Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Previously Unreleased - 2008 Photos

These photos are a selection of my iPhoto library since the Great Laptop Crash of August 2008. I wasn't as religious with the blogging as I wanted to be, so a lot of these photos should have shown up throughout the year, but didn't.

Our aluminum tree.

Thanksgiving Break. (Adam pretty much does this every weekend morning, though.)

Sushi lunch in St. Louis

St. Mary's Mountain and Church, Altus, Ark. Thanksgiving Day

Helping out the neighborhood squirrel population

Adam and I breaking in Rock Band at Mom and Dad's

Adam playing the drums later that night at our house
(for some reason, I love the look on his face)

Waterfire on the Plaza.

Checking progress on a knit in the van on the way to Arkansas.

Kyle modeling (?) his new hat knitted by his mama

The line when we went to vote after school one day

My Thanksgiving dinner at St. Mary's

Kasie wins a pooping reindeer during Christmas bingo

Visit from L means a trip to the park

Jayne was all smiles, hopped up on pain meds after surgery

Why do cats always pick the clean laundry?

How'd you get up there?

Emma's lion

First big snow of the season

Friday night at Blanc Burger

The "other" cat in our lives, Betty

This is what happens when you play too much Rock Band

I love the look on Lauryn's face in this photo

Can't go wrong with a tiny shopping cart.

This post might serve as a bit of a preview for a project Betsy had an idea for. We're working to get it off the ground. I'll keep you posted on that.

All of these photos were taken either with the iPhone, or my Canon Digital Elph. Looks like the blog might be more interesting if I posted these THROUGHOUT the year, eh?

Happy New Year's Eve, everybody! Have fun and be safe.

See you in 2009.

You can fix (or make) anything out of Duct Tape

The crafty shenanigans were in full force tonight at Casa de Chittum. Last week on "Today" a crafty author, Jodi Kahn, demonstrated making tote bags out of T-shirts and duct tape, using staples to hold it all together. She's shilling a new book, "Simply Sublime No Sew Bags."

I DVRed it, thinking this was definitely a project right up our alley.

Each of the girls picked out a shirt to use, I picked up a new rotary cutter and mat from JoAnn's, Mitzi picked up the duct tape and brought the stapler. We watched the video a couple more times, and Amy LM came over to give us some moral support and tell funny stories.

You have to cut the sleeves off of the shirts, then turn them inside out and line them with the duct tape. It's easier than it sounds, but it does take a little time.

I guess if you got fed up with the project at this point, you'd have a nice, easily cleanable paint smock - just wipe and go!

I chose a red River Run T-shirt, and luckily Mitz had picked up some red tape, and it was exactly the right shade. Then, we worked on a pink shirt for Bets and a cool environmentally messaged T for Mitzi.

Amy shot that photo of Betsy and Mitzi demonstrating how this purse project is something twins joined at the head might be able to participate in.

Once you get the inside lined with tape, you have to "seam" the bottom of it with a line of staples, then reinforce the seam with a line of tape.

Shape the armholes and neckhole the way you want it (makes the straps for the bag) and then turn it inside out. Your cool T-shirt will be on the outside.

Obviously, I've taken out a few steps along the way, but you mostly get the idea. If you're interested in making your own bags, let me know and I'll dig up the link with the how-to video.

Mitzi models her finished product.

Betsy models hers. Realized after they'd gone home that I didn't have a photo of mine all finished. I'll add it tomorrow.

Joshua decided he wanted to get in on the act, so we whipped him up a duct tape wallet. Of course, found the instructions for that on the internet.

This was before we decided that the measurements online were a little GIANT for a normal wallet. We did a little trimming and creative crafting to come up with a finished product.

That's his retired wallet on the right, and our product on the left.

My biggest piece of advice if you're interested in undertaking a project like this: figure out when the tape will be on sale, then buy a bunch of it. The rolls of tape were about $7 apiece, and it took just about an entire roll of the colored tape to do one shirt. They make the tape in just about any color nowadays, but the colored rolls seemed to be smaller than the traditional silver duct tape.

I've got a great tie-dye shirt I'd like to make a yellow-tape bag with. Let me know if you hear the colored rolls go on sale!

These bags would make really cool knitting project bags. I plan to load mine up tomorrow and shoot some photos of it so you can check it out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Battery Buzzkill

As we were breaking in the new Rock Band for Wii game the other night, I discovered something about new(er) toys.

