February 29, 2012

Guest Post: WilliamB's Freezer

Internet, I'm beyond delighted to present a guest poster that you may already know from insightful commenting here and at The Frugal Girl - among other places, I'm sure - and helpful suggestions for food waste reduction and freezer diving: WilliamB.

 Ever since meeting - Yes, virtually. Yes, it counts - WilliamB I've wanted a glimpse into what sounds like the Most Prepared Kitchen I've ever heard of. Today, the freezer.

Tomorrow, the moon - er, pantry. And how to organize it. With pictures.

Lannis is squeeing. Right now.

Also: Ten. Pounds. Of. Butter. You can see why the intrigue.

* * *

Fair warning: I am not funny in my essay writing. I envy The Mrs and Lannis their ability to do that. Maybe we should challenge them – rewrite my guest post as funny.

I have two freezers, the fridge freezer and a 14 cubic foot chest freezer. The fridge freezer is for everything but meat and stashed food. So: stocks, liquids, ice cream, umami on call (tomato paste, anchovies), grated cheese if I have it, quick meals (deli meat, sausage, ham), frozen oj (for baking with whole wheat), yeast, bones and bits. The deep freezer has the protein (whole happy pig, cut up; 10 happy chickens in parts), 10 lbs butter, a couple of frozen pizzas, store of spices, random bits and any bones that don’t fit in the fridge freezer. When I have too much meat – such as now, when I just got the pig – I stash some in a friend’s freezer. Friend doesn’t cook so my happy pork is safe. The fridge is freezer-bottom and the chest freezer is too small to have included internal organization. Therefore both are hard to keep organized so lists are my friend. I write down what goes in when it goes in, and cross it off when I use it. –ahem- In theory. In practice I have to take inventory every now and then.

Any rational person must be wondering what I do with all of this. (Are there any rational people in The Mrs’ readership? Speak now so we know you’re there.) Actually, I hope that no reader of The Mrs needs to ask what I do with the butter.

The major gift of my freezers is the stocks and liquids. I collect bones and bits everywhere I go. Roast duck carcasses from Chinese restaurants (one place gave me an extra!) Lobster shells. Turkey carcass from the office holiday party. I save even more at home. Leftovers from smoked pork are like gold, the fat as well as the skin and bones. Chix bones, raw or cooked, simmered for 3 hours with onion, celery, peppercorns, and fresh ginger, becomes the most important must have in my kitchen: chicken stock. The leftovers from Red Cooked Anything (a Chinese simmering liquid based on soy sauce and stock) and the liquid from French Braised Chix are both saved for the next time. Even the very salty liquid from blanching a ham is saved, for cooking rice or potatoes or beans. Right now I have chicken stock, Peking duck stock, lobster stock, and salty ham drippings with crisp skin bits that I’ll use next time I make split pea soup. I also have salsa liquid, the liquid that pools in the bottom of the salsa fresca bowl; it makes awesome beans or Tortilla Soup. The minor gift of my freezer is the umami on call. In my case this means tomato paste and anchovies. When a dish seems to lack depth or is monoflavored, try adding umami: soy sauce, tomato paste, anchovies, minced sauteed mushrooms, dried mushrooms, or a combination. The culinary impact of these is huge, all for the price of one freezer shelf. Sandi asked me what are my must-haves. The answer is everything on this shelf.

The bulk of my freezer space goes to the bulk happy meat. I’m moving toward buying only pastured meat – for many reasons, none of which I’ll get into here because it’s long, boring, and/or possibly controversial. Happy meat is more expensive than factory meat but buying in bulk helps reduce the cost. This fall I paid about US $5/lb for the pork (not including weird bits such as heart and lard) and US $3.50/lb for the chicken.

This time last year: Coming Soon

February 28, 2012

Lannis: Introducing Obsessions

There’re a lot of things you anticipate when you’re becoming a parent, or are a new parent. Some of them good (smiles, giggles, firsts in general), and a lot of them make you pull your hair out (the constant testing, the sleepless nights, cleaning puke stains for the fortieth time, the need to explain why hand washing is essential even though you can’t see anything on your hands,) GAH!).

One thing I never anticipated — and I’m not sure why I never did — was the ability to introduce all the things I love to my kids.

Toys, games, movies, books. You name it.

Yep. We’ve unleashed the addictions, obsessions, insanity... meh, pick one of the previous. They all work, really.

