Sunday, March 30, 2008

crafts for lazies

I've always wanted to be one of those crafty girls, someone who can just whip herself up a nice decorative pillow or Wonder Woman sweater. It must be so satisfying to get an idea and actually make it happen, and to always have something fun and productive to do when you're not busy eating Jelly Bellies and reading about grade school classmates on Facebook.

Other than one sock monkey for my old friend Katie, I don't think I've ever really made anything on my own. I tried cross-stitching in junior high, got 95% done with my project (a St. Louis Cardinals logo for my dad), and left it sit in my closet until my mom finished it sometime when I was in college. I tried sewing when I went home for Christmas last year, got super frustrated, and, uh, my mom did almost all of it.

But I will never give up the dream! Here, my latest "effort":

Gina's Kwik-n-EZ Laptop Case

*broken thrift store heating pad
*foam (thanks to the foam experts at Howard's Foam and Fabrics Solutions of Rochester, NY)
*duct tape
*needle and thread

Step 1: Remove actual heating pad from decorative heating pad cover. Contemplate cutting it open to see what's inside! Discard.

Step 2: Fold foam over laptop. Cut two sections just big enough to cover each side. Apply duct tape liberally on three edges to create a sleeve.

Step 3: Cut a third piece of foam as wide as the others and a few inches long to form a flap over the open part of the sleeve. Duct tape to secure.

Step 4: Place foam pocket into fabric cover.

Step 5: Enlist mom to sew on Velcro pads.

Ta da!

(Dog not included.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

nice genes

Hey guys! Wanna join my new Facebook group? It's called "Everyone I Went to Elementary/High School with Has Babies Except for Me". I guess until I saw pictures of all those chubby li'l faces I could just go on believing that that phase of adulthood would never actually happen. Also, squeaky knees and wrinkles on my forehead when I give my signature "good god you have got to be kidding me" look. Alas, no more blissful ignorance for me. Sigh. Perhaps someday I'll pass along my spelling skills, irregular gait, and extreme moodiness to one or two very lucky individuals. Until then, my cat is getting the best damn litter money can buy! (Seriously, look into it. It'll change your life.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

brie de dromedary

One of the great perks of my job is getting to try new and/or interesting food products. Like curry chocolate, illegal Brie, and camel cheese. It is always amusing when one of these products makes the New York Times, and we get to watch as non-regular customers wander aimlessly around the store in search of sold-out local ricotta or cured pork jowl, and old ladies with Martha Stewart accents call us on the phone asking how to get to this faraway land of Brooklyn. Sometimes I wonder if my passion for customer service isn't really just passion for making fun of others. Anyway, back to the camel cheese.

I was pretty excited when we got the sample a few months ago. Because, um, CAMEL CHEESE. So how is it? Well, on the plus side, I appreciated the learning experience offered by the packaging. Let's just say that were I to make it to the final round on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and got the Africa map, I would be screwed (this was actually a legitimate concern of mine as a child.) Also, if I were ever in Africa and hadn't had a dairy product in weeks, I would probably be pretty happy to eat some camel cheese. On the negative side, um, nothing against camels or the fine people getting creative with their milk, but it just doesn't taste that good--basically like pureed low sodium cottage cheese covered in a bloomy rind. And for $30 a pound, which is more expensive than 95% of our other cheeses, I think it belongs in the novelty category along with Bacon Bars and Antipasto Lusso (aka "party in a jar").

So where can you get camel cheese? Sadly, nowhere. There was a shipping issue and it remains unavailable. But I hope they'll get it together soon. I very much look forward to whipping out the camel cheese when someone asks if we have anything low fat.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

there's no place like home

I was just looking through some of my semi-recent pictures and got all sad that my parents don't live in Marshfield, Wisconsin anymore. That little town drove me nuts while I lived there, but good god was it entertaining once I got some faraway adult perspective. Last summer I made the nearly unbearable mistake of bringing my then-boyfriend home with me. The silver lining was that because we were so fundamentally wrong for each other, we always did lots of stuff to pass the time. So I got to play activity planner in the place that will always be closest to my heart. And with a little help from the "delete" button, my memories are nearly untainted!

