Monday, December 31, 2007

Suck it, 2007!

I'm really happy to see the end of 2007, which has largely been a pain in my tokhes. But, I'm trying out this new things where I try to focus on the good things in my life rather than all the lame things. But I swear to god, if I don't find gainful employment in 2008, I'm going to go seriously ballistic. Speaking of, head over to Top Five to list your favorite memories of the year...

The year's going out with a bang, with one nasty stomach flu that traveled from my sister and bro-in-law, to me, and then to my husband, who's spent the last few days refusing to take any medicine (as is his way) and occasionally refusing to put on pants. It's just like 2007 to sock me and everyone I know with a massive intestinal shock in the last week. But, listen, I'm focusing on the trips to the hospital that I didn't take.

I'm not one for resolutions (anymore) - I figure, it's unlikely I'm going to keep them, so why set myself up for failure? But, I do like to consider some loose goals at the end of the year, which I might focus on in at least January. They are (the usual):

1. To get in better shape.
2. To take the good with the bad (part of new mentality)
3. To find gainful employment (will at least teach a course at Loyola)
4. Look into selling some of my crafts
5. Continue working on my book(s)

Hope the next year treats you all better - have fun and be safe tonight!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Saw Juno on Christmas Eve - really enjoyed it. It's being billed as This Year's Little Miss Sunshine and Knocked Up From a Woman's Perspective - I'm not sure how helpful those descriptions are, but it's a good movie in its own right.

Juno's (Ellen Page) a junior in high school who gets pregnant after a brief encounter with her friend (Michael Cera). Cera is hilarious as the running-short-wearing, agreeable, not-quite boyfriend, and Juno, thanks to the witty screenplay by Diablo Cody (who really hasn't done anything else), is great as the wise-beyond-her-years teenager.

The dialogue is the sort you'll only find on the more industrious Gilmore Girls episodes - I happen to love it but I suppose some people might find it annoying. Alas, no one talks like this in real life, and I'd be surprised if people make the decision to give up a child for adoption so easily in real life either, but, that's the conceit of the movie.

Juno's parents (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney), who are for the most part supportive, nevertheless have their moments. After telling them the news, her dad says, "Juno, I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when." Juno flinches at this sting, and after a pause says, "I don't really know what kind of girl I am."

In the end (and I don't think I'm ruining it if you haven't seen it) I think the movie makes a pretty positive message (for a movie that doesn't really push any agenda) that choices women make about unwanted pregnancies are difficult, of course, but they can be dealt with and life goes on.

As the couple Juno chooses to give the baby to, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are evenly matched - him as the laid back, useta-be rocker, and she as the high-strung I-was-born-to-be-a-mommy type. I'm not a big fan of Garner's acting, generally, but I think this was a great role for her. Her character's not as one-dimensional as she first appears.

BTW, it's got a really interesting soundtrack with songs by Kimya Dawson, whose songs are perfectly quirky for this quirky movie. Fo shizz.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Just got back from Indiana last night - had a great time visiting my family and lots of friends. My adorable little nephew just charmed our pants off again and again, while my other nieceornephew stubbornly refused to be born one week after its due date. I'm starting to think there's no way heorshe could be as great as our favorite son.

As I've mentioned before, I come from a celebrity family in my tiny little hometown. My da' is a local sportscaster extraordinaire and my uncle is also on the radio. I told my mom I would not be satisfied if I wasn't on the radio at least once and that need was immediately met on the first morning, when I called in to my uncle's (surely copyright infringed) show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Quite confident that I am smarter than even a 7th or 8th grader, I called in, and after being supplied with the (science-y) answer by friends that are even smarter than 10th and 11th graders, successfully answered the question and won one coveted handmade candy cane from the local Candy Kitchen. Apparently the show is otherwise extremely boring because I was told that I was like the best guest evah.

