Thursday, December 10, 2009

Power of online social networking to keep community safe

Throwing sheep and retweeting gossip are examples of uses of social networking. Spreading awareness is another. A recent challenge by DARPA proved just that

A group of students at MIT demonstrated that utilizing social networking in even a short period of time they could win the challenge. They employed the idea of prize sharing to do it. Contributing a portion of the $40,000 to anyone with valid information. They spread word they were doing it through twitter, facebook, myspace and other social networking sites. Friends told others on their networks and within hours MIT had won.

If the DARPA balloons were instead a missing child and the prize- community safety, wouldn’t it be great? Does the prize have to be monetary to encourage action by others?
Amber alerts are already a useful example of how this method is working. Now with E-STOP (The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act ) laws passing in a number of states we can use social networking tools to prevent criminals from committing crimes. People are encouraged to report on registered sex offenders who have an online presence. (details in previous blog post)

Is there anyone on your facebook/twitter that seems too good to be true?

Maybe their posts frequently don’t seem truthful or exaggerate things that are ridiculous?

They have listed employment you can't connect them to?

Are they name dropping individuals you could verify these details with?
Ask around. Maybe there is an explanation.

Many questionable people are using the internet to build new lives more in line with their fantasies and less in line with who they really are, often fleeing probation restrictions and other legal obligations.

These impostors are doing this to invade your community. You could be part of what is enabling them to fit in, using their association with you to make others feel comfortable around them when they normally wouldn’t belong. It’s your good character, network of friends and public information that is making it possible.

Do friends who also have this person listed really know them, followed them based on “people you may know” feature or because they were contacted by this individual?

Maybe others have the same doubts you do but were apprehensive to say anything?

Does anyone really know this person dating back farther than a short period of time or on a limited basis?

Do they seem to latch onto the idea of utilizing your contacts or paying special attention to you that makes you uncomfortable?

Are they attributing a greater connection to you than is comfortable?

Even if you can’t put a specific reason to why this person’s interactions bother you, that you feel unease at all is telling. Follow your instincts.
Check up on what you know about them, google is very useful. Your own network of friends in chat rooms, blog communities and social networking is the most useful.

Here are just a few examples of people that would have been caught sooner had others around them asked a few more questions,0,6335281.story,0,3817347.story

How well do you really know the people you gave access to your friends, family and co-workers?
Would you feel comfortable leaving them in your home unobserved? With your children, your gun collection, your valuables?
They can see all your hobbies and private family moments, but you may only be seeing a fictitious view they want you to see. Generally, that is the view of a wealthy, successful, family oriented person.

Do you personally know anyone who has seen their home? Not an “online” friend, someone you know beyond the cover of a computer screen or phone.
If you answered “no” there may be a reason why.
If it’s “yes”, were expectations in line with what they actually saw; homes, wealth, cars, family?

People easily forget most online interactions enable you to know only what someone wants you to. That’s what is so appealing. Thanks to the internet the line between “stranger” and “friend “ is blurred.

Someone tells you about previous experiences like employment or hobbies because they want you to know it. How often do people really check these statements? Generally, not until after a problem alerts them. Sometimes, not even then because they fear being wrong. Everyone is waiting for someone else to come forward.

Some online interactions could have less than decent intentions. That these “friends” utilize you for job and personal references with the goal of burying their previous lives under their new identity.

You can protect yourself from these types of people by asking yourself how well you really know them.

Can you vouch for their history enough that you can confirm without hesitation they were never incarcerated? Would it matter to you if you were wrong? What if it were a violent crime?

Look through who they consider “good friends.” How far back do these references know them? Do you know anyone who went to school with them? Worked in a job with them? Dated someone in their family?

Most people are surrounded by an assortment of friends from all stages in their life; childhood, career, school, neighbors, family, religion, etc. If a large portion of their life isn’t represented there is a reason why. Without knowing these details you are relying on someone’s self report which might not be anywhere near who they really are.

Do you see this person only once a year at an convention or workshop? Do you know anyone who has daily, personal contact with them and can confirm they are still employed where they say?

Do they claim to be an expert in an area you suspect they aren’t?
In interactions with them do you find yourself thinking “how could they not know that?”
Could they be making assertions of being an expert to get closer to a particular person, field of work, weapons or property?

These questions are all particularly important if you are considering marrying or raising children with someone. Not just for online interactions.

If you can’t account for every milestone period in their life (birth, upbringing, extended education/military, career, residence, family, origin of finances) then you really can’t say you know them. This is more than fearing someone will uncover you were a dork in a high school, slept with the football team in college and got fired for oversleeping in your 20’s. People don’t abandon entire periods of their life for average, embarrassing indiscretions.

