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k is for the kid in her

maura @ 8:30 pm

Woah, what happened to the summer projects list? Blame the vacation, about which I’ll write more soon. It was very relaxing (yay!) and involved much more reading than writing.

The call of the blag has grown louder the past few days, so here I am to finish out the list. These are the less exciting projects, I have to warn you. But in the interest of completeness (and of keeping myself to the tasks by making them public)…

3. Ebay the old Legos
We’ve used ebay off and for years to get rid of old stuff, especially technology stuff which tends to fetch a decent price. Most of our stuff slated for removal from the apartment goes to our annual stoop sale and, thanks to my new vow never to bring stuff back into the apartment once it goes out to the stoop, off to Goodwill on the same day if it hasn’t sold. Stoop sales are easy but don’t usually net us much unless we have something biggish to sell, like a bike or a tape deck. Ebay is kind of a pain — all of that taking pictures and describing the items and setting the prices and mailing things out — so we tend to use it only if it seems like we’ll make decent money.

Legos are different from most of our other stuff. Gus has some sets that he really likes, but has never been the biggest lego fan (which still somewhat surprises me). Because I am a packrat and because I bought some legos as late as college (like the nerd I am), there are a bunch of my old sets that Gus doesn’t want. And it turns out that they’re actually worth some ca$h, too. So, ebay it is. And maybe I’ll share my loot with the kid. Maybe.

4. Clothes shopping
I hate clothes shopping, as I’ve often complained. I could bore you with the details about why, but Mimi Smartypants says it so much better so I won’t.

But the time has come: my wardrobe is in dire straits and I’m looking even frumpier than usual, even given the generous librarian frumpiness allowance. With summer Fridays kicking in I won’t have my usual excuse, which is that I can’t shop on the weekends because it would be so unfair to take time away from Jonathan and Gus on the weekend when I only see them for a few hours a day during the week.

This Friday we work, because of the July 4th holiday, but next Friday I’m off to the shops. It’ll be Friday the 13th, think that’s a bad idea?

And I’m thinking of bribing myself to clothes shop by dangling a prize: if I go shopping and end up adding a few more work outfits to my stash, I can treat myself to a new pair of sneakers. My favorite sneaker shop in the Village closed last year so I’m thinking of springing for the extra $30 to make my very own custom Sambas. What do you think?

Screen shot 2012-06-16 at 7.16.48 PM

5. Sew a new phone cozy
This one’s easy because it’s almost done! I’ve chosen the fabric and sewn the pouch already, so only the most labor-intensive parts remain: sewing on the ribbon edging. The old sock I’ve been using for a phone cozy is long LONG past its prime, and since I broke out the sewing machine a couple of weeks ago to convert some long-sleeved t-shirts into short-sleeved for Gus, I thought I’d get started on a new cozy too. This would be a good project for watching a movie or something similar as hand sewing’s not really a 100% of yr brain task.

6. Umm…
I swear there was a 6, but now I can’t for the life of it remember what it was. Blag more, probably — I’m long overdue for post on the library blag I write for and the games network folks have a plan for more blagging, too. So let’s call it blagging, deal?

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it’s all in the details

maura @ 5:23 pm

I needed new work shoes recently. Because I hate shopping (and fear change), I just wanted to get another pair of my same old Dr. Martens black wingtip oxfords that I wear practically every single work day between October and April (except if it’s a skirt day — then I wear Dansko Mary Janes). Since I am decidedly Not Good at Fashion it’s just easier to have few choices, and those Docs are just nice enough to make it seem okay to wear Docs when I’m trying to look all professional, while still being super comfortable w/that bouncy air sole.

As you can probably guess, if I’d just bought another pair of the same shoes I wouldn’t be writing this right now, would I? Of course Dr. Martens has changed their styles in the past 5* or so years. And you can now buy gray suede wingtips and purple suede wingtips, but not just plain old black leather wingtips unless you have bigger feet than I do. Which is to say that they’ve decided that only men deserve plain black wingtips. The purple are gorgeous and tempting, but really they are far too expensive for something I decidedly wouldn’t be able to wear every day.

