Let’s talk about…

Let’s talk about marriage:

I like it. It’s fun.

Let’s talk about my new name:

Mrs. Kessler. Jury’s out.

Let’s talk about my new husband:

He is the most handsome husband in the world. I love him very much, and he makes me smile even when I am having a bad attitude. We do everything together, well, almost everything, and now that we’re married I can finally make him a quilt free of worry from the boyfriend sweater curse, which of course I believe applies to knitters no matter what they are doing, be it making a sweater or quilt, which is why my Loverboo has gotten only small crafts, like hats, until now. He is sad I did not make him an american flag quilt. Maybe next time.

Here is a picture of the most handsome husband in the world, and the prettiest 8 year old in the world, at Fat Cat Creamery. That place is delicious. We went there three nights in a row, Dear Husband and I did, recently. Delicious.

Fat Cats

My Fat Cats 

Let’s talk about things I learned in class today:

Texas has eleven commandments (no joke). That is one more commandment than any of those other monotheistic dodos. According to my tax professor, there are times when, “I’d be surprised if the IRS ever came after you for this, because it’s ridiculous. If the IRS comes after you for this, well… I don’t know what you say to them. Ask them why they don’t have something better to do. I don’t know.” Apparently a while ago someone decided to renumber a bunch of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The end.

Let’s talk about the prettiest kitty in the world:

She’s so PRETTY!

Badass

Badass

Let’s talk about dinner:

Justin and I went to opening day, not Grand Opening Day, mind you, just plain opening day, at Verts Kebap, the first Houston restaurant in the American adaptation of the Berlin favorite fast food chain. Justin and I ate there in Berlin (at least I’m pretty sure we did). He doesn’t remember it (normal regardless of whether it happened or did not). I am inclined to think the Texas version is better (I ate something similar there, no doubt, I just don’t remember the name of the place, ok!?). They have spicy sauce. Yum. It’s also low-cal. Yum! We will be back for the Grand Opening on Saturday, April 12, 2014, because they are giving away free entrees to every visitor. Awesome. They are also raffling off free Verts for a year. BONUS.

Let’s talk about this post:

I don’t know why I chose to write it this way. It’s been a while, and I just had to mark as spam 900-something comments like “buy viagra” and “this post is auspicious” and “i like michael kors” and “this blogging article is of an interesting sort i may bookmarks it” and “nfl jerseys” and more. This is just what I decided to do.

That is all.

We are FINALLY getting married!

To all those who haven’t heard, Justin and I are tying the knot in January! I am very excited. I also figured a little wedding happiness would be welcome after such a long respite from the blog. Hope you enjoy my stories!

Last week Justin, after having been in Michigan for business for close to a week (read: after I had greatly missed his presence and not slept for almost a week), informed me he was going to run a quick half hour errand instead of coming home to see me. Two hours and one nearly burnt halibut filet later, I was wicked pissed.

He came home to me mowing the lawn. Apparently this is a very passive aggressive thing I do to poor Justin when I am angry: I try to make him feel worse by tending to his chores that maybe he hasn’t had time to do. It’s a martyr thing. I’m guessing I got this dramatic gene from my dad, who can be a very convincing martyr if need arises.

After some tears and a very nice apology, Justin promised to take me to church and gave himself to the wedding cause for the entirety of Sunday.

WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

So, last Sunday, Justin woke up like a champ and sat through a very interesting historical sermon at First UU. Then he took me to Buffalo Grille, one of my favorite restaurants of all time, where I got to eat huevos rellenos with Christmas sauce… And then we got to go to Bering’s and register for china.

Three words: What. A. Man. 🙂

Here’s a fun story about Buffalo Grille: When I was around nine or ten years old, we met Rod and Zsazsa for brunch at the BG, just like lots of other weekend mornings. This time, Rod ordered huevos rellenos. I got a hotcake. He let me try his rellenos. I ate half his plate. When I shared this memory with Zsazsa the other day, both of us laughed because sharing huevos is not necessarily the most in-character thing for Rod to have done… I must be one of his eight favorite grandchildren. 🙂

