December 30, 2010

The Astrologer Monk

The monk does astrological charts. He said in 2012, somethingsomethingsomething planets aligning for the first time since my birth. This means there will be a big change in my life, involving more responsibilities. According to the time of my birth, he foresees it involving travel. That could be cool or worrisome.

Also, he said somethingsomethingsomething all my planets are in only one section (??) which is very rare. It means something blahblah I have the propensity to become a public figure and that it could mean I'll be famous, despite being introverted.

He also said Scorpios are notorious for being sexy, secretive, and successful. And since my rising sign is Aquarius, I'm a good person and like to help others.

I really like my work conversations.

December 17, 2010

Crocheting Hippo-Hatamus

You want to know how I get my creative juices a-flowing? No, don't worry, it's nothing that will make you feel weird later for knowing. My thought process goes something like this: "I have a craft fair tomorrow. I've been selling a lot of frog hats lately. I should make another animal hat for tomorrow. What is another kind of ugly animal that you don't often see as a hat? Ooh, a hippo, and I even have a bunch of purple yarn!"

That's all.

I started by making just a basic beanie, then added the details. For the snout, I crocheted a large, triangular piece, then stuffed and whip-stitched it on. To give the appearance of separate "cheeks," I simply cinched the middle of the bottom row. Then some triangular ears, a couple nostril flaps. When I got to the eyes, I looked at many photos of real hippos, to get an idea of how I would design them. What I noticed is that hippos have fairly ugly eyes, simultaneously saggy and bulgy.


True to life, I made the eyes dark, bulging in their saggy sockets. Keene said, "I think it would be more relatable if you added some white to the eyes." I said, "But you don't really see the whites on real hippos." He said, "But it would be more relatable." I said, "Who relates to a hippo anyways?" I kept it ugly, its eyes dead and full of despair.


(Ignore the line running down the side of the snout. It was a failed experiment which was later axed.)


Unfortunately, in addition to being an ugly, unrelatable animal, the hat is also hugely un-photogenic. No matter how many times I tried, no matter the angle, lighting, or model, the hat just looked weird and shapeless.



But on the bright side, this hat could totally chomp you in half.

December 15, 2010

December, 2010: Oh, What a (Beer) Night!


There is something magical a-brewing in liquor stores dotting the city, something promotionally wonderful and marketably fantastic. You can now "design" your own six-pack of beer. Okay, okay, I get it. This is probably not news to most the beer-drinkers out there. However, for this beer-drinker and her boyfriend, it made us feel like maybe there was more to this bleak, gray world in which all adults inevitably walk.

So it came to pass one Saturday evening that we passed a liquor store and decided to try some new brew. Lo and behold, I discovered two full cases of assorted bottles, each one sweating with anticipation, hoping I would choose it. I stood in front of the cold freezer for a long time, contemplating all the choices. Then I grabbed six different bottles:

Great Divide - Hades, Belgium-style ale

As the night began, we put a lot of thought into each beer, discussing the scent, the taste, the mouthfeel. (As in, "The mouthfeel gooooooood.") My boyfriend said, "It's challenging right off the bat, but finishes with almost a cider taste." He also remarked that it was a lot like champagne, with its style of dry carbonation. Its fruity, light taste made it something you could drink like water, easily and quickly before the guilt really sets in. Almost like Coors, but without feeling like you are being punched in the crotch for making all the wrong choices in life.


Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Brrrr

If Hades hinted at fruitiness, Brrrr damn near pelts you with rotting grapefruits, like a food-fight gone awry. It's overwhelming scent and flavor is of grapefruit and orange peels. While it is initially tasty at the front of the tongue, it soon hits the back of the tongue, making you feel like you have somehow wronged God and are now being punished. While I picked up this bottle because of the name, thinking, "Ooh, 'Brrrr,' this sounds like a good holiday brew!" However, as it turns out, the "Brrrr" isn't referencing snowy evenings or crisp December mornings; it's giving props to the chills you get while viciously puking up last night's festivities.


Tommyknockers - Maple Nut Brown Ale

Count on Colorado to get it exactly right. The locally-brewed ale is as close to perfection as a beer can get without also being a drinkable hair-growing or boob-enhancing concoction. The smooth, thick taste is remniscent of Guiness, but with no hint of a bitter aftertaste. My boyfriend excitedly said, "I could drink nine of these!" but unfortunately, for us, there was only the one bottle.

New Belgium - Frambrozen Raspberry Brown Ale

Say you had an occasionally girly boyfriend who likes his beer on the, uh, fruity side. What might you do? You might take the aforementioned Maple Nut beer and add Framboise to it. And if you did that, you'd get pretty close to the taste of Frambrozen. It is a dark, heavy brew with a very strong taste of raspberry. Yet unlike Framboise, which tends toward being too sweet, Frambrozen finds a decent balance. And how did that occasionally girly boyfriend like it? "Taste-T!"


Widmer Brothers - Drop Top Amber Ale

You know, by the time you get through analytically tasting and tastefully analyzing five beers, you might find yourself losing momentum (or gravity, one or the other). My first and lingering impression of light, hoppy, Drop Top went something like this: "Huh. It smells like marijuana. Or B.O. It tastes like it too. No, the marijuana, not the B.O. Don't you think?"

