Friday, May 31, 2013

Bag Count: 87

I... think I have a problem. A package arrived at our house, and I took one look at those little air pouches that they used to cushion the contents and thought, “I could use those!”
Anyone would have done the same in my place.
So I’ve arrived at the point that it’s time to stop before I don’t recognize that I’m doing these things and start cutting apart anything plastic to crochet it into a bag.
Besides, I’ve got enough plastic bags to last me for several more of these projects. It’s not like I need to look for more. And the only reason the back porch (where I keep the bags) hasn’t overflowed with bags yet is because I’ve been turning down people who ask, “Do you want my plastic bag collection?”
 I really don't need any more bags.
I’ve hardly worked on Bag the Bag this week, because I don’t have materials for it. I’m still not going to walk into Wal Mart just to get bags to finish this thing. I’ll wait for another couple of weeks, and if nothing happens on the white and blue bag front, I’ll go ahead and finish the handles with a different kind of bag... but it won’t look as pretty that way... and that will make me sad.
This is getting difficult to take pictures of.
Meanwhile, I’m zipping along in Bag the Bag Part 2: the Electric Boogaloo. I’ve only really added 4 more bags, but the last one is taking forever. Normally, one regular sized grocery bag will add one row to the project. The bag I’ve been using, however, is now on its fourth row, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. I was really excited to add this bag to the project, since it’s purple on one side and a dark orange/copper color on the other. But when I originally cut it up, I didn’t think about how thick it is (you need a thick bag when you’re transporting tea products, you don’t want it to accidentally break and smash up your brand new fancy cup). As a result, I ended up slicing it not once, not twice, but three times to make it thin enough to work with. So maybe next week I’ll be back to normal style bags again, but who knows how tall it will be by then.
Bonus: Bag the Bag Part 2: the Electric Boogaloo Bag Count: 38...ish. 

Bag Count: 87

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday in History: Unique and Important

One thing that irritates me about the present study of history is that there are a lot of controversial things that are important to us at the moment, and as a result, we want to give them validation by showing everyone else that they were also important in the past. Just to clarify, I think that the things that we care about today are important, but the thing that I think is silly is searching through the past to validate our beliefs that they were important then as well.
Today’s “important stuff” might have been around in the past, and it might not. One thing that you have to realize about looking through history to find a champion for your important cause is that the culture is not the same as it is now. That is, things that are important now were probably not important then. That’s what is wonderful about studying history: things were different, and that’s what makes them interesting.
There are lots of women who stand out in a history full of men: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Dowager Cixi of China’s Qing Dynasty, and Rosa Parks are just a few. They are interesting because they didn’t behave the way their culture would have had them behave.
On this day in history in 1431, a woman who had defied many cultural norms was burned at the stake for her actions. She was nineteen years old.
England and France had been at each others throats for what seemed like forever. The conflict they were engaged in in 1431 is called the Hundred Years’ War, though it actually lasted about 116 years.
Jeanne claimed that she began having visions from God when she was 12, and though there were few in her hometown who believed her, the important thing was that she believed, and was able to inspire belief in others. She was turned away by Count Robert de Baudricourt when she went to him at age 16 and requested an audience with the King, but after she correctly predicted the outcome of a battle at Orleans, he made sure she got what she wanted.
Jeanne d'Arc, from a 1505 manuscript
via wikipedia
The French weren’t doing well at this point in the war, and some historians suggest that the reason Jeanne was put in charge of the army was because the French had tried everything else, so what could it hurt letting a girl lead their armies, especially if it was one who insisted that God was directing her actions?
The result was that she was effective. She probably would have made a major impact on morale even if the French hadn’t started winning, but they did. Her success “effectively turned the longstanding Anglo-French conflict into a religious war.”1 This religious element aided the pro-British bishop who sentenced her to death. Instead of having her killed for merely helping the French to win, he was able to find her guilty of heresy because of her claims that God was guiding her.
Women are important. You don’t have to dig through history and present your findings for that to be true. Joan of Arc gave her life for her country and her beliefs. She made such an impact that today, almost six hundred years later, we are still commemorating her uniqueness.