Yep. The boys love Lego. They pour over Where’s Waldo books and giggle to themselves about the silly scenes. Mr Lannis has subjected introduced them to Goonies and the classic Batman — yes, the one with Adam West in tights.

They’re boys. Their adoration of super heroes is practically inherent in the Y chromosome.

And I’ll admit I bought Batman: The Animated Series DVDs, even though they’re for a slightly older audience, because I was that girl in high school, the one who still watched cartoons and who especially loved the revamped version of the Dark Knight...

As cheesy as it sounds, there’s nothing like watching a movie I haven’t seen in years and be able to see their eyes light up with the spark of excitement and wonder.

What has struck their fancies now? ReBoot.

Yes. ReBoot. I fell in love with the series in my teens, and we now own the entire (original) series on DVD. All four seasons. Approximately 19 hours, according to the case.

Admittedly, I’ll watch it over and over again, too. Or at least for now — I just haven’t reached my saturation point (yet).

But you know they’re watching a lot of it (a couple episodes daily) when the four- and six-year-old can request what episode they want to see, sometimes by name, and sometimes by describing content... this sounds a lot like “I want to see the one with battle carrots.”

Yes, this is actually in an episode, and I know the series well enough to know which episode they’re requesting, too... because of this I was pretty sure I was farther gone on the terminal-ReBoot-fan scale...

Until the four-and-a-half-year-old, who barely reads and is NotAllowedToTouchDVDs requests a specific episode, and as I’m putting the DVD in the player, idly asks, “Is that the one with AndrAIa on it?”

Erm. No. AndrAIa isn’t pictured on the disc in my hand. I pull up the episode selection menu and... uh... what he’s asking for isn’t on this disc. I flip through the DVD book, find the next disc in that season, and —

Yeah. You guessed it. AndrAIa is pictured.


I... I don’t know what to say...


 Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster. If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

This time last year: Food Anti-Coma

February 26, 2012

Focal Point

You know how you're supposed to have something to focus on when you're in labour?

There's also some brie, peppered goat cheese, Guinness cheddar, smoked cheddar, and curried peach chutney in the fridge, ready and waiting for the post-baby celebration.

Oh, yeah. I also get a baby out of it, too.

See you later, internet. I'll be back after I'm done Getting Not Pregnant Anymore.

This time last year: Project Grocery: Too Soon To Tell

February 25, 2012

Zombie Needlepoint Inc.

I know that it's Lannisday - I mean, Saturday - but of course I have to post so you don't think I'm in the hospital giving birth.

Because, you know, heaven forbid and all that.

I have indisputable confirmation that Leslie has received her gift and can finally show you what it is, so I will. Because one, it's awesome, two, it's something from Pinterest that I actually did, and three, I know there are enough of you out there reading that are crazy in exactly the same way Leslie and I are. (Love you, by the way.)

So, without further ado (unless I go into labour right now), the first offering from Zombie Needlepoint Inc:

In my best whiny voice: I waaaaaaaaant one!

Lannis: Our Feline Foodie

Cats are weird. Quelle surprise, right?

Sandi’s experiences prove the theory, but even without that, I think everyone can agree.

We have two cats. Even if you haven’t been around The Mrs long, you could discover that from my bio below.


One (Shakespeare: 15 lb, overbearing, long-haired tabby Tom) eats what you might expect. Dry cat food, the occasional cat treats, and whatever he can hunt. (Never mind, lately he’s taken to leaving dead Chickadees in the backyard, so clearly he’s taken to hunting for sport now...)

The other (Minette: 7 lb, quaint and dainty, long-haired tabby female) eats anything that remotely resembles food. Feline or otherwise.

Seriously. Of the list I’m aware of (because I’m deluding myself if I believe I know all that she’s been into when I’m not around...)

- raw broccoli
- cooked cauliflower
- pecans
- cream cheese, marble cheese, Brie cheese in any form
- bacon
- turkey breast
- egg whites (pasteurized over straight-from-the-shell)
- mashed squash
- saltine crackers
- gummy bears (but not jujubes)
- chips (she prefers all-dressed and any of the Doritos flavours)
- (and my favourite of the list so far) Nutella

Who doesn’t like Nutella?!

No, we have not given our cat these foods. She takes them for herself, usually by stealthily sneaking onto the counter or table when our backs are turned. She took a piece of bacon out of my-then-two-year-old’s hand.

