Monday, October 06, 2014

Life Hacks

October 6, 2014
So... our last post was October 2010. That tells ya' something, doesn't it? We're not going to try to make up for lost time, or do a retrospective, or a flash-back episode (although, digging through JewelGeek's and Crafterkat's Facebook photos for a flashback episode would be fun...)

Nope, we're going to pick up like nothing happened, and start in again. And today's topic is "Life Hacks."

I've read so many online articles about the cool things people do/use to get by, I have been inspired. So, periodically, I will share some of my favorite life hacks with you all. Reduce, reuse, recycle, my friends.

Tip #1 - Bag Clips

So these are pretty, plastic, and hefty. They also a) don't fit in the drawer for storage, b) break easily, c) don't have a strong magnet to hold anything in the clip and magnetize to the refrigerator, and d) cost upwards of $2 per clip (I just looked online) or $1 for 4 at a dollar store place (see items a, b, c especially for the dollar store versions).

These are made of metal, stack in the drawer, are nearly impossible to break, can be FROZEN, and cost $3 for 36 = ~$0.08 per clip at any office supply place. You can pay more, of course, for more quantity ($6 for 100) or different colors (gold clips, anyone?)

And for magnetic clips that really hold stuff to your fridge, splurge on these from an office supply store. I found an online supplier that offers 24 for $7. But you can usually pick up 3 for $5 at an office place. And really, if you are using more than 3 of these on your refrigerator, you need a better filing system.

Tip #2 - DIY Dry Erase Board

Have you priced a dry erase board lately? The cheapest one we found in a store of the size I wanted (24x36) was $60. And it looked like if I sneezed on it, it would snap in half.

So, what I did instead was to take a cork board and transformed it into a dual use dry erase/pin board. Granted, I already had it at home and wasn't using it for something else. But in my defense, I bought it at Goodwill several years ago for something like $5. A brand new cork board of the same size (24x36) at the office supply store will run about $30.

Find some fabric you like of a size that will fit the board, and enough to wrap around to the back. Glue the fabric to the board. I used Aleene's Tacky Glue, which did not bleed through the fabric, and did stick it nicely to the cork, the wooden frame, and the weird paper/cork backing on the back. Be generous with the glue on the edges/frame and the edges of the fabric on the back, so everything sticks/stays in place. Let dry.

Purchase some clear, adhesive shelf liner - also known as Con-Tact paper. You will want this at least 12-inches wide, which will easily cover half the width of the cork board. I got the 18-inch-wide roll, by 24 feet long, which is clearly more than I will need for this project.

Cut the clear sticky liner/Con-tact paper to wrap around the edges of the board.

Adhere to the back on one edge, then bring it over the frame, and on to the fabric. I taped my edges down with clear packing tape, both to keep it secured, and to prevent the edges from catching/curling up over time.

On the front, you can see that I have about 6 inches left at the top with no liner paper on it. I decided that I would keep that, so I could still pin things to the board without marring up the dry erase part. But to keep myself from accidentally drawing on the raw fabric, I pinned a bit of ribbon across the board to mark where the clear liner stopped.

An added bonus - the ribbon now holds my dry erase pens in place, too.

And yes, I can read the pens on the fancy fabric pattern!

Cork board - $5 at Goodwill
Fabric - free, from my stash
Con-tact paper roll - $10 (for more than I will ever need)
Ribbon - free, from my stash
Push pins - free, from my stash
Glue - free, from my stash
Tape - free, from my stash
Pens - $4 for 6
= $29

Monday, October 04, 2010

Songs From The Future

Dear High School Me (circa 1985),

As Douglas Adams wrote, "Don't panic." Somehow, through a rift in the space-time continuum, I've been allowed to send you the ultimate 21st century play list. And by "play list" I don't mean a list of fabulous Broadway productions. I'm talking music. Songs that I (you 25 years from now), enjoy. That item attached to this message? That tiny, little box? That is full of music, some from artists that are still learning to walk in the 1980's. And the best part is that you won't wear out the tape inside and have to listen to Simon LeBon singing soooo sloooowly. And don't tell Dad but that little music player can easily hold a thousand songs and costs less than that Sony Walkman he bought in Hong Kong.

And hey, don't fast forward just so you can hear all the Duran Duran songs. I just don't listen to them as much as I used to. They were great on MTV. When MTV played music videos. But don't worry! I think you'll find some of the other artists just as cute as John Taylor.

Just press the Play button to begin.

The Airborne Toxic Event - "Sometime Around Midnight"

Isn't that a great band name? This is one of my guilty secret bands. I heard them on an Alternative Radio station and just fell in love with the singer's raw voice and his description of this girl he met in a bar. "...the piano's this melancholy sound check to her smile". I think everyone has had this experience--finding the perfect person and knowing it in an instant--and then watching as it all just slips aside.

