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03 Sep 13:00

Ask Baba Yaga: How Can I Turn Platonic Love Into Romantic Love?

by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

I’ve always been able to make friends and have people love me platonically, but I’ve never had anyone really fall in love with me romantically. I’m easily thought of as cool and a great and supportive friend, but this doesn’t translate into the dating world. Can I remedy this?

BABA YAGA:

There is , in some forgotten creek in yr woods a small tortoise shell loaded with jewels–covering the wellspring of that dried aquifer. In this shell you ; have hoarded all yr pretty qualities, you have carefully placed the shiny heavy stones you think will make others ) love you. But in gathering them so you have hidden them; lift the shell–let the waters rise back up & flood the stream; let the water blast the shell open & carry yr precious gems far & wide. It is in this wild rushing & abandon of what you believe makes you lovable that others will see you as a raw creature to be chased & peered at.

Previously: How Can I Forgive My Narcissistic Mother?

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet and writer living in Austin. She’s taking questions on behalf of Baba Yaga at askbabayaga [at] gmail.com.

Illustration of Baba Yaga’s hut by Katy Horan.

27 Aug 23:57

Is one of the Ashley Madison hackers living under your own roof?

by Kerry
Kristen

?????

A mother in Bellevue, Nebraska found these notes in her “drawer of fun.” (Looks like somebody wants a new little brother or sister!)

Don't you dare use these otherwise I will go public on you. My siblings know already

related: You should probably delete your search history…

28 Aug 14:45

Become your own brand of fatshionista: finding the self-confidence to rock your curves

by Minerva Siegel

You might recognize this bride from her vow renewal featured on Offbeat Bride

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Photo by Sarah Christine Moore
Finding self-confidence and a style identity as a fat babe in a world that's constantly labeling us as "Before" pictures can seem like a near-impossible task. We live in a society that generally glorifies thin body types as perfection, while labeling plus-sizers as people who need to be "fixed."

I don't have a thigh gap; in fact, mine are full of cellulite. My hips are wide, my booty is enormous, I have a belly, my arms are big, and I weigh a solid 300lbs — yet people stop me on the street constantly to compliment me on my style. This is how I found the courage to come out from underneath baggy, shapeless clothes and embrace my curves, "flaws" and all.

Become your own brand of fatshionista

Step 1: Stop bullying yourself

I'd often catch myself looking at my body and thinking that it was ugly, or gross, or too big/too cellulite-y/too stretch marked. I realized that I was constantly bashing my body; that I was bullying it and making myself feel worse.

To remedy this, I decided to stop allowing myself to use negative words when thinking about my body. Whenever I did slip up and have those thoughts, I'd make myself go back and compliment myself instead. My inner dialogue went something like, "Ugh, nothing fits me right, I feel so ugly… but my butt looks really good in these jeans, and I have such a nice smile."

It felt silly at first, but when I kept it up I saw that it was really starting to improve my outlook not only on my body but on life in general.

fatshionista inspiration as seeon on @offbetbride

Step 2: Realize your worth

It's so easy to get caught up on body image. Our society teaches us that it's tightly connected to our self-worth, which just isn't true. Part of gaining the self-confidence to rock the edgy fashion trends I want to (sheer! crop tops! short shorts!) was realizing that I have so much more to offer the world than my appearance. I wrote a list of all the things at which I'm excellent and kept it taped to my mirror, so that every morning, I'd be reminded that I have value as a person and an identity beyond the word "fat."

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Photo by Sarah Christine Moore

Step 3: "Fat" is not a bad word

All my life, people have hurled weight-related insults at me. I've been called a whale, a pig, tubby, a chubbers, fat; every time someone called me one of those, it stung me deeply and left me feeling insecure for days.

Realizing that "fat" isn't synonymous with "ugly" was a big game-changer for me. I AM fat. So what? "Fat" and "beautiful" aren't mutually exclusive adjectives. I can be both. When I feel down, I scroll through body-positive hashtags on Tumblr and Instagram. Seeing all those photos and posts of fat babes absolutely killing it always reminds me that being fat doesn't automatically equate to being unattractive.

fatshionista inspiration seeon on @offbetbride

Step 4: You don't owe anyone "flattering"

I unapologetically rock crop tops and sheer blouses with nothing but a bra underneath. I go sleeveless, I wear short shorts. I participate in whatever fashion trends I feel like participating in, because no one owes anyone "flattering." Being yourself is enough, without body shapers, without long-sleeves and pants, without covering up and hiding your body to make other people more comfortable. YOU have to be happy with YOURSELF and not live for other people.

I used to wear baggy sweaters in 90-degree weather because I didn't want people to see my fat arms, my rolls, my chub. Now my comfort and happiness are my number one priority. I no longer care what people think about my cellulite, fat, etc., and that's such a powerful, liberating feeling.

My mantra is: If people don't like the way I look, they don't have to look at me. Some people won't like the way you look. You're going to have haters. That's just part of life. Universal popularity is unattainable, so instead of trying for it, you'd might as well make yourself happy.

fatshionista fashion insporation as seen on @offbeatbride

Step 5: Go for it!

Body acceptance/love is a process that takes time and work, but when you're feeling up to it, I dare you to try out new trends that go out of your comfort zone. The first time I went out in public in a sleeveless dress, I was terrified and insecure. The second time wasn't as bad. And now I don't even think twice about it. When you go out of your fashion comfort zone, and the world doesn't end, you'll feel unstoppable!

Self-confidence doesn't always come easily, but cutting out negative self-talk, taking stock of your true value, realizing that "fat" isn't an insult or synonymous with "ugly," and forcing myself to step out of my fatshion comfort zone helped me to be able to love myself for who I am, stretch marks and all. Because we live in a society that glorifies skinny regardless of health, people will always try to make fat people feel badly about themselves, perhaps even more so if they have the "audacity" to be both fat AND happy.

Being confident and secure in yourself makes it easier to let negative comments roll off, as the fabulous Jinkx Monsoon would say, "like water off a duck's back." So, get out there, be large, and become your own brand of fatshionista! There's no better feeling than the self-confidence that comes with unapologetically rocking your curves and knowing you're hot as hell.

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If you haven't already, make sure to check out Minerva and her husband Max's intimate vow renewal on Offbeat Bride.

Recent Comments

  • Minerva: My advice to you would be to go with what you like! Don't worry about 'flattering'; you don't owe anyone … [Link]
  • Minerva: amen! <3 [Link]
  • Minerva: Body positivity is a process and a journey, and I'm proud of you for embarking on it! Don't be so … [Link]
  • Minerva: aww I'm tearing up! Thank you so much! I really pour my heart and soul into what I write. <3 … [Link]
  • Minerva: thank you! <3 [Link]

+ 18 more! Join the discussion

19 Aug 14:00

What To Expect When You’re Expecting A Changeling: Forum Names On Message Boards For First-Time Mothers Of Changelings

by Mallory Ortberg
Kristen

Bahahaha delightful.

The Tithe To Hell And When To Pay It

Dealing with the Queen of Elphame

Iron safe to touch on FODMAPs diet??

husband refused dance with elf-king's daughter, now front door won't stop knocking?? HELP

[Comments closed for this post] Erlkönig really something to worry about? My MIL said...

Read more What To Expect When You’re Expecting A Changeling: Forum Names On Message Boards For First-Time Mothers Of Changelings at The Toast.

25 Aug 20:00

Two Secrets of Good Bubble Tea — Comment of the Day

by Faith Durand
Kristen

YES YES I have Taro powder and boba and haven't yet recreated a good bubble tea!!

If you love boba (bubble) tea and have a hankering to make it at home, we have a cooking lesson just for you. You can see how to make bubble tea here, and also read a lot of good comments and tips from the readers. Here are two pro tips for really excellent bubble tea.

READ MORE »

24 Aug 19:00

Dragon Con Survival Tips (New & Improved!)

by Jen
Kristen

Good convention tips for those of us who suffer from anxiety!

With Dragon Con just over a week away, I thought I'd dust off this old post from the archives and give it an update/overhaul. This is a must-read for newbies, but even those of you who've been a few times may find it useful!


First... what is it?

Dragon Con is an internationally known pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. It spans 4 days over Labor Day weekend, and averages upwards of 65,000 attendees.


 Unlike most large conventions, Dragon Con is NOT held in a convention center; it's held in 5 large "host hotels," which span several blocks in the downtown Atlanta area. Here's a helpful map from Reddit:




Because the con is spread out over such a large area, it's easily the most confusing and potentially stressful event you'll ever attend. First years are guaranteed to be lost a lot of the time, as it can take 2 or 3 years to really get the lay of the land.

HOWEVER, nothing can describe the exhilaration of being surrounded by "70,000 of your closest friends" as we attendees like to joke, and there's plenty you can do to prepare.


Quick Tip: DC doesn't sell tickets, they sell "memberships." On their website, there's no "buy" - it's "join." That can be confusing for first-timers, but rest assured it's the same thing. Right now tickets for all 4 days are $150 - but keep in mind for next year that if you pre-purchase you get steep discounts.


The Marriot lobby, where all the best cosplayers come out to play (via)

 So, all that in mind, here are some essentials for surviving - and enjoying! - the weekend:

- Prioritize & Plan Ahead

Again, DC panels are spread out over 5 different hotels, and running from hotel to hotel in the 90+ degree heat alongside a billion other nerds will wear you out FAST. Map out where your can't-miss panels are ahead of time. (DC has a fantastic free app for this, so if possible, download that ASAP. If not, grab the pocket program when you arrive.)

The good news is most Star Trek stuff happens in one hotel, most Star Wars stuff another, etc., so if you're only interested in, say, Steampunk, then you won't have to travel around nearly as much. These areas of interest are called "tracks," and everything is listed by track in the DC guides.

Once you have a tentative schedule figured out, watch the Dragon Con Twitter account (or the official app) for updates and cancellations. At the con itself, scheduling changes will be announced online, on the app, and on the DC programming that airs on all the host hotel TVs.
 

- Know Your Sky Bridges

There are several handy overhead bridges connecting 3 of the 5 hotels (plus the food court area) which allow you to stay in the relatively cool air and avoid trekking up and down the outside hills. These bridges are a life-saver in the Hotlanta heat, so use them whenever possible! Refer to that map I posted above to see which hotels are connected to which.

There's also an additional bridge connecting the Westin and America's Mart, where the two-story merchandise/vendor room is located. Not as vital, but still useful.

If you get lost and can't find the bridges - and know now that you will -  just ask someone next to you in the crowd. Odds are, they'll know!


- Think of it as a mini camping trip, and pack accordingly

A backpack is ideal, or you can make do with a large messenger bag. In it, pack the following:

- water bottles
- plenty of snacks that travel well (I like sliced apples and meal bars)
- deodorant (a necessity and a courtesy)
- Purell or sanitizing hand wipes (the Con Crud is real, and odds are you WILL catch it - but don't go down without a fight!)
- grooming necessities (hair brush, chapstick, etc.)
- emergency supplies (costume repair glue, Tylenol, prescription meds, etc.)
- extra batteries for cameras and/or cellphones (Don't expect to find any outlets to recharge!)


-  Think Comfort

Sure, you're dying to wear your new thigh-high platform boots or that rubber Leelo crotch harness, but after a few hours you may be willing to trade a small appendage for some bunny slippers and sweat pants. Be sensible. Bring a change of clothes or footwear, if necessary - even just flip-flops - and remember that no con is fun when you're tired, hungry, and/or in pain.