December 13, 2010

Grown-up Children: Interviews with Teenage Mothers


(Reposted from Examiner.com)

Kortney Owen is an Englewood-based office manager who, at 29 years old, has a nice home, a youthful face, and a love of dachshunds. People know her as a fun, aspiring comedienne who leads an easy-going life. However, many do not know about her early years as a struggling teen mother.

At the age of 14, she was fairly active and hard-working. She participated in class, earned straight As in school, and wanted to become a teacher. Then she met the boy who would become her boyfriend: “He was weird, I was weird. He was into drugs and hanging around the bad kids…it was exciting.”

Were you on birth control when you got pregnant?
KO: No…we sometimes used condoms. [I thought,] “It wouldn’t happen to me.”

How did you discover you were pregnant?
KO: I started having morning sickness almost immediately. I just kind of knew. I missed a period, then took a test to confirm [it].

What did you think or feel upon finding out?
KO: Apprehension, sadness. I also felt like I was in control of my life for the first time. I made a big decision without anyone telling me no. I felt that I had made a very serious decision [to have sex] and had to deal with the consequences, meaning I should have the baby.

How did you tell your family?
KO: My mom could tell by how sick I was. She seemed sad, but told me she would supportme in any decision I made.

How was your life immediately affected by the pregnancy?
KO: I couldn’t go to school because of the morning sickness. My friends were all really shocked and upset. Some of them started avoiding me. The school was also surprised and, I think, really disappointed. It made me feel terrible to have a lot of people around me “turn their backs.”

What was your pregnancy and delivery like?
KO: I had trouble gaining weight in the beginning [due to nausea]. Although the morning sickness subsided later, my pregnancy was plagued with health issues. I had extreme sleep troubles: sometimes not sleeping for a day or two; other times staying up really late, then sleeping the entire next day. Near the end of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia [a serious condition which causes blood pressure to rise and protein to develop in the urine] and was on bed-rest for the last month of pregnancy. About five days into my bed-rest, I became extremely ill: fatigued, nauseous, and listless. Unbeknownst to me, I had been slowly leaking amniotic fluid for some time and my blood pressure was through the roof. I began having contractions and went to the hospital.

I was kept in the emergency area of the hospital for monitoring. A few hours later, the doctors began preparing for delivery. A special labor nurse explained the details of how the Pre-E and lack of fluid could make for an extremely difficult labor. Adding in the fact that I was so young, she told me that the baby or I could die. I was given an IV of magnesium to assist with the blood pressure. After eleven hours in the hospital, I delivered my baby.

What was your life like after your daughter, Zoe, was born?
KO: Hectic. Tiring. At first, I tried to continue with school, but it was too much work. My daughter was not sleeping well, was very fussy, and demanded a lot of attention. I couldn’t keep up with homework or even being gone that much during the day. After about seven months, I got a job [and quit school]. My mom watched the baby while I worked.

How did your relationship with your mom change?
KO: [We] became more equal in some ways: we both made important decisions about our children. (She also had two very young children of her own, so she had her hands full with little ones.) It was strained because she needed to help me and my baby. She taught me a lot about how to care for a baby.

How did your relationship with Zoe's father change?
KO: He ran away from home when he found out [about the pregnancy]. I think he was surprised and scared. Then he came back, tried working, saw the baby a few times [before moving to Kansas]. He was unable to help me much until just recently.

Did you date anyone else?
KO: Yes. It was much harder to date, because boys weren’t interested in having little kids around. They were afraid I’d somehow make them help with parenting. I started dating a guy that didn’t mind; he was much older than me and in a different place in his life. It made our relationship especially hard.

How were you treated by those around you (strangers, friends, etc.)?
KO: Strangers [made] comments about my “sister.” [They would] act upset or surprised when they found out she was actually my daughter. Sometimes they would say things like, “You’re not old enough to have a child!” My friends were afraid of the baby; some [of their] parents didn’t want them to hang around me anymore.

At seventeen years old, Kortney moved out of her mother’s home and into an apartment of her own. She earned her GED and focused on supporting her daughter and herself. While at times she earned enough to keep them afloat financially, there were times when they subsisted on ramen noodles or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Occasionally, she would bring home whatever food was left over from her job at a fast-food restaurant.

Amid her struggles, Zoe was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of five, then with a mood disorder (including depression and bouts of rage) at the age of nine. Suddenly, Kortney was tackling issues which would have stumped many parents more than twice her age.

KO: [Zoe] was always very high-energy and had mood struggles. It was especially difficult [for me] to be taken seriously by doctors and school [officials] at such a young age. There were times when it was insinuated that my parenting—based on my age—was more to blame than any mood disorders [with] which she had been diagnosed.

Around twelve years old, these mental illnesses became exacerbated by the emergence of pubescent hormones. She began lashing out violently, ditching school, and spending time with drug-users. Kortney, feeling helpless against this turn of events, looked into such options as placing her daughter in a group home. When Zoe was 13 years old, her father suddenly made contact with the teenager. After enduring his own struggles over the years, he was finally in a position to make a positive influence in his daughter’s life. After many weeks of phone conversations and occasional visits, Kortney made the decision to let Zoe move to the small rural town in Kansasto live with her newly-reunited father and his close-knit family.