1 Vale, M.G.A. Charles VII. 1974, pg 55.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sunny With a High of 75

Why is it that I can’t wake up on rainy days? Is it because my body thinks that because it’s not as bright out as usual, that it’s still night and therefore still time for sleep? The light of the sun must somehow stimulate me to action, and since it can’t reach me because of the clouds, the actions that I would normally be taking get buried under the covers.
I love rainy weather, but it’s not the best for getting me out of bed and working. The most it inspires in me is to get outside and dance in the rain.
I wonder why I function better in the morning when it’s sunny with a high of 75.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Land of Foodchantment

If you’ve never traveled to the Land of Enchantment, you should. They have gorgeous scenery, hot air balloons, and delicious cuisine. I’m talking, of course, about New Mexico: the Land of Enchantment.
All states have those little nicknames. You know, like “Nebraska: The Good Life,” “Washington: the Evergreen State,” and “Vermont: the first place I suggest where someone who is not currently present could be.”
The way that we Americans preserve the memory of places we immigrated from is by naming our new homes after old ones: New York, New Jersey, New Mexico. The difference between the first two and the third is that the former states are nowhere near their namesakes, while in the case of the latter, just on the other side of the southern border sits the country for which it was named.
So what’s the difference between York and New York, and Jersey and New Jersey? Well, the obvious, of course, would be that the “New” versions are all stars in America’s flag while the originals are counties in England. They are separated by an entire ocean, and while I’m sure you could find similar characteristics, they are most likely nothing alike, aside from their names.
What about Mexico and New Mexico? Because of their proximity, they share the same breathtaking landscape, weather and temperature patterns, and culinary tendencies. There isn’t much to separate them land and climate wise, so the big difference comes in the style of sustenance. And the main difference between Mexican food and New Mexican food? Green chilies.
Photo taken by Cindy Petrehn at the 2012
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
I’m not joking. If you go to Taco Bell, you can order a burrito. If you go to Taco Bell in Albuquerque, there will most likely be green chilies on it. New Mexicans put green chili in everything. Places it belongs, like breakfast burritos at Dos Hermanos, to places that you wouldn’t expect to find it but you’re glad you did, like in bagels at Einstein Brothers or as a topping on pizza at Dion’s.
The fact that the entire world does not have an appropriate amount of green chilies in its food is a travesty. It is the second best thing about visiting the Land of Enchantment (the best thing being that my husband’s awesome family lives there), and one of the greatest things about marrying into a family of New Mexicans.
And when you marry into a family that loves NM cuisine, there is a lifetime of green chilies ahead of you. Like this dip that my husband makes that has only garlic, sour cream, and green chilies in it, and it’s sooooo delicious...
I highly recommend a visit to New Mexico. Come for the fun and the sun, stay for the food. Just don’t forget that the green chili dip is usually spicier the next day.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Today is a day to stop and remember all those who have gone before us. To remember their lives and how they lived them, and to thank them for the impact they had on us.
It’s also a wonderful day to rest and think about the great things you have in your life. Like family, friends, and a newly varnished dining room floor.
If you work hard every other day of the year, it’s nice to have a break once in a while to enjoy life and maybe have a nap.
Enjoy today. Go for a walk. Take a nap. And remember that there are many people who make sure that you can live the way you do, and be thankful for them.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bag Count: 86

Bag the Bag is still coming along... slowly. The progress is less easy to see now, since I’ve stopped working on the bag part and am now focusing on the handles.
To make the handles stronger, I had planned on putting one handle on the outside of the bag and one on the inside, and then stitching them together. It’s probably overly complicated, but I hope it will keep the handle from randomly splitting and spilling all the stuff I’ve purchased all over the parking lot.
The reason it’s going so slowly is that I’m out of bags (again). It takes about seven bags to make the handle long enough, so I used up my “breezefall” of last week pretty quickly. I’ve also taken to using any white and blue bag that seems compatible. I already stuck one generic white bag with blue writing in the middle of the bag, and one white Hy Vee bag with blue and black writing on one of the inside handles. The blue writing on the white Culver’s bag we got yesterday at lunch will work okay, and it’s nice and big, so it should hopefully cover some extra ground.