Now for a fun story about Bering’s from back in the day: When Elise and I were little, Bering’s was one of the stores mom shopped where we actually didn’t mind having to tag along. Oddly enough it also had more rules than any other stores, in part, I think, because they carry such a variety of goods. In the gift shop you had to “touch with your eyes,” no one was allowed to pet Chainsaw the key-cutting parrot because sometimes he could be mean, the fireplace area (delineated by a flooring change) was entirely off limits, you couldn’t open more than one drawer of fasteners at a time in hardware, and coffee samples are for adults only, NO EXCEPTIONS. The fun part was for each department, there were a host of fun games and daydreams and things to look at. We used to go into the fine gift shop and choose our china, and pick just what color of little Herend figurines we wanted decorating our house. We would pick out the paint colors for every room in our dream house, slam the lids on all the grills (yes… we were hooligans), and hide under the tables in fine gifts. At Christmas time, mom would buy us each an ornament, and at Easter time we might go and buy a hostess gift. Dad took us with him to cut keys, buy pocket knives (which promptly became lost), and, every once in a while, coffee beans. It was pretty much always fun. Except that one time, when I got in trouble for playing funeral with Elise and making her get into a very large cooler… That trip did not end so well for me. I think my only saving grace that day was, since she had only been “a little maimed in the accident,” that the funeral was an open casket affair. It was one of those with a split lid and everything, so you couldn’t even see that her legs were bunched up under the other half because her coffin was too small. We had only been at it for about a two minutes, and I had just started the very formal Greek Orthodox benediction when mom rolled up and asked what on EARTH I was doing to my sister, told me it wasn’t funny, and proclaimed we were leaving NOW. At the time I felt the whole thing extraordinarily unjust, but looking back I can see why mom got so upset. It was an awfully macabre game. Elise even stuck up for me, saying she thought it would be fun to be the dead person, and besides she was tired and it was nice to lay down. (Thank you, Measle.) I can’t imagine how embarrassed mom must have been. Poor Mommy. I don’t know that we ever played funeral again after that. 🙂

Anyways, Bering’s the other day was really like a dream come true. I actually got to touch and play with all the beautiful china and crystal. I got to make up my place settings, and make a wish list. I had a blast. Even if no one pays any attention to my registry, the experience was enough of a gift in and of itself.

I sent a picture of my proposed china setting to mom, complete with a pretty napkin ring, and something about sitting there with my Future Husband, actually getting to touch the Herend pieces and choosing the plates I want to use for family holidays, having the boss to dinner, and for celebratory occasions. Maybe part of why that was such a big moment for me is because I always loved having dinner on Mom’s fine china. We’ve had so much fun and shared so many special and fancy dinners on her ivory plates with little purple rocks. And now, I get to carry on those traditions with my new family. It’s very exciting. When Mom replied to the picture that she thought my selections were lovely I simply burst into bridal tears of joy and poor Sabrina, our wonderful helper, had to help me find tissues. Like waterworks, ya’ll. Justin was awfully manly and understanding about it, even though it was probably embarrassing that I joyfully wept that much.

Herend Fishscale (in green, not blue) and Golden Edge, Waterford Lismore Essence, and Gorham Fairfax

Herend Fishscale (in green, not blue) and Golden Edge, Waterford Lismore Essence, and Gorham Fairfax

I also picked out some gorgeous everyday plates that will hopefully replace the plates we have now. I am awfully tired of them, and we no longer have a full set and cannot obtain more. I am ready to have something a little nicer, too, that won’t become matte after going through the dishwasher. I also found some lovely place mats and napkin rings to go with those. I had so much fun with this. I know I would get bored after a while, but I can honestly say I would love to dress tables for a living. I don’t know that I would want to decorate entire rooms, but a lovely tablescape is well within my limited attention span and wealth of creativity to make. I’ll just have to have lots of dinner parties to scratch that itch!

Casafina Arabesque, with Vietri Martellato flatware

Casafina Arabesque, with Vietri Martellato flatware

I hope you enjoyed my stories and my plates. 🙂 I don’t even care if I am gifted any of it, it was just so nice to live that little girl’s dream!!! I have a charmed life, with a loving and wonderful family, a loving and wonderful Future Husband, and a beautiful bonus daughter who brings me joy every day. I couldn’t ask for better friends, either. I feel so loved, and I feel so happy. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to each and every person who has supported and loved me along this journey. I am blessed, and I want you to know I appreciate you all!! 🙂

Quilting: Where to Start

To those of you who don’t know, I really like to sew. In the past couple of years I have gotten into quilting. I think it’s a lot like the romance novels of sewing. Some romance novels (Pride and Prejudice, for example) are fine pieces of literature. They are heart-wrenchingly complex, bursting with symbolism, poetic nuance, and characters so deeply thought out you believe them to be real people. These are the double wedding rings of romance novels. Most people love and admire them, but few even dream of attempting to make one the traditional way. Fewer are successful.

