Friday, July 25, 2014

Project Runway

I was really excited this morning when I saw a favorite TV show of mine in our DVR list!  Project Runway returned last night!  I love Project Runway mostly because it just fascinates me that people out there are not only so good at sewing clothes but that they can come up with these clothes in hours and without patterns.  In fact, pattern making and sewing books are not allowed on the show.  How is this possible?  It intrigues me because, even though I know how to sew, it is a whole other level of creativity.  And of course, I enjoy the drama between the competing designers as they prepare for each runway show and the inevitable meltdowns and fights. 

I did my own clothing related project yesterday. Yes, another project. I'm on a roll!   A few days ago I went Old Navy and was scrounging the clearance racks (is there any other racks?) and found a white strapless eyelet maxi dress for dirt cheap with a stack of orange tags over the regular price. 

This is the dress (not on my body). 

Now, a floor length eyelet strapless dress with a tiered skirt is a bit overly feminine for my usual style but I also enjoy a dose of eyelet for summer and a white skirt seemed like a versatile item to have so I bought the dress and decided that I would probably just cut the bodice off and make it into a skirt. 
My sister and I have a lot of experience with altering clearance rack clothes in minor ways to meet our needs.  We have sewn seams up the sides of too wide button down shirts and strapless dresses, hemmed skirts and shorts and even shortened swimming suit straps.  So this seemed like an easy project. 
It turned out that sewing a seam around the top of this skirt made it hard to slip on because the non-stretchy thread was constricting the elastic so I ended up just cutting close to the elastic and leaving it with a raw edge.  No one will ever see the waist band anyway! 

Now I just have to go somewhere besides the Y and Target to show it off! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014


One thing (but not the only thing) that frustrates me as I find myself living the long but short years of having little kids that are completely dependent on me for everything is that the fun and creative projects I crave have to be moved to the bottom of the list of things I do every day.  I know this time is fleeting and I will, one day, be able to do projects again. And I don't mean that I will be able to do them when my kids are teenagers.  Since my earliest memories my mom was sewing, wallpapering (yes, you read that right) and doing projects with me and my siblings in the house.  And she had three kids in four years so I do believe that when Ben and Tessa get even a few years older and are able to play with each other or at least entertain themselves for longer than a few minutes at a time I will be able to spend more time on things that interest me and not just endless bottle washing and diaper changing. And hopefully I will be able to share the projects with them!  How do you think I became interested in this stuff anyway?  It started from watching my mom I'm sure! Of course, I might have a job or something...but I will worry about that when the time comes!  For now, I feel ecstatic when I accomplish anything above and beyond the standard daily household maintenance.  Or even a small percentage of it. 
So, with that in mind, I present to you a project!  This is it...before...
What is it?  It is a small shelf intended to hold whatever collection or assortment of knick knacks that a person would want to display.  It was built by my great uncle a long time ago.  I don't know when but I'm sure it was the 70's or 80's.  It is a remnant of the past from a time when people really liked to dust.  For the last, oh, twenty years I would guess, it was hanging in my childhood bedroom.  Since the early 2000s it held various souvenir shot glasses.  Before that, it held girlish 1980s and 90s clutter such as Precious Moments and other breakable figurines that I packed away after I went to college because I got sick of spending several days of every long school break clearing off shelves and dusting.   I was close to sending it to my sister's rummage sale when I realized it was decent quality wood and quite solid.  And then my mom told me her uncle built it so I was really glad I saved it. 
After that, it sat in our basement for two months and last weekend I finally decided to do something about it.  I went to Menards and chose paint on a whim and the next day during a glorious shared nap I quickly applied a coat of paint and after a few more coats it was ready to hang!  I hung it in the bathroom by my sink!

I think it looks great.  What bathroom doesn't benefit from a splash of swimming pool blue?  Also, the mini OPI nail polishes, or I guess I should say laquers, look really cute lined up on the top. 
You might think that a woman with that many bottles of nail laquer always has the perfect manicure and pedicure.  You would be wrong.  I do enjoy switching my toe nail colors whenever I get a chance though. 

Here are a few fun pictures from the last few days.  On Monday a violent storm passed through.  We were in a tornado warning but the worst of it was just a few miles North of town.  It got pretty creepy for a few minutes though. 

Although photographs of weather never really do justice to what it really looked like here is a picture of the wall cloud and the dust getting sucked up in a rather tornadic way.  Eeek.  The storm continued to gain strength as it moved across the state and sent a second hand playhouse that we brought to the farm flying across the yard in pieces and sent my dad running for cover in a machine shed as he was outside investigating the clouds. 

