Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gay home remedies for hives?

My BFF Angela has a blog, and I just poked her to write in it, as it's been too damn long since she's written something to entertain me. The conversation went as follows:

Angela: I'm feeling a little uninspired lately.
Me: I know, me too. Who wants to read a queering domesticity blog about hives?
Angela: Hahaha. You could talk about gay home remedies for hives?
Me: Oh, well, that's just a bunch of flailing and string cheese.
Angela: I'd read that.
Me: Natch.

That's where I'm at folks. I'm not wholly uninspired of late, just kind of not in the whole "keeping house" mentality. Recently I discovered an annoying allergy to cats which I had previously kept at bay; it manifests itself in the form of RIDICULOUSLY itchy hives. This inspired me to start taking my generic Allegra (anti-histamine) again, which my doctor prescribed during the Asthma Whirlwind of 2007. I filled my prescription on Friday February 15th and while sitting at BWI, waiting for the plane to take me to Phoenix for some overdue parent time, I took that little peachy-pink pill hoping for a miracle. Can I just tell you how difficult it is to adequately scratch the palms of your hands?!

When I landed in Atlanta for my brief layover, I thought I was close to throwing myself on the floor of the airport and throwing a tantrum of mega-proportions. I was covered in hives, head to toe (literally, my toes had little hives on them), and my heart was doing a thumpa-bump in my chest. It was disorienting, distracting and stressful. I was thankful that the flight to Phoenix was both uneventful and dark, as the pilots made it all cozy by turning the lights down. No one had to see my hivey, itchy, swollen face. Or my deep, dramatic misery.

I landed in Phoenix and was ex-haus-ted. My parents picked me up and I spent the long weekend either bathed in hives or midly ok, but facing some serious heartburn issues (ew!). I had a good time and got to take some awesome pictures in Sedona, despite the fact that it's turned into a white people's touristy town. I mean, I was a white tourist when I first went there naturally, but it also had some natural organic appeal even in the heart of the "tourist district". Now you can get yer fresh mountain tacos and Native-inspired jewelry Made In China. Oh, yay.

I flew home and spent last week in further misery, itchy, pained, dramatically queer. Then the ice came down Friday and my doctor postponed all visits until this Monday. I contemplated, heavily, the prospect of just going to the ER and getting shot up with whatever they could give me. But patience, a far distant virtue of mine [sometimes], won and I waited until Monday. I spent the weekend getting intimate with various bags of ice and also accompanying some lucky loverly people of mine to get tattoos. I wish I could articulate the degree to which this saddens and pains me. *stomps foot in angry jealousy*

Monday my doctor laughed off the possibility that I could be allergic to an anti-histamine. Maybe it was the dye they used? (I just typed "dyke" for "dye" right there! Funny!) Maybe it was my overly irritated immune system [or lack thereof...]? Maybe it was a whole host of things? But he wanted to see if he could nip in the bud the old-fashioned way...the way of my doctors when I faced the awful hivey landscape as a teenager. I left the office with samples of generic Zyrtec, dye-free, and with prescriptions for Zantac (and H2 blocker) and Atarax (one of those drugs that knocks you out and convinces you that you aren't itchy because you're, well, knocked out). I waited until bedtime, took my little pills, and passed the hell out.

I woke up yesterday morning COVERED, I shit you not, head to toe again in some FIERCE hives. I looked like a topographic map of hiveyness...red circles, waves and mountains everywhere. It was sexy, no doubt. I was also emotionally AT MY END and proceeded to leave my boss a blubbering, sobbing mess of a message to say that I was to be out, again. And then I promptly opened the bottle of my back-up meds...STEROIDS...and shoved them down unapologetically with a hunk of baguette and a banana. Hives usually win until the steroids come out, people. With me anyway.

The rest of the day was supposed to be spent in luxurious hive-less splendor. Only my body was at a freak out stage far greater than the strength of my steroids, which are to put this in perspective, four times stronger than the steroids my mother is currently prescribed for her relatively bad arthritis. That's screwed up! So I waited impatiently, flailing and eating string cheese, because the steroids do screwed up things to your tastebuds and make you crave salt...which then makes you retain water...which then makes your ankles look like the size of Nevada and Colorado, respectively. AND THEN, I found out that my landlords failed to pay the water bill for our entire building for over six months, so my lovely neighbor and I were unable to flush our toilets for about five hours, until our collective screaming served as a siren's call to the do-gooders at the DC water and sewer authority. Naturally, you are happy my toilet is flushable now.

