Mom Ladd Guilt Post

Two days ago I was talking to my mom and she said, “You know you haven’t updated your blog in a while.” And I was like, “That is not even one of my goals this year. In fact, I made a goal specifically so that other people would do it for me.” But Mom Guilt is a powerful force, so today I decided to post every picture I currently have on my phone, with explanations I’m attempting to remember.

This is Steven drinking a bloody mary at one of the restaurants on my list. He said it was amazing.

This is Steven drinking a bloody mary at one of the restaurants on my list. He said it was amazing.

This is my apartment complex's gym. I have no idea why I took a picture of it

This is my apartment complex’s gym. I have no idea why I took a picture of it

This is the dessert course from tea at the Umstead!!! Probably from when Brian was here?

This is the dessert course from tea at the Umstead!!! Probably from when Brian was here?

LOL this is from when I said "Brian, sit on that thing and I'll take a picture of you" AND HE DID IT

LOL this is from when I said “Brian, sit on that thing and I’ll take a picture of you” AND HE DID IT

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Treasures of Pinterest (aka- How NOT to suck at Gift Projects)

Evening…ya’ll?

So to follow in the footsteps of Mom Ladd- when my darling Sister-in-law asked if I would be a guest blogger on here, at first I thought, ‘heck yes, this will be awesome! There are so many things I can write about!’. Then the feeling of pressure and dread crept in on many levels and I realized that while yes, this was awesome- I mean, the infamous Plaid Pladd Blog is nothing to be scoffed at, it was also sort of stressful since I would be writing something that would no doubt be judged by people much smarter than myself and thus writing anything that immediately jumps to mind would probably end in nothing but chagrin and a shriveled up IQ (also a supreme lack of cool points from the aforementioned SIL). I tend to the academic side of things just asking questions because I’m curious, but I doubt anybody wants to hear me ramble about the psychological and sociological implications of the BDSM community (no NOT the 50 shades version, thank Heaven), or the origin of Antisemitism, or legal practices in the Deaf Community, or the fact that you can now get served divorce papers via Facebook (!?!?!), or even Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 Op. 101  that just took up the last month of my life. No, you probably don’t want to read about any of those things.

Having said that, rather than giving into fear and backing out due to my lack of life from a seemingly never ending Music Literature course, I decided instead to do an overview of things you can do from pinterest that make pretty snazzy gifts. Adventure awaits- Enjoy!

 

Behold, a treasure trove of tantalizing tactile time wasters!

Behold, a treasure trove of tantalizing tactile time wasters!

 

This isn’t really to say that I have an unholy amount of copious free time, though around the holidays and in summer time I suppose I have had more time that usual… Anyways- most of you have at least heard of Pinterest as a crafting or interest hub where just about anything can be found. If not, you have most definitely heard jokes or seen silly articles on the many poor souls that thought they could master something deceptively tricky on the first go. Thankfully, the only things I have ever experienced in that department include smoothly decorating cake balls (I hate them… -_- ) and tie-dying fingernails with a water technique (t-total mess failure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyXtkEmopnA  )

Though it is true I have spent more time on this site than is strictly necessary, what can I say: I’m a hoarder for recipes and craft ideas. This brings me to the meat of today’s scheduled babble: Craft time!

My Dad is great with math and wood working, Steve rocks a computer and isn’t totally incompetent in the kitchen, Mom sews like a beast, and now Tricia does everything with knitting needles I could never get the hang of, so I suppose it falls on me to be the jack of all trades in random crafting areas. I love to learn new things and try different techniques- especially when it means I already have Christmas, Birthday, or other special occasion gifts checked off. Personally I’d rather do homemade/personal gifts but c’est la vie- to each their own. In honor of that- let’s visit some favorites of mine.

 

#1: Anything to do with Mod Podge.
Super easy MP craft examples: magnets, coasters, and image transfers.

 

Behold: Crafting glue from Heaven.

Crafting glue from Heaven.

 

So far, I think I’ve stuck to relatively “basic” MP crafts, but they seem to have gone over pretty well. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not ridiculously gifted with any of this, but I think most people just make it out to be harder than it needs to be. There are SO MANY types of this stuff ($$$) out there, you can do just about anything from resurfacing shoes, to sealing outdoor furniture (and probably your average car…), and of course creating fun little crafts or gifts for any age. This stuff stinks so I don’t think anyone is ever in any danger of “eating the paste”, but hey, messy crafts are for big kids too, dangit!

 

First: Magnets

Don't judge my love of bumpersticker .jpgs

Don’t judge my love of bumpersticker .jpgs

These are super simple. Once upon a time many updates ago, Facebook had this fun little app called Bumperstickers. I used to share these pics back and forth with friends on a daily basis, and some of them were just too clever to lose when the app inevitably disappeared (as everything fun tends to do on FB). I saved most of mine and knew that one day I would craft with them- enter pinterest.

