Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Classroom Window Quick-Release Curtain Tutorial

My sewing instructor once told us, "You want your items to look 'handmade' not 'homemade.'"  Heck, I'll settle for either.  I'm all about quick, easy, done.  If you are inspecting my seams, then take a step back sister -- you are too close anyway.  This tutorial is not at all fussy...just don't inspect any seams.

At school we have classroom windows.  This windows are supposed to stay uncovered so administrators can peak in --- unless there is a lock down drill in which case the window must be covered.  We aren't given anything to cover it with so last year my door had half a ripped handmade homemade "Don't Do Drugs" poster behind it at all times.  It was trashy - with a capital T.  I'm doing one better this year with a Quick Release Curtain.

The curtain attaches to the door with a little velcro.  The ribbon holds it up so administrators can peak in.  Then with a quick swipe of the hand, the ribbon tabs, again with the velcro, release and it falls to cover the window.

Here it is handing on my bathroom door because I don't want to go to my classroom, but you get the gist.

Here are my step-by-step instructions.

1.  Start with two 1/2 yards of (45inch) cotton fabric.  Mine is light colored and I wanted it to look nice and be opaque --- you know for lock downs and all-- so I got a solid for the back.  I used TWO 1/2 yards of fabric because I lined it.  If you pick a dark color, and don't care if the back looks nice, you can just hem the whole thing and skip to step 10.  Go you! (cheater *eye roll*)

2. Iron the fabric so it looks all crisp and edges line up.  (I lurve this pattern.  It is remnant from the curtains I made for my classroom last year.  Ooh! Matchy-matchy same-same!)

3. Line up the two pieces of fabric right sides together (in sew speak that is the "nice" sides together).  Pin along THREE sides...trim any excess.  Do not pin the fourth side because you'll need to turn it inside out.  See the right sides together here?

4. Do a straight stitch along the three pinned sides leaving about 1/2 inch seams.  Doesn't really matter though.  I'm okay with homemade.

5. Once you've sewn the three sides, turn it inside out.  Make sure to poke out those corners with your finger.  :-)  Essentially, you should have a giant pillow case now!

6. The edges like to try to bubble in, so pull the seam taut and iron it down.

7.  Run a top stich down the top seam about 1/4" from the edge to keep it from bubbling.  You really should stitch down all the sides to keep them from bubbling -- especially when you wash it, but I was feeling lazy, so I just did the top.

8. Run back over to the ironing board and make a 1 inch hem and iron it.  See that selvedge edge?  Yep -- too lazy to cut it off.  I just roll it into the hem.  Make another 1 inch roll, iron, pin, and sew to form a bottom hem.  That 1 inch double roll will be a little heavy and that is a good thing.  It will help pull the curtain down when you unfurl it later.

9.  It should look like a big curtain now!

10. Attaching to the door is tricky.  I decided to do Velcro -- cuz, I lurve velcro --and it makes it easy to take down later.  I cut about 3 1/2 inch pieces for the left and right sides.  I sewed the soft part to the curtain and the hard "hook" part I will hot glue to the door frame.  Ghetto fabulous right?  But I can scrape it off with a straight blade later.  I may see if those Command Velcro pieces will work for the hook part, we'll see.  But I'm okay with hot glue.

11. Sew the soft part of the velcro to each corner.  Normally Velcro gets the X stitch treatment because you pull on it, but I doubt I'll be pulling these on and off the door often, so I just went over the edges twice. I also changed out the bobbin color to a cream so it would match the underside when it went through.  Stick the hook part to it when you are done so you don't lose it!

12. Pick two 15 inch pieces of complementary grosgrain ribbon.

13. To keep the ribbon from fraying, use "Fray-Check", carefully melt the edges with a lighter, or if you are fancy like me, cut it with a wood burning tool on a piece of glass.

