09 October 2012

Always be yourself. Unless you can be a ninja. Always be a ninja.

My son wants matching costumes to match for Halloween - Ninjas. Cuz ninjas are cool. His was pretty easy to find:
Then we asked the costume store clerk to help us find a "matching" women's ninja costume. She brought us to this:
The mom in me thought: Holy Hell, Lady, I'm going trick-or-treating with my 8-year-old, not to a bacchanal at Hefner's house.

The martial artist in me thought: Her boob would fall right out of that thing if she tried to do a good side kick.

Both me's were pretty disgusted that this was the only women's ninja costume we could find at FIVE STORES.

So, I spent a bit of time with my pal, Google ... and came away rather horrified at the differences in the men's and women's versions of the "same" costumes.

Of course, I had to share ... enjoy the photo gallery as I rant on.

I get it: Men and women are built differently - Vive la diffĂ©rence! 

And there's nothing wrong with fitted or feminine costumes. Personally, I'd much rather wear a costume that's cut for my curves, than some one-size-fits-none sack.

But a LOT of these costumes sprint right past "fitted" or "flattering" or even "sexy" and dive straight into the ridiculously skanky end of the pool.

I get that some costumes have a built-in sexy factor. But it bugs me that most of the female versions of what should be gender-neutral costumes are gratuitously over-sexualized.

There's an implication that a woman can't actually be these characters -  Instead, we're relegated to hyper-sexual parodies of them.

And before someone starts accusing me of slut-shaming all those sweet college girls and hot MILFs who just want to have a little fun on Halloween: I'm not saying there's anything wrong with sexy outfits per se - on Halloween or any other day. (Well, it's probably not a good idea to wear your "naughty nurse" outfit to your kid's fall pageant; but, hey, that's up to you.)

(Caveat: there's nothing inherently wrong with an ADULT dressing in a sexy costume. You DO NOT want to get me started about the trickle down trend of "sexy" tween and kids costumes. Anybody who thinks a "sexy" kids costume is a good idea can just go stand over there in your wrongness and be wrong.)

I'm not even saying that I wouldn't ever wear a "sexy" costume - I would and I have.

But there's a line here somewhere, and I'm afraid we've trampled across it in our fishnets and stilettos.

It's getting to the point where it's becoming difficult to even find women's costumes that are NOT all bustiers and mini-skirts.

Seriously: Google "women's police costume". Let me know how many pages it takes you to find one that is not "sexy".

Take a look around a Halloween store (IRL or online, take your pick). I estimate a 10:1 ratio of "sexy" costumes to "normal" costumes for women  - as opposed to something more like 1:50 for men.

And yet there are many women who rush to defend the continued skankification (technical term) of women's costumes as "empowering" because we're "embracing our sexuality".


Turning Halloween costumes into glorified masturbatory aides is not how you "own your sexuality".

Is it really too much to ask for some middle ground between "men's" costumes and "sexy" costumes? Is it really so hard to make a woman's costume that acknowledges my gender without objectifying it? Are there really so few women who would prefer that?

What does that say about us? What does it say to our kids?

Just wanna be a ninja,

Wanna see something really scary? 
More comparisons of "men's" and "women's" versions of "the same" costumes:

It's like they were separated at birth.

Accio robe. 

Hers has about a 10th of the fabric and you KNOW it still costs more.

Yeah, this seems historically accurate to me.

You don't even want to see the Red Riding Hood costumes.

These two live in the same climate, right?

"Hey, you know who could be sexier? The cowgirl doll from that kids movie." 

He's covered neck to toe in inflammable protective gear.
She apparently repels flames with the power of her cleavage.

What? That's totally standard issue women's prison uniform.
Except during the nightly pillow fights, then they go naked.

Oh, look a sailor. And, um, ... a Rockette?

Insert "booty" pun here.

Those heels are going to destroy the turf.

Well, the hat and the magnifying glass are the same. 

They both have a whip, but somehow only hers implies bondage. I blame the tiny hat.

Holy Skank, Batman!
They actually managed to make a comics costume even MORE slutty than the comics usually do.

Ho Ho Ho meets 'Ho 'ho 'ho.

14 September 2012

Stay Gold, Pony Boy

Dear Princess Celestia,

This week, I learned that there are still people who have really backward notions about gender roles and that society is probably even harder on boys with non-traditional interests than it is on girls ... 


My 5 year old loves My Little Pony.

We don't have TV programming, so we didn't catch the MLP trend until it came to Netflix a few months ago. On a whim and a recommendation from a friend, I decided to watch the two-part premier with my kids one Saturday morning. A few weeks later, we'd finished all of Season 1.