Necessities:

  1. Pictures cut down to size (2×2) and printed
  2. Equally sized canvases (get them at Michaels or Hobby Lobby)
  3. ModPodge and cheap foam brush
  4. Small magnets
  5. Hot glue/gun

You can obviously do this with any size photo or graphic, I just wanted to make magnets because these seemed perfect for the occasion. Print out your photos and cut them down to size. For me, since these weren’t being reverse transferred, I just had to slather everything down and wait. It can get sticky and take some patience, but really, no sweat. Coat your canvas or mounting surface well with MP, then align your photo on top and press down, smoothing as you go to make sure there are no air bubbles under the surface. Once your photo is thoroughly adhered, coat the top with another layer or two of MP and smooth it all over. Just make sure all of your edges are firmly pressed down and coated or things will peel and be ruined in the end. I personally liked to use the glossy finish for this kind of thing, but again- to each his (or her) own. When they’re all dry, turn them over and glue a magnet onto the back and voila! Quippy magnets!!  These of course are perfect to decorate your own home, or to give to friends or decorate the community fridge at work just to spice things up a bit. I toss them into care packages and gift boxes to surprise people and it never fails to be fun… unless you have one of the new refrigerators that isn’t actually capable of holding magnets on its stupid shiny surfaces… but I’m not bitter… grumble…


 

Next: Photo Coasters for all Occasions

Wedding coasters for my best friend's sister

Wedding coasters for my best friend’s sister

Obviously, I’ve done a Lot of this stuff, but it is still one of my favorite crafts to work on. This can be done with movies or music in the background while waiting on cheesecakes and casseroles to bake, or particularly large loads of clothes to dry- whatever floats your boat. I like making coasters as gifts since they are both pretty and practical and thankfully, the process is pretty much the same as above. These coasters were made for my best friend Brittany’s sister Sherri’s wedding last year. I’ve known them for a really long time and decided to make coasters to go with the breakfast tray I made them as a wedding gift and it seemed to turn out relatively well. I seem to remember Logan flippantly remarking how amazing it was that after you get married, everything you’re given past that seems to still revolve around your wedding day, but I just chalk that up to him being a lumberjack type and move on. Hmph.

Necessities:

  1. Photos (laser jet printed) cut down to size of surface
  2. Tiles (I used stone from Lowes, but you can use glass, porcelain, stone, wood, or even metal)
  3. Lots of MP and a few cheap foam brushes just in case (have somewhere to wash these too or they ruin quickly)
  4. Felt or thin cork to line the back (again, cut to size)
  5. Glue or adhesive for backing materials
  6. Acrylic spray sealant to seal the top against liquids or any bubble spots (not strictly speaking absolutely necessary, but if you’ve put this much effort into it, then why not?)
  7. small cup of room temperature water if you decide to do a transfer project rather than cut and paste

Print and cut out your photos, and again cover the surface with a good thick layer of MP. Lay your image on top, smooth it out, and top coat it with about 2 even layers of MP making sure to smooth out any crimps or bubbles alone the way. Let your pieces dry before worrying about backing and whatnot. I always used super thin cork board that you could get at Michaels in a big roll (more practical if you’re doing a ton of these like I did for my friends in college), but you can also use little fabric dots or really anything that will put something between the back of your surface and a whatever it’s going to be sitting on. We wouldn’t want to scratch Grandma’s antique table now would we…

Once they’re dry, adhere your backing material, and then spray over the top with the acrylic sealant just to make sure that everything is safely insured against leaks, condensation, or incidental damage. Again- done, and the results tend to look pretty nifty!

As a note of interest, you can use other things to do this kind of transfer as well (gel mediums, etc.) so you aren’t restricted to ModPodge. Also, since some of this stuff can get kind of $$, look up recipes for homemade mediums to save a few bucks, and never forget coupons for craft stores!!! SOOOO worth it!

If you want to get really fancy smancy, you can do a reverse transfer with your photos that takes a little more effort but is totally worth it. To do this, print your photo backwards (especially if there is text! Mirror images and all that jazz…) and mount it onto your MP surface face down. Smooth it out and allow it to dry, and then very lightly drip a tiny amount of water onto the back of the photo and as it absorbs into the paper, rub it away using your finger tip. This just takes an extra step and a lot of patience. If you rub too hard or too fast, the photo will rub away and be ruined. If you do it just right however, the paper backing from the photo rubs away leaving the ink embossed into the ModPodge below and thus creating somewhat of a weathered look.

 

Christmas gifts for college besties. Everything from movie scenes and hobby graphics to club seals and photos taken on choir tours in Europe.

Christmas gifts for college besties.
Everything from movie scenes and hobby graphics to club seals and photos taken on choir tours in Europe.

In this picture, you can see where I used that technique on tiles in the top and second rows to make things look more worn and natural. You can do this on any surface to achieve many different effects, so really the sky is the limit. Again, after this is all done, slather the top in MP and sealant and call it done!

 

Again let me state- this takes time and patience… Also a good crafting surface you don’t care about if you’re like me and use an exacto blade for everything and get sort of messy easily. I sacrificed the cover of my repertoire book cutting, painting, and setting sticky things out for various crafts and thus learned… the struggle is real.