In the good old days, batteries could be easily changed by manipulating the little clip that held the battery cover. (See the remote, below, for example).

Two different games I got for Christmas this year, however, require a screwdriver to remove the battery cover.

A screwdriver!

You're already annoyed because you've got to root around for batteries (I think I removed batteries from everything in the house), and THEN, you've got to find a freakin' tiny screwdriver as well.

Is the toymaker's best friend the tiny screwdriver maker? Up there is the Catchphrase timer. You can see the battery cover at the top.

And that's the guitar for Rock Band. What happens when the little screw gets stripped? I know this will happen eventually - it happens to all screws. Then, are we faced with duct tape on all of our toys?

Parents and Santa - remember this next year. When you pick up those "Batteries Not Included" toys, and you're good enough to remember the batteries, you might want to wrap up a tiny screwdriver as well.

P.S. Anybody out there who has Rock Band - gentle reminder to turn off the guitar when you're done playing, so you don't run the batteries down.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Windy wack

I had planned to write a blog post about how I have pretty much done absolutely nothing the last few days except hang out with the family, eat Christmas goodness, and do a little shopping. So much nothing that I slept over at my parents' house the last two nights. We stay up late, and then I don't feel like going home to a cold, empty house. Adam is still visiting his family in Salt Lake.

Last night, though, Mitzi and I decided we needed to get out and about, so we went to see "Doubt" with my aunt. Great movie. I love both Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and they were incredibly intense in the movie.

After we dropped off Alice, Mitzi stayed over for a bit. We knitted, watched "What Not To Wear" and "The Dog Whisperer." She went home around midnight, and I went to bed.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke to the sound of the wind outside. WIND. What the hell? I'm a very heavy sleeper. It takes giant thunder claps and lightning to wake me up. Last night, though, the wind did it.

I got up, peeked out the window, went to the bathroom, and crawled back in bed. In my half-asleep/half-awake state, I reasoned that it must not be a tornado, because I didn't hear sirens. I think I did contemplate for a split second going into the bathtub just in case...but only for a second. (I was half asleep and groggy!)

When we got home from the movie last night at 10, the car thermometer read 65 degrees. It was warm out - we weren't wearing coats, and I had the vent going driving home.

When I went out to pick up limbs this morning, most of them were covered in a layer of ice, and it was 32 out.

Of course I didn't pull the car into the garage last night, so there was a little ice on it this morning. I moved it in the garage since the weather is supposed to get worse later today.

I call this photo: "When's summer?" Through the ice, you can see my bike hanging in the window, and those Christmasy colored blobs in the bottom right are our coolers/camping gear.

I'm pretty sure there are still some lose limbs that will come crashing out of the trees if we get ice today, or if the wind kicks up again. Luckily, nothing fell on the cars or the roof.

Our trees are really old - I was just looking at photos of the house from back in the day, and the trees were about six feet tall. They really need to be trimmed, but with wind like this, they're getting thinned out.

No, we don't normally keep the trash can lying on it's side next to the fence.

Our giant pampas grass always falls over when it snows or ices. The weight pulls the grass down. It always looks so pitiful like that.

We're supposed to go over to Julie's for Sax Christmas this afternoon. I hope the weather holds out for that. I'd be quite perturbed if we haven't had a school snow day yet this year, but our Christmas celebration gets snowed out!

I read in the Star that the Wal-Mart at 159th and Metcalf will be closed for a while because of structural damage and a broken gas line. That's right next to my school - guess it was a lot worse out there. Hope my students are all okay.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This and that

We got up at O Dark Early today to get Adam to the airport. Left the house at 5:30, and got to KCI at 6:40. Normally, it doesn't take that long from here, but there was just enough snow over night to gum up the traffic works. Thank God most people don't work on Christmas Eve, so the roads were at least being lightly traveled.

Looks like it could be a white Christmas, but it's more like a whiskery white Christmas - it snowed, but not enough to cover up the grass.

Last night we did the friend-ily gift exchange with Betsy and Mitzi, and watched "Can't Buy Me Love." Mitz cooked up some awesome homemade pizza. I think she's inspired Adam to invent his own recipe for homemade pizza, too. Betsy gave Adam the Nestle Tollhouse (Tooul-hoouse, for you "Friends" fans) cookbook. We decided that we should make a recipe from there every week when we have our little get-togethers, but we'll also have to schedule an extra get-together for working out to burn off the sugar!