Other romance novels, the ones I tend to read (except Pride and Prejudice… That is one of the very few books I have read more than once), are usually the same plot over and over again, with the exciting climax changing from a runaway carriage ride to a fall from the sidesaddle while attempting to make a jump much too daring for any real “lady.” These are the jelly roll race quilts that people start on and like so much that they decide to stay. There’s nothing wrong with this. I’m one of those people.

Here’s the thing: I love me some Pride and Prejudice. But that doesn’t mean I want to sew curved seams, or piece one inch almost-squares of fabric together only to have to use a curved seam to attach them. I would much rather sew a straight 1/4″ seam using manageable (I can see them without a magnifying glass) pieces of fabric with minimal cutting involved.

Enter: pre-cuts. I can’t tell you enough good things about pre-cut fabric. It all started a few years ago when fabric companies began selling 2 1/2″ x WOF (Width Of Fabric) strips to quilters. The nice thing about these “Jelly Rolls” (that’s what they’re called) is they go together perfectly. The fabrics are all from the same collection, which means there is literally zero thought involved in picking out fabric.

So. Simple.

Enter: little black rain cloud (five bucks if you get the reference… Except you, Mom. If you DON’T get the reference I will be floored). Pre-cuts are EXPENSIVE. Total bummer. Just when I get all excited, Kaia, you’re going to hit me with sticker shock. POW!

Well, hold on to your horses, dear readers (Mom, Elise, and Nikki)! I have a solution to this, too. And no, it’s not like the chapter in my raw food diet book on how to be raw on a budget that basically spent half a page (that was the entire chapter) guilt tripping me. Isn’t that thirteen dollar jar of raw almond butter worth your health? You’ll recoup the cost later when you don’t have cancer or need a lap band…I’d rather spend the $10 leftover from Peter Pan peanut butter on fabric or something else fun. In other words, I promise I’m going to give you real suggestions.

Enter: Jenny Doan. (I don’t know why I’m feeling like a playwright tonight…)

You WILL love this woman. I have been watching her for years. She’s a Mormon. I LOVE Mormons. I think they have one of the coolest systems of support for members, and I think they put the right amount of emphasis on family. I respect and appreciate that in today’s world of baby mama drama and foolish mistakes. Sorry, I got distracted. I didn’t know she was a Mormon until last week, or at least I didn’t read it on the website until last week. I think I always knew deep down that she was a Mormon and that is part of why I loved her so much.

Jenny Doan is also left handed. Woot.

Anyways, Jenny Doan, while not the owner (from what I can tell her son and daughter are the main partners in the shop), is the face of the Missouri Star Quilt Company. The MSQC invented the Quilters’ Daily Deal. The QDD is one of the best things to happen to quilting. It is up there with the advent of the seam ripper, rotary cutter, and pre-cut fabric. This brings me to my next point: MSQC has the largest selection of pre-cut fabric on the web. They use PCF (pre-cut fabric) for the QDD at least four times per week. Imagine, a Moda jelly roll, which usually runs for $39.50 or so, priced at $19 and change. I know. How awesome is that? SO awesome.

What else can MSQC do to help you ball on a budget? Well, they offer a TON of free tutorials on YouTube… Almost all of them feature Jenny Doan. Yessssss.

For the most part, the Missouri tutorials are pretty geared towards beginners. I made my first quilt from one of their tutorials, actually. I had been sewing for a while, I had promised my mom a quilt like a year before, Justin was still living in New Orleans and I was alone and missed him, and I saw this tutorial and literally, no joke, just happened to have a jelly roll that I had no clue how to use lying around. I had purchased it, much like the Kiwano Melon I ate last week, because I didn’t know what it was, I wanted to take it apart, and it was on sale. (yum.)

Jenny really inspired me to sew. I was up so late sewing the quilt that I slept through my alarm to pick Justin up at the airport at 5-something the next morning. Bad Kaia! He had to take a cab, poor guy! (Justin, I’m glad I was worth all the trouble in getting here. I am glad you came to visit, love you, and think you’re the very best.)

Here’s a photo of that first quilt. It now lives in the Utah condo on the couch, ready to warm chilly ski bunnies and boys at a moment’s notice. As you can see, I changed the pattern in the video… It turned out more like their Summer in the Park Tutorial… I don’t think I’ve ever made a pattern exactly. I always change something. Not even because I mean to, I just do. The border is a technique called chinese coins. I had no idea about that at the time. I called it making the quilt bigger so it would cover someone’s feet, and using up the extra fabric I had leftover. Go figure. 🙂

My First Quilt / My First Successful Sewing Project

My First Quilt / My First Successful Sewing Project

See? It's just right for couch snuggling after a long day on the slopes.