Please ignore the lady in red for a moment and feast your eyes on the skinniest man I've ever seen, wearing an entire unidentifiable animal on his head cinched with an American flag bandanna.

This, naturally, was at the Styx concert.

Under a full moon.

Even a boyfriend jealous of your close relationship with YOUR SISTER can't ruin that one. Ahem. Moving on . . .

To Central Avenue, where the Senior Craft Shoppe sits nextdoor to Shockwave Video and Adult Entertainment.

And where, apparently, one can find the occasional local microbrewed beer tasting. Seeing my one-beer-a-night dad have more than one beer gets two thumbs up from me.

There is nothing like a day at the zoo! Especially if you are Miss Grizz.

In the context of last summer, all I have to say is, "Seriously".

Pictures do no justice to the majesty of this beast's horns.

"On the mega" would be a good catchphrase. For . . . something.

I can testify based on personal experience that there has been no work done on this mini golf course in at least 20 years.

Apparently Al Capone used to crash here when he was sneaking along the Yellow River. And now it's a wine bar. Yes, a wine bar. In Marshfield. Although they keep it real by serving barbeque potato chips as a bar snack.

The World's Largest Talking Cow has lost its calf. Sad.

You can't tell here, but this guy is looking with disdain at the camera. Sorry, dude. It's not every day you see a horse-drawn buggy that doesn't charge $50 an hour in these parts.

And last but not even close to least, The Rear End. I'd seen this sign a million times, but never once thought to venture beyond the thin layer of pine trees.

I don't know why I expected it to be more climactic.

Pardon the pun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

who's that girl

Today I learned how to spit wine into a bucket, next to other people spitting wine into the same bucket.

I feel like I have more to say about the industry wine tasting I went to today, but I also feel like I spit my brain into the bucket. Which has me thinking I shouldn't have even bothered to spit out the wine. Anyway. It was the first one I've been to, since waitressing and mongering cheese only vaguely qualify me as "industry." Nevertheless, I recognized a ridiculous number of people there. It felt like high school, where I knew everyone in my class, and often absurdly specific details about them, and no one outside of the marching band knew me. Or college, which was pretty much the same story as high school, only substitute crew team for marching band. And now, of course, it's the cheese shop and people I was friends with at my last job.

As I observed the purple-toothed masses from my cozy corner cheese table, it was like the Let's Remind Gina Of Her Lack Of Communication Skills Parade. All the people I thought about talking to but did not talk to because I would've had to re-introduce myself include: The guy whose restaurant was an obsession and where my friend's ex-girlfriend works; the nice lady I used to wait on all the time and who once helped me pick a white Burgundy at her wine shop; a former manager with a former regular customer who tried to ask me out and didn't understand how I could be both single AND not wanting to date him and who later consumed six bottles of wine (not exaggerating) one night with a girl who was so drunk she didn't notice the large spider crawling across the table in front of her and which I was able to pick up with a napkin and stash in my apron pocket (ok, there probably would've been no point talking to him other than making him uncomfortable, which actually would've been kind of satisfying); the General Manager of one of my favorite restaurants who is best friends with the General Manager of my old restaurant; the tall white sommelier who dated my friend and ditched her for a tiny quiet Asian chick and always brought her in for very expensive bottles of wine but never finished them and left them for us; the bartender at my favorite restaurant in my old neighborhood whom I met through the dude I used to hook up with sometimes at 5am and re-met waiting on his birthday party and have seen around 85,000 times; the wine empire heiress to whom I once nervously served a funky Northern Italian red called Ros di Rol which she compared to an old Brunello (score!) as she sat on Table L3. I could go on, but I want to watch ANTM on my new favorite website before I hit the ol' hay.

The number of times I've forced myself to talk to someone and had the "oh! you're so and so who knows my friend so and so and you do x y and z"/"um, what's your name again?" conversation has ruined me for schmoozing. I don't know if I wish things were different. But I'm leaning towards not. Aside from the obvious fact that I would be a totally different and probably more sane person, if I were so focused on maintaining superficial connections, how could I have been so happy spending time alone with my bosses, talking to a regular customer/wine merchant with a genuine smile and without whom I never would've gained the courage to go up to a stranger and spit in his or her wine bucket, and reliving all those little stories whether or not anyone else remembers them.