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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

One Person's Trash Is Another Person's Treasure

I'm going to be deliberately vague about the circumstances surrounding this story, but I've been giggling about it ever since it happened, so I wanted to share.

I'm part of an organization that hosted an event catered by a local deli.  When this deli delivered the food, it included a ginormous container of lemon wedges.  Seriously, they must have cut up five or six lemons to fill the container they provided.  In my mind, this was an excessive quantity, especially considering that they were meant to go with a mere gallon of iced tea.  Suffice to say, we had a great many lemon wedges left over.

After this event, I was working with a couple of other people to triage the remaining food.  I asked them what they wanted to do with the lemon wedges, and wasn't surprised when they told me to toss them.  However, maybe a minute or so later--after I had already turned my attention to some of the other remaining food--someone who's part of the organization but wasn't part of this event piped up that she would like to have the lemon wedges.

I can see speaking up for something like sandwiches or a fruit plate, but lemon wedges?  Something that combines inexpensiveness, ease of preparation, and lack of palatability in the absence of some other food item?  Doesn't asking for a leftover container of lemon wedges pretty much cement your reputation as an excessively frugal eccentric?  I think if I had wanted something like leftover lemon wedges, I would have tried to abscond with them quietly for fear of drawing too much attention to my idiosyncrasies.

When I broke the bad news that I had already deep-sixed this valuable item, this person just gave me a dirty look and walked away. 

Am I a wasteful person who just committed the food equivalent of blowing my nose on dollar bills?  Have I made an enemy for life by throwing out a container of lemon wedges?  Was I just dealing with an extreme case of someone taking life's lemons and hoping to make lemonade?  Whatever the case, it was worth the entertainment it brought me.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sewing From A Kit

I've been making jewelry since I was a kid, and in all that time, I never thought of myself as a kit person.  I always felt that if you planned projects and sourced materials on your own, you could both control costs and customize projects to your own specifications.  However, both sourcing materials and customizing are easier when you really know what you're doing.  I've learned this the hard way as I've tried to improve my sewing, and have realized that I don't always know what sorts of modifications are possible/advisable.

So when I read positive reviews of several of the bag kits from this Etsy shop, I was intrigued.  As luck would have it, I had been thinking I could use a bag to take to work--something that would hold lunch, an umbrella, and my water bottle, but be less cumbersome than a backpack.  Nice bags (and even no-so-nice bags) are often kind of pricey anyway, so I thought maybe I should buy a kit and make one myself so that I could learn some more sewing skills.

Anyway, it worked out nicely!  I'm sure a more experienced seamstress would have done a neater job in sections than I did, but I'm perfectly happy with how it turned out, and looking forward to using it as my commute bag.  These are some of my thoughts on the experience:

1.  I have a more positive attitude toward kits now.  It was really nice to have everything I needed to make the bag aside from regular sewing thread just show up in one package.  I'm not even really sure where to buy some of the items like the bag hardware, so it was nice to not have to waste a lot of time looking.

2.  I think having everything arrive at once really motivated me.  I finished this bag in about a week (and that's a week of whatever free time I have left after work, class, and other stuff that needs to be done; my leisure time is not all that plentiful).

3.  As far as these particular kits go, this one was great.  I thought all of the materials were of good quality, and the pattern instructions were very clear.  I would definitely buy from that shop again.

4.  The thing that made making this bag easier than apparel sewing was not having to worry about size or fit.  What made it harder was sewing through a lot of thick materials.  My sewing machine was grumbling at times.  However, this experience spurred me to finally learn how to use the clearance plate that came with my machine to deal with thick seams.  So I've learned a skill that will transfer to lots of other sewing projects.

And here are a couple pictures of my sewing kit success!

I added a pen pocket so that I'd always be able to find a pen when I needed it.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Spectacles We Create For Others To Enjoy

I lost my gloves on Tuesday.  Usually, when I lose something, I don't know how I lost it.  I do this time, though.  I was making a mad dash for the Metro, and after the doors closed behind me, I realized my gloves were no longer in my pocket.  My mad dash was all for the lofty goal of...getting to work five minutes earlier?  I don't understand myself sometimes.

It occurred to me later that I was probably a pretty entertaining sight to people on the platform.  Imagine me doing a completely graceless sprint toward the closest open door, leaping onto the train, gloves flying out of my coat pocket.  I hope I at least gave someone a good laugh on a workday morning. 

And I hope someone is making good use of those gloves.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Tomorrow begins my fifth consecutive semester of taking classes.  Fortunately for me, I'll have only one class this semester (as opposed to the two I've taken for the past three semesters), and it'll be online.  So no more late night slogs back home from campus!

The instructor for this semester's course has already given us an assignment to complete by the start of the semester.  I'm going to be deliberately vague about details about the class (you know, in case the instructor reaches the end of the internet, finds my blog, and makes the connection between it and me).  But...this assignment was all about her, not at all about the subject matter.  I'm serious.  We had to look for answers to questions like where she went to school, titles and synopses of her thesis and dissertation, where she works now, and her research interests.  I'm very protective of my free time, and this seemed like a massive waste of it, particularly before the semester even began.