What was like to make such a hard decision in letting your child live elsewhere?
KO: Because of my age, [we] grew up together; we lived more like siblings than a mother and daughter. Our relationship had always been quite outrageous and often strained. Since moving to Kansas, Zoe's emotional problems have stabilized a great deal. She is passing all of her classes and is very active in extracurricular activities. She participates in church and community events. She and her dad still have struggles that all parents and teens have, but she has a supportsystem that allows her to find a balance in her life. The first few months she had moved away, I barely heard from her, mostly getting updates from her dad. We both needed that break. [I] miss her a great deal, but knowing she is growing and becoming the great young adult I had always hoped for her to be helps. I look forward to her calls and messages. I feel that we are more able to care for each other and be a positive part of each others' lives than when she lived with me.

In what ways does your past as a teen mother still affect your life?
KO: People are still shocked to hear that I have a fourteen-year-old daughter. I don’t usually bring [it up], because she doesn’t live at home. People are also surprised to hear I have a child at all. When I see a young mother, it takes me back to a lot of the feelings I had at that time. Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel those things again.

What was the hardest part about being a teen mom?
KO: Being completely uncertain of the future.

What do you think was the most common misconception people had about you?
KO: That I didn’t always try my hardest.

What would you have done differently?
KO: I would have been more assertive about my parenting decisions and what my daughter needed from her caregivers (school, stepdad, grandma).

What advice do you have for other teen mothers?
KO: Don’t doubt yourself. Always ask for help, if you think you need it.

What about for parents of teen mothers?
KO: They may be young, but they will figure it out. Give them the help they need, but don’t be afraid to stand back sometimes.

Finally, what advice do you have for all teenagers, in general?
KO: Don’t get pregnant. You don’t have to grow up now and you don’t have to be right all the time. It’s okay to ask for help and keep asking until you find it.

December 10, 2010

I sold three hats today, well, Keene did.

I made him a frog hat finally. He's been pestering me about it for weeks, if not months. I made his with an adjustable mouth, so if he's feeling happy, he buttons the ends upward. If he's angry, he buttons the mouth ends down. It's pretty adorable.

Anyhow, he's been wearing it everywhere and his coworker asked about it. He AWed me and my website, emphasizing the custom work I do. She placed an order for two custom hats and one already-made hat. Maybe I should make hats for him more often!

December 9, 2010

Ganesh

Earlier today, the cook/personal assistant came to my office to chat. She saw where I had pushed a desk lamp off to the corner. It has a little Hindu statue hanging from it (leftover from the previous woman in my position). She gasped and said, "What is Ganesh doing over here? He's such a good guy. Here...let's hang him up here. Such a good guy."

She then turned to me and said, "Uh, you can google it sometime."

I was like, "Pfft...Ganesh? Hindu god? Yeah, I'm familiar." ::tosses hair::

A skeptic in a house of spiritualists

I went up to the kitchen to get some tea. I made sure not to use the milk jug filled with water, marked "BLESSED". The monk came upstairs and I said, "I don't see you up here much!" (He's seriously the quietest guy ever. I've seen him maybe 3-4 times since working here.) He said, "I come up here to heat up my macaroni. I don't really eat anything else." :eyebrow:

He then said, "I just got done healing myself of a cold. It took a day, instead of weeks."


I said, "How's that?"

He said, "Funny you should ask," and pulls out a little metal dildo-looking thing, the size of a pen. He said it's an energy something-something-something that you wave it around and it heals you. In fact, he just healed a woman with lung cancer the other day.

Okay.

He then told me he sells them for $300. Or, I could try some powder for less.

December 6, 2010

Fighting Injustice, Wheelchair Sports Camp-Style

Photo by Adrian Diubaldo of PhotoRoadies.com

One of the loudest voices in the Denver hip-hop scene is coming from a very unlikely source: Kalyn Heffernan—the small, intelligent, and outspoken frontwoman from Wheelchair Sports Camp. She raps a steady, impressive stream against a funky backdrop of saxophone, drums, and plenty of mixing. The resulting songs vary from mellow and poignant to quirky and biting, such as “Party and Bullshit.” Yet it’s not all about the music for this band: they are taking a stand against violence, fighting for civil rights, and forcing listeners to pay attention from coast to coast.

CMB: Are You From Denver?
Heffernan: Originally born in Denver in ‘87, then moved to Burbank, California when I was six months [old]…and moved back to Denver in ‘97. I consider Denver home.

CMB: How did you get into rapping? How old were you?
Heffernan: I started listening to hip-hop when I was living in California at about 5 or 6 years old. I was going through radio stations on my walkman, and made my dad turn to the station I [had] found. He immediately told me, “Turn that shit off.” Ever since then, I couldn’t help but love it. TLC was the first hip-hop group I remember being obsessed with. I didn’t start rapping myself ‘til I was 12 years old…I remember beat-boxing over a tape and rapping to it for a talent show.