Let's see, we also visited my brother's new house, where things, as you might imagine, are rather tense as they all sit around wondering when the baby will arrive. We also terrorized my grandma and her cat. I think this picture says it best:
Threw a rockin' party at my parent's house and had a lot of fun. For those still doubting global warming, we had the heat off and all the windows open and were burning up. I predict we're all dead within a year (Merry Christmas!) Here's me and my grandma:
Family fave kbmulder took a pic of our motley crew. Here we all are pretending to be normal:
Wouldn't you know the last night we were there I got violently ill, so had something of a miserable drive back to Chicago and am now diligently trying to convince my body to be well. I feel a lot better, but pretty delicate. But, I'm happy to be in our little house with my husband and my cat and looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the next few days! Take care, everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Miss Kaya

We've got quite a bit of snow on the ground. Our neighbor has one of those nifty shovelling machines and apparently just because he's a nice person, shovels our sidewalk for us. For reasons unknown, Miss Kaya wanted to go out, so we said, "Ooooooooookaaaaaaaay." She walked down the path but then her toes got cold, and she got, as she often does with us, very angry.

I am Legend (no spoilers)

Because it was over several rivers and through the snow, to Grandmother's house we did not go, as planned, and rather found ourselves at a matinee, watching I am Legend, based on the 1954 novel by Richard Matheson. It was a really fun movie to watch - had us on the edge of our seats the whole time, and I am loathe to give away any details.

Will Smith, who I really think is one of the greatest actors alive, is, as you'll have seen from the trailers, the "sole survivor" in NYC, along with his dog. I thought the movie and Smith's performance had a quality very similar to Tom Hanks in Cast Away, in that it's very much a psychological examination of what happens to a person who is completely isolated. Smith brings a lot of tenderness and sensitivity to the role; like Hanks in Cast Away, he has his Wilsons to help stay sane.

There's a new book out fright now called The World without Us which speculates what would happen to the world if all the people disappeared rather rapidly, which I thought about several times during this movie. The author supposes that nature will reclaim our urban spaces quickly. To some extent these scenes are played out in the movie, with interesting visuals like deer running wild through the streets of Manhattan and other wild life free to reign.

Anyone who's a fan of end-of-humankind movies like 28 Days Later or Children of Men will surely enjoy this movie a lot. I just love these smart (and slightly scary!) apocalyptic movies, and what's really great about I am Legend is that the movie reveals itself bit by bit, showing a lot of respect for the audience.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Yesterday I did a little thrift-store shopping. I picked up a bunch of bargain books. I also went to the library and borrowed a few books, but also had to pay $20 in late fees. Boo. That's why libraries don't work too well for me. Saw a book for $1 called Living With the Passive-Aggressive Man and thought about how passive-aggressive it would be if I bought it and left it laying around the house for a certain husband to see.

Been amusing ourselves lately by putting on dvd (also bought for $1 at Target) of a fireplace and pretending is real fire. M. actually said his brain sent him the sensation of heat.

Yesterday reflected on fact that I have not set foot in a mall or the horrible "Miracle Mile" for Christmas shopping and felt very proud of myself. Back when I used to go out and shop for presents like a common animal usually wanted to kill myself and/or others. Is so much better to sit in front of fake fireplace and relax.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Say Cheese!

We took, seriously, about 50 photos of ourselves trying to get a good shot for our Christmas card (a fact that will only become more shocking when you get the card). I thought some of duds were pretty funny:

In other news, Barbara Ehrenreich skewers the Disney Princess phenom in The Nation - you know that gets me all excited.

I read this old post and laughed and laughed until I cried... but, fo realz, yo, I'm totally going to get my job on in 2008.

And here's a little holiday meme from Sew, Mama, Sew:

1. What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
I like the long celebration that is Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years, and my favorite part is getting together frequently with friends, having M. home more often, making good food and drinking a lot of wine.

2. Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?
Yeah, making really good food. And getting drunk. ha!

3. What do you love most about the holiday season?
I like giving presents to people, and I like singing carols.

4. What do you like least about the holiday season?
I feel a lot of pressure for everything to be perfect and jolly, and, you know, nothing's ever perfect, so, sometimes I get disappointed when invariably there's some hurt feeling or whatever. Truthfully, Christmas is not my favorite holiday by a long shot - sometimes I get pretty sad at this time of year. Also, eggnog is totally disgusting.

