Friday, December 31, 2010

Adventures in Dress Recycling: New Year's Eve Edition!

I woke up around 6 AM this morning, fretting that I hadn't decided on an outfit for the last-minute plans I made for tonight. I couldn't fall back asleep without fixing the matter, which I turned over and over in my mind until I decided that there was only one way to go: Re-design one of my current dresses, take advantage of the wicked sale Seduzione Leggs was having for ladies who brought in their NYE outfits to get matching hosiery (since I had to go to work later anyway), and find something in my current jewelry to match.

So I pulled this dress out of the closet (you saw it before on my birthday)...

From the front

From the back

...and set to work! I cut the top layer of tulle from the bodice where the second layer of tulle slightly covered the bodice, as you can see me pointing out here:
I cut up the side seam and snipped a few strands connecting the bodice parts together across the shoulders and it was off!
TA DA!

Then I snipped the bows off the tulle...
...and cut the ribbon seams off as well. I was left with two ribbons and a piece of tulle.

The first ribbon I sewed onto the front of the bodice to create a focal point.
OOOOOO!

Then I scrunched up the tulle at the top where the armholes had been and tied it with another scrap.

I sewed that at the waist in the middle of the dress back and put the ribbon on top to cover that. And I was done!

AAAH!

I had a dress that felt far more vintage than its previous incarnation, and will be comfy for hanging out at ze bars listening & dancing to music for several hours tonight (that tulle on top was itchy!).

Close up of the back

At work, Lisa helped me pick out a pair of hose and decide on a pair of shoes. I also splurged a little and got myself a fabulous ring that seemed made just for this dress! Then I came home and decided to wear a wooden bracelet I've had for a while and some copper-y earrings I picked up the other day, but no necklace, cause I couldn't find anything that would work.


What do you think?

Related post:
Adventures in Dress Recycling

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Monday, December 27, 2010

RIP Han Solo Kitty

Hey everybody. I'm not feeling much like posting today...

My latest favorite stray, whom we'd taken to calling "Han Solo," and who always hung out with his buddy "Luke Skywalker" on our porch, died under mysterious circumstances and I'm pretty bummed. Luckily, Matt's home from work today so we've been comforting one another.

It's so sad! This little guy was so cute, kind and cuddly. He was less than a year old and way too young to die. I wish I'd been able to find a home for him. I feel like I failed the little guy, but I know that by providing him affection, shelter, food and water for the past several months, we made him very happy. He had such a happy golden light in his amber eyes... We're going to miss him.

Related posts:
Stray Cat Love
More Stray Cat Love
Cat House at the Friends of Parkville Animal Shelter

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!


I've really been in the Christmas spirit this year, thinking about how all different holidays & traditions of December all focus on light in the darkest part of the year. Christmas lights on the tree at home, scattered throughout every neighborhood, and outlining the Plaza were always my favorite part of the season as a girl.

That and the Christmas music we sang at church. I LOVED and still enjoy the sound of Christmas carols and of Handel's Messiah. The music is beautiful and I found the story of Mary's pregnancy and birthing process incredibly fascinating. Plus, the story has angels in it. Angels were right up there with fairies at being powerful and beautiful as I imagined them then. My favorite Christmas songs were the ones about the angels singing: "Angels We Have Heard On High," "Angels from the Realms of Glory," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and "The First Noel." What the Baptists called "secular music" doesn't compare in the Christmas song selection at all. It's too bad.

Anyway, I hope y'all enjoy the holiday with friends and family or, at least, enjoy having a few days off work.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Freelancing for Suite 101

So my New Year's Resolution's gonna be to get some freelance jobs going and in that spirit I've started writing for Suite 101. My first article "DREAM Act Voted Down: A Failure of Political Vision" was published yesterday. I'll probably link to a few articles now and then, but I don't want it to take over my blog. So if you'd like to keep track of what I'm doing for Suite 101 (my goal is to write an article a week) you can subscribe to my Suite 101 RSS feed.

