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Little Victories and A Way to Streamline Your Procrastination

This morning I had to be the mean neighbor.

Usually, believe it or not, I’m the nice one.

I won’t call the POA (Property Owner’s Association) on you if your propane tank isn’t “camouflaged” by lattice.  (Because, you know, white-painted lattice blends in with nature more than a white-painted tank.)

And there is no way in the reality of this vast universe as we know it that I could care less about whether your trash can sits outside.  (Unless you’re using it to store a dead body, in which case I might take issue with the smell.  But I’d talk to you about it before calling the Authority.)

Need a cup of sugar?  I’m here.  Some eggs?  Look no further.  A Percocet?  Well.  I’m not going to discuss it in a public forum, but call me.  We’ll talk.  (It’s the suburbs — we understand pain.)

But this morning, I was not in the mood to dole out coffee, farm products, or prescription drugs.  My generosity ends when you let your dog piss all over my world.

On a daily basis.

Look, I’m human.  I have dogs.  I understand that you can’t always control where they pee when you’re walking them.  But remember this?  Remember my nice little mailbox planter I worked so half-assedly to complete in a semi-finished, it’ll-get-me-by-for-now sort of way?

Every day, this old man walks by with his golden retriever.  And it’s a mean golden retriever.  (I know — that’s like a depressed Richard Simmons  or Kurt Cobain singing pop music.  It just doesn’t seem right.)  And every day, he stands there while his retriever raises his leg and pees on my mailbox.

And it drives my dogs crazy.

So today, I was in the garage slapping a coat of polyurethane on my desk.  I’ve given up on waiting for a non-humid day.  And, sure enough, Gramps and Kojak come ambling along, and there he stops.  The dog doesn’t initiate it — he does.  Like he’s saying, okay, Fido.  Here’s where you pee.  It ticks her dogs off.  Hear them barking from inside?

All I did was stand up, back sweats and all, sponge brush in hand, and say, “Really?”

He was startled, like a kid caught stealing baseball cards.

He gave the leash a tug and ambled on.

I knew he knew.

And this battle, I’ve won.

I’m not really sure why I just went into all that, because that’s not really what I sat down to write about.  I guess I’m still breathing in the sweet fumes of victory and clear gloss lacquer.  Ah, the problems of the privileged.

What I sat down to tell you was something about which you might already be very well aware.  But, in case you’re not, I wanted to expand your horizons and help make your life a little easier.

See, while the internet is a reliable distractor, providing us with ample writings, videos, and more time wasters than it’s possible to count (like this here blog), it also provides us with ways to streamline these distractions so we’re more efficient in the ways we avoid actual work.

Enter Google Reader.  It’s a nifty little tool that combines all of the blogs you like to read in one, compact space, so you no longer need to sift through email subscriptions or remember to visit individually bookmarked sites to catch up on each one.

All you need is a free Gmail account, and it’s yours.

Then, you just go to, paste your blog URLs (like into the “Add a Subscription” window, and you’re set!

The reader will list all of your subscribed blogs in the left-hand column and automatically track what you’ve read and haven’t read.

Tip:  If you don’t like how narrow the reading pane is, just press the “f” button on your keyboard, and you’ll be able to read the blog posts full-screen.  If you move your cursor to the top of the page, a hidden navigation bar will drop down.  Press “f” again to exit full screen.

If you read more than one blog, I highly recommend you start using  this little gizmo.  It takes about 2 minutes to figure out, and it’s allowed me to be a lot less productive by helping me read and keep track of significantly more blogs on a daily basis.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Expecting My Pulitzer Any Day Now…

Well, folks, I’ve finally reached a milestone I can be proud of.

That’s right — I’ve landed my first, paid writing gig.  (Besides this, of course, for which I earned $7.88 in one year.)

Here she blows:

What Your T-Shirt Says About You — Part 1:  The Lovable Geek


Well, I hope she doesn’t blow, because that would… blow.


Feel free to leave a comment on that post saying how awesome the writer is.  There are a couple of writers for that blog, and unfortunately our names don’t go on the posts, so there’s no solid way for readers to tell who wrote what.  Except that mine are awesome.  (Okay, the others aren’t too shabby, either.)

Did I mention I’m getting paid?  Not substantially, mind you –and I’m probably putting more effort into each than is required by what I’m getting paid, but hey — money is money.  I’m hoping my work and portfolio-buildage will pay off eventually.

Aside from short t-shirt and costume related articles, we also get to concoct lists.  Here’s my first list:

Costumes Guaranteed to Humiliate Your Dog

It’s kind of cool that I’m getting paid for that.  Of course, I won’t actually believe I’m getting paid until I have that check in my fat little fingers, but here’s hoping.

