laurapants: Craft, Cooking, Creativity

Spring, glorious spring

Oh, hello there. Remember me? I don’t blame you if you don’t. It’s been awhile.

Fall and winter were a blur of commuting, working, more commuting, traveling, apartment hunting, and finally, moving. During the months that I was commuting from Oakland to Sonoma State everyday, I didn’t have much time left for anything else. It felt like everything dropped by the wayside: friends, cooking, crafting, reading, exercise…my life was nothing but my car, and work, an hour on the couch with my husband in the evening, and sleep.

The good thing about all of that is that I love my job. I work with great people, who are open minded, resourceful, thoughtful, and who want to do great and awesome things. And the work environment really suits me: I’ve learned about myself that I don’t thrive in hierarchical, top-heavy organizations (but I don’t really know anyone who does). At Sonoma State, I work on a team of true collaborators. We make the decisions about what we do, not some Director or manager. And I’m trusted to make the best decisions about my area of responsibility. My enthusiasm for my work is about 1000 times greater when I feel like I have control over it. So even though I’m working harder than I have in years, I feel engaged and excited and I really enjoy the time that I’m at work. It made the two-plus hours in the car every day bearable.

But just barely. And so finely, when the hubbub of the holidays and our various work travels settled down, we started planning a move up to Sonoma County. It was hard, really, really hard to leave Oakland. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved a city the way I love Oakland. But I hardly got to spend any time in it!

After more than a month of searching, we finally found a house to rent only a mile from the campus, in Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park isn’t the most exciting place to live. It’s pretty much the definition of suburbia, and when we buy a house, I hope we don’t buy here. But it’s livable, and I love that I can walk to work again. And our house is pretty awesome.

We’re still finishing up the two upstairs bedrooms, one of which will be an office/guest room and the other my craft room. The craft room is close to being done; I’ll share some updated photos soon. And the books are finally unpacked. I’m in the process of taking an inventory right now, because yes, I have too many books. And I’m a librarian, so I feel like I have to have an up-to-date catalog of my collection.

Living in the suburbs has been a big change for me, but I think Sean is loving it so far. We have a great backyard, which now has a fire pit and some patio furniture, thanks to my awesome husband. And I’m getting used to having my free time back, so I hope to be posting here more in the future. And making more things, and cooking more things, and reading more things, and generally having my life back. Yay!

Thanks for your patience during my prolonged absence!

Posted on March 21, 2014 by Leave a comment

I’m back! And sick as a dog.

It has been a full month since I last visited my little web home, and I’ve missed it here. Our wedding was wonderful. The whole weekend was full of fun and so much love. It was like a happiness parade.

Sean and Laura on the wedding day.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Lewon

Then we went to Hawaii for two full weeks. Amazing. We did so much, but still had time to feel relaxed and to loaf around on the beach. We went for a helicopter ride, we went kayaking, we hiked the Na Pali coast and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We went horseback riding in the Waipio Valley. We took a snorkeling cruise. We got really tan. It was a really wonderful vacation, and yes, we’re still pulling our photos together to share.

Then we came back and I was ready to get to work. I was excited to get to work! And I immediately contracted the plague. Alright, it’s not the plague. At first I thought it was just a cold, but now a nurse thinks it might be strep, so I’m going for a strep screening today.

At least I have the perfect remedy for illness:

A bottle of bourbon and a bottle of honey sitting on a counter.

I especially love this honey for my hot toddies. It was a gift from my Aunt Cathie, and I think it has extra healing properties, with the ginger and the bee pollen. And it’s tasty.

I’m about to head to the doctor’s office. Then I think I will spend the rest of the day writing because, my friends, it’s NaNoWriMo.

Oh, and then I’m supposed to fly to Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday to give a presentation at LITA Forum. One day, I will actually make it through a full week at work.

Posted on November 2, 2013 by 1 Comment

Let the ride begin

The families are starting to arrive. The festivities are getting underway. At this point, all we can do is let go, and have faith that all the planning we’ve done will let this machine move forward without a hitch.

In three days we’ll be married. And then we’ll be flying off to Hawaii for two much-needed weeks of relaxation and sunshine. It feels so odd, to have put so much time and energy into preparing for this event and to have it suddenly here.

Woohoo! We’re getting married!

Posted on October 2, 2013 by Leave a comment

The Wedding Body

In the months leading up to our wedding, despite the fact that I do have a brain, and most of the time it functions, I thought I was going to be able to transform my body into something lean, toned, and taut. Let’s be real here: I’m a short, curvy lady, with something of a bottom. My hips are 44 inches around, and I have a little pooch of a belly. My legs are pretty solid. I am not, nor have I ever been, lean. My arms will probably always jiggle a little bit.