Also keep in mind that frequently your only seating will be on the floor, ladies, so beware certain wardrobe malfunctions. And for my fellow cosplayers: can you get out of your costume by yourself when nature calls? Find out ahead of time. Make a plan, and if necessary, bring a bathroom buddy.

 
My go-to con attire: comfy boots, hat, & a cross-body bag. (John carries the backpack.) I also wear shorts under my skirt to make sitting on the floor more comfortable.


Quick Tip: There are several costume contests throughout the con, but the big BIG one is called "The Masquerade" on Saturday night. This confused us our first year, since it sounds more like a ball, but it's really just a costume contest - no masks required.

- Anxiety Sufferers, Have A Panic Plan

My most frequently asked question regarding DC is how I deal with the crowds, considering I suffer from both anxiety and agoraphobia. The simple answer is, I don't have crowd anxiety - unless of course the crowds are preventing me from reaching an exit. And I'll be honest: sometimes the crowds DO get that bad, where you're forced to shuffle shoulder-to-shoulder for long stretches. However, 95% of the time you'll be able to get away, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to escape to for a recharge.


If you have severe crowd anxiety, I'll be blunt: DC is not the con for you. However, for those like me who "only" have run-of-the-mill panic and anxiety issues, this convention is totally do-able. Bring your meds, pay attention to your food & rest needs, have a buddy with you at all times, and take lots of sit-down breaks as far from the crowds as possible. Earplugs and sunglasses can also be a big help for over-stimulation - and of course have your phone on hand for a quick distraction.

Need a place to hide/rest? Two of my favorites:

- The bottom floor of the Hyatt (keep taking the escalators down) has lots of small panel rooms and corridors. The rooms will be full, but the hallways will be relatively crowd-free, and are a nice spot to sit.
- The Westin lobby - it's huge and the least crowded of all 5 host hotels. Great place for a recharge.


- Don't Over Schedule!

This is one of the most common pitfalls, and if you're not careful you could spend the entire con frantic and frustrated. Panels have long lines. Everything is crowded. You have to stop to eat and rest sometimes. Not to mention you want to see the vendor rooms, take pictures, have a drink with your friends, and grab that autograph from Felicia Day. So here's my hardcore con-going advice: don't plan to attend more than 3 or 4 panels a day. Yes, seriously. If you plan more, you'll be disappointed - but plan less, and if the odds are in your favor (see what I did there?) maybe you'll squeeze in a bonus panel or two and come out ahead.

Now, that's coming from someone who LOVES taking cosplay pictures, strolling through the vendor room, and gawking in artists' alley. I also enjoy sleep - a lot. If you don't like any of those things, then no doubt you can see more than I can. Still, keep your expectations low, plan your "must-see"s with a few optional "it'd be cool if I got to"s, and go from there.

Another shot of the Marriott lobby, via 
  
My strategy: stand at that top railing, watch the crowd on the floors below for costumes I want to photograph, and then chase each one down in turn. It's a true photo safari, and the most fun any cosplay photographer can have.  

- Consider Skipping The Parade

The Dragon Con parade takes place on Saturday morning, and boasts over 3,000 participants. That's right, 3,000 people just IN the parade itself. I don't have the numbers for the viewers, but I think it's roughly "the entire population of Atlanta."





I'll be honest, I gave up trying to see the parade a few years ago. The madness is too much. However, if you decide to go, get there very early, and be prepared for a long wait in the heat - and for lots of people to jump in front of you when the parade starts. (Since the parade is open to everyone, I've found the crowds there are significantly less polite than the ones inside the actual con.)

Silver Lining: the parade is broadcast on all the host hotel room TVs. So if you have a friend with a room, go there instead, and enjoy the AC!

If you do skip the parade, note that police shut down almost all of the streets in the immediate area, so you won't be able to get anywhere NEAR the convention (or the parking garages) until the parade crowds have cleared. I usually sleep in that morning, and we drive in around noon.


- You Gotta Eat... And Sleep!

Quick Tip: Strapped for cash but need something to nosh? Then head to the ConSuite in the Hyatt, rooms 223 & 226. They'll have sodas, snacks, and various food stuffs available - all free - every day of the con. Be prepared to wait, though, as there WILL be lines.

I know I already mentioned packing snacks, but I can't over-emphasize the importance of having something to eat on you at all times. Our first year at DC we didn't get a lunch break all four days - we just wolfed down bars and trail mix in line. Your only real down time will be in lines or while waiting for a panel to start, so those are the most efficient times to eat. If you don't eat, you'll get tired, cranky, and start to wonder who thought this stupid convention thing was a good idea in the first place. Trust me, I've been there.

This goes for sleep, too. Hopefully you're not as crabby as me on too-little sleep, but you'll still need to be at 100% to not only get through your day, but to enjoy it as well. (And really, isn't that the whole point?) I tend to sleep later because I want to stay up 'til after midnight for costume shots. That's my priority, though, so plan out your priorities, let the rest go, and focus on going with the geeky flow to have the best con experience possible.

In fact, that's going to be my final tip:
 
- Go with the Geeky Flow


Remember, this is supposed to be fun. If it's not, then something is wrong and you need to figure out how to make it right! Talk to the people in line with you; it'll make the time zip by, I promise. Stop to listen to a band, or sit down and have a drink. Do what you want to do, not what you feel like you should do to "get your money's worth," or even what your friends want to do just so you're not alone. In fact, go somewhere by yourself sometime - you'll make more friends that way! Dragon Con is more about the experience of banding together with other real-live humans who share your passions than it is about getting to that next panel, so live a little. Make some memories. And above all, have fun!

So tell me, con vets, what'd I miss? Share your tips and tricks in the comments! 


PS - Want to find me and John at DC to say hi? Then send me a friend request on the official DC app; you'll be able to see my schedule for easier stalking, and even send me messages to co-ordinate a meetup. (Note that my schedule is subject to change, and is more like a wish list of where I *might* be, so it's better to message me, just to be safe.)  Just search for my name, Jen Yates, in the app. My profile is public, so anyone can send the request!
16 Aug 17:25

Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1)

Kristen

Mmmm...Adult lunch boxes. I want these stainless steel containers!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As promised, here’s the first installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2015, my annual collaboration with our pals at LunchBots—makers of the gleaming stainless steel food containers you see in these posts. Our goal every year is to inspire you and demonstrate that packed lunches can be simple, nourishing, and magically delicious for kids and adults alike. 

Ready to tackle packed lunches this year? Yeah…me neither. 

Unfortunately, healthy lunches won’t make themselves, but they don’t have to be complicated to be fantastic. In fact, to keep things as easy as possible, today’s packed lunch repurposes leftovers from the night before! 

Here’s how to tackle this lunch (and dinner!): Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

For an easy weeknight dinner, roast a chicken (or two) for and a tray of carrots. Serve the chicken and carrots with a giant green salad and you’re good to go. Before you hit the sack (or, if you’re a procrastinator like me, the following morning), throw together a simple chicken salad, chop some fruit and veggies, swirl up a quick dipping sauce, and add some optional Paleo crackers. 

Need more deets? 

Chicken salad is super simple and versatile if you’ve got leftover chicken and mayonnaise on hand. You can make your own mayo or buy a jar of Primal Kitchen Mayo (Psst! You can save 15% if you use the code: nomnom).  Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

To make chicken salad, I combine diced cooked chicken with mayonnaise flavored with my favorite spice blend and fresh herbs (e.g. scallions, tarragon, or chervil). If I’m feeling fancy (and not so lazy), I might add some diced celery, cherry tomatoes, or apples. Madras Chicken Salad is one of my favorite chicken salad variations. Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Next, stack some cucumber sticks with leftover roasted carrot sticks. Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

My kids like something crunchy in their lunches, so I sometimes add some Paleo-friendly crackers. If you want to make your own crackers, try Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s recipe for Crunchy Paleo Crackers—it’s easy and tasty. Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

If baking your own crackers sounds like a chore to you, just stock up on Jilz Gluten Free Crackerz—or leave them out. There’s nothing wrong with going cracker-free! Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

My kids also like to dunk their veggies in a flavored dip. There are tons of Paleo remoulade and ranch dressing recipes out there (including in my cookbook!), but when I’m in a rush, I’ll simply mix some mayonnaise with fresh herbs and spices. 

Need dip ideas?

Tartar Sauce = ½ cup mayo + 2 T finely diced cornichons + 1 T lemon juice + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + 1 tsp minced capers

Cilantro Lime Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 2 T minced cilantro + 1 T lime juice

Curry Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 1 tsp curry powder + 1 T lime juice

Smoky Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 1 tsp smoked paprika + 1 T lemon juice Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Add some fresh fruit… Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and you’ve got a hearty lunch on hand! Paleo Lunchboxes 2015 (Part 1) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

To keep this meal cold until lunchtime, I chill the packed LunchBot in the fridge overnight. If you prefer to pack meals in the morning, keep your empty LunchBots in the fridge overnight so they’re already chilled—or stick ’em in the freezer for 10 minutes before you start packing your lunches. Because LunchBots are stainless steel, they chill super fast. Once the containers are cold, I transfer them to an insulated lunch bag with frozen reusable ice blocks. Alternatively, you can get a PackIt Freezeable Lunch Bags that have freezable gel permanently built into the  liner.

Happy lunching! Stay tuned for the next installment—and in the meantime, check out our lunch ideas from previous years’ series!


Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times- bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).

18 Aug 10:00

Drawn to Comics: Sarah Graley’s Webcomics About Queer Pizza Witches, Punk Rock Freelance Warriors and Cute Cats

by Mey
Art by Sarah Graley.

All of these comics are great, all of them are about women, all of them have the same impish sense of humor and adventure. And perhaps most importantly, all of them are full of cats.

The post Drawn to Comics: Sarah Graley’s Webcomics About Queer Pizza Witches, Punk Rock Freelance Warriors and Cute Cats appeared first on Autostraddle.

16 Aug 17:38

#WheresRory? Having more fun than should be legally allowed.

by thebloggess
Kristen

Sharing for the link to the "Perfect illustration of anxiety" A beautiful photography series that explores visually what Anxiety feels like. Many of these photos resonate with me.

Have you been following Rory’s adventures around the world?  Because you should be.  If you’re lost, go here to catch up.  I’ve been sick for the last few weeks but I’ve been traveling vicariously with Rory and it’s been lovely and probably not just because there is a lot of codeine in this cough medicine.  In the last week he’s been to Korea, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Mount Rushmore, London, Canada, Australia, and in lots and lots of trouble.

You should check them out here but here are a few of my very favorites which weirdly seem to tell a story:

wheresroryinsanity

 

roryinsanity2

Maybe it’s just me.

 

*******

And now, the weekly wrap-up…

shit I did by Eric Orchard

 

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

  • UPDATED:  As requested, #WheresRory shirts to confuse everyone around you.

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

Shit you should buy or steal because it’s awesome:  

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by  LiceToKill.com. From them: “Lice! When you’ve got to kill the little bastards (the lice…not the kids) & kill ‘em fast, you need the “Lice-nse To Kill Naturally” guide (& FREE BONUS: Lice Coloring Book for kids). Download instantly.  100% Money Back Guarantee if you aren’t thrilled STEP 1: Kill The Lice. STEP 2: Go back to eating Bon Bons & watching soaps. Easy Peasy. It’s right here.

13 Aug 21:39

The *Other* Story Of Mertie The Snail

by Jen
Kristen

Just what I needed to read today

You guys have heard me talk about my friend Jason of Red Rocket Farm a couple of times now; he's a skilled artist with a truly twisted sense of humor - both of which are on display in his new(ish) comic web series, Story Town.