14. Pin the lengths of ribbon to the back of the curtain just inside the velcro pieces.

15. Use a zigzag stitch and go back and forth to attach the ribbon to the curtain.  Get it on there good.  No need to be pretty.

16. Cut two 1" pieces of velcro for your "quick-release".  Wrap the ribbon around the curtain like it will be when done so you know what side to put the velcro on.

17. Pin the velcro piece on the fabric over that gnarly spot where you just attached the ribbon on the other side.  Pin the velcro on the ribbon NOW -- because you'll totally forget what side to pin it on later.  (Not that my seam ripper and I know anything about that).

18. Sew down the little soft pieces of velcro onto the fabric.  Get 'em down good.  I should have changed out my thread color, but I was tired forgot messed-up lazy.

19. After seeing that thread I DID change out my thread to match my ribbon for this part because it will show.

20.  Stitch down those little pieces of velco pinned on the ribbons.  You can X them or just make sure the edges are down good.

21.  Accordion fold the length of the curtain and wrap the ribbon around and secure the the velcro tabs together.  It is ready to be attached to the door!  A quick tug on the ribbons and it will unfurl to cover the window.  Tada!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Daft Punk Is Up All Night to Get Puppies

Poor Claire gets both her father's freakishly good general hearing and my freakishly bad ability to understand lyrics from me.

Even though I have a strong musical background: years of high school band, private lessons, college music scholarship, lifelong love of all music, etc., I can't hear lyrics worth a damn. 

I'm quite infamous for thinking that Eric Clapton had Jesus Christ on the phone in his classic "Cryin'."  You can here the real version here.  For years I thought Bon Jovi was singing, "I doesn't make a difference if we're naked or not" in "Livin' On a Prayer" (it is kind of better that way!).  Even though it isn't lyric specific, Brad eternally loves to laugh at me for confusing AC/DC with Ozzy Osbourne.  They totally do sounds the same.  Listen to AC/DC and Ozzy here.

Since it is natural for me not to hear words, I've kind of just "tweaked" the inappropriate lyrics [that I can understand] for my 4 year old when they come on the pop radio stations.  Did you know that in our version of Ke$ha's song Tik Tok she will: 
Wake up in the morning feelin' like PDiddy
Grab my glasses; I'm out the door; I'm gonna hit this city.
Before I leave, brush my teeth to get rid of the plaque
cuz when I leave for the night, I ain't comin' back.

You might have seen her version of Thrift Shop where she thinks popping tags is "totally awesome."

Our most recent addition to the lyric rewrites has been Daft Punk's "Get Lucky."   Claire caught me off guard driving down the freeway when she asked, "What are they talking about?  Why are they up all night to get lucky?"  Ummm....think quick, Mom!  "They are staying up late to play games." I stutter... "they want to win.  They are having good fun and getting lucky playing board games!"  This got a good eye roll from Dad a few days later.  He decided it sounded better if you sing it, "I'm up all night to get puppies."  Claire loves it and we all sing "The Puppy Song."  I dare you to hear this summer ear worm without singing "We're up all night to get puppies."

If you can't relate to any of this, I urge you to take a look at this piece of greatness.  No one knows what they hell they are saying in Pearl Jam's Yellow Ledbetter.  Enjoy.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Let's Be Besties

I have my arms in the air for you Alida (see her post here: Let's Be Besties).  It reminded me of my fragmented filter on a field trip to the science museum this year with 5th graders.

While [very impatiently] waiting for the khaki-wearing door nazis to let our group in, one mom chaperone yells at the girls who a jumping on those posts designed to keep you from driving into the museum.  She says, "Girls! Stay off the pole!!"  I walk over and say, "Good job.  I say my main goal in teaching is keeping the girls off the pole, too."  She looks at me aghast, smiles politely, and walks away.

Just a few hours later while filing into the Omni showing of "Butterflies" I politely decline my teacher seat because I'm terrified of butterflies (and 20 ft butterflies make me vomit in my mouth a little).  This starts a little conversion between me and some parent chaperones.