I’ve had a pretty solid fitness routine going for the last few years, but for some reason I thought I’d be able to amp it up even more in order to achieve this mythical bridal body. But real life happened, as it does. And besides, I don’t really want to exercise more than an hour a day. I have other shit to do. So the months passed, and I kept thinking this super-body would appear somehow. But the fact is, I’m pretty much the shape and weight I’m going to be. If I wasn’t willing to take extreme measures, nothing was really going to change.

And I don’t want to take extreme measures. Because that aforementioned brain is a feminist one, and I knew in my heart that all this bridal body stuff was a myth, and offensive, and mentally unhealthy.

But that’s just the thing. Even though we know it’s not healthy to obsess over our bodies, to obsess over what we’re eating or how often we’re exercising, we can’t stop. Ok, maybe I should only speak for myself here, but…I know I’m not only speaking for myself. I knew that an impending wedding, during which I would be the center of attention and have hundreds of pictures taken of me, was guaranteed to increase my stock of body woe and self-consciousness. And I didn’t really know what to do about it.

Now I’m less than two weeks out from the wedding, and I look pretty much the same way I did the day my partner proposed to me. A part of me is disappointed. I have to be honest about that. But…it’s only a tiny part. Mostly, I feel the kind of self-acceptance that has eluded me for most of my life. Because I look pretty much the same way I did the day my partner proposed to me, and guess what? He proposed. He certainly wasn’t waiting until I lost a few pounds, the way that I have put off too many things in life because of some twisted idea about what I look like, and what I should look like.

It’s odd, these mixed feelings. I doubt I’m ever going to completely shake the desire for a firmer bottom, but realizing that I’m going to look the way I look at my wedding, and that I’m going to look beautiful, that has done more than a lifetime of reading feminist body acceptance pieces and trying to think positively has ever done. It feels like all of the body-positive thoughts I’ve had before have just flitted on the surface, but this time, this feeling is sinking a little deeper. It has settled in just a tiny bit more.

Two weeks from now I’ll be on a beach in Hawaii in the first bikini I’ve worn since I was 17. And I won’t look the way I imagined I’d look. But I will look like me, and I’m sure I’ll be having a great time.

Posted on September 25, 2013 by 2 Comments

In the thick of it

Sitting here to write this, I feel like I’m stepping into the eye of the storm. It’s a small moment of stillness in what has otherwise been a month of frenetic energy. Time is passing so unbelievably quickly: Our wedding is in less than two weeks! I’ve already been at my new job for a month! How the heck is it September 23rd already?

Right now the storm consists of a million tiny details, swirling around constantly in the back of my mind. I have lists floating around on every scrap of paper I can find, schedules and notes and calculations about how much wine we should buy and who still hasn’t RSVP’d and what photos we want to be sure are taken by the photographers. There are a few errands still to run, a few crafts still to finish, but despite the constant feeling of mild panic, everything is under control. Everything will get done. And I am lucky, lucky, lucky to have so many people contributing their time and energy and creativity.

The biggest struggle for me right now is the 2+ hours I’m spending in the car, commuting to and from work everyday. And the things that are being sacrificed are things I HATE to sacrifice: Yoga and exercise. Having the time to cook lovely meals. Sewing. I feel like I get home from work, eat dinner, and the next thing I know it’s time for bed.

The wedding will be here before we know it, and it will be awesome. The two weeks we’re spending in Hawaii afterwards will be much needed (and I feel like we might be looking forward to that more than the wedding itself, at this point). And then we’ll be back, and I’m sure a whole new storm of activities and projects will begin.

Yup, it’s a storm. But it’s a pretty great storm, and it will all be so, so worth it.

Posted on September 23, 2013 by Leave a comment

These Days

In my mind summer is a time for relaxing in the sunshine, preferably in a hammock, eyes half-closed against the bright summer sky, and perhaps a beer somewhere close at hand. In my mind time slows down in the summer. But in truth, summer (at least this summer) is buzzing, flitting from here to there, all energy and full schedules. I’m trying to embrace this summer reality, but right now, all I want is that hammock.

My time at CDL is coming to a close, which means I’m trying to wrap things up, train our programmers to be analysts, and make sure everything I leave behind is organized and decipherable by someone new. It also means there are going away lunches and parties planned, and that, sadly, short-timer syndrome just might be making my brain function on a fuzzier plane. Maybe.

Wedding preparations are in full gear. Invitations went out yesterday! So exciting!