CMB: How has your rapping style or content changed since you first began?
Heffernan: My lyrics are much better, thank God! As far as content, I feel like I’m much more aware and focused. When I first started, I rapped about what everyone else rapped about. Now, I try to rap about real things, having a good time, and social inequalities without being a Debbie Downer. I find humor to be my most favorite expression and, without it, life would not be worth living.

CMB: Tell me about your band. How and when did you meet?
Heffernan: The band started in 2007 with just me and a middle-school friend, Patrick. I started making my own beats in high school and they were finally good enough to rap over. We [collaborated] more with outside musicians, but had a nasty breakup shortly after. At the time, I was going to school at University of Colorado at Denver for Music Production, when I met Abi (saxophones; also of Abi and the Blue Language) in a record label class. We [started] collaborating and have been close friends since. She’s such an amazing musician and adds ten stars to every show we play with her.

Through her, I met her brother, Isaac (drums), who is just as great of a person as her. We had a few classes together and shared a lot of the same music interests. He’s been another great friend of mine. Just recently, I was looking for a DJ to play at an Abby’s Voice benefit walk and met DJ B*money. Coincidentally, he was already familiar with Wheelchair Sports Camp and I knew of him as one of the five Colorado DMC (national DJ competition) finalists. We share a lot of the same interests in music, graffiti, and recreational activities. He DJs full-time so we play with him as much as we can.

CMB: What national and local rappers (or bands) do you like?
Heffernan: I really dig on Shad K and Busdriver right now. I also listen to a lot of Radiohead, Erykah Badu, and Portugal. The Man. As far as local, I get down with my good friend 3Two a lot, along with Mute Man’s Microphone, Mane Rok, and S.T.O.I.C. I really enjoy the Hi-Tops, both Babah Fly and Panama Soweto, along with Acezi and Xperiment, of course.

CMB: How do you feel about the Denver rap/hip-hop scene?
Heffernan: I’ve always had a sore spot in my heart for Denver’s local hip-hop scene, because it’s so easy to be a hater. But the more involved I become, the more I realize how many great hip-hoppers Denver has. I feel like hip-hop all over could be a little more positive and use more work, but I thnk Denver is a unique place with a lot of great people.

CMB: What is Krip-Hop?
Heffernan: Krip-Hop (KripHop.com) is a global movement started by Leroy Moore, a disabled artist/activist. It is a collection of disabled hip-hop artists from all across the world. I was lucky enough to be a part of a Krip-Hop event last month at NYU in Manhattan. I was part of a discussion panel with Rob Da Noize Temple (DJ of Sugarhill Gang), who is also disabled. I [also] played a small performance. It was such an honor for me to be a part of it, and [I] had no idea how many other handicapped hip-hoppers there were in the game. [Moore] found me on Myspace when I first started doing the rap thing semi-seriously.

CMB: As a rapper with a disability, how do you feel you are treated within the hip-hop community?
Heffernan: Luckily, I don’t get treated differently because of my disability very often. I do my best to go out of my way to make myself known as a fully independent person with or without your acceptance. I don’t waste time [worrying] about what people think of me. Love it or leave it. I’ve also been lucky to have a great group of friends who always have my back and always support my ambitions. The hardest time I’ve had with my disability as an artist has been the lack of accessibility at venues. I usually gather about five of my cousins, friends, or strangers before every show to help lift my wheelchair on stage.

CMB: As a female rapper, how have you been received in the hip-hop community?
Heffernan: Again, I don’t notice being treated any differently, but I have to go out of my way to make sure that won’t happen. I also feel that, because I’m a disabled woman, I have to go the extra mile to make sure that I’m holding my own with my beats and rhymes. I feel like I have to be twice as fresh or people will just dismiss me as another local.

CMB: Do you have any advice for other women who want to rap?
Heffernan: Please do and more often! There [are] really not enough female emcees…and it’s a shame.

CMB: You play a lot of benefit shows and fight for a variety of causes. Do you have a cause or charity that is particularly meaningful to you?
Heffernan: The Abby’s Voice Foundation is, by far, the closest to my heart. My best friend from college (Abigail Robertson) was brutally murdered [by her ex-boyfriend] the day after her 21st birthday. It has been the most life-changing experience I’ve ever had to deal with. I was at her birthday party the night before, celebrating with her, and [I] had no idea it would be the last time I saw her. I just finished attending the two-and-a-half week trial, which ended on [November 17th].

Since this has happened, I hear of domestic and dating violence all too often. I help Abby’s mother (who founded the non-profit) by playing or booking shows, making flyers, and [helping] with any of the events, however I can.

CMB: What do you enjoy the most and least about performing for others?
Heffernan: I always enjoy playing with major headliners, because the crowd is always bigger... Plus it’s great to say I’ve shared the stage with so many of my favorites. It is hard, though, to compete with all the other local hip-hoppers for a spot on the bill; that’s what I like the least. It’s all politics to get on a big show, and I hate politics.

CMB: Any plans for upcoming tours?
Heffernan: Our biggest plan now is to play in Austin for South By Southwest (SXSW) in March, but yes, we are looking for the right headliner to follow on tour. Hopefully by next year…

Look for the upcoming, follow-up album to 2008’s “The Best of the All-Time Unreleased Greatest Hits Vol. 303 ½”. Meanwhile, check out Wheelchair Sports Camp, playing on December 23rd at The Old Curtis. And of course, stay tuned for the SXSW roster in March.