Today, though, I am going to let it take over my blog, so here's an excerpt:

In Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, Helen Thorpe tells of four 18-year-old BFFs in Colorado, two of whom are illegal and two are not. Suddenly, after sharing a lifetime of memories, these women find themselves split apart by forces outside their control. Two will have a chance to further their education and follow their dreams, and two will not.

Published by Scribner in 2009, Just Like Us remains poignantly relevant today as President Obama’s DREAM Act, which would have provided legal status to illegal immigrants brought to America as children if they joined the military or enrolled in college, was shot down by the Senate. According to the December 18, 2010 Associate Press/MSNBC article, “Obama: DREAM act vote ‘incredibly disappointing,’” critics of the Act “called the measure a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration.”

To read the rest, clicky-click.

Related posts:
NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up & More
Guess Who's Getting Published?
National Novel Writing Month

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Monday, December 20, 2010

GeekPornGirl Finds the Holy Grail

Those of you who've been reading me for a while know I LOVE my menstrual cup. It makes my period stress-free in a way I didn't think was possible while being totally awesome for the environment and no harsh chemicals are introduced to my delicate cooch region.

So I was really happy to read GeekPornGirl's post "Are Menstrual Cups the Holy Grail," where she talks about why she started to use a cup, how empowering it's been for her, and how menstrual blood has the capacity to be an incredible scientific and medical resource. It is just the best post about menstrual cups I've ever read, and I think you should totally go read it too.

Here's a little nibble of it, to get you hooked:

I bought my cup at Whole Foods and put in on the shelf in the bathroom. It came with a little flowered bag and inexplicably, a “Diva” lapel pin. We joked that it was a “labial pin,” in case I liked the cup so much I was willing to get a labia piercing to flaunt it. I admit I felt a little excited, like I did as an adolescent girl with an unopened box of Kotex – each pad the size of a pound of butter – under the bathroom sink in preparation for My Big Day. I was waiting… waiting. (Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret.)
To read the rest, follow the link!

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Another Bloody Woman's Issue Post
Goods 4 Girls

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Volunteering at Literacy KC

You'll understand why I used this photo by the end of the post

I think I might've mentioned that I started volunteering for Literacy KC, but I didn't know into any detail. The organization is a local non-profit that trains tutors to teach phonics, reading and comprehension adults who are illiterate and functionally illiterate. Since I LOVE reading and it is such a huge part of my life, I wanted to help give this gift to someone else.

I started training in November and started tutoring my student, who I'll call Tony, this month. He is 29, like me, and wants to get his GED and HVAC certification, but is currently at an approximately 5th grade reading level. He is excited to learn, and I am enjoying getting to know him.

Due to scheduling conflicts and what not, we haven't gotten to spend much time together - not as much as I would have liked. We're supposed to spend 3 hours a week, broken into two hour-and-a-half sessions together, but have only had one full session after the first introductory one. But in that time he learned the definition of verbs and nouns and how to pick them out in a sentence, which was so exciting to see! It is amazing being able to help someone and have them to so completely happy and grateful to learn.

Everyone I've met at Literacy KC has been so positive and caring, it's been a real heart-warming experience. And today, they were giving away fabulous little starter plants (which I'm holding in the photo at the top of the post) as a "Thank you" to their tutor volunteers. Love it!! I've wanted a jade plant for a long time now :)

I haven't done any in-depth volunteering like this in years and it feels really good to be giving back again!

Related posts:
Cat House at the Friends of Parkville Animal Shelter
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

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Monday, December 13, 2010

A Buncha Interesting Images

I am feeling SO much better today... as you can tell from my actually putting a fair amount of effort into my self-portrait for today:

This is the first time I've worn these stockings
& I move one wrong way and they're suddenly full of runs! D'oh!

I copied it off of this image from the ever-fabulous Vintage Vixen...


Who, by the way, now also runs Kitten Feathers - a Tumblr full of retro- and kitty-related awesomeness.

Speaking of awesomeness, here's s'more fabulous images my Google Reader brought to me today...