(The protest was impressive. And can you blame him? Stolen bacon? I’d be mad too...)

And of course Minette eats cat food and cat treats. I consider this a given.

Mr Lannis and I also routinely place boxes of tissues over the glasses of water on our bedside tables at night, lest Minette drink straight out of them...

Anyhow... this is all backstory. Recently I was getting the boys ready for school, and had put bread into the toaster (thinking I was ahead of the game by getting everything set so I just had to push the button down when it was almost toast time...), and returned to the kitchen to see this —


The what...?! I don’t even... I mean... WHAT?!


 Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster. If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

February 23, 2012

A Nesting We Will Go

Someone is nesting around here, and it's not me. Because I'm still pregnant, and will be starting a jumping jacks competition on the lawn if I don't go into labour tonight.

What I mean is, someone besides me is nesting. And I'm over the moon about it.

Mr made me something that I've been dying to have since before we had Miss. And it's beautiful ::sob::

Okay, now I'm going to go have a baby. /wishful thinking.

This time last year: My Friend BlogHer

February 22, 2012

Still Pregnant After All These Years

So, today.

Today, I painted with the kids:

I took it into my head to rectify the state of my one cupboard:

Which turned into this:

And which by the end of the day resulted in this:





And, ultimately, this: 


I made roasted chicken with steamed carrots and bacon-wilted swiss chard for supper. I cleaned it up.

That baby has to come tonight, because - let's face it - I need a break.

Doing Nice Things For Other People: Baby Steps

Not baby steps like "I had my baby". No such luck. I think. I am writing this on Tuesday night, with every every hope of having Little Miss Bean tomorrow -  with no good reason other than wishful thinking.

Instead, I came to brag. Because I actually did some of the things I've been meaning to do for people, and I want to share.

I can't share too much about my first Nice Thing, though, because I only put it in the mail today, and I want it to be a surprise. It's for Leslie, and at the beginning (before I had to start it all over again from scratch because crafty I am not), it looked like this:

I know she's got it figured out already, but I'm still not going to post the after pictures until I know she's got it in her hot little hands. Can I just say that I. Cannot. Wait?

I also managed to get a thank you package out into the mail for my dear friend Lindsay, who hosted our enormous family on our trip to Michigan in January, and fed us for four days with no kitchen. If I were ever to use the word "amazeballs", it would be about that trip.

And of course, any Nice Things list isn't complete without baking cookies for someone - in this case, a few someones, namely the ladies at the bank who I have gleefully deserted. (Also: gleefully desserted. Snort.)

Because New Girl and Shelley are so awesome - and not at all because I wanted to eat some too - I made Boter Koek (obviously) and The Best Oatmeal Cookies In The World. I didn't make enough, though, because after I gave some to our AM Sarah (that would be Awesome Midwife, for those not in the know), there was nothing left.

Oh, right. Nice things for other people. Gotcha.

I hope I'm with our AM and in labour while you're reading this. I really, really (really) do.


This time last year: My Evil Fridge: It's Still Evil, But At Least It's Clean (that beet juice never did come out)

February 21, 2012

That Pre Bean Checklist

Hey. Guess what? I lost the bet, which means I'm still pregnant, and gearing up to complain about it. A lot.

On the bright side, I have a checklist that is checked. And It Feels GOOD.

Let's go back in time a bit, shall we? Remember this?

Now take a gander (what?!) at this:

That's right, folks. Our exit in case of fire has finally been cleared of stuff. The kitchen counter is clear. One side of it, anyway. I have an idea for the ridiculous higher counter that is unfortunately just inside the door, but it involves the participation of my husband. We'll see.

But what I really wanted to show you is this:

This is my super-spectacular, can't stop looking at it, I wish we'd done this two years ago office space. Note the utter lack of empty wipe packages. Note the owl (LOVE the owl). Note the sign on the wall, that Leslie made for me, because She Is Awesome. Note the red fabric back of the shelf.

I'm not sure what regular people with regular husbands do when they need furniture. It's the darker side of humanity that I don't really want to explore. What I do is say: "I need something like this, for here", and my husband comes back a few days, weeks, months, or years later with it. The fabric was his idea, because He Is Also Awesome.

The only thing missing is our printer, which will be on its own little shelf under the owl. That may take a little longer than the rest of this did, but I got most of what I came for, and won't complain.