5. Anyone close to your heart that you’ll be missing this year?
My grandpa.

6. What is your favorite holiday food?
Glogg. No, make that my mother-in-law's sugar cookies.

7. Do you have a great recipe to share?
French lentils with sausage! Sugar cookie recipe stays in the family! (:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Margot at the Wedding

Margot at the Wedding is Noah Baumbach's latest movie - it's quite similar to his 2005 movie, the Squid and the Whale which was a kind of devastating film about selfish and irresponsible people. Margot at the Wedding is also about outrageously insensitive and irresponsible people - Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Margot and her son, Claude, have gone to the family estate on some Bershired locale for Pauline's marriage to a depressive and anger-prone doofus (Jack Black, who's wonderfully cast. I love seeing him in more serious roles!) It's mainly a character study, and mainly a horrifying one, in that everyone is hateful to each other and there are children involved, but parts are really hilarious, and for the most part I enjoyed it, because they're all great actors and I thought the performances were terrific. I can't really think of anyone I would recommend it to, though.

My favorite Baumbach film is Kicking and Screaming (1995, not the Will Farrell/soccer thing), which is also about insensitive irresponsible people, but they don't have kids and just got out of college so who cares?

Many of his films have a very autobiographic air to them (apparently Squid and The Whale is closely based on his childhood experiences) - who knows, maybe Wes Anderson-style he's going to keep on making movies about his daddy issues but I hope to see some more variety from him in the future, because I think he's a good film maker.

Speaking of, his next project is a collaboration with Wes Anderson, an animated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Roald Dahl.

The Golden Compass

I read the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman last year. They're a pretty good little series, and anyone aching from the end of Harry Potter would probably enjoy reading them. Same for anyone who enjoyed LoTR or the Narnia books. Which is to say that they're heavy on fantasy and ostensibly for young people but sophisticated books that adult readers will also enjoy.

The first book of the series is The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights in England and for reasons most assuredly stupid changed in the states) has been made into a movie and suffers from many of the problems particular to the beloved childhood fantasy translated to a major motion picture. Possibly it would be completely incomprehensible to any viewer who has not read the book. I should mention that I fell asleep a couple of times during the movie, but that has more to do with me being a big, sleepy, old-timer loser who is no longer capable of going out on a Friday night. I thought the characters were really great, especially Nicole Kidman who just crackles as the shimmery ice queen Ms. Coulter. One of my favorite things about the books, the idea that really captured my imagination, was that every person has a daemon, an animal familiar that sort of shares their soul and is never far away. It was really fun to see everyone's daemon on the big screen. I wish I had one. Apparently if I did, it would be him:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kelly & Kaya's Kraft Korner

Our guest room is otherwise known as Kelly & Kaya's Kraft Korner, and lately I've been crrrrrafting like mad up there. I'm not kidding you, I've been making things of such astounding beauty I really do not want to give them away! I love to work in my little space, and I feel so happy in there. Check out the transformation:

Wee! Pink! And a nice space for my bags and overflow shoes... Both the rooms upstairs had these kind of ugly closets, so we just painted them both the same color as the walls. KKKK is all the same color, ceiling too.

At the foot of the bed are all of our YA books, which I thought guests might like to read before they go to bed. Also, I fantasize that my nephew (and nieceornephew) will like reading them when they spend the summer with Aunty and Uncle.
And here's my sewing/crrrrraft table. We found it at a garage sale for $15 bucks. A couple of my Barbie Boxes found homes here, they give the room a nice edge.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is it what it is?

About a month ago, I read this hilarious article by Heather Havrilesky on Salon. She was joking about people who say "It's all good" and "It is what it is" which lead me on a long journey to discover if there was an axiom for me. I finally settled on "you gotta take the good with the bad" which I do not actually believe, but WANT to believe. I, unfortunately, have an intrinsic sense of fairness, whereby I think that if, for example, I am a good person, good things should happen to me. Despite the fact that this rarely, in my entire life, has proved true, I continue to get upset when "bad" things happen to me. Which is why I'm try to remind myself to "take the good with the bad" because, it turns out, life is really random, and (as I'm sure you know) completely unfair.