Several weeks ago, as I was reading the first few pages of Jason's latest story, the strangest thing happened: I suddenly HAD to try sculpting. More specifically, I had to try sculpting Jason's newest main character, a snail named Mertie:


I was in a rough place emotionally at the time. We'd just had some more drama and controversy over on Cake Wrecks, and both John and I were feeling beat up, wrung out, and generally awful. John hadn't slept in three nights. I was writing and re-writing online apologies for something we never intended or could have predicted. Still, the Internet Outrage Machine was at full throttle, and it was all we could do to keep ahead of it.

So it was in that mindset that I sat down to read this story about an introverted, friendless snail.

Within just a few pages, I chuckled. I felt... better. There was something so reassuring and comforting there: a reminder that light and life still existed outside of my own stress-filled sphere. That art and story-telling and happy things would always go on. That this, too, would pass - even if only at a snail's pace.

John drove me to the craft store, and while I shopped for clay he was on his phone, checking for more angry comments.

Back home, I sat at the dining room table and cut off some clay. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was calming, holding and smoothing that squishy lump into a rough shell shape. I'd never sculpted before, and I was pretty sure it wouldn't work, but amazingly just trying was fun. (My fellow perfectionists know it's usually never fun for us unless perfection is guaranteed. Amirite?)

I don't know how long I sat there - an hour? - but eventually I looked down and realized I was holding Mertie's shell in my hand. I was even a bit startled.

The rest of her went much faster, so within another hour or so, I had this:


I looked at her, this thing I had made in the quiet, away from notifications and moderations and angry virtuality, and I saw tangible evidence that everything was going to be ok. I took that picture with my phone, and after a few minutes' deliberation, I texted it to Jason, along with a few lines thanking him for helping me during a down time.

Then I set Mertie on a shelf to dry, and went to bed.

The next day, I had a long note from Jason waiting for me in my inbox. Without going into details that aren't mine to share, Jason was also in a rough place that night. Much worse than mine, in fact. My text had reached him right in the midst of a terrible situation, and seeing how his work had both helped and inspired someone else was just what he needed at that moment.

Reading his note, I felt mildly ashamed of my own self-pity, but more than that, I was so glad I hadn't listened to the little voice warning me not to send my message. I generally like to be free with compliments, but sometimes, compliments take vulnerability. Sometimes you have to admit things are broken in order to thank someone for fixing them. That's tough. Especially if you don't know the person well - or even at all!

But here's the thing, and here's the reason I'm writing this long-winded dissertation about a clay snail: you never know when that heart-felt thanks will mean the world to someone. We're all a little broken. All of us. Misery and hurt are no respecters of person or position. But sometimes - and more often than you might think - thanks and praise find their marks at precisely the right moment.

So be free with your praise, my friends. Be vulnerable. Be generous. Tell them.



And now, as your reward for slogging through all that text, here's my finished Mertie:



 



 (Did I really order a suction cup gun set online JUST for that one dart? Yes, yes I did.) 




 

Mertie's story is still going over at Story Town, btw, if you'd like to read along with the rest of us. Here's the first page.

And finally, here's a sweet story from Jason - just published today - about his own hard time.

13 Aug 16:00

Ender’s Game

by Mallory Ortberg
Kristen

TRUE

The Government: we need children to run the military

Bonzo: welcome to battle school
the only thing you need to know about life up here is that we only have two kinds of swearing
"fart face" and vicious racial slurs

Ender: oh

Bonzo: we'll kill you as soon as look at you
but we'll never say "shit"

Peter: now that Ender has gone to space to become a general, we must do our part to change humanity

Valentine: absolutely
what should we do

Peter: let's leave comments about political theory on the internet until the government offers us jobs

Read more Ender’s Game at The Toast.

13 Aug 11:45

Makeup basics from a makeup artist: The top 10 mascaras (both new and classic)

by Tania D. Russell

Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc.:
We are starting a new series of posts from Tania of Makeup To Go — a makeup artist for the entertainment industries, and friend of the Empire. These posts are all about makeup: the basics, advice, and products. I, for one, am super excited, because I know NOTHING about makeup. So think of these as "Megan simple makeup" posts for folks like, well, me.
-Megan, Offbeat Home editor

By: darwinbell – CC BY 2.0
By: darwinbellCC BY 2.0

Without. A. Doubt. the number one product I am asked about is mascara. All the folks who ask about it — laypeople and fellow makeup artists alike — seem to be on the eternal quest for the perfect mascara. It’s kind of a setup of a question, however, because I also find that mascara is an intensely personal choice. So what I might look for in a mascara someone else may hate, and my “Holy Grail” mascaras might end up in someone else’s trash bin.

All I can do is offer my advice as someone who — because of my work as a makeup artist — has tried a lot of different mascara on a lot of different eyes.

Actually I don’t personally wear mascara. However, having used a lot of different products on a lot of different faces, I have some pretty concrete ideas about what I’m looking for. My criteria for The Basic Mascara are:

  1. Volume: Length can be created with just about any modern mascara with the right technique, but what I really like to add to all lashes I work with is Volume. Therefore, I tend to like thicker mascara formulations.
  2. Definition: I like to pick up every single lash. This adds to the illusion of increased volume and gives lashes that “flirty” look I like.
  3. Non-clumpy: Spider eyes — off the runway — are unattractive. I do not want the lashes sticking to one another.
  4. Long-lasting: Needless to say, having to reapply is a non-starter. Adding more if you want more is one thing, but the initial application should be able to go the distance.
  5. Finish: Like any healthy hair, lashes have a natural sheen to them. I prefer mascaras that do not dry too matte and cake-y.

Criteria established, here are some of my top mascara picks, both new and classic. Oh, and another thing: I base my assessment on the formulation, not the brush.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 best mascaras:

RMS Beauty – Mascara

volumizingshopify

This naturally derived, eco-certified brand constantly delivers. If you’ve been disappointed by the performance of natural mascaras before, look no further than RMS. Rose Marie Swift is a makeup artist, and her line performs like a makeup artist's line. The mascara is available in either a Defining or a Volumizing formula. While I like both, I tend to gravitate to the Volumizing whenever it’s time for a restock.

2. Korres – B5 & Rice Bran Mascara

korres-pro-vitamin-b5-and-rice-bran-mascara-duo-black-d-2014040310274632-333314

Korres used to be a fully naturally derived brand as well. Unfortunately because of corporate buy-outs, that’s no longer the case. In fact, I hear they may no longer be cruelty-free, which is unfortunate. Back when these things were not an issue, I used their B5 & Rice Bran Mascara regularly. They describe it as lengthening and defining, but I found it gave nice volume as well. I used to describe it as my “natural Great Lash.”

3. Dior – Diorshow

Diorshow Iconic Mascara

What can be said about Diorshow that hasn’t been said already? Thirty thousand “Loves” and counting on the Sephora website tells the tale. This mascara creates thick, juicy, velvety lashes even when you do not use their legendary wand (just use a fat disposable wand for similar effect).

4. Benefit – They’re Real Mascara

Benefit-Theyre-Real-Mascara

As the name implies, this mascara is supposed give the illusion that you’re wearing falsies. It doesn’t look like you’re wearing false eyelashes, but it does a very nice job of building up lashes, particularly those on the — shall we say — more puny side.

This formula is lengthening, volumizing, and curling all in one. I have heard, however, people say it caused their lashes to dry out and break off, so they must be using some powerful stuff in the formulation. I’d either save this one for special occasions or use a lash conditioner regularly (vitamin E or jojoba oil works wonders to condition the lash line).

5. Besame – 1932 Cake Mascara

NewCake2015_grande

Every now and then I encounter a client who says that any mascara they use just slips off almost immediately. For folks who find this to be the case, I recommend going to a cake mascara.

All mascaras used to come in cake form before mascara tubes. The formulation is drier by nature (to use, you just activate with water) and less prone to slippage. Besame Cosmetics is a relatively new brand with a vintage feel, and I’m digging their cake mascara. The colors (available in black and brown) are rich, the formulation is smooth, you can apply as many layers as you dare to get the depth and fullness you desire, and once applied, it lasted all day. I recently used it on a photo shoot, and it was fabtastic.

6. Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

lights camera lashes mascara

I love Tarte cosmetics, so let’s just get this out of the way: I’m totally biased. Over the years they’ve had a number of mascaras, and they’ve all been excellent in my opinion. What’s nice is Tarte has “greened” their line and become a largely naturally derived brand, yet the performance has remained the same. This 4-in-1 mascara lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions for lush and dramatic lashes. I prefer this for private clients versus photographic use (I think the conditioning oils make this mascara break down a bit faster under lights). They also make an extra Volumizing formula and a waterproof formula.

7. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara

Givenchy-Phenomen_Eyes

Okay, remember when I said I was judging these mascaras based on the formula not the wand? Well, this one really IS about the wand. I know some folks who disdain the ball, but it is the secret to picking up every. single. lash. I mean EVERY lash, even those teeny tiny ones in the inner corner. If you prefer to use a traditional wand, you’ll still be happy with the result. The formula itself is creamy, smooth, and non-flaking and leaves you with well-defined, long, and lush lashes with a nice sheen.

8. Maybelline – Great Lash

great-lash-clear_model-shot_144055

The legend and with good reason. Thick, gloopy, and crazy pliable, with the change of a wand type, I can create any kind of lash I want. For me, Great Lash is the “winner and still champion” of all mascaras. And at $6-$8 a tube, it isn’t painful to throw it out and get a new one when three months are up.

Honorable mentions:

I have a couple of items I think are worth a mention, even though one I do not use often and one is new to me:

  • Buxom Custom Mascara Bar. I do not have any insight as to how well it works, but it’s a pretty cool idea. Basically you purchase Buxom’s Vanity Lash mascara and then based on the desired lash (volume, length, definition, etc.), you choose the perfect brush to accomplish the look. I used the Vanity Lash mascara on a private client this past weekend (it was her own mascara), and I did like the way it amplified her lashes which are rather short. So if you’re a fan of Buxom, or if you’re trying to find what brush works best for you, this is worth trying.

Alright, makeup-loving Homies, let's keep the great advice going. What are your favorite mascaras?

Recent Comments

  • Logan: I LOVE Maybelline Full & Soft. I keep trying to switch to others and ALWAYS end up back there. Not … [Link]
  • Lena: I am not a fan of Maybelline Great Lash - in my opinion Maybelline The Colossal is the best drugstore … [Link]
  • Jessica: Maybelline's Rocket! [Link]
  • Kirsten: I think the true success of Maybelline Volum' Express Colossal Cat Eyes Mascara is the combination of a curved well-bristled … [Link]
  • Jennifer: This is my favorite too. And I love that they added a volumizing version! [Link]

+ 35 more! Join the discussion

10 Jul 09:00

Mediasonic Digital TV Converter and Digital Video Recorder

by mark
Kristen

Got this for xmas - might have to try it out now

I came across a good low-cost solution for cutting the cord from your cable company in favor of over-the-air (OTA) digital HD (ATSC) broadcast signals: the Mediasonic HW-150PVR.

While almost anyone can plug a simple antenna into their TV and get programming (and you should confirm you receive strong signal before buying this box), this $37 box adds DVR and program guide functionality for your broadcast signals – two things people might be less willing to give up when leaving cable. Guide data is received over the air, so results may vary.

Definitely a Tivo is a superior device – one key thing lacking in this device is the ability to set a “season pass” (record every episode of a show by name). But for a fraction of the price and avoiding Tivo’s monthly guide data fee, this device might be adequate for your needs (recordings can still be scheduled by time).

