miscellany


So, hey, today is Earth Day!  And for weeks, I’d been plotting a little Earth Day contest for you peeps, and then I went and forgot to post it, and now I’m at my office, where I have no camera to take photos of the prize, and where I should probably not technically be writing on my blog during work hours.

Briefly, then, here is the deal: as you might remember, I have taken up sewing.  Much like when I took up knitting and John and I ended up with like 15 hand-knit hats each, we are rapidly approaching our house’s saturation point for hand-sewn items that are within my skill level.  But I still want to sew!

So I’ve decided to sew something for an Earth Day contest.  I am giving away two hand-sewn picnic mats, complete with reusable plastic utensils.   I will update this post with actual photos of the actual items when I get home, but they look like this:

(Tomato not included.)  The mat rolls up and ties with  ribbon, making it easily portable for picnics:

These are a great way to cut down on the use of paper napkins and disposable utensils.  And they’re not just for picnics: I bring mine to work and use it as a placemat when I have to eat work at my desk (which is often).  I actually put regular old metal flatware in it so I can feel like I’m eating with real utensils instead of plastic.  Using a proper fork somehow makes eating at one’s desk feel a little less sad.

So! I have TWO picnic mats to give away to one lucky winner (perfect for use on a romantic spring outing.)  They are made with this gorgeous fabric:

If you’d like to win this set of two picnic placemats (and I know you do,) just leave a comment on this post.  If you’d like, tell me about your favorite spot to take a picnic.  (That’s not required to win, but I would like to hear about everyone’s favorite picnic places anyway!)

Contest will remain open until 5pm CDT on Friday, April 24, and the winner will be randomly selected.

Happy picknicking, and Happy Earth Day!

Despite the fact that it had been raining for three straight days, John and I bundled up last night and made our way over to Wrigley to watch the Cubs.  Miraculously, the rain cleared up just as the game was starting, but the temperature at game time was still a toasty 39 degrees.  Note to Chicago: it’s been spring for a month now!  Temps in the 30s are annoying in April! Get on that, please!

So we sat in our excellent seats, trying not to shiver, watching cats wander across the field.  It was cold, but I’ve been way colder at football games- no big whoop.

Until  the end of the 8th inning, that is, when I realized I couldn’t feel the the index finger on my right hand.  Strange.  I pulled my hand out of my pocket, took off my glove, and was startled to see that from the tip to the second knuckle, my index finger was a creepy blueish-white color, and I couldn’t feel it at all.  It seems I had gotten a two inch-long patch of frostbite on my hand.

Since the Cubs had a healthy 5 run lead at that point, and since I’m going to need my index finger for some important projects today,  we decided to do the prudent thing and head home early.

Can anyone explain this?  I am totally mystified.

Look, it was really not my intention to write two posts about Family Feud in a row. This is true for many reasons, not least of which is that I occasionally like to try to convince people that I have a life.

BUT.

This is too good.  So good that I am willing to reveal the true depths of my homebody-ness to share it with you.

Toss Up Question: “Name a country, other than America, that starts with A”

Now, Wikipedia tells us that there are 11 Internationally Recognized Sovereign States that start with the letter A.  (Incidentally, “America”?  NOT ONE OF THEM.)  Americans are not widely known for their geographical expertise, however, and there are only 4 answers on the board.

(Poor Azerbaijan, always forgotten and alone.  Also Andorra. A real underdog, that Andorra.)

Back to the toss up:

Family A buzzes in:  “Argentina!” he shouts.  It is the number 2 answer.  Pass or play?  Pass!  It goes over to Family B.

The first woman the host approaches from Family B looks panicked.  She glances around desperately, for a very long three seconds, before she runs out of time and gets the first strike.

Next up.  The host approaches the head of Family B, who grins confidently and shouts “ASIA!”

Um, no.  Asia = not so much one country as a diverse collection of more than 50 countries.  (Though maybe,  after Asians finish changing their names to things that are easier to pronounce, they should further simplify things for us and just combine Asia into a single country.  Get on that, Asian friends!)

Two strikes.  Family B looks stricken as the next person is unable to come up with anything and time runs out.

Three strikes- it’s back over to Family A for the steal!

Now, let’s review: there are four answers on the board, only one of which has been guessed.  Family A has had several minutes to confer as Family B has floundered around.  The host approaches the head of Family A.

“We talked about it,” he said “and I’ve always wanted to go here. I’m going with: AMSTERDAM!”

John and I stare at each other incredulously.  The host shoots a disbelieving look at the camera.

Family A does not get any points for guessing the capital city of the Netherlands, and Family B gets the points (having not guessed a single country!).  The points are just enough to get them the 300 they need to try for $20,000, which they subsequently win.

Asia.

Amsterdam.

Dude, I may have to go back to teaching.  Law is great and all, but I suddenly feel my services may be more desperately needed in a social studies classroom somewhere.

Flipping through channels last night, John landed on the Game Show Network (motto: “Home to many shows you remember from when you were a kid, now hosted by washed-up c-list actors, plus a lot of new, really really awful shows, also hosted by washed-up c-list actors”).