When Season 2 came out, they watched it almost every day. The 8 year old is slightly less enraptured by the show than the 5 year old. But they were both completely engaged by the characters and stories and were cheering their hero Ponies through all of their adventures.

Recently, the 5 year old has became the proud owner of a small herd of plastic Ponies and their varied accoutrements as well as a fairly awesome Canterlot Castle where the Ponies like to party several days a week.

The neighboring super heroes and villains, and sometimes a talking car or two, will pop in for a tea party or a epic battle every now and then, too.

Oh, have I mentioned that both my children are boys?

I didn't think that was worth mentioning because, well, it shouldn't be.

But, it kind of is, huh?

I was reminded of that by the checker's double-take when Bam-Bam (the aforementioned 5 year old) proudly declared that he couldn't wait to get home and play with it.

And I was reminded when a co-worker gave me a confused look and asked "Aren't both your kids boys?", when I mentioned how much they liked the show.

And I was reminded when the clerk at McDonald's asked me if our Happy Meals would be "for a boy or girl" and I had to clarify that they were for boys, but we wanted the My Little Pony toys, thankyouverymuch.

And I was reminded when we were in the toy section at Target (looking for a Princess Celestia to complete Bam-Bam's collection) and this random Dad was openly mocking his son for wanting to buy a toy that was *gasp* pink.

It was really hard to keep my mouth shut and walk away from that aisle (with our Princess Celestia tucked happily in our cart). And all I could think was: OhMyBob, is this really still a thing?

It IS 2012, right?

Just checking. 'Cause, yeah, apparently this still a thing.

Maybe not for me. And, of course, not for you, Gentle Reader. You're much to evolved for that.

But, for some people, yeah, this is still a thing.

Bam-Bam doesn't know that some people would think My Little Pony is "for girls" (Though, he's already asked me why some of his favorite toys are in the "pink aisle" while others are in the "hero" aisle.) I hope that if/when he learns that, it won't diminish his enjoyment of one of his favorite shows/toys. And you never know - he's a pretty headstrong little kid who's never worried much about what other people think. So, maybe it won't faze him at all.

But, I still hate the idea that some adult or kid will tell him that something he loves is "wrong". I dread the moment that he would reject something he enjoys not because he's ready to move on, but because someone else is uncomfortable with his tastes.

I admit, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about this topic.

When I was little, I always liked "boy" toys. Even with fantastic parents and other adults who were great about not telling me what girls could or couldn't do, I learned quickly that others - including most of my peers - were not as open-minded.

I wanted to play with Castle Grayskull when the girls on my block were all about decorating their Barbie Dreamhouses. And I didn't understand why my brother and his friends didn't want me to play superheroes with them. And I couldn't figure out why the local librarian kept trying to get me to read Little House on the Prairie when I was there to check out sci fi adventures.

So I learned to fit in. I never lost my tomboy-geek interests, but I kept them largely hidden for almost my entire childhood - feeling like they were something taboo. Something I could only share with a special few. I played dolls and dress-up and I pretended I didn't know what Star Wars and Spider-Man were. I watched GI Joe and and Justice League in secret and hid my books in my backpack until no one was around but my family.

By college, I was well on my way to my current philosophy: I don't care what anyone else thinks I should or shouldn't like or do. You can think it. But you're wrong and I won't be defined or limited by your lack of imagination.

But even with this now-innate philosophy, I admit my knee-jerk reaction is defensive to small-minded people who get stuck on their ideas of gender roles. Even now as a happy, confident, 38-year-old geek and mom ... I still sometimes have to work really hard not resent someone who wants to tell me what I - or my sons - can or can't do based on their limited ideas of gender roles.

Add to that my Momma Bear instincts to protect my sons, and I almost feel sorry for anyone who tries to tell my kid he "can't" like "girl stuff".


... But, even though there are still those who insist on trying to fit people into old-fashioned little gender boxes early and often, I hold out hope that my sons will never feel the need to hide their joys because others might not approve. That, instead, they will always be surrounded by people who love and celebrate who they are and what they love.

Friendship is magic,

06 July 2012

Stuff my kids say


The Professor
Age: 7 going on 12
Career Goal: Mad scientist
Interests: Mythbusters
Plants vs. Zombies, Legos, 
Star Wars, Reading, Karate
Catch-Phrase: "Let's build one!"

Age: Just turned 5
Career Goal: Super Villian
  Interests: Angry Birds
Phineas and Ferb
Action Figures, My Little Pony
Chaos and destruction
Catch-Phrase: "Ak-waaaard."