And with all these checkmarks, I only have one thing to say to Little Miss Bean:

Do. Your. Worst.

February 20, 2012

Project Grocery: The End Of An Era

Since the last three weeks have been filled to the brim with the Pre-Bean Checklist and Being Nine Months Pregnant, the grocery shopping posts have fallen by the wayside.

Still trying to avoid the boxes of dead rodents, Mr has been the one doing the shopping, and has spent $92.21 and $133.58.

Well, this week I took what will possibly be some of my last alone time for a while and went a'marketing. I even managed to get a picture, and as I was unpacking my haul, realized that this picture will (hopefully) mark the end of an era.

First of all, I must disclose that I spent $177.17, and now Mr is so full of his grocery shopping prowess that he says he could have brought home the exact same stuff and be under budget. If he wasn't so cute I'd be mailing him some dead rodents.

There are a few reasons that this picture marks the end of an era, the first of which is the boxes of diapers and wipes. Again. You see, starting tomorrow the kids are in daycare Mondays only, and daycare is the only place - normally - where we use disposable diapers. I want to have some on hand for when my parents have the kids while I'm busy Becoming Not Nine Months Pregnant, but after that I'm expecting to go back to all cloth, all the time.

After I boil them. They NEED to be boiled. Trust me.

The other thing someone who's been around The Mrs since the beginning might notice is that there's been cereal in every grocery shop for quite a while now. This too shall end.

Waaaay back in January of last year we decided that cereal was just too expensive to eat every morning, even if we get it on sale, which we normally do. Even into this past December we were eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning, until the extra ten minutes it took in the morning became Necessary To My Survival, and to cereal we turned.

Now I've got ten minutes to spare in the morning, and it's back to oatmeal. Although I think some homemade granola might be in the works sometime, if I can just find a good recipe. I'm hoping Molly Wizenberg will help.

So there's forty-five dollars right there. But wait, there's more.

See, Mr enjoys candy. No, I don't think you read that right. Mr ENJOYS candy. And I'm pretty in love with all things fried and salted, not to mention our join love affair with pop - in which I've not been indulging, don't worry. We decided that after Little Miss Bean shows up we'll cut back. So that should be the last of the pop bottles in the Project Grocery Pictures, right?

Here's the last thing, I promise: quinoa and swiss chard. Not just those, but - in addition to the cutting back mentioned above - we're going to be making a much bigger effort at including Things That Are Really - I Mean REALLY Good For Us into our daily meals. But only if we can make them taste good.

That's what the internet is for, right?

Tomorrow, if I've bet wrong and Little Miss Bean doesn't come tonight (to which I say "Bring it, lady!"), I should be able to give you the update on the Pre Bean Checklist. Wednesday, I should have something to say about the Do Nice Things For Other People challenge.

After that, I'll start complaining about Still Being Pregnant.

In the meantime, get yourselves ready for some good reading without excessive capitalization. Eric, Jane, Christine, and WilliamB are writing their guest posts furiously (possibly) so you won't be faced with a blank screen while I'm off Becoming Not Nine Months Pregnant.

Because that's what happens when you don't post anything to your blog. The screen goes blank. Riiiiight.

This time last year: A***san Bread And Bell Canada

February 18, 2012

Lannis: The First Step...

I love tea. A lot. Maybe too much.

How much is too much? Well...

I started drinking tea too long ago back when I was working at Tim Hortons. The first time. (Read: about half my age ago.) Funny enough, I no longer like Tim Hortons’ tea... I prefer Red Rose.

It’s what the Queen drinks. <— Is this even true anymore? And I don’t just drink it. I consume it. One could measure it in buckets, but I prefer the metric system.

My so-normal-it’s-boring Brown Betty teapot holds one litre of water. This fills my ginormous mug almost twice. (I say almost, because the mug will actually hold more.) Why’s my mug so big? Because I drink it that fast.

Also? I’m too lazy to refill a teeny mug twenty times.

I’m not exaggerating. Buckets, remember?

And I don’t just drink it by quantity. I steep it. I let it sit a long time forever. Like, as long as it’s still lukewarm once milk is added, I’ll drink it.

When my life used to be more hectic (read: overrun with two-year-olds), I made myself a tea cosy to keep the teapot warm... because I was too busy to drink it all before it got cold in the pot, and reboiling the kettle to refill the teapot (and waste half a pot of tea in the interim) made me twitchy.

