28 September 2007

Feelin' the Tourist Love

I know that I'm supposed to complain about the tourists in D.C. (After all, they do stand to the left on the escalators.) But I just can't. They are too adorable. My favorite thing about them is how cluelessly they operate the Metro farecard machines. Given that I have a SmarTrip card, I only use the machines at most twice a month. In addition, because I have a SmarTrip card, it means that I am frequently waiting for a machine to open, as not all machines accommodate the cards. So every time I need to add dollars to my card, it is my secret wish that some clueless tourists will be befuddled while trying to get to their destination. Today my wish came true.

As I went to add my MetroChek dollars today (thanks for the transit subsidy Uncle Sam!), I stood behind a couple who was clearly lost. Upon realizing that I was waiting (patiently, I will add...why would I want to hurry back to work?), they explained in their adorable British accents (my favorite of all the accents!) that they were having a hard time using the machine. I asked them where they wanted to go, figured out how much their round-trip ticket was going to be, made sure they were buying separate tickets for each passenger, and then they completed the transaction.

After the woman finished buying her farecard, the man made sure I wasn't going anywhere in case he needed help. I assured him I wasn't, but as the machines really aren't that difficult, they were able to purchase his card without much help from me.

This experience made my day. It made me wish I could have a job standing at the farecard machines making sure the cute tourists got what they needed. I would love it. And I would be great at it.

27 September 2007

Travellin' Thursday

I saw this on another blog, where the girl posted pictures of her travels. I'll start with this beauty.

It might possibly be the worst eyes-open picture I've ever taken. So why include it here? It's a picture from our annual three-day camping expedition to Shenandoah that we take every October. I thought I'd post it in honor of this year's upcoming trip.

But why the horrible mug? It was so cold last year that I had to wear my fleece hat to bed. Apparently I didn't smooth down my hair before donning the hat. So when I went to take it off in the morning, my hair was just stuck in one position and if moved, the hair hurt. (Kinda like when you sleep on your eyebrows in a funny way and then you try to smooth them down and it hurts? Yes, this is what it was, but over my entire head.)

Thankfully it didn't take long to smooth down. We had a great time and look forward to this year's adventures!

25 September 2007

New-Old Favorite Snack

Have you ever had a favorite snack that you just forgot about? I used to eat saltines dipped in salsa (my will power around chips is not so good) but then forgot about it and then remembered! How happy was I?!

But last week was I reminded of an even better long-lost favorite: the frozen chocolate-dipped banana. My mom used to make these for us (FHE treat, maybe?) but I don't think that I've had one since becoming an adult. And that's just too long to go without one. But last week I made a batch of six half-bananas and have been eating one a day since. Today's is going to be the last. Sniff.

All hail the frozen chocolate-covered banana!

NCKuhn: Is this picture any better?

P.S. I am having another hot dog for lunch today. This time with the mustard.

21 September 2007

Flashback: A Wedding Shower

Last weekend I attended a baby shower. It brought to mind a shower that I actually never attended, but for which I have a great story.

my sister had her bridal shower five years ago, I was living in Maryland and therefore unable to attend the shower. Knowing that many women from my mom's ward would be there to give her all the "necessary" items (i.e., hand towels, sheets, mixing bowls), I wanted to make sure that I gave her something "unnecessary" (i.e., lingerie). But knowing my sister as I do (correct me if I'm wrong, em), I didn't take her for a lingerie wearer. Instead, I made her some "sexy" red, satin-y pants with black lacy trim on the bottom. They were HOT.

Remember, I was single at this time, living with roommates. We didn't keep packing boxes around the house. (Unlike my mother who has a room in the basement practically dedicated to mailing and wrapping supplies.) What was I to do? Well, wrap them in the first box I could find: an empty Wheat Thins box.

As I was not in attendance at this shower, the remainder of the story is strictly pieced together from versions I was told. Like most showers, it probably began with some light noshing and chatting. Then it likely moved to the living room so the bride can open her presents and everyone can "oooh" and "ahhh" at the lovely gifts. When Emily gets to mine, she unwraps the present to find...Wheat Thins! Wheat Thins? Oh. Her response? "Well, I guess my sister knows how much I love Wheat Thins....Next present please!" (Okay, fine, the "Next present please" line was definitely fiction. But you get the idea.)

So no, the box was not opened. So yes, everyone at the shower thought I gave my only sister a box of Wheat Thins for her wedding. Why did she not notice that it didn't sound like a real box of Wheat Thins? Don't know. All I know is that 25 women think I'm crazy. But I'm here to tell you that I'm not.