Picture me like the little old ladies in "The Three Amigos" today - SEW LIKE THE WIND! I've got to finish the blanket, and make a scrapbook page frame as well. Guess it's a good thing Adam took off for Salt Lake.

Off to get some work done.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Baby, it's f#@*ing cold outside!

That's what we do in the Chittum household when it's cold and we're off of school...If you are an avid reader of the ChittumFiles, you probably saw Sunday's post about the frosty windows. Well, we took a drastic step today.

You know it's cold when I'm forced to move the catbox (yes, I'm actually writing about my cat's litterbox on my blog. I'm officially a crazy cat lady) from the back laundry room to the craft room. Unfortunately, Gracie is a weakling, and she can't push the back door open on her own. So, we have to prop the door open just enough for her to come and go as she pleases. That way, she can get to her food and her bathroom whenever she needs it.

Well, that works fine in a normal climate, but since we now live in what feels like the Arctic Circle, we've had to make some changes. The back room isn't insulated very well, since it was added on at some point, and it's quite drafty. I think I saw some teeny-tiny little ice-skaters in the back bathroom's toilet bowl early this morning.

For now, the back door will stay closed, and we're getting ready to hang up a blanket over the door to keep the cold air in the back room.

Yesterday, we opened presents with Mom and Dad. Here's a photo of Dad modeling the hat and scarf I made for him. I got lucky, because I was already working on it for him, when around Thanksgiving, he said "Why don't you knit me another scarf? I need another warm one."

I can post this next photo because I know that Grandma Jarsulic is NOT going to be hopping on the Innernets any time soon to read the blog. We went to see her yesterday and she said they keep it cold at the home where she stays. I've been working on this for a couple of weeks now. I hope it can get it done before Christmas night when the family gets together.

My plan is to make it like a lap blanket, so she can cover up with it when she's rolling around in her wheelchair.

Monday, December 22, 2008

10 gallon head = 1 Kleenex box

Not even crocheting a blanket for my grandmother could keep me distracted enough during "The Pursuit of Happyness" to keep from bawling my eyes out. Jeez.

Everyone else out there has probably already seen the movie, and is all ready to go see "Seven Pounds." I mean, Oprah was all over it last year. I remember sitting on the couch in our little College Hill house watching Will talk about it with Oprah. We never saw "Happyness" in the theater, but we DVRed it a while back.

I'm really glad I did not see that movie at the theater. It would have been quite embarrassing to be so worked up over it in public.

I had to stop working on the blanket for a little while since I couldn't see through the tears in my eyes. I told Adam that I think part of the reason the movie is so emotional is that the boy who plays Chris Gardner's son is actually Will Smith's son, so it's really intense to watch the father and son dynamic.

If you haven't seen the movie, you really should. It was really incredible, and I love Will Smith anyway, so he really shined in the main role. Just a warning, though - you WILL be an emotional wreck by the end of it, so have the tissues handy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Should have purchased the DEFROST option

When we woke up this morning, we were greeted by this frost on the window. It's on the outside of our front room, just behind the Christmas tree. I guess that's what happens when it feels like -12 outside.

Don't all of you who used to live here in KC but have moved to points South miss it? You, yes, you, could be freezing your arses off today like we are.

It's so cold, even our furry friends are wearing sweaters. But, we think Minnie might have just been trying to act like the high school wrestlers - she's got on her singlet and and headgear, ready for whatever pooch comes along and tries to take her down.

We braved the cold last night to hang out with Mitzi and Betsy for a bit. Lots of knitting, snacking, and "Elf" watching. Minnie was quite excited to see her bf, Adam, walk in the door.

We're heading over to Mom and Pop's for our Christmas present opening. Have to do it today since Adam is going to Salt Lake City on Christmas Eve to see his family.

The word of the day: LAYER.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A purty girl dancin' to jug band music and a mess o' mama's barbeque

I've seen two references to this in the last couple of days, so I thought it must be a sign that I need tor write about it. Kat said she thinks "Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas" is a depressing Jim Henson movie, but it's one of my all-time favorites. I could watch it (and "A Christmas Story") over and over each year.

I haven't seen Emmet Otter's all the way through in a long time (don't have it on DVD), but I remember watching it with my dad when I was a kid. Seems like Dad was always willing to take me to Muppets movies or sit through them with me when I was little. I can still sing a lot of the songs from Emmett's.