So, to recap: I will drink tea that has steeped for forty-five minutes or longer, but not cold tea.

For coffee drinkers out there, this is the tea-drinking equivalent of that figurative cup of coffee so strong it will allow a spoon to stand straight up.


Yes, I drink this. Yes, I drink it every day. Yes, I drink it plenty. At my tea-drinking height, I would fill my little one-litre Brown Betty five times a day.

For those of you with math skillz, that’s five litres.

Add to this that I stop drinking tea by one o’clock in the afternoon — I get up around 7am.

So five litres by 1pm.

With milk and Splenda, if you’re wondering. And yes, it’s a lot of Splenda in my half-litre-holding mug, but in a standard teacup of tea? Only one packet.

No, I don’t get jittery. No, I’m not a nice person if I haven’t had my morning tea.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s too much, Les, you’re going to cause yourself some health problems!”

In all honesty, at my yearly physical, the conversation with my doctor went like this:

Her: How much caffeine do you consume in a day?

Me: About five litres of tea.

Her: You mean cups.

Me: No, I mean litres.

Her: ...

Me: I like tea.

Her: Do you find you have to use the bathroom a lot?

Me: Sure. But everyone’s got to have their vice. I like tea.

Her: Well, if it becomes a problem, you know where to look first...

Uh huh. Yep. And guess what? It probably has affected my health, but not excessively, in my opinion (the details fall under TMI, and it’s linked with other issues... mostly motherhood-related. You’re welcome). My rule of 1pm is adjusted if I find it affects my sleeping. And currently my daily average only two pots (litres) of tea..

There’s just nothing like sitting on the front porch in the morning sunshine, with a hot mug of tea and a good book. Bliss, I tell you.

Tea! Tea! Tea! TEE-AH!

Nope, can’t live without it. God forbid we run out of tea bags, the world stops. Mr Lannis is always on the lookout, don’t worry. He’s been trained well, ha!

So... tell me... what’s your can’t-live-without consumable? We’re not talking Internet access, books, or music... I want to know what food or drink you should buy stock in so you can retire rich from your own purchases...


(Just don’t spill the tea.)

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

February 17, 2012

Nice Things For Other People

You know how you think of nice things to do for people, and then you put it off, or forget about it, or just don't do it?

Maybe it's just me.

For a long time (uh, since May 2nd), I've let myself off the hook because [whine] "I'm working full time"..."I'm pregnant and barfing"..."I'm busy chasing my kids"...

All true things. All - dare I say it - valid things.

And, as it happens, pregnancy is temporary. Surprise. So now I'm at home, about to be not pregnant, about to be a mother of three under four, but - by golly! - not working full time, not barfing, and not chasi--err...well, not doing the first two things.

More valid reasons to put off, forget, or not do nice things for people. Awesome! I'm sure I can keep coming up with excuses until they become "I'm dead"..."I'm stuck in this coffin"..."Aw, crap, they burned me"...

Except people do nice things for me, and I like it. And I think that just maybe they'd like it if I did nice things for them.

A few months ago, Lindy at Minting Nickels wrote this post about overcoming me, and it's undeniably true. So true, in fact, that you need to go read it. I'll wait.

See? So now I'm challenging myself to - wait for it - Do More Nice Things For People, with this important qualification: When (Or Shortly After) I Think Of Them. It's not a formal thing. I won't be tracking it on the sidebar or anything. But if you want to Do More Nice Things For People, you can do it too.

I have a few things lined up to finish in the next couple of days, and I'm excited to tell you about them. You know, to brag a little.

Because I've had very little to brag about recently.

This time last year: Mrs Optimum Points

February 15, 2012

Hey, Lookit!

Hold on to your hats, folks. I've been cooking.

In a complete departure from the yawn-worthiness of everything I set my hand to while I was a pregnant, working full time mother of two and wife to one, I actually looked at a recipe and made a meal from raw ingredients.

I know. Breathtaking.

It happened to be stew, and only take half an hour, and it also happened that I had gotten everything ready before I left to pick the kids up from daycare and Mr had finished putting it together before I got home with them, but it still counts as cooking, because I was elbow deep in raw pork and also had to peel and chop things.

So there.

Cooking and general food enjoyment have been missing from my life since May 2nd. And it's on it's way back.