Here are a few recent pictures of Tessa in all her cute glory.  I meant to do a post for her 8 month birthday but now she is almost 8.5 months so I will wait for 9. 

She has been a very busy and loud girl lately. Yesterday Justin took Ben on a road trip he had to make to work so Tessa and I had the whole day to ourselves.  We had a great time going to the mall and cleaning.  Seriously, I felt like one very busy 8 month old was the easiest thing in the world to manage.  Here is a picture of Ben "in the field" with Dada!  That water in the background is Lake Sakakawea. 

What a lucky boy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Justin's Debut

Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about how Justin was going to be featured in some promotional materials for his graduate school program?  Well, here are some of the pictures that are actually being used in the flyers!  One is for his company's partnership with the University and one is a general flyer for any interested student. 
See that ring glinting on his hand?  That's right ladies, he's taken!  Don't get any ideas! 

I don't know about you, but suddenly want to sign up for the MBA program! 
Speaking of college, unless you never go into a retail store you have noticed that "back to school" merchandise is front and center again.  I loved back to school shopping as a child, teenager and even as a college student even though mid July seems way to soon to be worrying about it.  "Back to School" shopping time didn't roll around until August in my memory.  Who wants bags of notebooks and folders and pencils laying around their house for six weeks anyway?  Two weeks is long enough. 
Although my school years get farther and farther in the past every year I still yearn for those days when I see back to school crap on sale.  The goods for college and dorm rooms really awaken my nostalgia for the exhuberant and hot first weeks back at school and also my amazement about how much potential I had and how many options.  And now...a moment of silence for my lost youth...  Last week I indulged in the dorm room frenzy by purchasing some organizational containers for my bathroom drawers.  I thought since we have lived here for 11 months that I should finally get those drawers and cupboards the way I want them and not the way I quickly threw them together right after we moved in with the intention of organizing later. 
"Organize later..." If you ever hear me say that about something know that later might never happen!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Progress in the Garage

The previous owners of our house were not "garage workbench" type of people and they didn't have anywhere close to the quantity of crap that we have so since we have moved in to this house the garage has been kind of infuriating and disorganized because there was no storage in there and space is tight. Our old garage was only a one stall but it had extra space on the side so that another car could fit as long as you didn't want to take it out very often and it also had an attic so we packed it full.  There was a full set of 1950's era metal kitchen cupboards down to the corner lazy Susan cabinet for stashing anything and everything 
Even though this one is a double stall and you would think we would have more room now we have less room.  Justin bought some commercial grade shelves right after we moved in and that helped but we had to stack stuff in front of them to fit everything. It was at the level that I preferred to go buy a new item instead of trying to find the old item that I knew was in the garage somewhere.  After Tessa was born we discovered that a box full of my non-maternity pants was lost in there.  Like, we looked in every container several times and didn't find them and they finally showed up the third time.  It's bad. 
This week he finally finished a project he has been planning for months:
He build that workbench and installed some old kitchen cabinets.  It was a complicated ordeal because, since our garage is built into the side of a hill, the back walls are also the cement foundation of the house. 

Now, I think if you know my family and have spend any time my childhood home these cabinets might look familiar!
That's right!  They are from my parent's house!  They date back to 1973, when my grandparents and every other prosperous farmer in America realized they could gut their well built, old, classically designed houses an turn them into 70's monsters!  Stained glass?  Who needs it!  Hard wood pocket doors with ornate woodwork?  Ugly!  And out it came, to be replaced with lime green linoleum, mediocre light colored trim, and windows with fake windowpane inserts. 

These cupboards are in so many snapshots of my family throughout the years.  This fabulous shot of me is on the first day of school which was also a basketball game day.  I think this was probably in the afternoon before I went to get on the bus for the game.  We had to "dress up" on game days and, even though this outfit looks exceedingly casual, I am wearing khaki shorts behind that warm up jersey which qualified as dressed up. Haha...classy lady...those Doc Marten sandals could take any outfit from day to evening!  Also, notice the dish towel thrown over the smoke detector.  That blasted thing would be set off anytime you put a piece of bread anywhere near the toaster.  And if you microwaved a bag of popcorn a few seconds too out!  So it was always covered with a towel.  I'm sure if there had been a fire the smoke would have gotten around the towel anyway...

Here is me and the cabinets after I had my "hair trial" for prom.  As in, I actually went to the salon in town and had a practice style to make sure it was how I wanted it.  This day was not actually prom. Everyone did this.  Whaaaat?  Who did we think we were?  Celebrities?

When I was looking through my scans I found a few from Wyoming that I had to share to tie in with the post from yesterday. 