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We got our first wedding/shower present in the mail yesterday, too, and I was surprised by how excited it made me. All along, I’ve felt sooo weird about registering for gifts, about this bizarre cultural expectation that weddings require gifts, about allowing people to plan me showers because it just felt like I was greedily asking for more gifts. I don’t know, it made me feel awkward. Nevertheless, it was exciting to open a wedding gift with Sean yesterday. It made me feel like this is all HAPPENING.

Also making me feel like this is happening: Sean and I decided to open a joint bank account sooner than we were planning. It just made sense, since I’ll be starting a new job and therefore having to fill out new direct deposit paperwork. I thought, why not just do this once? We sent off the account paperwork yesterday. Weird. Exciting! Marriage!

Speaking of marriage (still): Sean’s sister Stephanie and her partner Eddie got married last weekend. We went to Beaver Creek in Colorado for the wedding, and spent four wonderful days in the mountains, sitting by the pool, doing outdoor yoga (me), hiking (Sean), and eating delicious food. It was pretty special and Steph and Eddie’s wedding was beautiful!

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I had high hopes that I would finish sewing a dress for Steph’s wedding, but my sewing machine has been acting up, and this dress is proving way more time consuming than I expected. So it didn’t get finished (boo). This is the state it was in when we left last Thursday:

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Not quite ready to wear. I’m hoping to finish it in time for another wedding we’re going to NEXT weekend, but honestly? Looking doubtful. Sad face. Couture sewing is not for the faint of heart, and right now, I’m feeling a little faint of heart.

We’re going camping this weekend (I told you things are busy!), and I’m hoping that I manage to find some quiet, relaxing, hammock-like time out there in the woods. Because this pace doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing anytime soon.

Posted on August 2, 2013 by Leave a comment

Goodbye Bessie, Hello Sonoma State

I have been sadly neglecting my little homestead on the internet here, but I have some good reasons. Things have been above and beyond the normal order of busy here. We are, of course, planning a wedding, and seeing that it’s summer, our social calendar is much fuller than usual. And because I figured we didn’t have nearly enough going on, I went and accepted a new job.

Yes, once again, I am moving on. I’ve been at the California Digital Library for a little over two years, and have had the chance to work with some brilliant and wonderful people. But an opportunity came up that I could not refuse. I’m moving to Sonoma State University where I’ve accepted a position as the Web Services Librarian. This position will give me the chance to work on a wide range of projects, and to work with another great team of collaborators to create innovative and user-focused library services. The CDL does great work in this area, but I really missed being on a campus and having direct interactions with users.

Not to mention, this new job is a tenure-track faculty position, which is really exciting for me.

Things will be a little crazy around here for awhile. Sean and I aren’t moving right away, so I’ll have a much longer commute to look forward to. My “commute” right now is a four-block walk down the street, so I suspect spending two hours a day in my car is going to be a bit of a shock to my system. I know that a lot of my crafting, sewing, and cooking projects will be even more slow going than they are currently, but I’m consoling myself with the fact that it will be temporary.

Speaking of sewing projects, I’ve also finally come to terms with the fact that I have to say goodbye to Bessie.

Blue foam adjustable dress form

The fact is, I bought the wrong size, and although she’s adjustable she’s not adjustable enough. So I’m selling her to (I hope) a good home, and getting a replacement. If you’re looking for a dress form, and you live in the Oakland area, you can find out more about her from my post on Craigslist.

Things will continue to be crazy go nuts here in the laurapants household, but it’s all a good kind of crazy, so I can’t complain. Here’s to more chaos, change, and busy summer schedules.

Posted on July 22, 2013 by Leave a comment

Wedding Pickles

Wedding pickles

Sean and I both love pickles. Early on in our relation, I got a wild hare and wanted to make pickles, and Sean totally indulged me in this seemingly ridiculous project. Mostly because he loves pickles, but also because he loves me. That pickle-making project was an adventure and resulted in lots and lots of pickles, and the sure knowledge that I had found my guy.

When we decided to get married, and started planning the big awesome party, I knew I wanted to take on some of the food-related aspects. I had no illusions that I could cater the darn thing, but I wanted to make some kind of contribution, and pickles were a natural choice: They are easy to make and can be done way ahead of time. We’re planning on setting out jars of our homemade cookies pickles on the tables, as little aperitifs, of a sort, during cocktail hour. I think it’s got a great retro feel to it (I always remember my Grandma putting out a dish of sweet and sour pickles and canned black olives before dinner, and it feels so deliciously ’50s to me).

I decided that we should make the pickles in batches of 6 pints at a time over the course of several months, so that the project didn’t feel too overwhelming. We made our first batch last weekend. Luckily, as I predicted, this turned out to be a fairly easy project and it didn’t take too much time.