* This is totally an estimate — in fact I have no idea when I got those old shoes. Maybe they’re even older? Which makes it even more amazing that they’ve lasted this long.

So I somewhat sadly ordered up a pair of very pedestrian Gibsons in black, those most basic Dr. Marten’s ever. I used to have them in the mid-calf boot version in green, which I’d gotten for something insane like $5 somewhere like Marshall’s a million years ago, but like so many of my shoes I had to get rid of them after Gus was born and my feet got permanently bigger, sigh.

Then the Gibsons arrived, and they looked and felt, well, weird. A little too big, a little too clompy. I suspected that the next size down would be too small, but these were so big that I felt like I had to try on the smaller pair. There’s a Dr. Martens store in Manhattan, so one day after a meeting a few weeks ago I made the trek. Damn, those wingtips that are too big for me look even nicer in person. I moped around for a while looking at all of the options (the store was very crowded). I picked up a pair of gray Gibsons and a pair of green ones, both of which are pretty but not what I need.

And then I saw them: plain black oxfords, but with slightly different details that makes them look a bit smarter. Black stitching on the sole rather than yellow. Only 3 holes for laces, with the grommets on the inside rather than the outside. Black leather interiors rather than tan. All of which combine to give the shoes a bit more formality and make them seem better for work to me. And they’ve added a bouncy insole as well!

Reader, I bought those shoes, even though it meant I had to send the other ones back through the mail. Strangely enough they even fit better than the mail-order shoes, even though both are Gibsons. Which is something else that totally gets me down about shopping — that sometimes even the same size in the same brand has a totally different fit — but that is another rant for another day.

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power force motion drive

maura @ 5:12 pm

You know, I try to be a good hippie: hanging our clothes to dry, intermittent composting, buying most clothes secondhand, etc. I’m not the biggest fan of capitalism — the older I get, the more global income inequality bothers me. I’ve sort of flirted with doing The Compact from time to time, and since I don’t enjoy shopping all that much it’s usually not too hard not to buy much anyway.

But consumerism sometimes gets the best of me, and this week has been a particularly stark example. We’ve been planning to redo our bathrooms for a while now, at least one but perhaps both. About 9 yrs ago we got the kitchen redone, and I guess I’d been using that as a guide when I thought about how much a renovation should cost rather than doing any research on actual prices (yes, I am a librarian, why do you ask?). So I had a number in my head before we asked a contractor to come give us an estimate. And it turns out that number was really, really wrong.

At first I was disappointed at the cost, which seems so out of proportion to the size of the room (though of course I realize that plumbing, tiling, etc., is lots of work). But last week was busy so I didn’t have time to give it much more thought. Except that today, I realized that I *had* been thinking about it, just not overtly. Then I was disappointed in myself, both for being so disappointed and for my resulting compensatory behavior.

Let me explain.

I kind of have a thing for sneakers, particularly those of a certain brand. I feel guilty about this for all the usual reasons: consumerism, sweatshops, susceptibility to advertiser manipulation, etc. But I remember the royal blue Samoas with chartreuse stripes that I had in 6th grade: they’re like my Ur sneakers, and I am powerless in nostalgia’s grip. (And lest I paint too bad a picture of myself I should mention that my last 2 pairs [one for summer and one for winter] lasted about 7 yrs, so I do try to get the most out of them that I can).

So every so often I surf on over to the Adidas website and take a look at what they’ve got. Customization is huge right now, if you hadn’t noticed, and they’re no different: you can pick a sneaker type and create your very own, from a limited color palette. The other night I used the sneakermaker to make these:

I didn’t order any of these — they’re $115!!! — but still, it was kind of a time suck to create them and I’m not getting any of that time back, either. And since royal blue + chartreuse aren’t color options I can’t live out my sneaker dreams.