If a portion of their history is absent it’s because they don’t want you to know. Why?
Are they fleeing from something?
Lacking in certifications or education for a job?
Avoiding court ordered payments like child support?

It’s important to look at how people have treated those around them, dealt with various situations through their entire lives to get a picture of who they really are. Otherwise it is a censored version that makes them desirable.

Many pathological liars and con artists build a life of fantasy using their real names or variations of their real names. Part of the excitement may be that they could get identified by someone from their past at any time or they feel they are so powerful it can't happen.

If your boyfriend/girlfriend conveys that everyone before you was psycho, run like hell. There is either a serious flaw in how they perceive others, who they attract or both. Most people have had A bad breakup, ALL bad breakups is telling. Healthy people are capable of having long standing, healthy relationships in work, friends, family and love interests. Not all interactions will be this way, but the majority should.

Reasonable people understand that everyone has made mistakes; infidelity, financial problems, drug problems, and brushes with criminal misconduct. Responsible, safe individuals learn from these experiences. Manipulative people learn how to keep doing them undiscovered rather than accepting situations where they have to reveal them and accept responsibility.

The people in the heart of these stories had to build complex lies to cover untruthful statements, eventually being deceitful about even insignificant details to cover their story. The best place to hide is in plain view. By forming a whole network of people they can blend in with, these con artists are using you to hide behind. Prevent it.

If you have encountered someone you are concerned about I recommend;
Contact police
Check sex offender registries
Google their name
Look specifically for criminal cases or appeals by googling the following formats;
(with the quotes) “state v name” example “NY v Smith”
“state v. name”
“state vs name”
“state vs. name”
try both the state abbreviated and spelled out
try "name, APPELLANT" would look like " Smith, appellant" can often pick up appeals if not the actual case

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Online networking sites start purging sex offenders

I recently posted this link to my twitter and it garnered a lot of questions.
First, I would like to mention NY is not the first state to pass an "E-stop" law. The first I recall was Illinois, there will be others if there has not been already.

What is an E-stop law?

“We created e-STOP to help put an end to sexual predators using the Internet as a tool to prey on the innocent,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Facebook and MySpace are successfully using e-STOP to help make the Internet safer, and it’s time for all social networking sites to do their part to keep others from being senselessly victimized.”

E-STOP requires convicted sex offenders to register all their e-mail addresses, screen names and other Internet identifiers with the state."

This is a confusing law. Do I think it will keep sex offenders off the internet? Nope, not really. They broke they law when they chose to act in a predatory way and didn't care. Do I think it is a really useful tool? Yes.

Here's why.

My understanding from speaking casually with both attorneys and law enforcement is that this is a tool to prosecute more than prevent. Most importantly it will require these offenders to officially register their whereabouts online (email, websites, instant messengers, etc.) The registered email addresses could be monitored in some way. When they (offenders) create anonymous, unregistered accounts and get caught using those- it can lead to an E felony for the first violation.

How will they be caught? Worse case scenario in the event a new victim goes to law enforcement. More likely, people like you will turn them in.

In recent news there have been stories about felons casually using networking sites that lead to their capture
Similarly, I expect others to be caught.

With tools like google few are completely safe from their past. Before these tools if someone didn't bump into those familiar with their conviction, they were comfortable to live anonymously and re-offend. Jobs and universities have been using social networking for years to "screen" the lives of their applicants. All those drunk, risque pics are coming back to haunt a lot of co-eds entering the business world.

The moment these offenders begin participating in social networking they are making themselves available for public scrutiny. They can choose not to do so. Involvement in networking sites is a privilege not a right. A truly rehabilitated individual should have no problem with registering their email address. People choose to give up their rights when they break the law. Want to retain the right to vote, own a gun, and freely use social networking without an appeals process...behave.

How do I report someone in violation?
Call 9-1-1
your local/state police

these are some states that are prosecuting North Carolina Texas

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A quick update about Wired Magazine's December issue

Hello to all who saw me in Wired Magazine’s December cover story. Don’t know what I am talking about? Check it out here

I wanted to acknowledge that I am the same menacingpickle from the story. Don't let the change in professions confuse you. It's me. I was always a costume designer/clothing maker but my secret double life has now been outed, more like a bunch of jaunts into a bizarre profession. It wasn't really a secret...I just didn't advertise it because it was too hard to explain through the years. Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Aw, Nuts!

This public service announcement brought to you by a food that is high in protein and an all around good snack, possibly even a meal depending on how veracious your appetite. Weight Watchers recommends them as do many other food plans. And yes, if you are a vegetarian it is completely OK!