See? It’s just right for couch snuggling after a long day on the slopes.

The MSQC has inspired me many times with their giant selection and plethora of tutorials. The QDD has been fun because I have tried fabrics I never would have tried before, and I’ve really started branching out in regards to color and pattern. Thanks guys.

It would be remiss of me, however, not to mention some of the other amazing and fabulous resources out there on the web for FREE.

Kaye Wood, a woman who had her own quilting TV show for YEARS has began putting all of her shows on YouTube. She uses many of her own templates, but for the most part her stuff doesn’t require too many fancy tools or notions. She is very good at explaining things, and her quilt patterns and guests cater to all skill levels. One episode I particularly like is Rings That Bind, a modern twist on the traditional double wedding ring pattern. Ingenious. The supplies, if you’re interested, are for sale on Kaye’s site, here.

Quilt in a Day is another great resource for tools and tutorials. They have some free patterns as well. This is the easiest way I have ever seen flying geese done anywhere. MSQC demos them in one of their tutorials, here.

Looking at fabric manufacturers’ websites can get you free patterns as well. Here are some names to get you started: Moda, Benartex, Robert Kaufman, Alexander Henry, Riley Blake, RJR, Free Spirit, Windham Fabrics, Rowan, and Northcott.

Pinterest has THOUSANDS of quilting ideas, instructions for different sized-blocks, all kinds of wonderful things. You can follow me here.

There are also a lot of semi-web and non-web resources at your disposal for little or no cost. One is craigslist. I routinely see people posting fabric scraps under free stuff, and I usually find one or two listings under wanted for fabric and scraps. I once had a bunch of fabric left over from a nightmarish project that I truly never wanted to see again. Ever. I always feel bad throwing out usable fabric, though, so I stashed it behind some other scraps until I could figure something out. I found an ad that said this chick would PAY ME for the fabric. Shoot, ya’ll. I met that girl in the Sonic parking lot and bought her a limeade for taking that dratted fabric off my hands. It was a win-win. She got about two yards of brightly-colored, high-quality scraps, AND a free limeade; I never had to see that fabric again. Ever… And I bought myself a limeade, too. Craigslist is also a great place for used machines, machine feet and accessories, and other notions and tools.

The absolute best resource in the world, however, is your Local Quilt Shop (LQS). My LQS is called Tea Time Quilting. It’s a family business, run by Jana and her daughters (Jilena and Jaelyn… I sincerely hope I spelled those correctly) and husband. They are all wonderful people. It’s clean, organized, and since I have never made a quilt entirely from a pattern, I can tell you first hand they are ready and willing to help you figure yardage and pick out something just a little bit different, or really help you with whatever you ask… They are going to get their own post soon. 🙂

Quilters are generally a very friendly and helpful bunch. If you want to start quilting (or just sewing for that matter; quilts are an excellent place to start as they are useful, allow for error, help you get to know your machine, and don’t need to have any curved seams or complex pieces), start asking around. You can get pretty far with no money. I had a rotary cutter I didn’t like (it was made for righties and didn’t cut the fabric properly if I cut with my left hand) and had retired from use, and I ended up giving it away to a woman who wanted one but couldn’t come up with the cash right then.

Strike up conversations with fellow quilters in the shop. Often their experience is extremely valuable, plus you may make a few friends. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re poor and looking for second-hand stuff. Some people have baskets of old but still perfectly good stuff that they have replaced with a more advanced tool or a different color or whatever, sitting in a closet because they didn’t want to wastefully toss it but didn’t have a use for it either. You may be the answer to their problem, too. (See Above.)

One last thing: don’t be afraid to experiment. Quilting is fun, and necessity is the mother of creativity. Use what you have creatively to make your own tools and find your own solutions.

Only In Houston…

Every morning before class I park in the Allen Center garage. I make the trek down Clay to San Jacinto every morning, and I can’t say that I pass much. The First Methodist Church, Houston Pavillions Garage, more parking garages… And Bouray’s.

You know you’re in Houston when one restaurant offers both a burrito bar AND vietnamese food. Yum Yum Yum. Melissa had a burrito, I had bun. It was glorious.

For downtown, the food was reasonably priced. I think my lunch, bun with chicken and a large iced tea, came in under ten bucks. They also let me put whatever I wanted on top of my noodles. I chose cilantro, mint, carrots, green onions… And probably five other things. It was pretty good, too. I can’t testify as to Melissa’s burrito.

Burrito + Bun = Something For Everyone!

