Thursday, December 22, 2016

THE HOLIDAY CARD YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

Usually around this time of year, I write a hilarious post about the hideous and painful process of taking a decent photo of my demon spawn delightful offspring for our annual holiday card. This post, while holiday-card-related, is a little different and a lot less hilarious.

While looking for a card to send this season (and doing it way too late, because that's how I roll), I found myself at odds with the available templates. I do not feel joyful. I am not wishing good things for all of my fellow men. I do not see much peace in the world right now, and I sure as shit am not merry. So I was having a bit of trouble finding a card that felt both seasonally appropriate and also honest. And then I came across THIS bullshit:


What the fuck? What the actual fuck? Who the FUCK is ordering this card and sending it to friends and family? Are there people out there who seriously believe 2016 was awesome???

This silly, unimportant, holiday card template made me unbelievably angry. It made me angry at the fake Ericsson family going about their stupid imaginary life of white privilege with sleds and ice cream and walking to school with dumb pink and blue lunch boxes or whatever the fuck those things are in that picture on the left.

It made me want to take those fucking pies and smash them into the faces of every single person who isn't concerned that 2016 signals the beginning of the end of the world, who isn't sad to the bone about the people we lost this year, who isn't afraid for the civil rights and physical safety of women, minorities, the LGBT community, or anyone who is "different" in any way at all, every single person who isn't crying real tears over what is happening in Syria while the world stands by and does nothing (I know that two pies would not be enough but I am willing to bet the Ericksons are the kind of people that bake a lot of pies as good, wholesome, family fun).

Yes, I am willing to consider the possibility that the Ericksons may be innocent victims of some misplaced anger on my part.

I showed the holiday card template to a friend of mine (a kind and intelligent person who shall remain nameless as she would probably just as soon not be connected in any way to this particular post) and said "This makes me want to create the real version." She was like, "Go for it." And that is how I spent last night.

Let the following be a lesson to everyone that telling me to "Go for it" is not something one should do lightly:


I am fully aware that this is in NO WAY a complete representation of the myriad ways 2016 sucked. There are many, many (MANY) more images I wanted to include. But you have to take into account the spatial constraints under which I was forced to work: It's a 5x7 card, not a billboard. (Oh, a billboard! Now THERE's an idea...)

I was also becoming more enraged and depressed while making it, and while there are valid reasons to be both right now I am trying very hard to not be full of anger and fear and grief (or at least to not be paralyzed by anger and fear and grief). Which is difficult when sifting though images of the events of 2016. So I opted for "done" in the place of "perfect" and stopped after a couple of hours.

Readers, do not worry. I have come down from Rage Mountain and will not be sending the above to the people on my holiday card list. I ordered appropriate cards showing my sweet boys being happy, reveling in the innocence that comes from being eight and ten years old and not yet knowing how horrible a place the world can be. I will be putting those cards in the mail tomorrow (shut up, I am going to the post office TOMORROW, I swear). And in the meantime, I am using sites like this to make sure I stand up, speak out, take action and never, ever, ever stop fighting.

Happy Holidays and Lots of Extra Love to Absolutely Everyone 💗

XOXOXO
ABC


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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MEASURING, MATH, AND HEAVY LIFTING

After finding out that I was on the way, my mother and father got married in 1972. They had a lovely wedding in the backyard of a friend's brownstone in Greenwich Village. I arrived in December, leaving them little time for a honeymoon.

So when I was about six months old, my doting parents left me with Auntie Ann Burr and Uncle Michael and they flew off to Africa. I can only imagine my Aunt and Uncle were thrilled, considering they already had six children of their own, the youngest of whom - my Cousin Timmy - is just a couple of years older than I. But they are truly lovely, lovely people and have always insisted that taking care of me was a joy and the addition of an infant to their household for weeks and weeks was pure pleasure.

Touring Africa in the early 70s seems to have been fairly adventurous, not to say rugged. Judging from the photos it was like a far cry from a typical luxurious, romantic vacation celebrating newlywed bliss, but both my mother and father look as happy as I've ever seen them, standing outside an insane army green canvas tent in which they slept on cots on the Masai Mara. 