French Shoes from c.1690–1700 via The Met Museum's Daily Object

An assortment of objects on the amazing Geninne's studio wall via Geninne's Art Blog

Here's a couple sci-fi related digital artworks from Coolvibe:
Runaway by Maxim Revin

Hpnophobia by Dmitry Popov

...and various other illustrations & photos....

Botanical illustration via BibliOdyssey

"Phenom" by RWDIllustration

Blue & purple via your daily octopus

Surreal girl via An Exquisite Paradox


What have you seen today that made you happy?

Related posts:
An Exquisite Paradox (NSFW)
Neat Stuff I Saw This Week
Retro Stockings from Vintage Vixen

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Two Types of Cold

Hey.. how are you? I'm sick with a cold and can't think of anything interesting to say...

So here's my current music video obsession, which also has a cold ;)


(Click here to see embedded video)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pregnancy Should Bring Life, Not Death

Those of you who have been reading me for a while should know that I'm kind of obsessed with everyone having a fair shake in life. It's what led me to be a feminist and and activist, and I just can't imagine any other way to be. I'm also very interested in/concerned by the medical treatment of women, especially pregnant women, as someone who's suffered through two unintended pregnancies that ended in horrific miscarriages, and as someone wants to reproduce with her partner sometime in the near future (assuming we'll ever be able to afford it).

So when I saw the RH Reality Check article "Human Rights-Based Approaches to Maternal Death," I knew I'd stumbled across today's blog topic. Here's the gist of the article:

Two to three women die each day in the US because of pregnancy-related causes. A further 34,000 more women experience “near misses” each year. Women in the US are more likely to die of complications resulting from pregnancy or childbirth than women in 49 other countries, including South Korea, Kuwait, and Bulgaria. In fact, according to recently released UN numbers, the maternal mortality rate nearly doubled between 1990 and 2008.

There are shocking inequities in maternal health in the US. Women of color, low-income women, Indigenous women, immigrant women and women with limited English proficiency all face additional risks. For example, black women are nearly four times as likely to die from pregnancy related causes as white women. In high risk pregnancies, black women are five and a half times more likely to die. The inequalities are also geographical; risk is not uniform across the 50 states. Women in DC are almost 30 times more likely to dies than women in Maine.

These inequities are a result of systemic barriers to maternal care in the US. One of the largest problems is the lack of access to care caused by discrimination, language barriers and financial troubles. Women have been turned away because they couldn’t speak English and subjected to racial stereotyping and disrespect which affected their treatment. There are also problems with shortages of medical providers, a lack of culturally appropriate care, inadequate implementation of protocols, and a severe lack of accountability.

...

Many women lack access to information about family planning and affordable contraceptive services. In reality, about half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned. This is significant because women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to develop complications, face worse outcomes, start prenatal care late and receive inadequate prenatal care.

Pre-natal care is incredibly important because women without it are three to four times more likely to die. However, Native American women are 3 ½ times more likely and African American and Latina women are 2 ½ times more likely to have no prenatal care as white women. 21 states do not offer “presumptive eligibility,” which allows pregnant women to get temporary access to Medicaid before their paperwork is completed.

There is a very real shortage of health professionals, including maternal health care providers. There are particular shortages among providers who accept Medicaid – this scarcity being even worse among specialists. 65 million people live in medically underserved areas – primarily in inner cities and rural areas. This lack of health care providers can have deadly consequences...

Just as important is receiving care after birth. Postpartum care in the US is inadequate, generally consisting of a single office visit with a physician around 6 weeks after birth. To help women, there also has to be better access to information about family planning and affordable contraceptive services. Women are 2 ½ times more likely to die if they become pregnant again within 6 months of giving birth.

When you look at all these barriers together, the US lack of an accountability system obviously contributes to the rise of maternal mortality. There is no nationwide requirement to separately report maternal deaths. So in other words, many maternal deaths are never identified as pregnancy related. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia have no review process at all.