19 September 2007

New Poll (or "Take Gretchen's Mustard to Work Day")

Yesterday I brought to work a hot dog for my lunch. Like Daniel, I also love hot dogs. (Sorry Daniel, I do the non-fat hot dogs, which I'm pretty sure don't come in the kosher variety.) Anyway, the only topping that I allow on my hot dogs is mustard. I love mustard on hot dogs. Usually C and I stock up on condiment packets while at fast food restaurants so I can pack them with our hot dog lunches, but alas, we were out of the mustard packets for yesterday's lunch. I planned to run over to Union Station before lunch to grab some mustard.

Before I even realized it, it was time for lunch and therefore, no time enough for running to Union Station. At my work, there is a shared fridge. In this fridge has been one packet of mustard for some time. I wanted to take it. I really wanted to take it. My dry hot dog was crying out for it. But I knew it wasn't mine, so I didn't.

So here's the poll: Should I have?

P.S. And why the alternate name for the post? Remember
this? Or what about this? I should have asked if I could have borrowed Mr. Mustard for the day. I'm not afraid of seven-year old mustard. My mom's house has seen way older food than that.

Update given Daniel's questions: No, the mustard didn't appear to belong to anyone. It has been just sitting on the bottom of the fridge for weeks. But yes, our (countertop) fridge is almost always quite full. And no, no other condiment packages were present. Only the lone mustard.

17 September 2007

My Two Peas in a Pod

Although I am the older sister, at times I do get to copy my younger sister. Such is the case today. She recently posted about her own "two peas in a pod," so I thought I'd share mine. Go 'Skins! (Ha. As if I really care.)

13 September 2007

Place Mats Tutorial

Since the place mats (who knew it was two words?!) are actually one of my original designs, I thought it safe to share my instructions on how YOU can make six of them. Plus, a couple of you had asked. So there. Be careful what you ask for.

Materials: Fabric (slightly more than 2.5 yards), thread (to match binding), interfacing, binding.

1. Buy your materials. If you want six place mats, you'll need exactly 2.5 yards (if the fabric is 44" wide) of fabric. So if you like to be safe, buy a little bit more (2.75 yards should be fine). While I won't make promises, I think that any fabric will work. Quilting cottons, linens, etc. I'd stay away from fleece, however. My crazy fabric came from a duvet cover bought at some crazy store.

I used thread that matched the binding so it blended in if my stitching was bad. If you want to highlight the thread, then by all means, buy some contrasting thread.

You will also need 2.5 yards of interfacing (if it's 22" wide; only 1.25 yards if 44" wide). This you can buy at exactly 2.5 yards. Honestly, I can't remember which type of interfacing I bought. I went to the interfacing desk and asked for the cheapest, thickest they had. I like my place mats stiff. (Don't be afraid of the employees--ask them questions! Tell them what you're doing and they probably have a good idea of something that will work for you.)

Buy the binding (bias tape) in a color that matches your place mats. This is really up to you. What's not up to you is how much of it to buy. You'll need 12 yards. I used this "
extra wide double fold bias tape." Definitely get the double fold. Notice that it's sold in packages of three yards. The problem with this is that you'll need six strips of two yards a piece. If you feel confident piecing two one-yard strips together, great, only buy four packages. If not, buy six.

2. This is my least favorite step of all time: wash and iron your fabric. Believe me, you'll feel better if you do.

3. Cut the fabric into twelve rectangles, 15" x 20". See figure 1.

4. Cut the interfacing into six rectangles, 15" x 20". See figure 2.

5. Attach one rectangle of interfacing to one rectangle of regular fabric by following the directions on the interfacing. Make sure to put the interfacing on the WRONG side of the fabric. After doing this, you should have six pieces of fabric with interfacing attached, and six pieces of loose fabric.

6. Put the loose rectangles on top of the interfacing, right side facing up. What you have now should look like a place mat, with both right sides of fabric facing out. Pin all six place mats together, well not all six together, but you should have six place mat sandwiches.

7. Cut the binding into two-yard pieces if you haven't already done so. Pin it to the outside of the place mat, with the wider side of the binding on the BACK of your place mat. Make sure it goes in ONE continual loop around the perimeter of the place mat. To do the corners, well, just try to make them as pretty (and flat) as possible. It would be impossible for me to type what I do. Suffice it to say, it's kind of like wrapping the ends of a present. Think right angles. See figure 3. (Notice the cute little red pins. They go around the entire place mat, of course. I'm just too lazy to cut and paste any more.)
8. Attach the binding by sewing as close to the inner edge as possible. See the white edge stitching in figure 3.

You're done! Congratulations! Please let me know if you have any questions. And when/if you make your own, post them on your blog and send me a link. I'd love to see what others do!

10 September 2007


I was recently asked to teach a class at our ward's Super Saturday in November. I am very excited about this (no sarcasm present). I gave the enrichment committee a bunch of suggestions of things that I could competently teach and was prepared to let them decide. When the enrichment leader reported to me that anything I submitted would be great and that I should choose which I want to do, I was a little disappointed because, well, that makes it a little harder on me. (Remember that I'm not that great at making decisions.) So now I need your help. I'll show you the five projects from which I am choosing one to teach. Tell me which one you'd be more likely to do (and pay for) at a Super Saturday enrichment. Thanks!