There really isn't particular queer about being homebound with hives, except to say that my hives are indeed queer and a part of my life that I despise. I've been dealing with hives, for some reason, since I was a wee little leprechaun and I've seriously had ENOUGH. The only saving grace is my fantastic partner, who has been there for me without fail (despite my terrifying display of topographic itchiness) and without whom I would be miserable to the infinitieth degree. My Mom cheering me on from Arizona has helped a lot too.

Also, there are moments of hilarity. This morning my coworker P asked me how I was feeling and I showed him my hives near my collarbone. He exclaimed with such sincere glee that they were awesome and beautiful and that I should take a picture of them so I can create something artistic in their honor that I forgot, for a few minutes, the pain and itch I've been dealing with for weeks. And I marveled at the inspiration truly available to us, in everything and everywhere, even when we least expect it.

Next on the craft list: a hive inspired tapestry, earring set or even painting. Yes?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

(note: I was inspired by kdiddy)





If you're lucky enough to find love in this lifetime, I say you better love with every ounce of your being. And though I don't say it often on this blog, I've found my love. I say this with every confidence in the fact that this is the person who is supposed to be next to me on the front porch when we're old and gray, laughing and telling stories, holding hands and being sweet. This person completes me in a way that I never knew I needed to be completed. We hold each other up, challenge one another, laugh like it keeps us alive and share the sweetest, most tender love comprehensible. So, I love you E. Yes, you. With everything I have.


I hope that you all are lucky enough to have a Valentine this year. If you don't have another, then make sure you love yourself. Loving yourself is, after all, the path to welcoming love in from everywhere/one else.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rock Candy Baltimore...it's where you need to be.

Rock Candy, situated on Harford Road in the Lauraville neighborhood of Baltimore, MD opened this weekend to rave reviews...from both kids and adults. The store was stocked with gourmet chocolates, more gummi candy than I could possibly consume alone, novelty gifts and even eco-friendly delicacies!

I have the great fortune of being the BFF and best Bucko to the owners of this fantastic shop, Angela and Joel. And I decided to cart my ass up there this past weekend to help out with the finer details of opening. I helped merchandise the store, helped with tidying up and displays, and did a ton of fun "child wrangling" with The Ruby. It was a fantastic time. And I did all of this, mind you, while nursing a fierce display of hives from my new-found cat allergy. Delicious!

I could go into vast explicit details about the experience, but I think that a few pictures will speak to the greatness that is this place. It's got a fine candy room at the front of the store, a concession and playroom in the middle and then a 20-seat movie theater in the back (soon to be available for bookings and karaoke nights [*prays*]). The store basically has everything you could possibly need, including three of the most fantastic people on the planet...and people who I consider part of the foundation of My Big Family.

Mmmmm! Samples!

The lollipop topiary I created. So cute!!!


The "activist" tower...full of organic, free trade yumminess!

My stuff! Sugar High candy themed jewelry creations by me!


Angela, busy working.

The Pixy Stix bucket lamp...so awesome.

Bulk candy! Full of gummies and delectable chocolate things.

The Vosges tower...all things fancy.

And the very few life-necessities that this place lacks can be found on the same street. Bediboo, a kids and mama boutique, is situated right below Rock Candy. Stroll down the streets a few steps and you have Red Canoe coffee shop and children's bookstore (with delectable muffins, soups and sandwiches...AND the ever delicious Zeke's coffee), and Spinster Yarns & Fibers right below them. I may have to cheat on my own in-city yarn shop to spend all my money at Spinster (I will never break up with Holly, though, of MissHawklet). Not only is the owner quite delightful, but her yarns, fibers and supplies are gorgeous, well priced and there are workshops and lessons on the schedule! There is also a bevy of hair salons, a restaurant that is apparently delightful (although I've never been...take me on a date, someone!) and some other decent food joints. Lauraville, is that you calling my name?

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Lest I forget, it should be said that I've also accepted the great honor of being Angela's Confirmation sponsor. Who knew that this cycle of debauchery, wackiness and rebellion would bring me to a place where I'm not only comfortable being hip and contrary, but also capable of accepting something (um, that would be God) that I so fiercely railed against as a teen. Go me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Please tell me, craft lovers...

I am, by no means, a money maven. I don't know the retail business inside and out, but I do feel that, over the past few years, I've been able to acclimate myself to the world of craft pricing. Many people are very fair with their prices, taking into consideration time, quality of materials, merchandising, shipping, etc. And there is the other side of the spectrum where people quantify sentimental value or "hard work", comparison pricing, or just general ego into actual dollars. That is absolutely unreasonable. Crafts are supposed to be homegrown, handmade and reasonably priced!