Myspace.com/WheelchairSportsCamp

December 1, 2010

Something Old or Something New: Which is Better When It Comes to Lenox China?

Weddings and china go together like divorce and martinis. It seems like there are only two options when discussing whether to get china or not: will you register for it or will you receive an heirloom set from somebody? Never mind that the couple may not even want china. Rubbish! Let’s push that nonsense aside and decide which is better: to buy or to inherit.

Favor must automatically be given to buying a set brand-new, if only because you can’t rely on a generous relative passing his or her set onto you on your wedding day. But for the purpose of this article, let’s assume you can. The first problem you may face is what if you hate the pattern? What Aunt Brunhilde once considered to be exceedingly vogue may now seem a little outdated to you. Some people struggle with finding occasion to break out the china; however, everybody struggles with finding occasion to break out the ugly china.

Nevertheless, what you may find instead is that the Lenox china your relative is passing down is a beautiful, valuable, and long-discontinued pattern, something you wouldn’t have come by otherwise. Yet this idea can sour very quickly, the moment a plate breaks and you are unable to obtain (or afford) a replacement.

What perks might a new set offer? To start, it would be uniquely for you, unlike a set that reflected the personality of its previous owner. Assuming the price tag doesn’t scare you away, you can pick out whatever set tickles your fancy. Also, replacement pieces can be easily had, because even if that pattern is discontinued, many times you will still be able to find what you need online, sometimes on Lenox’s website itself.

There are downsides to nearly everything in life, however, and china is no exception. When you receive a set from a beloved family member, there is a certain sentimentality attached with it—maybe you remember your grandmother serving meals upon these dishes once or she let you use them for a tea party as a child—which cannot be purchased for the new set like an extended warranty. The responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of you and your new wife or husband to create those sentiments.

Also, while you may receive many pieces of this set as wedding gifts, it is more likely you will not receive the whole set. Unfortunately, this expense will become yours, should you decide to complete your set. If you aren’t able to afford these pieces after paying for a posh honeymoon, your set may have to remain incomplete for a while. Lastly, while shopping for your china set, you may find a pattern that is amazingly trendy. Nevertheless, remember Aunt Brunhilde. Those Bedazzled plates may not be quite so awe-inspiring to your children and great-grandchildren.

November 30, 2010

At the Spa

Okay, we didn't actually take any pics while at the spa. So here are pics of us at Beau Jo's Pizza:


As Kortney said, "Keene's nose zit was not welcome in this picture":


Heeeeeey!

November 25, 2010

That kid is snarky

Aye aye aye. Kayden. It's really hard to get after him about being snarky when I'm too busy laughing behind my hand.

So, we were all in the car last night, on our way to take Kayden to his dad's house. Maia was eating (fast food, since we were en route).

Several times, I heard Kayden telling her to close her mouth while she eats (she is quite a loud eater). She continued to eat with her mouth open.

Finally, Keene said something like, "Well, Kayden, you have to give her a break if she occasionally opens her mouth to breathe or something..."

Without missing a beat, he said, "Isn't that what a nose is for?"

November 24, 2010

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

Last night, I was watching a movie on my computer while crocheting. In the living room, Keene was typing away on his computer.

Suddenly, I get a call. I look at the ID and it's Keene. I look up and he's still typing. I hold up my phone and say, "Are you calling me?"

He pulls his phone from his pocket, looks at it, and says, "Oh, I guess I was."

I reply, "Apparently, something in your pocket really wants to talk to me."

In my mind, I imagine this to be the conversation:

Kelli: Hello?
Keene's pocket: ::heavy breathing::

November 23, 2010

Have you ever tipped someone in a non-tipping environment?

I went to Little Caesars once (they have pre-made cooked pizzas ready to be purchased, for those that don't know). The teen girl behind the counter was so cheery and nice that I tipped her a dollar. She was really surprised and grateful. It made me feel good...much better than when I have to tip a surly delivery driver.

On the bright side...

I've been kicking ass financially. I paid off a medical bill in full this week, and cut another one in half, ON TOP of all my monthly bills. I'm hoping to pay off two more debts in the next few weeks.

And I have some money to go to the spa on Saturday with Kortney, Keene, and Sean. FUN!

November 19, 2010

Speaking of kids knowing too much

Last week, on the drive to school, I busted Maia showing a note she had written to Kayden.

It said, "Kayden is fucking shit."

She later claimed to have learned them from being around a douchey guy at a BBQ a few months ago. The one who wouldn't stop swearing.

However, I'm betting all kids are born knowing bad words.

November 12, 2010

Felted Flowers and Pee-Dotted Toilets

PSA: If you haven't been by the Bitter o'Clock Facebook page yet, I recommend you run over there. Today. Hint, hint.

Moving on, lately I have been dabbling in felt. I know that sounds kind of dirty, but it's not. It started with a custom order for a little pink hat. I was stuck on whether to do a stripe or a crocheted flower. Then I noticed a pile of felt on my desk which I had bought over a year ago with the intention of making a flower bouquet.