Tips on perusing nuts
  • Per my unofficial Twitter survey (on twitter I am @menacingpickle) it seems Salt & Pepper Nuts are the way to go.
  • I was told that Macadamias are a "party in your mouth" too. The user experience was submitted by someone who was admittedly new to nuts. Having just introduced them into her diet about two weeks ago, she may have that new-nut feeling.
  • As long as you go with Salt & Pepper nuts in nice packaging they should be flavorful.
  • The salt helps offset the texture of the nut nicely.
  • A good Salt & Pepper nut has a ripe flavor and is attractive to look at.
  • Look for mature packaging as a sign of a well cared for Nut.
  • Try and stay away from dancing cartoon characters in the presentation if what you want is sophistication.
  • If it is well packaged it is more than likely not bruised or damaged in some way.
  • You can find nicely packaged nuts at many high end establishments.
  • I would stay away from nuts at gas stations and convenience stores. You never know how long they may have been sitting around, they could have a strange flavor and possibly even an odor to them.
  • Also keep in mind that nuts can be an acquired taste. They can drastically change texture the more you work with them, so if you find you don't like them at first you can try them a number of ways.
  • Try handling your nuts to achieve different textures from course to smooth. The more you handle them the smoother the texture.
  • You can also try mixing your nuts. Alternate between exotic ones and more run of the mill varieties.
  • Try acquiring nuts from different locations for a more extensive variety. Ethnic establishments are a great way to experiment with new nuts of varying types.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I sound like a frog and other useful facts

Lately I have been plagued with questions about my voice. Possibly, I am hitting another stage of puberty in my 30's. More likely it is because I managed an upper and lower respiratory infection that seems to have rendered me Jessica Rabbitish. And so begins the reminder of why I hate health care.

Menacing Pickle now exists with two main purposes. One, to bring awesome, safe clothing to kids and parents. And two, to pay for my medical costs. The second, I am not currently achieving. I don't know that Trump could achieve it.

I am medicare-D eligible which means I can get my medications "paid for" through the government medicare program. I say "paid for" loosely because they don't pay for them. No, really. If you are taking a low cost antibiotic I think it is covered, but anything expensive and you can expect a big, fat rejection. Lupus medications are for the most part borrowed from treatments for other diseases because other than Dr. House there is no Lupus awareness. And because the medications are not dedicated to treating Lupus, Medicrap doesn't have to pay for them. It's in the fine print, trust me.

So I pay about $700 a month for the privilege of being a part of private insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Greater Hell) so that I don't pay out of pocket for these drugs. It enables me to be part of a standard tiered drug plan that I like to call; tier 1 pocket change, tier 2 a fine meal, tier 3 get the hell out, and tier 4 the price of human trafficing. Yeah, I have done the that means $700 is less than I would be paying out of pocket. So I do it.

Do they happily take my money and insure me? Don't be silly. Because I am eligible for Medicrap D I am being told they don't have to cover me. Because our fine government health care will pick it up, I am their problem. Even though they won't. So I can't get covered under Medicrap and I can't get covered under private insurance because Medicrap exists. Yay.

Even better, every time I fart at a medical professionals I get the privilege of paying between $20-$45 copay even though BCBS isn't paying a dime. Why? because as long as you have private insurance regardless of what they pay out you are legally responsible for the co-pay. Even if the co-pay is more than they paid the doctor, blood lab, nurse, or padded room rental I am going to need. And furthermore all involved who are collecting my money are not paying my doctor's, so don't think they are getting rich. They aren't. They get my co-pay and that's about it at this point. Only the health insurance is collecting the big bucks.

Where does this leave me? Aside from the tapeworm I am probably festering from eating so much boxed macaroni and cheese to get by, there's more. I like to make sure I have the ebola virus before I go to the doctor. I know, wouldn't it be easier to get the sniffles and have it checked out? No, it really isn't. So that I can save my co-pays which can equal hundreds of dollars a month when you have to see a bunch of specialists for management of a multi system disease I like to make REALLY sure I have a doctor worthy plague before I go see someone. I have now had the pleasure of hearing comments from them like "you waited 'til blood shot out your WHAT before you came in today?" and "you are aware the wheezing sound is oxygen unsuccessfully reaching your body?" I sometimes when I ask them if they could wave the measly $20 so I will feel encouraged to come to followup appointments for my various plagues, they do it. Because generally, medical professionals don't like to see people suffer more than they like to earn money. Even though no one has the right to ask that your services be given for free.