Bag the Bag Part 2: The Electric Boogaloo, on the other hand, is zooming along. Since I’m deficient on materials for Bag the Bag and materials for Part 2: The Electric Boogaloo are abundant, I can work on it as much as I want. And my awesome mother is always looking out for interesting bags for me to use, so I’ll never run out of supplies for it.
Bonus: Bag the Bag Part 2: The Electric Boogaloo Bag Count: 34

Bag Count: 86

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday in History: One Man Band

On this day in history in 1829, Cyrill Demian received a patent in Vienna for his version of an instrument that needed no accompaniment: the accordion.
Finnish band Korpiklaani rocking out with their accordionist
image by Metal Mind Productions
Though some may think that it sounds old fashioned, the accordion is still used today in many parts of the world and in many different genres, most often in folk music. Folk mixed with heavy metal is surprisingly popular in several places, and many folk metal bands hire full time accordionists to perform with them.
We aren’t huge fans of the accordion in America (except for my awesome Grandma, who listens to nothing but old-school polka), but there is one man who makes us love the accordion.
Today is a great day in history for fans of Weird Al Yankovic.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Exponentially Insane

I found this image on a math
, but there was nothing
there about rabbits or dust.

Do you remember learning about exponents in school? They usually start by talking about rabbits. You have two rabbits and they love each other very much and pretty soon there are more rabbits. Those rabbits love each other too and before you know it your rabbit hutch is crowded to overflowing.
Exponents are great for rabbits and investment portfolios, but not so much when you’re trying to get your house spotless for guests. Exponential growth of household tasks is not my favorite.
I guess it would be easier to ignore it; it’s not like there’s going to be an inspection. “What? You didn’t scour the top of your refrigerator?! Come on, honey, we’re leaving.”
I recognize that there are a lot of things that I want to make sure are clean, and maybe even a couple that I’ll forget about. But every time I get something done (or start to work on something, or get halfway done cleaning something), it seems like I spot something else that absolutely needs to be scrubbed, mopped, or dusted. “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?” I scream at myself in my head. “I DO HOUSEHOLD CHORES EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! WHY ARE THERE SO MANY NOW?” It drives me crazy.
But you know the old saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
If you’ll pardon me, I have to get back to going exponentially insane.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The button on my shorts fell off.
What do normal people do in this situation? I grabbed my sewing kit and lashed that sucker back on. It’s not pretty, but it’ll hold forever, or at least for a good while. And if it falls off again, I’ll still have the skills necessary to tack it back where it goes again.
Does an average person know how to reattach a button? My mom made sure I learned. I was in 4H as a kid, and while I don’t remember entering anything I had expertly stitched into any contests, the fact remains that I am able to mend clothing today.
Are tailors still in business for this sort of thing? Obviously no one has servants anymore to complete these types of tasks. Do people throw away perfectly good clothing when it tears or wears a hole through the knee or pops a button? Or does everyone in the world still know how to sew and patch their clothing, and we just never talk about it?
If nobody knows how to replace a button, then why do companies still sell shirts with
extra buttons? (image and interesting discussion found at
If you don’t know how, come on over to my place and I’ll fix your stuff for you. And I’ll teach you how to do it yourself.
But it’ll be up to you to thank my mom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