Anyway, I have some projects I’m working on and some recipes to share, so don’t worry — I’m not dropping that part of the blog.  I just haven’t had time to go through the photos yet.  I know — can you believe it?  I’m actually busy.

I’m kind of shocked myself.

I still haven’t heard back from the real-life job, but they told me to expect a call on Monday.  I won’t hold my breath that long, but if you could do it for me, that would be great.

Anyone have any exciting weekend plans?

Maybe You Can’t Turn It On A Dime, But It Can, I’m Positive, Be Turned

“Things usually work out in the end.”
“What if they don’t?”
“That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”

-The Glass Castle

Okay.  You know that feeling where nothing — and I mean nothing — seems to be going right in your life?  Where, at every crossroads, it seems like your life has the opportunity to turn itself around, but Life just stares stupidly at the opportunity, maybe drools a little, and then continues down its slow, torturous path of destruction?

In case you didn’t know it, that’s been me for, oh… maybe the past year or so.

Job, relationship, family, you name it — it’s all linked because it’s all important to you, so if one starts to suffer, it seems inevitable that they all start to suffer.  It’s the downhill snowball effect of ever-growing problems and ever-growing unhappiness, each layer compacting over itself, one after another, until it seems all too impossibly big.

To mix my metaphors, it’s like you’re this ship.  This giant ship.  And you see that iceberg ahead of you.  It’s perfectly clear.  In fact, you’ve probably been aware of that iceberg’s existence for quite some time — even aware that it’s much, much bigger than it appears on the surface.

But, my friends, seeing it has never been the problem.

The problem is — and always has been — that you can’t turn the Titanic on a dime.

The good news is that most of the time, it’s not too late.  It’s difficult, but you can turn it.  Sure, it’s slow enough to scare you.  Sure, you might get a couple of scratches along the way.  But usually — usually — it’s not enough to sink you.

Then, out of nowhere it seems, things start working again.  Potential employers start contacting you. Your relationship feels good again.  Your family is less annoying.  This is known as the upswing.  The take-a-deep-breath-of-this-clean-ocean-air-because-you-made-it-through-that-shitstorm upswing.  Nothing but flat seas and clear skies ahead, for miles and miles.

And here’s where it gets tricky.  Too many people don’t allow themselves to enjoy the upswing.  They keep waiting for that next iceberg, like a behemoth like that could jump out and surprise them.  And I’m definitely not here to tell you that it won’t.

But that’s the thing — it will.  It might not surprise you — maybe you will see it coming — but most likely, it is coming.  So why on earth would you waste your good time worrying about it?

If you’re constantly turning to avoid icebergs you can’t see — or worse, icebergs that aren’t even there — you’re going to use up all your fuel.  And then you won’t be able to deal when there really is a problem.  And worse, you’ll never enjoy the good times while you have them.

Are you pickin’ up what I’m dropping?

Have I worn this metaphor too far into the ground?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m on the upswing.  Things turned for me yesterday.  My rudder caught hold, slowed my momentum, and finally something good happened.  More than one something.  I was informed that my very first paid blog post for an online search engine is getting published sometime today.  Then I had a job interview, and they called me back for a second interview before I even made it home.  I literally had to turn around and go back.  Then, a representative from a blog I greatly admire sent me an email asking whether the pictures I sent as part of a writing job application were really mine because they were just. that. awesome.

And now, even if I don’t get either job, a day like yesterday is just the thing I needed to assure me that the upswing is here.

There’s no way to know how long it will last, and frankly, I’m not going to waste time caring.  I’m here to tell you that I’ll be damned  if I’m going to let the fear of another looming iceberg ruin my high.

Have any of you gone through something similar?  Do you manage to stay positive, even when your efforts seem futile?  Do any of you know what I’m talking about?

Cart Thieves, Cauliflower, and an Ethical Dilemma


It’s been a weird day so far.

Like, someone-stole-my-shopping-cart-full-of-dog-bones-at-Target-while-I-was-looking-for-cauliflower kind of weird.  They have these new, giant shopping carts with super-smooth steering, but good luck getting one of those things down an aisle.  So I left it in the main aisle to avoid getting in anyone’s way, but apparently I should have laid camouflage netting over the top and planted ferns and strategically placed landmines because some bitch stole my cart!

So that’s the first weird thing.

And yes, I said I was looking for cauliflower at Target.  Because it appears as though Target finally realized they were on to something when they started carrying groceries, but people still had to stop somewhere else if they wanted any produce, and now Target carries produce as well.  I’m thrilled that I can do all my shopping in one place and have it not be Wal-Mart, but I’d still rather live somewhere I can walk to small specialty shops — markets, florists, hardware stores — without climbing back into the car between stops while wearing cute, heeled sandals and my feet don’t get tired.

Remember the beautiful streets of Malaga?

And where it’s not like 187-degrees F outside with 90% humidity.