I quickly cut out flowers, layering and layering until I was satisfied. See, that's the part where felt has the one-up on crochet: if you layer and layer on crocheted flowers, you wind up with something that looks like it belongs in the Amazon. And something that just might eat you if you stand too close.

Felt, on the other hand, is meant to be layered. That is its reason for being. Every time you don't layer felt, a fairy dies. No, I'm sorry, that's not true. But just trust me, you have to layer.

Anyhow, this was the end result of that custom order:



(Note the fleece lining. Kudos to Keene for that one.)

I loved it. I loved it so much I wanted to marry it. And have little felt flower babies with it. And ultimately divorce it when a newer hat happens by. But alas, I had to say goodbye and send it off to the customer.

...and start on a new line of felty hats.




Soon, I discovered with annoyance that crocheting a hat takes much longer than making felt flowers. So I stopped making hats and just made flowers.


And more flowers.


And...toilets.


November 9, 2010

Kayden Turns Ten and Other Chaos Ensues

Last Saturday, we held Kayden's 10th Annual Birthday Celebration (also known as a sleepover). We started off by making the birthday boy clean.



(No, really, he wanted to...)

Then he had to frost his own cake:


Then he had to buy his own birthday present:


Okay, not really. I got it for him because I am, as proven in a recent study, the best mom ever.

I tried my hand at cake-decorating for the second year in a row. While I worked for several hours on the cake last year, knowing that it would only be viewed by kids this year, I spent maybe 20 minutes on it:



Then Keene spent another five, working on the gun and words:


Even so, the cake was quickly overshadowed by the ice cream sundae buffet we had set up. Since the majority of guests were around 10 years old and, therefore, thought party games were stupid, we decided to just pump them full of sugar and see what happened.

If you don't know what an ice cream sundae buffet looks like, allow me to show you the light: several varieties of ice cream and syrups, with toppings including whipped cream, crushed cookies, cherries, candies, sprinkles, and whatever else might be delicious on ice cream.

I know, right? The kids still talk about it every night.



So, what does one do with a group of hyper pre-teen boys? Why, you lock them in a room, of course.


While the boys screamed and wrestled and monkeyed around in the apartment complex's theater, Keene and I sat outside the door, wishing we weren't so cool and had just forced the boys to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

To pass the time, though, I murdered Keene in Scrabble.


Murdered, I tell you.


After five-hundred hours had passed, we finally trooped back home for (the adults') bedtime.

The next morning, I walked into the living room to see bodies strewn everywhere:


It was a brutal scene.


Clearly, these boys showed no mercy to their fallen brothers.


On Monday morning, while dropping the kids off at school, a fellow parent (who I didn't even know) said, "I heard you had a wild night on Saturday!"

My friend, this is how bad reputations start out.

November 8, 2010

So, a drummer and a bassist walk into a hip-hop club...

It's been about a month since Keene and Mike made their foray into the world of hip-hop, playing backup to the talented rapper, Time. And it's also been about a month since I said videos were forthcoming. It's also been about a month since I cleaned my room, but that's not pertinent to this story.

During that month, the Keene/Mike duo have played several shows around town. More importantly, though, they have begun recording these shows.

To start, this is one of my favorites, with the keys (played by AwareNess) reminding me of Matisyahu's catchy "Thunder".



What I find the most interesting about the next video is in the first twenty seconds when Time and Keene chat while the latter is playing the opening riff.



See, this doesn't happen at home. Keene, compulsively unable to multi-task, will give me the blankest of stares if I try to talk to him while he is practicing.

"Keene! The kitchen is on fire!" I might shout on any given weeknight.

To which he will reply:


Then maybe five minutes later, he'll shake out of his stupor, look to where we have all stopped-dropped-and-rolled, then say, "So, the house is on fire, huh?"



Head over to Keene's YouTube page if you want to watch more videos of their performances.

As a special treat (what am I? A salesguy now?), there are some clips of Extra Kool playing at one of their shows. This is my personal favorite.

November 5, 2010

Dating in the Same Industry: is it a Relationship Dealbreaker?

Though it sounds similar, dating someone at your work (as discussed on True Love Direct) can be very different from dating someone who works in the same industry. For example, politicians Bill and Hilary Clinton, writers Stephen and Tabitha King, artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, or actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner may have never worked in the same office, co-wrote a book, shared a canvas, or acted in the same movie (respectively). However, they have traveled in the same circles, experienced the similar troubles, and strived to accomplish somewhat identical goals as the other.

Finding love within your field of work is very common since you are more likely to bump into one another and because you have built-in shared interests (not only the career itself, but the traits that go along with it, like creativity, debate, expression, etc.). Also, knowing the complications and processes which accompany a particular position, that person is bound to be more sympathetic and able to better understand your project or plight.

However, there are downsides to dating a fellow writer, lawyer, actor, or anyone else who shares your title. To start, could there be a conflict of interest? If you find yourselves representing opposing clients or contesting for the same project, that competition can extend to your personal relationship. You may even be tempted use your intimate knowledge or position as a way to sabotage their chances from within (such as casually extracting private details about the project and, in turn, sharing them with your boss).