We flipped on in the middle of Family Feud just as the following question came up:

“Name a word that rhymes with ‘spanky’”

Family A’s representative buzzed in with “hankie!” which was, of course, the #1 answer, and her team decided to play (a wise move- passing on a question which is essentially a rhyming game is a sure way to lose your points.)

“Lanky!” said the next person from Family A.  Dingdingding!

“Yankee!” shouted the next girl.  Dingdingding!

Family A is on a roll!  Only one answer left on the board.

It goes to the next person.  She looks confident…….”Panky!”  she cries. BZZZZZ.

The next woman looks a little nervous.  “um….Janky!” she yells.  Two strikes.

It all comes down to this.  This round is for triple points.  Whoever gets these points goes on for a chance to win $20,000.  2 strikes, just one answer on the board.  Everyone looks to the next person from Family A….

She looks supremely confident, gleeful, even, as she says “I know it……STANKY!”

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Oh the poor woman- the host was barely keeping it together, the audience was roaring, and John and I were in hysterics on the couch.

Family B, of course, went on to steal.  Any guess what the remaining answer was?

So!  When UNC ran away with the game last night, it clinched my victory in all three NCAA pools I entered this year.  To the tune of more than $300.  (I see some new spring clothes in my future!)

I might note that, though I pay some attention to sports and particularly enjoy college basketball, I do not spend a lot of time researching my bracket.  In my office pool, where I had to actually explain what a bracket was and how to fill it out to more than half the participants, I can’t really claim that my victory was a result of anything more than the inexperience of my colleagues.

And yet, this is the second year in a row I have won John‘s office pool, which is populated by a bunch of sports fanatics.  He has already told me that I’m banned next year.  Something about an office “policy against sports dynasties”.

I never in a million years imagined that someone would say “sports dyanasty” and my name in the same sentence, even if it was in jest.  Aren’t college sports great?

There is nothing more annoying, I know, than someone whining about jetlag. “I’m so tiiiiired,” they complain. “I’ve been on vacaaaation, and now I’m so tiiiiiired.”

It just feels like the worst combination of whining and gloating.

So I won’t do that.

I will, however, gripe a little about our wretched flight home, which featured:

  • middle seat for John, behind woman who kept her seat reclined for the ENTIRE FLIGHT
  • seats in nearly the back row, where we were apparently sitting on the engine, it was so loud
  • strong evidence suggesting that the person who had occupied my seat before me had horked all over the floor, making it less than tempting to shove our carry on bags down there
  • a drinks cart that ran out of diet coke before it got to us
  • an hour delay, plus 25 minutes of slow circling in the air before we landed at O’Hare
  • no movie. (Stupid MD80s. Worst planes EVER.)

All of this is a long way of saying: my hair is a mess, I’m not wearing makeup, and I’m going to work in jeans.  I hope they’ll forgive me.

After a pleasantly busy start to the weekend, John and I had big plans for our lazy rainy Sunday.  These plans involved:

(a) Reading books;

(b) Watching a movie; and

(c) Beer in the afternoon.

(We dream big at Casa de Pseudostoops.)

After having achieved (a) and a healthy dose of (c), we sat down to watch our movie and…. became completely, totally, irreparably transfixed by an infomercial.  Behold:

bump-it1

These are BumpIts!  You put them in your hair, and then rearrange your hair around them, and, with careful application of terrifying amounts of hairspray, they allow you to achieve hairstyles like this:

bump1

And also this:

bump2

They come in many sizes, including a mini size for your bangs.  I know you low-volume, flat-banged girls out there are relieved that you can now achieve that huge bang volume you’ve been seeking.

It might have had something to do with the beers, but John and I found this infomercial impossibly hilarious, and before we knew it, we had fallen  deep down the BumpIt rabbit hole.  We rewound to catch our favorite parts (there’s one girl wearing what looks like a prom dress and a TRULY ALARMING Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle- seriously, I highly encourage you to check out the video on their website so you can see what I mean.)  We read testimonials (“As Mrs. Kentucky America, I take great pride in the way my hair is styled. Bumpits give my hair the natural lift it needs without having to use heavy creams or gels!”)  We dreamt up scenarios in which I might need BumpIts (community theater production of “Hairspray”; trying to smuggle drugs back into the country; going undercover as a high school cheerleader to write a shocking newspaper
exposé, etc.)

I am seriously considering ordering some.  The Halloween possibilities alone seem worth it, don’t you think?

I feel obligated to clarify after my last post:

Sharp knives are your friend! Do not fear your sharp knives! They are actually way less likely to injure you than dull knives, which have a tendency to slip or snag on food and slice your fingers off.  The only reason they served me ill in this case was that I decided to try to preserve the newly sharpened blade by using the dull side of the knife to slide under the box flap.  Dumb!  If I’d used the sharp side, it would have slipped through the glue no problem and I would not have a large (and, as of this morning, worryingly puffy) gash on my hand.