I've had a couple of really fun conversations with friends about what their mottos are, and little sayings like this that people say to get through the day/motive themselves. My friend D.'s dad is apparently full of them, and she proceeded to spend the night doing shots of things you shouldn't really do shots of and shouting out You gotta do what you gotta do! and That's life! and, my favorite, what her gran would say when you asked how she was: Oh, what the use complaining?

Let me know what sayings you love (or hate). And, if you really love making lists, head over to Top Five, a cool site created by my bro-in-law. He invited me to be a contributor and we've got big plans for the month of December (and beyond)!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Good ol' Days

There was a request to hear my "Mrs. Miller Story" back when my girl friends visited. Mrs. Miller was our middle school gym teacher who must have been at least 90 years old. I wonder if she's still terrorizing young girls? Lar and Les and I were in the same gym class, and, as you might imagine, I was one of the least athletically motivated persons in the class. So, I didn't take it all that seriously. My friends were on some kind of team or other, so they had a special part of the locker room with big lockers, and the rest of us rabble were stuffed into this other part of the locker room. And, of course, I wanted to be with my friends so I would always hang out in their section. And, of course, I wanted to avoid gym class, so we stayed in the locker room as long as we could. I could actually squeeze myself into one of these bigger lockers, and everyone thought it was really funny. And I liked getting in there because it made me feel small, and in middle school at 5'7" I felt like an absolute ogre most of the time. (Les and Lar were even taller than me but they were much more confident.) As a joke, one of them would shut the door for a second, and I would pretend to get scared, and we'd all laugh. We did that like, every day. So, one day I crawl in the locker, and Les pretended to lock me in there, and I pretended to get scared, and then Mrs. Miller came running in and yelling at all of us, primarily me, and she sent me to detention (for three days!). Les and Lar told her it was their fault and that they'd locked the locker but she wouldn't listen to them. But I was happy as a clam because I didn't have to go to gym class for three days.

She seemed like a very unhappy woman. Although, there can't be any creature worse than a middle schooler, so who can blame her?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Crrrrrafting Presents

Last night I made this adorable little owl for my brother's as-yet unborn spawn. The little nipper's due in less than a month. I'm fairly positive S. is unaware of my blog and wouldn't read it even if he were, so it'll still be a surprise. Wait, it's not for him anyway. I just felted a sweater I found at the thrift store, cut it into an owl shape and embroidered the eyes and beak on (after M. accused me of actually wanting to kill my unborn niece or nephew with button eyes), sewed it, stuffed it, and voila!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Recap

Our Thanksgiving was a day of decadent pleasures - rich food, good friends, a bacchanalia of beverages and homemade pies. We also entertained ourselves with Apples to Apples, Guitar Hero, and even a toss of the ol' pigskin (or nerfskin, as it were) - you'll notice we're wearing our school colors (Yale, Sarah Lawrence...)
I went on an apron-making binge before the party!
Sporty, aren't we?
Full bellies - how will we eat dessert?!?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful (in pictures)

Sam, Lyna, and the unborn, too!
I wish I had a picture of ALL my friends - you know who you are, I love you all!
(my favorite painting at the AIC, Paul Klee, In the Magic Mirror, 1934)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Take the good with the bad

My NaNoWriMo novel has been giving me a lot of agida, and I keep having to remind myself that I started the damn thing to have fun. Now it's feeling burdensome. What was supposed to have been a mad-cap adventure in writing has turned into one more failure of 2007: The Year that Nearly Killed Me.

Lately I've been thinking it's all a matter of perspective. I mean, the NaNoWriMo thing forced me to get many words down on paper (on hard-drive, that is) and even if I don't complete the 50,000 words, who cares, right? It's a start, and, as any writer knows, it's actually sitting down and starting that's the hardest part. And, in 2007 a lot of really lame things happened, and a lot of really great things happened too. I guess that's just how life goes. (Yes, many Life Lessons are coming to me late in life, I know.) Like, my grandpa dies just a few months before my first nephew is born. We buy a house, but I'm sick and have back pain all year. You gotta take the good with the bad.