These are bags that I've not yet tried, but think that they would be VERY easy, as they are made out of placemats (how cool is that?!). The women would be asked to supply their own placemats and I would bring the webbing and extra fabrics. The cost would be really inexpensive, maybe around $2-$3.

These are actual placemats that I have made. The cost here would also be minimal, maybe $5.

This is a bag that I made and used during my short-lived primary career. The cost here would be about the same as the placemats, $5.

This is a family tree made for my in-laws. The cost of the trees would be expensive because of the frames. I believe they were about $20 per frame, so about $45 for the entire project.

This final picture is a needlepoint display of President Hinckley's 6 B's (this was before he added the others!). If you wanted the frame, the cost is around $12. But if you wanted to do something else with it (e.g., pillow), then only $2. The frame can be painted, but when I give this as a gift, I usually leave it natural so that the receiver can decide what color best matches her decor.

06 September 2007

28 Reasons to Love a Certain 28-Year Old

1. He cleans the snow off my car even when his school is cancelled and he doesn’t have to get up.
2. He rations my Hot Tamales for me, but knows when I really need more than my rationed share.
3. He helps me count and organize 500 pennies for a class that isn’t even his.
4. He steals candy from his work meetings to bring them home to me because he knows how much I love sugar.
5. He loves chunky peanut butter and nuts in his banana bread.
6. Even if it’s only when I’m out of town, he remembers to pull the shower curtain closed after use.
7. He’ll go swimming with me so that I don’t feel like a moron doing my water-running.
8. When he pulls off his shirts at night, they are inside-out. They are then washed this way. BUT he doesn't fix them before he puts them on. He just has this magic way of taking an inside-out shirt and putting it on directly. I love watching this process.
9. He’ll let me have the remaining two servings of baked oatmeal for my breakfast and lunch, in the same day. Even if it means he gets none of the leftovers at all.
10. He’ll eat bagels for lunch six days out of seven just because we got them free and I didn’t want to waste them.
11. He’s totally committed to Bruno and wants to be a good dog-dad, and he is!
12. He’s willing to do the daily dog brushing. He understands that I am too traumatized from Thor’s hair to do this.
13. He knows when I’m sad enough to merit a back rub from the happy wood man. (You know, the little massager with the head and four legs with a face painted on it?? Ooooh, I do love the happy wood man.)
14. He helps me (either physically or emotionally) so much in the kitchen.
15. He is willing to transform into his alter-ego, “Tall-ee,” when I need something from on high in the kitchen.
16. He gets up in the middle of the night to take Bruno outside.
17. He gets up in the middle of the night to clean up Bruno’s puke.
18. Since he had never before seen “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” he let me sing to him the entire show. I’m not sure who benefited more.
19. He cleans up after dinner parties. And I’m talking a HUGE clean-up. The kitchen was a disaster.
20. Did I already mention that he cleans up dog puke? Even hours-old dog puke? Cause he does.
21. He’ll watch “What Not to Wear” with me even if it means he’s missing “SportsCenter.” (However, now that we’re without cable, we’re both missing our shows.)
22. He’s okay with having just cereal for dinner.
23. He offers to help me with my sewing projects, and doesn't renege when I say "okay."
24. He is very good at looking at all sides of an issue and thinking about things before acting on them.
25. He calls football (any sport for that matter) plays before the announcers do. It is eerie how accurate he is at this.
26. He tickles my back every Sunday immediately following the passing of the sacrament.
27. He is willing to share household responsibilities, 50/50 except for the bathroom where he does it 100%.
28. He loves me despite all my crazy ways! (This one alone is enough to love him back.)

04 September 2007

Fleece Jackets, Hats, and Mittens

Pugs Just Want to Have Fun

After having Bruno for four months, we were at last able to take him to the "Rockville Pug Meet-Up." What is the Rockville Pug Meet-Up, you ask? It's a chance for pug owners in our area to get our pugs together. C and I have known about this monthly ever since adopting Bruno, but due to schedule conflicts, we hadn't been able to attend one yet. Until Saturday.

And Saturday's event lived up to our greatest expectations. At the busiest, we think there were 35-40 pugs. Just think of it. 35-40 little smashed-nosed dogs snorting and running and sniffing each others' butts. It was awesome. Simply awesome.

Now for a fun pug party quiz! See how many pugs you can find in each picture. They get harder as they go.

Pug Quiz #1:

Click here to find the answer.

Pug Quiz #2:

Click here to find the answer.

Pug Quiz #3:

Click here to find the answer.