This page has moved to a new address.

The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: June 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Third Trimester Report

Ok, here’s the cliché update on how all is going with my pregnancy.

  • As of today I’m 29 weeks, which means I’m nearly 3/4 of the way done.  Time has flown by, especially since preschool got out.  So much to do and so little time…
  • I finally look very obviously pregnant, which is nice.  Then again, just today a lady at church said to me, “I don’t mean to offend you, but are you expecting?”  At this point it’s much more offensive that she thought I might just be fat.  I mean, it really is obvious that I’m pregnant.  It wouldn’t be quite so bad if she hadn’t asked me if I was pregnant last week too.  She subconsciously already knew I’m pregnant (though she’d forgotten) and still thought that I might be just fat.  Oh well, I’m not offended and I know she was just trying to be polite.  I did go home and double-check my arms, face, and neck in the mirror to reaffirm they are still my pre-pregnancy size, more or less.  I also may have asked my husband several times, “Do I look fat?”  Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t think I look fat. 
  • Up until recently I haven’t really had cravings.  Milk and cheese always sounded good in the first trimester and hamburgers always sounded yummy in the second trimester, but they weren’t really something I craved.  But for the past week or so I’ve had a severe hankering for frosting.  Just frosting—no cake or cookie.  And chocolate frosting in particular.  Fortunately I’ve been too lazy to make frosting and too cheap to buy frosting, so I haven’t had much frosting other than what happened to be atop a piece of cake I had yesterday.  I mostly just scroll through Pinterest, lusting after the lovely mounds of butter and sugar perched upon those cupcakes.  I need to stop talking about frosting before I work up the ambition to make some.
  • Maybe it’s the abnormally hot weather, but I feel abnormally hot.  All the time.  It’s a weird kind of hot.  There are times when I recognize that the air around me doesn’t feel obscenely warm, and yet I just want to die because I’m so hot.  Somehow I’m making myself stiflingly hot.  No fair.
  •   On the skin and hair front, things are good.  During the first two trimesters acne was an issue, but my face has finally decided to mellow out and be pretty normal again.  I don’t have any stretch marks yet, which is encouraging.  Oh, and my belly button is so itty bitty now.  I haven’t noticed any difference in my hair yet.  I’ve heard some pregnant ladies lose less hair and some lose more, but things have stayed pretty normal for me.  The only difference I’ve noted is that my hair doesn’t hold a curl quite as well as it used to. 
  • I really haven’t been overly emotional.  I don’t cry more often than normal.  In fact, I might be a little more emotionally guarded than usual.  However, when I do cry I’m sort of inconsolable.  I finally got caught up on Downton Abbey and that sad part about Sybil… I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  I even knew it was going to happen.  Pathetic.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Differing Dialects

A little while ago I came across an article from Business Insider called 22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other.  It showed how people from different parts of the country said certain words differently or used certain names or phrases differently. 

I followed a few links back to the original survey results, and you can see the national data for all of the questions along with a breakdown for each state.  Being an Idahoan dwelling in Utah, I looked up the state data for Utah to see how much of a hick people think I am how I compare to the people surrounding me.  I didn’t expect to be too far off the Utah norm, seeing as I was raised by a Utahn mother, but there were some discrepancies—some of which surprised me.  I answered about 1/5 of the questions differently from the Utah norm.

As I was going through the questions, I realized that language is a culture in and of itself.  A lot of words/phrases/pronunciations are a result of the community you grew up in and others are a result of your family. 

I thought of a few words/terms I think are fairly unique to my very rural hometown community in Idaho:

Jockey Box: The rest of the world calls it a glove box or glove compartment.

Outfit: A vehicle. For example, "Is that your outfit parked out front?"

Borrow Pit: The sides of the road out in the country. In making the roads, they borrowed the dirt from the sides to build up the road higher.  This term might not be unique to my hometown, but it’s definitely not a term I’ve heard while living in Utah.

Beet Dump:  A place where all the harvested sugar beets in the area are piled for a few months until they’re shipped off to sugar beet factories.  It’s really a pretty impressive sight—a gigantic mountain of beets.  Again, this is a term used wherever there’s sugar beet farming, but the term really doesn’t exist in the city.

The School Rock:  A large boulder placed in front of each school that is there for the sole purpose of being vandalized by rival schools.  Once a rival school paints your school’s rock in their colors, you paint it back to your own school colors.  Occasionally dead animals and feminine products are found on the rocks after a particularly heated basketball or football game.