One of my Facebook friends posted a seven-minute blooper reel from the movie, and it's pretty funny. The crazy thing is that the boards shown in the clip say March of 1977. I had no idea the movie was that old. That's older than I am!

What struck me as I watched it was how lifelike the Muppets truly are, even in bloopers, and even as I, Jill the 31-year-old, watch them. Henson truly was a master, and to this day, I love the Muppets. "Fraggle Rock" was my getting-ready-for-school show every morning back in the day. I'd turn it on HBO, and sing along with the theme song, and watch Wembley, Gobo, Red (loved her!), Boober, Doc, the Trash Heap, the whole she-bang.

I want to know - is this a result of my age? Was I just a part of the right generation, the one that got to watch the Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock, along with Sesame Street? I'm sure I watched a lot of Sesame Street when I was a kid, but I just don't remember it as fondly as I do the others.

Here's a little piece of the Jug Band. If you haven't seen it, you should add it to your Christmas movies list. And, all you parents out there, watch it with your munchkins!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quick trip down and back

Last weekend I had to go to the KSPA winter meeting in Wichita. I'm happy to attend the meeting, because I get to see my journalism teacher friends that I don't see very often.

I'm also happy to go because I get to visit my Wichita family. Adam and I drove down Friday night after school. We didn't get to Derby until about 8:30, but we did get to see Kyle and Noah just before bedtime. Of course we were glad to see them, but right before bedtime probably isn't the best time to visit a 3-year-old...

We need to learn to time that better, so we don't get the K-Man all riled up before he's supposed to be going to bed.

After the meeting on Saturday morning, Amy dropped me off at Jeff and Kat's so I could visit with them for a little while, too. I really need three-day weekends to go to Wichita, so we can actually see everyone we want to visit.

After we sat inside and visited for a bit, Jeff headed outside to get some yardwork done, and we went out to provide moral support and take Haley for a walk. L decided she needed a little ride on the mower.

I was already looking forward to Christmas break, but now I'm really anxious for it. The weekend trip provided just a taste of hanging with friends, and I'll have some more time to do so during the holiday. Maybe Amy and I can actually get some knitting time...

Even though we don't get a lot of time together, it's still all quality time. I'm so glad that even though we don't live in Wichita anymore, we are able to stay friends with our tribe.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This one's worthy of Jay Leno

As Mom and I were driving home from the mall the other day, we passed a neighborhood elementary school, and I just had to stop and shoot a photo of their marquee.

I guess we can see why they need a "Litercy Night."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Knit

I only wish I could knit this fast. I have HOW many gifts left to knit before Christmas?

Check out this cool spot sent to me by my friend Emma, a charter member of the BVHS knitting club. Now, off to knit!

Friday, December 12, 2008

More economic confusion on my part

Isn't it better to possibly take a pay cut than to have no job at all?

I was just reading this story about the auto bailout collapse last night. It looks like the plan fell apart because they couldn't agree on language concerning wage concessions for union workers.

(Don't read this and think I am anti-union. I am a union member.)

When GM is talking about the possibility of not making it through the year (like, two more weeks), maybe the workers ought to think about taking some wage/benefit cuts. Cuts are better than being unemployed. It's not as if they'll be able to walk off the line, head over to the next carmaker (or fast food restaurant for that matter) and get a job quickly. When we lost a record number of jobs last month, I would think people would be interested in doing everything they can to keep the jobs they already have. There's a whole lot of people in this country looking for work right now.

I heard on NPR yesterday, one of the Michigan senators say that one in seven jobs in this country are connected to the auto industry. If that's true, we're in hot water. If that's true, some of those workers are going to have to take pay cuts.

I say this knowing full well that wage freezes could most definitely be in my future, too. Would I be happy about that? Certainly not, but I need my job.

It's called "taking one for the team," and every other person in this country has been asked to do that since the financial bailout, that "one" just isn't coming directly out of our pockets.

And yes, I know the workers didn't make the decision. It was the senate who couldn't come to a consensus. I just don't know what to think, whether or not I should be mad, who to be mad at, etc., when it comes to this talk of bailouts. More and more, we're sharing our money with companies who, for lack of a better term, screwed up.

Surely, someone who worked at the Big 3 could have figured out that gas was going higher and higher, and eventually people would wise up and stop buying Expeditions, Hummers and Suburbans. Didn't they see the tipping point? Greed, greed, greed.