As soon as I finish the taxes.

February 14, 2012

New Girl: Not New, But Still

I'm plugging away at my Must Do list, and even though I'm not completely finished getting Mr's books in order, I've just fired up TurboTax and am starting in on our income tax.

Is no one else excited about this? No?


In that case, I give you this: One of the last emails I got at work from New Girl (who has a birthday on Thursday and who is Not Very Excited about it.)

* * *

From: New Girl
To: Sandi
Date: Feb 2, 2012
Subject: what i think about you leaving tomorrow

This time last year: Burf-Day Presents

February 13, 2012

Let's Blame It On The Zombies

So if you follow me on The Facebook, you've probably already figured out that Thursday night's Zombie Dysentery killed me, and now I'm one of the (many) undead bloggers.

I'm not.

I know, I'm disappointed too.

Friday, I spent on the couch. ALL of Friday. Most of Saturday was spent there, too, although by then I had made the leap to actually sitting up. I didn't quite make it to the computer to put up Leslie's post, even though she sent it to me on Tuesday. That's how much I suck.

Sunday, I decorated Valentine's cookies while Miss decorated and ate Valentine's cookies and Jr just ate.

Then I had a birthday.

Now, I'm back to reconciling VISA statements.

It's a glamorous life, I know. Try not to be jealous.

This time last year: Project Grocery

February 10, 2012

Food Waste Friday: My Goat Has Been Got

FoodWasteFriday And there you have it. Something else crossed off my Must Do Before The Baby Comes list. Although - now that I'm thinking about it - it was only on my mental list, along with something awesome that Leslie and I cooked up when we saw each other a few weeks back.

My fridge...well, my fridge - my nemesis for so long - has been mostly ignored since I went back to work full time, and now that I'm on maternity leave again, can only be described visually. Like so:

There. Now you've had the full experience. 

You're welcome.

Back to my goat: You know what's in this pile?

Root Beer Pulled Pork, among other things (like a whole package of chicken breasts. Who does that? I attribute it all to being pregnant, working full time, and sheer laziness, two of those things are over or soon to be over, so no more excuses.

I finally know what's in my fridge again, and it ain't stink lines.

Now I can stop holding my breath when I make supper. Excellent. The baby will like that.

February 9, 2012

Nine Months, In Three - Er, Four - Attempts

For those of you who enjoyed the pregnant fairy, I present the sequel, minus the wings, but with a bonus interior monologue track:

 Oops. That's not right. Man, this camera's heavy.

Crappit, this is worse. At least my boobs made it into the shot.

You and I both know this isn't going well. Let's look rueful. Plus, we'll get to use the word "rueful".

Screw it. It's the best I can do.

February 8, 2012

Surprise! My Kids Wear Second Hand Clothes

There are so few surprises in life, aren't there? The fact that my kids wear second hand clothes can't be one of them, but I thought I'd add a little excitement to your day by pretending. Later on, I'm going to surprise you with a confetti cannon that works over the internet. It will be awesome.

Also great? Between the ridiculous amount of (summer) clothes we have from when Miss was born, the stuff we've been given as presents (poor third baby), and the stuff we found at Once Upon A Child, Little Miss Bean is going to be not naked and not cold.

These are good things.

Since we were at Once Upon A Child yesterday on the way back home from yet another eyeball appointment in the city, we also picked up the few things we'll need for Miss and Jr to get them through to the summer.

Specifically, we got this stuff ("for $60.37!", she cackled maniacally):

And I can actually check something other than "enter those Pampers Gifts to Grow codes and get those empty wipe packages off the desk" off my Must Do list.

Now please excuse me, I have a mountain of paper that I need to climb.

(Also, I can't figure out how to add more people as contributors to the Pre Bean To Do List board on Pinterest. It's because I'm a bonehead. If you want to contribute and can't, leave me a comment and I'll figure it out. If you don't want to and don't care, do whatever you want. See if I care.

But no confetti cannon for you.)

This time last year: Miss: An Illustrated Toddler Lexicon

February 7, 2012

How To Get Your Must Do List Done: Part One

My first day as a retiree only started to feel different from a regular Monday after I dropped the kids off at daycare and came back home to tackle my seventy-six item Must Do list.

