New Tutorial on Shrimp Salad Circus: Taking in a T

I've got a new Sewing 101 tutorial up over on Shrimp Salad Circus!  This one is super practical and could help you salvage those thrift store finds and hand-me-downs that don't quite fit.

I took this simple little t-shirt from being too big up top...
 to fitting just right.
It's a small, quick, and easy change that makes all the difference - just enough to make me want to wear this shirt again!  Click on over to see how easy it is.


On Becoming More Productive

I'm always on the search to find ways to improve my efficiency on a day-to-day basis.  Between all the tasks that must get done each day, I find myself letting all the things I want to do or enjoy doing taking the backburner.  Here is one significant improvement I've been working on making lately:

Making over the morning.

I recently read (listened to) the (audio)book of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam.  I want to listen to it 10 more times just to absorb all the advice!  Among many other ideas, she suggests using your mornings as the time to get those things done that would improve your personal or spiritual life and that you wish you had time for, but after the work day, can't seem to find the energy to do.  Things like Bible study, journaling, exercising, or working on hobbies.

How true is this?!  I've often thought that I would love to read for 30 minutes, read at least one chapter of the Bible, and work out for an hour every day, if I could.  But after working 9 to 5, coming home, getting dinner ready, and zoning out on the couch for a while, there is still laundry to be washed and sewing that must get done, and it honestly becomes just too overwhelming to think about getting all those "must do" things done before bedtime, much less the "want to do" things!

So, I've started to makeover my mornings.  I usually get up about an hour and 15 minutes before I have to be at work, which is exactly enough time for me to eat breakfast, wash the dishes, and make myself presentable, but not much else.

I'm now working on getting up 2 hours before I have to be at work instead, adding in enough time for me to get in a good 35-40 minute work out.  I hate to say it, because 45 extra minutes of lounging in the bed feels pretty dang amazing, but it feels even more amazing to get your body moving first thing in the morning, and it is so much better than doing it after work when I can't find the energy.  I can already tell I'm in a better mood all day long as well.  Endorphins = real things.

Eventually, I'd like to dial back my waking time another 30 minutes and dedicate that time to reading and studying.  It seems such a small sacrifice to turn off the TV a little earlier the night before so I can have that extra time awake in the mornings!

I'm excited to see how this will improve not only my productivity for the day, but also my outlook and mood throughout.  If I've already worked out my physical, spiritual, and intellectual sides before 9:00 AM, think what I can do the rest of the day!


NYC List: Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!

My practically all-consuming fascination with pop culture makes Saturday Night Live one of my all-time favorite shows.  I love that you can watch any episode from any season, and it will perfectly reflect what was going on in the world - from politics to news stories to celebrity - at that moment in time.  Also, Fred Armisen.

I knew I wanted to go to a taping of SNL while we were here, but I've never successfully obtained tickets from the lottery (which you can only enter once a year, in August).  The only other option, besides personally knowing someone who works for or is on the show, which I do not, is to camp out for stand-by tickets.  It was one freezing cold adventure, but we did it.  Checked another item off our NYC List!

Saturday, February 16
1 AM:  We arrived at 30 Rock to get in the queue.  It was lightly raining and continued to do so all night long.  Thankfully we did bring a couple trash bags, but we could have used a few more or a tarp.  Scott immediately took a nap, while I read a magazine.
2 AM:  Still raining.  Temperature reached it's lowest point, 36 degrees, where it stayed the rest of the night.
3 AM:  Scott takes a food, bathroom, and warm-up break at the 24-hour McDonald's a couple blocks away.  This was probably the first and only time in our lives where I was being tougher than he was!  For real, that will never happen again.
4 AM:  My turn for a McDonald's trip.  There were sure a lot of hobos sleeping in that McDonald's.
5 AM:  I make the fatal error of taking off my gloves and hat for a few minutes because I got a little too warm in the McDonald's.  Bad idea!  I laid down to take a little nap, and even though I bundled back up, I never got warm again.  Misery!
6 AM:  Lost feeling in all 10 toes, but there wasn't much longer to wait!  Must power through!  About this time, everyone who had waited in line all night started waking up, and tons of people were showing up to get in line.  There were about 80 people in front of us, but at least 150 behind us.
7 AM:  The NBC pages came out to the line to hand out tickets!  When they come down the line, you can either choose to go to the live show or the dress rehearsal.  It's a gamble as to which one will allow more stand-by ticket holders in, but we went with the dress rehearsal, and got ticket numbers 45 and 46.  Hopped in a cab, headed home, and went to sleep with the heater blasting.
7 PM:  We went back to 30 Rock to get in line and see if we would make it in.  After about 45 minutes of waiting, we got swept through security and into some elevators, went up to the 9th floor, and we emerged in Studio 8H.  IN!!!!!
8 PM:  We were threatened with having our cameras or phones taken from us and broken in half in front of our eyes if we were caught taking pictures (actually, Jason Sudeikis told us this, and it was said in a joking way, but still), so there was no way I was risking getting kicked out of a place I waited outside in 36 degree rain for 6 hours to get into, so no pictures did I take!