It just goes to further my (longstanding, soapbox, unofficial) point: Houstonians, for the most part, really don’t care so long as the food is good and no one is hassling them. If the food is good, you’re likely to see a lesbian couple in one corner, a Muslim family in a booth across the way, a giant table of professional-types, who, having hired sitters for the night, are cutting loose with friends and a few bottles of wine, and a cop picking up takeout on his way home. The whole place, in my hypothetical, is run by a Korean man who opened up shop after arriving in the US three years ago only to find that if he wanted good kimchi he would have to make it himself.

Houston may not have New York’s glam, LA’s glitz, or New Orleans’s soul, but one thing it does have is good food and lots of it. It also has a giant, badass, mirrored armadillo with red eyes…

I’m Sick.

I hate being sick. Some people hate it because they don’t feel well. I hate it because I literally have to watch my time go into a swirling black abyss, never to be seen again. Being ill, I believe, is the most inefficient use of my time.

I could have gone to class today. Instead, I puked up a bunch of Advil.  I could have finished painting Caroline’s room. Instead, I curled up in a ball on the couch and imagined my headache had gone away. Twas nice imaginings.

Kaia Is Sick

Dramatic re-Enactment of Kaia’s Visualization Techniques

The worst part about whatever virus I’ve contracted is I can’t properly focus on words. I can’t read, I do not want to see any light, and trying to read anything makes me feel nauseous. It BLOWS.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Kaia, you are procrastinating. If you were really that sick and unable to look at words on a page, you wouldn’t be able to blog.” If you were to say that to me in real life, I’d tell you you were wrong.

You see I am, despite my aches and pains, feeling mentally pretty good right now. I have thwarted this sickness in a very meaningful way. Lately I have been working on my typing skills. I am finally to the point that I can type without needing to see my fingers for the most part, and I can, with some confidence, type without looking at the screen, either. So, I have turned the screen on my laptop off, closed my eyes, and gone to town writing this post in the relative darkness of my living room. Of course I will have some editing to do on the back end, but tis a small price to pay.

If I could write my virus a letter right now, it would go something like this:

Dear Virus,

I am tired of you and your antics. As you can see, your wreaking havoc on my organs is having blessed little effect on the more important things: my ego and my intellect. Once I feel well enough to swallow again, you best know I shall be recommencing battle sequences. I will be eating some crackers, followed by a dose of Advil washed down with Emergen-C. If I’m still feeling well after fifteen more minutes, I intend to take several doses of oregano oil, thereby making my blood a much less welcoming environment to your nasty self.

Once this is all over with, which I assure you will be much sooner than you had bargained for, I vow to do everything in my power not to let you or any of your mutated siblings mess up my life again. I’m going to stay relaxed about things, I’m going to go to the gym, and I am going to eat fewer Reese’s Puffs. While they are tasty, they have little nutritional value, and are not a good breakfast choice for champions like me.

Anyways, I hope you understand that things are about to get very uncomfortable for you, and that you act accordingly (by leaving).

Burn in hell,

Kaia Nicole

PS- Say hello to your parents for me. I hear they are disappointed in your relative weakness and lack of staying power.

Sometimes Lunch is Difficult / I Used To Be A Trucker

I think I was a trucker in a past life.

There are several reasons for this, but I’d say one of the most prominent is my love for gas station food. I like bean dip and chips, and energy drinks. I like ICEEs and Hostess and frozen burritos. Of course, I would never admit this to most people in real life, but I can picture myself driving down the open highway, an asphalt cowgirl, listening to “Roll On” by Alabama… and eating a Patio bean and cheese burrito.

Usually I try to stay away from perishables at the gas station, even though they’re tasty… I’ve found they can cause problems down the road, if you know what I mean.

That is why, yesterday, when confronted with the prospect of either going to the car and picking through the cup holder for change to purchase a frozen burrito or not eating lunch at all, it took time to make my decision. Of course, eating lunch is much better than not eating lunch. I actually have quite a problem with lunch. I always forget to eat until I am past the point of no return, when I get cranky and my belly begins to play a rumbly dirge.

My belly is loud, too. It’s horribly embarrassing when someone three or four people over from you, who isn’t quite close enough to understand what that noise is, starts looking around for a vibrating phone or something. It happened to me when I sat for the SAT in high school. First of all, I was sick in Isham (the health center at PA) when I was scheduled to take the test. I literally left the doctor on Saturday morning, took the test, and went back to the infirmary for three more days. It was a stomach flu type illness. Since I am left handed, I ended up in the very back of the gym in a lefty desk, which was nice because I was far enough away from people that I wouldn’t be spreading germs. Unfortunately, due to the echo-y nature of high school gymnasiums, my tummy rumbles could be heard by the back few rows of people, about twenty feet away. At one point, a friend of mine turned to peek at me and shook his head. He felt bad enough that he never gave me a hard time about it really.