Nearly half of all maternal deaths could be prevented with better access to good quality maternal health care. From a human rights perspective, this is completely unacceptable.
I don't know about you, but this makes me very upset (although it also makes me feel lucky that I didn't die or anything after my first miscarriage for which I received absolutely ZERO medical treatment because I couldn't afford it). This is just another clear symptom of how messed up and bigoted our political and healthcare systems are. We're supposedly the "greatest nation on Earth" and yet we can't collectively care enough about the women birthing new citizens into our nation to make sure they're cared for?

Total Bull Crap.

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Tick Tock Goes the Clock
Happy Birthday to Me
I LOVED Juno

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Monday, December 6, 2010

What a Weekend!

I had such an exciting weekend! Friday I got part-time work as a social media/marketing consultant for couture hosiery and leggings boutique Seduzione Leggs. They have exclusive stock from mainly European designers, and I am really excited to be working for such a fun, fashion-forward place!

To celebrate my employment, I bought a pair of gorgeous purple tights that I wore the next day (despite the frigid weather!) to dance with Mary from The Freebox! We connected online back when I created a video response to her 365 dance project, and Saturday I was one of 30 folks who came out to dance with her on the steps of the Liberty Memorial.

Here's Mary's video:

(Click here to see embedded video)

And the news footage of us:

(Click here to see embedded video)

Finally, here's my self-portrait that I took with the group of dancers:

Day 126 of my 365 Self-Portrait Project

It was such a fun way to warm up and start the day! I was excited that several dancers came back to Westport with my friends and I for the monthly group I'm now co-organizing, Create Your Own Reality. It was at Stone Spirit Lodge this time (we change locations monthly), which was a great space for playing and making new friends. We had so many new people join us from the Meetup group, it was really exciting! @Darcybl who created the group took the pictures of our fun:

Like the necklace? I got it there!

Sunday was also a lovely day. I worked on my novel, then went Christmas shopping with my little sister at Independence Center:

Day 127 of my 365 Self-Portrait Project

Then @darcybl and I went to the Celebration of Human Rights at All Souls Universal Unitarian Church that evening. Several speakers from United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City told us about the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the challenges the United Nations face in trying to mediate disputes and support universal rights.

Gbaike Ajayi, Jay Sjerven and Abdul Bakar
of the UN Association of Greater KC

A speaker from the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council discussed the significance of the Declaration as a vision for creating a peaceful world. The event ended with a candle-lighting, signifying the light of hope and peace.

It was an extra busy couple of days for me, but fully worth it :)

What did you do this weekend?

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Dancing Is My Remedy to Mugging
Create Your Own Reality @ Fringe Fest
Shake Your Booty For the Community

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Friday, December 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up & More

Well, folks, it's December which means that National Novel Writing Month is over. My goal was to write my first novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. I didn't reach it, but I'm still very proud of the work I did. I wrote over 26,500 words and have a really solid start on a story with characters that I am completely in love with.

Being "forced" to write so much really brought into focus just how lazy I've been about exercising my creative writing skills. So I intend to make my novel and short-story writing a regular part of my life. After 30 days of habit-forming creativity, it's been easy to keep going back to my story and working on it.

Having my little brother staying with us temporarily (he & his future roomies should be getting their new apartment soon) didn't get in the way of things like I thought in might, and, in fact, it was rather nice having him around. It's been stressful dealing with his cats on top of my cats and the stray cats I feed, but nothing too horrible happened. We were able to break up any fights within seconds of them starting and no one was really hurt too bad, although Pinky got a rakish scratch across his nose. The benefit of suddenly introducing 2 strange cats to my kitties was that George, the newly-adopted kitteh, is now solidly "one of us" in my cats' minds. They quickly got over any problems they had with her, because the imposing black tomcat my brother owns was much more threatening to them!