And enters patient assistance medication programs. Oh, you know them if you have ever seen television. After prescription ads talk about the side effects of "Happy Barf Pill" it quickly says "if you have trouble paying for your medications please contact Happybarfpill for help."
I called them. I figured if nothing else they could help name my tapeworm (he responds to Bill). Who is eligible for patient assistance? Only people who have no kind of insurance. So I tell them all about how none of the insurances want to cover me and they tell me to "cancel all my insurance plans so that I am eligible for patient assistance." In doing the math, I could probably take my $700+ monthly to a casino and come out ahead rather than pay for insurance. So I consider it. And I consult Bill who is now requesting ketchup on his Mac and Cheese. And then they tell me "if you are eligible for Medicare D you can't qualify for patient assistance." So who qualifies? I don't know. It's not me. It's not a lot of people I know. It's probably not you either if you suffer from a chronic disease because I could wallpaper my neighborhood in similar stories.

Additionally, I am kidding about the tapeworm but not the other horrors contained in this post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A community mourns for a child that brought us awareness

I joined twitter as a resource to meet other similar kinds of small business. It brought me a lot more than I had imagined. On Twitter I found a kinship for business, personal and health woes. The tweeple (people who use twitter) who stand out to me most are the ones that bring me laughter amidst that support. I eagerly anticipate their next 140 characters more than my morning coffee.

Heather Spohr AKA Mamaspohr always provided a levity that I would look forward to. She is a celebrity among women on twitter for her honest account of her life. She brought us into her world of pregnancy, raising a premature child, marriage and insurance. She brought her lovely daughter Maddie into all of our homes. For a woman I had never met it is amazing she worked into many of our conversations as if she were our Phoebe or Rachel.

Heather and her husband Mike brought us, her tweeple the trials and tribulations of her daughter Maddie’s 11 week premature birth. As a hopeful future parent I read her posts with anticipation and wondered “what if this were to happen to me?” She brought candid awareness to raising a premature child that few do. Through her constant humor I got to look through a peephole into her life. And I enjoyed every minute of it. She educated me on The March of Dimes, parenting, and bringing laughter into my everyday life. I took many mental notes I plan to resurrect when I become a parent one day.

Among thousands of others on twitter I looked on in horror as “our” child Maddie was brought to the hospital with breathing difficulties. Heather had become the friend that we longed for. That friend that will lend you a cup of whiskey and a shoulder to drench when all other girlfriends turn away. Her astute observations on life’s punches in the face constantly had me nodding my head in agreement and admiration “yes, I too suck at dieting, and love practical jokes too!”

How can the child of this cool mom we all love be sick again.

I have to admit, my spirits were lifted when I read her distinctive humor as she purveyed the grotesque offerings of the hospital cafeteria. I pondered her sanity as she looked over hospital sushi, but was relieved our Mamspohr was among us.

I breathed a sigh of relief and thought “she must be improving.” And twitter life moved on to chatter of Jill and Countess Luanne, Etsy sales and Easter baskets.

By midnight on April 7, 2009 word of The Spohr’s devastation had blown through twitter. Little Maddie had passed away. An outcome I never considered. Less than 24 hours since her passing it is still unimaginable to me how something so tragic could strike this family. Thousands on Twitter have chosen to dedicate their tweets and blogs to the awareness of Maddie Spohr and fundraising for March of Dimes. I too would like to point all my readers to her story and fundraising efforts. Please dedicate your blogs and tweets to raising awareness and funds in memory of this wonderful child and help make her the last child a parent has to lose.

Maddie’s March of Dimes fund raising link

MamaSpohr on Twitter

The Spohr's Site

An incredibly moving blog post for Maddie by Jessica of Its Jessicas Life

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Introducing Shadow Riders by Menacing Pickle

Our new line of vests is now available through the website and on etsy.

Our adorable model Leo helps lasso in the fun with these reversible sleeveless wonders.

Available in sizes NB-8

displays cotton shadowed cowboys on one side and cowboys on the range on the reverse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I found the letter Zzzzzzzz

I made some friend's children ispy bags to tide them over during a long plane ride.
Aren't familiar with what ispy bags are?
They are little pillows that contain rice, beads, or plastic pellets of some kind and approx 40 hidden items amongst the pellets. A small vinyl window revealing the items inside the bag makes it a little hand held scavenger hunt.

The pillows are triple stitched so that the contents don't break loose and ruin the fun.

Little T and his sister Stunning S found the bags before the trip, and apparently they are a hit.

Little T was captured just moments ago
That's the ispy bag tucked under his face.