We used a recipe from Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, as well as following her excellent instructions for canning them. I think for the next batch we’ll dial down the sugar (which Sean actually suggested, and I resisted because THE RECIPE). But yay! I’m so glad to have been able to check off that task on our list, and am looking forward to a few more pickle-making afternoons this summer.

I can hardly believe it’s already June, and as of today, only four months until the big day. Whoa.

Posted on June 5, 2013 by 3 Comments

Atomic Age Throw Pillows

I’ve been in a bit of a nesting phase lately. I think our apartment is about halfway to being pretty darn awesome, and I’ve been overcome with the urge to push it the rest of the way. I’m trying to take advantage of my enthusiasm and motivation to actually tackle some householding projects, and one of the first is something I’ve had in mind for awhile now: new throw pillows for our couch.

My parents bought this couch for me when I moved to Walla Walla, because my mom couldn’t stand the idea of me not having a place to sit and relax in my little house. And because my parents are unfailingly generous. It’s a lovely little couch upholstered in soft brown microsuede, and it’s very, very comfortable. But it came with two fairly boring, polyester throw pillows.

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The pillows just felt lost and sad; their muted colors ensured that they practically disappeared into the couch. And they weren’t very pleasing to the touch, either. I wanted something with a little more style and flair, and finally I decided to bite the bullet and order some new fabric. I bought some matching piping at Britex one afternoon, and as soon as my fabric arrived I got to work. These pillows were actually very easy to make (so why it took me over a week to finally get both pillows done is a mystery), and while I didn’t quite get the piping on the corners right, I’m calling that a design feature.

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Isn’t this fabric fun? I love the way this robin’s egg blue pops against the brown, and the colors modernize the otherwise very retro print. These throw pillows make me happy, and I actually have enough fabric left to make a third.

Couch Cushion

Close Up Couch Cushion Fabric

I really like the texture of this fabric, too. It’s a printed cotton, but there is a bit of roughness to it which I think is a good contrast to the smoothness of the couch fabric.

This was such an easy and gratifying first project in my grand apartment-polishing scheme. Both Sean and I want a new rug, and some new art to hang on the walls. And I’m right in the middle of an epic 30 Day De-cluttering Project (which I will definitely be sharing soon). It feels good to purge some of the stuff I’ve accumulated, and to make our apartment feel a little more pulled together. It’s a small space, and I’m trying to make better use of it than we have been over the last two years.

Of course, it will be all-too-predictable, in my peripatetic life, that as soon as I get our apartment all fixed up and perfect, we’ll have to move… (Did I just jinx myself? Doh.)

Posted on June 4, 2013 by Leave a comment

May Wrap Up, and 30 Things for June

Me-Made May was more of a success than I thought it would be! There were only three days when I stepped out in non-me-made outfits. Admittedly, things got a little boring for me, but I did end up with three new tops by the end of the month. That probably would not have happened if I hadn’t been aspiring to fulfill a Me-Made goal.

Still, I was pretty grateful in June 1 when I didn’t have to get dressed with that arbitrary limitation on my garment selection.

I am pretty excited that it’s June! It’s already promising to be a full and busy month, bookended by a trip up to Ashland with my ladies next weekend, and a conference in Chicago at the end of the month.

I took some inspiration, as I so often do, from Elise, and drew up a list of 30 things I want to do in June. These aren’t goals so much as dreams for the coming month. I think it’s going to be a good one.

  1. Laugh with my ladies in Ashland
  2. See some Shakespeare
  3. Drink a delicious beer in the sun
  4. Finish some wedding crafting
  5. Bake some cookies
  6. Make some pickles
  7. Finish my 30 Days of Decluttering project
  8. Make a dress for Steph’s wedding (and finish my Craftsy Couture Dress class in the process)
  9. Have a picnic or three
  10. Grill on our patio
  11. Try out some new recipes
  12. Write more
  13. Ride my bike
  14. Eat lots of fruit
  15. Go to the farmers’ market
  16. Spend an afternoon in San Francisco
  17. Sew up a little linen jacket for summer
  18. Fix my Sencha blouse
  19. Decide on wedding shoes
  20. Plan our rehearsal dinner and reserve a spot
  21. Take a day trip to Sonoma
  22. Work on our photo album
  23. Work on some Drupal/linked data projects!
  24. Eat ice cream
  25. Run
  26. Do yoga
  27. See my cousin and her husband in Chicago
  28. Eat some deep dish pizza in Chicago
  29. Take pictures
  30. Read a few novels
  31. Posted on June 3, 2013 by Leave a comment

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