In addition to the happy couple, there are dozens of pictures of wild animals. Going through the (many, many, many) boxes of photos in the house while growing up was always interesting: Oh, look! Here's me as a toddler on the beach! Here's Sissy in a highchair with cake on her face! Here's a lion on a rock?!

Anyway, my father had several of the photos blown up and framed; I remember them hanging on the walls as a child. Fast-forward 40+ years, and seven or eight of them ended up in my basement - old, faded, and looking every bit their age. My mother still has the film, and I could probably find it and have decent prints made but I kind of like them better this way. And nearly two years after moving in to this house, I finally got motivated to hang them in the basement/playroom. 

It was a total nightmare. 

I wanted, reasonably enough, to hang them in a row, the same height and spaced evenly on the wall, and not end up looking like an incompetent or perhaps intoxicated person hung them. But not only is math is far from my strong suit but the photos are still in their original frames which weigh about 40 pounds each and none of the hanging wires are the same length (because of course they aren't).

In an attempt to not fuck the project up completely, I drew a picture that I could use as a guide of sorts. Well, "drew" a picture...


You will note that I am artistically as well as mathematically challenged. But you can also shut up because it worked perfectly!

Elephant, Antelopes, Giraffe, Birds of Some Sort, Tree, Rhino, Lion Cubs

Full disclosure: It sort of worked almost perfectly. There are several holes in the wall behind more than one of the photos.

But I'm happy, and will stay happy until one of my unbelievably active and wildly uncontrollable boys chucks a baseball or something across the room and shatters glass all over the floor. 

And yes, I am aware of the hideous popcorn ceiling, but after removing it in the bedroom next to the playroom, I can tell you it'll be a while before I summon the energy required to do the rest of the basement. Get off my back! Jeez.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Sunday, April 3, 2016

KITCHEN UPDATE ON A DIME: PART TWO

Without fail, every DIY project I attempt reaches a point at which I sit back, survey my surroundings, and wish with my whole heart that I had hired someone to do the job. Below is a photograph of this exact moment in the whole covering-my-kitchen-counters-with-a-giant-granite-looking-sticker effort:





After choosing to ignore the one consistent piece of advice in every single video and comment on Amazon ("get someone to help you!") and deciding to attempt this by myself, I got, like, one side sort of done and was sad sad sad.

Covering your ugly laminate counters with a giant sticker that looks like granite (SHUT UP IT DOES LOOK LIKE GRANITE) is hard. And yes, doing it alone was probably harder, but I honestly can't imagine a scenario in which I would still be speaking to the person I asked for help after trying to do it with together. 

Lo, after a few hours of sweat and (almost) tears, the green counter was gone!







Pretty nice, right?

But my dreams of a "new" kitchen were bigger than just getting rid of the green. I wanted to add a counter where there was just a sort of half of a wall with a top (best shown in the picture above). I really, really wanted to make a kind of "breakfast bar" there to provide an alternative to the dining room (in addition to the "the floor of the family room" which is where my kids currently eat most of their meals).

After much research (and a trip to New Haven), I was the proud owner of the IKEA SALJAN Countertop,  four IKEA EKBY HENSVIK Brackets, and four IKEA INGOLF Bar Stools. All I had to do was get it on there (this part I did have help for, and a good thing I did because the new counter is level/properly attached and supported/actually safe for children to be around, none of which would be true had I done it alone).




Add some sticker granite to that bad boy, and we're SO CLOSE to finished...


All that's left is replacing those three recessed lights with pendants (which is waaaaaay easier than it sounds, thanks to lights like this) and my Kitchen Update is a wrap!

XO
ABC

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

RETAIL RECOMMENDATION: BUDSIES

As a Pinterest addict user, I have long been aware of online companies that take one of your kid's drawings and makes a stuffed animal from it, but never really seriously considered using one. Both of my boys are very, very into stuffed animals in general, forming deep and long-lasting attachments to several specific favorites, but the seven-year-old does way more drawing than his nine-year-old brother ever did. 

