Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ode to the Gym

Oh Exercise Facility, how I love thee...

You take my flabby body and make it less flabby.

Your treadmills and ellipticals are my best friends and worst enemies. Some days I fly gracefully along, others I slog and drip sweat - yet you are always there the next day, ready for me. Let me count off your delights.

The well-muscled arms of the one cute guy.

Mr. Short T-Shirt's soft, blindingly white belly, sparsely covered in long black hair...glimpsed as he does ackward back stretches for no apparent reason.

Me, snuggled up to the air purifier for my crunches on busy days. Oh, the aroma of sweaty men!

And my favorite, the bulging arm veins of Mr Yoga - you can actually watch them expand as he does handstands in the center of the room. Best appetite suppressant I've ever had.

Today I was lucky enough to experience 3 of these delights at once! (The cute guy wasn't there)

How do I keep myself away from you? The call of the book must be so strong...yet I keep returning to you, my dearest. I shall always return...

...until I can live off just celery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Welcome Back to Reality

I know it's Tuesday and all....but ugh, feels like a Monday! I'm swamped at work - big problem brewing, unfortunately. After a nice, quiet, relaxing weekend - it's back to the reality of work again!
I've reached two inescapable conclusions this weekend - one not too terrible, the other kinda expensive.

It was a rather productive weekend leading up to these conclusions. My eldest and I spent a good two hours finishing a charm bracelet for her mom's wedding in August. I think we reached a good middle ground of "real jewelry" and "designed by a kid". I promised not to post pictures (although the chance of her mom reading my blog seems small)...but I can tell you it's a nice sterling chain with pendant freshwater pearls. The pearls were picked out by the kid, and are mauve, cobalt, lime green, champagne, lavender, and orange. (That kid-design aspect) They are spaced out with silver beads, which helps make it more multi-color adult looking (less crayon-box)...and finished with a heart toggle. I really, really hope her mom understands the amount of work that went into this!

On top of the charm bracelet, I also recreated a pair of earrings that I'm totally in love with. (Wearing my own pair right now actually) I made the first pair as a gift, loved it so much I decided to make one for the store - but then had to keep them for me. :-) Finally made a pair to sell on Etsy - you can see them here.

Yesterday I also spent considerable time on a project I've been planning for a while. It's a braided wire look...and while I'm not happy with the "braid" itself, I did get some spiral wrapping done that I'm pleased with, and created one ring with it. I suspect I'll need an actual clamp, probably in the garage, to make my braid work properly (sitting on the couch watching CSI didn't work)...but it gives me some new possibilities for jewelry beyond my current abilities, so I'm stoked.

Which leads me to my discoveries. The not-so-bad...I'm not happy with my plain-jane white backgrounds. I've been thinking about this for a little bit, but my unhappiness really reached a peak this weekend. Time to start experimenting with solutions - something patterned a colorful, but that won't distract! Perhaps I can do a few drawing of my own....

The other - I really, really need a light box. My current arrangement just isn't working well, especially on overcast days. We have LOTS of overcast days in Oregon too. No matter how much extra light I have in the room, and how much photo-tweaking I do...I'm just not happy with the results. I know you can make your own lightbox, so will be looking into that - but since I do much more than just etsy jewelry, it will need to be a sizable box I think. Pooh.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What to do for Father's Day?

It's coming up in a few short weeks....3, to be kinda precise.

This year, I really feel under the gun. Not only do I have my hubby around to pester me, my mother and stepfather are coming out to visit us that weekend too. We'll all be sharing a beach house for that Sunday, as a matter of fact.

So - TWO guys to plan something for. And while the kids will no doubt do their normal burnt eggos and milk at 6am - with handmade cards! - I'm expected to pull something off a bit more...shall we say upscale.

Which lands me here, desperately trying to think of something that will please these two guys. Here's what I've got so far; any suggestions would be welcome!

  1. 1. Golf. My stepdad loves it, and would enjoy 18 or 19 holes...but hubby can barely squeak by on Wii golf. Scratch that one.