I saw this capelet today, on Etsy, and I was floored.


You know what...just because I can't make it doesn't mean I don't know how much it cost to make. And you can be damn sure that this article of NON-FUNCTIONAL clothing is not worth the $74 the seller is suggesting. Not even close.

Let's consider the yarn. It's identified as a "wool blend" which would have one believe that it's either a blend of wool OR a blend of yarn fibers including wool. Given that I have knitted something with this yarn (in this precise color) I can tell you it's an acrylic/wool blend and it's available for less than $6/skein at your local craft store. It's Lion Brand's WoolEase Thick & Quick yarn in lemongrass. The white flower is, or could be, scrap yarn from a project with remnants. I won't even get into the fact that I think that this was made with a loom, therefore increasing it's ease of creation.

Ugh, it's frustrating, people!

When you market something, as a crafter or anyone interested in selling goods, you should be explicitly honest about what you are selling and you should also be honest about it's value. To raise the roof on prices, like this seller has done, on handcrafted goods is to do your fellow crafter a grave disservice. There are people on Etsy who craft with the same beads and wire that I craft with yet their prices are sometimes 200% higher. Why? There are few people on Etsy who can sustain themselves on the sale of jewelry, so why would you bother screwing the rest of us over? Your supplies plus time plus creativity does not equal an unattainable amount.

It also does a great disservice to the history and tradition of crafts. This is not high art people. We are not fine artists, wielding paint brushes and digging into the depths of our souls for creativity. We are making things accessible to and for the masses, and we should respect their intelligence in the process.

Alert!

Just a reminder that today is the LAST DAY of the Get it While She's Hot sale at Patch Ink Designs. 30% off everything! Woo!

E-mail me with questions: oh.meaghan@gmail.com

Thursday, February 7, 2008

AND it has a shovel!

Dear Cupid (or the person responsible for buying me Valentine's Day presents),

When I was a kid, I wanted this desperately. I never got one, so whenever my friends were allowed to pull their's out of the cupboard, I cheered and squealed and freaked-the-hell-out. To this day, there is nothing more delightful to me than a snow cone on a hot and humid day. It's not hot and humid right now, necessarily, but I want to be prepared DAMMIT!


Buy it here, if you love me: Perpetual Kid

Love, smooches and things,

Meaghan the 5 year-old

[insert] A fun pun involving the word "loom"...

A few years ago, I sat down with some friends and learned how to knit. At that same time, many people (including my friends) were knitting with looms...AND LOVING IT. I decided that I need to have the basics of knitting under my belt before I explored knitting looms, but it wasn't too long before I knew how to knit and purl. My mom gave me my first set of looms for Christmas two years ago and I began looming with a fury!

Provo Craft makes the Knifty Knitter which is perhaps the most popular loom. With their circular looms, you can create a myriad of knitted things from hats to scarves to legwarmers. They're easy to use, durable and incredibly fun. There are limitations as to what type of yarn is best suited for the loom (a thicker yarn, or two yarns together), but otherwise the possibilities are endless. Provo Craft/Knifty Knitter has expanded their collection to include old-fashioned "mini" looms, elongated rectangular looms (for scarves, shawls and blankets) and even specialty looms to create flowers or mittens.

With the popularity of knitting, it's really difficult to not expose your favorite kid to the possibility of learning a new craft. And in many ways I feel that spending time to teach a kid a new craft is more valuable than a video game or television. My favorite kid Ruby is all abuzz about knitting these days, as a friend of the family has opened a fantastic new yarn shop in the heart of the Lauraville neighborhood in Baltimore, MD (cute shop plug: Spinster Yarns & Fibers [site forthcoming] on Harford Rd, y'all. It's AMAZING!). And while teaching her the basics of knitting might be easy enough, I suspect that most kids with thin patience and attention spans of flies would have trouble sitting down and grasping the entire process.

So, I think the loom is a quick fix.

They can choose yarn that is substantial (I prefer WoolEase's Thick & Quick for most projects, usually less than $5/skein), decide on a item to make (a hat would be easiest) and then get the process going. It's repetitive, like knitting with sticks, but it's less cumbersome. The "needle" is easier for smaller hands to manage, more so than two at a time, and the finish product appears much more quickly than with standard knitting. Additionally, it's very difficult to make a mistake using a loom and there is little to no counting involved. It's a perfect entryway into the world of fiberarts.