I digress. The point I was trying to push is that cheap frozen burritos don’t always get along with my digestive system, and that when my belly is upset, everybody from here to Huntsville hears about it. “Why not just get one of the hot pockets out of the vending machine?” you ask. Well, the burritos were the only thing I could afford at that moment, and even then I had to raid my car’s cup holders and deprive myself of the cents I usually reserve for glazed donuts from Shipley’s and other wonderful treats.

At this point, since my belly was already rumbling, I felt I had no choice but to take the plunge. I got a burrito from the vending machine, and, as discreetly as possible, took it to the microwaves to heat up. After all, you don’t want anyone to see you heating up something from a vending machine. Well, perhaps you might. I don’t know.

Anyways, in the end, all my worry was for naught. My belly, though it didn’t exactly feel happy, did not rumble overmuch. No one in class seemed to notice, and no one seemed to want to escape, either. Crisis averted.

This incident made me think, though. There was a lesson for me to learn here, and it wasn’t just that $1.50 is a lot of change to find in a cup holder. The lesson is I need to start being more prepared. If I’m hungry, I won’t learn as easily. I might miss critical information that could help a potential client down the road.

Today I brought an organic Amy’s burrito from home. It was actually tasty. I didn’t feel nearly as ashamed at the microwaves. I’m not saying I’ll ever be like the woman I saw yesterday with brussel sprouts and fake chicken (very impressive leftovers; they smelled delicious), I hope to occasionally smash together some tuna salad to break up my line of frozen burritos and lean cuisines.

Not that I’ll ever really get tired of frozen burritos… They’re much too tasty! I will be doing my best to get healthy, organic frozen burritos from now on, however, because I think they allow for more pleasant down-the-road experiences. Plus they have more pronounceable ingredients, which is pretty much always a good thing.

 

PS- Check out all the Amy’s burritos on their site! There are diary-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. (Speaking of gluten-free, I saw cheap, generic brand, good-looking gluten-free pasta in Target’s pasta aisle… No reviews yet, but Nikki and I are hoping for a winner!) Amy’s even has a samosa wrap; I am very interested to try that. I am also a fan of Lean Cuisine’s spring rolls (there are multiple flavors). They are easy and quick! Happy Lunch-time to meeee!!!

Professor Wilks, You’re My Favorite

I was very excited on the first day of class. I was obscenely excited considering my first class was Civil Procedure. (I think it’s apparent from the name that the subject is pretty boring.) Then, we started class, and I sort of fell in love with Professor Wilks.

“But, Kaia!” you say, “I thought you were in love with Justin! What happens to him, now that you’re hot for teacher?!”

No, no. It’s not like that, ya’ll. Professor Wilks has a badass walker. I suspect he is nearing his seventies. He’s AWESOME. I am positive I love him only in a professional, completely appropriate professor-student (who he probably couldn’t pick out of a lineup) way.

First of all, my Civil Procedure class is really, really fun. He’s hilarious. He tells us all sorts of fun stories about his courtroom antics. When he defended insurance companies in personal injury cases, he used to work with a dream doctor… Apparently the guy didn’t believe in whiplash.

He comes up with uproarious hypotheticals. He asks tough questions. The best part? Between the laughing, I’m learning a lot. Today was the best class so far, and we had a pop quiz! Who likes classes with pop quizzes?!

Apparently I do. But I think Professor Wilks has more to do with liking that class than anything else.

Pie Palace, Law School, and Stepmomhood

I’m going to South Texas College of Law in the fall. That’s right, folks.  You read that correctly… I’m going to be an attorney. And I’m ridiculously excited. I found out my entire schedule the other day and was so psyched I tweeted. (That phrase, by the way, would probably conjure a very interesting visual image if said to someone unfamiliar with the verb “to tweet.” I’m sure it would be much more explicit than a blue bird.) Anyways, I rarely tweet, and for me to be that excited… Well, this is pretty momentous.

I have not been this excited about anything since I got into high school. The anticipation is killing me. I’ve called the admissions office at least twice a week (with a suitable excuse, er, question about my shot records or transcript) to make sure it’s all true. Part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop, for them to call and say they made a mistake. As orientation draws closer, however, that part is shrinking and the excitement is growing. Of course, the fear of utter and complete failure is still there. Fear is probably a good thing in this case, however. If I’m not at least a little bit scared, then I don’t usually bother.