My sister (also known as the worst client ever, or Sissy) was kind enough to tell young William all about these magical places that would turn one of your drawings into an ACTUAL STUFFED ANIMAL! He had even knew which drawing he wanted to have transformed - a masterpiece in crayon of a cat that appears to have eight legs but, it has been emphatically explained to me several times, only has FOUR legs, the other leg-looking-things are just spots. 


For weeks, he kept asking if we could have "Jake" made into a stuffed animal. After checking out the Budsies website and seeing how much it was going to cost for this to happen ($89), I did the best I could to put William off and just sort of hoped he would forget about the whole thing. 

But, while he cannot manage to remember to hang up his coat or where he put his backpack or anything that is actually helpful, when it came to Jake as a potential stuffed animal William's memory was like a steel trap. Week after week, he asked. Until I caved. 

(I did not, however, completely lose my mind. I opted out of paying $39 more for a larger version. I was also more than willing to forgo a "birth certificate" for Jake, saving another $5.)




I am really, really happy I caved. William was in love the second he saw the "real" version of Jake. Months later, he still wants Jake with him in bed every night, and carries him around the house during the day. As for whether or not William is correct about how much "Jake" looks like the drawing, I will let you be the judge:



Jake (The Stuffed Animal)
XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

KITCHEN UPDATE ON A DIME: PART ONE

When I moved to Connecticut, I was lucky enough to find a house I loved. Except for the kitchen. I only really "liked" the kitchen.

My dream kitchen involves white cabinets, grey streaked granite countertops, a stainless steel undermount sink, glass subway tile for the backsplash, pendant lamps over a breakfast bar where the kids could pull up stools for a meal... Never mind, I'll just show you:





So the dark wood cabinets, green laminate counters, recessed lighting, no counter for the kids, green laminate counters, and white drop-in sink - while not awful and certainly much, much better than it could have been - were making me sort of sad, kitchen-wise:

Yes, That Is A Baking Sheet In The Sink. Yes, I Was Too Lazy To Wash It For The Photos.
Also, This Is Easily The Cleanest My Kitchen Has Been Since Moving In.
How Much Do You Love The Decorative Tile Above The Range?
My initial plan to cure me of my kitchen sadness involved a new counter, sink, and backplash. After a trip to Home Depot, a visit with one of their "Kitchen Consultants," and a ballpark estimate of $3,000 (and the Kitchen Consultant wouldn't listen to me AT ALL and just kept saying that everything I wanted was impossible and basically trying to boss me into dumb ideas, so I wouldn't even be getting what I wanted anyway. Not that I'm still bitter about those three hours of my life that I will never get back or anything.)

Needless to say, while my kitchen was not ideal there are several (SEVERAL) ways in which I would rather spend $3K than on renovating my kitchen into something I also don't like. I began to explore, uh, less expensive options. Well, to be honest, I started looking for the cheapest possible way to turn the current kitchen into something I loved. (I am an optimistic person.)

Granite is too pricey? No problem! Head to Amazon and search for "instant granite." (No, I am not kidding.) After reading A LOT of customer reviews, and looking at A LOT of customer photos, I ended buying this. I know. It's a sticker. It's basically (slightly) fancier shelf liner. I am aware. However, two rolls cost me $120 and I figured if it looked terrible I could chalk it up to a learning experience.

My sticker granite arrived and I could barely wait to get started on the magical transformation of my sad-making kitchen:

Sticker Granite! AKA The Beginning Of  Magical Kitchen Transformation!
After watching at least ten video tutorials, it was clear that unlike shelf liner (I assume, I have never actually lined a single shelf so I don't know for sure), the installation of sticker granite is no joke. 

From the videos, it was clear that it was important not only have all the right tools, but (and every single video stressed this) to get someone else's help. Apparently turning laminate counters into "granite" with a giant sticker is not a one-man job.

I was all set with the tools:

Water Sprayer, Staple Gun, Hair Dryer, Painting Tape, Box Cutter, And Plastic Smoother Thing.
But despite the (in retrospect, very good) advice given out in all of those video tutorials, I chose to go it alone on the installation. I have no explanation as to why I thought this was a good idea - it was not. At all. In the next installment, I will elaborate on exactly how bad an idea it was. Stay tuned!

XOXOXO
ABC

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