Fast forward to yesterday. Our building’s stoop sale is coming up which means I’m thinking about tables again. Our current table is old. We bought it in 1996 and it’s just a standard pine table so by now it’s full of nicks and scratches, many courtesy of baby Gus’s exuberant silverware drumming days. We’ve been flirting with this one table at Ikea for about 2 yrs now but I keep thinking I don’t like it. It’s heavy, it’s light-colored wood, and what I really want is a mid-century number with leaves that slide out from underneath the table top.

But with a kid + 2 cats now is not the time to invest in expensive furniture, so yesterday I made us go to Ikea to check to see if there were any new tables, just in case we could get one in time to sell the old one at the stoop sale. Well, we ended up getting that table we always look at, and I guess I’ve made my peace with it. We also got 4 black chairs in 4 different styles, a quirky twist that Jonathan talked me into. And some throw pillows and a new duvet and a lampshade to replace one the cats knocked over and a nightlight for Gus and a couple of other small things.

It’s taken me until yesterday evening to realize that I’ve bought (or thought about buying) all this stuff because I’m disappointed about the bathroom, disappointed that I’m not going to get a shiny new pedestal sink and black-and-white tile floor. This realization hasn’t cheered me up at all, I have to say. I guess it’s good to be self-reflective, but the only real takeaway I can come up with is that capitalism makes me feel bad.

(Woah, how did I end up with 2 bummer posts in a row? Next time I promise to write something more uplifting!)

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the perils of illness

maura @ 5:36 pm

One of the problems with being sick is that you end up with lots of time to think. Yes, you get to read all of your RSS feeds and answer lots of email and write in your journal, and all of that is good. But also (if you’re me, at least), you end up feeling a bit powerless and start to resent the ailing body chaining you to the sofa, just a bit.

Sometimes all that time to think + powerlessness can be a little dangerous.

Exhibit A:
Lying on the sofa these past few days has given me a new appreciation of how shabby it’s getting. I mean, it’s not surprising: the sofa is 11 yrs old and has endured almost 8 yrs of Gus and nearly 2 yrs of cats. I love it, really I do, with it’s comfy cushions and beautiful dark red cloth with subtle little swirlies (I believe Ikea called it Morby Red). But that sofa is definitely showing its age.

The stinky hippie in me wants to just get a slipcover for it — the guts of it seem okay, it’s just the upholstery that’s worn. But of course Ikea doesn’t make that sofa anymore (nor slipcovers for it), and a custom cover would almost cost more than a new sofa. So I started browsing on the interwebs (you evil temptress, interwebs!) and before you know it I’d convinced myself that the best thing to do is to just buy a new sofa. A new sofa! What a thought! It’s even available in red! And we could buy a slipcover AT THE SAME TIME, so as to avoid situations like this in the future! If we weren’t all sick we’d be at Ikea right now, I tell ya.

Exhibit B:
So a fellow Food Coop-member is writing an article for the Coop’s newspaper about the evils of plastic, and I’ve found myself newly-energized to try find substitutes for plastic containers and utensils that we use for food preparation and storage. We’ve been saving glass peanut butter jars to store things like oatmeal and beans, and have plans to get additional jars to store bigger things and for freezer/fridge storage.

But lunches, I haven’t really tackled the lunches yet. I mean, we use steel water bottles, but I’ve still been packing food in plastic for me and Gus. Gus usually takes a sandwich so we recently switched to wax paper bags, but then the sandwiches get squished. What to do?

Enter stainless steel lunch containers! Of course there’s a dizzying variety. For me I decided on a 2 tier nested set, and I picked up a new lunchbag too, since it was on sale. The containers I wanted to get for Gus were out of stock, sadly, but I’ll be back for them later. On my way out I couldn’t resist getting some stainless steel straws, because lately the only fruit Gus will eat is in smoothie form and we’re going through a lot of plastic.