Anne Hathaway, Ella Enchanted Soundtrack - "Somebody To Love"

We grew up with some great movie soundtracks like Grease, Xanadu, and Footloose. Yes, Ella Enchanted is kind of a kid movie but the humor is great and the songs rock. I listened to this for months, driving to and from work, singing my heart out. When Critter was in the car with me, I'd crank up the music, using her as my excuse to listen. She didn't seem to mind too much. Except when I sang along.

Barenaked Ladies - "One Week" and "It's All Been Done"

Yeah, band names have come quite a ways since the 80's. Apparently they picked this name during a Dylan concert. They were up in the nosebleed seats, couldn't see the show, and pretended to be rock critics. "Well, they're no Barenaked Ladies..." And thus a great band was born. BNL songs are catchy tunes with some fabulous lyrics. Where else can you find references to the X-Files (a scary show you will sorta watch in college), The Price Is Right, and Sting?

Remember what I said about MTV not playing videos any more? Well, until I started writing this note to you, 1985 Me, I hadn't seen the BNL and Airborne Toxic Event videos. Yes, I like the songs just from hearing them on the radio! Can you believe it?!

Beyonce - "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"

A great dance number that spawned MANY home made videos. I think my favorite might still be the Glee Football team version (more on Glee later). You're still young and limber enough you can probably do the whole dance.

the bird and the bee - "One On One"

I discovered this band from a Christmas video posted on some one's blog (blog=that's like an online journal). I think Inara George has a beautiful, ethereal voice. This is one of my favorite Hall and Oates song from their recent tribute album.

Blue October - "Into The Ocean"

The first time I heard this song on the radio I was so pleased to hear that Peter Gabriel had put out a new album. The song is a little dark but the imagery is so beautiful. This is the downside to not watching music videos. It took me months to figure out who sang this song.

Bruce Hornsby - "Gonna Be Some Changes Made"

I love songs that tell stories. Bruce plays some fabulous piano and having Sting on backup vocals isn't too bad either.

Christina Aguilera (et al) - "Lady Marmalade"

Another great dance song from a movie soundtrack. Plus, there's naughty French in it!

The Coats - "Down On The Corner"

I first heard The Coats at Bumbershoot in Seattle. They're a local NW group that got their start singing on the corner of Pike's Street Market. Now, any time they are in the area we try to hit their concerts. Their two Christmas albums are usually in rotation beginning in early November. I have even been known to play Mr. Grinch in July.

Coldplay - "Viva La Vida"

Brilliant lyrics and a very mesmerizing tune. Hit the replay button on this one.

Collective Soul - "Better Now"

This song sounds like it could be sung by an 80's Bowie. Really, he should have performed this on the Glass Spider tour.

Corrine Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On"

Gorgeous lyrics like "Summer came like cinnamon, so sweet...". Makes me think of all the times I (you) hung out in the backyard listening to my Walkman. Breathe in summer and enjoy the music.

David Sylvian - "Midnight Sun"

David still has that velvety voice you remember from Japan and his early solo work.

Yes, 1985 Me, I'm in the D's. Duran Duran will be coming soon.

Death Cab For Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"

One of the great things about this band is that all their songs kind of sound the same. I know most people would think that a bad thing, but this band is my Go To music when I have to hunker down and get some work done. All of the songs sort of flow together and two hours later I've finished updating that thing with all the words, the numbers match up, and I've got a happy boss.

Dixie Chicks - "Cowboy Take Me Away" and "Wide Open Spaces"

Yes, it's country music. But it rocks! And you'll want to run away with a romantic cowboy when you're done listening.

Duran Duran - "Ordinary World"

See? I put one song on the list for you. I do listen to Duran Duran, but not their later stuff as much as the music they put together in the 80's. Oh, and I hate to break it to you, but we never married John. Sorry.

Elton John - "The One"

Technically this song is from your future, but only by a few years. I still love the lyrics.

Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge soundtrack - "Elephant Love Medley"

Every love song you can possibly name sung by Obi Wan Kenobi and Bewitched's Samantha.

Five For Fighting - "100 Years" and "The Riddle"

Two songs not performed by Train. I like the message in both of these songs. Again, not having MTV videos to rely on made figuring out who sang these a little difficult.