In other news, Matt has found work in another retail position. He was hired as seasonal help and within a matter of weeks had become a permanent staff member by being promoted to head of the gourmet food section. He also got a raise! So that's been good for him, and it's nice to both of us that my unemployment $ (which will be drying up here soon) isn't the only income we have. Especially since the evil Citibank overlords whom I owe much money to in the form of student loans have decided that I am not allowed any more grace time in paying them back. The $400 payment/month is really hard to make - it's almost as much as my rent! But now that Matt's paychecks have started rolling in, we're finding it easier and easier to make ends meet... not that I'm up-to-date on my gas and energy bills or anything, but one step at a time...

I started going back to the local community center gym today. I started going earlier this year, but had to quit when I couldn't afford the $20/month membership fee for a while. Since Matt's working now, I can afford it again, and I'm happy to be active again! I have been far more of a couch potato than I wanted to be the past few months.

I'm still working faithfully on my 365 Self-Portrait Project, which has been fun but stressful, especially on days when I'm in a bad mood and don't feel at ALL creative. But one of the things I've learned from my NaNoWriMo experience, and from this project as well, is that I don't have to *feel* creative to *be* creative. I've also realized that if I expect to find ways to be creative and if I'm open to the possibility of each moment, the entire process of creating becomes more spontaneous and joyful.

Related posts:
National Novel Writing Month
Guess Who's Getting Published?
365 Self-Portrait Project
Wordless Wednesday: 39 Self-Portraits

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World Aids Day

Image via Etnies


Today is World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about this world-wide problem. Today I'm going to give you a few stats about HIV/AIDS and let you know how you can help yourself and others.

First, just to let you know, HIV is a virus that attacks one's immune system. A person with HIV is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off diseases that would normally not be a problem for them. HIV can be passed through infected blood, semen or breast milk. The World AIDS Day website lists the three most common ways to pass HIV to someone else are:
  • Sex without a condom with someone living with HIV
  • Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment
  • From an HIV-positive mother (to her child) during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding (but with effective treatment and care the risk of transmission can be greatly reduced)
UNAIDS published these figures and the following map on our current world-wide AIDS population:
  • 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide
  • 31.3 million adults
  • 15.7 million women
  • 2.1 million children under 15

Darkest red sections indicate the most heavily infected regions of the world.

Clearly this is a problem that doesn't stop at national borders, and implicates every single person in the world. So what can we do?

Individually, we can get tested for STDs/HIV by doctors or at a special clinic. Being aware of your own state of health is the first step. The second step is to protect your health by using condoms for vaginal or anal sex. You can also go one step further by using condoms or dental dams to create a barrier during oral sex.

Collectively, we can support organizations such as amFAR that are dedicated to HIV/AIDS research and prevention. amFAR has been around for 25 years, and here is just a taste of the great work they've been doing (click here for the full list):
  • Funded early studies that were critical to the development of protease inhibitors, the powerful drugs that revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS and contributed to a drastic reduction in AIDS-related deaths.
  • Pioneered research that ultimately led to the use of antiretroviral drugs to block mother-to-infant HIV transmission. As a result, mother-to-child transmission has been all but eliminated in the industrialized world.
  • Supported studies of syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in several cities around the U.S. showing that these programs reduce HIV transmission by 50 percent or more among participating injection drug users, without increasing illegal drug use.
  • Funded research leading to the first three-dimensional images of HIV both before and while it makes initial contact with susceptible cells, information that could be used to design new vaccine and drug treatment candidates.
  • Established Asia’s first HIV/AIDS observational database to monitor disease course and treatment outcomes, generating information that will help improve treatment standards for patients across the continent.
  • Played a key role in securing passage of federal legislation, including: the Hope Act of 1988, the first comprehensive federal AIDS legislation; the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990, which provides emergency relief to hard-hit states and local communities and remains a primary source of federal funding for HIV/AIDS services and care; the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which protects people with HIV and AIDS; and the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, which strengthened NIH’s Office of AIDS Research.
  • Helped convince Congress to establish the first AIDS drug assistance program to help low-income Americans cover the high cost of HIV/AIDS medications.
This is a great organization doing important, necessary work in our world and our country. If you can, please take a moment to donate what you can and/or to join their advocacy network.

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World Homeless Day - How To Help
Blog Action Day: Water for All

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