Sound familiar? It's the same crap that got the financial sector in trouble as well.

I am proud that Adam and I can take personal responsibility for our actions and current station in life. I can go to bed at night knowing that we are doing the right thing. How did all those other guys sleep at night?

Weren't they nervous? Guilty? Scared?

Maybe severe sleep deprivation led to their poor decision-making skills?

Why can't people just do the right thing?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knitted Christmas

So far, the handknit/handmade Christmas extravaganza is going quite well. I've finished five gifts, and I'm working on my two Secret Snowflake gifts for the publications gift exchanges at school. I'm not going the handknit route for Adam. He spends so much time shopping online for electronics and random junk that we don't need, that I'm pretty sure he'd divorce me if I said "Merry Christmas, baby. Have these handknit socks."

Actually, he'd probably like them, but I'm sure he'll like other things better!

And no, I will not be posting photos of the five finished gifts. Their prospective owners are readers of the blog. No Christmas spoilers here.

Two days left this week, then two days next week before finals. Fall semester is winding down.

Thanks to Betsy, Rachel, Dave, Andrea, Mike and Aunt Janet for donating to DreamsWork. I'll be doing the drawing this weekend. Betsy has graciously removed her name from the running since she won the charity drawing last year. So, the rest of you have a damn good chance of winning!

Eyes are dry, and I'm a little sleepy, so that's it for tonight's update. I have some photos I need to post, but I can't find the stupid card reader. I'll work on that this weekend.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

They wrote about it, so I don't have to - Biggest Loser

I have been complaining to Betsy for WEEKS about my least favorite "Biggest Loser" this season.

Her name is Vicky, and she is bad news. She seems to be there solely for playing the game and winning the money, and she's not afraid to stomp on anyone who gets in her way. The other contestants had their chance to vote her off last week when she was on the chopping block, and they chickened out.

Two writers have weighed in (pardon the pun) on this phenomenon. If you're a fan of "The Biggest Loser" check out the story here.

I almost said an "Amen" when I finished reading it. They hit the nail on the head.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hey Buuudddy! And other brushes with fame

A little while back I was tagged, and in my post, I wrote about the fact that Pauly Shore kissed me in an elevator once.

Here's the photo of us in the elevator:

I liked him a lot more in full-on Weaz mode, with the long hair and bandana, but by the time I met him (probably 2003?) he was over all that. The actual photo of this looks much better than this copy, but I shot it with my phone while it was hanging on my cabinet at school, right as I was running out the door.

Last year, one of my students asked me "Is that your husband?" when she saw the photo.

I've also had my photo taken with Lyle Lovett, Wayne Gretzky, Trace Adkins and Mike Gordon, the bassist from Phish. I got Russell Crowe's autograph and took a crap ton of photos of him, but I can't say as I've officially MET him. Being a photographer, along with attending a couple of South By Southwests really upped my celebrity quotient. Oh, and when I was a kid, I had my photo taken with Chi Chi Rodriguez, a professional golfer. In my family, we refer to him a "ChI ChI Rod rig wez" I think because Les Nessman on "WKRP" called him that once and it stuck.

Here's the pink truck I tweeted about last week while we were in Arkansas. When Paris and Nicole did their first season of "The Simple Life" they stayed in my grandma's home town, Altus. The family they stayed with is some sort of second or third cousin, twice removed or something. (Insert "everyone's cousins in Arkansas" joke here.)

Once we got back from Arkansas, I spent the rest of the holiday weekend on various tasks:

Putting up our sweet retro aluminum tree.

Researching, writing and organizing a 15-page paper on Social Cognitive Theory.

And knitting up a storm of Christmas gifts. I was sitting in the back of my parents' van, and I needed to see if I was getting close to done with the hat, so I tried it on, and shot my photo with my phone. Worked like a champ when there wasn't a mirror readily available.

Today was the first day back at school. We only have two full weeks until finals week, and on that week, we have two regular days, then three days of finals. The end of the semester will be here before I know it.


If you haven't done so already, please visit the website for Dreams Work, and make a donation to celebrate their 7th birthday. Just tonight, as I was driving home from school, I heard on the radio that there is now a waiting list for Kansas Medicaid HCBS funds for disabled people between the ages of 16 and 65. Those are the funds that help pay for Dreams Work services for clients. Nice of the legislature to put a freeze on funds for people who can't help themselves, eh?
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