Seriously… My clothes feel wet.  I get the back sweats when I’m sitting in the car.  Today, walking through the parking lot to Target, my knees started sweating.  My knees!  I’m shiny all the time.  I had that thought in the car — that thought about feeling shiny — and when I switched the radio station (I’m a switcher — I never keep it on one station for long), the song Shiny Happy People by REM came on.

No lie.

So that’s the second weird thing.

Another thing happened as I was walking into Target.  I was actually coming from the Home Depot next door — trying to avoid a car trip across the parking lot between giant superstores — and I was somewhere in front of the outdoor gardening area at Home Depot when I heard someone just outside of Target yelling.

No, screaming.


Not scared screaming, but angry screaming.

And swearing.


“This is the WORST f*cking time OF MY LIFE!”

“You are SO f*cking BAD!”

“Shut up!  Just SHUT THE F*CK UP!”

Now.  You probably have already guessed what I saw as I approached the Target store.  But I want to preface the rest of the story by saying that up until now, I’ve consciously avoided writing about extremely controversial issues on this blog.  I take the Buddha/Lennon/Switzerland approach of can’t we all just get along? and maybe I should just stay out of it.

But I’m curious.

Because when I saw what I saw, I’m ashamed of what I did.  Or rather, didn’t do.

And I want to know what — if anything — you think should be done by a passerby in a situation like this.

Back in the Target parking lot, I zeroed in on a woman parked in one of the front-and-center handicapped parking places.  I’m pretty sure she wasn’t handicapped, unless she had some incurable loss of control over her vocal chords, causing random, shouting, verbal diarrhea to pollute the air within a 200-yard radius of her body.

She was holding a small child, a little girl no more than 2 or 3 years old, and was walking around the car to put her in the back seat.

I did not see her commit any act of physical violence towards the girl, but the yelling?  It was full of I-hate-yous and untamed frustration and probably spittle.

She was basically acting like a 2-year-old.

Ironic, no?

I thought it was terrible, but I continued on into the store.

There, another patron looked at me incredulously.  “Can you believe that?” I asked.

“No!” he said.

“At least I didn’t see the woman hit her…”

“I did,” he said.


This was the moment.

That moment where you know you’re making a decision that could affect someone’s life.

For better or for worse.

And the bitch of it is that you just. don’t. know.

Had I approached the woman, she might have gotten angrier and taken it out on the child.  Had I called the authorities, she would’ve been gone.  Had I reported the information, maybe the child would be taken away from a woman who was just having a bad day and put into an abusive foster home.  And by the time my mind finished processing this information — weighed the options and possible outcomes of action vs. inaction — she was gone.


Personally, I like it when I see a parent discipline his or her child in public.  Even if it’s harsh.  I don’t think children are disciplined nearly enough anymore, and I’m allowed to say that even though I don’t have kids, because I still have to see them and interact with them every time I leave my house.  Also, I was spanked as a kid.  I was not hit, and there’s a difference.  The spanking stung, but it was on my cushy little butt and was intended as more of a humiliation factor than anything else.  And I undoubtedly deserved it every time.  I don’t feel as though I am any worse off today because of it.

Now, no matter how you feel about spanking, and trust me — whether spanking is right or wrong is NOT the discussion I want to open here — there is a line.  There is a line between what my parents did to me and the full-on abuse of a child.

The discussion I want to open is whether or not it’s right to intervene — whether or not there’s an obligation to intervene — when someone’s behaving in a way you don’t deem appropriate.

The thing is, I don’t know if what that lady did was something she could get in trouble for.  I didn’t see the hit.  I only heard the rage.  And I didn’t know if, by saying something, I would only make it worse for the child.

So I did nothing.  Like Amir in The Kite Runner, I chose the evasive route.

I kept expecting John Quinones from the ABC “ethical dilemma” show, What Would You Do? to jump out from behind the shelves in the $1 section, screaming “Coward!  Why didn’t you intervene?!”

And the simple answer is, I don’t know.

Had I calmly walked up to the woman, told her I understand what it’s like to lose control — to get frustrated — to want to lash out — and it’s okay, it happens to the best of us, but please think about what you’re doing to your child — would she have calmed down?  Would she have taken a deep breath and come to her senses?  Burst into tears and cried on my shoulder?  Spit in my face and pushed me into oncoming traffic?

There’s no way to know.

And that, I suppose, is why I didn’t intervene.

But now, I think, I probably should have.

I’m curious to know what you would have done.  Or at least, what you think you would have done, because there’s no real way to know until you’re in the moment.  I’m especially curious about those of you outside of the U.S., because I have a feeling I know what the general response might be from citizens here.

And now I’m sweating again, but I’m pretty sure it’s not from the heat.