Did somebody say crrrrafting?
Here are a couple of things I've made recently. This was made specifically to deal with the aforementioned stress and muscle aches - it's filled with whole buckwheat (you can buy it in bulk at Whole Foods) and a bit of lavender. Very simple, just a long tube of cotton and the stuffing. Put it in the microwave for about two minutes, apply to sore muscles and relax.

I made this reversible apron for my young 2 year old friend. The neck strap is adjustable (so hopefully she'll be able to wear it for more than 6 months) - there are buttons on both sides of the bib bit. This was the first time I've made button holes and it went so well I want to sew buttons on everything I make now.


I found this old cross-stitch I started literally over 10 years ago. It was just about done except for the phrase, which was "When the Lord closes a door, he always opens a window." (To which M said, "Why doesn't he just leave the door open?!") It's a sentiment that doesn't really do anything for me, but this this one does:
I'm rather pleased with the way it came out. Can't wait to stitch some more. (I really like these.) I'm pretty inspired to make most if not all of my Christmas presents this year, so I've got a lot of crrrrrafting to do.

Speaking of "crafting", there was a cool post on How about Orange last week that caused an onslaught of comments. She was writing about how she doesn't like the word "craft" because it often calls up an image of lame, ruffled and be-hearted do-dads that say things like, well, "When the Lord closes a door..." I have the same problem with the word, but I'm trying to reclaim it. I think the semantic issue comes from a history of belittling the work of women, as if the beautiful and/or useful things handmade by women are merely things to occupy our febrile minds. There are some great women crafters out there right now reclaiming the word and remaking it to suit their own views (politics, the environment, feminism...) Check out this post on Radical Cross Stitch about the long history of the connection between activism and crafting.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Yesterday M. and I saw No Country for Old Men, the new Coen bros. movie. I'm a long time fan of the Coen Bos., but lately they're not wowing me. I didn't even SEE The Ladykillers and I thought Intolerable Cruelty blew. But, an extremely high Tomato Rating drew us to the theatre anywho. It's in the vein of Fargo and Blood Simple, although with a much higher body count, including animals, if that bugs you (as it does me. Well, something beyond "bugs"). If anything, you'll learn an important lesson about what to do if you find a bag full of money: Just walk away, people, that bag's nothin' but trouble. Also you'll learn how to rather easily rob a pharmacy.

Sure there a couple of good lines of dialogue and the Coen Brothers' eye for detail captures Texas interiors circa 1970 perhaps as no one has before, but, consider this: If you're thinking about going to see No Country for Old Men, why not just ask a good friend to punch you right in the face? You'll feel the same, and you'll save nine bucks.

Not too long ago I said I wasn't going to watch any more movies with only one woman in them, and if I'd followed my own rule I wouldn't have gone. There's something sincerely creepy happening in movies right now, there are hardly any women. I guess it should come as no surprise that the president of Warner Bros. said they'll no longer be making movies with women in the lead! Women compose half the population and we're being excluded from inclusion in popular culture. It's a really bizarre representation of the world.

Now, for my money, the movie to see right now is Lars and the Real Girl, which features a number of terrific actresses and one lifeless one. Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a slightly troubled young man living in some small, far northern town who orders a Real Doll, introducing her as his shy girlfriend to friends and family. Because they love him, everyone plays along, even helping to create a busy social life for "Bianca". What's most interesting is how the film is not really about sex at all, but about companionship and strong relationships. In fact, Lars never has sex with his doll/girlfriend (she's very religious, see?)It's a beautiful film with strong performances by Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson (if you haven't seen All the Real Girls with Clarkson and Paul Schneider, check it out) that I think speaks to how most of us find ways to make life more bearable, even if it sounds crazy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How Ya Feelin'?