 


Finally: Photo Transfers and Collages

This follows the exact same idea as the above projects, but I decided to take the idea, apply it to a large body canvas transfer and turn them into collages as gifts! Yes I realize you can go almost anywhere these days have have photos stamped on anything from canvases to stadium blankets, but again, I prefer to do it myself. It just means more to me. Anyways, here are some examples that include both normal adherence of photos with MP, and the reverse transferal method. One went to my favorite siblings, Steve and Tricia, for the anniversary of their beloved Wed-O-Ween, and the other to one of my very best friends of 20 years for our “friend-a-versary” last year. Cheers!

Memories of 20 years... or at least the last 10

Memories of 20 years with my best friend… or at least goofy proof of the last 10…

Happy Wed-O-Ween!

Happy Wed-O-Ween!

 

Yaaaay public displays of crafting and solidarity!

Right?

You bet I’m right!


Now moving away from MP… something equally goofy but still fun for those nostalgic days of childhood cold and flu season…

#2: Crayon Melts!

SDC12689

Red and yellow, black and blue, these are not the normal few… wait a minute….

These take the longest I think, but only because it takes forever to peel the labels off of all the crayons! I suppose you could take a razor or craft knife and slice the side to make it easier but, I just dove head on into the box of half broken crayon bits and went to town. It ended up being quite cathartic ripping paper and breaking the pieces into tiny chunks actually- crafting therapy is totally a thing. Haley and I did this one Christmas to send to another friend of mine serving in the Peace Corps and it was splendid fun. We of course were totally retarded sitting in front of my oven just watching the bits melt and bubble, and having a grand time. There may have also been cookies and milk involved, but that’s another matter altogether.

Take a box of crayons (I’m a snob for Crayola so there ya go) and go to town. Rip the wrappers off, and then break each crayon into smaller pieces and put them in an oven safe mold. Some people use good ol’ fashioned cupcake pans (with or without papers, but I would definitely say WITH papers if you don’t want to spend forever cleaning your pans later), but you can also use silicon baking pans in whatever shape strikes your fancy. I’ve seen them in hearts, gingerbread people, squares, circles, stars, trains, houses, and who knows what else. I obviously used a little red silicon mold from Michaels (you can get it at walmart too) to do mine. Pop your pieces into the mold however you want (we opted for blended by color family), and stick them in at *275-300 f. for as long as it takes to thoroughly melt all of the crayon bits. If I recall, it took a little bit, but was worth it. If you have kids, or babysit little ones, or work somewhere that this kind of thing could be done, it is a real crowd pleaser. Once the stuff is melted well, you can take it out and just leave it to sit and firm up again. This is where using tin liners, or a silicon mold comes in handy as it is SO much simpler to remove the reformed crayon after it has re-solidified. Pull up a coloring book or some blank sheets and draw something unpredictably colorful- I don’t care how old you are, coloring books are still the best.


 

# 3: Alcohol Inks and marble techniques

These again, get kind of messy, kind of $$, and take time and patience, but they are really really pretty when you’re done. This was my new craft last year and I must say I’m excited to have found it. You can use these alcohol inks on any nonporous surface to do some really legit color work and get all sorts of interesting results. People use these inks to decorate large surfaces, tiles, jewelry, dominoes, candles, and all sorts of other fun things. I’ve done tiles and dominoes and hope to continue using this technique over Christmas this year if I can think of new things to gift…hm…

1116142300

The Old Code- Dragonheart Fairy Tale Sayings

0117151458a

A full set of dominoes ready for play and perusal- who needs precious stones now? Yea!

I decided to make these for a good friend of mine that recently finished his PhD in Philosophy, studying the ethics involved in codes of Knighthood throughout history. I figured the Old Code from Dragonheart was a good way to go on top of the alcohol inks and thus, spent forever stamping each phrase on a domino letter by letter (not something I’d be keen to do again…).

They are otherwise relatively easy to create though. All it takes is patience, and the right supplies. You can buy alcohol inks individually or in packets of 3 online or in craft stores.

To do something like this, you need:

  1. Alcohol Inks and thinner
  2. Dauber/brush and felt pads
  3. Stamps and archival quality (acid free) Ink
  4. Acrylic Sealer Spray (*can use MP, but easier to just spray)

Put a felt pad on your dauber, and then drip one or two drops of each color you want onto the pad with some distance between each color. When you have all of the colors present, just tap the dauber against your surface as many times as you want until the pattern you’re looking for comes out. For me, this meant adding ink and thinner in turn and finding juuuuuust the right angle to tap the dauber at in order to achieve something closer to a “uniform” pattern of marbling. The great thing about this is that because it looks like natural marble, there is nothing uniform about it and it can be as messy, big, bold, tiny, pointilistic, or monet-like as you want it! Just try not to get too frustrated if it doesn’t happen as easily as you think it will. No matter what surface you coat with this ink, it’s going to look great. Be sure to seal it with the acrylic spray though, or everything will get smudged off in time and with exposure to liquids and then you’re out of luck. The alcohol in these inks evaporates quickly after application, setting the pigments and allowing for the marbling effect to take place. If you want to stamp images or phrases on top of the effect, make sure the alcohol is all dry and your ink is non-acidic, and then firmly but cleanly stamp your image onto the stained surface before spraying with the acrylic sealer.