Age: 38
Designated Straight Man

Bam-Bam: "Mommy, can I have cow milk?"
Me: "What's the magic word?"
Bam-Bam: "Abracadabra!!!

Bam-Bam: "Mommy, can I have a donut?"
Me: "I don't have any donuts."
Bam-Bam: "How 'bout you ask your phone to find us a donut shop an' you can get some donuts for you an' me?"

The Professor: "Mommy, I got bit by an ant today. What's gonna happen to me?"
Me: "Probably nothing."
The Professor: "Oh ... But I MIGHT turn into Ant Man!" 
 Me: "I suppose that's possible."
The Professor: *fist pump* "YES!!!"

The Professor, sending Bam-Bam down the big, curvy slide first: "Are you dead?"
Bam-Bam: "No!
The Professor: "Okay, I'm coming down."

Me: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Bam-Bam: "I will be a Villain!" *evil laugh*

Bam-Bam, consoling the dog on his impending doggie vaccinations: "Whatever you do, just don' look at da shots ... And, after, maybe you get a lowipop."

The Professor: "Why is Dr. Who's time machine a phone booth? If I had a time machine, I'd make it a bouncy house, to have fun on the way."

Bam-Bam, drawing a picture-story: "Ok, Daddy, now you are suwownded by lava and dere's a 3-eyed dragon wif sharp teef. An' you don' have your sword."

‎Bam-Bam, crying in his bed after the Professor brought home a Mother's Day craft from school.
Me: "What's wrong?"
Bam-Bam: "I didn't make a mother's day present."
Me, heart melting: "It's okay, sweetie, I don't need a present. I just want to spend the day with you. You don't have to give me anything."
Bam-Bam: "Okay ... But you won't forget to get me things for Christmas, right?"

Me: "What do we call an animal that only eats meat?"
The Professor: "A carnivore!"
Me: "And an animal that only eats plants?"
The Professor: "An herbivore!"
Me: "And an animal that eats both meat and plants?"
Bam-Bam: "A mommy-vore!"

Car: *rattling* a little over a bumpy part in the road.
Bam-Bam: Oh no! She's breaking up! We gotta jump for it!

Bam-Bam: "I'm good at hopping. Hopping is my talent. ... And my other talent is being cute."

Bam-Bam, walking into my bathroom just after my shower, wrinkling his nose, declaring: "It smells like girl in here." and marching out. 

Me: Want to help me pick out what to wear today?
Bam-Bam: No. Daddy can do that. I really don't want to see you naked.

Me: Oh, look at the cool pic @grantimahara tweeted.
The Professor, so awed there is a real danger he might suck all the air out of the rooom: "Grant Imahara?!? The MythBuster who was raised by robots!?! That's SO cool!"

Bam-Bam, running into my room at 6:30 a.m.: "Mommy, there's a black puddle in the living room!"
Me, following them back to the living room: "Oh dear ... That's dog diarrhea."
The Professor: "What's diarrhea?"
Me: "It's dog poop."
The Professor: "Ewwwww, Bam-Bam, it's melty dog-poop!"
Bam-Bam: Oh darn. I was hoping we struck oil.

Bam-Bam, meditating:

Miss me?

11 May 2012

It's all been done

It seems North Carolinans and President Obama have raised quite the hullaballo about same-sex marriages again this week.

This is an issue I'm fairly opinionated about. So I've found myself talking and writing about it again this week. But ... there's just nothing new to say here, folks. It's all been done.

The President supports the right of gays to marry. You know what, that's actually kind of fantastic. But it doesn't change anything, especially not the minds of the people who oppose it.
And conservatives in North Carolina passed an all-but-redundant law declaring that only heterosexuals can marry in their state. Again, nothing much has changed.

It's deja vu all over again.

Here in California, we've been fighting against Prop. 8 - the ballot initiative to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry - since 2008. As someone in the apparent voting minority in my state, I feel for those 40 percent or so of compassionate minded North Carolina voters who opposed their state's amendment to institutionalize civil inequality.

But all these "new" headlines are really the same old story: People trying to impose their opinion on others to the point of stooping to create a second class of citizen.

Hell, when you get right down to it, North Carolina's new amendment and California's Prop 8 and other anti-gay marriage actions are all just eerily reminiscent of the same arguments that were put forward to argue against racial integration and inter-racial marriages - 50 years ago.

I'd have hoped we'd have evolved further than that by now.