  2. Ocean Fishing day trip. Pricey, but can be fun. Except if they actually catch anything, then we have to eat it that night. I'm not a fish fan, and the kids tend to turn up their noses too. Plus, if the Pacific is rough, this might be 8 hours of seasickness. Next.

  3. Chinook Winds Casino time. Nice Indian casino not far from our rental house - actually sports table games, buffet, shows, etc. Both my guys like gambling of various sorts...but if one or both has a bad day, it could be a short and/or painful experience. I'm thinking no.

  4. Fancy dinner out. Hmmm, what could go wrong here? Nice restaurant, 4 children, long wait for food. Don't forget the enormous check and automatic gratuity for a party of 8!

  5. Ok, I'm stuck - can't even think of an option #5. Help!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Product Review: Verde Soap by Bonghinatura

Get lost in the pleasures of handmade soap!

I was fortunate enough to win a giveaway of handmade soap on Bonghinatura's blog - and I'm just delighted with my 'prize'!

Here in Oregon, we have many festivals and farmers markets, and I've tried many different handmade soaps. Some are delightful, some too harsh, and others have no scent - enough variation that I'd frankly given up on handmade soaps. Boy, am I changing my tune!

Bonghinatura's soap came nicely wrapped in cellophane, with crisp brown-paper label. (Clean and unfussy, you could give the soaps as gifts without extra wrapping) The soap was pressed in a clean, smooth shape - but had fun inclusions to give a delightful appearance.

After much deliberation, I had decided on Verde - a blend of peppermint and lime in a shea butter base. After all, scents like honey or citrus are easy to get right...but what would peppermint and lime be like?

Turns out...the scent makes me think of a margarita. Or maybe a mojito? It's a very fresh citrus scent, not too sweet, with just a tinge of mint that keeps the lime from being sour. Surprisingly delightful - and appropriate for everyone in the family.

Of course, soap shouldn't just smell should work too. And Bonghinatura's soap definitely works. It creates a light lather (not as bubbly as commercial soaps) that rinses cleanly. It left my oily skin clean without dryness. A great hand-soap or bath soap - although I must warn you, the inclusions in this soap WILL come out and float in your bath water! Best of all, the soap left just a hint of scent on my skin; enough for a 'clean' scent, but without clashing with my perfume.

I'm so delighted, I can't wait to try another of her soap. Perhaps the Cappuccino Soap for a morning pick-me-up?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Help! I can't look away!

Inspired by today's post on The Mom Bomb...

Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you just COULD. NOT. LOOK. AWAY. ? You knew it was a major faux-pas, you were probably hurting someone's feelings...but the more you berated yourself mentally, the funnier it got, and the more 'stuck' you became?

Hoo boy, do I know that feeling.

My previous job had a large Asian population. (Great for handmade spring rolls!) Many nationalities were there, but the Vietnamese were predominant.

Many of the Vietnamese men at my job had one strange quirk. They had extra long pinkie fingernails on their left hands. Very hard to NOT notice, but since it's a personal grooming issue...nobody wanted to inquire about it.

Except one Friday, one of my technicians finally asked the other about the nail. He replied that it was cultural (duh), and that most men used it to 'wipe' their butt. Said it was better than toilet paper - no residue. Ewww.

The next day, I had a pedicure schedule with my friend, "Barbie". As we waited, we chatted about the work day...and I told the fingernail story. We were shown back to our little massaging chairs, and relaxed.

Until the pedicurist arrived. A guy. A Vietnamese guy.

With that long fingernail.

He (thankfully) donned rubber gloves before touching us...but all we could do was stare at his hand in horror. I glanced at Barbie, and saw the same "oh god, what do we do" look on her face that I could feel on my own.

My eyes were drawn inexorably back to The Fingernail. It seemed to waggle obscenely at me, clad in rubber and standing off from the rest of the hand.

Barbie got the same impression, for as we once again matched gazes...we burst into giggles.

For the full 30 minutes it took to get our (admittedly great) pedicures, this same situation kept happening. We couldn't talk, we couldn't read our trashy magazines...all we could do was stare at this fingernail, and hope our guy never looked up.