Knifty Knitter, my loom of choice, is available at most crafts stores and ranges in price from $5/loom to $25-30/set. The instructions that accompany the looms are in full color, and pamphlets created specifically for Knifty Knitters are very inexpensive accompaniments, too. There are also quite a few books now available on the subject, as well as a bevy of e-tutorials (including this one which shows us how to make a cable knit blanket!).

And I have to say, my reluctant partner E took to knitting on the loom like you wouldn't believe!

Bo(a)r(e)d Games - This is funny...only to me.

BOARD GAMES are fantastic, are they not? They not only fill an evening with fun and suspense, but they're great for your brain AND they facilitate communication. Board games are also a great way to teach kids about rules, sharing and playing with others. I would not be overstating things, either, if I said they were good for adults in the very same way.

I order books for a living, which has me wandering to various bookselling and publisher websites on a daily basis. Today I stumbled into Barnes & Noble (note that there is not an S at the end of Noble...talk about striking a nerve!).com and discover that [an assortment of, but not all] board games are 50% right now! What a deal! It made me think about how much I enjoy board games and which games are my particular favorites.

Here are a few:

Scrabble! I know so many brilliant people who play Scrabble on a regular basis. So it only seems logical to me that everyone should play Scrabble in order to be more...well...BRILLIANT.

This is also a great game for young kids, even still hesitant about reading, because they can play with phonetics and letter sequence and also expand their reading skills beyond those of sight-memorization.

OH, and the Deluxe Edition is on sale! Sweet!



Go vintage with this 1935 remake of the original Monopoly. My brother and I attempted to play, and finish, this game many many MANY times. We failed miserably but it was always fun to make money and buy houses.




Does anyone remember when Pictionary was actually a game show? Like on TV? And there were tons of B-list stars? God, I loved that.

Get your draw on with this ridiculous game. It might not inspire you to take a class at the local rec center in watercolors, but at least you'll give the right side of your brain a workout.










There aren't many opportunities nowadays for kids to actually learn the different parts of speech and what they do. I learned from a nun wielding a ruler, so I can't help but remember.

Apples to Apples is a fantasticly fun game with innumerable possibilities for play. Play it straight and giggle like you wouldn't believe! Or play it "gay", as it were, and reveal some ridiculous perversions in the minds of your nearest and dearest.












Scattergories was one of those games that my big, competitive extended family played every year at Christmas. My most distinct memories involve my bossy, loud cousin screaming at everyone for their illogical word choice, and then when she lost, she'd pout and whine for HOURS. Oh, she was also 25+ years old when this happened.

Nevertheless! This game is one of my all-time faves.



Other fun games? Don't Break the Ice. Clue. Rummikub. And Sorry!

Put the tv remote down, turn off the Wii and play a real game with your family this weekend!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Queering Mary Poppins: Cleaning & Organization

In August 2000, I flew into Zurich International Airport, via SwissAir, embarking on a fantastic new journey. After months of preparation, I was to be the latest au pair for a Swiss German family, the Sturzeneggers. The children in my charge? Anne-Catherine, 7. Lucas, 5. Henri, 3. These were professionally "nannied" children, having au pairs for many years prior. Their parents worked full time, the father as an IT consultant and the mother as an opthamologist. I was essentially moving into be the stand-in parent Monday through Friday for an entire year.

Previously, I had worked with children for many years as a babysitter. I did the regular Friday or Saturday night gigs, watching children until they fell asleep, drooling on themselves in front of a Disney movie, waiting for their misbehaving parents to stumble in the doorway at all hours (I once had a drunk mother sign a check to me with her maiden name...talk about the walk of shame...I had to return the next morning for a new check). I also did "special events"...babysitting large groups for parties, outings or even vacations. All in all, I was much more familiar with children than the average post-teenager.

When your kids are cared for by people other than you, the parent(s), there is a TON of scheduling and planning involved. You have to be certain that while you may not be with your children, you have to know where they are, who they are with and what they're doing. Patterns, routines and plans are made in advance to bring peace and consistency...both to your life and to your child's/children's. As a nanny, I was responsible for managing this schedule. And I think that, despite this family's penchant for corporal punishment and a 7 year-old who thought her mission in life was to terrorize and disrespect me, that sticking to a schedule and keeping things organized was a fantastic skill of mine.