Explore different combinations and find what works for you. If I had my choice, I’d probably have a sauna or large tile vanity decked out in this kind of thing. Imagine the mosaic work you could do!!!

Just maybe don’t think about the money you’d spend to do it… yeaaaa….


 

And finally, last but not least:

#4: T-shirt stenciling- because sometimes, cafe press just can’t cut it.

My Senior year of College, my friend Shylo and I got into a rhythm during the fall of studying at her apartment after I cooked dinner to the amusing tones of Alan Alda and his gang of goofy GIs in what is probably my favorite TV show of all time, M*A*S*H*.  I absolutely Love this show, and got her equally hooked, which is great now that it is on netflix and can be easily accessed everywhere by all who aren’t ridiculous enough to have the DVD collection. What I came to find though, was that it is impossible to get good MASH stuff anywhere. Even my faithful Cafepress was a bit of a let down in this department, so I figured weyell, better make your own! So here we go.

Necessary tools:

  1. T shirt of some sort- can be normal cotton, or super thin like this one
  2. Fabric paint and/or fabric paint pens for writing or small spaces
  3. Crafting knife to cut out tiny details
  4. Freezer paper (Not normal wax paper, but the legit freezer kind)
  5. An Iron and smooth sturdy surface to work on

Prepare for Exacto blade Awesomeness.

I got a super soft shirt on sale and set to work sketching out what I wanted the shirt to look like when I was done on the freezer paper. Draw or print out your design on the smooth paper side of your freezer paper and outline it in something dark to make it easier to see when cutting. If you’re anything like me, there will be tiny bits and pieces to deal with so going over your initial design with a sharpie or dark marker can really be a life saver. From there, take your exacto knife and cut out whatever design you choose and put it shiny side down onto your shirt. DO NOT iron the wrong side or you’re going to end up with sticky gross goop on your iron: no bueno kids.

Gently iron the design onto your shirt. The waxy side will sort of stick to the shirt and give you a smooth stencil to work with when you use your paint so you don’t have to worry about smudging or getting stray paint where there oughtn’t be any.

Once your stencil is mounted, paint your design with a brush and fabric paint or using a paint pen. Either way, get it done and let it dry one side at a time. Regardless of what type of shirt you use, make sure also to put something like cardboard or a notebook between the layers of your shirt to avoid it sticking together and being a hot mess.

When one side is done, obviously flip over and do your other side. Just make absolutely sure your paint is dry on both sides before flipping or you’ll seriously regret it. I finished mine and let it sit a few hours between flipping just to make sure, and then overnight before touching it again. Once your paint is set, simply pull off the freezer paper and you’re good to go. You should find that you’ve retained smooth clean lines and gotten a great graphic in the process. You can also theoretically do this kind of thing with watered down bleach if you want to go for the tie-dye look in whatever color shirt you’ve chosen. I stuck with normal paints and ended up with this:

Business in front, party in back ;)

Business in front, party in back ;)

BOOM! Take that CafePress!

BOOM! Take that CafePress!

 

 

Since my back piece was a bit more complicated, I just painted everything solid and free handed the writing with a paint pen. Gotta love those things!

 

This way, I got to have exactly what I wanted, and figured out how to make similar things for friends when they go to the various and sundry conventions constantly gracing Houston with their presence.

This is the kind of thing I particularly go for, because I can never seem to find just the right thing for certain events, or anything I could be enticed to actually wear when called for. This kind of thing is fun in a group for marathons, silly events, gifts, or just general goofy shenanigans and doesn’t take too much effort to make wonderful.

Go crazy: make a fan shirt, a quote jacket, shorts with a strange phrase or emblem- whatever your little heart desires, knock yourself out.

When all is said and done, throw your completed shirt in the dryer for a few minutes to make sure the paint is totally set. After that, follow normal wash cycle instructions. If anything should start to go amiss, just throw it in with the “gentle” stuff and call it good.


My current project would be #5, otherwise known as the ever popular T-shirt Quilt, for all of your nostalgic-midlife crisis- days of netflix binging with nothing but comfort food to console you, because as we know kids- it doesn’t get better for everyone after High School. One day I’ll complete this ridiculous thing, but for now, we leave it to the imagination and will see how it comes out, when it comes out…if it ever comes out.. Ok now it sounds like a baby so it’s obviously time to quit my ramblings and let you fine folk find better things to do with your time.

These have been my favorite projects to work on, and hey, they may not be for everybody, but when it comes to things like showers, Birthdays and Christmas- this kind of thing can be absolute Gold. Keep it in mind next time you’re looking for something special to give away, or even to make for yourself. We all deserve treats now and again right? RIGHT!

Regardless of my mindless droning though, should you ever find yourself in need of a hint or inspiration, check out sites like Pinterest and Craftsy- they’re sure to have SOMETHING you can use for even the pickiest person.

Good Luck!!!