Which brings me to my next topic: there have been a LOT of things worth bothering with lately. I’ve basically been walking around in a semi-permanent fog of fear. It’s not bad, though, it just means that my bonus child is in town. So far we have been having a marvelous time. I introduced her this month to the wonder and joy that is a Dr. Pepper float. She is smitten. It’s not so much that I’m scared of her, I’m more afraid of messing up.

It’s hard to always know what to do for her or say to her. She asks the tough questions on a regular basis, and half the time I feel like there might be political fallout if I answer them either correctly or truthfully. “Kaia, do you believe in Jesus?” Ummm…

I really just want to make sure she knows how to keep herself happy, and that she has the confidence to find solutions to her problems. So many people don’t know how to do these simple things, and they’re so important! She’s on track though. She’s fabulous.

Caroline rode the Metro bus for the first time!

Enough about the family. Let’s think about something exciting:

House of Pies has changed their menu!!! 

Justin and I went over there for a date the other night, and I had a BLTEC. That is a BLT with Egg and Cheese on it. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Bacon Lettuce Tomato Egg and Cheese Sanwich

The BLTEC: One of the new additions to the House of Pies menu. Yum.

He had a Texas Cheeseburger. That is a cheeseburger with fried strips of jalapeño.

Justin looks handsome on our House of Pies date. He is the Most Handsome Man In The World, by far. That is why I constantly address his emails and fridge notes as “Dear MHMITW, …”

I love that place. It’s such a wonderful date spot… Or just a rad place to pie it alone for a mid-afternoon snack. I highly recommend pie-ing it alone. That means not only that you don’t have to share, but also that you can have a second slice without judgmental (or jealous) eyes upon you. Not that I’ve ever done anything weird like sitting by myself in a diner and having two or three slices of pie by myself…

 

The Dress Up Trunk (Warning: Lots of parenthetic descriptors)

The dress up trunk started as a labor of love by my Mom for Elise and I. She spent hours scouring remnant bins at SewFro and Hancock’s. She spent even more hours sewing elastic sequin belts and little skirts and dresses and pirate costumes. She donated some old, strange jewelry to the cause (think peach pit necklace she was given at a Mardi Gras parade). She poured a lot of love into that box… And the whole time she was doing it, all my Dad could think was, “Poor Kelley… They are NEVER going to play with that thing…”

Boy, was he wrong.

As you can see, Elise is having a marvelous time in her metallic top, tutu, pirate skirt, curling ribbon tiara, and genuine Ruby Slippers. (The general rule with the DUT is the more the merrier: the more articles of clothing you can adorn yourself with at a single time, the happier you will be. Good job, Elise!)

The Dress Up Trunk

Elise and I wore it until it was threadbare, and gave it to friends, who also loved it to shreds and then gave it to their cousins. The oddball collection of costumes was one of the coolest things we owned. It was a creative outlet and a gateway for our imaginations. We spent hours playing boarding school (Seriously… I was always the teacher, we were usually in Eastern Europe, and Elise, the perpetual pupil, was having to run away or be hidden from something, so the game always began with a journey of epic proportions, and that journey of epic proportions, for reasons I don’t remember, almost always began in her closet), pirate ship, magical princess ball, and, every girl’s favorite, wedding day (don’t worry, Elise got to be the bride sometimes… Not nearly as often as me, of course). I can’t stress enough how much we loved that thing.

Those memories are what drove me to make a contemporary facsimile of the infamous dress up trunk as a Christmas gift for my 5 year-old (for all intents and purposes) step daughter Caroline and her two younger half-sisters.

So I began. I scoured the remnants bin at Joann’s, came up with little (it’s the 20-tweens, a lamé drought!), and scoured for coupons instead. If you are not yet in the know, you can get any item in the store at any given time for at least 40% off. Seriously. They always have sales running and coupons available, either in the store, in mailers, or online. I got great deals on all kinds of fun fabrics. They have a whole aisle, which I have fondly dubbed “The Quinceñera Depot,” where one can find about ten different styles of fancy, wedding-inspired apparel fabric in about 20 different colors. I had a field day. I didn’t even know that they made aqua lace, much less that I could get a yard of it for less than $5. I also found some light pink knit jersey with navy stripes and skulls. They even make jungle green spandex that has little scale-looking things on it, just like a mermaid’s tail! It’s really pretty amazing, the amount of unique (tacky) things available out there.

