Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Living in a Bubble

We spent this past weekend visiting my inlaws.  For the kids, part of the fun of visiting Grandma and Grandpa is getting to watch TV.  We don't watch TV in the traditional sense in our house--we stream it via the internet so there are no commercials interrupting the shows we watch.  (tangent: you don't have to look very hard to find legal ways to stream movies and TV shows--Netflix and iTunes cost a pittance compared to a regular cable bill) When the kids watch TV at Grandma and Grandpa's, they (and I) are exposed to a barrage of advertising we are not used to.

This past weekend we spent most of our time on YTV.  The ads on this channel are predominantly aimed at children and women.  My kids mostly learned about toys they never knew they wanted and now feel they can't live without, and candy designed to horrify grown ups.  I learned that with two separate beauty products I could reduce 17 different signs of aging.  I learned that my kids need meal replacement shakes or they may die of malnutrition. So, kids need Many Things, and their moms need to stop aging so fast and feed their kids crap in between meals so they will be too full to eat real food at mealtimes and make the moms feel insecure about them not eating enough so they have to feed them more crap.  I learned that I am a terrible housekeeper if I don't use disposable dusters and mops and spray my furniture with perfumed antibacterial spray.  That sounds like an exhausting and expensive way to live.   The only ad I found a bit amusing was the one that taught me my laundry would be cleaner if I changed toilet paper brands.  Thanks for keepin' it real, Charmin.

Am I just more aware of the fact that commercials are designed to make me feel insecure because I don't see them very often? Do you get used to tuning the noise out over time? Does everyone just DVR and avoid the whole mess now?

I DO know that minimizing my exposure to TV ads has made me feel MUCH better about myself and my home.  I don't miss having cable one bit.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hurry Up, Spring

According to the calendar, it's Spring Time.  At this time of year I tend to put my knitting needles aside and turn my attention to my sewing machine.  What has motivated me even more this year is a big bag of fabric I got when I helped a friend clean out her craft room.  This friend used to work at a fabric store.  She had good stuff. I had to stop myself at just one garbage bag full.  This is the first project made from my new stash.  I have the best friends!

Simplicity New Look 6122, view A in a slinky poly-cotton knit. 
Things I learned:
  • take the time to hand baste the curvy bits to keep your seams from puckering.  Drapey fabric can be tricky to control.
  • The Cheater hem is awesome.  To finish the hem on this dress I cut 1/2" wide strips of fusible interfacing, ironed them on, turned the fabric on the interfacing and sewed.  That little trick helped me recover from accidentally cutting the skirt about an inch too short.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to have the maxi length I wanted. Thankfully this fabric doesn't fray so I didn't have to roll up the hem twice anyway.  The interfacing is adding a bit of weight and body so the dress will still hang nicely.
  • I had better luck with the straps staying put by sewing them to the bodice through the elastic in the back and then adding another row of stitches over the seam line created when the casing was sewn.  This is contrary to the directions that say you should not sew the straps directly to the elastic at the top of the bodice.
Next up is a dress for Charlotte.

What are your crafty plans for the Spring? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Something on Pinterest Worked!!!

Today's blog post won't cause the controversy that my previous post about bullying did.  I will warn you, though--there are some graphic photos.  Steel yourself....

My Kitchenaid Stand Mixer has been my loyal and steadfast kitchen companion for more than 10 years. In our decade together we have churned out countless batches of cookies, pizza crusts, vats of applesauce, mounds of grated vegetables and cheese, birthday cakes and cupcakes, and many other delicious things.

I had been noticing lately that my old buddy had been starting to sound a little off.  She had been starting to strain when faced with thick cookie dough or a large batch of bread dough.  Despite her showing her age a bit I was not ready to write her off.  We don't throw things out in our house just because they are starting to slow down a little.  We try to fix them.

Pinterest to the rescue!

A while back instructions on how to maintain a stand mixer showed up on my feed.  Of course I pinned it, thinking it might come in handy some day.

