put some pants on ladies

Leggings are not pants. Tights are not pants. Jeggings aren’t pants. Yoga pants aren’t pants…unless you’re practicing yoga at that moment. (Don’t argue me on this – a swimsuit isn’t proper attire at the grocery store just because you’re on your way home from Barton Springs.)  Let’s see,…stockings aren’t pants. Pantyhose aren’t pants either. (You never know these days.) Obviously (to me), wearing only your socks wouldn’t count as pants, so along that same vein, shorts that are a couple centimeters longer than your underwear are not pants.

Now look, I don’t want to tell other people how to dress (yes I do), and I know different people, cultures, subsects, what have you, have different reasons for wearing what they do, but look around ladies – men aren’t trying to pass off a layer of fabric so thin that your skin might be growing over it at this very moment as pants. In fact, many of the men I notice (when I’m not blinded by the sight of someone who for a split second I’m sure came to Starbucks in only a shirt and UGG boots) wear pants that are so baggy they could rival the forever lazy in unattractiveness.

So, until the whole world decides to come together and walk around naked, or men start dressing like Mr. Darcy (and just in general being Mr. Darcy), please, please, please ladies…put your pants on.

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here’s what i know about makin’ a rag rug

So now I’ve made a rag rug, and before we leave this subject (and all those tshirts) behind for a good while, I want to share what I learned with you all. Okay,…maybe I just want to show you another picture….

rag rug with jackdog

Overview:  I made my rug out of tshirts I cut up into yarn. I then used a size 11 crochet hook, chained about 8 stitches and connected them in a circle. After that I just continuously worked my way around with a single crochet into each stitch.

When it started to bow up like this:
rag rug needs stitches

I added more a few more stitches in here and there.

When it started to curl up like this:
rag rug too many stitches

I went back and took a few stitches out.  It should lay flat.

I wanted my rug to be an oval, so I purposefully added more stitches on the ends and less on the sides. Here are some things I learned are important in your rug making adventure:

1. Make sure you have a lot of material. You’ll need more than you think you will. I’m guessing that I put at least 75 shirts into my rug. It turned out to be about 5 1/2 feet long by 4 feet wide.

2. Make your strips uniform. Because I worked on my rug at random times (while watching The Wire (with which I am now obsessed)) my tshirt yarn ended up being somewhat un-uniform. This poses a problem because the thick yarn pulls too hard on the thin yarn. See here:

rag rug

See how the pink strip is pulling the blue/gray strip? This makes the rug unstable. I didn’t realize this until I was well into the rug, so I dealt with it by going back and tying little strips around those unstable parts like this:

rag rug repaired

To be honest, this alternating thick and thin yarn bugged me too because I like symmetry and the rug was already so irregular with the mix of colors. The different size yarn, to me, makes it look all the more uneven and unplanned. But, if you like that sort of thing, then, by all means, mix it all up! (I’m looking at you Meg!)

3. The rug is totally malleable. Even when you think you’re finished, you can stretch and pull and manipulate its shape. This may seem obvious to you, but I was disappointed with how round my rug had become when I was almost finished. Luckily I was able to pull on the ends and smoosh in the sides and create the oval shape I wanted. But that being said,…

4. Go in with a plan. A circle would be really easy. An oval isn’t difficult, it just takes more planning, so if that’s what you want, make sure you’re working towards that goal. (In rug making, as in life.)

I wish I had something else to share with you, but really it’s easy. You can’t really screw it up. If you do feel as though you’ve messed up, you just take your stitches out and re-do it.

Now, we are finished with tshirts and rugs. For the time being. Actually, there are a number of ways to make rag rugs – crocheting is just one of them. You can tie, braid, sew, etc. You can use sheets, actual rags, old clothes, etc. Hmmm…maybe next year.

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tshirt rug: a retrospective

I finally finished my expletive tshirt rug!

tshirt rug complete

I was pretty tired of it when all was said and done. After I tied down the last stitch, I grunted my way up from the floor, took a look and harumphed out of the room. I peeked back in a few hours later and I was in love! I think this is why I craft – the feeling of accomplishing something. I didn’t know what I was doing (or why I was doing it for that matter) when I started my rug. But after hours of labor and thought and attempting, undoing, and retrying, I’ve finally accomplished something. Maybe it’s a rug, but it’s a Something.