Moms: You are afraid of butterflies?
Me: Yes, terrified.
Moms: Just butterflies?
Me: No, I hate birds too.  Anything with wings really - birds, butterflies, flying insects, heck, I won't even use pads with wings.
Moms: (confused) pads? What?
Me: You know, maxi pads? (blushing now because I'm having to explain this)
Moms: Oh....(little titter)...goodness, I think the show is starting (obviously NOT starting)

I then spent the next 72 hours waiting for the principal to call me into his office where I would have to present a forged document with my Tourette's  Syndrome documentation and threaten to call the ADA offices.  It didn't come to fruition until the final day of school when "Keep'em Off the Pole" mom saw me at the final party.  She says to me, "I can't stop thinking about what you said at the museum that day.  I still laugh every time I think about it.  You are hilarious --- and now you seem so real.  I want you to know I'm going to request you for my 3rd grade daughter when she gets into 5th.  Someone has to keep her off the pole."

Moral: Sometimes people don't throw their hands up, jump with you, and become soul mates right away.  Sometimes they need time to process just how awesome you are.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

MOM!!! You Exploded My Horses!

In linguistics, idioms are usually presumed to be figures if speech contradicting the principle of compositionality.

In other words, idioms are hard.  Especially if you are four years old.

There are believed to be over 25,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language including "hold your horses."  That's where all this came from.  Claire has heard me say many times, "Claire, just hold your horses.

So yesterday after waiting for many, many hours for the sun to go down and the start of the fireworks she starts physically spazzing out and proclaimed, "I can't do it!  My horses are going to explode out!  I can't hold them any more!"

We die laughing.  She gets her affirmation and decides this is a good avenue for comedy gold.  So today on the way to the library Brad and I make a casual mention about a Slurpee.  She inhales sharply and squeals, "We are getting a Slurpee!!!"  No, no, we explain, we just mentioned a Slurpee.  It was only 10am, not appropriate Slurpee time (if you are teaching good eating habits to a 4 year old...I personally thing there is never a bad time for a Slurpee).  She deflates and grumbles, "Mom, you exploded my horses."  More laughs.

And that, my friends, is how new idioms are born.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Spoons: A reflection

Mother's Day has me all reflective.  I would like to share a short story from several years ago.  I always think about it around this time of year.

I was building catapults with my GT kids and needed more plastic spoons.  Specifically the heavy duty ones that can withstand a rapid fire propulsion of marshmallows.  I started at Dollar Tree, but being regularly questionably stocked I wasn't surprised when they were out.  Then I stopped at Walgreens, but they were out too.  Ugh.  I had to trek to Walmart for stupid spoons.

I was pissed.  It was a Saturday afternoon in May.  The store was crowded.  I hate Walmart in the afternoon.  I get to the paper good section to find.....not a goddamn spoon in the place.  What the hell!  Next to me are two women and I unintentionally start this conversation.

Me: (exasperated) Why are there no spoons!?!?!?!?!  Where are they!?
Lady #1: (like, duh) It is Mother's Day weekend.
Me: (very snark-castic) Of course!  How thoughtless of me.  I didn't think to get my mom any Mother's Day spoons.
Lady #1: (walks away)
Lady #2: Mother's Day barbecues Sweetie.

So I ask you, did you get your mom her Mother's Day spoons?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Sleep Number is $$$

I greatly regret getting a Sleep Number bed seven years ago.  Really, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that your mattress should not become susceptible to mechanical failure.  But we had good reasoning:

1. In the coming years I was going to be getting pregnant and women get uncomfortable sleeping during pregnancy.  I was never uncomfortable during pregnancy and slept just fine.  It isn't hard to adjust when you only gain 17 pounds.  I've gained more on during a trip to CiCi's Pizza.

2. We could each adjust the bed to what was comfortable for us without having to compromise.  Um, both our sleep numbers are 30.  No compromise there.