 

PS: For further tutorials on anything seen above, check out the following:

  1. Photo Coasters: http://thefrugalgirls.com/2010/11/how-to-make-photo-coasters.html
  2. Photo transfers: http://www.thisheartofmineblog.com/2013/08/30/transfer-image-canvases/
  3. Crayons: http://www.instructables.com/id/MINI-MUFFIN-CRAYONS-A-New-Life-for-Broken-Crayo/
  4. Alcohol Inks: http://www.theenchantedgallery.com/alcohol.html
  5. Tshirt Stenciling: http://www.stayathomeartist.com/2011/07/stencil-with-freezer-paper-harry-potter.html/

2015 Goal Update: March

Since we’re about a quarter of the way through 2015, I thought it was time to give you an update on my 2015 goals! I’m off to a good start!

1.Read 1 book each month I think I’ll disagree with: 25%

So far I’ve been doing this one in conjunction with Goal 7:

January: The New Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major

I was so sure this one would be only full of dead white guy writers, but there were actually a ton of international works. I put a bunch of things on my to-read list. A pleasant surprise!

February: Don’t Be That Girl by Travis Stork

The cover is particularly insulting

The cover is particularly insulting

A guide written by a former Bachelor contestant about how to stop being bad stereotypes of women and how to start being a stereotype of women that Travis Stork approves of. The best is the chapter where he tells you you’re too good at your job and it’s intimidating to potential dates.

March: The Frazzled Female by Cindi Wood

This book had some good points about taking time to relax and practice mindfulness and self-care. But in general it was very repetitive and I didn’t care for the writing style. Or being called a female.

2. Finish I Detonate Around Him: 75%

This is my tumblr that critiques 50 Shades of Grey. I’m about 80% done with the last book!! And then I have my traditional wrap up posts where I make graphs like a huge nerd.

Pictured: Something a huge nerd would do

Pictured: Something a huge nerd would do

It’s been 3 years, so I’m looking forward to finally being done.

3. Visit every restaurant on my list of restaurants to visit: 58%

This is kind of cheating because the list included things that I already had visited before the start of this year. But after last year’s abject failure, I needed something to give me an edge! So far probably the coolest thing we’ve tried is Escazu chocolates, where you can get historical hot chocolates, made from recipes as far back as the 1500s!

We all know Cortes could hot chocolate like a boss

We all know Cortes could hot chocolate like a boss

4. Review at least 1 thing online a month: 25%

So far I have only reviewed places I really like (La Farm, Carolina Popcorn Shoppe, Goji Bistro) to make it easier. Eventually I promise to give something less than 5 stars, but I have to work up the nerve.

5. Plaid Pladd Blog: One guest blog post per month: 25%

So far we have had three great guest blogs!!!! James Fox gave us a thorough look at his studies into bad anime, Rob wrote a nice excerpt from his ongoing examination into America’s Next Top Model, and Mom Ladd wrote about the perils and rewards of being Mom Ladd.

6. Knit a sweater: 60%

This is just an estimate, but I’ve finished the front, back, and most of one sleeve. It looks good so far!!

7. Get hella into a different Dewey Decimal Class each month: 25%

So far, the 100s have been my favorite!

Total: 42%

Pretty good for March!

Previously: 2015 goals

And the New Day was a Great Big Fish: My Top 10 Discworld Novels

I was more upset than seems natural that the world lost one of its greatest writers, and, more importantly, a kind and awesome person when Sir Terry Pratchett died yesterday. His books are, quite simply, magic. They mean so much to me that I’ve rewritten this post at least twelve times because it never seems to be enough. I can’t explain it well enough to do them justice, especially if you’ve never read any.

The Discworld floats through space, supported by four gigantic elephants who are themselves standing on a giant turtle. A Star Turtle. It seems strange at first, but after you’re one or two books in, it seems completely natural.

The Discworld

The Discworld

Discworld books always get shelved in fantasy, because some of the characters are subpar wizards and there are swamp dragons and time travel and trolls. But it’s not some High Fantasy bullshit where you need a giant appendix with a glossary of elvish terms and characters. The Discworld is more about our world than anything. It’s about war and death and the pain of growing up and growing old, the magic in everyday things and the power of humans and what they can do together–for good or for evil.

Also, it’s hilarious.

I mean, if you couldn’t tell from the giant world turtle. My favorite books are hilarious but also meaningful. The other great thing about Discworld is that it really is an entire world. There are over 40 books, but most of them don’t go in any particular order. There are a few general storylines, but also many one-off novels, and characters from different books appear as minor characters in others. That in itself is a feature I love, like unexpectedly bumping into an old friend. I really think this means that there is a Discworld book for everyone. I love all of them, but at certain times in my life I’ve been more drawn to the Rincewind stories, for instance, whereas now (as you’ll see from my list) anything featuring Vimes usually gets top billing. It was hard to decide on a Top 10, and I feel like I will change my mind about some of the ordering even tomorrow, but for now:

10. Men at Arms

menatarms

I love Vimes novels because I love: 1) a good mystery, 2) a scruffy, world-weary underdog, and 3) the underlying themes of inclusion and justice. Vimes works for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which, at least at the beginning, gets about as much respect as those flunky guards who always get killed by the hero on the way in to save the princess in a trope-filled fantasy novel. Still, I would classify these books as police procedurals, with werewolves. In this one, Vimes has to catch a serial killer on the loose in Ankh-Morpork with a strange new weapon that does untold damage. He also has to deal with new species integration in the Watch, when he’s forced to hire a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf.