It requires an external USB drive for recording, which means you actually have to spend more than $37, but also means you can have lots of storage and can easily move the recordings to a PC (where you could also convert them into a suitable format for a tablet).

Including rabbit ears and a decent size USB drive, you could easily be up and running for $100 all-in.

Check out the user manual here.

pvr-2

-- Adam Berson

[Read the Amazon reviews to learn about some of the frustrating things about this converter. The reason we are including it is because it is a very low-cost alternative to TiVo and other subscription based DVR services. -- Mark Frauenfelder]

Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out
$35

Available from Amazon

11 Aug 18:00

How Not To Get Yelled At

by Mallory Ortberg
Kristen

Scarily true.

The greatest possible good in life is never to be yelled at. There is no higher goal, no purer aim. There is no achievement sweeter, no more towering legacy, than to make it from birth to death without ever having once being yelled at. Better never to go anywhere, never to do anything, if the end result is to go through life without someone having yelled at you. Sweeter than immortality, more precious than fame, the greatest reward of all is nobody yelling at you.

I myself have spent the better part of my young life looking for ratholes and empty train cars to dive into rather than face being yelled at.

Read more How Not To Get Yelled At at The Toast.

10 Aug 18:40

#733: “I’m a Part-Time Vegetarian. How do I get people to stop commenting on my food choices?”

by JenniferP
Kristen

Want to share this harder than I can.

THIS: "Stop commenting on the amount of something someone is eating. “You sure were hungry!” “You eat like a bird!”

I had a coworker do this for MONTHS and it was appalling. I have a chronic digestive disorder but would prefer not to discuss that it's the reason why I eat smaller portions AT EVERY MEAL K THANX

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am part-time vegetarian. I feel like I get a lot of flak: ”well are you
are a vegetarian or not?” and ”we saw you eat meat; so why should you get
the special vegetarian food?” But I’m not waffling or being weak in my
convictions. I have good reasons to eat meat sometimes and require
vegetarian food at other times.

1) For various health reasons, I limit my consumption of meat to way less
than the typical North American diet. Which means that if you saw me eat
meat at lunch, then it doesn’t mean I’m eating meat now; in means I HAD
MEAT ALREADY and NEED TO NOT EAT MEAT NOW for a day. Or two.

2) I’m concerned about the environmental impact of meat production. The
solution to this, I believe, is to eat less meat. A lot less meat, but not
no meat whatsoever. Eating meat once a day rather than 3 times a day is
like driving a Prius instead of a Humvee. We don’t question the
environmental ethics of the Prius driver for consuming some gasoline.

3) My daughter, age 10, is aware of factory farming, and horrified. But
she loves meat. I don’t want to squash her empathy and compassion just
because it’s inconvenient. So, we talked this over, and decided that what
we can try to do is only eat humanely raised meat; which, in effect, means
that we limit meat to when I get to the froofy grocery store that has the
grass-fed beef and the cage-free chickens. I think this means we will have
to present as vegetarians when we go out. Otherwise we will come across as
total snobs: “yes we eat meat… but your meat isn’t good enough.”

4) I just plain like vegetarian food and vegetables and get bored with
meat, and disgusted by sausage in my food.

It would be simpler if I could just be a vegetarian, but I like some meat,
and my daughter would rebel; and, (due to reactive hypoglycemia)
occasionally I desperately need a high-protein meal, and in many
situations meat is the only option.

So… I am very interested in vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly
restaurants, what my vegetarian friends are cooking, and the vegetarian
options in the cafeteria. I eagerly discuss these topics with the
vegetarians, but then they act betrayed when they see me eating meat
later. The omnivores are just confused.

Is this all that confusing? Am I allowed some middle ground between
standard American “all meat all the time” and “don’t let any meat touch my
food”? How do I explain my food preferences so that I get the food I want
but not the flak?

— vegetable eater

Dear Vegetable Eater,

I’m a big fan of eating whatever you want and however you want when you want without a lot of friction from others, so your letter gives me an opportunity for a general manners review for adults breaking bread with other adults. These are very general and I’m sure people can think of a jillion exceptions depending on the closeness of a relationship or the nature of the food or the nature of the restriction, but I know a lot of people with wildly different food needs and preferences (including many of your fellow vegetarians-except-for-that-one-circumstance) who eat together regularly without friction, and my experience says that these principles work pretty well as a starting point.

  • What is on your plate is interesting to you. It should be boring to other people.
  • What is on other people’s plates should be pretty boring to you.
  • If you are going to comment on someone else’s food, stick to positive stuff like “That looks delicious!” “Where did you find it?
  • No telling people something that they are eating is “gross.” No pontificating on the health benefits (or drawbacks) of a certain food while you or someone else at your table is eating that food.
  • Stop talking about food as “sinful” or “bad.” “I’m being soooooo baaaaaaad by eating this cupcake.” Ok, whatever, Yogurt Commercial Lady.
  • Stop commenting on the amount of something someone is eating. “You sure were hungry!” “You eat like a bird!”
  • Telling people you plan to eat with about your food allergies or dietary restrictions helps them accommodate you. “I’m allergic to peanuts, so no Thai restaurant please. The air alone in there will kill me.” “Can we choose a place with several vegetarian and vegan options?” 
  • If you tell a restaurant “No onions, please, I hate them” they will not put onions in your dish. If you tell them you are allergic, they are obligated to find pans/knives/plates/utensils, etc. that have never touched an onion so they don’t risk making you sick. Respect the difference between “preference” and “allergy.”
  • If you have a very restricted diet and you are going to an event where food will be served, help the hosts accommodate you by letting them know ahead of time and consider bringing something you know you can eat to share.
  • If you’re an omnivore, you host a lot of dinner parties (or put together menus for indie film crews), and you have lots of vegetarians in your social circle, think about making vegan or vegetarian main courses and making meat an optional side-addition. Too many times vegetarians and vegans end up feeling like an afterthought as they piece together a “meal” of lettuce and bread.
  • Good pot luck or buffet-serving practice: A little card listing ingredients next to each dish that allows people to discreetly make good decisions.
  • If you’re planning a restaurant outing, linking to online menus ahead of time can help alleviate anxiety and help people make good decisions about what to order and whether they can or want to go.
  • If people tell you they can’t eat something or don’t like something, believe them the first time.
  • Remember that food preferences, like sex preferences, evolve. Just because you liked one thing a certain way last week doesn’t obligate you to want it now.
  • No convincing people to eat a certain dish or a certain way. Offer, if you want, but don’t evangelize and accept refusals politely.
  • Don’t eat “at” other people, don’t assume others are eating the way they do “at” you.
  • Respect the agency and autonomy of others in choosing what and how they eat. Assume they have their reasons for eating as they do that are just as valid as yours. Even if you don’t think that’s true or you hotly disagree with their choices, if you are breaking bread with someone, treat them with respect.
  • Recognize that there are enormous class, access, and economic issues at play in terms of who gets to choose exactly what and how they eat at all times.

Readers, what are we missing?

Vegetable Eater, my read on your letter is that you try to be very thoughtful and deliberate about your consumption, that you identify with vegetarianism culinarily and ethically (especially in contrast to the “standard American diet,”) that you want to be or wish you could be a vegetarian all the time, but for now you are an omnivore who eats meat only when it can be sourced as ethically as possible and/or only when you really need the protein and/or only once/day or every couple of days.

I also think you and the people you eat with regularly are blurring lots of lines in how you talk about food. No one should be commenting on your food choices as much as you describe them doing. However, if you are commenting on their food choices, and/or spending a lot of time discussing yours, people will feel more comfortable offering you commentary.

If you live in a part of the country where meat is ubiquitous and vegetarians really have to work to defend and carve out some menu space for themselves, you probably had to really speak up to get any veggie options, and after speaking up so strongly, people don’t understand why today you just really need a little bit of chicken so you don’t pass out at your desk. I also think how much friction you get depends on how much “work” other people feel they’ve had to do to accommodate your food preferences. If I’m the office manager, and you made a big stink about the catering I order for meetings because of the lack of vegetarian options, or if when we eat together we always have to go to your favorite place and never mine, if I see you eat meat I am going to at least wonder what’s up. I wouldn’t necessarily wonder *out loud*, and that wondering doesn’t mean others should police your food choices (and people in charge of figuring out catering should just get veggie options without treating it as weird), but a question along the lines of “Is having a vegetarian option still a priority or is chicken ok?” can be more about checking in about your needs than about judging you.

Going forward, you could try describing your eating habits as “I prefer to eat meatless food about 90% of the time, with rare exceptions when I cook at home or when I know the meat was humanely sourced” without mention of the “typical American diet.” You’re absolutely right to note that this will come across condescendingly, as “you know, that inferior crap that YOU probably eat” or “My meat (and need to eat meat) is good and conscious, but yours is gross”, especially if you live one of the Midwestern Meat Meccas and especially if someone’s hospitality is involved. When hanging with vegetarians, share recipes and talk farm policy with enthusiasm, but maybe lay off any “UGH, OMNIVORES. I KNOW, RIGHT?” talk (since you are one). And, when eating in mixed vegetarian/omnivore company, you could try expressing a preference rather than an identity, i.e. “Can we get Indian or Persian food instead of BBQ? Daughter and I like places with lots of veggie options” vs. “Come on, you know I’m a vegetarian.” See if that buys you a little less friction, and remember that people who harp on your food choices are acting like jerks and that you don’t have to eat or perform in a way that pleases them.

Finally, since you and your daughter are passionate about sustainable agriculture and the environment, I suggest that you look into volunteer and activism opportunities where you can meet like-minded folks who will understand and have your back and work to change policies through collective action.


03 Aug 14:55

amoeba-butter: made a quick comic about being nice to yourself

Kristen

Perfect. This is perfect. You are "deeply loveable" needs to be on my mirror asap.















amoeba-butter:

made a quick comic about being nice to yourself

30 Jul 16:04

what do i have to say to a cop?

by samantha
Kristen

Pro tips!!
Also, I did not know about these apps.
"If the police approach you and ask why you are filming, you can remain silent; that is your right. The ACLU has a great set of apps called Mobile Justice (there are different ones for different states so make sure you download the right one). If you record police encounters using that app, they are automatically uploaded to an ACLU server so that even if the police take your phone, the video is preserved."

the first time i ever got pulled over by a police officer there were drugs in my car. i was driving a shitty 1988 ford escort hatchback with a busted taillight south on green bay road in north evanston late on a weeknight, 19 years old and mostly ignorant to my rights as a united states citizen. the car was illegally registered and willfully uninsured and my driver's license was taped the fuck together and i'm not entirely sure how i charmed my way out of going to jail that evening. the prescription bottles and maybe some mushrooms were shoved in my backpack behind the passenger seat and i could feel them radiating incriminating heat up my back and neck as dude stood at my window asking if i knew that my taillight was out. thankfully he let me go with a warning because, and i'm not even fucking kidding, i worked in a bakery at the time and he recognized me from behind the counter.

when i watched the dash cam video of sandra bland's arrest the only thought bouncing around my head louder than the sound of my own heart breaking inside my chest was "what would i have done if that had been me?" would i have gotten out of the car? tried to make a phone call? put down my cheese sandwich!? (i don't smoke, and i'm incredibly realistic in my hypothetical situations.) it struck me how loudly and clearly she was narrating the cop's actions as they moved off camera. would i ever have thought to do that? it's terrifying to realize just how much i don't know about how i can/cannot protect myself against police. so i hollered at my lawyer kaitlin jackson and asked her to answer some basic questions to give all of us a better idea of how to best take care of ourselves when dealing with law enforcement. and i know i usually keep it light (albeit hate-filled) around here, but this shit has got me vexed. i mean, samuel dubose had his head blown off over a missing front tag? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS LIFE. so i need to chill on these jokes for a minute and use what i have to do what i can.