How to Land a Job as a Classy Hooker or Someone Who Gets to Look at Eddie Vedder’s Butt

*I apologize in advance to the straight men who read this blog for the photos of attractive men that follow.  This is post is not about attractive men.  It’s just how the photos happened to work out.  Ladies and gay men, you’re welcome.

I have to say, I’m a pretty lucky person.

I’m lucky because I have some pretty hilarious Facebook friends.

And in a world where it seems like people are consistently content to cut each other down, to take pleasure in others’ failures, and to get so caught up in the frantic climb to the top, like so many salmon swimming upstream, sometimes it’s just nice to have people who make me laugh.

Even if it’s at myself.

Especially if it’s at myself.

In a fit of frustrated self-pity yesterday at not being able to even get interviewed for jobs I don’t really want (Ding! Ding! Maybe that’s the problem.), I did something bad.  I committed a Facebook faux pas.  A Facebook party foul, if you will.

(A farty foul?  A parbook foul?  I’ll work on that.)

But the point is that it wasn’t good.  It was like when you’re at a party, everyone’s having a fantastic time just chillin’, having a couple of drinks, perhaps discussing how it’s physically possible for Jared Leto to still look completely jumpable while wearing a spirit hood, and yet, beyond all reason or comprehension, he does… you know, the usual party stuff, and somehow you manage to knock over an entire pitcher of a tasty, alcoholic beverage and some jerk yells, “PARTY FOUL!” across the room and everybody boos.

As if you didn’t already feel awful enough.

Embarrassing fact:  I just learned what a spirit hood is for the first time this morning thanks to laxsupermom’s comment on my post from yesterday. And I have to say, I see the appeal.  Especially if it comes gratis with a Jared Leto attached.  (Photo source.)

So what I did is I posted one of those, oh-I’m-so-bummed-and-emo-so-please-feel-sorry-for-me-even-though-I’m-making-a-joke-about-myself-under-the-guise-of-humor status updates.  It said:

With “Hot Sauce Maker” and “Freelance Writer” as my last two positions held, I suppose I can understand why no one wants to interview me. :(

Yep.  Complete with sad face emoticon.

Fortunately, my friends are not the types who would let this dampen their spirits.  Nor will they play into my self-pity, because, let’s face it — that doesn’t help anyone.

Instead, they offered me several potentially lucrative job opportunities working for them that hadn’t even occurred to me:

  • Part-time wearer outer of 1-year-old twin girls who gets paid in mashed bananas and limitless laughter (thanks, Jenn!);
  • Roadie for a travelling masseuse to the stars, where my payment for strapping a massage table to my back and carrying around a bag of assorted lotions and lubes at rock concerts would be backstage passes to said rock concerts (thanks, Kathryn!);
  • Professional traveling hippie/road trip partner-in-crime a la Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Road, who gets paid with the freedom to do whatever I want, as long as it doesn’t cost any money.  Because we wouldn’t have any (thanks, Ashley H!);
  • Classy hooker, where there would be “no getting near the twig and berries,” and yet I would still get paid with “free dinners and Kentucky Derby races” (thanks again, Ashley H!); and
  • One opportunity where I might actually get paid.  Like with money.  And I wouldn’t have to take off my clothes.  (Thanks, Ashley L.!)

I’ll admit — some of those gigs actually sound kind of cool to me.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out which ones those are.

“Okay, Mr. Vedder — would you please remove your shorts?”

And finally, there were the comments that weren’t job offers, but written solely to comfort and console me in my time of need.  Comments like:

  • “You forgot street-walker.”  (Thanks, Kelly — I forgot I did that from 2003-2004.  I’ll add that to the ol’ res.  Maybe I’ll get some bites.)
  • “I didn’t know you made hot sauce.”  (Thanks, Heather — I was a regular hot sauce makin’ machine, during my time in Costa Rica last year.  Sadly, my dreams of choking on capsaicin for the rest of my life were capped when I had to return to the real world.)
  • “I’ll interview you if you just need to feel better about your experience. :)”  (Thanks, Tim — Because I don’t actually want a job.  I just want a fake interview that’s somehow supposed to make me feel better about my work experience even though you’re not “interviewing” me based on my work experience.  But actually, when I think about it, that might work.  So ignore my sarcasm.)
  • “Yeah unless your last name is Tabasco?”  (Thanks, John — I knew I should’ve married up.  Of course, if I married someone from the Tabasco clan, I wouldn’t be making the sauce — I’d just be bathing in the money it procured.)

So there you have it.  Nine bulleted reasons why I love my Facebook friends.  Really!  I do — for always making me laugh.

And, in case you’re wondering, I really do have Hot Sauce Producer and Freelance Writer on my resume.  It’s a very particular set of skills, but combined with a winning attitude and a go-to personality, it just might make me the perfect match for a company that’s going places.

Big places.