Like the disciplined woman I am, I sat right down at the computer and took my turn at Scrabble with Leslie. Then I entered some Gifts to Grow points from an old package of wipes, checked Pinterest to verify that yes, indeed, Leslie and Jane have already filled the board with organization, books, and food. (I knew I could count on you two.)

Then I actually did some bookkeeping work, starting with the easiest stuff (reconciling the income tax and HST accounts), interspersed with internet searches for "home office organization" and ended my morning with lunch and a nap.

My afternoon got filled up with a little (read: very) more bookkeeping, filing, accepting kind offers to guest post  after Bean is born (just you wait and see who's lining up) and driving - to the work I so recently retired from - because I left my wallet there on Friday and need it for today's eyeball appointment, as well as for, you know, daily living and such.

File that one under "chump".

I did actually manage to make part of our supper tonight, albeit the side dish (from here, thanks Pinterest), and we chowed down (again) on these plus ribeye steak and green beans. What can I say? My awesome midwife says I need more iron.

And if this post hasn't demonstrated anything else, I hope it's demonstrated what a disciplined grown up I truly am.

February 6, 2012

Pre Bean Checklist

So I'm retired. Sort of.

For the next two-ish weeks, I'm gathering up all of my 2012 vacation time and using it to Do Things. My list looks something like this:

-sort through and wash all the newborn stuff we already have, and fill in the gaps at Once Upon A Child without spending a million dollars.

-speaking of money, refine that new budget you've been talking about and put some new tracking methods into place, because the current one you have sucks.

-bring Mr's books up to date. Like, from May of 2011. Reconcile everything. File everything. Because I'm tired of looking at this hot mess:

-speaking of hot messes, you really, really need figure out some way to organize the office. These loose papers everywhere? Not pretty. Get the printer in there too, while you're at it. (Actually, this one's on YOUR to-do list. I have a husband who can make it, but I don't have a brain that can design it. Let's all head on over to Pinterest and you can pin things to my new board for me.)

-Before you're done at the computer, get the taxes done.

-Once you get help organizing the desk, see if someone (probably a therapist) can figure out a way to stop this from happening to the kitchen counter every day:

-Read a book. Or two. Ask Leslie.

-Speaking of Leslie, finish that awesome Christmas present for her, so you can stop hanging your head in shame.

-Um, also: send Lindsay that thank you package you've imagining since you got home from Michigan.

-Bake something nice for the ladies at the bank. Actually bring it to them.

-Do something (anything) about this:

-Find some nice internet people to pony up some guest posts for that post-Bean few days.

-sew something. Again, ask Leslie.

-Nap. Lots.

Once these things are done (and only then), I'm going to pack a hospital bag. It'll be my way of daring Bean to come early. Let's see how that works out.

This time last year: Super-Duper Bowlerama

February 4, 2012

Lannis: Corset Tutorial

What I want to know is this: is Leslie an orthodox anything?

* * *

No, this isn’t a joke.

Anyone who’s been reading The Mrs for a while knows that there’s been some casual side mentions of my corset-making. Because every girl needs a good corset, and the reactions you get when you say you made it yourself are excellent.

The secret? I’ve made only one. But it was stupidly easy!

Okay, I’m currently making another for a costume for JordanCon, the kick-ass Wheel of Time convention that takes place yearly in Atlanta, Georgia. I may have mentioned before that I’m a teensy bit of a fan. Just a touch.

Just a save-up-all-year-to-make-the-trip-guilt-free kind of fan...

(Seriously, if you like The Wheel of Time series, you must go to JordanCon! It’s small, as fan conventions go, and friendly, and communal, and awesome absolutely amazeballs!)

Ahem. Anyhow. Last year when I was there, I had the opportunity to chat with Pinky Shear, an Atlanta-based costumer. Pinky is my favourite kind of person — an outspoken lady of flamboyant class, and I kinda sorta had a girl-crush on her instantly, simply because she is so personable, talented, and down to Earth. Not to mention gorgeous, and full of vintage fun!

(Unfortunately, I just heard she’d died. Okay, not really. Okay, maybe... Don’t panic, folks. Heather has decided to retire her work-persona of Pinky Shear, and did so with decadent style — she killed off her own character. Ha!)

Anyhow, last April in Atlanta, as I was admiring the beading Pinky (Heather) was doing on a corset, and mused out loud that I wish I could make one.

Her response? “If you can sew a straight line, then you can sew a corset.”

Well I’ll be damned. And guess what? She was right!