BIG GIANT FLASHING NEON-LIT DISCLAIMER: this is really an abridged cheat sheet for encounters with the police that has been painted with really broad strokes. reading this doesn't make you a legal expert; pleeeeeease use this information to protect your rights and NOT to argue with the cops about the law. because lawyering at the cops is never wise, and even if it were you'd need a lot more information than provided here to do that well. also keep in mind that laws vary from state to state, every situation is different, and this doesn't substitute for advice from your lawyer. last thing you want to do is be in court talking about "well sam said..." i mean, come on. i completed, like, three semesters of community college and still eat diet hot pockets as my real dinner sometimes. i love you, be safe.

do you have to let the police search you if they ask to?
legal answer Hard no. You NEVER have to give the police permission to search you, your car, or your house. They cannot arrest you because you didn’t give them permission to search. BUT there are times when they can search you without your permission. For example, if an officer has "reasonable suspicion" that you might be armed he can pat you down. You never have the right to refuse a pat down. Additionally, if an officer has probable cause to search you they can search without your permission. Or, if they have a warrant, they can search without your permission.

practical answer Most of the time you get to decide whether an officer can search you, but occasionally it isn’t your call. Luckily, you don’t need to be able to tell the difference in the moment. You only need to know two things: 1 ALWAYS respond to requests to search by saying “You do not have my consent to search.” As long as you do that, you’ve preserved your rights, and a judge will decide later if the search was legal. 2 NEVER physically interfere with a police officer who decides to search you.

one other note: People often consent to searches because they don’t think there is any contraband an officer could find. This bites a lot of people in the foot. There could be something in your car or house that someone else put there that you don’t know about. You also might have something that you don’t realize is illegal. For example, some states have rules about what types of pocket knives are legal and, if you unknowingly have the wrong kind in your toolbox, you could get a weapons charge. Or maybe you carry your spouse’s prescription medicine in your purse—that can easily turn into a controlled substances charge. The moral of the story is memorize the phrase “You do not have my consent to search” and then USE IT.

do you have to answer questions from the police?
legal answer If you are on the street Generally no, but in some states you do have to give identifying information like your name and birth date if you are asked. Otherwise you do not have to answer questions—that includes questions about your citizenship status. If you are in a car You have to show your license, insurance and proof of registration. Otherwise, you do not have to answer questions. 

practical answer It is almost never in your best interest to answer questions without speaking to a lawyer first. It’s much easier to talk yourself into trouble than it is to talk yourself out of it (overconfidence is your worst enemy). Your two safest options are to 1 end the encounter, or if you can't do that, 2 get a lawyer. A good way to find out whether you can end the encounter is to calmly ask: Am I free to leave? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no, calmly tell the officer you don't want to speak to them without a lawyer. And then make good on your promise and don't speak.
two other notes
 1 It's rarely wise to run from the police. Even if you aren't doing anything illegal, running has the potential to escalate the situation. 2 If you are stopped in a car, keep your hands where the officer can see them for the same reason, to avoid escalation.

do you have to blow into a breathalyzer/do field sobriety tests?
legal answer No. BUT the police can use your refusal to blow into a breathalyzer and/or do field sobriety tests as evidence against you. In other words, if you are charged with driving under the influence, a prosecutor can argue to a jury that you refused because you knew you were intoxicated and would have failed. Additionally, in some states the DMV will automatically suspend your license for refusal to blow.

practical answer Does that mean you should always blow? No it doesn’t. It means you have a decision to make. If you haven’t been drinking it’s in your best interest to blow into the machine. But, if you think there is any chance you will fail the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests, it’s probably in your best interest to refuse. Here’s why: if you are likely to fail, the jig is up. You’ve been caught. At this point the best thing you can do is stop giving the police more evidence to use against you. Blowing in the machine and doing field sobriety tests that you are likely to fail can only make you look guiltier.

one note Most field sobriety tests are based on balance. If you have leg or knee issues, weight issues, are wearing high heels, are advanced in age or have any disability that causes you to struggle with balance, you may fail these regardless of whether you are sober or not. If any of those apply to you, make clear to the officer that you are refusing field sobriety tests because you struggle with balance, and then don’t do them.

are you allowed to record the police?
legal and practical answer Yes. If the police approach you and ask why you are filming, you can remain silent; that is your right. The ACLU has a great set of apps called Mobile Justice (there are different ones for different states so make sure you download the right one). If you record police encounters using that app, they are automatically uploaded to an ACLU server so that even if the police take your phone, the video is preserved.

what are your rights in an interrogation?
legal answer You do not have to answer questions during an interrogation. You have the right to an attorney, and the right to remain silent. If you are being interrogated, and tell the police “I want to remain silent and I want a lawyer,” they must stop questioning you.

practical answer Police are well trained in the art of getting incriminating statements. You are not trained in the art of resisting their tactics. Do not overestimate your ability to talk yourself out of a bad situation. I repeat: do not think you can talk yourself out of a bad situation. DO NOT assume you can’t talk yourself into trouble just because you’re innocent.

three notes 1 Police are allowed to lie to you. They can, and often do, tell people untrue things designed to get the person to make an incriminating statement. Don’t be tricked into responding. 2 People get convicted of crimes all the time based primarily or solely on their own statements. For real, for real. Don’t be that guy. 3 Just being quiet isn’t enough to invoke your right to remain silent. You need to say something along the lines of “I don’t want to talk to you” or “I want to remain silent.”

what's the deal with miranda rights anyway?
legal and practical answer Miranda is the warning you hear cops read on Law and Order when they arrest people. You have two Miranda rights 1 the right to remain silent and 2 the right to an attorney (whether or not you can afford one). When the police read those rights, most people waive them. Meaning they decide to go ahead and speak to the police without an attorney. Sometimes because they are confused, but more often because they are intimidated and think they have to talk to the police. But now that you have read this, you know better. Use your Miranda rights, and silent treatment the police (after giving identifying info) as hard as you’ve ever silent treatment-ed anyone.

so i know i am supposed to be "cooperative" with police, but what does that really mean?
It’s always best not to escalate a situation. Be calm, polite and respectful. Don’t threaten or yell at police. However, being cooperative does not mean answering officer’s questions (other than requests for identifying info) or allowing them to search you. Remember that you are on different teams. If you’ve ever played sports you know that being a cooperative player doesn’t mean scoring goals against yourself for the other team. Often people imagine they are helping themselves by being cooperative, when in truth they are just assisting an officer who is building a case against them. This is true even if you are innocent. Don’t risk it. Saying “You can’t search me,” “I don’t want to talk to you,” and “I want a lawyer” are the best things you can do for yourself. Once a lawyer gets on the scene they can help you figure out the next best move.

note Don’t be tricked by statements like “if you answer a few questions or just let me look in your trunk I’ll let you go…” See above: officers do not have to tell you the truth.


keep your heads up, champions. be cool out there.
03 Aug 11:45

BDSM in mainstream media: Why I taught my kids about safe words

by Marnie Goldenberg
Kristen

NSFW relevant

'Safe Word Warning', hand-painted pallet sign, from Etsy seller HotShotPalletworks
'Safe Word Warning', hand-painted pallet sign, from Etsy seller HotShotPalletworks

Kinky sex has made its way into mainstream culture in places other than poorly-written-erotica-gone-NYT-bestsellers-list. Music videos like Rihanna’s S&M, Christina Aguilera’s Not Myself Tonight, for instance. Our kids are seeing it, hearing it, and some of them are even reading it.

My kids are young, so Rihanna videos and E. L. James’ fiction are not yet on their agenda. But there will come a time when talking to my munchkins about bondage and domination becomes relevant. I anticipate that the majority of learning on the topic will not be from me; they’ll likely see videos and ads or hear things from peers that could use some context. I prefer to be the person who provides that context with overarching messages about consent, trust, and communication.

Those values are not confined to safe and enjoyable kink. When those values are front and centre in a number of contexts and conversations with our kids, we help them see the breadth of their application — the primary importance of these values in positive and healthy human relationships. That, I think, will make that kink conversation a lot easier.

As an example, I had a conversation with my kids about safe words a couple years ago.

Safe words are used in the BDSM community to ensure that, during a sexual scene, people involved can communicate their interest to stop the scene or slow it down. Words like "ow" or "stop" don't usually work as safe words because they may not always be meant to end the sexual activity; in fact, those words may be sought out during a sexual encounter. Now, I’m not going to spend time on the ins and outs of safe and consensual kinky sex, except to say that the cornerstones are, you guessed it, communication and trust. So safe words are vitally important.

No, I didn’t talk to my kids about kinky sex — that will come sometime in the future. See, my kids love and enjoy each other and wrestle and horseplay a lot. While overwhelmingly it’s a mutually-enjoyed activity, not infrequently it ends with one injured or aggrieved party. If either of them hear the safe word while wrestling, the wrestling stops, and a check-in happens. It often gets forgotten or the tears or wails come before someone utters "origami" (the current safe word).

Last week in the car, a vigorous round of rough housing (yes, while strapped down by seat belts and in booster seats) ended because the safe word was spoken. My older son then said it was an inappropriate use of the safe word because his brother wasn’t hurt. We talked about setting rules for when the word is to be used. I made recommendations, they made the decisions, and I reinforced the need to always respect its use. No crying wolf now.

We also talked about what ought to happen after the safe word is used, which is to find out what went down. It shouldn’t just end the activity but rather make way for a straight up conversation to find out why the activity needed to be stopped and whether there were any misunderstood needs or perspectives.

For my kids, and everyone, the value is all about developing communication skills. Whether during a physical romp of sex with a partner or a bout of wrestling with a sibling, communication is key. And that is not part of the message that Rihanna is communicating when she sings “Now the pain is my pleasure. Cause nothing could measure. Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me.”

Recent Comments

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  • Monk-Monk: I love this, and totally am going to start using it. Thanks for the suggestions! [Link]
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  • Melissa: This is a great idea. When I was little, my dad taught my sister and I to use a safe … [Link]

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23 Jul 16:00

Skill Builder: Getting Started with Google SketchUp for Woodworkers and Makers

Kristen

On my to-learn list!

created at: 07/23/2015

SketchUp is free, robust, and really helps to bring your projects to life. I stumbled through the basics for way too long, so here are a few steps to get you modeling… Continue reading on ManMadeDIY.com

25 Jul 14:04

July Art Roundup: Intergalactic Travel Posters, Wicked Elsa, Tiki Baymax, & More!

by Jen
Kristen

UGGGHHHH LOve all the geeky art! Must start collecting prints...

Time for my monthly roundup of great geek art!


Joseph Bayer of SpiderStopShop has a great "Splatter Grunge" style:


 These look best in big sizes, so lucky for us his 12X18 prints are all just $15!

My favs are Elsa and Vader:


Now I want to see these two framed up side-by-side somewhere. :D
 Go see the rest at Bayer's online shop!


An adorable Little Mermaid set by Josie of RoosterPop:

The 5X7 prints are $7 each in her online shop, where there's lots more to choose from!


I'm digging Crabby Squid's super bright "Tiki-style:"



 
These are all just $10 each in his Etsy shop.