And then there’s words/phrases/pronunciations unique to your family.  My dad pronounces volleyball "volleyvoll" and his mother calls asparagus "asparagrus."  My brother called our camping trailer a “camping house” when he was little and it’s not unheard of for our family to still call it that sometimes.  For whatever reason I called the microwave a “diove” (pronounced die-off) when I was tiny, and although it’s not a term my family uses regularly, we all know what diove means. 

I used to think that weird words were kind of a rural thing, but it turns out city people do it too.  When we were first married my husband casually commented that some baby was being "faunchy" and I immediately questioned the validity of the word, so we looked it up in the dictionary. There was no faunchy to be found. For his family it means a fussy baby.  For whatever reason, faunchy just doesn't have an innocent connotation for me--I picture a hooker, not a baby.  Needless to say, I've forbidden my husband to call our children this word.

After I looked through the Utah responses, I glanced through the Idaho responses to see if some of my weird terms or phrases are an Idaho thing.  About 1/3 of my answers that didn’t coincide with the Utah majority did coincide with the Idaho majority.  The other 2/3 that didn’t coincide with the majority of Utahns or Idahoans must be something I picked up from my rural hometown or my family.

As I looked through all of this data, the geeky part of me that likes research began some critical thinking on this study.  I noted that there were only 82 Idaho participants.  Where do these 82 Idahoans live?  If most of them live up in the pan-handle or Boise, it’s no wonder that so many of my answers differ from the Idaho “majority.”  It’s an entirely different culture up there.  Maybe my answers coincide perfectly with the 4 people (that’s a guess) surveyed from rural Southern Idaho, but the data doesn’t show it.

And then Utah is a totally different story.  172 people were surveyed in Utah, but again, location plays a pretty big role in how people answered.  In fact, religion plays a pretty huge role in this as well.  With the LDS Church headquartered in Salt Lake and BYU in Provo, you get a lot of people coming from all around the country to live in the SLC/Provo area.  This creates a melting pot of language.  I’m guessing a large portion of the Utahns surveyed came from the SLC/Provo area as it’s the most populous part of Utah, but I’m wondering how many of them grew up out of state.  It’s such a complex thing!

Anyway, the following are the questions that I answered differently from the majority of the surveyed Utahns.  The Utah answers are bolded and my answers are highlighted with green.

2. been

a. [] as in "sit"

b. [i:] as in "see"

c. [] as in "set"

d. other

9. crayon

a. [] as in "man" (1 syllable, "cran")

b. [ej] (2 syllables, "cray-ahn")

c. [ej] (2 syllables, "cray-awn", where the second syllable rhymes with "dawn")

d. [aw] (I pronounce this the same as "crown")

e. other

10. creek (a small body of running water)

a. [i:] as in "see"

b. [] as in "sit" 

c. I use both interchangeably

d. I don't know how to pronounce this word

e. I use both, but they mean two different things (For me, a creek is a stream and a "crick" is a much smaller stream)

12. flourish

a. [] as in "bird" ("flurr-ish")

b. [] as in "sore" ("flore-ish")

c. [] as in "sun" ("fluh-rish")

d. other

16. mayonnaise

a. with [] as in "man" (2 syllables--"man-aze")

b. with [ej] (3 syllables--"may-uh-naze")

c. I use both interchangeably

d. other (I say "may-naze")

25. roof, room, broom, root

a. [u:] as in "food"

b. [] as in "foot"

c. these four words do not all have the same vowel (Roof, room, and broom I pronounce like "food" but with root I use both pronunciations interchangeably depending on what I'm talking about.  I think I pronounce root like "foot" most of the time.)

30. the "s" in "anniversary"

a. [s] as in "sock"

b. [] as in "shock"

32. candidate

a. I pronounce the first d

b. I don't pronounce the first d

c. I vary freely between pronouncing the first d and not doing so 

d. I only pronounce the first d when I'm speaking slowly/carefully

e. Depends whether it refers to a political or generic candidate, as in "that assignment looks like a good candidate for elimination"

f. other

38. the "s" in "nursery"

a. [s] as in "sock"

b. [] as in "shock"

c. other 

41. Do you use "spigot" or "spicket" to refer to a faucet or tap that water comes out of?

a. spicket (I usually just call it a faucet, but spicket works too) 

b. spigot

c. I use both interchangeably

d. I say "spicket" but spell it "spigot"

e. I use both with different meanings

f. I don't use either version of this word

g. other

44. cream cheese

a. CREAM cheese (stress on the first syllable)

b. cream CHEESE (stress on the second syllable)

c. it sounds right either way

d. other 

53. Modals are words like "can," "could," "might," "ought to," and so on. Can you use more than one modal at a time? (e.g., "I might could do that" to mean "I might be able to do that"; or "I used to could do that" to mean "I used to be able to do that")

a. yes (A college friend once made fun of me for saying "might could"--until then it had never occurred to me that it was a weird thing to say.)