[I know you're wondering - and NO, that's not really what it's for. My tech was having a little joke on the person who asked...lucky me, just caught in the cross-fire. Sicko]

Monday, May 19, 2008

I HATE eBay today

In case you haven't heard the buzz today...eBay changed their feedback system. Again.

But this time, it's truly awful.

I went from 142 feedbacks, 100% positive

To 144 feedbacks, 98.3% positive.

Why? Well, because the % positive score is now based on a rolling 12-month average, for one. (Stupid, huh?)

For the last 12 months, I had exactly ONE neutral feedback. It wasn't from a BUYER. It was from a seller...a seller who piddled around for two weeks, always promising to ship "tomorrow" but never following up. I left that seller a neutral - for shipping time, and for lack of communication. She slammed me back for being "unreasonable" when I expected her to live up to her promises.

Be that as it may...somehow, the idea of a neutral feedback is now lost on eBay. It counts as a negative, period. Neutral = Negative. That's some creative math.

I am SO angry. Seriously, to the point that I'm going to start researching other venues for my auctions. Etsy is great for jewelry, but my designer clothes need a new home. Anyone have a suggestion?

There's Still Time to Join

Compete against YOURSELF in measures of fitness (strength, stamina, flexibility). Watch your progress week by week, and enjoy the support and friendship of other less-than-perfect exercisers along the way.

This challenge is open to everyone, regardless of fitness level. (However, if you have never exercised before, please consult a doctor first) There is no fee or obligation to join - it's totally free, and run by me.

For those who complete the 12 week challenge, there will be a "Most Improved" prize at the end!

This week is "Intake Week" - you do an initial measure to the tests, and report that information to me. This is also the week to set any custom goals you have. So head over to the Fitness4Us challenge site now!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday - Woo Hoo!

I'm so glad - it's been a long week.

I've been a jewelry making fool - finished a custom request, made two pairs of earrings for my brother's fiance, and even created a necklace for my etsy store. Oh, and got my stepdaughter started on a bracelet for her mom.

I've also been busy with ebay - buying items, taking pictures, listing...and thankfully, shipping out sold stuff too. A good 'problem' to have, and I'm very glad the sales seem to be picking back up after a DRY April.

Still, I'm glad for the weekend...could use some rest! But first, I must survive...


How do I wind up in this predicament? I'm not on the normal monthly roster of players, rather I'm more like a sub they call every other month. It's usually 3 or 4 days ahead, and it always sounds good at the time. (Girls only time, oh yeah!)

But then the Friday arrives...and I'm exhausted. Or I have my CSI recorded from the night before, and really want to see it. Or maybe I'm just feeling antisocial. It just seems inevitable that I wake up Friday going "man, I have Bunco tonight" instead of "I'm so excited about Bunco tonight."

Maybe it's the people I play with. Mostly housewives from our neighborhood, with a few ladies from the outskirts of town. It's a mix of ages, with many my own age, but ranging up to late 50s (and the occasional 70-yr-old)...but I'm certainly not the only early-30s person. Is it because I *don't* stay home with the kids? That I'm a science geek who spent the 9 hours before the game talking engineer-speak?

The jewelry designer in me should be gleeful - I should be decking myself out in my latest creations, and handing out business cards. Just can't seem to manage it....

Thankfully, Bunco night always includes cocktails and chocolate. Nothing like a glass of wine or pina colada to loosen me up, and make the evening go by.

Which reminds me...I need to call my house-hubby and have him get MY finger food for tonight!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mysteries of the Universe, Vol 1

Randomly inspired by my day...feel free to share your mysteries for future volumes!

  1. Cactus Hair. Why, oh why, do balding men think that spiking their remaining hair looks good? Really, honey, it just shows off your scalp that much more!

  2. "Gotta Getta Deal" attitudes. My friends on Etsy know all about this - people randomly asking for discounts on something you make/sell. We set that price for a reason, it's probably already too low - and you wouldn't ask the checkout girl at Macy's to give you a "special discount" either. Please stop.

  3. 3. Cellphones at Work. Last I checked, most offices provided phones - free! (At least to us worker drones it's free) You don't need that cell, really. And the rest of us don't need to hear the instrumental version of "Don'tcha" over and over again.