Spotted these sweet intergalactic travel posters at a tiny local con a few months back:


All of the Science Hype poster are about $17 each, or you can get a better deal if you buy a set:


You can also buy them on Etsy, if you'd rather.


Want more? Their sister company, Lynx Art Collection, also has some sweet poster sets:

Your choice of sizes, with 11X17s starting at $17 each


I adore Piper Thibodeau's daily sketches on Twitter, and I am crushed - CRUSHED - that she doesn't sell prints. I mean, LOOK AT THIS: 


She turned Kuzco into an Alpaca! SO CUTE.

And look at these Ninja Turtles:


D'awww. little Mikey on his back!

See more of Piper's work (there are hundreds!) on Twitter and/or DeviantArt. And while you're at it, beg her to open an online store for me, k?


Sabrina Miramon (aka Sab M.) is another artist with a beautiful digital style:







 Sab has that Batgirl plus a few more lovelies in her online store. (You can also follow her on Facebook to see more.)


I saw these next two prints in person at a con, and the colors are phenomenal - really leapt off the table at me:

 "My Little Kaiju" by Jeff Schutte

Prints start at $15 in Jeff's RedBubble shop, where he also has this cool fantasy airship:

Jeff only has a handful of prints for sale, but you can see more of his work on his Facebook page.


It's impossible to pick just a few favorites from Ann Marcelino; they're all SO GOOD.

 Labyrinth, 10X5 print, $15
(The little blue worm is on Sarah's head! Hee!)


 Mulan, 10X7 print, $15


 Baby Link & Zelda, 10X7 print, $15

See what I mean? So much goodness!

And as a huge Wicked fan, I'm delighted by Ann's Frozen/Wicked mashups:

"Witch Sisters," 10X7 print, $15

Head over to Marcelino's Society6 store for more, or see it all in her DeviantArt gallery. (And you can also follow her on Facebook.)


Now it's time for a Quick Sweet Story:

A couple of years ago I was hanging out with a fan named Rachel, who showed me some or her teenage daughter's artwork. I was impressed, and said she should try selling some online or at cons.

Cut to last month, when I received an incredibly sweet letter from Rachel's daughter, Brianna "Bri Pi" Crozier. She said I'd helped give her that final push of encouragement, and in the past year or so she's sold at 8 different conventions! And she's only 17.


Bri also included some art as a thank you, including a few prints for the give-away board.
She didn't mention it in her note, but after a quick search I found she *does* sell online: here's the link to her store. (All prints start at $15)

I figured you guys would like her princess series best, but I'm also really digging this one titled, "Curiouser and Curiouser"




And she's 17. My gosh. Talk about making my heart happy.


And finally, my favorite entry from Sketch Dailies' recent topic, "Imaginary Friends":
Hobbes has his own little Calvin doll!  
The feelz.

That's by Claire Gary, creator of that realistic Winnie-the-Pooh and friends so many of you loved last year.

As luck would have it, Claire JUST opened an Etsy shop. It's still a little sparse on prints, but maybe she'll add this one if we ask sweetly? Or even if not, there's other greatness there, like this:

"Cheshire Cat," 11X17 print $15.76
"Meoad." Ha!

And my favorite:
"Charmeleon," 8.5X11 print, $7.88

Ack! I'M IN LOVE.


K, give-away time! As always, comment below for a chance to win your choice of art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board. Internationals welcome.

And for this month's BONUS art prize, I have 2 print sets by Mervyn McKoy:


Each print is approximately 4X5 inches, and they're all signed. Be sure to let me know in your comment which set(s) you like, and I'll enter you in the extra drawing for those, too.

I'll announce my 3 randomly selected winners in a few days. Happy commenting!

*****
UPDATE: The giveaway has ended!

The winner of the Batman & Batgirl set is Chiana   
The winner of Link & Wonder Woman set is Erin Schleif
And my wild-card winner, who gets to choose from anything off the Give-Away Board, is Raum

Congrats, winners, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

P.S. Kaitlyn Nielson, Blogger kept eating my reply to your comment - though I tried many times! - so please e-mail me your choice from the board, too, k? Or message me on Twitter or FB, since your first one didn't go through. 
23 Jul 11:45

3 good relationship habits we carried over from wedding planning to married life

by Faeriereader
Kristen

Love these ideas! Simple and fun

North Bowl Northern Liberties Engagement
Photo by Mike Allebach

We got married because we made a good team. We are good at doing things together; in fact, we enjoy doing things together! Then the wedding planning came along and suddenly “things together” often evolved into "wedding things together."

Now that the wedding is over, I am no longer constantly thinking, worrying, stressing, planning, organizing, and doing wedding things. It left a noticeable vacuum in my life. And while it's okay to still think about the wedding, feel about the wedding, and even obsess about the wedding, I feel like I'm ready to move on now.

But some of the things my partner and I learned and implemented while planning the wedding are going to carry over into married life.

Here are three good habits my husband and I have carried over from wedding planning to married life:

  • Stir Fridays
  • Tasting Tuesdays
  • Wedding-Free Wednesdays

Stir Fridays:

One of the things we enjoy doing together is cooking. So on Friday, we make stir fry together. It's an easy meal to make that has a big payoff!

We shop for ingredients together, choosing whatever sounds good this week. Then we chop vegetables together. Then one of us cooks while the other gets the dishes ready. It's an excuse to hang out together, to remind yourself and your partner why you make a good team.

Bonus: Stir Friday can help you practice working as a team if sometimes you struggle with that!

Tasting Tuesday:

We wanted to try out different rehearsal dinner restaurants, so we made (and keep) a running list of restaurants to try.

We tried going on weekends, but the places were always packed and sometimes the prices were a bit higher. We decided that there was nothing stopping us from going out earlier in the week, so Tasting Tuesdays began! We pick a new restaurant every week and go out for dinner on Tuesday. If we tried a restaurant but were not quite sure if we liked it or not, we add that restaurant back to the list for later. If we find a restaurant we really like, we add that one back to the list too. If the restaurant doesn’t make it back on the list… at least we had an adventure together trying something new!

Wedding-Free Wednesdays:

We both needed a break from the wedding planning. It was nice to have a no-pressure day, where we had permission to focus on other parts of our lives, where we gave ourselves a break from the stress and worry of our To Do Lists. It was nice to be able to forgive each other, even if the wedding leaked into the day, which it often did.

Wedding-Free Wednesday is a free day to just be together and not talk about the most stressful part of your life. While we no longer have to limit wedding talk, we take turns deciding what topic our Wednesdays will be free of each week. Sometimes it's family, sometimes it's friends, sometimes it's work. Work is a bit tough, because we still have to go to work, but at least we don’t have to rehash the problems of the day when we get home.

When your relationship is overshadowed by stress, it can be a pretty miserable experience. When you have islands of time where the stress is brushed aside, overlooked, and perhaps even forgotten while you focus on each other and your relationship without all the guilt or pressure, your relationship in general becomes a lot more fun!

Inspired by wedding planning, work, or whatever: What are some stress-fighting relationship habits you've adopted?

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22 Jul 17:49

10 Games To Keep Your Mind Sharp During The Dog Days Of Summer

by admin@thefinancialdiet.com
Kristen

Good to know!

There’s nothing like a little vacation to make your mind feel as if it’s fizzling out and sloooooooowing down. Over the last couple of days I’ve been getting a little R&R. While my trip has done its job to help relieve the stress of daily life, I sort of feel like my brain is softening like a stick of […] Read more...
20 Jul 15:00

To Watch On Netflix: An Honest Liar

by Jen
Kristen

To watch!

The next time you have 2 hours to kill, do yourself a favor and go watch the documentary An Honest Liar:


It's the story of The Amazing Randi - a world famous magician - who has spent almost his entire professional life debunking frauds and con men, from so-called psychics to faith-healers.

Today Randi is the world's most adorable real-live wizard - or so I choose to believe :D - and he won my heart within the first 5 minutes, when he jokingly bowed down to a display case full of cakes in a local diner. 


The film follows his career and debunking triumphs, with plenty of clips from shows like Johnny Carson and Happy Days, and surprise celebrity appearances from everyone from a very young Leonard Nimoy to current-day Adam Savage and Penn & Teller.

There are also plenty of interviews with Randi himself, who remains whip-smart, funny, and incredibly well-spoken today.

Most of Randi's successes were before my time, so it was fascinating to learn about the hoaxes he orchestrated on the scientific community - always to prove how easily they were being fooled by less honest liars, if you will.

I didn't know anything about the film before John and I found it on Netflix, so I just now watched the official trailer. I think it almost gives away too much, so I'm glad I got to be surprised by it all, but if you're not convinced it's worth a watch yet, then check this out:


One final observation: Despite the fact that Randi proved a popular faith healer was a fraud, there is a surprising lack of religion-bashing in the film. I don't know (or care) where you guys stand on the topic, but just thought I'd mention it, since I found it rather gentlemanly of Randi.

An Honest Liar is on Netflix Streaming, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and plenty of other places - just give it a google. 
14 Jul 11:45

Stop cheating your electric: How to safely replace a 2-prong outlet

by kellbot
Kristen

So so timely!!!

"Another common problem in older houses is when someone "helpfully" installs a three-prong outlet but doesn't bother grounding it. This is much worse than using a cheater plug because those who use it will be unaware that the circuit isn't grounded. You can test for this using an inexpensive circuit tester available from any home improvement store. "

Today we're going to talk about power outlets, grounding, and how you can safely plug things into an old 2-prong outlet by replacing it with a GFCI or "ground fault circuit interrupter" receptacle.

If you live in an older North American home (specifically one built before the mid-1970s) you have probably known the frustration of having a 3-prong plug and only 2-prong outlets. As such, you are probably familiar with this dude:

Cheater plug

Commonly called a "cheater plug," these little adapters allow you to plug your laptop or PC into the million-year-old electrical wiring in your home. In theory, the little tab at the bottom screws onto the faceplate to ground the outlet. In practice, almost no one actually screws the thing in place (naughty!). Even if they do, in many homes that isn't enough to provide a connection to ground. If something causes a short the electricity will use YOU for grounding. In other words: ZAP.

Another common problem in older houses is when someone "helpfully" installs a three-prong outlet but doesn't bother grounding it. This is much worse than using a cheater plug because those who use it will be unaware that the circuit isn't grounded. You can test for this using an inexpensive circuit tester available from any home improvement store.

If you want to do things right, you can hire an electrician to rewire and ground all your circuits. In my area, the quote for this was $300 per outlet — way out of budget for me, given that the entire second floor of our home was ungrounded.

If you're feeling handy, you can replace a 2 prong outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) receptacles. These work by immediately cutting the power if they detect a sudden change in current flow (perhaps caused by your body suddenly having electricity flow through it). It's not a perfect solution — it won't keep a power surge from frying your electronics — but it adds a layer of safety and convenience.

Outlet
You probably have these in your bathroom / kitchen. Or at least I hope you do!

Doing electrical work can be intimidating, but if you follow the directions and use common sense, this one is actually pretty easy. As always with home improvement, stop and call a professional if there is something you don't understand or if at any point you don't feel confident proceeding. If you take off your outlet cover and think "wow, this looks nothing like the instructions say it will," stop and call a professional.

Old houses often have really questionable wiring. If anything is nonstandard, it's important to have an electrician look over the whole system.

Stuff you'll need:

Step 1: Turn off power to the old receptacle

First cut the power to the receptacle. Do this at your breaker box and put a piece of tape over it while you're working so no one turns it back on. Verify the power is off, preferably with a non-contact voltage tester. Always check to make sure the receptacle is off as electrical boxes are often mislabeled.