Let’s have a look back at the evolution of the ole tshirt rug. It was only yesterday that you were a mere idea in my mind…

This is hilarious now, but here are the tshirt yarn balls I started with. I really thought I would make a rug out of these….

tshirt yarn

…and then we got this tiny thing.

tshirt rug 1

Actually, I was really proud of it at that point. I wish I could have kept up with the color scheme, but I didn’t have enough shirts. That’s when I started scouring all my resources for free tshirts.

tshirt rug 2

Progress! Feelin’ good! Oh wait, how big is it really?
tshirt rug 2 with jack

I really didn’t have use for a tshirt doormat, so I kept going.

tshirt rug 3

Hey, we’re gettin’ somewhere. This was when poor Jackdog decided it was his new bed, which made it difficult to work on. He’s a big guy. So I gave in and bought somewhere around 30 tshirts. Whatever size rug I was going to end up with after that would be it!
tshirt yarn balls

Now you see why those first 8 balls are so laughable? So, long-story-long, I’m finished! I’m finished! And it’s nice. (I’m a bit surprised.)

tshirt rug 4

tshirt rug complete with jack

If you’re interested, look back in a couple of days and I’ll post about all the things I learned. If you’re not interested, look back anyway just to be nice to me. Thanks, friend.

So that’s it! I’m finished! What the heck do I do with myself now?

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rollin’ with my homies

Tamales! We were rollin’ tamales this past weekend at the Second Annual Vaszquezes Teach Mattinglys How to Make Tamales Weekend. It’s turning into a day of tamale making, friends visiting, and family time overindulging. It was wonderful. My family is really doing well with positive and tear-free get-togethers. Either we’re entering a new awesome phase of our collective lives, or Christmas will be the long overdue disaster. (Everyone cross your fingers!)

Now, I would tell you how to make tamales except a) I don’t pay that much attention, b) it’s too complicated, and c) it involves boiling a pig’s face. I always skip that last part. Mmmm pork tamales. mixin masa

smearing masa

masa hands

masa on conhusk

tamale teamwork

tamale with meat

masa smearing

tamales ready

Guess what you do when you’re finished making them? You sit around and eat them until you think you’re going to burst. Then you start making some more.

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and now the good christmas music

Ok, enough negativity! Here are my favorite Christmas songs. But this is very important: I really only like these songs when sung by these artists. The combination is essential. I guess Bing Crosby does an okay job with White Christmas, but anyone else singing All I Want for Christmas is You ruins it for me.

And for no particular reason other than it’s absolutely lovely, this has been my favorite for about 3 years now:

Now, I’ll admit, some of these songs I love pretty much only for nostalgia’s sake, some because they’re pretty, and some because I dig their message. But the best ones are the ones that remind me of being a kid at my parents’ house at Christmas, which was always magical. Even if it ever felt like we didn’t get a lot, I always knew that we had a lot.

Do you have an absolute favorite?

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i want to talk about bad christmas music

Everyone has an opinion about Christmas music, ranging from “I love it all! All year long!” to “I hate it all. All year long.” I fall somewhere in between…well, I’m pretty close to the former. Ok, the truth is, if you didn’t know, I love Christmas music and I start listening to it ridiculously (fanatically) early.

But that doesn’t mean I like all Christmas music. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not trying to say that I like some Christmas songs more than others. I want to be clear: there are some Christmas songs that they need to stop playing. Forever. For-ev-er.

Disclaimer – I hope to not offend here, because I know people have very strong feelings about their Christmas music and would hate to read someone else say that it makes their ears bleed. So if you have those tendencies, watch out.

Here are what I believe to comprise the absolute worst Christmas music. They also happen to be the ones the radio stations play maybe 75% of the time. Oh this frustrating world we live in.

1. Anything sung by Michael Buble, Gloria Estefan, the cast of Glee or anyone who’s ever participated in American Idol. Or by a Springsteen or a Mellencamp. Or by dogs barking. Yep, that’s all going in the same category.

2. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime and Step Into Christmas.  As much as I love and respect Paul McCartney and Elton John it’s just too antithetical for me to hear them sing about Christmas and how totally fun it is.

3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause. Honestly, I didn’t know until I was into my 20s that this song is actually about a kid seeing his dad in a Santa Clause costume. I was in college before I realized it wasn’t actually about Mommy getting it on with Santa while Dad while sleeping. That being said, I find this song totally creepy. Just hearing someone singing repeatedly about their Mommy kissing anyone is weird to me. Like Freudian Oedipal weird.