I will be adding some of these to my etsy store and website in the near future. I can take custom orders as well if you have specific items in mind you would like in the bag.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menacing Pickle current featured seller at rozzissweetpeas

Rozzis Sweet Peas offers clothing with romantic whimsey. Her blog offers a bit of everything from fantastic photographs, fantastic giveaways and features numerous handmade items from Etsy. They offer a bit of something for everyone, I am thrilled she chose Menacing Pickle to be among her other featured stores.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I Spy book

After seeing these posts about personalized Ispy books I wanted to make my own.

materials used: Can be made for under $20 if you design frugally.
scrapbook album
scrapbook paper (12x12 same size as album pages)
digital camera
foamie stickers

I put this book together for my friend’s son Brian. He is 4.

I took pictures of interesting items/toys around the house and then changed their perspective by focusing in on details.

I wanted a fun way to have him work on his numbers and alphabet.

The fun thing about these books is you can read them as written and then when kids get bored look for other things like specific color items, specific shapes, things that are happy, things that are sad, items you use during certain seasons and so on.

And of course, you can always add pages to commemorate an event

  • It's easiest to come up with a story then find pictures to illustrate it.
  • Think of the words you want to use then find rhymes around them, a thesaurus and rhyming dictionary are great tools.
  • your child's name and all the words that rhyme are also great starting points.
  • When in need of another line use a color or sound and then go through the alphabet thinking of all the words that rhyme. (blue, boo, coo, goo, moo, new, too, woo, zoo...)
  • now is the time to use all those spare foamies and stickers you find laying around. You'll notice the numbers I used to number my pages aren't a matched set. Some were left over from a foamie car kit while others are stickers and markers.
  • You can add items to a picture to suit your needs like a hidden cow (pg 6) or missing fish (pgs 9, 14, 16-19, 23)

(please click photos to enlarge and see two pages side by side. Having blogging difficulties which are cutting off the preview of my pics)
(page one was a personal message and instructions, not featured here)

Page 2
Here are things that start with the letter B
How many burgers do you see?

Page 3
Cars go fast and cars go slow,
Some carry people and some can tow
Lots of them are in this book.
How many sparkling cars if you look?

Page 4

swings can move high and low.
I ha d 4 golf balls,
Where did they go?
I also thought I had 4 tees,
If you find them we can golf with ease.

Page 5

What am I?
Think hard and use your wit,
Rem ember where in your house I fit.

Page 6

I am your dining room chairs!
Do you spy something blue?
Many things which are tasty too?
And someone Who goes “MOOO!”

Page 7

What am I?
Maybe I am used to hear.
Or to laugh and yell and scream and cheer.
Could I be used to smell?

need to turn the page to tell

Page 8

I am your bear!
I have eyes that add to two,
Just like mom and dad and you!
In the woods I like to roam
What kind of place to do you call home?
Instead of hands I have paws,
Instead of nails I use claws.

Page 9

This too is from your house,
but do you know where?
Maybe it’s a bed, couch or chair.

Page 10

Do you see something that is green and grows?
How about something that ribbits and sits in a pose?

Page 11

Ready for more?
Do I go on a wall or on a door?
Maybe on a ceiling or on a floor?

Page 12

I am your playroom rug!
I am the letter B.
Without me there is no Brian, bed or bug.
Do you spy something green?
Something you could use to clean?

Page 13

How many sharks are swimming here?
Uh-oh! Some fish are missing I fear.
They are lost somewhere on the pages of this book
Find them and tell them to return to the brook!

Page 14

I spy with my little eye a snake in blue.
Can you see him too?
There’s a monk in brown.
And a giraffe way down.
There’s 11 in all,
Some are short and some are tall.

Page 15

(was the picture which was a piece of scrapbook paper unaltered)

Page 16

Can you find all these toys in the pile?
Some are backwards so it might take a while.

Page 17
(picture of toys in box)

Page 18

I’m pink and yellow and black
I can be used to hold a snack.
What am I?

Page 19

Your cookie jar!
Can you find where I hid a car?

Page 20

Who can fly way up high?
Who’s neck is longest?
Do you know why?
I spy an animal in mid roar
And one with a trunk.
What’s he use it for?

Page 21

Can you pick the island with 4 trees?
Watch out for the snake that likes to squeeze!

Page 22

How many sheep do you see?
And which animal has a count of 3?
One animal is in a herd (or group) of 4,
And one has 6 which is 2 more.

Page 23
You are almost done!
One of these pirates lost his sword
And now has none.
After matching colors can you tell which one?

Page 24

You made it to the end of Brian’s quest,
How many jewels match each chest?