Another downside is that you are bound to know the same people, maybe even share the same friends. “Wait, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing,” you may be saying. Let me tell you, though, when it turns out your coworker is actually your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend or your best guy-friend was once punched by him in a drunken brawl, well, you can see where interacting with the same people can be a bad thing. Industry gossip can fly faster than a Boeing, and you may find yourselves caught up in it. Yet even if there were never any drama between the various parties, it can still be frustrating to “share” friends.

Finally, how would your relationship endure the success of one or the failure of another partner? One person is bound to earn more, gain more recognition, or achieve a higher position than the other. Would you be able to set aside your own feelings of hurt or rejection in order to praise your partner for his good work? Moreover, would you be willing to take a professional hit, if it meant that your partner would come out on top? Unfortunately, this kind of decision does occasionally surface and, when it does, it will be up to you to decide how your relationship will fare.

November 1, 2010

The Significance of Markings on Lenox China

(Reposted from Lenox-China.net)

It is believed that the first china markings were done by Meissen Royal Manufactory in the eighteenth century. The king of Saxony, Augustus Rex (also known as Augustus the Strong), commissioned the first production of hard-paste porcelain in Europe. Meissen painted an “AR” on the pieces, in honor of the king. Shortly thereafter, the company began using the famous crossed swords mark, which is still in use today.

Markings are often located on the bottom of a piece, and usually include (depending on the age of the item) a pattern name, a product number, the year of its creation, company name, retailer, and/or brand name. To make life even more confusing for the identifier, sometimes a piece will have both the name of the factory which produced the piece, as well as another mark signifying the decorator.

There are clues to identifying the age of a piece right away, based on the emerging laws and standards of certain time periods. For example, if an English piece has the name of the pattern printed, it was created after 1810. If the word “Royal” appears, the piece was made after 1850. If you see the word (or associated abbreviations) “Limited,” the piece was created after 1861, while the words “Trade Mark” tell you the piece was created after the Act of 1862. Similarly, the letters “R N” signify a date of creation after 1883. If the words, “bone china” are included, the piece was made in the twentieth century (or later).

Lenox has made it fairly easy to identify the age of its china. The first pieces were stamped with “Ceramic Art Company” or “Lenox Belleek,” depending on the style. In 1906, the stamp was changed to a green wreath surrounding the letter “L,” with the name Lenox below it. (Nevertheless, even if the company name is missing, it is still authentic if it has the wreath logo.) In 1930, the phrase “Made in U.S.A.” was included. This stamp remained the standard backstamp until 1953, when the wreath’s color was changed to gold.

Another way of identifying Lenox china is by the date code. If there is not a pattern name, look for a series of letters and numbers either on the bottom or on the rim of a piece. The first set of numbers before the slash describes the piece’s shape. Next, you will find a letter and a number (and sometimes, a second letter), which makes up the date code. If you find a date code but no pattern name, the piece was likely created before 1950—the year when Lenox quit using the date code system. After the date code, you should see a string of letters which correspond to a piece’s pattern colors.

With this gathered information, you can look up the maker, pattern, year, and/or value of your piece on the Lenox website, in an encyclopedia of china marks, through a replacement company, or by taking the piece to an appraiser or antique shop.

October 31, 2010

Grease is the word.

Maia insisted on being Sandy from Grease. However, she wanted to be Bad Sandy. At six years old, we weren't about to let her strut around in heels and black spandex. So we compromised with Good Sandy:



Also, Maia has recently declared her love for Danny Zuko. We can't break it to her that he is now old and a Scientologist.

Kayden dressed up as a child that doesn't celebrate Halloween. He and I watched a movie and drank root beer floats while Maia and Keene T-or-Ted. Then it was time for admittedly late-in-the-season pumpkin carving...


and the annual pumpkin seed shoot-out.



October 29, 2010

The Weighty Issues of a Relationship: When Your Partner Becomes Less Attractive to You

I realize that by posting an Adorable Relationship Photo on this article, I'm implying that one of us is unhappy with another's appearance. I can ensure you that this is not true. I am very happy with Keene's physical appearance even if he occasionally shaves his head and I want to throw coffee in his face. And he is extremely happy with my appearance, because if he weren't, I would throw coffee in his face. (Really? I was being paid to give relationship advice?)


(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

While your partner’s appearance is likely not the top (or even tenth) reason you love him or her, it is still of some importance. Physical attraction can ensure your sex life stays exciting and it can keep you feeling appreciative of one another. In an ideal world, we would look as fresh-faced and fit as we did at the beginning of a relationship, regardless of the passing years. Yet as time goes by, weight will be gained, hair will be lost, wrinkles will appear, breasts will sag (especially with the possible introduction of those little gremlins we call children). While you don’t consider yourself to be superficial, these things may still bother you.

To be fair, are these changes in your partner something that can reasonably be fixed? If surgery or expensive treatments are the only way to correct a problem, you are likely being unreasonable. However, if the problem is that your partner’s weight has begun to rise drastically or she is actively doing something which affects her appearance (such as excessively tanning, not showering, or dressing differently), you might possibly have some sway in making a positive change. Simple suggestions like, “Remember how you used to wear your hair curly? I really liked that” or “I think you would look just as good with pale skin as you do with orange, streaky skin” can be subtle, yet complimentary hints.