4. Anything having to do with a Peanuts movie. No disrespect to Mr. Schulz, but the songs sound like funeral music.

5. Mary Did You Know by anyone who sings it. This song also has a depressing tone to me on top of which (if memory serves correctly) she did know. The angel told her. So stop asking.

6. Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. Just sad. I’m sad just thinking about how sad this song is.

7. Where Are You Christmas? by Faith Hill. I hate this song. How can you have a Christmas song about Christmas that’s only played during the Christmas season that says “Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?” I think I would find this song acceptable if they played it in April (and someone else sang it).

8. Santa Baby, though it’s more bearable when sung by Eartha Kitt. I’m going to categorize this one as creepy too. I don’t really appreciate anyone trying to sexify Christmas.

9. Baby It’s Cold Outside. Y’all are probably all going to think I’m overanalyzing, but the man in this song is way too pushy and the woman is irritatingly coy. The most disturbing lines of this song include, as sung by the woman, “the answer is no” and “hey,…what’s in this drink.” I wish she’d just make up her mind and leave or shut up and stay. His responses to her pleas to leave include “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?” and “how could you do this thing to me?” And, appallingly, one stanza ends with her saying “I ought to say no, no, no sir. At least I’m gonna say that I tried.” Harumph!

10. And I just can’t talk about Christmas music without giving homage to the absolute worst and most odious Christmas song ever written that I don’t think needs further explaining: Christmas Shoes.

One more thing: A Few of My Favorite Things is not a Christmas song. It has nothing to do with Christmas.

Did I leave any out? Which ones do you just absolutely despise?

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stuff other people made

I’m a total sentimentalist – it’s always the thought that counts with me. If you just happen to accidentally by chance give me something really nice that I’ve always wanted, I’ll never love or appreciate it as much as I would something simple that shows that you really thought about it. There’s nothing much worse than being the afterthought of someone who is your forethought. (She postulates.) 

Since I’ve been supremely uncrafty lately, I thought I might share with y’all just a few of the things other people have made for me. Get excited!

1. Table by Dad. He made this table as a wedding present 30 years ago and when the happy couple didn’t need it anymore, I did! He fixed it back up and we stained it and now you will have to pry this thing out of my cold dead hands. I could write a whole essay on what this table means to (and for) me, but I’ll spare you. (For now.)

dad table

dad table 2

2. Jane Painting. Sister J made this for my birthday a couple of years ago and I love it. She is quite crafty as well (it just might run in our family). I also happen to be the only in the family to have such a gem. Lucky me.

flower painting

painted flower

3. Bookmarks. One by my gramanie, which is quite simple for her if you know her at all, but means the world to me all the same. The other a valentine that Thing 1 gave to me last year as I was leaving the house. He said “Aunt Kate, wait a minute!” and returned 2 minutes later with this valentine made out of paper, a leaf, and a press-on earring.

bookmark

valentine bookmark

valentine bookmark 2

4. Necklace by Megan. I wear this necklace almost every day to work and hope that all my friends will come to their senses and move to Austin already. (Sorry for the terrible photography Megan, it doesn’t do your necklace justice.)

bow necklace

5. Painted pottery. This was the “thing” to do when my parents would visit me in college. I now have painted pottery all over my apartment. My mom, of course, did the plate with the house; my dad, the bowl that cheerfully says “good morning.” This actually pretty accurately highlights their personalities.

mom plate

dad bowl

6. And just for good measure, here’s a picture a homeless man drew of me and then my friend bought from him. As he was drawing he looked at me and said: “Something in your eyes makes me want to apologize to you.” That has always stayed with me.

kate drawing

These things might look goofy or downright silly to you, but they’re my treasures. There are some (relatively) expensive things I own that wouldn’t even cross my mind in an emergency situation. But, just try to put a glass on my table without a coaster and you’ll see a very unpleasant side of me. When Lil A broke that bow necklace (kids, hmph) I basically demanded my friend make me a new one. And when I thought I lost that red bookmark on a plane I got grown men to get on their hands and knees to look for it.

Do you have something like that? Some gift that only you know the significance of? I’m guessing it’s probably not your Xbox. Unless, of course, you fought tooth and nail for it, in which case it might always remind you of that one time you got pepper-sprayed in the electronics section of a Wal-Mart. Which is, let’s hope, a kind of once in a lifetime experience.

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