I had a windfall during my second trip ever to Hobby Lobby. Trim was on sale! I got several yards of fringe and sequined elastic. I even located some hot pink fringe with sequins in the actual fringe. Woohoo!

Then, I sewed. I sewed and sewed and sewed. I kept sewing some more. I got the world’s coolest serger for my birthday, thanks Mom and Dad, and kept humming right along (though I did so with a new sense of professionalism; all my seams now looked lovely and store-bought). I sewed close to 40 items for that thing. I’m sure Justin, despite hearing Dad’s reassurances that we played with ours until we grew out of all the costumes, wondered if I was crazy at times, staying up until late at night fooling with a tulle skirt that simply wouldn’t come out the way I wanted.

I made a gold pleather skirt (yes, gold pleather exists), several pairs of harem pants (don’t worry, we called them Jasmine pants in front of the munchkin… The last thing I want is her asking me to explain a harem), a head scarf with jingly coins, an indigo satin cape with black glitter stars and moons, a wizard’s cloak with purple sleeves, a black-and-white polka dot skirt, a purple metallic evening gown, an asymmetrical disco-ball dress, a pair of electric yellow and electric blue cheetah print shorts (it’s in the material pic at the top… I wish I had gotten more yardage for myself. I felt that way about several of the fabrics. So did Nikki.)… and a wedding veil and skirt to top them all.

This is, of course, not mentioning the notorious flower girl-turned-princess dress that you can still see traces of in my kitchen sink. This creation started when Justin, Caroline, and I were all in Justin’s best friend Jacob’s wedding to Cami. The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch. At the end of it all, though, we ended up with a large-running size six wedding dress replica, which had set me back about $80, that there was no chance in Christendom Caroline would wear again.

(My bridesmaid dress, on the other hand, is a flattering deep purple and will be recycled into an organization in Houston that gives out prom dresses for free to girls who don’t have the money to buy their own dress but still want to go to their prom. They literally just have to call and say they are showing up, and they get a free dress, make-up, and accessories! There are several organizations like this throughout Houston and the entire US. Conduct a search for one in your area if you too have dresses from sorority formals or friends’ weddings collecting dust in your spare bedroom closet. Some organizations also need cocktail-type dresses and give them out for girls to wear to graduation and other senior events, so if that’s all you got bring ’em on!)

Back to the FG dress… What was I to do?

I got the bright idea to dye the 100% polyester creation. It was a disaster. The first time (HA) I dyed it, it came out splotchy. It was no surprise, since apparently polyester is the most difficult thing to dye by far. After round two, this time with a lot more dye and some vinegar to set it, I achieved a reasonable shade of aqua (see Aquamarine, under the blue-green shades). It was still splotchy, but not nearly as noticeable as the first trial. (I’ll make another, separate post with a photographic account of the princess dress, for those of you interested in laughing at my folly.)

I bejeweled it to moderate success, and then I sewed a feather boa around the top of the bodice and sewed on a few dozen beads. Caroline LOVED it.

At the end of her stay, I told her she could keep two outfits here and could take the rest home. Luckily, the princess dress is staying. 🙂 She was torn about leaving her wedding veil. Conclusion: I told her I would make her another one for here. I went back to Joann’s today to buy some more white lace for a veil. I also bought some awesome fabric to make a new wedding skirt, as well as some bright-white brocade for a wedding tunic to go under aforementioned wedding skirt. I hope she will be pleased. I also have some leftover tulle for another skirt for her. I also never actually used the aqua lace and figured it would make lovely sleeves for something, or perhaps a princess something-or-other since it matches that dress quite nicely.

Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’m done with the dress up trunk. Though I am not quite willing to admit it yet, I’ll probably make another dress up trunk’s worth of tacky clothes to stay here at Casa Kaia and Justin.

Which, really, is fine. I absolutely love that girl. I think she is smart and talented and beautiful and amazing and helpful and, well, just a wonderful person. It brings me pure joy to see her face light up when she accomplishes something or her mile-wide smile when she runs to me yelling “My Kaia!” and wiggles into my arms for a hug. I can’t think of anyone or anything better to spend my time and energy on, and that’s the truth.

Watching her open the trunk up was certainly the highlight of my Christmas (the three of us opened gifts as a family on Tuesday, complete with a treasure hunt to find her new bike), and I hope she and her sisters enjoy it. Below are a few pictures of Wedding – Evening Gown Caroline, Rudolph – Gypsy Caroline, and Pirate – Model Caroline. There is also a picture of the munchkin, Justin, and her new bike. Did I mention she’s athletic, too? 🙂