There are more songs on the play list, 1985 Me, I'll have to send that list in a separate batch. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I Can Rite Teh Blog!

i knoe! iz been monthz since teh humanz has ritten anythin on dis siet. iz not 4 lack ov tryin on mah part. i haz been rubbin up aganst thur legs, sittin in frunt ov teh computr screen, an tryin 2 stare them down. sadlee, teh humanz tend 2 finkz dis meanz i wants tuna. or milk. an sometimez i let them bleev dat, cuz, hay, im not goin 2 turn down an offr liek dat.

but, rly, enuf iz enuf. i knoe u loyal reederz has been wonderin wut they haz been up 2, an, moar importantly how im. cuz u all knoe im teh prettiest feline they haz. an far moar intelligent than all teh bois in dis houz rolld togethr. i smell mutch bettr than them, 2--has u seen teh disgustin tings they rolz in?

dis summr seemd 2 be rly busy tiem 4 da humanz, especially teh hooman wif teh curly hair. she lockd us up in wan ov teh rooms 4 full dai 4 no reason jus cuz she had birfdai or somethin. i knoe! it wuz not fair 2 lock me away frum evryone--i knoe they wuz wantin 2 c me! an rumer haz it thar wuz homemade ice creem--nom!--an lawts ov pplz in funny hatz liek wut puss wore in dat shrek movee. they talkd funny 4 da dai--all yo ho ho liek they wuz santa claws or somethin. but it wuz 2 warm 4 santa. i meen, liek "doan-touch-teh-fur-or-els" hawt.

the funniest part of the hole sumr waz wen interloper cat left teh houz for a few hourz and came back all shaved. he tried 2 strut wut waz left of hiz stuf but it jus made me spit up hairbalz each time i sawz him. teh humanz rly like it tho so who im to arguez? jus az long az they doan do it 2 me!

at teh end ov teh summr, teh humanz left us 4 weekz an weekz (wait, mah cuzin teh lil man sez it wuz only few dais, 4 tops) 4 da beach. they went 2 teh aquareeum an didnt even brin bak fish 4 us! so selfish! all they brot bak 4 us starvin kittehs wuz sum empty shoppin bags. no tuna! no milk! wut kind ov vacashun present iz dat?

side nowt... interlopr kat jus interuptd me. hez makin all sorts ov noize. iz jus piteebul. i jus stare at him an he moanz an whinez. 2 funny, i tell u! i swear he wuz not worshippd as deeatee in past life. im thinkin he wuz box ov nails b4 or somethin.

when teh humanz got bak frum teh vacashun, teh gurl began skool again. she leavez me evry dai 2 go an study or somethin. wan dai she wuz rly happeh cuz she got her licens. but i doan bleev her cuz she doan wear it around her neck liek we do.

latr on thar wuz bunch ov cryin an teh humanz kept sayin dat teh wite metal ting in da garage wuz ded. when i lookd in da garage, all i saw wuz wan ov dose hooj metal tings wuz kind ov crunchd up on wan side. it didnt smell ded 2 me jus oilee.

next ting i knoe, teh crunchy metal box iz gone an teh garage iz left open 4 me 2 roll arond on. im tellin u, thaz teh best place evr 2 pulay "katch me, im free!" teh next best place iz outside teh houz wer teh humanz nevr let me go. an rly, they shud. cuz thar r thees hooj wite birdz dat come 2 teh houz all teh tiem an they rly shudnt cuz iz r houz, u knoe?

teh stoopid orang interlopr kat gets 2 go outsid whenevr he wants. iz not fair. hez all fur an no branz. u wantz 2 knoe seekret? when he furst came her he wuz so stoopid--didnt knoe wer teh dor wuz. hed go into teh bafroom, jump into teh tub, an scratch teh wall liek he shud be let oot or somethin. stoopid. evryone knows teh baftub iz jus anothr littr box. wif shampoo smelz.

teh othr interlopr kat? teh stripd boi? he jus sleepz in da gurls room an sits in da windowz. hez got window rite by teh gras an he cant even scare away teh wite birdz. rly, wut purpose doez he serve? i, at least, iz her 4 da humanz--they ned 2 pet pritee kats all teh tiem. thaz mah job. 2 fill dat basic hooman ned. an 2 eat their tuna.

sigh. mah cousin sez dat im rantin an shud git bak 2 teh blog ting.

wer wuz i? christmas, i finkz. teh curly hooman had her pplz heer an they all eatd lawts ov gud fud (nom nom nom!) an gaev us kats lawts ov crinkly papr 2 sit on. it wuz rly gud christmas. lawts ov tasty things on teh hooj green tree (which duzint smell liek tree but it sure lookz liek wan). teh lil man wuz kind ov mad at teh humanz, though, cuz they put all teh kitteh toyz on rly tight an wud yell at us when any ov us trid 2 chew wan off ov teh tree. even old fuzzy slug.