Looking for ways to do this cheaply?
  • Every week in the Sunday paper Joann's, AC Moore, Michaels, and other crafting stores offer 40% off one item coupons. Buy the big items like the album and big pack of foamies with those coupons and look for sales on scrapbook papers and stickers.
  • Scrapbook paper can be found 4/$1.00 during a great sale. I built up my supplies over weeks while I wrote the book and hoarded coupons each week.
  • Some weeks I bought two Sunday papers and went to nearby stores twice.
  • Split your supplies and make books with friends. Most stickers come in sheets of two.

I would love to see how other people are inspired to make their own books. If you need help with rhymes or ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

deer insure rants

Deer Insure rants,

First it startdid wiff hi insure rants preemie-yums. Now I em gutting billz in the male lefffft and rite from docktores yooare no longer paying add-a-kwatlee. Yoo are also declawning to pay fur a numbur uf medikashuns that my docktores feel are mediclee mess-is-saree. Wen did insurants become moor nowledgebubble than docktores on how payshints shud be tweeted? The last straw wuz when I tried to fill medikashuns at the farmIsee I have yoozed for deckaids to be told insurants declined them. When I kalled insurants I wuz told I am rekwired to use male ordurrr farmisee now. Hooo iz benney- fitting from this? Sertanlee not eye, the loopuss pashunt that just wants two get butter. Deafin-nut-lee not the docktores hoo don’t seam two bee getting payd what they halve rytfulleee urned, or the farmisee hoo knows me pursesonlee and my medikashuns cents I can no longer patronize them. So insure rants, it must bee yoo that is benifitting from this. Shame on yoo, may-king the lives of peepole hoo are already suffering that much moor difficult and costlee.

With dismay,

Sarah as dicktated to Alfredo the Kat

Beecuz meowmie haz a headache and wont get up

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An open letter to my cellulite

Dear Cellulite,

You, yes you. You were not invited here, I wish you would leave. As the weather is warming up I tried to take you out for a long walk and lose you. Yet, you followed me the and found your way home. When you trail me you don’t even do so quietly. You draw attention to yourself by sticking out from under my coat, shirt, and panty lines screaming things about pasta and bread to all passersby. You are a freeloader. You cling on despite the many ways I have tried to make you go away. There was yoga, ellipticals, hand weights and Wii fit. Still, you clung on.

You, cellulite, are also being territorial and not making room for muscle. When I exercise I have to wear long pants and shirts because of you. It is hard to build muscle when I am about to pass out from overheating. If you were not there I could work out in skimpy, little items that would be more conducive to exercise and welcoming muscle on my body. I imagine this is your goal. I find your actions selfish and self serving.

I have tried to compromise. When I get hungry late at night I did not starve you. I instead ate chick peas or a nice piece of fruit. Gone are the days of an entire jar of peanut butter and awaking to find my whole kitchen empty. Yet, there you are. I have moved from my once comfy jeans and slinky sleeveless tops to an almost entirely knit wardrobe to accommodate your expansive needs and you insist on being the center of attention in those too. How much more can I give? You cellulite are just too needy. This is your eviction letter in writing. Please find a new home, your freeloading days are over here. I will forward to you a list of ex-coworkers and former classmates that I feel would be a good match for you to take up residence.

Your current landlord

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trying to get the hang of blogging and fatigue

So, obviously I am new to this blogging thing. I am trying to get the hang of it and be interesting all at the same time.
It's been a while since I posted though thanks to Lupus. I love the days where I forget I have it but hate the revenge my body gives me after.

I have a whole bunch of projects I want to post and when I sit down to edit the pictures I fall asleep. Not even a restful sleep, more of the hard, paralyzed from exhaustion kind.

I am also very frustrated with my health insurance. I had to switch to a different plan with the same company for 2009. My dr wanted to try a new medication that would help with my fatigue..I even met the criteria. Will they pay for it? Nope. After a long cry I started the appeals process. I have to admit, even after years of having Lupus I still think every new medication will cure me. Or at least I hope for a while. The idea that there is one out there that I can't get access to infuriates me. Especially knowing I pay nearly $700 per month for coverage.

As soon as I can get those pictures up I have new projects. I made an Ispy style book for my friend's son and would love to see how it inspires other crafters. I also have some more scavenger hunts to post for Easter and rainy day inspiration.
And of course more kid's outerwear!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Introducing Daedal Dragons by Menacing Pickle

The first of our brand new line Daedal Dragons is available on Etsy.
It is fully reversible, machine washable and dryable.

100% cotton it features a dragon pattern paned with Japanese Kanji lettering overlay.

Contrasting side is unpaned dragons.

This jacket can be made in any children's size NB-6 With a small price increase for sizes over 6.
As you wash this jacket the layering becomes more pronounced from the paning developing a more pronounced look.