If you're not sure which breaker goes to the outlet in question, you can stick your voltage tester in the outlet and start throwing switches until the beeping stops. Warn your housemates before you do this and label the breaker when you find it.

Step 2: Disconnect ONE outlet

Usually the outlets in a room are all on the same circuit. When you have two outlets in one receptacle (like most do) you need to figure out which comes first in the circuit. This is referred to as "line" for the incoming connection and "load" for the outgoing connection.

While the order doesn't matter for normal outlets, it's important when you're installing a GFCI. If the GFCI is installed backwards, it won't protect you (and as a safety feature, modern GFCIs won't work at all).

In order to figure out which is which, we'll disconnect one of the old outlets. Leave the other one connected. Use the wire nuts to cap off the disconnected wires and carefully push everything back into place.

There are a few different styles of outlet, but most of them have a tiny slot you shove a screwdriver in to release each wire. If your outlet is particularly old it can take some fiddling to get the wire out.

Step 3: Test remaining outlet

Replace the outlet and cover and turn the power back on. Test the outlet that's still connected. If there's power to it, this means it is line. If it's dead, it's load. Cut the power again and open the receptacle back up.

Step 4: Connect the new GFCI outlet

Following the instructions that came with your outlet, connect the line and load wires to the appropriate spots on the outlet. Carefully place everything back in the wall and replace the faceplate.

Step 5: Test the new GFCI outlet

Turn the power back on and test the outlet. First press the reset button. There should be power flowing to the outlet. Then press the test button. The outlet should go dead. If it does, congratulations, you're all done! If it doesn't work correctly turn off the power and check your wiring again.

If it's wired correctly and still not working, then it's time to call a professional for help.

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10 Jul 11:45

Pin ups, tattoos, and rock n roll: Bad-ass, yet super-comfy bedding from Sin in Linen

by Offbeat Editors
Kristen

I NEED those henna sheets in my life!

Remember when I featured the striped Sin in Linen shower curtain on my vintage circus bathroom post? These are the sheets that match!
Remember when I featured the striped Sin in Linen shower curtain on my vintage circus bathroom post? These are the sheets that match! (Modeled by Stella Rose Saint Clair. Photo by Stefano Giovaninni

I can't tell you how excited I am to welcome our newest sponsor, Sin in Linen, to Offbeat Home. Oh, I can't lie to you, Homies… yes I can tell you how excited I am: mega super buttloads of excited! You might even recognize the name Sin in Linen from when we've gushed about them before, added them to our decor roundups, or when they've been featured in our very own readers' homes. Sin in Linen is based in Seattle and has been providing soft goods with hardcore style since 2004.

Now I get to officially gush about them, AND they hooked me up with some of their wares to try, and hooked YOU up with a special discount. How lucky are we!?

The Atomic Dreams sheet set -- They worked with Mid Century Modern artist, Ragnar, for this print.
The Atomic Dreams sheet set — They worked with mid-century modern-style artist, Ragnar, for this print.

Sin in Linen's founder — the kick-ass Sandy Glaze — collaborates with artists and manufacturers around the world to produce stylish home textiles on high-quality, ethically produced cotton. Their exciting designs are all inspired by retro aesthetic, pin-ups, tattoos, and rock ‘n' roll.

I mean… just watch this video and see how happy the Geisha Garden sheet set (and shower curtain OMG!) makes pin-up model Miss Kitty! That's kind of how I feel when I see my kick-ass new Sin in Linen pillows on my bed. These guys…

Henna Tattoo Sheets
Henna Tattoo Sheets

Here's how they look in my (newly redecorated) bedroom…

my sin in linen pillows

I love these pillow covers so very much, not just because they perfectly match with my boho bedroom vibe, but because they're as comfortable as they are gorgeous! (300 thread count, 100% cotton sateen!)

This model is how I picture myself when I'm lying on my Sin in Linen pillows...
Masuimi Max modeling the Geisha Moon sheets. Photo by her husband Morat.

Wanna get sexy, exciting, bad-ass, yet so so comffffyyyyy Sin in Linen goods into YOUR bedroom (or bathroom, or kitchen, or living room) and be as sexy, excited, and bad-ass as myself? Then take advantage of this discount…

OFFBEAT DISCOUNT:
Enter code SINOFFBEAT10 for 10% off of your order! This code is good forever, because Sin in Linen is the freaking bestest.

Now feel like a hot tattooed pin-up model anytime you want and sexify and comfy-fy your bedrooms!

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30 Jun 21:41

1000 ferris wheels

by thebloggess

I once read that about people who make and fold 1000 origami paper cranes.  Some do it for luck or longevity or luck or wishes or hope.  Some do it for love.  Some do it for peace.  I assume some do it for the same reason I make ferris wheels.

I make them over and over again, from tiny kits that arrive in small envelopes whenever things get difficult.

bloggesswheel

I turn the small metal tabs in.  I fit the speck-like tabs into the delicate, almost invisible slots.  I place 100 tiny metal pieces -like forgotten shavings- together to make each car, each strut.  It’s comforting to me when I need comfort most.  When life gets too large.  When the world is too loud.  When my skin is to raw and sensitive to be touched.  It’s then that I go into this tiny world I have perfect control over.

The work is both challenging and mindless.  I close a tiny door.  I add a hanging car.  I straighten a spindle.  I imagine myself in this little world, an invisible guest on this fragile and exquisitely imperfect wheel.  It does not spin exactly but the cars gently sway.  One car breaks loose and plummets to the floor.  I find it, a minute later, hidden in the seam of the tile and I rescue it and return it to it’s place, giving the metal tab an extra twist with my tweezers and holding my mouth just so as if I am casting a spell.

Stay put, I command in my head.  You are where you belong.  To everything there is a place.

And I line the pieces up into their places.  I make them right.  I make them fit.  I put things the way they are meant to be, even if only in a tiny world that rests in the palm of my hand.

In the morning I show my daughter the shiny metal ferris wheel.  She oohs and ahs and rocks the small cars, probably imagining real ferris wheels she will ride one day when she is grown.

I lay the tiny wheel down, my invisible anxieties and worries sitting calmly on each seat.  I say a prayer to keep each worry in its place.  To glue it there.  One for “fear of going under water.”  One for “one day she’ll leave me”.  One for “I’ve forgotten something important that I can’t remember”.  One for “paralyzed with doubts”.  One for “broken”.  And those small passengers all sit in silence, quieted at last, as I place the wheel with all the others.  And there it will stay while I take up life again.  Until, that is, the next week when I can’t think for all the worries and anxieties and angry voices screaming in my head.  And then I will place last week’s empty ferris wheel on a sidewalk  or tree branch for a small child to find, and I will open the thin envelope in my desk drawer and slip out the new metal sheets waiting to be cut and folded and pinned and pressed into life.  Into fear.  Into both.

And the wheel comes around again.

ferris bloggess

Note: I know many of you have noticed I’m not quite myself this month.  I’m fine…just crawling out of a depression that has taken more out of me than usual.  I’m coming back, but slowly.  Thank you for being patient.  Thank you for being you.

 

27 Jun 13:31

justice4mikebrown: On the early morning of June 27, activists...





















justice4mikebrown:

On the early morning of June 27, activists in South Carolina gathered to take down the confederate flag flying above the Capitol before the funerals for 3 of the victims of the Charleston massacre begin. There is also supposed to be a “defend the flag” action later today.

A black woman identified as Bree climbed the flag pole and took the flag down herself. She was arrested shortly after climbing back down with the flag.

Check fergusonaction on twitter for more updates.

24 Jun 21:46

The best garden pruners for smaller hands

by Erica Ogg
Kristen

Small hands unite! And play patty-cake!

Our pruners guide could have been more clear on which model to get for gardeners with small hands, so we’ve updated the piece with a link to the Felco 6, an option that is a nearly identical (but smaller) version of our main pick. [Best Garden Pruners]

24 Jun 16:46

This is my house.

by thebloggess
Kristen

"But if I’m always singing everyone else’s song then there’s no room for mine. I have a song to sing."

The greatest gift in the world is to grant a kindness to another. The amazing thing though is that the aforementioned gift is one you give yourself. It may be a small thing. Leaving a flower for the tired woman at the coffee shop. Telling a stranger that they have such kind eyes. Listening happily to a story told by an elderly friend or relative who has told you the same story a million times. Nodding in solidarity even when you don’t completely understand. Letting a friend or a stranger yell hurtful things at you because you hope it will help them let go of a small part of that anger…that it will open up room in them for the greater things that they deserve.

This is the way the world goes. Small, mean acts affect the next person who in turn amplify that anger or sadness and take it out on others who suffer as well. Then small, kind acts of grace work their magic and pull the world back into balance. Those acts echo into the world. They reverberate long after we are gone. And sometimes? Sometimes they bounce back to us in unexpected ways.

I’ve been writing for years and it’s only in the last year that I’ve let myself feel bad about what I write. Well, not about what I write exactly. I write about my life. I write funny stories that I hope make people smile. I write books that I hope make others laugh loudly and inappropriately in airplanes. I write honestly about difficult things I’m haunted with, like depression or self-harm. And occasionally I veer off into strange waters where I don’t quite know if I’m the best person to say something, but I know that I’m the best person to say the things that I think. You sometimes get small glimpses of those things but in such light amounts you could be forgiven for missing them. If you look closely you probably know that I’m a feminist. That I’m a big supporter of gay rights.  That I don’t believe in church but do believe in God. That I believe racism is institutional and exists far deeper than we see. That I don’t deal well with authority. That I have eternal hope in goodness. That I am quick to anger and quicker to forgive and that I don’t believe in picking sides because the world is flexible and moving and ever changing. The only side I pick is the one with less assholes, but even that is fluid because people change. Sometimes the assholes are later the people who have come so far, and who we revere for their ability to change. Sometimes we find that our heroes were undercover assholes, hiding amongst us until they let down their guard. Sometimes the assholes are us. In fact, if you aren’t prepared to recognize that occasionally you will look back at your life and think, “Wow. That was a real dick move. What the shit, me?” then you are the most dangerous of all the assholes.

This is a long post but in my defense I’ve been very quiet for the last week while I sorted this out.  I do have a point and I’m coming to it.

In the time I’ve been writing I’ve had thousands of people send me emails or links or tweets asking if I would weigh in on something, or support their cause, or ask everyone I know to donate to their personal fund or charity. I’ve read other blog posts by friends who tell me if I don’t write about their personal beliefs then it means I don’t care. Then I remind myself that if someone would potentially not know where I stand if I’m not screaming it on my blog then perhaps they aren’t as good a friend as I thought. I’m asked to stand up for people being bullied. I’m asked to stand up for the other people who are being censored and being called bullies. I hear:

“How can you not go to our Gay Pride parade when you yourself are bisexual?”

“Today is International Suicide Awareness day. Why aren’t you promoting it?  Don’t you care?”

“You’ve spent time in wheelchairs and hospital beds from your autoimmune disease so why aren’t you promoting our walkathon for chronic pain awareness?”

“If you don’t publicly take a stand against racism on every platform you have then you are a racist.”

“If you don’t write about 9/11 every year the terrorist win”.

“If you don’t write a post explaining that most Muslims are peaceful and lovely then their blood will be on your hands if they are killed.”

“If you don’t write about my personal version Jesus Christ then you’re sentencing your readers to everlasting hell.”

“If you don’t promote my kickstarter about my journey to adopt 56 Chinese orphans then all orange kittens will spontaneously lose all their legs.”