Weight issues can be trickier, especially with women. Many women will go from fine to hysterically and inconsolably crying at the mere suggestion of diet and exercise. Rather, take up hiking, bicycling or another physical hobby and ask if she would join you. Don’t pressure her, though, or she will see through your ploy. That being said, do not take up this hobby for the sole purpose of tricking her into slimming down. Do it for yourself, for your own health, and as a way to share something fun together.

As a last resort (and oh, how I emphasize that), gently point out that you have noticed a change in grooming or eating habits. Point out that you will love your partner no matter what, but you are starting to worry about what may be effecting these changes.

Nevertheless, the change that needs to take place may be your attitude. He may have decided that he wants to grow his hair long. She may feel the extra pounds accentuate her curves. People will change as they age. Love the person because of these changes, not in spite of them. Finally, cut your partner some slack; remember, you are no Dorian Gray yourself.

October 28, 2010

Maia is getting glasses tonight.

We went to the store last night to pick them out. At first, she pulled out some bright purple frames. They looked cute. I saw a pair of dark red Ralph Lauren frames (this is important later). I said, "If I were getting glasses, I would get these. But they're not really for kids, huh?" After maybe a half-hour of trying on pairs, she opted for the RL frames because: 1) they make her look like 8 years old, 2) Because they say "Ralph Lauren" on the lens.

So basically, she went for the pair that would make her look fancy and older.

They do look very cute on her, though.



October 27, 2010

October 25, 2010

How to Play the Cello with a Child's Head...and Other How-Tos

Step 1: Place bow in child's mouth (the wooden part, not the horse-hair part...I imagine that end wouldn't taste very good). This only works if you have a child who does not worry about germs or toxins.


Step 2: Lift the child up. With his/her legs wrapped around your waist and while holding the arms, drop the child upside down.


Note: this position (sans bow) is also a good way to chase cats around the house:


Step 3: Holding the child steady (which will be difficult as the child is oftentimes very squirmy), line the bow up to the cello, and swing the child back and forth.


It may take quite a bit of practice, but over time, you too can become a master child-head-cellist.

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How to Scare Your Friend at the Thrift Store

Last Saturday, Kort and I went thrift-shopping, a very brave activity indeed. More than that, it was a half-off day. Half-off day at the thrift store means that you can't find a cart, you can't easily find good wares, and many times, you can't even find your friend through the pushing crowds.

On this day, we meandered along the shoe aisle, oblivious to the people trying to rush past us. Suddenly, I looked down and saw this pair:


I gasped and picked up the boots.

"Kortney! Oh my god! Look!"

She looked at the boots, then back at me, a horrified expression on her face.

"I had these boots when I was a teenager! I was so in love with them!"

No sound from Kort, just the same should-I-say-something-or-keep-quiet look.

I went on: "When I was 14, I saw this pair of boots at a store in Las Vegas. I really, really wanted them, but didn't get them. A few weeks later, it was my birthday--Oh stop, Kortney. I'm not buying them. I'm reminiscing. Listen to my story."

She exhaled and said, "Ohthankgod. Yes, please continue with your story."

"Okay, so, my mom had surprised me by ordering the shoes from the store in Las Vegas. I only got rid of them years later, when I moved out to Colorado. Do you think this is the same pair?!"

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How to Ensure Your Boyfriend Never Pours Water on You Again

There are three things anyone who is planning to live with me should know:

1. I never know when enough is enough.
2. I never say die.
3. I am the queen of in-home water-fights.

See, here's where I have the leg-up in a water-fight. Most of the stuff I own is cheap. Inexpensive, you know. I pride myself in not valuing possessions more than experiences. Things are dispensable, fun is not.

So if put into a situation where everything around me may be at risk of water damage, I only think of the win. Apparently, Keene did not know this when he poured water on me after dinner.

But let's back it up to when he really started it. While laying on the floor, he randomly squirt me with the bottle we use on the cats when they're being bad or boring. Out of the blue. And when I filled the cats' water dish, he squirted me again. Unprovoked. That is important to keep in mind as you read what happened next.

Calmly, I filled a cup with water, grabbed a car title off of the fridge, using as my shield, then poured the water over Keene's reclining body (well, face, but whatever...who starts a water-fight while laying down, anyways?). He jumped up, sputtering and coughing. I then tried to call a truce. Oh no, he grabbed the squirt bottle and ran into the bedroom. I waited with a second full cup of water, standing outside the bedroom door. He opened the door a bit and caught another faceful of water. He slammed the door and locked it. I waited patiently outside the room.

Suddenly, I heard the front door being unlocked. Apparently, he had snuck out the bedroom using the back door, run around the apartment building, and was planning to creep in through the front entrance. I ran to the kitchen, refilled the water, and greeted him at the front door with a third cupful of water in the face. Finally, he called a truce.

Until he randomly poured a cup of water on me at dinnertime. But don't worry: he caught a fourth cup of water before the night was out. The walls were covered with water, the neighbor's front door had a large puddle at the bottom of it, our bed was dripping, Kayden's art project learned a new meaning to the word "watercolor" (as had our refridgerator door upon which it was hanging).

Nevertheless, I won and that's all that mattered.