4. Morning Talk Radio. Really, does anybody listen to this nonsense? Ok, yes, I understand paying attention for the contests...but Pet Psychics, random trivia, yelling and screaming...all before the caffeine has entered your nervous system. It's just wrong.

5. Cellphones for Kids. My 10-year-old is asking for one, and there are plenty of kids her age (and younger) with phones. What?!? Why, in heavens name, could they possibly need a phone? They don't drive - they can't get further away than their little feet can carry them.

6. Summer Visitation. At least half of you know what I mean - in divorced families, the kids get to visit the non-custodial parent for 6 weeks in the summer. Since summer itself tends to run 9 weeks or so (stupid holidays), this basically means the WHOLE summer. Don't get me wrong...hubby and I are looking forward to some quality couple time. But the WHOLE summer? Plus, it's hard on the kids, particularly when the 'other parent' doesn't live near you. Who thought this was a GOOD thing for kids anyway?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm Mad This Morning

It's Monday, and boy am I so not ready for it. I'll freely admit I was grumpy to start out with...but this really pisses me off.

Portland doesn't exactly have a wealth of decent radio stations - particularly if what you want on your morning commute is upbeat music. Blather, aka "Talk"...plenty of that. Awful "my wife left and took the dog" country...certainly.

So it ticks me off that this morning I had to reduce my "decent station" list from a paltry 3 down to a miserable 2.

Sometime in the last two years, station 107.5FM turned into "Movin 107.5" - a CBS radio production. It was pop, some older R&B, with a few nuggets of goodness surrounded by ok stuff. Not earth-shatteringly good, but fine for commuting and waking up. However, over the last week or so I noticed I was NOT enjoying the music offered on that station nearly as much...seemed like more hip-hop was playing than anything else.

This morning was the final straw for me. I turned on the radio, and found "Radio Playhouse" or some such nonsense instead of music. Brash, un-funny talk radio - moved up from a hip-hop station that I didn't like. Not ONCE in my 20 minute commute did they play music.

I'm done - I'll use my evening commute to find an alternative, and then 107.5 is off my saved channels for good. Unbelievably stupid business decision CBS!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm Featured!

I'm the featured seller on DeLavande's Blog this week....check it out!

I've heard there might be giveaways, and discounts, and other good reasons to visit. Plus I'm frantically creating new items for this week. Check out my store to see what I've added!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Congratulations! You are Officially a Breeding Sow!

This wasn't the post I'd planned to write today...I was thinking something semi-political about the Oregon primaries. (Finally, something of a say in the Dem candidate!) But then I turned on my TV while getting dressed...and got this.

I shit you not. All naturally-created kids, only a couple of twins. This woman has been pregnant 15 times before. FIFTEEN. (You can get more information on them here too)

No shock, these people belong to a fundamentalist church that believes in a literal reading of the bible, as well as the attitude that "God decides" your family size.

I'm sorry, but this is insane. Why are we celebrating this? She's not "Super Mom", as the Today Show bit claimed...she's just Super Womb.

A family that huge is a drain on everyone. I can't imagine how they exist without welfare of some kind, but even if they don't...I'm sure they pay essentially NO taxes due to all those exemptions - yet their enormous family uses 5 times the resources (roads, gas, electricity, water, etc) of a 'normal' family of 4.

Beyond that - why is this woman doing it to herself? Would a horse breeder make a prize filly throw a foal every year? Would a champion show dog be expected to have a litter of pups every time she was fertile? OF COURSE NOT - it's very hard on the animal's body. Can you imagine the damage all these pregnancies, deliveries, and c-sections is doing to this woman?

Please people. For the love of God, stop it. Our planet is over populated - we have many people dying from lack of basics like food and water. Just because that isn't happening in the US now doesn't make your selfishness OK.

Women, have the dignity and self respect to say "I am a person, not a womb"...have a few kids if you want, certainly, but do other things with your life besides just be mom. Please, I'm begging you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Kindergarten RoundUp

…Or, the Thursday Night You Can’t Get Back.