Maybe I'm lazy or impatient or just plain tired of all the animosity, but, since the anti-gay marriage proponents don't seem to have any new arguments to put forth, I'm not going to waste time crafting new counter-points. Instead, I think I'll just recycle a bit ...

From Still Waiting, 28 October 2008

I still have yet to hear one - just ONE! - rational reason why Californians should pass Proposition 8 - which is an attempt to alter our State Constitution to define "marriage" as a "only between a man and woman".

The most basic premise of our State and Federal Constitutions - the very foundation of our whole Nation - is that ALL people are EQUAL under the law. How can anyone possibly reconcile that deeply held American value of equality with the intention and consequence of this Proposition?

Proposition 8 puts discrimination INTO our Constitution. It requires the government to treat it's citizens differently under the law. And that undermines the very foundation of equality and civil rights we ALL enjoy as Americans.

Whether you personally approve of homosexuality or not is irrelevant. The real question we are deciding is whether or not the Government can pick and chose which of its citizens may have certain civil rights and which may not.

Is that really a slope you want to start travelling down?

From Don't Divorce Us, 6 February, 2009 

I still don't understand why people want to control who other people love and marry. Or why they think they have the right to. I hope the courts will have the courage to correct this injustice. And I hope that more people will be able to grow their compassion and embrace equality.

From By Any Other Name 25 March 2009

Can we just give everybody in California a freakin' dictionary and move on? News Flash: The word "marriage" has more than one meaning. Let's make it simple:

Marriage: 1) A religious or spiritual union or rite, 2) A legal contract with set rights and responsibilities defined by law.

Religions of any kind are free and welcome to set any limits they see fit on Definition #1. But, in this country, no religion has any business trying to legislate Definition #2 to force others to live by their beliefs.

If you want to live in a theocracy, you might try Iran or Saudi Arabia. I'm sure those are lovely places to live. As long as you do and think and be exactly as the church/government believes you should.

From But I Don't Want To Go Among Mad People, 28 May 2009

Substitute "gays" for, say, "Catholics" or "women" or "blacks" or "left-handed". Now substitute "marriage" for "voting" or "driver's license" or "due process" or "free education".
Maybe then you will see how disturbing and wrong this precedent is.

Fundamental rights should not be up for popular vote. Ever. Equality means that everyone is treated equally under the law unless there is an overwhelming reason not to. As soon as we start carving out certain rights for some and not for others, we put all of our rights in danger.

One of the most basic premises of our legal system is that the rights of the minority are not subject to the whims of the majority.

How far down the rabbit hole do we need to fall before people realize that they are only hurting themselves by insisting on creating haves and have-nots?
Will you only realize the damage you have done when it is your rights on the chopping block?

"If everybody minded their own business,
the world would go around a great deal faster than it does."
~ The Duchess, Alice in Wonderland

From All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others, 11 January 2010

The rights set forth in our Constitution seem so simple; we sometimes take them for granted now. But, for our founding fathers, it was a paradigm-changing philosophy that set their fledgling constitutional republic apart as a nation of new ideals.

We have, as a nation, not always lived up to those ideals of equality. But we've been moving in the right direction - slowly but surely - throughout our history. Socially, each generation has learned to be just  a little more compassionate and tolerant than the last. Legally, the precedents over the last 200 years have been building a ladder toward that high-minded ideal set forth by our founding fathers so long ago.

And today, the Courts will hear a case that could throw us back down to the bottom rung.

If the "majority" of voters can decide that a whole class of people can be denied equal treatment under the law - in any form - then who or what will be next?


If you want a fresher opinion, you might check out Newark Mayor Cory Booker's excellent analysis of the subject:

You can also read Whit Honea's perspective over at Dadding. His is, as always, a compassionate and reasonable voice.

And then there's this sweet and simple sentiment from the very fun and funny Hannah Hart:

When news like North Carolina's new amendment drags my spirit down, people like these give me hope.



17 February 2012

Feelin' Crafty

Behold: My creation! *lighting crashes* Mwahahahahahaha!

I'd seen these cute little purses made from books at Etsy and other places and, being a huge book nerd, of course, I lusted for one of my own.

But they seemed so expensive, when I knew they could be made for so much less money. And yet, I was too intimidated to try to make one myself. (My crafting projects too often end in tears and feelings of inadequacy.)

But, after a friend of mine made this gorgeous bag for herself ...

  ... I got the guts to try to make my own.
I took bits and pieces from several tutorials I found online and Frankenstein'd my own method of doing it.

Mostly, this involved me thinking, "Now, how how can I do that without any sewing?" Cuz, you know, laziness is the mother of invention. Or something like that.

