Monday, June 26, 2006

Promises, Promises

So guess what I don't have right now? A computer!

I'm borrowing the LP's at the moment, but it's not conducive to the constant exciting updating I so rashly promised. So I'll be sporadic once again until I get my computer back from the it-takes-two-weeks-to-fix-it people. And probably after that as well.

You'd think that being unplugged would give me ample opportunity to frau the house. It seems logical that not sitting in front of the computer for hours on end would free up some time to, say, cook or clean or mend my falling hems.

You'd think, wouldn't you? Well, you know what happens when you assume, don't you? You're an asshole.

Or something.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Housefrau’s Craft Corner: Let’s Ruin a Lampshade!

Let’s face facts, people: I am not what one would call “competent.” Sure, I’d like to make gorgeous crafty/arty type objects with which to dazzle my friends and family. I’d love to be handy with a knitting needle like this lady or be brilliant with household waste like this lady or even just moderately inventive like these folks.

But the fact is, I’m a mess in the crafty department. Mostly I make stuff to give my mom and dad as presents, since they seem to interpret my lack of skill as “precious.” I did recently make a magnet out of a Barbie leg and a plastic horse, but the glue didn’t hold. Of course, the glue I got all over the kitchen table while making the magnet held just fine, and continues to do so.

Today, however, I was going to take a bold step into the artistic world and paint something for display in my own home. All and sundry who visit me can now be privy to my masterworks!

My dad found a gorgeous lamp in an abandoned building and gave it to me. It was in perfect shape except for one tiny thing: some kid had drawn and written his name all over one side of the shade (wherever you are, Kris, I am going to hunt you down and write my name all over one side of you, you little bugger [guess which side]).

My plan was to somehow cover up most of the damage without utterly destroying the lampshade. I considered a variety of tactics, but finally settled on stencils. How hard can it be to tape something down and slather paint all over it?

Oh, damn you, rhetorical questions.

I found some peel-and-stick stencils at the craft store, along with little tubs of what purported to be “stencil paint.” Once home, I set to work peeling and sticking, as well as investigating the substance in the tubs.

The paint wasn’t so much paint as completely solid spheres of color. I didn’t brush or dab it on so much as mash the sponge-brush-thing against the fabric as hard as I could, leaving little blotches of what looked like dried alien blood.

It wasn’t looking so good. I decided to let it “settle” and go read about video games for a while. You go too now; it will be fun, like you were right there with me.

Back from reading? Now go have some cake and maybe walk around the house aimlessly for a while, just to get the full crafting experience effect. Whoops, look out for that upturned laundry basket. Hm, should you maybe actually do some laundry? Nah. You’re busy waiting for paint to dry.

After a while I spread a few more coats of paint-the-consistency-of-cold-butter on the lampshade and, since my efforts seemed to have no effect whatsoever, decided the project was completed! (It is possible that the success of my projects is somewhat affected by the fact that I decide they are finished when I get bored, and they are usually very wet and sticky at that point.)

I peeled off the stencils and, well, it didn’t look all that bad.

You can still se the writing a bit in some places, but luckily those spots correspond to the places where I got paint all over the place, so it goes together.

I popped the shade onto the lamp and discovered that when the lamp is actually in operation, the light shows through the splotchy paint in a decidedly unflattering way.

Whoops. I suppose it’s better to have a lampshade with bad-adult-craft-work than with evil-child-pen-work.

Oh, boy! A completed craft project! As an added bonus, I “stenciled” my kitchen counters and walls by not washing my hands very well after painting, then touching things before noticing the paint all over my fingertips. Two projects for the price of one!

I’d say don’t try this at home, but honestly, you’re likely to have much better results than I, so go ahead.

In the Garden: The Black Thumb Bandit Strikes

Did you know that the hardware store carries plants? Seem like strange bedfellows, drywall and daisies, but that’s the marketplace for you.