b. no

c. other

60. What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and the road?

a. berm

b. parking

e. curb strip

g. verge 

h. I have no word for this

i. other (I call it the parking strip)

74. What do you call the little gray creature (that looks like an insect but is actually a crustacean) that rolls up into a ball when you touch it?

a. pill bug 

b. I know what this creature is, but have no word for it

c. I have no idea what this creature is

d. other

e. potato bug

f. roly poly

g. sow bug 

77. What do you call the activity of driving around in circles in a car?

a. doing donuts

b. doing cookies (I grew up calling it "cutting cookies") 

d. other

82. What do you call the gooey or dry matter that collects in the corners of your eyes, especially while you are sleeping?

a. eye crunchie 

b. eye crusties 

c. sand 

d. gunk 

e. matter 

f. I have no word for this 

g. other 

h. sleep

i. sleeper

j. sleepy 

k. sleepies 

l. sleepy seed

m. sleepy bugs

n. eye booger 

o. eye shit 

85. What is the thing that women use to tie their hair?

a. (hair) elastic

b. rubber band 

d. hair thing (I call it a hair thingy, but it's close enough)

e. hair tie 

f. other 

87. Do you use the term "bear claw" for a kind of pastry?

a. yes

b. no, but I know what it means 

c. I have no idea what this means 

98. Which of these terms do you prefer?

a. By accident

b. On accident 

c. both 

d. neither

e. other 

102. What do you call the insect that looks like a large thin spider and skitters along the top of water?

a. waterbug (I also call it a water skeeter) 

j. I have no word for this

k. other

c. waterstrider

e. water-spider

f. watercrawler

g. water beetle

i. skimmer

105. What is your generic term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?

a. soda

j. other 

b. pop (this one surprised me—I make fun of my husband all the time for calling it soda because I thought it was a back-east term.  It turns out most Utahns call it soda too.  In the Idaho results, pop is the norm) 

c. coke 

e. soft drink 

106. What do you call the act of covering a house or area in front of a house with toilet paper?

a. tp'ing 

c. toilet papering

e. papering

g. I have no word for this 

h. other

113. amphitheater

a. f 

b. p

c. other

114. citizen

a. [s] 

b. [z]

c. other 

116. How do you pronounce the -sp- sequence in "thespian" (the word meaning "actor")?

a. [sp] (as in "desperate")

b. [zb] (rhymes with "lesbian")

c. other 

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Printed Pillow

anthro-sunshine-pillowI’ve been seeing “printed” pillows all over Pinterest.  For example, this pillow from Anthropologie.  So simple, but so cute.  I think it’s a fun alternative to framing a quote.  However, the $198 price tag seems a little high to me.  Seriously, that’s how much it costs.  You could buy about eight pillows from Target for less than that.  Not that I ever buy decorative pillows.  I make my pillows.  It’s infinitely more cheap—we’re talking roughly $5 a pillow, give or take—and really not hard or time consuming.

Thus, I wanted to try my hand at making somewhat similar pillows for my mom and mother-in-law for mother’s day.  I’d seen various ideas on Pinterest on how to accomplish this.  There’s the stenciling approach, which I considered, but it seemed really time consuming.  Plus, I felt there was a good chance I’d mess up the spacing or something.  I kind of wanted to be able to just print something out and somehow transfer it to the fabric. 

So I tried out the wax paper transfer method, and was not so successful.  In fact, it was a total failure.  It turns out my printer isn’t wax paper friendly.  No worries, though; it did no permanent damage to my printer. 