fuzzy slug didnt do dat 2 mutch, tho. she spent mos ov teh tiem lyin in box dat smelld liek rly gud chinees fud, an soakin up teh heat frum teh fireplace. doan tell anywan, but we kats r havin seekret meetin next week 2 figyur out how 2 turn on dat fire. it involvez dis blak box dat teh humanz use. they jus point it at teh square in da wall an flamez shoot up an we git nice an toasty.

hay, we ned 2 stay warm, u knoe. cuz sometimez it gets all wite outside. not liek last yer when teh skoolz closd an all teh humanz had 2 stay home all dai an hold us (ya!) but it doez happen. teh othr hooman, teh wan hoo bakez, it took her 5 hourz 2 driv home rite aftr christmas. she made it home all in wan peece. we all trid 2 sit on her at woncz 2 show her we wuz worrid bout her.

teh next dai she came home frum werk early an when i snuck into teh garage 4 gud roll, teh metal box dat livez on teh far side wuz all crunchd up behind teh bak rubbr weel. dis made evryone cry sum moar. i didnt smelz oily stuff liek teh last wan but frum teh wai evryone actd, i cud tell it wuz ded 2.

so wut did they do? all 3 ov teh humanz left us. agan! weekz an weekz went by--an teh lil man will confirm dis cuz he got lockd in difrent room frum me--an i thot they wud nevr return. teh only gud ting bout teh whole tiem wuz dat i got teh choice window spotz whenevr i wantd them. but no fire. an no tuna eithr.

when they finly came hom they brot new metal box wif them. iz all black an vry tall an smells liek shampoo. but not gud shampoo liek wut teh humanz use. i luv shampoo. fuzzy slug has ting 4 shoez. me? shampoo. cant git enuf ov it. teh lil man sez i nedz 2 c consler or somethin 4 mah shampoo obseshun.

anyways, i finkz thaz all teh stuff uve ben misin. if i finkz ov somethin els ill try 2 let u knoe, especlee if it involvez mah pritee self!

~teh southern belle

p.s. i knoe dat humanz call me doofie sometimez. i finkz iz cuz they doan knoe how 2 spell mah naym rite. fuzzy slug sez dat teh interlopr kats call me teh wickd witch ov teh south. im k wid dat, 2.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What do you do with a drunken orange?

After an excellent late supper at Sushi & Maki's, we drove the back parking lots to a nearby grocery store to get dessert cookies. I made a slow left turn and waited a moment for my food to slosh back in place.

"Ugh," Critter groaned. I nodded.

"JewelGeek is a little food drunk right now," said CrafterKat. Critter laughed and they both began to sing:

What shall we do with a drunken JewelGeek?
What shall we do with a drunken JewelGeek?
What shall we do with a drunken JewelGeek?
Early in the morning.

CrafterKat laughed. "Yeah, nothin' rhymes with 'JewelGeek'. It's like the word 'orange'..."

We crossed another painful speedbump. "I know lots of words that rhyme with orange," said Critter. "Florange. Plorange. Rorange. Delorange..."


"It's like 'Delores' but with 'orange'..."

And for those that don't know the Irish Rovers' sea shanty, here's a video to get you in the mood.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Libra Monologues

Traditional Libra Traits

Diplomatic and urbane
Romantic and charming
Easygoing and sociable
Idealistic and peaceable
Indecisive and changeable
Gullible and easily influenced
Flirtatious and self-indulgent

After a long day of work and meetings, CrafterKat and I decided we’d go out to dinner. “Where’d you like to go, Critter? We were thinking maybe Red Robin…?”

She wrinkled her nose, hands on hips. “No. I don’t want a burger.”

“Sweet Tomatoes?”

“No… Let me think.”

“Well, why don’t you finish getting ready. Put shoes on. How about Shari’s?”

“No… I don’t know what I want…”

“Well, the choices are going to keep getting worse. Denny’s? Or I’ll choose and we’ll just go.”

“UGH! I can’t decide!”

I headed to the van and CrafterKat and Critter joined a few minutes later. “I think she’s decided,” said CrafterKat, stepping inside.

Critter gave a small, light chuckle like a three year old. “Pho…”

I laughed. “The only problem is, I don’t know if that place is open this late in the evening.” We got onto the road, heading north to our preferred pho restaurant.

“If it’s not open,” said Critter, rocking in her seat a bit, “I would like… to go… to… Sweet Tomatoes.” I nodded. “No, wait!” she continued. “If it’s not open, I would like to go… to the other place I like… Can you handle Mexican?”

I shook my head. “It’s too late for Mexican food. That’s a good spot for lunch or early dinner.”

She rocked some more in her seat. “If it’s not open, I would like to go to… Thai Barbeque… No, wait! If it’s not open, I would like to go to Old Spaghetti Factory. No, wait! Ugh… I hate having my period!”

CrafterKat slowed to a stop light. “I hate that you’re a Libra.”