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

I really like watching Vimes grow as a person throughout the books about him, but still retain that hard-bitten core of Vimesishness. This book uses the anti-dwarf/troll/werewolf attitudes espoused by Vimes, other Watch members, and the populace at large to parody real issues of racism and sexism, and Pratchett’s portrayal is spot fucking on.

9.The Fifth Elephant

fifthelephant

This is another, later City Watch novel, where Vimes is sent as a diplomatic envoy from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald for the crowning of a new Low King of the dwarfs. Of course, since it’s a Vimes novel, there’s a mystery to solve–namely, the theft of a sacred dwarf artifact. And the theft of a model of it from an Ankh-Morpork museum. And the murder of a condom maker. Related? Maybe! This book builds on previous worldbuilding and gives us an insight into “traditional” dwarf, werewolf, and vampire society. Ankh-Morpork and all its problems are downright cosmopolitan by comparison. Case in point: Corporal Cheery Littlebottom, one of the first openly female dwarfs.

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Pratchett’s depiction of traditional dwarf society, with all the attendant legends and mythology of a people who have lived their lives underground, in near-darkness, is breathtaking. The way he plays with traditional tropes is hilarious (the main vampire character, a Countess, knits her own cardigans). This book is as much a political thriller as it is a mystery, and Vimes is the best forever.
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Disney Princesses: Callously Judged

I decided to rank the Disney princesses, because that’s the kind of thing I do. I was surprised by the results. When asked who my favorite Disney princess is, I’m most likely to say “Merida” or “Mulan”, I guess because growing up reading Tamora Pierce makes me love anything with lady warriors. Ultimately, when deciding on the order of this list, though, I went by who I would most like to hang out with. And I love hanging out with awesome badasses, but I guess there are some other things I value more. I also used the official list of Disney princesses so characters like Megara don’t appear (sadly).

11. Snow White

Ugh, I even hate her face

Ugh, I even hate her face

Snow White is the worst Disney princess. Don’t even try to fight me on this, because it’s definitely true. Her costume is weird, her voice is annoying, and she spends a good chunk of her story either crying or asleep. Plus, she is fourteen, which makes her entire story really creepy.

10. Aurora

Subject of the original "What color is this dress?" debate

Subject of the original “What color is this dress?” debate

Aurora is also pretty boring and annoying. She hardly has any lines in her own movie, and, again, spends a lot of time asleep. Plus, girl gets way too friendly with random dudes she meets in the woods. Still, she’s slightly better than Snow White because she’s mostly just a cardboard cutout of a character instead of actively annoying.

9. Cinderella

But minus points for that hair because what

But minus points for that hair because what

Finally a princess with a little personality! Unlike Snow White and Aurora, I feel like I know more about Cinderella as a person, even if it’s a person I’m not that jazzed about hanging out with. She’s not afraid of hard work, and her initial life experiences will probably make her a compassionate ruler who doesn’t take her wealth for granted. I wish she had a little more spirit instead of just doing whatever her Evil Stepmother or her Fairy Godmother says, though.

8. Rapunzel

And Obligatory Disney Animal Sidekick, of course

And Obligatory Disney Animal Sidekick, of course

I like Rapunzel’s optimism and her curiosity. She would be fun to hang out with for an afternoon, but I think her relentless cheeriness would eventually wear me down. Like, sometimes I just want to make fun of how bad something is (like Snow White). And you can try to make me feel guilty about that, but I won’t. Plus, why do you have a pet lizard.

7. Ariel

I am REALLY surprised to see Ariel so far down on this list

I am REALLY surprised to see Ariel so far down on this list

When I was little, Ariel was definitely my bff. She was curious and rebellious and headstrong. But, while I still like her, adult-me thinks she is kind of dumb. Like, OKAY, you think forks are combs even though the mermaid-world must be eating their food with something. But why doesn’t she step up her attempts at communication? Girl signed a contract so she’s clearly literate. Write Prince Eric a note! Draw him a picture! Don’t just wave your hands awkwardly and then give up. I need a little more ingenuity in my Disney Princess Fave.

6. Jasmine

Plus, those pants look hella comfortable

Plus, those pants look hella comfortable

Jasmine is the only character in her movie with any sense at all. NO, DAD, I am not just going to marry some random losers because you think 15 is too old to be an old maid, EW. And hey, this Jafar guy is CLEARLY EVIL, let’s stop listening to him. I like that she calls Aladdin on his shit for lying to her. Plus, a pet tiger is metal as hell. Jasmine is solid. The only reason she’s not higher is because she’s clearly led a really sheltered life so far, so other princesses beat her out on the fun-to-hang-with scale (a very scientific measurement).