8:30 PM:  Dress rehearsal begins!  The whole thing was magical.  Seeing the entire cast in person, watching how they move the sets and how quick the changes are, seeing the cameras move and the fast pace of the whole thing - AMAZING.  Plus, since we were at the dress rehearsal, we actually saw 4 sketches that didn't make it to air! 
In case you didn't catch the show this Saturday, here's one of my favorite clips.  Christoph Waltz, this week's host, did quite an admirable job, especially since he's much more of a serious actor than a comedian.  (Warning:  one naughty word - don't turn up the volume at work!)

And even through the cold, the rain, the waiting, the not sleeping at normal hours, and the hobos...we kind of want to do it again!


NYC List: Brooklyn Nets

Thanks to my great fortune to have an awesome and generous uncle who works for the Denver Nuggets, Scott and I got to take the trek out to Brooklyn last night for some NBA action!  (Another thing to check off our NYC List.)

We emerged from the subway and were faced head on with Jay-Z's palace:
It was quite impressive.
And yes, this is the view from the 18th row up from the FLOOR.  Like I said, I have a wonderful uncle.
We even got to see a Kiss Cam proposal!  Thankfully, she said yes.
And, of course, soon-to-be ex Mr. Kardashian.
Sadly for the few of us that were there for Denver, but happily for everyone from Brooklyn, the Nets came out with the win, but we loved seeing the arena!  Thanks again to my uncle for the tickets (though in a "dang, it I forgot to do that!" moment, I forgot to snag a family pic with him!).


Yet Another Thing I Like About Sewing

One thing I love about sewing is that so many tiny pieces go into one finished garment. All the tools, all the notions, all the little extras.  From many parts emerge one whole!
An overflowing collection of thread
A brand new iron (seriously, what took me so long?  This one is so much better!)
A pile of pins and fabric and patterns that will be a dress in a few hours


The Fish Tank Chronicles

You might recall that we got some fish last week.  I had two notions about fish:  first, that they were low maintenance.  You just feed them and they swim around.  Second, that they die somewhat frequently, but it's not like you get that attached to them, so it's not a big deal.


May I now present to you the drama that is:
Day 2:  I came home from my morning walk to find Scott kneeling by the tank.  He looked up at me and sadly informed me that he had some bad news:  we lost one of the guppies.  NOOOOO!  I had known this guppy for two days and hadn't even named it, yet found myself practically inconsolable at its death.

Day 4:  Our black molly, Killer Bob, started attacking our dalmatian molly, Coop.  Aggressively chasing him around the tank and nipping at his tail.  It was straight up mean!  It also made me feel really bad that I had named him Killer Bob...perhaps that was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Poor Coop kept getting chased into the back corner of the aquarium and any time he tried to leave or eat, Bob would attack him!  We did some research and found out that mollies can get a little bit alpha sometimes, so it's better to have 3 or more so that all the domination wouldn't be concentrated on one fish.  We resolved to go get a few more fish, but didn't have time to go to the pet store right away.

Day 5:  Bob's attacking continued.  I was now feeling really protective about Coop and I was ready to just get rid of  Coop altogether.  But then, I discovered that when I turned off the aquarium light, Bob immediately stopped his attacking!  But, we also need the light so our plant doesn't die.  What to do?  FISH ARE SO HARD TO HANDLE.

Day 7:  In the morning when I checked the tank, I could see only 4 fish.  The night before there had been 6 fish.  Uh....what is happening.  I was convinced that Bob had become a murderer/cannibal and that he had to be punished.  A few hours later, one of the fish miraculously reappeared.  I have no clue where he had been hiding before.  But, Scott did some investigating and, in his leaving literally no stone unturned, discovered the tragedy:  our 2nd guppy casualty.  We mourned again.

Day 8:  Things got even worse, as we noticed tiny white spots on our fish.  After some googling we discovered our tank has a gross fish disease!  NOT OKAY.  It's these tiny protozoan creatures called ich (and yes, it is icky) and they are infesting our fish and slowly killing them!  Scott ran off on an emergency Petco trip to get some meds, and we started our fish tank treatments immediately.  Now, we have to change 1/3 of the water every day and give them medicine for the next 10 days.

I will do anything to not let the rest of these fish die!  I am their mother now.  We've been through too much.  They will not be abandoned!


Book I Read in January

I only finished one this month (because I spent the first half of the month attempting to read this!), but here are all the rest, if you're looking for book recommendations.

Night by Elie Wiesel
Perhaps the most famous Holocaust memoir out there, Night is the autobiographical account of a teenaged Jewish boy's experience during World War II, as his family is removed from their village to a ghetto and soon end up as prisoners in several Nazi concentration camps.  My goodness, this story will haunt you.  It is harrowing, graphic, and heart-crushing, as you would imagine that it would be.  Interestingly enough, there has been a considerable amount of criticism over how much truth is found in this book, and whether it can rightfully be classified as a memoir or if it should be labeled as fiction.  I think it doesn't really matter.  Even if the specific events of this story didn't actually happen to Elie, other survivors' and witnesses' accounts have assured us that these things did happen.  That much cannot be argued.  Also, though this book is translated from its original Yiddish, Wiesel's naked, stark method of storytelling remains intact, and makes for an entrancing read.  Tissues needed.