As I'm generally pleased with my results, I thought I'd share the method to my madness.


Frankly, I was too focused on figuring out how to make it work to really document my steps very well, though I did, obviously, snap a few pics along the way. So, as far as step-by-step tutorials go, this is a little weak. Think of it as more of an inspirational report than a how-to manual. ;)

  • A hard-cover book
    Just this once, you should judge a book by its cover: I find older books and children's books have some of the best covers. But, for this, I chose one of Barnes & Noble's Leatherbound Classic Series. Specifically, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. My friend used Grimm's Fairy Tales from the same series. It was actually really hard to choose just one book - they had so many of my favorites with such gorgeous covers! I wanted to buy them all. But, then, I get that feeling in bookstores all the time. The final deciding factor for me was size: The Anne Rice anthology was more than twice as wide as most of the others, meaning a bigger purse.
  • Coordinating fabric
    How much depends on the size of your book. I bought four fabric quarters - two each of a Gothic-looking black/purple tie-dye and a bright arterial red to complement my blood-sucking fiends theme - and that was more than enough - even with a few mistakes and re-cuts. (Most of the bags I've seen use only one fabric. But I wanted different colors for the sides and lining.)
  • Purse handles
    I went with pre-made. My friend made her own out of wire and beads. It doesn't really matter, as long as they coordinate with your book/bag.
  • Glue
    I mostly used fabric glue - the kind you can buy at any craft store for hemming and the like. But you could use hot glue or other kinds of crafting glue.
  • Cardboard
    Sturdy, but not too thick. Enough to cover the front, back and spine of your book. 
  • Plastic report cover
  • A utility knife, scissors, 2-3 blank pieces of paper, a pencil and maybe a ruler.
All of these supplies cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $35-40 - including the $20 book.

You'll note that this list does NOT include a sewing machine or a needle and thread. Again, this is sheer sewing-aversion on my part. My bag is sew-free. Yours doesn't have to be. Just substitute "neatly sew a lovely hem" for "glue the shit out of it" and you're good to go. ;)

Or, if you're the sewing type, you should check out this great how-to article at Hungry Panda. I loved the concept of her design, but the thought of all that sewing made me start to hyperventilate.

CHAPTER 1: Remove the cover

Yes, this is absolutely the most painful step - you have to cut the pages from the book. I know! I might have wept a little. I recommend doing it quickly - like ripping off a band-aid.

Use your utility knife to cut through the end paper and stitches holding the cover to the pages. But, carefully, so as not to cut any pages or the spine binding itself. Because we are going to recover that book when we're done, are we not?

Now that your book is naked, take it's measurements: Use blank paper to trace the front and back covers and spine. Then stand the book on it's edge, open it to the width you want your bag to open to, and trace that triangle outline all the way around the book, including a straight line along the front opening.

CHAPTER 2: The Guts: Preparation 

From this article at Wiki-How, I borrowed the idea of using fabric-covered cardboard inserts for the bottom and sides of the bag, to help reinforce the the book/bag and make installation easier:

Cut out two pieces of thin cardboard that are just a little smaller than the front and back covers of your book and one that is just a bit smaller than the spine.

The finished pieces should fit all together inside your book, while it is closed, without going over any of the edges. Check this sizing and then double-check it. And then check it again. THEN, use fabric glue to cover the cardboard with your fabric. 

(As you can see, my craftier-than-I-am friend added some awesome pockets to the lining of her bag. I do love pockets, but they didn't fit into my no-sew agenda, so they got left on the drawing board for this bag. If there's ever a sequel to this project, I'll probably try to add pockets.)

CHAPTER 3: Handles

I went with a single loop handle and attached them to the middle of the bag with one strap for each. You can see on my friend's bag that she went with the half-loop handles that attach to the bag in two places, requiring a total of four straps. There are pros and cons to each, but really it's your preference.

To attach the handles, I cut two long strips of the red fabric I used for the "guts" of the bag and "hemmed" the long edges with fabric glue. (Don't worry about the short edges.)

I just looped the fabric through the handles and glued the bottom part of the fabric securely to each side of the inside of the book cover - making sure that the handles were even with each other vertically and horizontally.

I think this method of using one strap per handle is a little easier than trying to make sure that FOUR handle straps are all even and equidistant. But, again: I'm a lazy crafter. The potential drawback to this method is that the strap sits right in the middle of the purse, so it could get in the way of the ...