5. Pocahontas

Not taking into account historical accuracy because wow

Not taking into account historical accuracy because wow

Pocahontas knows what’s up. She has clear goals (which aren’t just “get a dude”) and she shows equal measures of compassion and backbone. She argues with John Smith when he’s patronizing, but also doesn’t think that straight up killing the invaders is necessarily the answer. Plus, she can climb trees, dive off cliffs, and paint with all the colors of the wind, so you know we would have a good time hiking and meeting bear cubs and whatnot. The only downside is that she has some freaky supernatural powers. Not only is her grandmother a tree, but she learns English instantaneously by “listening to her heart”. What else is her heart telling her? All my secrets? That I haven’t washed my hair in three days? You can see why hanging with her would be a risk.

4. Belle

Belle's fashion game is on point

Belle’s fashion game is on point

Belle loves to read! Clearly we would have a lot to talk about! She wants more adventures and doesn’t put up with gross jerks. We would clearly be good friends, although maybe not BEST friends, because her idea of adventure is “taming” a dude and getting married. You can’t change him, girlfriend, and my adventures generally involve at least a scavenger hunt so… pass.

3. Merida

Give me that hair.

Give me that hair.

I love Merida’s attitude and her adventurous spirit. She’s in a similar situation to Jasmine, but her solution is not just to whine about it, but to DO SOMETHING to assert her autonomy. I also like how she grows as a person so much during her story and begins to appreciate both of her parents and what they’re trying to do for her. Plus, her style is what I want forever.

hatersgonnahate

2. Mulan

Your awkwardness speaks to me

Your awkwardness speaks to me

Mulan is so amazing!!!!!!!! I have no complaints about her at all. If anything, I’m worried that I’m not awesome enough to hang with her. She doesn’t fit in to the strict gender roles of her society and feels awkward dressed up fancy wearing make up (I HEAR YOU, GIRL). She takes drastic measures to save her father and works hard to become a warrior!!! Then she SAVES CHINA!!! Also, she gets a hot dude in the end, but I like how that’s never her top priority. Girl’s gotta live her life–AWESOMELY–and you can come along if you want to, Li Shang, if you can keep up.

1. Tiana

Reason number one: girl can cook

Reason number one: girl can cook

Tiana is the best. Tiana is who I most want to hang out with. Tiana wins everything. She decided her dream was to open a restaurant so she worked as hard as humanly possible to save up the money, working against racism and sexism to finally achieve her dreams. She doesn’t take any of Prince Naveen’s shit, but she still helps him even when he’s acting like a spoiled baby. Plus, at the end, even though she finds her OTL, she still achieves her dream of opening a restaurant!! Tiana is an awesome role model, and would make a great friend. And that is why she is my top pick for best Disney Princess. She has a lot in common with Mulan, but she achieves her success by working within the system instead of radically undermining it. Both are legit, but I feel like one is less scary for people like me to accomplish. Plus, Tiana has beignets.

Mom Ladd on Being Mom Ladd

When Patricia first mentioned that she was going to have guest bloggers this year, my immediate reaction was: “AWESOME! I want to do it! This will be great, I can do this.” Then reality set in and I began thinking, “Oh my gosh, it involves creativity and writing ability and her blog is so great month after month.  I CANNOT do it, but luckily Trish has many talented friends (you know who you are), so it will be ok, I will not have to participate.”

As a teacher, I often find myself in similar situations when I don’t think before I agree to do something I will later regret. The problem is too many times I have gone ahead with the idea anyway without thinking about the reality. One such time involved me participating in a Faculty vs. High School Boys Basketball game at Seminole High School a few years back.  Sure, I played basketball in high school. “I can do this,” I thought.  “We can kick their butts in a game!”  However, the reality of the situation was: the boys were faster, taller, and stronger. AND my basketball skills had diminished due to the years that had passed since I had gone to high school and the fact that I hadn’t PLAYED in a basketball game for years.

1

This is how I thought I would look

Needless to say, even though my jersey had the #1 on it, I was not. It was a mess and will be remembered only because I pulled a kid’s shorts down while going after the basketball and we both ended up tumbling to the ground.  Luckily, he was wearing 3 layers of shorts, so no inappropriate personal parts were displayed, but it was not a good scene. I know you want a picture here, but, sorry, the crowd was too stunned to snap a shot.

 

Most other times I have made rash decisions that I regretted later involved wearing costumes or losing bets I was stupid enough to make with students. Something they never mentioned in teacher training: don’t make bets with students. They probably thought it goes without saying. Many of these pictures ended up in yearbooks, so I will be remembered not as a pretty good math teacher, but as the “crazy ” one.  The following is evidence.  You can draw your own conclusions.

 

Geometry Day!

After a hard day of teaching.  I took a bite out of a few?

What was I thinking?

Probably the very worst decision of all was allowing some students to “spike” my hair.  I told them it couldn’t be done, but actually with the right amount of Elmer’s glue and rubber bands…  anything is possible. There’s some words of wisdom for you to live by.

 

The picture I want to be remembered by

So now that I have established that I shouldn’t make rash decisions, and I should definitely not take on things I’m not really qualified to do, I’ll share with you the following phone conversation.

Tricia:  Mom, I am going to ask you a favor, and you are going to say no.  But after you have a chance to think about it, you are going to say yes.