Visit Daedal Dragons in our etsy store

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Great Alphabet Hunt

The great alphabet hunt

Needed: index cards and a pen

Write a letter of the alphabet on each card so you will have 26 cards, each with 1 letter.

With your child come up with an item in your house for each letter. If you can’t think of an item starting with that letter how about a color item the letter starts with. If you have multiple children use colored cards and assign each a color with different words or have them work as a team.

These were the items we came up with, just as an example. It required sounding out each letter with the 4 year old I played this with. He did come up with most of the words on his own by wandering around the house and sounding out each object he saw. After playing the game he marveled at some of the new words he learned (when he came to plates I pointed out they were also called dishes)

A apple
B Bananas
C cat
D Dishes
E entryway
F Flowers
G Green chair
H Hat (coat closet hook)
I Ice Cream
J Joker (from Batman, of course)
K We drew a picture of a kangaroo together and counted this as a freebee
L lamp
M Mat (welcome mat)
N Noodles
O Orange Juice
P Peanut butter
Q Quack (duck toy)
R Refrigerator
S Sponge
T telephone
U Underwear (underwear drawer, or trickier laundry room)
V videogames
W water
X (we found an item shaped like an x, train tracks)
Y yellow flowers on table
Z Zebra toy in toy box

I wrote each object as we came up with them on the back of the card. After we completed the alphabet he closed his eyes for the duration of a song playing (an egg timer could work too) while I went and distributed cards.

I put each card in easy eye access like sticking out from under the peanut butter jar. Laying on the dishes, etc.

This way kids don’t total the house while they run around looking for them. In the end it requires them to know the alphabet in order, recall the items they come up with, and know where they are situated in the house. An added bonus is the opportunity to increase their vocabulary by introducing new things that they see every day. If he couldn’t remember I gave hints like “it grows on a tree. You drink it every day for breakfast.” We also played “hot” and “cold” with this to prompt his memory.
In the end it was a blast running around the house to find all the cards, looking in the fridge and other fun places.

In a future post we use methods learned during this game to encourage kids to put away laundry and other age appropriate tasks around the house.

The sweetest of softies, Ai-Li by Gocks Frocks

Ai-Li by Gocks Frocks

I saw this doll while perusing Etsy. I have to say, I am in love with her.
Her name means lovely and she really is!
I am so tempted to order her for myself and put her on display.
She comes accompanied by a closet of accessories; hat, tutu, wrap, skirt, bag and doll.

What fun for every girl (even us grown up ones) to have.
I am picturing what goodies Ai-Li would carry in her little bag...maybe a some fresh picked flowers or fruit she found while out on a stroll.

Although Ai-Li's creation was inspired by wonderful stories of children adopted from China her look is broad enough to be suitable for a number of musings. Her Springtime colors reminded me of the magnificent cherry blossoms soon to emerge in our nation's capital.

She would make a splendid centerpiece with cherry blossoms popping from her bag. With the Cherry Blossom Festival arriving (March 28-April 12) what a wonderful tribute to the fantastic gift Tokyo made to Washington, DC with their beautiful trees.

I am sure she will inspire hours of imaginative play to whoever offers her a new home.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Help!! How do I fix this stain??

When I worked in costumes a stain was a nightmare. It could end production. Often, costumes were one-of-a-kind or not sized to be swapped to another performer so we had to be creative when it came to fixing stains. I wasn't allowed to inflict bodily harm on actors that ate and drank in their costumes, so I needed to know how to fix it without keeping a ton of chemicals on hand. Here are some of those tips that use common household items.

  • Kool Aid, food coloring and similar stains on carpet

Needed: light colored towels, steam iron.

saturate the towels with clean water. Fill the steam iron with water. Place wet towels over Kool Aid stain and then place hot iron on steam setting over towel on top of stain. The stain will pull through into the towel. Keep moving to fresh part of towel or new towel so you don’t re-transfer the Kool Aid dye. Huge or old stains could take many towels. But it does pull the stain out without needing bleach or other caustic chemicals on any color carpet. When you are done toss the towels in the washing machine with bleach.

  • Crayon or wax on carpet

Needed: iron, paper grocery bags.

Heat iron to hottest setting. place paper bag (without any picture or dye that could transfer) on top of stain. Put hot iron over stain and watch the wax pull through the paper. Move around to clean spots of paper to get the whole stain.

  • Gum stain

Needed: ice cubes, maybe plastic bag.

On most surfaces you can freeze off gum. If the item is small enough (like a shoe) put it in the freezer. When the gum freezes you can snap it off. If it’s a big item like furniture or floor put your ice in a plastic bag and apply until it freezes. Then chip off in pieces.

  • Gum in hair

needed: peanut butter.