3. Brad had bad back discs.  Reduced pressure points would ease his pain.  Still lots of pain.  Actually, worse now.  And I have ruptured discs too now.  Money well spent, don't you think?

Add to these inconvenient truths the fact that the thing is noisy as hell and the tubes rub the paint off the wall and we aren't all that pleased.  Now the sides have started to bulge because the foam is wearing out and I've recently started rolling to a saggy part in the middle.  This makes my back hurt worse causing me to cradle a body pillow in front of me and put another pillow under my back like a wheel chock to keep from rolling into the pit.  Brad accuses me of building a "fortress" around myself so he can't touch me.

Enough was enough today when I woke up with a sore back from rolling into the hammock.  While Claire zoned out to Doc McStuffins, I ripped the covers off and unzipped the mattress to examine its grotesque inner-workings.  The foam was torn in the middle and on the sides, foam was coming apart, but I couldn't see any gap between the chambers.  I sweated and pushed and shoved and zipped everything back up.  With no improvement.  I still felt like a Plinko chip destined for the $10,000 spot.

A spent and hour chatting with the kind folks at Sleep Number who basically told me that if I sleep alone, I'll roll.  But, dear call center employee, I said it happens when I sleep with my partner.  OOoooh, well he must be heavier (nope).  You need a chamber lift $$ (don't think so).  I also need a new foam cover $$$ to replace the torn one.  And those pesky bulging sides need to be fixed to keep everything centered $$$.  With shipping and tax, we come to about $250.  Zoinks.

Well, hello Google & chat boards.  Nice to meet you.  Seems this saggy middle thing is REALLY common with Sleep Number beds as they age.  People kept saying they just needed a stronger piece of foam between the two chambers for support.  It was a manufacturing quality issue.  So where does one get a piece of high density foam?  After some good pondering.... Walmart...$2.

That is your garden variety pool noodle stuffed between the chambers.  I'm a genius I tell you.

So it isn't a 100% fix, but it will limp it along until we can save up the cash to buy a mattress that doesn't require pool noodles to work properly.  Plus, I'm assured of one more barrier between me and my husband.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring Break: A comparative analysis

The last three days, I’ve been home with Claire while she goes through a cycle of illnesses that only seem to make me tired while has the energy of 100 Jack Russell terriers. I started referring to it as my “pre-spring break” break and realized how similar they really were.

May I submit to you, a comparative analysis for your consideration:

Spring Break of Other People

Pre-Spring Break at My House

Holding down a giggling girl to pour vodka in her belly button for a body shot.

Holding down a screaming girl to poor antibiotic eye drops in for pink eye.

Trips to exotic locations like Panama City and Daytona Beach.

Trip to exotic locations like CVS and Walgreens.

Sleeping on the floor in the hall because everyone is passed out drunk.

Sleeping on the hall floor because someone is sleeping in peace with the door closed and the other has to stay close to listen for wheezing.

Wild night --- panties are lost – nowhere to be found.

Wild night --- The Beast’s arm is missing – nowhere to be found.

Trying to score some ecstasy in the parking lot of a club because it is the only drug she will do.

Trying to score some orange Triaminic because it is the only flavor she’ll take.

Thinking of creative ways to tell your parents why the car has “sexy lady” spray painted down the side of it.

Thinking of creative ways to tell my husband why he found corn dog parts in the couch.

Experiencing exotic cultures.

Experiencing negative strep cultures.

Often hearing, “Do it! Do it! Do it!” during a keg stand.

Often hearing, “Do it! Do it! Do it!” while she tries to get the dog to eat his own paw (pictured above).

Sitting on a sandy, sunny beach reading a trashy novel for hours on end.

Sitting in a lawn chair in a weed-filled lawn blowing bubbles for hours on end.

Lots of puke – from drinking.

Lots of puke – from mucus.