fear of Fatness makes the likelihood of having cream in the fridge so slim that I'd advise that you not hold out hope. We'll have to, instead, hope that one day my laziness subsides.

Still good enough for Bubba to eat a gallon of it for lunch.

Tuesday night: Ratatouille with sausage

This is an old standby recipe for those times when I have a crisper full of farmshare and nowhere to turn.

This time I spiced it up with jalapeno sausage from good ol' TJ's and piled on a lot more parsley than you see in this photo. Because I'm self-conscious of my over-parsleying ways, OK.



I served Bubba's over rice, but this is mine - 100% ratatouille

As for tonight and tomorrow and the day after (and after and after...), we'll be having BBQ brisket and beans courtesy of Chesty and a loverly tomato salad. Tomorrow I think I'm making this tomato bruschetta again and Friday we're having pizza.

And, with any fucking luck, we'll hit the weekend with an empty basket on the counter and HEY just in time to refill it with the ripe ones from the garden because OH MY HELL I went out there this morning and there's more.

Imagine if I'd planted SIX tomato plants? We'd be moving into a POD right now just to give them room.

And when did I become so obsessed with PODS? Weird, that.