M. totally blew my mind over the weekend - we were at a restaurant with white paper on the table and a couple of crayons, so we were scribbling all over the place, and M. tells us that in Japan, they don't make emoticons like we do. Did you all know that? So, we write (: and they type




(they're not sideways). Here's a sad face


awwww... Here are a few more...



o_O (my favorite).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Save a tree (lots of them!)

Ever since we've moved, our junk mail quotient has gone crazy - we're on the mailing list of every mortgage, insurance, lawn care, outdoor furniture, window "treatment", Dean and Deluca mailing list out there. For some reason, catalog companies are under the impression that we have money. We just bought a house! We're totally broke! I've been trying to cut down the mail down to the essentials, which, to me, is any bill I can't pay online and the occasional card from somebody who loves us.

How excited was I when I found this website, Catalog Choice, where they'll take care of canceling all your catalogs for you!?! Just canceling gd mailings from Comcast required half an hour on their website and two phone calls DURING business hours. With this Catalog Choice, all you have to do is create an account and check off all the catalogs you no longer want (it's helpful to save up a big pile and just do them all at once). And, obviously, they don't sell your info or use your address for nefarious purposes.


Had a great weekend with My Girls. We had a terrific time staying up late and drinking a lot of wine and talking, nice long breakfasts and a trip downtown... Here are a few favorite shots:
These gals are great because I know I can always count on them, and even if a (terribly!) long time passes between visits, whenever we see each other, it's just like old times. I love you, gals!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Girls' Weekend!

I'm super excited because this weekend some of my best girlfriends in the world are coming to visit, and it's going to be so fun being together again (we all met in middle school!) and catching up.

I made these gift (shopping) bags and stuffed them with a few goodies. They're effing adorable, if I do say so myself, and I was pretty happy the way the different fabrics look together. I'll put up a tutorial later if anyone's interested.
The craft blogs are all a-buzz re: the upcoming holidays and urging crafters (I guess that'd be me!) to get a-sewin' and a-craftin' (Catchphrase? Yes! Handmade Holidays!). Sew, Mama, Sew! is posting tutorials every day for the month of November - I'm definitely going to try out a few!

Dia de los Muertos

Today is Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday), although it's celebrated for a longer span of time. A lot of people put up ofrendas (dedications, or "alters") to their deceased loved ones. I made one last year for my grandpa after he died.

Check it out: a review I wrote of the Dia de los Muertos show at the National Museum of Mexican Art was published in New City Magazine!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Last night I had the full suburban experience as Trick-or-Treater after Trick-or-Treater rang the door bell. Just about every one cracked me up. I decided to let them grab their own candy, and it was so hilarious to observe either the self-regulation or unmitigated joy at the candy free-for-all. A lot of shouts from parents from the side walk: What do you say!?! and Thank you!!!! and once We're over here! when I asked two particularly young Trick-or-Treaters where their parents were. A lot of kids would say "How many can I have?" and when I started to run low on candy, I threw in some other stuff - plastic duckies, spider rings - some kids would pick these things up and then through them back in when they realized they weren't candy. A tiny fireman nearly fell down my stairs and then turned around and said, "I'm wearing my boots so I don't get hurt!" Very chatting little kid. Told me all about his adventures. Loved him. Mike and I had to turn out the lights and sneak out the back door for dinner when we ran out of candy. I figure about 50 kids came by.

BTW, today's the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I've posted, for your reading pleasure, my first chapter on my book blog!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

M.'s birthday was this past weekend and we've had a nice time playing Guitar Hero III, playing a bit of tennis and taking a few nice walks around the neighborhood. I just LOVE this time of year. Here are a few of my favorite pics from the last few days.

The Birthday Boy, not looking a day older:

There's a gorgeous rose garden not far from our house - most of the roses are still in bloom:

Scary Costumes!

Our annual Halloween party was this weekend and we had a lot of fun. You won't believe our friends' super-creative costumes!

G. as Crazy Old Cat Lady (meow!)
C&D as Tyra and Jay Manuel (she has one one photo in her hand!)
Mike as Norwegian Black Metal Rocker
and me as a Dark Faerie!