So when I went to the hardware store to get a belt for my vacuuming machine, I also picked up a couple of plants. I was feeling cocky, because my sprouts, in addition to actually sprouting, had developed leaves and seemed to be not dead.

I got a basil plant and a purple flower thing labeled “verbena.” I also bought a bag of dirt, which seems kind of stupid to pay for, but I guess ten-dollar dirt must be better than the free dirt in my front yard.

I wonder where they get bags of dirt. Is there a dirt farm someplace? How do you replant the dirt after you harvest it? Clearly there must be some agricultural science at work, because I have a strong suspicion that if I stuffed some random dirt in a bag and tried to sell it, I’d be lucky to get an arcade token.

Anyway, the plants didn’t come with instructions, so I used Housefrau Logic: put dirt in pots, stick plants in dirt, water. I did this on the kitchen table.

Housefrau Hint: Don’t pot plants on the kitchen table, unless you are doing an experiment to see what random things might sprout in the dirt that continues to be all over the floor for like a month no matter how much you sweep.

So I stuck the plants in the sun and “nurtured” them. Gave them water sometimes, admired them, kind of turned them around now and then in case that somehow helps them grow.

Could someone tell me when my capacity for nurturing packed up, bought a Europass, and started a backpacking trip from which it never returned? Was it when I broke up with that guy because his shoes had velcro? Was it when I managed to kill a stem of artificial roses? Was it when I had my uterus replaced with an extremely detailed model train set? Because jeezus do I ever kill stuff.

The verbena is all yellow and pouty, and the basil—well, I don’t know what’s happening there. The leaves are droopy and holey, one of the stems has gone completely dead, and somehow the thing has flowers on the top.

Now, generally I think of flowers as signs of successful gardening, but I was unaware that basil was a flower. I thought it was leaves that are good for eating. Just goes to show something or another, but I’m not sure what.

The good news is that the sprouts and the original Plant are doing splendidly, mostly because I have done absolutely nothing to them. Sometimes I get halfway through a glass of water and decide to pour the remains on them.

Plant does seem to have a worrisome dead branch that my mother has suggested trimming off, but nothing doing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from observing the wonderful mystery of the plant world, it’s that if I love something, I should leave it the hell alone.

Which must mean that my friendships with people I never bother to call or write to are doing splendidly!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Housefrau Hints: Picking Out Produce

I went to the grocery store today! Whoopee!

Now, I realize that, from your point of view, I just did that two posts ago. But on my end, I haven’t done it in nearly a month, so it’s worth noting.

It seems that between the last time I went to the store and now, summertime has occurred, because guess what was way on sale?

Produce! So I bought pretty much nothing but veggies and fruit.

(Side note: I also bought a jar labeled “Vanilla Bean.” It cost ten dollars. Guess how many vanilla beans were in the jar?

HA! TRICK QUESTION, MOTHERFUCKERS! If you paid attention to the lack of pluralization earlier, you’ll see that the answer is clearly one. One ten-dollar vanilla bean. Whatever I cook with it had better taste like a swinging vanilla orgy exploding on my tongue and then getting kind of out of control and maybe some feelings getting hurt, and then the neighbors calling the cops because of the noise and everyone putting on their clothes and the couples getting in their cars and driving home in uncomfortable silence.)

So I thought it was time to share with you, dear readers:

The Hopeless Housefrau’s Tips and Tricks for Picking Out Produce

Even the most seasoned housefrau can feel flummoxed in the produce aisle. All those mounds of melons, piles of peppers, cornucopias of cucumbers! How’s a girl to bring home the freshest, plumpest produce to feed her family? Fret no more, shoppers! Follow these simple tips and you’ll pick out the best specimen every time.