What a wonderful idea schools have in “Kindergarten RoundUp” (goes by many aliases depending on where you live). Everyone knows that parents are nervous about sending their “baby” to school for the first time. What do the teachers look like? How scary is the classroom? Could my kid get lost on her way to the bathroom? So schools have created a night – usually in May – where parents of soon-to-be kindergarteners can come…child in tow…to speak to the principal, the teachers, the lunch lady, even the janitor. All to try to ease minds, and make moms believe they might not cry on the first day.

Yeah, like that’ll happen.

So RoundUp is a great thing…for that first kid entering school. Maybe even for a later kid, if it’s a new school. But come on; when it’s down to child #4 and year #3 in the school, do we really need to do it AGAIN?

Yes, yes we do.

See, the schools want you there. Who wants to have a party with no attendees? They mail you exciting “invitations” once a week for the two months leading up. Your older kids will see these “invitations” – helpfully addressed to the Pre-K in your house – and read them aloud, often. Before long, your Pre-K is excited about the RoundUp…you’d think she was going to Disneyland again.

Trying to be a “good” parent – whatever the heck that is – you agree to go. It’s always in the middle of the week, and always at a bad time. Just try to get a neighbor to baby-sit kids from 6-7pm on a Thursday night…that’s prime dinner and family time for most people! (Guess who’s helping them paint their trim next month…) Not to mention, those of us who work find ourselves rushing out the door at 5:15pm, driving *just* enough over the speed limit to not get caught…and we still can’t get home fast enough to actually eat dinner before it’s time to go.

After delivering the older kids to the neighbor(s), PB&Js in hand, it’s time to sprint for the school. Mom and Dad are hungry, tired, headachy…and angry when, after you dash through the parking lot to arrive at 5:59pm, the principal waits an extra 10 minutes for stragglers. At least that gives Mom time to take Miss Pre-K to the potty one more time.

Does that teacher lounge have a candy machine by chance?

Finally we get underway – and we start with the same introductions and “importance of reading to your kids” speech that is covered every year. Dad is whispering along with it, requiring a dirty look from Mom. Miss Pre-K is squirmy – “when will he stop talking Mom?” – and wants to go run in the back of the gymnasium like THAT KID you don’t know but already hate.

Finally it’s time for the games and activities – all educational, of course, but fun enough that the kids don’t realize how “good for them” it’s meant to be. The first five minutes are relatively quiet, until the faster kids realize they get ‘prizes’ of cookies and Goldfish crackers for playing these games. Suddenly, the noise level ratchets up to something approaching your old clubbing days, with shorter people.

And no alcohol.

With a smart kid, you can escape this event in 20 minutes or so – and take the bouncing, sugar-laden kiddo home to babble her long story of the evening into the bored ears of her siblings. Mom and Dad, enjoying a second glass of wine, can now relax, assured that on the first day of school, Miss Pre-K-Now-K will probably sprint down the hall to her class with nary a wave goodbye.

And Mom will bawl like a baby.

Can I rhapsodize a bit?

I'm not sure what kind of post this's kinda personal, but also sort of featuring an Etsian.

About a month ago, I submitted an Etsy alchemy request (for non-etsy people, that's basically a custom order bidding process). I work out 3-4 times a week, and have used the same boring, ugly, blue duffel bag from Target for almost 4 years now.

So I submitted a request for something new and fun - and stylish of course. I got a TON of bids, with great ideas and beautiful fabrics (so hard to chose). Finally decided to go with SimplySavvy - I could pick my own fabric, and have vinyl on the bottom to endure the yucky gym floors.

Picking a fabric was hard...there are so many gorgeous styles out there, and of course a wide range of colors. I was looking for something that was all-season, funky, a little girly...not too big a print, but not too small...tough work. It took probably 2 solid weeks of browsing to find exactly what I wanted - and then another 10 days or so to make the tote - but now I have it, and can't be more pleased!