Phew. I am going to work tomorrow, whether I’m better or not. Staying home is dangerous!


talk to me mulu

maura @ 9:59 pm

Things I Don’t Understand, Fashion Edition:

1. Cashmere t-shirts

2. Sweaters with 3/4-length sleeves

3. Those Converse with two sets of canvas or leather outers and two sets of laces (see here, apparently they are called “doubles”)

4. Cashmere tank tops

5. Wool mini-skirts

Yes, I’m looking for sweaters online, how’d you guess? It’s Jonathan’s fault. I ordered these bee-yoo-ti-ful shoes and they came in the mail today. In between my exclamations of fondest endearment for these shoes I happened to mention that they’re available in red, and now he’s lobbying for me to return the very practical black ones and get the red ones. Which I’m not going to do (though maybe if I can find them on sale…). But that sent me to ebay to see if there are any fun sweaters around, because this librarian needs cardigans stat.

So, here we are! Where are you?

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still listening to wax, i’m not using the cd

maura @ 10:00 pm

Last week we got a new TV. I know what you’re thinking: hey, anti-consumption hippie girl, what’s with the big purchases?! Of course there’s no real excuse. Our old TV works just fine. We almost decided to keep it, actually, even despite the HDTV change next month. We tend to watch most of our TV on the computers, so the real idiot box is typically used for video games and DVD watching.

BUT, our old TV is REALLY old, like 16 yrs old or so. It could get a driver’s license if it didn’t live in New York City! And it’s kind of broken — many of the buttons have been pushed in (though the remote still works). And a huge energy user. And of course it’s not HDTV-ready, either.

Once we agreed to get a new TV, the family technical specialist suggested that maybe this was a good time to jettison some of our other old, semi-functional audio/visual equipment. My ol’ reliable receiver, a college graduation gift from my dad, actually completely functional (if a giant power suck). The DVD player (a few broken buttons) and the 5-CD player (doesn’t play CD-R or MP3 files, sometimes acts wonky). My old turntable needs a new belt, and I got a USB turntable for Xmas anyway.

Okay, the speakers are perfectly fine. And I will miss them. But apparently we can run everything through the TV: new DVD player (plays CDs, CD-Rs and MP3s), old VCR, my USB turntable, and our 4 (ahem) video game consoles. Well, probably only the Wii and the PS2 will be hooked up full time; we don’t play the N64 and Dreamcast often. Lots of space (and power) saved, w00t!

It’s still kind of freaking me out to think of listening to music through the TV, but I suppose I’ll get over it. I haven’t even had the chance to hook the turntable up yet. One of my resolutions is to try and find more time for music, which I miss (subscription to the indiepop-list notwithstanding), and which seems to have slipped out of my life so gradually that I can’t even figure out exactly how it happened. Hopefully this new setup will be the kick in the pants I need.

les tags: ,

fashion crisis hits new york

maura @ 10:53 pm

For our anniversary Jonathan surprised me with the new backpack I’d been coveting. And, while it looked PERfect in the catalog, IRL it was not exactly right. There are too many straps (sternum *and* waist) and there’s a built-in laptop liner + very seriously padded back + straps that add lots of weight to the pack even before it’s full. It made me very sad, because I love love love the jaunty, comma-shaped outer pocket, but we had to return it.

Rather than send it through the mail, we all took a field trip to Soho last weekend to return it in person. Which also provided us with an excuse to go to Shake Shack. Even though the two locations are nearly 30 blocks apart. The burgers were calling to us!

Is there an economic downturn? Because if so, someone forgot to tell Soho. The streets were PACKED, and people were buying buying buying. While I lean mostly anticonsumerist these days, it’s hard to resist the pull of new + pretty things when you are surrounded by them. Venders all over Prince St. were selling cool blue graffiti- and street-art-inspired paintings (that I’ve been thinking about all week) and neato tshirts silkscreened with the silhouette of a leafless tree. Our post office from when we first moved here has been taken over by an Apple Store! And did you know that there’s a Camper store here, too? Swoon.

Okay, this was really meant to be a post about how I am a complete idiot at dressing myself for work lately (the above was just the intro — yes, I am verbose!). But then my dad called and now it’s late and I want to watch last night’s House. So let’s pick this up again tomorrow!

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