I went back to the drawing board.  I’d seen a super simple way to transfer print to wood, but I wasn’t sure if it’d work on fabric.  So I gave it a go on some scrap fabric and it actually worked!  It’s a good tutorial, so you can find the details there, but essentially all you do is print out a mirrored version of what you want to transfer, tape it to your fabric (ink side down), then brush on a little water and rub with a blunt object (I used the lid end of a Sharpie marker).  It doesn’t make it very dark, but, as you can see, it’s definitely dark enough to make a good outline to go over with a fabric marker or permanent marker.  2013-05-21 19.16.25

The possibilities are endless with this method.  You could transfer quotes, names, monograms, silhouettes, etc.  The Graphics Fairy is a good place to get fun old-timey graphics that are public domain.  You just have to keep in mind that small and intricate lines and letters may not transfer as well as big and bold ones.

good day

I found this quote on Pinterest a while ago and wanted to use it on my pillows.  I was originally planning to make up my own version, but I decided I really liked the fonts/layout on this version.  So I adapted it to work for my pillow.  By the way, you can buy this print on Etsy, so I’m hoping I’m not infringing on a copyright by using it for a project.  It’s kind of to be expected when it’s such a nice, big image with no watermark.

Anyway, this is what I did in Gimp to make it work for my pillows.  I’ve mentioned before that I love Gimp, and I’ll continue to say it.  It’s similar to Photoshop, but it’s free.Gimp collage

1.  Mirror it:  Image > Transform > Flip Horizontally

2.  Get rid of the color:  Image > Mode > Grayscale

3.  Start making it print-friendly:  Colors > Threshold

4.  Continue making it print-friendly:  Slide the little black arrow around until you find that sweet spot where the black and white are all in the right places, then click Ok.

5.  This is what mine looked like when I found that sweet spot

6.  Crop down as much as possible

After that I printed it out on normal printer paper.  I printed mine out through Gimp, but MS Word or another similar program would work too.

I then measured out how big I wanted my pillows to be.  I printed out my quote to be as big as possible, so I wanted the quote to take up a majority of the space with a little bit of border.  I wanted the whole quote to be visible after getting stuffed, but I didn’t want it to look disproportionately small in comparison to the pillow. 

When I figured out the size I wanted my pillows to be, I ironed my fabric and cut it down to size.  You could cut two pieces—front and back—but I just did one piece folded over to save sewing up one side.  I centered my quote (inked side down) on the front of the fabric and stuck it in place with a piece of tape on all four sides.  I then unfolded my fabric and began to transfer using the above method, focusing mostly on the edges of the letters.  After I was done transferring, I removed the taped-on paper, put my fabric on some cardboard, and then began outlining and filling in with a Sharpie.  By the way, any fabric would work.  I used plain old muslin because I liked the softness and simplicity, but there are lots of options.

After I finished filling everything in, I let the marker dry for a little while to ensure that I didn’t accidentally transfer the quote to the back of the pillow while I was sewing it up.  I then folded it over, right sides inward and sewed up all the sides (except the folded one, of course), leaving a 2” hole at the bottom middle of my pillow.  You need this hole to turn it right side out and stuff it.  You will sew this hole shut by hand later on.  I did mine at the bottom middle for two reasons.  1.  The bottom is a more subtle location in the event that you botch the hand-sewing part (but you won’t because I found an awesome method).  2.  Hand-sewing seems like it’d be a little trickier in a corner, what with the stuffing and such.

I then turned the pillow right side out and ironed it, taking care that the hole was folded inward smoothly and evenly.  I tried to avoid ironing the quote because I was worried about the ink somehow sticking to my iron, but it would probably be ok.  I then stuffed it as full as possible with some polyester fiberfill I got from Joann’s for about $4.  I feel like fiberfill is more cost effective than buying a pillow form, and you have a lot more flexibility with the size of your pillow.

2013-05-22 11.15.28Sewing the hole up by hand seems daunting, but I promise it’s not very hard or time consuming.  I found a method that closes up pillows beautifully.  I was amazed at the results.  Honestly, I might be the only one who can find where the hole used to be.  Her method of starting and finishing are genius, so definitely don’t skimp on that part.  You have to go to a previous post to find a tutorial on burying the ending knot inside the pillow, so be sure to check that out because it’s awesome.

I loved how these pillows turned out!  I want to make one for myself now.  Plus I’m thinking of doing a monogrammed or striped pillow—so many possibilities!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

House Courting

My husband and I have played the rented housing game for a little while—me for six years and him for ten years.  Non-committal housing has its pros and cons, but for the most part it’s been a pretty good experience.  That is, up until we moved into our current apartment.  I don’t want to go into details, but we’ve hated it here.

We’ve been wishfully discussing settling down and buying a house since living here, but when we found out Baby Ching would be coming around September 1st, there was no question about it:  We were done playing the field.  We wanted a long-term relationship with a house.