Related post: Why You Should Either Pay Me to Collate or Contract Bird Flu.  Or Both.

The Quiche That Refused To Die Quietly

Yesterday’s post was immensely popular (by this site’s standards, anyway).  Apparently someone liked my project enough to post it in the comments of a post on YHL, and enough people clicked on it — just from reading their comments! — to make a very noticeable difference in how many people read this site.

So thank you, whoever you are — my fairy blog mother — for making me feel like a little DIY goddess for a day, and not just some crazy fool who spent hours cutting out a map.  I don’t plan on opening an Etsy shop any time soon — especially since I gave away the key to the map’s creation — but I will say if anyone is interested in having me make one for you, feel free to contact me directly and we’ll talk:

I’m thinking today’s post might not be so popular.  Unless you like reading about how much of a doofus I am, in which case this might be the most popular post to date.

So, I’m not going to lie.

Last night, I screwed up.

Like screwed up, screwed up.  The kind where I messed up not just once, but several times — one after another, after another — compounding each mistake on top of the last until, at the end, I was left with nothing but one solid, beefed-up super mess and a kitchen that smells like burnt cheese.

I decided to make spinach feta quiche, since I still had one pie crust in the freezer from last time, leftover feta from making these, a bunch of fresh spinach I was using for salads, and half of a large brick of cheddar cheese from who knows what.  Considering the only thing I actually had to purchase to make it was the mushrooms, I figured this was a no-brainer.

Boy, was I wrong.

Apparently you still have to use your brain at least a little, no matter how many times you’ve made something, and no matter how much you insist that it’s simple to make.

For some reason — maybe it was because I used fresh spinach — maybe it was because I used half a red onion and half a white because that’s all I had — maybe it’s because karma hates me — who knows? — but for some reason, I didn’t have nearly enough room in my crust for the egg/milk mixture.  I usually have a little left over, but this time I still had like half the mixture left in the bowl.  So I poked around with a fork, pushing a little mushroom to the side here, prodding a hunk of feta out of the way there, trying to squeeze as much egg and milk in as I possibly could, until the pie crust was filled to the absolute brim.

But still, there was a lot left in the bowl.

Rather than ponder the possible reasons and coming up with a viable solution, I did what any good Domestiphobe does and tried to bake it anyway.  Not without first dribbling a bunch of milk and egg all over the inside of my oven door.

The directions say to bake it for 15 minutes, pull it back out to top it with cheddar cheese, and then bake it again.  It hadn’t set up as it normally does after that amount of time, so when I topped it with the cheese, allll the way to the edge like the cheese lovin’ fool that I am, and then went to stick it back in the oven.

And I almost dropped it.


The bottom of the flimsy pie tin gave out a bit, causing my oven mitted hands to close in towards each other, essentially folding the quiche in half.

No worries, went my thought process.  This can be fixed.

I ignored the fact that the crust had cracked and did my best to pat everything back into place.  I set it — safely, I thought — back into the oven to finish baking.  We’re finally in the clear!

Then, about 20 minutes later, I smelled it.

Burnt cheese.

When I went to investigate, there was a wee bit of steam — smoke? — escaping from the back vent.  That’s odd, thought my dimwitted mind.  Maybe it’s from the egg you dribbled on the door before.

So I opened it.

And then my face was accosted with hot smoke.  I coughed and batted at it with my trusty oven mitts until it finally occurred to me to turn on the microwave vent fan and crack open a window.

If it wasn’t so scary, it would’ve been kind of funny — like something from out of a movie.  I felt like Mrs. Doubtfire, only I don’t have a penis and I didn’t catch my synthetic breasts on fire.

I mean, like that would happen.  My breasts are so not synthetic.

*I feel like it’s important to note that I did catch an oven mitt on fire once.  While babysitting.  I hid the evidence.  Kids, this is why you should never get your oven mitts too close to the coils. Or ask me to babysit. Especially if you value your oven mitts.  And… I don’t know… your children.

When the smoke cleared, I saw the problem.

The cheddar cheese, which I’d so carefully lined all the way to the edge of the crust, had somehow — maybe via melting, genius — crept its way over the crust and was dripping cheesy, delicious waterfalls all over the inside of my oven.

Except they probably weren’t delicious, because they were quickly burning on the sizzling oven floor and sending a slew of nasty smells into my kitchen — my kitchen that, not half an hour before, had been filled with the mouth-watering aroma mushrooms, garlic, and onion sautéed in butter.

The inside of my oven, post Apocalyptic Quiche Meltdown.  Someone call Horatio Cane — there’s been a murder.

It only had 10 minutes left.  I could handle this.

I stuck a large cookie sheet on the rack beneath it to catch the drips, lit a candle to try to help cover the smell, and hoped to get through the rest of it alive.

When I finally took it out, it looked cooked.