CHAPTER 4: Clasp/Closure

A lot of the tutorials I saw used ribbon and a button - one mounted on each side of the bag in the center, to hold the book/purse closed. I liked the concept, but, as I said, my "middle" was kinda taken up by my strap. So, I just moved my button over to one side. I used a satin-covered black button and thin black leather twine that I had on hand, rather than a ribbon.

I threaded the leather through the button, leaving a long tail and secured that to the inside of the book with glue and electrical tape (No, it's not pretty, but it's strong and no one will ever see it.) with the button just poking out over the top of the book. On the opposite cover, I secured a loop of the black leather the same way - again, with just enough poking over the top of the book to be able to hook around the button and hold the bag closed.

One word of advice that I was thankful that my friend shared with me: Check the distance on this closure carefully and use something that has a little "give" for the strap. You want the book to stay closed, but not so tightly that it cuts off your storage space inside. I considered elastic, but I didn't have any on hand to try out. Plus, I liked the black leather. Hey, who doesn't? ;)

CHAPTER 5: Side Panels

I'm not gonna lie to you, Marge: This was the hard part. If you have access to another pair of hands, this is the time to call in reinforcements.

I found several slightly different, but all good, methods for doing this online. If it weren't for my severe allergy to sewing, I probably would have used this one at Curbly. But, I did this instead: 

Take that triangle tracing from waaaay up there in Chapter 1 and add about an inch to the sides and a couple of inches to the top. This is the template for cutting out the side panels for your bag.

Double over your fabric and cut a triangle from your template. Glue/hem the two sides of the doubled-over fabric together. Repeat, so that you have two equal-sized side panels.

I stole this idea from Jen Yates at EPBOT: Cut a medium weight plastic (like the kind you'd use for a report cover) into two horizontal strips about 1 inch tall and about an inch shy of the length of the top of your triangles.

Hem (glue) that plastic strip into the top of the fabric and crease it in the middle, so that the point of the crease points to the inside of the bag. This helps the side panels to fold inward, as opposed to outward, when the bag closes.

Glue the bottom point of the triangle to the inside of the spine of the book on one side - carefully checking the height before gluing to make sure the panels reach, but do not go past, the top of the book cover. Ditto on the other side.

Yes, I wish I had taken pictures of this part. But I didn't. Fortunately, Country Living did, for their very excellent tutorial on the subject.

Now take the spine-sized piece of cardboard that you covered in fabric earlier and glue it down on top of the edges of the triangles that you just glued down.(You can wait until step 6 to do this, but I thought doing it now was easier and less messy.)

Glue the long edges of the fabric up along the inside of the book covers.

That is so much harder than it sounds. Seriously, that one sentence does not accurately convey the contortions and cursing required to hold the book open at just the right angle with one hand while simultaneously holding the fabric in place with another hand while gluing the fabric down with another hand. Yes, that's at least three hands - that's my point!

So, learn from my mistakes: Either get another hand or two to help you hold the book in place or put together some kind of contraption to prop the book open at the right angle while you are gluing the sides.

CHAPTER 6: Guts: Installation

Once you've got the side panels glued in place and have let them dry - I took my time and let each side dry a bit before moving on to the next - then it's all down hill from here:

Just take the cardboard "guts" that you covered in fabric earlier and glue them in place to the insides of your bag. I used some paper clamps to hold the insides to the cover while the glue dried, which really doesn't take long.

Voila! You now have a lovely book-bag perfect for every nerdy occasion!

But, wait! There's still one last thing to do:

CHAPTER  7: Re-cover your book!

Unless the pages of the book you used were un-salvageable, you'll want to re-cover them to save the book for actual reading! Don't worry: It's not hard.

I re-covered the pages of my book with cardboard and some light denim fabric I had lying around. It's certainly not as pretty as the original cover. But the pages are protected and readable. :)


I know I don't usually do this crafty-mom thing on my blog (or in real life!).

But, I'm so pleased that I was able to make this successfully, that I want to share. Who knows, maybe there's some other book-loving-but-sewing-challenged person out there feeling, as I was, a little intimidated by this particular project.

So, if you want your very own "book bag" - don't be afraid to try it. And absolutely DO post a link to a pic here if you make one of your own!

No, my bag is not "perfect" - but it's mine. I made it. And I had fun making it. And that'd be enough right there to make me love it.

Bonus: It's a gorgeous book cover and I think I did a half-way decent job of transforming into a fun and useful bag. I even took it on it's first outing the other night - to my son's school's "Literacy Night". It seemed a fitting debut. I can't wait to wear it to even more geeky places.

The End,

14 February 2012

As You Wish

Happy VD! ;p

Yeah, I know, I've pretty much made it clear in the past that I'm not a big fan of V-Day.