The oil in the peanut butter will release the gum. If none is available use mayo or cooking oil. Then wash your hair to get rid of the residue. Don’t use this method on material items because it will leave an oil stain.

  • Grease stain

needed: baby powder (talcum powder) or corn starch.

pour liberal amounts of powder onto stain. It will absorb the oil. Continue to brush, shake or vacuum off excess powder and reapplying until stain is gone.
This will work on clothing, furniture and carpeting. Especially helpful for dry clean only items.

If you are in a restaurant and don’t have these items available use those packets of artificial sweetener.

  • Ink stain

needed; rubbing alcohol and clean cloth

Rubbing alcohol will dilute a stain until it is nearly if not completely gone. great for clothing. Test to make sure the item is colorfast. I usually stretch the item out over a cup or bowl so just the stained area is exposed. Then pour the alcohol right over the stain so it passes through. That works better than rubbing so you aren’t rubbing the stain in.

  • Red Wine stain

needed: salt.

When a glass of red wine gets knocked over you can’t help but panic. Grab the salt shaker! Pour it right on and let it absorb the stain. Then vacuum up the salt. Club soda will often do the trick after the salt removal.

  • Fresh Berry or Jam stain

needed: boiling water, bowl garment can be stretched over

Take the stained shirt and stretch it over the rim of a bowl. Then take boiling water (right from tea kettle is fine) and pour it over stain. It should disappear right before your eyes. Water has t be really hot for this to work, not luke warm tap water.

  • Blood stain

needed: blood donor’s saliva

Um, how much blood we talking here? Should you be calling 9-1-1? If it’s a small spot like you pricked your finger while sewing use your saliva. Yes, your saliva. It has to be your blood though. Components in your own saliva break down the blood so it will dissolve out of the garment. Dab with saliva and your clean finger until stain fades. This method has been used by quilters for generations. I can’t be held responsible for attraction of vampires to the garment.

  • Freshen up a musty/stinky item without a wash
There weren't fabric refreshers like Febreeze until recently. But the stinky actor/child/spouse has long existed. What have we used all those years? Vodka! The cheap stuff. The cheapest brand will do. This has been used forever in theater to remove the smell of smoke and body odor from costumes that can't be cleaned.

Put the vodka in a spray bottle. Saturate the item so it is damp but not soaking wet. Let it air dry. The smell should disappear when it is dry.

Save the expensive Vodka for yourself after a long day of cleaning up after your family. After enough repeat application the cause of the stains in your home will disappear, although temporarily. However, a headache often appears in it's place.

An introduction to menacing pickle

A menacing pickle is something silly. Something carefree. Something imaginative and creative. Something that never fails to make me giggle and reminds me that no matter where I am and no matter what I’m doing, there’s always room to step back and just have fun. Something that gives me a unique perspective. Something that reminds me that just even though the most direct way from point A to point B is a straight line, going that way is just not enough fun.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that among my favorite foods, the pickle almost always ranks near the top, along with olives, sushi, and artichoke dip.

Everyone has an inner menacing pickle. And setting mine free was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. You can see the results all around you!

And now, the (brief) story of me.

Once upon a time, there was a costume designer. She did lots of neat, fancy outfits for a variety of theater and film productions, but always secretly wondered why all the cool fabrics and silly patterns she encountered on a daily basis weren’t being used in a way that everyone could appreciate, especially children. But she continued to create her costumes in the kingdom, dreaming of something bigger, better, and a lot more fun.

There just so happened to be a terrible curse upon the children of the kingdom, one that required that all kids, no matter how silly and full of giggles, must wear jackets that were drab. Jackets that were plain. Jackets that were boring. Jackets that just had no personality. And the children were sad.

Then one day, the costume designer realized that she had all sorts of neat-o fabrics stored up, and no grown-up outfits left to create. She turned to one sad little girl and said “Young child, if you could have a jacket, any jacket at all, what kind of jacket would it be?”

And the little girl’s eyes lit up, shining brighter than the sun! Before she could answer, another child appeared, and another, and another, and even more! They all told the costume designer about their wants and dreams, who began to work immediately on a new line of clothing, one inspired by children, for children.

“I want kitties on my jacket!”
“Make mine with fire trucks!”
“Can I get one with burgers?”
“Ooh, I love pizza. Can I get one like that?”

As the costume designer excitedly finished each jacket, she passed her creation on to the child, who put on their new outerwear with giggles and delight, thus breaking the curse and allowing everyone in the kingdom to live happily ever after.

In addition to making clothing I love coming up with activities to entertain my friend's children. I haven't had any children of my own yet so I am the one who occupies my friend's kids when they need to put themselves in time out and get a break.