It felt cooked.

I let it rest for 15 minutes and then cut into it.

It wasn’t cooked.

Or maybe it was, but it wouldn’t hold together because I hadn’t been able to fit enough of the egg mixture into the pie crust.

We ate it anyway.

You know what?  It still tasted delicious.

At least someone appreciates my catastrophes.

Thinking about it today, after I’ve had my morning coffee and have lit a few more dozen candles in my kitchen, my theory is that this happened because I hadn’t consumed enough wine while making it.  Normally I pour the glass before I start cooking, and then I work my way through the dish and the glass, occasionally swaying to some fitting mood music in the background, and everything is right with the world because this is my wind-down time.  This is relaxation.

But last night I had it all wrong.  I didn’t even pour the glass until I was ready to start sautéing, and I’m pretty sure that just threw everything out of whack.  There was no wine pre-choppage, and so my mushrooms were all cattywompus and uneven, clumps of onion were sticking together because I didn’t cut all the way through, and the garlic was just too minced, if you know what I mean.

I wasn’t putting any heart into it.

So I’m starting to discover that me cooking with no wine is like the Beatles writing music with no marijuana.  It just doesn’t work.

But the key, my friends, is moderation.  I can’t have too much wine, nor could the Beatles have too much pot.  Otherwise, we end up mistaking sugar for salt or creating Octopus’s Garden, each of which would only make you scratch your head for days, trying to figure out what went wrong.

Though I have to admit, I kind of love this song.

Do you have any kitchen disaster stories you’d care to share?

The Unfortunate Thing About Being Me. And Also, A Project.

First, I want to thank those of you who shared the things you keep around for when you’re feeling blue in the comments of yesterday’s post.  They were touching, heartfelt, and most important, they made me feel like much less of a freak.


The unfortunate thing about being me sometimes, is that there are so many things I want to be, that there’s never enough time to learn it all, and I pretty much end up half-assing everything as a result.

Except writing.

I’m so terrified of writing anything “real,” like a book, or a polished magazine article, that I don’t even half-ass it.  I no-ass it.  I don’t ass it even a little bit.

But for everything else, I always just go part-way.  I learn a little bit of a language.  I learn a little bit about photography.  I learn a little about cooking.  About cleaning.  About DIY projects and crafts.  I can work on websites a little.  Edit a little in Photoshop.  Train my dogs to drag me only a little way down the street when they take off after a squirrel.

In my very first blog post, I talked about a career counselor I had in college who got angry at me when I refused to write a paper for him that detailed my future career goals.  The problem is that I didn’t know what I wanted to be, so how could I possibly write a paper about it?  Add to that my abhorrence of making plans, my compulsive need to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and my debilitating fear of commitment, and we have the ingredients for mixing together the indecisive, flighty, and noncommittal soup that is my soul.

I swatted away that counselor’s insistence like he was some pesky, know-it-all, gnat.  I somehow knew that if I just followed the direction life seemed to be taking me, everything would work out as it should, and some dream career would eventually fall on my doorstep.

Well, crap.

That didn’t happen.

Nor did I turn into a “master of all trades,” like I somehow thought I’d become.  The thing is, becoming a master of anything takes time, determination, and commitment.  (The exception, of course, being some sickening child protégé who only has to look at a piano before he composes his first symphony, but I’m not talking about that because frankly, it’s depressing and unfair.)

This is all probably pretty obvious to most people, but it’s taken me a bit longer to figure that out.

Mrs. Maetzold never gave me a “Speedy Learner” certificate, after all.

And now we know why.

And, as much as I’d like to think that I can just start making myself a schedule or a list of goals and everything will start falling into place, I’m pretty certain that once it’s thoroughly mixed, the ingredients of my soul soup can’t really be separated again.  So I guess that would make it a compound — not a mixture — for you chemistry buffs.

So I’m going to continue to carry on, learning things bit-by-bit as I tend to do.

What’s the latest little project to catch my attention?

It’s making these:

DIY Map Cutout Art

You’re probably wondering what that is.

That is a map of the city of Malaga, Spain, that I printed on card stock and then cut out the streets to give as a gift to our hosts when we visited them there a couple of months ago.


See, since I’m out of work right now, we wanted to give them something nice-yet-inexpensive to commemorate the time they’ve lived in that beautiful city.  Since I love maps, but nice ones are expensive to buy, I thought I’d make them one.

First, I used to zoom into an area of the city I wanted to print.  The closer you zoom, the more complicated the streets tend to get.  Then I saved the image and used a photo processing tool (like Photoshop) to crop it to slightly smaller than the size of my frame (or the inside of the frame mat).  Then I opened the image in MS Word or Publisher, reversed it, and printed it out.

NOTE:  It’s important to reverse the image so it prints backwards.  That way, then you cut it out, you can flip it over and none of the print lines or colors show.