I've added a pic at the bottom of everything I can put in this tote - it's amazingly capacious. I'm a bit of a label snob when it comes to clothes and accessories, so I know quality work when I see it - and the sisters of SimplySavvy did an EXCELLENT job. Strong seams, clean lines. Plus extra pockets sized just right for accessories!
I love my new bag - I actually want to go to the gym just to show it off!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fitness Challenge for "The Rest of Us"

As some of you know (but most don't)...I've been working on losing weight and exercising more for the past year or so. I've chronicled my struggles and triumphs on a personal blog - not here, since it doesn't really seem to relate to this one. However, I'm making an exception this time, because so many of my bloggy friends have mentioned wanting to improve their physical health.

Well, here's your chance! I'm creating a 12 week Fitness Challenge For the Rest of Us.

What kind of exercise you get is up to you - bike, run, walk, swim, I don't care. (I'm happy to provide links to resources if you want however) This challenge will measure the outcomes of good exercise - endurance, strength, flexibility, and speed. Here's what you do to participate:
  1. Sign up at my challenge website, and pledge to earn 7 APs (or burn 700 calories exercising, non WWers) per week. Be sure to provide the baseline information requested.
  2. Visit the challenge website AT LEAST once every 2 weeks to report your latest 'scores'.
  3. Watch a chart of your progress versus other participants!
  4. At the end of 12 weeks, the participant with the greatest overall improvement will get a prize!

So what do you say...up for a challenge?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Feature

I must confess…this should have been a Monday Feature. I’ve just been so AWFULLY busy this week!

This week’s featured Etsy seller is JenniferSquires. Jennifer actually contacted ME about being featured on my blog – and after looking at both her Etsy store, and her other website, I was thrilled to be able to feature her work! (Hint for other Etsians: finding featured stores is work for me…so people who take the inititive to contact me have a good chance of being accepted)

Anyway, back to Jennifer’s work. She bills herself as “fresh photography for hip homes”, and I can see why. Her work is very clean and fresh, with a natural palette that compliments most decors. She has prints available with subjects such as flowers, beans, veggies…as well as landscapes and scenes. Much of her inspiration clearly comes from her own garden!

Jennifer has been a professional photographer since 1996, and made the leap to running her own full-time business in 2005. Her Ontario-based business includes studio work – and some of the most adorable newborn pictures I’ve ever seen. Her art prints have been featured in several galleries…and have been available on Etsy since February 2008.

Jennifer tells me her inspiration comes from her surroundings. She looks for the beauty all around us, trying to express the simplicity and meaning of the everyday. Her passion for nature extends to her business as well, where she uses environmentally-friendly practices whenever possible: online image galleries, rechargeable batteries in her digital camera, using natural lighting, printing on 100% post consumer paper with soy inks when possible. She hopes to someday find an earth-friendly photo printing process as well.

The gorgeous prints from Jennifer’s shop are available in a wide range of sizes – from 4x6 to 24x30 – making it easy to compliment your d├ęcor, whether a large kitchen or crammed cubical. And as a special to my blog readers…Jennifer is offering a 25% discount of ALL her Etsy merchandise, now through May 16th. (Enter code TT0508 in the message to seller)

It's getting better...

Sorry once again for the silence...

My job is quirky. Things will be slow, sometimes dull - then suddenly a deluge of problems and tasks. Despite the best planning in the world, our product introductions seem to always bunch up (creating absolute chaos for my group 4-5x a year). This week, unfortunately, seems to be the tip of another chaos-iceburg. I personally have 2 major projects struggling to get off the another I'm desperately trying to finish. And I'm competing for time and resources with 2 other engineers in similar situations. It's not pretty - particularly, as in this week, when equipment isn't working properly! I've had a horrible week...and little time for blogging, jewelry making, or even doodle-sketching.

Today seems to be starting better. After a rather dry April, I have 3 ebay listings sold today. (Yeah for money) My brother will be in the States all next week - and while I won't SEE him, I'll be able to actually call him. (You try calling someone with an 11.5 hour time difference...harder than you'd think) And - today's crowning glory so far - hubby brought me coffee and krispie kremes at 9am. Enough to share, and butter up many of the people I work with.

So, fingers crossed, I'm entering my weekend in a good way. Who knows, I might even have enough free time to finish my feature and post it today! If not....happy Friday to everyone, and enjoy your weekend.