This is in the living room. That window is the main front window of the house.  Those hardwood floors were discovered under some very nasty pet stained carpet right after we moved in. 

Here we are at Flinstone Village in the Black Hills!

There is our swing set in the back yard!  I was probably at school when this was taken.  Wyoming was a great "play in the snow" state.  It was never frigidly cold so being out in the snow was a possibility most of the winter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to My Past

OK, round two of my South Dakota/Wyoming vacation recap...I know hearing about other people's vacations is always everyone's top priority!  Last week Justin went to visit his company's office in Sheridan, WY, and I went with him.  And we went without Ben and Tessa.  YEEE HAW!  It was fabulous.  I read two books.  TWO BOOKS in three days!!!  I used to do that all the time but not lately.  On Wednesday morning I brought Ben and Tessa to Justin's mom and then returned to Bismarck quickly to pack.  It is during this moment that I spend approximately an hour in our house by myself!  Tee hee hee...I don't think I have ever been in this house by myself. 
This trip was especially interesting to me because we were going to be visiting the land of my early childhood.  When I was in preschool through first grade my family lived in Gillette, WY, and the Black Hills and all of their attractions were a regular vacation destination for us.  The order of our trip was as follows: 
-Sheridan, WY
-Gillette, WY
-Mount Rushmore
-Deadwood, SD
-MN Lakes country and diapers, tantrums and screaming
As we set off on Wednesday afternoon the diapers and tantrums seemed delightfully far away.  We stopped at the Painted Canyon visitor's center in Western ND on the way.  I knew we were truly in Western ND when I saw the signs around the area telling people to clean up after their dogs and their horses if they happened to be riding horses.  There are lots of riding trails around the canyon.

Believe it or not, I can't remember ever stopping at this scenic diversion even though I travel West on I-94 at least once a year if not more.  Usually the trip is in winter, so I guess it wouldn't be as fun in the cold and snow. 
We arrived in Laramie just as the sun was going down but I have to say that the highway that runs between I-94 and I-90 is sure beautiful.  It seems deserted but the farms and fields are lush and green so you know someone is there.  It was almost too dark to see the Big Horn Mountains as they came into view but I knew I could see them in the morning. 
Laramie is a really fun city.  If you imagine what Wyoming might be like this is it! 
Our hotel and Justin's office were on opposite ends of the main street (called Main St.!) and while Justin was at the office I visited every cute boutique and bookstore and coffee shop.  We at lunch on a patio and I drank beer (yeaahhh!) and that afternoon after I got sick of shopping I sat in the hotel room and read for several hours.  I was in heaven.  That night we visited a local brewery and ate at a restaurant and sat at the bar (no need for high chairs or booster seats!). 
The next morning we headed off toward the Black Hills.  On the way, we stopped in Gillette to see the places of my childhood.  We lived their from 1987-1989.  I remember a cozy neighborhood where we walked to the pool and the park and school and that is what we found to still be there. 
I attended Stocktrail Elementary school I found the address when I searched on the Internet for it. It was on the map that Google gave me.  When we were in the neighborhood we drove around in circles trying to find Stocktrail and finally asked some women on coffee break stroll and they informed us that it had been torn down three years ago! 

There it is, the former Stocktrail!  I guess they tore it down because it was old. I don't remember it being that old (even though I know that was like 25 years ago).  I would guess it was from the 1950's or 1960's.  They built a new elementary school at a different location and might build another new one at this location.  The population of Gillette has doubled since we lived there so I guess it is no surprise that the school situation has changed.

Here is a picture of the back yard of our old house from the alley.  That garage was not there back then and the yard seemed much larger without it. We had one of those metal 1980' era A-frame swing sets back there.

There is the front!  I tried to be discreet since I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable with seeing an out of state vehicle with people snapping pictures of random houses through the windows.  It is not a big house but it seemed huge to me as a little kid in elementary school.  My parents did a lot of renovations and finished the basement.  I remember the day we left it for the last time before my family moved overseas and then back to ND and it was really sad.  I rang the doorbell but no one was home.  I wish I could have seen the interior and met them but oh well, another time. 

After leaving Gillette, on the way to Mt. Rushmore, we drove by Crazy Horse and decided to stop for a quick visit. 

I remember being here in the 80s and not really understanding what was going on.  I guess I thought that the white chalk drawings on the side of the mountain were what we were there to see.  This huge carving has a very interesting history dating back to the 1940s that is too long for me to get into now.  If you care you can look it up!  Basically the sculptor started work with nothing but himself and some carving tools and dynamite.  He lived at the base of the mountain and he and his wife raised 10 children there who all were involved with the work.  He has died but the work goes on.  The face was finished in 1998. 