The next step was tedious.  I used a craft knife and a mat I bought at Target to cut around every road.

How to cut out a map

Sorry for the blurry photo — I took this with my camera phone.  I went through a lot of wine and episodes of Sex and the City to get this done.  And I might have thrown a mild fit when I set a new blade for my craft knife on the paper and some kind of oil that was on it seeped through and ruined my 75% completed piece and I had to start over.

But we don’t like to talk about that.

Finally, I put a piece of scrapbook paper behind it as a backdrop and stuck it in a frame.

How to make a map cutout

Cut-out map laying on scrapbook paper.

Framed Map Cutout

Framed map closeup.

I’ve done some earlier versions, but the above map of Malaga is by far the most intricate.

DIY Map Cutout

Map of Austin, TX was made for Aaron and Bec, our hosts in Costa Rica who are finally realizing their dream of starting a life in Austin.  (Sorry, photo taken with my camera phone.)

DIY Map cut-out art

Map of Durham, NC where my friend Alaina and her husband are starting their family.  This is in a see-through glass frame.  (Sorry, blurry photo taken with my camera phone.)

DIY Map Cutout Art

And finally, Malaga, Spain.

I’d like to make some of these for our own home and the places we’ve traveled, and I’m sure I will be making more as gifts.  The great thing is that it’s sentimental for the recipient, and they can easily change out the frame, mat, or scrapbook paper to reflect their own personal style.

Is this a project you think you’d tackle yourself?  What kind of gifts do you like to give people?  Also, if you’re interested in having me make one of these for you because you simply don’t have this kind of time, let me know because I do have the time and I do need to generate some income.

Is this something you’d hang in your house?

Skeletons in my Underwear Drawer

This morning my neighbor told me that her 2-year-old daughter named her “pet” (aka. stuffed) monkey after me.

At first, I was flattered.  Until I thought about it.

Also, I want to show you something.

Something special.

THIS is my underwear drawer.

underwear drawer

But the drawer itself isn’t what’s important — it’s what’s inside the drawer that’s interesting.


Here goes…

What?  You thought I was going to show you my underwear?  Don’t worry — I removed all the dental floss thongs, crotchless panties, and battery-operated boyfriends before taking this photo.


What I didn’t remove is this manila envelope.  This manila envelope has sat at the bottom of every underwear drawer I’ve owned — including the plastic set of drawers that was the sole piece of bedroom furniture in Justin’s and my first apartment — for the past 19 years.

The only thing that’s changed about this envelope in 19 years is the thickness of its contents and their respective weight on my psyche.

4th Grade certificates

See, my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Maetzold, was big on certificates of achievement.  Like, way big.  And even though the computers, printers, and software in 1992 were beastly dinosaurs by today’s standards, Mrs. Maetzold always took the time to design and print certificates that were unique for each subject or area of achievement.  The special colors, boarders, pictures and puns were exactly the type of encouragement our tender, 4th grade hearts needed to stay motivated.

Certificate for excellence in Math?  I think that’s the last time I ever saw one of those awards.

So she would give us these certificates whenever we did well on something — a test, an assignment, or just did something that impressed her that day.  And she gave us these manila envelopes, told us to put them in the bottom of our underwear drawers for safe-keeping, and instructed us to use it to store the certificates we earn throughout the year.  Then, if we’re really diligent, we could just keep on savin’ right up through high school and beyond.

Which is exactly what I did.

Hey, don’t judge me — I don’t have much in the way of material things from my past.  And I know it sounds strange, but whenever I’m feeling a little blue, the contents of the folder in my underwear drawer are sure to bring a smile to my face.

100% on the Social test?  See?  I told you I wasn’t always awkward.  Wait — maybe she meant social studies.

Certificate of Achievement

My, how I’ve changed.

This one’s the kicker:

Ah, Mrs. Maetzold.  I’m sorry I didn’t manage to live up to your expectations.  At least not by the age of 28.  But I have to say… don’t you think maybe they were a little high?  I mean, “Most likely to succeed” is a lot of pressure to put on a 10-year-old.  Maybe it should’ve been something more specific like, “Most likely to graduate high school,” or, “Most likely to not go to prom,” or “Most likely to make it from here to the bathroom without tripping over her own feet.”

Except that last one wouldn’t have been true.

I do have 1 other thing besides certificates in my certificate folder.  Something cryptic.  Something that most definitely does not make me feel good every time I look at it.

Letter to Myself

What is this?

What is in this?

This envelope scares me for 2 reasons:

The more obvious is the fact that it is probably filled with wild expectations that my 10-year-old self had for my 40-year-old self — scary things like having a career or raising children.