I thank my mother for this, most of all, because she was a woman of routine and schedule as well. As kids, we were home from school on time, doing homework until dinner, finishing homework after dinner and then prepping for bed which was always set at an age-appropriate hour. On Friday night, we did something fancy like rent a movie and get some pizza, or visit the local Chinese restaurant where I could get a fruit punch with an umbrella.

Saturday mornings we watched television for a while and then it was time to clean. We started with our rooms, bringing down to the laundry room every single article of clothing that we desired to have washed. My mother did NOT do laundry on any day but Saturday, so if we didn't get it there in time, we were screwed. Then we returned to our rooms, changed our sheets, cleaned bathrooms "from stem to stern", and then proceeded to help with family chores. Often, this meant dusting and vacuuming for me and lawn-mowing for my brother. Now and then, we'd go through our closets to donate clothes or weed through the basement and prep toys for donation. We were constantly cleaning, cycling through our belongings so that we never had too much. My mother endeavored to keep us simple and organized in a mess of affluent suburban excess.

All of this "experience" brings me to the place and the person I am now. There was a discussion this weekend, when I was surrounded by some fantastic mamas, about cleanliness and organization. And Angela told me that irregardless of my children, I will be a clean and organized mama. Not everyone can pull this off, apparently, but I can. She knows it. I was really flattered, because that's what I want to do.

I could get into a whole mess of judgment-based parenting tips, but I'm not going to torture anyone with that...mostly because I'm not a parent and most of y'all will write me off. But I'm telling you, there are three things you have to do in order to ease the chaos of a messy bedroom/playroom (it's taken me how long to get to the point of this post!? JESUS!):

1. Watch how you treat your home, your belongings...take into consideration the amount of time you dedicate to taking care of yourself and what's important to you. I believe that the way your child behaves, treats hir belongings, and just generally exists in your home is a direct reflection of how you treat, care for things, and behave.

2. Everything has a place, everyone has a schedule. If you are interested in allowing your child to engage the free-spirit you felt you were prevented from being as a kid, be prepared for chaos. Kids need boundaries, routines and defined expectations for behavior. This is how we learn how to be good adults. Is is absolutely acceptable for your child to pull every toy out of hir closet during the day, but it is absolutely imperative they every toy pulled out be put back in it's proper place that evening. A few evenings of putting away three billion itty bitty toys (and not being able to do something like watch a tv show) will teach your child to be more careful with hir play planning for the following day, knowing that a messy room is unacceptable AND it is their responsibility to clean it up at the end of the day...which will become something you can teach them to do on their own after a few nights of supervision. Voila! You've established a routine AND brought visual tranquility to your home (or at least your child's living space).

3. Persevere. When the going gets tough, keep on going. It will get easier, your kid WILL get it, and there will be peace not too far in the future. Keeping a clean living space is a fantastic way to decompress from the day, release or manage inner turmoil and to create more time for fun family activities. You will have days where the idea of keeping your eyes open longer than 5 minutes in the morning is an effort of monumental exertion, but the next day it will get easier. The best thing you can do for your kid is teach them how to care for themselves and never give up in the process.

All of these opinions are, naturally, up for debate. But they worked for me...both in my experiences as a childcare giver AND as a child. I realize that there is a rebellious person in all of us, and some of these lessons will take a long time to sink in or will be conveniently forgotten when puberty hits, but we will remember.

Oh, and:
  • Get your kid a laundry basket. Teach them how to use it.
  • Weed through your kid's closet and toys every 3 months. Kids have the attention span of a fly, and there is always something that can be tossed or donated. Have them join the fun, as long as tantrums can be kept at bay and you have the patience.
  • Set aside an hour or two every weekend to clean YOUR room. Your kid will take the hint.

Sale Sale Sale!

Happy Monday everyone!

As sad as I was/am to have missed Crafts & Kisses, I still feel like there's time to squeeze in some pre-Valentine's Day shopping. I've added some really fantastic and sassy new designs to my shop, too, so this is a perfect time to announce my:


Monday (today, 2.4.08) through Monday (2.11.08) everything in my shop will be 30% off. Simply select the items you're interested in, leave your PayPal address in the "Notes to Seller" field and I will send you a revised invoice. If you'd prefer to purchase something but you don't use PayPal, let me know in the Notes to Seller field and I'll get in touch.

This is a great opportunity to get a pair of earrings for yourself, a friend or your luvah just in time for Valentine's Day...all at a fantastic price! Please e-mail me* if you have any questions!


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* oh.meaghan@gmail.com

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