It is taking so long because they refuse government funding and the whole thing has been paid for by private donations.  It really is huge.  That tunnel under the pointing arm is thirty stories high!
We finally arrived at Mt. Rushmore as the skies were clouding up.  I saw it as a little kid just like the rest of the Black Hills attraction but Justin never had.  We walked through the huge pavilion leading to the observation area and started taking pictures. 

After taking a few pictures of the faces and one of me with the faces the camera battery died.  Lovely.  So we found a wall outlet in a staircase and Justin watched the charger while I went to get us ice cream cones.  While I was waiting in line for all the pokey families to rattle off their specific orders (too bad for them having to deal with their little kids! Tee hee...) it started pouring rain outside so Justin had to take cover.  Everyone packed into the indoor food court and gift shop and soon we were ready to get out of there.  Mt. Rushmore is kind of a tourist trap.  There were many large groups of foreign tourists similar to the groups of tourists I saw in Europe.  I'm not knocking it because I have been a tourist too but throngs of people all trying to photograph the same scene gets pretty annoying. 
I hope we can visit Mt. Rushmore again.  It is an amazing sight and makes you feel proud and patriotic. There are trails that you can hike around there to get different views and that would have been fun if it hadn't been pouring rain.
 I kept thinking of the line from the movie "Drop Dead Gorgeous", where contestant Becky Lehman, played by Denise Richards, pays tribute to Mt. Rushmore:
"I chose Mount Rushmore, 'cause to live in a country where you can take an ugly old mountain and put faces on it, faces of great Americans who did so much to make our country super great, well that makes me, Rebecca Leeman, proud to be an American!"
Well said, Becky Leeman, it is super great...

Sorry Justin, I got the last picture before the battery died!

Our next stop was Deadwood, SD.  Deadwood is a Black Hills tourist town nested in a deep valley.  It is basically one main street lined with attractions.  I have seen a lot of mixed reviews about Deadwood these last few weeks on social media.  Some people love it and some people don't.  I think the consensus is that Deadwood is just a bunch of crappy casinos and bars with over the top old west themes and it is no fun for kids.  Well, no fun for kids usually means fun for adults so I found that I loved Deadwood! 

We missed the staged old west outlaw gun fight on the street but there were references to Wild Bill Hickok (who was shot in Deadwood) and his friends everywhere.  The building where he was shot is still there. 

It's no Vegas but it still looked pretty lit up at night!
We got busy doing "Deadwood" type activities and went to a casino, drank, and then took some "Old West" portraits.  The costume girls did not seem very impressed with my body in a corset (my costumer said, with a dismayed face, "I will try to make this more sexy" as she pulled and adjusted it...) but the black and white edit covers many flaws. 
These look kind of distorted...we don't have a digital copy so I took a picture of the pictures with my phone.  This activity is extra gimmicky an overpriced but is definitely something fun to do every once and a while! 
As the night went on I was pretty pleased with myself for not losing any money in the slot machines.  I won $20, then lost it, then won again but was disappointed with myself when I lost $8 while Justin was playing black jack.  I stopped before really going in the hole but got bored and put my $12 ticket in some Egyptian themed penny slot machine and...

Yeaaaaahh!  I am still kind of gloating about this.  And it really was almost all profit!  It made me fell validated for the shopping I did in Sheridan.  Justin won some cash at black jack too, and we made our exit before we were tempted to gamble any more. 
I already hope to return to this area next year.  As the kids get older I know it will be fun with them too.  There are many water and theme parks and animal oriented attractions that I loved as a kid.  Reptile Gardens, anyone?  Bear Country?  Flintstone Village?  Its all great! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Eeeeeeeeeehh F&%$

So, I just spent wayyyyy to much time creating a post about our recent vacation and it was full of clever stories and jokes and I was posting pictures from my phone and also my computer and I went in to the phone app to add one last picture and when I saved that edit all of the words I wrote and pictures from the computer disappeared.  HOLY CRAP I JUST WASTED A NAP TIME ON SOMETHING THAT I LOST!  OK, I am going cry now and try to do something productive with the few minutes I have left.  UGHHHH.

Here is a picture of Mount Rushmore as a preview of what you were supposed to see. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The 4th of July is behind us again.  It was the same as it is every year, which, in this situation, is why I like it so much!  Dances, parades, demo derbys, and lakes mixed with beer and junk food and general outdoor makes a perfect summer holiday! 
A few things were different this year.  I had two babies to maneuver to their babysitter on street dance night instead of one.  My cousin has a baby now.  I happened not to be pregnant this year (2 out of the last four!) but my sister and standard 4th drinking partner is.  Also there is a new (and improved and airconditioned!) farm house and a newly finished lake house.  Bathrooms!  SO MANY BATHROOMS! 
Tessa spent some time with her baby cousin.  They have only met once before. 