High Maintenance

Have you ever seen When Harry Met Sally? Aside from being wonderfully hilarious and adorably romantic, it has quite a few observations about human nature that everyone knows about but doesn’t talk about too often. For instance, there’s a scene about people who are laid back and those who are perfectionists.
"I just want it the way I want it."
image from
“Which one am I?” the female protagonist asks.
“You’re high maintenance, but you think you’re low maintenance,” the male lead replies.
“I don’t see that,” she says, frowning.
“Oh, really? ‘Waiter, I’ll have...’” he begins, and recalls her order at a restaurant in perfect detail, down to exactly what she wanted on the side. “‘On the side’ is a very big thing for you,” he tells her.
“Well, I just want it the way I want it,” she says.
“Exactly,” he points out. “High maintenance.”
It’s okay to be high maintenance. Somebody has to be. The important thing is to recognize it and make sure that it doesn’t take over your life. Acknowledging it helps. For instance, my husband knows that the best way to help in the kitchen is to put all the dishes in the sink so that I can put them in the dishwasher, and I don’t try to “clean” the organized mess on his desk.
I’m at my worst when it comes to haircuts. My mom makes fun of me because once (once) after explaining what I thought I wanted to a stylist, I made her cut it shorter again... twice.
I also have the (apparently) unreasonable desire for my hair to be low maintenace. I may be the only female human in North America who does not own a hair dryer or any hair styling product of any kind. I wash my hair, brush it out when I get out of the shower, and flip it around until it dries. If it doesn’t look okay like that, I put it up. I’ve never put tons of time into making my hair look perfect. My hair and I have an agreement: it looks (what I consider) nice, and I leave it to its own devices.
The reason I get squirrely about haircuts is because I have put myself in the hands of a stylist many times before, and once (once) it turned out horribly and I had to live with a bad haircut until it grew out and I could cover up the fact that I had looked ridiculous for several months. I always set out to try a different hairstyle and then end up with basically the same one I had before, only shorter. Which is acceptable, since it’s something I like and it doesn’t look horrible.
I also apologize to stylists a lot. “I’m sorry, I’m high maintenance, and I don’t know exactly what I want, but...” I do know what I want to end up with: a haircut that looks cute and doesn’t give me haircut regrets for months.
I just want it the way I want it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bag Count: 80

The universe sent me a breeze this week. I wouldn’t exactly call it a windfall, since there were only a few bags & my friend had already been planning to give them to me, but either way I got to work on Bag the Bag a bit more this week.
I found out that I can get quite a bit done if I ignore the computer. This is true of many things, however. I can get a ton done on my projects if I ignore not only my computer but also basic household tasks, such as laundry and taking the recycling out to the garage.
Almost done!
Now I have to go fold some towels.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday in History: Opportunity

America is the land of opportunity. People traveled thousands of miles across an ocean to reach it, and if it wasn’t the opportunity that they wanted, they packed up and traveled another thousand miles or so to the West (these were the days when Ohio was considered “the wild west”). If the West wasn’t what they wanted, they had thousands more miles ahead of them to find an opportunity that suited them.
The reason we call America the Land of Opportunity is because, for the first time in history, people were moving across oceans and landmasses not because they had to, but because they wanted to. They were struggling through hardships and enduring adversity not merely to survive, but to strive for a better life for their families.
If you were in school in America after 1974, you know about the Oregon Trail. Not necessarily because you had an awesome history teacher, but because of a video game.
There are tons of these screenshots all over the
internet. This particular one comes from vizzed.
When I was a kid, playing The Oregon Trail at school was more about naming the party members after your friends and then laughing at whichever one of them got dysentery, but it didn’t change the fact that I was learning. I learned that the Oregon Trail started in Independence, Missouri and forded the Kansas River, the Big Blue River, the Snake River, and a couple others. I learned that many caravans stopped to rest along the way at Fort Kearny, Fort Boise, and Fort Walla Walla.
It wasn’t a riveting game, but it did teach the player about the hardships that travelers had to struggle through. They had to worry about food, about the health of both people and animals, about the wear and tear that their equipment and clothing had to endure, and about the miles they had to travel and the dangers they would encounter on their way. Plus, it had some fun mini-games.
The best part (aside from learning history while having fun) is that you can still celebrate this day in history, May 16th, 1846, when the first major wagon train left Independence to brave the trials on the Oregon Trail. You can do that by downloading the revamped Oregon Trail game app (2012 version) to your phone and reliving your days in Mrs. Roth’s classroom when you crowded around the old computer in the corner of the room and watched Darin navigate the wagon down the river. If you don’t have a fancy phone, there’s always the 2009 flash game on Kongregate. If neither of those things appeal to you, you could always attempt to make your very own version.
After all, America is the land of opportunity.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Anything but "Fluffy"