The less obvious is the fact that up until today, I thought I wrote whatever’s inside this envelope back in 4th grade.  I could’ve sworn it.  I was positive Mrs. Maetzold had us write these letters to ourselves at the end of the school year and told us explicitly to keep them in our underwear drawers with our certificates, where we’d be sure to never lose them.  But, as I was going through the pictures for this post, it became glaringly obvious that this envelope is from my high school.

At least 4 years later.

In another state!

Clearly, that is not the handwriting of a 4th grader.  Maybe a 5th grader, but definitely not a 4th grader.  But it is most definitely MY handwriting.

This can only mean 1 of 2 things:  Either I put the original envelope inside this high school envelope for extra protection and can’t remember doing it; or, I actually wrote whatever is inside during high school, not 4th grade, can’t remember doing it, and I made the whole thing up about Mrs. Maetzold making us do it.

Either way, this can’t mean good things about my mental stability.

Anyway.  There have been times when I’ve wanted to rip that sucker open so bad I could hardly stand it.

See?  Still closed.  Though, wouldn’t it be messed up if I did open it, and all that was inside was a piece of paper that said, “PSYCH!”

But now?  Now I know I’m definitely not ready.  Whether I wrote it in 4th grade or 9th, I know I’m not ready to live up to my own expectations.

And while I suppose that does reflect a certain level of maturity on my part (Way to go, Mrs. Maetzold — at least we got something right), it shows just how far I have to go to be happy with myself.

And, when I’m not, I’m glad there’s motivation to be found at the bottom of my underwear drawer.

Crafty McCrafterson

I have to admit — I’m feeling all kinds of inspired lately.

See, even though I didn’t get up early enough to polyurethane that desk on Saturday morning because I was sporting a massive red wine hangover headache induced by the aforementioned red wine and a couple of peer pressuring girlfriends (okay, they didn’t peer pressure me — I did it all on my own), I did have enough time to slap on a third coat of white paint before driving up to Raleigh to shoot my friend.

Again — that’s photographically speaking.

And now, since it’s too hot to polyurethane, I’ve been doing what any normal woman who doesn’t feel like she has enough time on her hands does:  I’ve been looking for more projects to not finish.

In fact, my Pinterest boards are chock-o-bock full of inspiration.

Remember when I told you about Pinterest?

From simple craft projects that make me smack my forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” and I could probably do in a day if I’d just get the stuff, like this lazy susan made to look like a wine barrel (from Lil Blue Boo):

To slightly more involved projects like this mirror made from wood shims (from Addicted to Decorating):

To ideas for repurposing stuff I already have, like turning all of those cabinet doors still sitting around in the garage into chalk boards (because you can never have too many chalk boards, right?) like this one (from Life in the Fun Lane):

Or refinishing our old, hand-me-down bedroom furniture instead of buying new, like this dresser (again from Life in the Fun Lane):

To things I’d just be better off buying than making, like this linocut typewriter from Etsy:

Don’t worry — this isn’t about to turn into a full-on design or project blog, because let’s face it — there are obviously many people out there who already have them, are awesome at it, and… you know… actually do the projects instead of just pinning them to Pinterest.

BUT, I thought it was important to share these with you on this lovely Sunday morning to prove, if nothing else, that I often at least think about being productive.

And that counts for something, right?

Oh, the Irony

In case you were wondering — because I’m sure you constantly think about me throughout your day — I’ve been very busy painting an office desk this morning.  I tried to post a picture on the Domestiphobia Facebook page, but my POS phone hijacked it and now you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

But I will say, this entire furniture painting process has got me thinking that, when it’s not 105-degrees out like it’s been lately, this really isn’t such a bad gig.  Much better than painting rooms, in fact.  I get to wear my comfy paintin’ clothes, dig into a little of the gloopy stuff, and take satisfaction in the knowledge that I’m making something pretty and useful.  On the plus side, my house doesn’t smell and my arms don’t hurt nearly as bad when I’m finished.  This just might inspire me to give our hand-me-down bedroom furniture a new look…

Desk photos will come soon, assuming the decently cooler weather holds out long enough to add a coat or two of polyurethane to protect all of my hard work.  That only means I need to get up at like 6 tomorrow morning to poly the desk before I head to Raleigh to shoot my pregnant friend.

Photographically speaking, that is.

That said, I will leave you with some more images from Malaga, Spain.

Because I miss it.

And I want to go back.


I could stand to live here… with blue shutters and flowers…

Ice cream and fountains.  Does it get any better?

Apparently, it does.

Free tapas with every drink!

Street empanadas

Street empanadas

*I decided to do a photo post thinking it would save time so I could get back to painting that desk and about 100 other things I need to do before tonight, but then I got distracted going through Spain pictures and reminiscing and Photoshopping and if anyone has a surefire guide to time management or… I don’t know… a hot poker could you please let me know?


See more Spain photos hereherehere, and here.