That day came this past weekend when I mentioned to Richard that Old Red might need a little TLC.    This is what happened next:
This will probably void your warranty.

This is the sludge that came out of the mixer. Gross!

All nice and clean and ready for fresh grease
The worst part was when Richard had to hammer a couple of rivets out.  Hammering my mixer!  My friend! It hurt!

Fortunately, the instructions I linked to are very thorough and Old Red was put back together and purring like a kitten in no time.  If you want to try this for yourself, do it in a very well ventilated area. Richard actually moved outside after these pictures were taken as the fumes from the Varsol he used to clean the gears was really strong.

Have you had a successful Pinterest experience lately?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Accidental activist

A year ago I wrote an essay about why I don't think wearing a pink t-shirt once a year is the best way to support anti-bullying efforts.  You can read it here.  You can learn more about the sweet gesture this day has stemmed from here.

Pink Shirt day rolled around again.  My local radio station hopped on the bandwagon and asked people to post pictures of themselves in their pink t-shirts on Facebook. (I even noticed one of my own personal Jr High bullies decked out in her anti-bullying pink on Facebook yesterday)

 I posted a link to my blog piece instead.  It kind of took off like wildfire and I inspired a very big debate on the radio station wall. Here is a small sample of the comments I received:

Click to see this full-size 

Click to see this full-size
My feelings about this day have not changed.  I still feel like it is a bandaid solution for a much bigger problem.  I still try daily to teach my kids not to be assholes, just like I said I did last year.
I got 1000 hits on my blog that day.  That is a record for me. I also got a couple of new comments that I'd like to address here.

Brianna said: Actually in school I was told that we wear pink on that day to honor a boy who was beaten up for wearing pink. You seem so passionate about the bullying issue but you get offended by this little anti bullying thing? I don't understand why it is such a big deal that your friend would go out of her way not to support it. You're really weird you know that? Pink day was a fun day at school and it encourages boys to wear whatever colours they want. It made my brother feel comfortable about his image too. on I am not wearing pink today. 

 Brianna: I feel like the gesture the friends of that boy in Nova Scotia who was beaten up was very sweet.  It was the sort of very sweet, personal gesture that the media seems to love to eat up and turn into a New Big Thing.  It was fantastic for the friends of that boy to stand up with him and help him.  I feel like it has become less personal now that it has been turned into a bandwagon.  I am very passionate about protecting myself and children from bullies.  Pink Shirt Day does not offend me, per se, but I feel like we need more than one day out of the year to address the many layers of issues that contribute to the problem of bullying.  That was what I was saying in my blog post last year.  I am very glad you had fun at school and that the pink shirt helped your brother stretch his wings and feel good about himself.  I hope you and your brother can keep that energy going and keep the anti-bullying message alive for more than just one day this year.  Yep. I am weird. That is probably why I was picked on so much in school.  It took me a very long time to learn to love and accept my weirdness.  Now I embrace it.

Cheribear said: It is so rare to see someone admit 'I am the parent of a bully!' - that is the problem I think. If we are all *anti-bullying' then everyone is against the bully. Nobody is owning that we are raising bullies, supporting bullies, and letting them get away with it. Anyone who has more than one child has probably witnessed their own child being a bully at home with their siblings. Is it much of a stretch to imagine your child exhibiting that *same* behavior in another setting - at school, on playdates, etc? The sooner that parents start admitting that their own children behave as bullies and addressing how to raise them not to behave that way, the better. Instead, we're just raising our kids to call out other kids on bullying and 'stand up against' bullying. Because none of *our* kids would do that. It's everyone else's kid! on I am not wearing pink today.

Thank you for your kind words, Cheribear.  That is the hard work of parenting, isn't it? Admitting when our precious little snowflakes might have a little mud on them that needs taking care of.

I guess by not wearing a pink shirt I still inspired debate and conversation and I got people thinking about how they really feel.  The pink shirt won anyway.