In January we started to make a game plan.  Since our lease ends approximately one week before Baby Ching’s due date, powering through to the end of the lease was definitely not an option (phew!).  We wanted to move before I got too miserably huge, but we also needed to wait until preschool got out, which was the end of May.  Thus, our ideal moving window was sometime in June or July.  We did the math and decided to start looking at houses seriously in March.

And so the courting of houses began in March.

House Crush #1:  The One That Got Away

This was only the second house we looked at.  It had all the features we were looking for and it was in great shape—the sellers had taken good care of it.  Plus, it had laminate wood flooring in the kitchen/formal living room area.  I’m a sucker for wood-like flooring.  However, we were young in the home-buying world and didn’t realize that putting an offer on a house isn’t necessarily the end-all-be-all of the home buying experience.  We thought and thought about the house and finally called our realtor to ask if we could see it again.  By then it was too late—House Crush #1 was already under contract.

Thinking back on the dating days, it was like I’d finally worked up the nerve to be Facebook friends only to learn that my crush was already engaged.

House Crush #2:  The Popular One

Our realtor knew we’d like this house and she was right.  It had pretty much everything we were looking for, plus the kitchen was absolutely beautiful.  Custom cabinets, new appliances, and granite countertops… it was heavenly.  We had figured out that there is no harm done in making an offer, so within an hour of seeing the house we decided to make an offer.  The sellers came back with a counter-offer—there had been several similar offers—and we were told to offer our best.  We did just that, but another buyer offered something more attractive.

In the dating world, it was like going out with a very popular crush only to get dumped for the girl with the great hair.

House Crush #3:  The One We Got Cocky About

After a while we expanded our search to another area and saw House Crush #3.  It was a great house with a good yard.  The only thing we weren’t crazy about was the upstairs continental bathroom—it had a door that opened up to the hall and another that went into the master bedroom.  So no master bathroom.  But, all things considered, we still really liked this house.  So we put an offer on it immediately after seeing it.  We felt fairly confident about House Crush #3, so naturally we were crushed when we learned the next day that our offer had been rejected—the sellers had gotten a few other offers and went with another offer without bothering with a counter-offer.

It was like getting snubbed by a quirky crush after only one date, then finding out he was already seeing someone else.

House Crush #4:  The Fixer-Upper

At this point, the end of May was quickly approaching and I was starting to hyperventilate.  Moving out in June was starting to seem somewhat out of the question, July wasn’t looking too optimistic, and the thought of an August move made me want to cry.  And I was only prepared to sign another one-year-lease at our complex over my dead body.  We were getting a little desperate.  We wondered if we were being too picky. 

Enter House Crush #4.  The location was nice, the yard was beautiful, and the floor plan was great.  However, the sellers had neglected a lot of little details in the house—there was cracked tile, baseboards that extended across only part of the wall, poorly painted walls (and in weird colors), 90’s kitchen appliances, the bathtubs needed calking, etc.  After much debate, we decided that everything we didn’t like about the house was something we could change, and we made a very conservative offer.  The seller was supposed to accept, reject, or counter-offer by the next day at noon, but we heard nothing.  Our realtor tried to get ahold of them and was unsuccessful.  Another 24 hours came and went and still nothing.  Finally, three days after making our offer the sellers came back with a counter-offer.  At this point we’d lost steam—we had been dragging our feet about all the changes we’d have to make fairly immediately, and on top of that the sellers seemed kind of flakey.  We kept our offer the same, knowing very well that it was too conservative to be accepted.  Our offer was rejected and we breathed a sigh of relief.

It was like dating someone you knew wasn’t right all along, but didn’t have the heart to break up with.

House Crush #5:  The One

The morning after House Crush #4’s official rejection our realtor took us to a house he said he knew we’d like.  He was the sellers’ agent as well, and this house had only barely come on the market.  It wasn’t listed online yet and nobody had looked at it yet.  He was giving us very first dibs.  It was love at first sight.  We absolutely loved everything about it.  We told our realtor we wanted to make an offer on it before we even left the house.  And unlike the previous houses, we were prepared to make a fairly attractive offer.  We really wanted that house.  A few hours later our realtor told us the sellers had verbally accepted our offer, and by the end of the day it was officially accepted.  We close the last week of June, and it so happens that we’ll probably get the keys on our anniversary.  We are beyond thrilled!