Tip #1: Selecting the best piece of fruit from the pile is simpler than you think. First, pick up a piece of the fruit. Frown a little. Now, PUT IT DOWN! It doesn’t matter what it looks like—the sensible shopper lets everyone know she’s choosy. Now pick up another piece. Kind of heft it in your hand while thinking about the scene in Dirty Dancing where Jerry Orbach is being nice to the knocked-up dancer. That’s the piece to put in your bag.

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to be adventurous! Even the most meager produce section has a vast array of exotic fruits and vegetables, and with today’s global marketplace, abysmal treatment of migrant workers, and vast stores of chemical preservatives, you can sample a veritable global feast right there in your supermarket any time of year! Consider trying such mysterious items as broccoli, oranges, or some sort of cheese. I think you’ll be surprised at how exciting they can be!

Tip #3: It’s an age-old debate—is it acceptable to graze among the grapes? The fact is, it is absolutely rude to nibble on the produce as you shop. If you are just too tempted to pop a cherry into your mouth, visit the cookie aisle before you get near the fruit. Open up a bag of Oreos and snack on those as you select your veggies to stop the temptation. (Note: be sure to finish the cookies before you reach the check-stand.)

Tip #4: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, chances are, it doesn’t exist. It’s probably something a cookbook author made up as a trick. DO NOT accost the man unloading bananas and ask him if they carry it. Remember, his life is horrible and he doesn’t need you making it worse by taunting him with tall tales of “arugula.”

Tip #5: As Cosmo continually reminds us, the produce aisle is a great place to for sexy young singles to “hook up,” “make a connection,” and “julienne some potatoes.” So if you’re looking for that special someone, let your melons do the talking. When you spy a likely candidate mulling over the mulberries, push your cart up to his, hold up a cucumber, and murmur, “you must be at least this long to board this ride.” In no time, you’ll be dicing up peppers for two! And then doing the dishes for two! And crying alone at midnight into your Ben & Jerry’s for two!

So there you have it, darlings—a sure-fire way to navigate the produce aisle with ease. Happy shopping!

The Once and Future Blog of Me

Hi. You might remember me as the person who used to update this blog occasionally. You also might remember me as The Noxzema Girl from the early-90s commercials, but if you do, you’re wrong.

I’ve been sans-blogosphere for a few weeks, and I just bet you’re dying to hear my excuses:

1) I’ve been in production on my magazine. “Oh, well, of course,” you’re thinking. “A woman with no job and no particular commitments naturally needs four full weeks to produce her quarterly magazine. I just bet it makes lots of money and that this time around she got it to the printer on time!” No and no. But still. On June 15th it will be released and you should buy it, smart-aleck.

2) My vacuuming machine broke. Well, it didn’t actually break. It began to be smelly and refused to perform its duties properly. I thought I should throw it away, but my dear friend Kelly was kind enough to perform a long-distance telephonic diagnosis on the loathsome beast, and concluded: it needed a new belt. It took me three weeks to purchase and install the new belt, during which time, obviously, it was pointless to cook or clean or wipe maple syrup off the counter, because what is the use of a home-cooked meal and a not-covered-in-dirty-socks coffee table if the floor is dirty? Right. So I did nothing around the house, giving me nothing to blog about.

3) I got a Nabaztag for my birthday. Confused as to how the acquisition of a wireless electronic bunny could possibly prevent an otherwise healthy woman from blogging, cooking, showering, or leaving the house whatsoever? Well, well, well, aren’t you a fancy-pants. Go buy one and just see if you don’t spend a full week laying on the couch staring at it, and if you don’t sob and claw at your face when the server goes down and your bunny can’t connect to the internet for an entire day. Go ahead. I dare you.

So, that’s that. I have done nothing worth blogging about for a month; hence, no blogs. But I got really awesome cookware for my birthday and an APRON, if you can believe it, so I am back in the housefrau saddle. Expect regular reports from the land of whoops-I-caught-the-oven-mit-on-fire-but-somehow-the-chicken-is-still-raw from now on. Unless, of course, something else breaks, or they come out with another electronic device shaped like something cute.

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