Me:  (speechless) …OK, what is the favor?

Tricia:  I want you to be a guest writer on my blog.

Me:  (Silence)…(Speechless)…(terror)…

Tricia:  Maybe you can write about teaching? Or write about a recipe you like? Or maybe about Pi Day?

You all know, Tricia can be quite convincing when she wants to be, and I would have been afraid to turn her down. She does own several swords, and she is not afraid to use them.

The Aragorn is all mine though

I knew the reason Tricia mentioned teaching, cooking, and Pi Day.  These are areas that I am quite passionate about.  I got to thinking about it, and realized the only topic this blog entry should be, because it is my greatest passion and the area of my life that I have taken the most time with and I am most proud of:  being Patricia and Thomas’s Mom.  Also, I am figuring that most of Tricia’s blog readers are not yet parents, and also may become parents sometime in the future.  So, here goes.

Thoughts on Being Mom Ladd

1.  Children are cute.

They need to be cute because they take an insane amount of energy if you are going to do it right.  Plan on 20 hour days, especially at first. I figure it is God’s way of helping you forget your life before children.

Evidence they are so cute

Prain.jpg

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James and Patricia Read Time Traveling Romance Novels

Little known fact: James and I have been in a book club together for the past five years. We take turns picking books (or, more often themes), and then text back and forth during the reading process. At the end we write letters!! That often include comics!! Anyway, there’s no timeline, which is why book club has been on hold for the last year while James completely failed to read a were-cat book (HIS idea, too!). BUT WE ARE BACK, and reading amazing time traveling romance novels. Did you know this was a whole subgenre? Now you do! You’re welcome.

I read A Touch of Enchantment by Teresa Medeiros, because I got it for 15 cents at a library book sale. James is reading Charmed by Catherine Hart after sorting GoodReads reviews by star rating.

I’m just going to excerpt from our text conversation rather than repeat myself. James and I don’t need second drafts. We’ve had years to hone this BFF banter:
James (in GREEN): Best book club ever is BACK IN SESSION

I feel like I made The Right Choice
Charmed1Charmed2

HOLOGRAPHIC COVER

Patricia(in purple, OF COURSE): This looks so incredible, I can’t wait to live it through you

James: Lolol this book is dedicated to the Shawnee Nationt

Alana has informed me that the indian on the cover would have to be 43 years old for this novel to make sense as writtenc!

Since he’s one of Tecumesh’s triplet brothers

Also in this book Tecumesh was part of a trio of triplets

Which is just straight up not historically accurate

Esp since they’re THE ONLY TRIPLETS IN SHAWNEE HISTORY

Hopefully the twist is that the writer actually DID do her research and Silver Wolf ends the story by paradoxing himself out of the timeline

(Male lead is named Silver Wolf because this book is amazing)

Sorry, silver thorn

His eyes are silver

Patricia: I hope they change color with his emotions

James: Okay so

Silver thron and his brothers can predict the future kind of, but they can’t manage to predict anything beyond their own lifespans

So silver wolf sends his magic silver amulet into the future to drag someone back to literally tell them what happens

Because apparently THAT is within the purview of his abilities

Lol main character Nikki is described as having a flash-fire temper and quirky disposition

Can’t wait to find out whether these are informed character traits

Lolol of course Nikki’s eyes are violet

Because of her scottish heritage

Because Scotland is famous for its purple eyed population

Lol nikki assumes he’s an actor who’s playing an indian from a play she saw the other night

who’s still apparently in character

Silver Wolf knows her name before she introduces herself because her shoes say NIKE on them

Why is this a plot point

Nikki’s earlier inner monologue seems to indicate she’s trying to lose 20 pounds

Narration now refers to her frame as tiny

Patricia: James, ALL women are trying to lose 20 pounds

Obviously

My cover is sadly not holographic

20150222_093130

James: But it makes up for it in AMAZINGNESS

“I summoned you here from the future, though it was my hope to recall a man, perhaps one of some prominence and intelligence–not a mere woman”

Patricia: Oooooooooohhhhh snap

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Snow 2015!

We’ve had snow before while I’ve lived in North Carolina (last year, for instance. or in 2010, which I have some nice pictures of). But this year was my first time trying to drive in it! Not really a fan of that, I’ve gotta say. Luckily today the library is closed, so I’m staying home and baking. I had to walk to the store to buy mini chocolate chips, and took some awesome pictures:

We got at least 6 inches!

We got at least 6 inches!

Poor just-planted shrubberies

Poor just-planted shrubberies

This tree looks much more blingy now

This tree looks much more blingy now

Trixie, not happy

Trixie, not happy

Clio, having a rave??

Clio, having a rave??

Clearly Steven is more used to the Frozen North since he remembered to put his wipers up.

Florida girls!!! Killin it

Florida girls!!! Killin it

Not many people have gone out yet, so these are mine

Not many people have gone out yet, so these are mine

Harris Teeter parking lot: a winter wonderland

Harris Teeter parking lot: a winter wonderland

It's hard not to sing Christmas carols

It’s hard not to sing Christmas carols

Luckily, Snow Command is on the case.

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