My brother got a cat.
First order of business: a name. We brainstormed to try to come up with something awesome. Something musical would have been nice, like “Meowdnight Sonata” or “Treble Cat.” We considered normal human names such as “Pawl.” I proposed using an everyday word as a name, in the style of the most awesome cat name I’ve ever heard: “Haircut.”
Finally, we narrowed it down to three: Socrates (or Socks, for short), The Cheat, and Jacuzzi (Jack for short; which also has the added bonus of telling people you have a jacuzzi back at your place).
All the “Socks” talk reminded me of a book I’d read as a kid, which was a collection of letters written to President Clinton’s family cat, Socks. I recalled this to my husband and brother, and they looked at me, wondering what relevance this could have to the subject at hand.
“What does that have to do with a name for my cat?” my brother asked me.
“Nothing,” I answered, still trying to recall the contents of one of the pages written to the Presidential feline. “Although when you think about it, people have always loved talking to and looking at pictures of famous cats. It kind of explains the internet.”
I continued to ponder while my brother was still in a state of slight confusion, until my husband said something sweet and romantic like, “Don’t listen to her, she’s crazy.”
In the end, I think we settled on a combination of everything. That way my brother can tell his friend that he named his cat after him, “Coda” (with a K instead of a C) covers the musical portion, and he can send his pet out to steal him fresh jam.
Mmm. Fresh jam.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Days

Every mother enjoys a holiday to celebrate their hard work. They appreciate being reminded that they are appreciated. They like handmade cards, and try to have a good time while eating breakfast in bed, even knowing that the mess in the kitchen will still be there for them to clean up when they’re finished.
But the best part about Mother’s Day is that it’s not just one day.
Every time I hear my daughters laugh when they’re playing together, or make them giggle by chasing them around the house and tickling them, I am reminded that being a mother is great. Every time my kids clean up their toys without being asked, or ask for something politely without being prompted, I am proud to be a mom. And every time my kids tell me they love me or do something nice just for me, I feel like the luckiest mommy on earth.
Having a holiday is nice, but to me, every day is Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Being able to hang out with good friends makes me want to sing.
Congratulations to two of my wonderful friends on starting their new life together (and for proving to everyone that a wedding reception doesn’t have to have tons of alcohol or last until 5 AM to be totally awesome)!!
The best part about a wedding (aside from the obvious joining of lives, and cake) is being able to hang out with everyone else who has come to wish the couple well. If it’s a family wedding, you get to see family members who live far away. If it’s a friend’s wedding, not only do you get to hang out with old friends, you get to meet new ones! And friends, I think we can all agree, are awesome.
Besides, my friends are the only ones who who think my impressions are hilarious. “Motorcycles!”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bag Count: 70

When I began Bag the Bag, I was worried about what to do for the handles. I’m currently working on the handles, and I’m still worried. I’m worried they won’t be strong enough, mostly. This thing is made of chopped up plastic grocery bags, after all.
Since my concern that I’m going to screw this thing up continues, I haven’t been working super hard on it this week. I’ve also been distracted by Bag the Bag Part 2: The Electric Boogaloo.
I started The Electric Boogaloo because I didn’t want that awkward phase between two projects that you get when you finish one and still want to be working but don’t know what to start next. Unfortunately, I ended up with that awkward moment when you’re working on two projects at once and for whatever reason you feel like working more on your secondary project than your primary one.
Who wouldn't love that face?
The other reason I’m not working as fast as I can on Bag the Bag is because I’ve only got three white and blue bags left. The last time I ran out, I received a windfall of about forty more, so I’m kind of slowing down to see if that kind of thing feels like happening again. I could use about twenty more, Universe. Not too many, not too few. I don’t want to walk into Walmart and ask a checker for bags so that I can recycle them (because that would be ridiculous) (on top of my already ridiculous project) (it would just be too much ridiculous to handle at once). The Universe has my order for gently used plastic Walmart bags, so who knows what could happen.
I guess I could take apart the handle as it is now, save those seven bags for trimming, and use a completely different kind of bag for the handles. My main goal with Bag the Bag is that I wanted it to be cohesive, and maybe even pretty.  I’ve come this far with it all the same color, and I’d like to keep it that way. The Electric Boogaloo can look like I went dumpster diving to save the earth in order to make it, and I want it to look that way.

Bag count: 70