These are all real things said to me in the last year, except for the last one which I suspect is probably just stuck in my spam filter.

Here’s the deal.  I just can’t. I can’t use this blog to tell you that testing makeup on animals is bad or that if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint our children will suffer the consequences. I don’t have the stamina or willpower to denounce every shitty thing in the world that I assume everyone else here already agrees with. I don’t have the strength to write about ISIS and kidnappings and poverty and children starving and bombs and other terrible things because I know I will become fixated and depressed and unable to function.  I know my limits and I know that without self-care I will fall into those dark holes of depression where I’m no help to anyone.

And I’m okay with that because I don’t have to tell you that Nazis are bad and mass murderers are fuckheads and that racism is bullshit and suicide should be avoided and rape is shitty and water is wet and cats will scratch you if given enough time. This is all common sense. If I have to say this out loud for you to get those things then you are in the wrong place. Mostly because I’m typing and so I can’t say anything out loud, but also because if you know me, you already know these things. We may disagree on the finer points. I may have a looser definition of what it means to be a feminist. I’m in the middle ground when it comes to gun control so if I ever decide I’m educated enough to have a salient point of view worth sharing out loud we may disagree. I suspect I view racism as being more of a problem than the average American (or average white Southerner at least) and occasionally I’ll say something about it and lose followers…both those who are angry that I believe racism is systemic and deep-seated, and those who agree but who are mad that I don’t say even more. And that’s okay. Sometimes they come back, later, with open minds and less fear or anger. Sometimes they are replaced by others who are here to laugh and smile at the ridiculousness that comes out of my head. Sometimes (mostly) it’s read and then forgotten. Just one tiny voice in a world that won’t shut up. In a world so busy speaking that it can’t hear.

I had a point and I’ve strayed from it a bit but this is it: I appreciate the links and suggestions and tweets and probably half the time my posts come from something one of you has sent me because you know me and you know what fuels me. I read what you’ve sent me and laugh or cry or learn. Sometimes I write about it.  Sometimes I keep it for myself.  Sometimes there isn’t a better way to say it so I’ll just retweet it, or forward it to others who I think might need it or be inspired to write more about it. But I will never tell those people that it is their responsibility to write about what I want to read. And that is the difference.

Please keep sending me links. Tweet things you think I’ll want to see. Email me your thoughts, or posts. Or share them here. But there are two things you should know: One– I almost never share fundraisers because if I do one then a million people will ask why I don’t share their equally valid fundraiser and then I’d suddenly turn from a writer to a very annoying PR person who only tweets fundraisers.  No one wants that.  And two: I will never write about something because someone else is trying to shame me into it. I have plenty of my own shame and guilt over here myself, thankyouverymuch, so I don’t need you dropping yours on me. Not only is it shitty, but it also makes me question everyone else writing about whatever that current event of the week actually thinks, and that’s not fair to anyone. Are they just writing what they think people want to hear? Are they pandering because it’s fucking easy as hell to say “I’M NOT FOR MURDERING GAY PEOPLE” and “CANCER IS NOT WHAT I LIKE”. Not only that, but if you aren’t saying something thought-worthy then you are adding to the roar that is the world and while it’s a wonderful thing to have the nation rise up as a whole against bullshit, it sometimes has the unintended action of  making it that much harder for people who DO have brilliant and amazing things to say to be heard. People have a limited attention span and if they spend their lunch hour picking through posts that say nothing new or personal because they are written solely out of fear of missing out on the topic du jour are going to miss the chance to read the people out there who have something unique and intriguing and personal and brilliant to say. Those posts that make you say, “YES. FUCKING EXACTLY. THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY BUT I COULDNT FIND THE WORDS FOR IT.” They are the posts that make you say, “Oh. Oh, shit. I get it. I get it now and I didn’t before and now everything has changed.” The posts that are so beautifully written that you immediately link to them on the Facebook disagreement you were having with your great aunt Agnes and she reads it and says, “Hmm. Well I never thought about it that way. I guess I’ll have to think about it.”

Those brilliant posts exist. I hope I’ve written a few. Probably not nearly as many as I’d like but I’m limited in my areas of expertise. I get humor because that’s how I survive. I get family because I’ve been blessed to have a dysfunctionally functional group of people who challenge me and make me laugh. I get mental illness because I survive it. I fight it as a regular demon and I haven’t a choice but to become a savvy warrior because that’s how you live. We don’t always get to choose our causes. Sometimes our causes choose us.

There is another thing I write about on the regular and that is kindness. Because we can’t live without it. Because it keeps us afloat. Because it keeps us worthy of survival as a species. Because it helps me forgive people who demand that I use my voice for their words because if I don’t it means I’m unworthy or low or their enemy. Because it helps me remember that that kind of anger comes from pain or fear or desperation that no one should have to feel. And because that same kindness is what I depend on and hope for from them when they read this.

This is my house. You are welcome here. You are wanted. You are allowed to leave links of posts or articles you think this community would say “Oh, I needed that” to. You are welcome to talk and visit and make friends and to realize that each of us is flawed and human and (in the grand scheme of things) knows nothing. Because I’ve come to know that the only thing I really know is we could all do with a little more kindness. Both in giving and getting.

Be kind to one another. And more importantly, be kind to yourself.  You deserve it.

PS. This post scares me a little to post because I know a thousand of you will think “Shit.  She’s talking about me” but I can assure you that 127 different people have asked me to share their stuff within just the last 24 hours (not an exaggeration) so I’m really not paying attention to names, and also there is a tremendous difference between suggesting that I write about something and demanding I write about something.  Still,  I feel a bit bitchy, because in a way I realize I’m sort of saying, “Stop demanding that I join you in your brave and valiant crusade, you well-meaning and good people with absolutely wonderful causes which I wholeheartedly agree with you on” and that’s not what I want to say at all, but it’s the closest thing I can say other than this:  I can’t always sing your song with you.  I listen.  I share.  I think.  But if I’m always singing everyone else’s song then there’s no room for mine.  I have a song to sing.  A terrible one about why Jesus is a zombie and the time I found a severed boobie on my lawn.  A song about horrible things and about wonderful things and mostly silly things that make the day a bit brighter for those twisted enough to appreciate it, or those offended enough to be able to use it as a terrible example to others.  A song that sometimes is out of tune and seldom rhymes and is sung loudly in the dark and in whispers when I’m not quite myself.  A song that sometimes overlaps with yours as we find ourselves unexpectedly sharing a chorus we never knew we had in common.  A song that sometimes captures minds and hearts and changes the world in good and bad ways…but most importantly, a song that is uniquely mine.  One that’s given silence to reflect and write, and information to grow, and that changes as I change.  It’s the same song you sing.  But different.  And all of those songs are beautiful…even the discordant ones of our enemies that inspire us to work harder to prove them wrong in hopes that one day they’ll find themselves accidentally humming a strange tune they’ve picked up along the way…a tune of joy and kindness and love and equality and acceptance.  Or at least something by Prince.  That man is a bad-ass.

PPS.  It occurs to me that I talked about those posts and stories and essays and books that make us yell “YES!  THIS EXACTLY” and that those lovely things are the things that it would be nicest to hear over the roar of kleenex advertisements and selfies, so I’m going to share a few of the ones that hit me personally because maybe you need to see them too.  And maybe in the comments you can share your own. A book, a song, a post, a quote that makes you strong or anything that makes the world a better place…anything that you keep coming back to as a reminder that you’re not alone or as an anthem to keep you going when it’s hardest.  Share your song.  Because I want to hear it.  And maybe, one day, we’ll find ourselves singing along together and you will know it’s because I am with you wholeheartedly, and not just because it’s the easiest thing to sing.

Okay, here are a few posts that stick with me:

This one is fairly recent but I used it so often recently when in discussions with people who didn’t understand why what Rachel Dolezal did is not okay and why it has nothing to do with Caitlyn Jenner ~ From Awesomely Luvvie:  About Rachel Dolezal the Undercover Sista and Performing Blackness

Someone sent me this years ago and it stays with me every day.  I even stop people in the middle of my next book to tell them to read this first:  From Christine Miserandino: The Spoon Theory

Which of you sent me this originally?  I don’t know but when I read it I screamed “YES!  YES, THIS!”  Boggle the Owl on surviving depression.  Boggle the Owl on Anxiety.

Okay.  Your turn.  Share.  Give me something you think needs to be heard.  Something that breeds kindness and makes the world a better place.  Sing your song.  We’re listening.

22 Jun 20:27

June Art Roundup: Disney Valentines, Pony Centaurs, Cute Droids, & More!

by Jen
Kristen

KORRA! Pony centaurs! So much good art!

Time for this month's installment of my favorite geeky art finds!


Artist KelogsLoops (who is only 19, if you can believe it) has been doing a "Disney Valentines" series, and WOW:

AHHH- mazing. They practically glow!

See more of her work on DeviantArt - which is all stunning - and cross your fingers she'll open an online shop sometime soon.

[Correction: Aha! She *does* sell a few prints online, though sadly not these. Check out her store here.]

Meanwhile, under the sea:

Angler Fish Love, 8.5X11 print, $22

You know you love it. :D


From angler fish to a creepy cute slow loris:


Hide & Seek, 9X9 print, $23 

That's by Alice Dufeu, who makes amazing fine art animal prints.

Here's another of hers: less creepy, all cute:


First Breath, 13X9 print, $23

D'awwwww.


Speaking of cute, hold on to your socks, 'cuz Erin Hunting is about to knock them off:

C3PO & R2D2, 11X8 print, $6.50


Bert & Ernie, $6.50


Catwoman & Penguin, $6.50

There's SO much more in her Etsy shop, too. Go see!



A stunning Elizabeth from BioShock: Infinite:

Elizabeth, 13X9 print, $21

I love how Bona Kim gave it that soft, vintage oil painting feel. I already have an Elizabeth print in the steampunk room, but man, this makes me want to add another!


From Animus-Rhythm, who focuses on mostly anime fandoms:

"Legend of Korra" 11X17 poster, $11.99


Attack on Titan, 11X17 poster, $11.99


And Kaitlin Reid, aka Sunset Dragon, has this fierce Rainbow Dash inspired warrior:

 

Plus she turned some of the Ponies into centaurs!

Your choice of 11X14 print, (and there are more to choose from!) $15


More BioShock goodness, this time from AllCityEmporium:

Big Poppa, 12X18 print, $20

Really diggin' all these great colors:

Rocket & Groot 4  & Harley 3, 12X18, $20 each


And finally, Lettie Bug has a suuuper fun Carousel series of Disney Princesses:




Plus some dreamy art nouveau designs:

 All of her prints are just under $18 each, so go see the rest!


K, that does it for this month! Now, as always, comment below to enter to win your choice of art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board!

And to keep the board current, I'll also be picking someone to win the oldest piece still on there: this signed 5X7 Wonder Woman print by Erica Taguchi-Newton:

So be sure to let me know in your comment if you like this one, so I can enter you in the drawing!

I'll announce my two randomly selected winners in a few days, and don't worry, internationals: I'll gladly ship anywhere!


UPDATE: The give-away has ended, and my two winners are Buncha Stuffes, who wins the Wonder Woman print, and the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life"! Congrats you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
- See more at: http://www.epbot.com/#sthash.pfCJDUTV.dpuf
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
- See more at: http://www.epbot.com/#sthash.pfCJDUTV.dpuf
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
- See more at: http://www.epbot.com/#sthash.pfCJDUTV.dpuf