She couldn't resist the hospital issue green pacifier! 
Ben realized this year that small town parades are just huge candy and novelty grabs and he caught a bucket (a novelty from an elevator that is also intended for farmers to use for their moisture test samples during harvest) and then we filled it to the brim with candy.  Then Ben kept skimming off of it all afternoon and then we hid it and he found it and basically ate nothing but crap all day. 

The parade order was the same as always:  The veterans marching the flags, police escorts, fire trucks and rescue vehicles, random classic cars, family groups, politicians, teams and businesses, old tractors, and horses.  We all know why the horses go last!
Happy birthday USA!
The usual parade silliness...
Crazy altered tractor pull tractors...

A huge cow float.  The cow used to be on the roof of a grocery store.

This pickup used to be Justin's!  A teenager purchased it and apparently he is on the baseball team.

A implement dealership was throwing out a limited number of miniature tractor keychains and they threw one right to Ben!  He loves his "tiny tractor"!
Here are a few pictures of Tessa and my cousin's daughter Lauren in their 4th of July red, white and blue.
Tessa and Uncle Pete.

Poor Lauren!  Just wait, Tessa, until she can crawl!

The demolition derby was nice this year.  The weather was pleasant and cool instead of 95 degrees and like a sauna like usual so sitting outside was enjoyable.  It was kind of short because there weren't many cars entered compared to other years.  Apparently the prophesies are coming true...old crappy cars with metal bodies from the 70's and 80's are dwindling in supply as the fiberglass cars of the 90's become the crappy cars of today.  Also, there are more derbies happening each summer because it is a popular summer activity (?).  To add an extra heat there was a round with pickups this year.  I guess they are the wave of the derby future! 

Feast your eyes...they are about to be smashed!
We took Ben this year.  It was Justin's idea.  I was hesitant because it was during his usual nap time and could have turned into a nightmare.  However, it went fine.  He wore his ear protection that he wears at football games and was quite mesmerized by the cars. 

Eventually, after a brief fussy period where he was alternating between clinging to my mom and trying to run around, the best case scenario happened:

Poor tired boy...
After the derby and supper we headed to MN to the lake.  We got there just in time to take in everyone's fireworks displays and it sounded like an awesome, patriotic warzone.  Complaining about other people's fireworks is rampant on social media but you will never hear me complain about enjoying someone else's $100's go up in a blaze of glory.  I also love the smell of gun power in the air. 
Tessa loved playing around outside all weekend. 
She's on the prowl for sticks and grass to shove into her mouth!
Ben had some water adventures.  He went kayaking with whoever would take him which he loved.  He doesn't look gleeful because he is mesmerized. 

That's his cousin Blake in there and yes he's got a fake pirate sword!

Ben and Dada kayaking.

This is my brother in law water skiing.  He's pretty good at it. 

Yes, he's only using one ski as he zooms all over the lake.  I waterskied too, for the first time in two years.  I got up on the first try, made it pretty far, lost control and let go of the rope when the boat was turning over it's own choppy water, face planted and lost both skis when I was trying to get up in the choppy water, and finally got back up and made it back to the dock.  I have it in mind to overcome my mental issues with skiing over the wake when turning.  The one ski thing...I don't know about that ever happening!
Speaking of water skiing, my arms are very sore from my short spin around the lake.  The places that are sore are muscles that never feel sore from anything else.  Mainly, the dreaded "batwing" area of flab on the inside of the upper arms are burning.  This is an area every woman wants to improve.  I need to find out what kind of weight lifting will simulate the motions of water skiing. 
So, now that the Monday after a 4 day weekend buzzkill has passed, I have another trip to look forward to because Justin and I are going to Wyoming tomorrow.  He has to go to work and I am going with.  My family used to live in Wyoming and travelled all around the area on vacations when I was young (like 4,5,6 years old young).  We are going to visit the city we used to live in and maybe see Mount Rushmore on the way back.  Because of this, I won't be writing on here until next week so this is the time that I am going to share some monumental news...
BEN WHIZZED IN THE TOILET LAST NIGHT!  I am so excited about this.  Potty training is very intimidating to me and it is hard to imagine him ever not wearing diapers and I am in such a diaper groove that it's almost hard to give it up in favor of hurried bathroom trips in stores and on the sides of roads.  We have a lot of progress still to make but this is a start and makes me feel less terrified of the huge task ahead.