She also gave me a couple more gems of costuming advice — for period-looking items, go with drapery fabrics. Your costume will have a richer look and feel.

Also? Instead of tracking down expensive corset boning, use industrial zip ties — yes, those plastic cable ties! — they’re cheap ($6 for 100), more comfortable to wear, easy to manipulate, and machine washable.

Thanks to Pinky’s advice, I went snooping online and found this handy site. It’s a very simple corset pattern generator that will tell you how to draw out a custom corset pattern based on your measurements.

Before we get into this, a disclaimer: I am not an orthodox seamstress. That means I don’t always do things the way trained seamstresses do... a lot of times I don’t bother with patterns and just attack a project. I logic-out my path as I go. Now that that’s said (and any by-the-book sewers have been duly warned of potential cringeworthy behaviour ahead), let’s move on...

So. First thing’s first. Gather your supplies...

- no more than two meters of fabric are needed (enough for the outside, and a inner lining)
- industrial zip ties (lots)
- masking tape of some kind
- plenty of wide ribbon to trim edges, and at least another two meters for lacing
- grommets and a grommet setter (and a hammer)
- any decorations or trim for hand-sewing
- matching thread
- paper to draw out your pattern
- ruler
- chalk pencil

I think that’s it. And forgive the photography... these shots are stolen from my Facebook album from last summer.

The pattern above is taken directly from the corset-pattern-generator site.

Carefully cut your fabric as per the site’s instructions. When you're cutting out your fabric, ensure the centre line of your pattern lines up with the fabric's pattern — or it'll be a big waste. I, erm, had enough material to cover “accident insurance” the first time around, and let's just say it was a good thing I did...

Zig zag the edges to prevent fraying, then match up the ends (wrong sides facing out) and straight stitch them together. I liked both the right (gold background) and wrong (green background) sides of the fabric. Turn your corset right-side out (yes, you’ll be working on the right side for the rest of this), machine stitch the top of the corset before moving on to the boning.

(Heh heh — boning. I am far too immature to be a corset-maker. I giggled the whole freaking time...)

Now for your industrial zip ties. Cut off the end and tape them together to reinforce their strength. Use your fabric to check how long you want each zip tie, but remember to leave a centimeter or two at the bottom for when you sew the boning channels shut.

Start with the boning to strengthen and reinforce the grommets, so you’re working with each end of the corset. Use the chalk pencil to mark how wide the pocket needs to be, and sew from the top of your corset down, leaving the bottom of the channel open to insert the boning.

Decide the layout for the boning. The corset pattern generator site has a nice diagram for layout purposes.

Carefully sew the channels for the boning, and check to see that the boning actually fits. Pins will keep the fabric in place. Make sure to always sew in one direction (from top of corset down, or from bottom up) to keep the fabric from twisting and shifting. Leave the ends of the channels open.

Pin and machine sew wide ribbon along the top of the corset, then fold it over onto the other side and hand sew it with a blind hem stitch to finish the edge. I’d recommend carefully machine sewing the side you want to be the right side of your corset (the side everyone will see when you’re wearing it), and hand stitching on the lining side.

Insert all the boning into the channels and pin and machine sew the ribbon on the bottom of the corset.

Edges DONE!

Mark grommets and place evenly. Use your hammer and grommet setter to cut through the fabric and set the grommets. Easier than it sounds, truly!

Grommets all done!

Now this would be when you hand sew any decorations (trim, beads, whatever) onto your corset!

All laced! And because I like to set the bar high — yes, it's reversible.

Total cost? About $15-$20, plus time (maybe 8 hrs total? That sounds like a lot, but it felt much quicker). I bought most of my supplies at a Fabricland super sale (this particular fabric was clearance, less than $5/m).

Add another $10 for the grommet setting kit, but the tools can be used in the next project. Also, there's enough zip ties left for another project, maybe two...

So pretty!


Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Okay, so, maybe so far I’ve only got to wear this (legitimately) at Hallowe’en, but I’ll tell you this: it was great to see the kids’ eyes light up when I answered the door to hand out candy. And I even had one father thank me for showing his little girl that women can dress up for Hallowe’en without showing tons of skin and still be absolutely beautiful!

I may have thanked him, closed the door, and teared up a bit — it was so sweet!

In short: totally worth it.

This year? This year I found this site, so this year I’m making the whole dress... ::grin::

 Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.