Also, we did briefly consider going to the ER, but our thinking went something like this:

  • This looks like it might need stitches
  • Yeah, it definitely needs stitches.  There is some serious skin gaping going on here.
  • Where does one get stitches at 8pm on a Saturday night?
  • The emergency room, that’s where.
  • Going to the emergency room on a Saturday night with a comparatively minor flesh wound seems like a recipe for a verrrrry long wait.
  • Also: ER on a Saturday night?  Could be kind of a crazy scene.
  • Also: our insurance blows.  We’d probably end up paying like $1000 for three stitches.
  • On second thought, this cut doesn’t look so bad.

*********************************************************

Also, I forgot to mention- mere hours before the ill-fated cereal box incident of ought-nine, I was at the first birthday party for this fetching fellow:

Good times- a large group of adults watching Theo try to eat all the wrapping paper while he studiously ignored most of the toys.

Also, since the people I knew at this party consisted of: birthday boy, mother of the birthday boy, and father of the birthday boy (all of whom were a little busy) I was SO delighted and relieved to finally meet Kristen and hit it off immediately, so that we could stand by the Fritos table and chat and I didn’t have to stand awkwardly in a corner by myself.  Thanks, Kristen!

Remember a few weeks ago when I shared with you that a game of pub trivia had led to the shocking revelation that four of the world’s top 10 visited sites were Disney theme parks?

Well, at least that was a good trivia question, even if I found the answers outrageous. The question (“what were the top ten most visited sites in the world in 2007?”) was the kind of thing you could reason through, make educated guesses. Even if you didn’t get all 10, you probably would get a couple. It was the kind of question that gets you a range of answers, too (some teams will get only a few right, others will absolutely nail it) that helps you separate teams in a close contest.

Last night, we went back to trivia, and the bonus question absolutely blew goats. It was: “name 10 of the 15 main characters in Animal House.”

DUDE. That is a TERRIBLE question for the bonus round. Either you have seen the movie or you have not. If you have not, you have NO CHANCE of getting any points. At least with the “ten most visited” question, you could do some reasoning, and talk with your teammates to try to make educated guesses. With the Animal House question, if you’re me at least, you look around your table blankly, hoping someone, anyone, has seen Animal House. (One guy had, years ago, but didn’t remember much. Something about smoking something illicit that clouded his memory?)

So here, in no particular order, were our answers:

1. John Belushi’s character
2. That guy
3. That other guy
4. The one who wore a toga
5. The one who did a kegstand
6. The nerd who inexplicably gets the girl
7. The irritable school official
8. The cheerleader
9. The pledge
10. The frat house mascot

Needless to say, we did not win.

Before I get any comments to the effect of “what?  You’ve never seen Animal House?!”, allow me to list for you some other movies I’ve never seen, all of which have come up in trivia contests at some point in my life (though, I will note, I have gotten some of the questions correct, even without seeing the movies):

  • Ghostbusters
  • Goonies
  • Gremlins
  • Adventures in Babysitting
  • The Wizzard of Oz
  • Star Wars
  • Back to the Future
  • Caddyshack
  • Jaws
  • ET

What can I say?  We didn’t have a VCR until I was 12, and even then my mom held tight control over what we watched, and she doesn’t like adventure/fantasy/sci fi/any movies that might have swear words.  I can’t be the only one with gaping holes in my movie watching history…can I?

Pressing questions about last night’s Oscars:

Angie: dress was meh, hair was kinda large, but the earrings were gorgeous.

But can someone please explain to me the physics of such a pair of earrings?  How have her ears not stretched into floppy loops from the sheer weight?

Then we have Nicole Kidman, who honored Angie for her best actress nod. (P.S. I loved that format, of having 5 actors introduce the acting nominees.  Even if it took a long time, and even if it was, as I suspect, simply a device that made it possible to say some kind and reflective things about Heath Ledger when announcing his name, I loved it.  I hope they keep it.)

I love that Nic rocks the fair skin and doesn’t get all fake tanned, (though the Botox is a whole ‘nother story) but why, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, has no stylist convinced her that she should not wear clothes that make her look like Casper?

The dress is probably lovely, it’s just hard to tell because all I see up there is pale.

Nextly, what is up with the random young actresses, (it’s sort of unclear to me how they got invited in the first place), dressing themselves in wackadoodle, voluminous gowns?  You are young! And have cute figures!  Why do you insist on drowning in weird fabric-scuplture?

Exhibit A:

Amanda Seyfried, if your goal was to make us forget that you were in Mama Mia and Big Love by looking so much like the ditz you played in Mean Girls congratulations! You succeeded!

Exhibit B:

Miley, are those…fish scales?  Seashells?  WHAT IS GOING ON THERE?

Finally, and this is the most burning question of all:  Why the hell was I subjected to so much of Zac Efron last night?  And if ABC was going to take advantage of being the network home for the Oscars by trotting out their bankable teen hunk, would it  have been so hard for someone to teach the kid how to do his hair?

I mean, seriously.  Ew.

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