As far as February holidays go, I much prefer those that involve prognosticating rodents, as opposed to a made-up (I know, technically, they are all made-up, but you know what I mean.), commercialized, over-sentimentalized holiday designed to squish the most complicated of all emotions into a 24-hour window of "displays of affection".

Still ... I'm not entirely unsentimental.

In fact, this year, I'm offering a glimpse of my soft white underbelly by admitting that I am kind of a sucker for romantic movies, well, some of them, anyway. I know! It's so ... so ... girly! But, I can't help it. I just have a soft spot for them. Many of them live happily in my DVD cabinet next to my action flicks, sci-fi collections and kung-fu movies. There are even a few classic musicals dancing around in there. It's an eclectic neighborhood of a cupboard, to be sure, but they all get along.

So, in honor of Valentine's Day, here are 21 of my favorite romantic movies, in no particular order:

1. The Princess Bride One of my all-time favorite movies of any sort and smashing good tale of "Wuv. Twue Wuv."

2. An Affair to Remember
This is a remake of the classic Love Affair from 1939, and it's a story that's been re-told on the big screen several times, but this Carey Grant and Deborah Kerr version will always be my favorite. I still tear up at the end. Every. Time.

3. Bull Durham
"Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days."  ... Nuff said.

4. Casablanca
Really? If I even need to explain this one, you should just stop reading now. 

5. Wall-E
I don't care if he is a trash-bot - don't even try to tell me that the montage of him trying to wake and woo the dormant EVE is not some of the most sweetest footage ever, animated or otherwise. Speaking of ... 

6. Up
If you know anyone who doesn't get at least a little choked up by the end of the first 10 minutes of this film, check their pulse.

7. Notorious
More Carey Grant - gawd, I love that man - this time paired with Ingrid Bergman in a war-time spy thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Okay, I know Nazi Germany doesn't sound romantic, but, if you haven't seen it, you're gonna hafta just trust me on this one. There's this one kiss - omg, I melt.

8. Breakfast at Tiffany's 
Bittersweet and charming, this one is Audrey Hepburn in one of her best roles.

9. Sabrina (1954)
Audrey Hepburn again, in a lighter role this time and paired with Bogart in a classic romance with some very cute moments.

10. Charade
We've already established my love for Audrey Hepburn and Carey Grant, so how can I NOT love them together? Especially when they're hip-deep in espionage

11. Brigadoon
Gene Kelly sings and dances his way around the Highlands of Scotland with Cyd Charisse while sarcastic Van Johnson cracks wise - that would be enough to make me love it right there. But, there's a sweet and sappy romance at the heart of this fanciful musical that just appeals to the fairy-tale loving little girl in me.

12. Dirty Dancing "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." I was about 13 when it first came out , so it will always be a formative romance for me and it still makes me *sigh* a little, and remember what it feels like to fall in love for the first time.

13. Pretty in Pink
Again - a formative one for me, as were almost all of John Hughes' films. His movies felt very "real" to a lot of teenagers at a time in life when it's hard to find anything to connect to at all. For the nostalgia factor alone, this would continue to be a favorite.

14. When Harry Met Sally
The anti love-at-first-sight romance. Sweet, funny, quirky - everything love (and a love story) should be.

15. French Kiss
Another quirky love-in-strange places theme with the adorable, everybody-loves-her Meg Ryan. But it's Kevin Kline who really makes this movie for me.

16. Armageddon
The innocent joy of sweet, romantic love and the heart-wrenching sacrifice of omg-it-still-makes-me-cry parental love, both reflected in the unbelievably sweet face of Liv Tyler. Bonus: Steve Buscemi trying to ride a nuke.

17. While You Were Sleeping
I love Sandra Bullock, and she and Bill Pullman are so quirky and cute in this. I can watch this one over and over.

18. The Proposal
One of the few more recent romances to make more than a blip on my radar. Probably more for the fact that I adore both Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock than because of anything genius in the movie itself. But it has some really sweet and funny moments that give it re-watch-ability for me.

19. Shakespeare in Love
I like to think the Bard himself would have liked this tale casting himself as a star-crossed lover.  

20. Say Anything
How can you not love that moment? Gawd, I haven't seen this one in ages. I might have to go watch it now.

21. Terminator
Shut up. It is TOO a romance.

I'm sure I've left out other great movies, trying to keep the list manageable. And, as you can see, my tastes tend to run to mostly older movies. What romantic movies would YOU add the list? Do you have favorite "classics"? Are there other modern romances you think I should give a try?