So, was there a pedagogical purpose to this assignment that I'm either too dense or too cranky to understand?  Or--as I fear--does this indicate that I'll spend the semester trying to manage a professorial ego trip?  I'm sure I'll find out soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Life's Little Triumphs: I Made A Pair Of Pants Fit Me!

I wonder sometimes how many women are truly well served by the clothing choices available.  The older I get, the more fit issues I have, but the one that has been a constant since my teens has been pants length.  I'm 5'11", with my height concentrated in my legs.  Ideally, I like to wear a 36" inseam.  Sometimes a 35" inseam works out okay, depending on the style of the pants.  But nothing shorter than that works out for me.  I scoff at clothing companies that claim to carry tall sizes, when the longest inseam they actually provide is 32".

Ironically, I should note here that over the years, some of my more petite female friends have told me that they have trouble getting pants that are short enough.  Maybe there is some magical unicorn out there whose legs are exactly the right length who can have as many pairs of pants as she wants.

In the past few years, my pants length problem has been exacerbated by the popularity of cropped pants.  Don't get me wrong, I have no objection whatsoever to other people wearing them.  It's just that when I wear them, I'm reminded of wearing high-waters as a teenager because I couldn't find long enough pants.  That isn't a time in my life that I care to relive.

If a shorter woman wants full-length pants in the middle of the cropped pants craze, presumably she can order cropped pants in the tall size and get what she wants.  But if you already have to buy pants in the tall size, then cropped pants will always truly be cropped pants.

I had been a little cranky because Banana Republic had some nice looking corduroy pants, but they were cropped.  In the tall size, the inseam was 33".  Grrr.  When I zoomed in on the hem, I could see that the hem was wide enough that there was some extra fabric to work with.  But even on sale, they were pricey enough that I didn't want to risk it.  Plus, if I spend enough money on an article of clothing, I kind of expect the length to be correct from the start.

But then, after the holidays, these pants went on a sort of super sale!  When I saw that I could get a pair for around $21, I decided that was inexpensive enough to try playing with the hem.  The pants arrived, they fit well around the waist and hips, and the hem was indeed wide enough to add some length to the pants.  I picked out the hem and washed the pants.  I was pleased that the original crease that had been at the bottom of the pants washed out nicely, as that was something I had been concerned about.  I used bias tape to help me use as little of the corduroy pants as possible in creating a new hem.  And--voila--I ended up with pants that are long enough for me!

Yay for sewing machines!  Yay for pants that aren't quite long enough but have wide hems!  And I'm going to optimistically give a preemptive "yay" to cropped pants going out of style so that I can buy long enough full-length pants again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Online Shopping Mystery: The Shower Rod

I do a lot of my shopping online because crowded stores exhaust me and because there is something to be said for being home in my pajamas.  Most of the time, this works out pretty well, with some interesting exceptions.

Earlier this month, I ordered a lamp, hand cream, and make-up remover from The lamp arrived by itself.  Shortly thereafter, I received an email that the other items were delayed due to the recent winter storm. 

In my building, any packages that are too large to fit in our mailboxes are collected at the front desk.  We then receive an email when we have a package to pick up.  When I got an email about a package today, I assumed it would be my hand cream and make-up remover.  My heart sank when the guy at the front desk went to the room where the freakishly large packages are stored.  I couldn't think what I would have ordered that would need to be in that room, and I didn't feel like lugging a large box upstairs.  He emerged with a skinny package about four feet long.  I tried to discreetly check the shipping label to make sure I wasn't getting someone else's stuff.

Nope, it was addressed to me.  And it was a shower rod.  Something that I never ordered, and do not need, considering that I live in an apartment.  Our apartment management is by no means perfect, but they did equip every apartment with a shower rod.

I chatted online with someone on, who had very little insight as to why I had received a shower rod.  I suggested that the shower rod was perhaps sent by mistake instead of my hand cream and make-up remover.  The employee accepted that, generously (ha!) told me I could keep the shower rod, and processed a refund for the hand cream and make-up remover that I didn't receive.

I know that anyone could order a shower rod, but I'm enjoying imagining that it was a burly man who enjoys home improvement projects, and that he is now the recipient of my hand cream and make-up remover.  In the meantime, I have this surprise shower rod.  Any creative ideas about what to do with a shower rod, when your shower already has one?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cool Things I Saw In North Carolina

Happy holidays to everyone!  We got back late yesterday evening from spending Christmas in North Carolina with my family.  We started out in my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC, and then went to the coast before heading back to Maryland.  As always, I had a great time.  Here are some pictures of cool things I saw.

A twig palace in Hillsboro!

Seagulls have to eat, too.

These Christmas trees will be placed in the dunes to help prevent erosion.

Juniper berries!

My mom said it best: It was a good thing I wasn't wearing flipflops.

This was a lot of fun to watch, but none of my attempts to photograph it really panned out.  The plastic bottle at the bottom of the tank was filled with pieces of apple and served as a sort of "food puzzle" for the otters at the aquarium.  It reminded me of a food puzzle we give to Laila, which is a ball that dispenses treats as she rolls it over the floor.

Even oyster shells can look surprisingly festive.