Gentlemen: These questions are not just for the ladies of the club; don't be afraid to chime in on this, too! My movies tastes generally run to "guy flicks" anyway. Share!



06 January 2012

On Little Cat Feet

I vlog'd.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Happy commuting,


03 January 2012

We read to know that we are not alone

Happy New Year!

I've pretty much established the fact that I don't have much use for New Year's Resolutions in general. But, for 2011, I did set a resolution-like goal for myself: To read a minimum of 60 books.

Based on recent years, that seemed like a realistic, but challenging goal.

I'm pleased to say I made it to 61. Though, I have to admit, I know I could have read more. There were a few times this year when I went weeks without any "pleasure reading" at all - which is very unlike me and is probably a testament to just how crazy 2011 was. (As is the dearth of posts here on the ol' blog-front, I know.) In fact, about 45 of those 60 books were all read in the first 6-7 months of the year. So, fall and winter were obviously pretty lacking in "me-time".

Still, I've set the same goal for 2012 ... but (shhhh!) I'm secretly hoping to beat it buy a greater margin than my stunning one-more-than-planned in 2011. ;)

Like my reading lists for the last few years, 2011 was chock full o' brain candy and speculative fiction. But there are a few exceptions.

One notable standout - for me - is an actual best-seller! I almost never read those. I guess I'm something of a ... what's the opposite of a books-snob? Wait, I think that's still a book snob. Just a different kind. ;)  But, in general, if it's "popular", I'm almost almost instinctively averse to reading it. Strange, I know. But, still true.

And yet, something about this one appealed to me ... so, for one of my last reads of 2011, I got a copy of The Hunger Games on Kindle ... and read it straight through (virtual) cover to cover in about 4 hours. And then I did the exact same thing with it's two sequels. (Those are on my 2012 list.) I have to admit - they were really good books. You should read them.

What did YOU read that was pleasantly surprising this year? :)

Happy Reading,


"We read to know that we are not alone." ~ C.S. Lewis 

Good Reads 2010  |  Good Reads 2009  |  Good Reads 2008

2011 Reading List

Kick Ass

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Black Magic Sanction

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy


4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Bayou Moon

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Storm Front

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Unshapely Things

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Beg For Mercy

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

How to Traumatize Your Children

2 of 5 stars

2011, funny, non-fiction, and parenting


5 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011


3 of 5 stars

2011 and sf

Serenity: Those Left Behind

4 of 5 stars

2011, graphic-novel, and sf

The Guild

4 of 5 stars

2011 and graphic-novel

Better Days

3 of 5 stars

2011, sf, and graphic-novel

Fool Moon

4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

Grave Peril

4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

Wicked Appetite

3 of 5 stars

funny, mystery-suspense, and 2011

Sizzling Sixteen

4 of 5 stars

funny, 2011, and mystery-suspense

Summer Knight

5 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy, mystery-suspense, and 2011

Kitty Goes to War

4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

Angel Of Mercy

3 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

Cry Mercy

4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Sherlock Holmes in Orbit

3 of 5 stars

sf, 2011, and mystery-suspense

A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Hard Magic

3 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy, mystery-suspense, and 2011

Secrets of the Demon

4 of 5 stars

2011, mystery-suspense, and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Spirit Dances

0 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Magic Mourns

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Indulgence in Death

4 of 5 stars

2011 and mystery-suspense

The Atlantis Complex

3 of 5 stars

2011, fantasy, and kids-ya

Fathers and Sons

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

You Suck

4 of 5 stars

2011, urban-paranormal-fantasy, and funny

River Marked

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Magic Slays

5 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Pale Demon

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Death Masks

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Blood Rites

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Dead Beat

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy


3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Phenomenal Girl 5

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Proven Guilty

4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

5 of 5 stars

2011, mystery-suspense, and funny

Treachery in Death

4 of 5 stars

2011 and mystery-suspense

The Electric Church

4 of 5 stars

2011 and sf

White Night

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Small Favor

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

The Digital Plague

4 of 5 stars

2011 and mystery-suspense

Good Eats: The Early Years

4 of 5 stars

2011 and non-fiction

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

4 of 5 stars

2011 and non-fiction

Blood Work

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy


3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Silver Shark

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Explosive Eighteen

4 of 5 stars

2011, mystery-suspense, and funny

Down These Strange Streets

3 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

Shady Lady

4 of 5 stars

2011 and urban-paranormal-fantasy

New York to Dallas

4 of 5 stars

mystery-suspense and 2011


4 of 5 stars

urban-paranormal-fantasy and 2011