If it seems like I've been relaxing and totally slacking, rest assured, I've been working my jiggly little butt off! Promise! I've recently completed bedroom #5, for one thing, and even kind of thought about painting it. (Picking colors is hard, man. I don't think you understand the First World anguish I feel.)

Okay, fine, I *might* have been slacking just a little bit. And by *slacking*, I mean I'm "running low on funds with all this aggressive remodeling". Nothing like your bank account to say, "Whoa there, slow the fuck down! Let's remember we have to EAT this month. You know what's free? Sitting in the dirt!"

Here's a much smaller-scale project that is also easy on the budget: Decorating a wood picture frame.
This is a basic wood frame (pine) from Ben Franklin. At $9.99, it's not a bad price (only $6 if you use one of their *many* 40% off coupons). It also has glass, instead of that hard plastic that usually comes with a cheaper frame (this is either good or bad depending on the age of your kids, who may or may not destroy the glass). I bought 4 of these frames. I also have 4 kids, what a coincidence!

Anyway, here's my first frame. I added some decorative details to the frame in the way of puffy foam stickers, I kid you not. They are Pink Paislee Artisan Elements stickers ($4.99, but I already owned them. The ones I used are a few years old now, and hard to find even online, so hit me up if you want some, I have multiples).

To distress this frame, I used a dry-brush technique, and then sprayed some Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist (to darken the unpainted areas and make them stick out more, and to bring attention to the dimensional details in the stickers). I also have lots of Glimmer Mist in every color of the rainbow (you can find them online for about $6.99 a bottle though, or just be friends with me and borrow from my massive collection. Like I'm *ever* going to use it all)
Not bad for a sticker! (I keep poking it. It's puffy; I can't help it. *poke* *poke*)
I also added some dimension to this next frame as well, in a way that was less "shabby chic", if that's not your style. I used these long "gem" stickers and then simply painted over them. I used a very modern charcoal grey color, to keep this from looking too traditional, though crisp white or cream would work for those aiming for a more traditional or timeless look.
Since they already came in a string, it was really easy to just stick them down and go. I used these because they were what I already owned, but a "pearl" shape would work MUCH better than this "gem" one. You could even use furniture tacks (and not even paint them if you want that metal detail), though you'd have to hammer in each one, and that sounds a little too much like work and sadness.
For the last two frames, I went with creating a pattern instead of adding dimension. This was my maiden voyage with a stencil, and as you can see, it's not exactly perfect, but I like it anyway. I think once there's something IN the frame, the imperfections will be less noticeable. Maybe. Ah, fuck it, whatever.
For the last frame, I decided that you can NEVER go wrong with stripes. Ever. So I used a light grey paint, and alternated with a metallic paint, because WHO HATES METALLICS? No one! And the ones that do, they're just WRONG and you should stop being friends with them, even if that means not being friends with yourself. Now go sit in the corner and think about WHAT YOU DID.
These horizontal stripes don't make my frame look FAT, do they?
Now that you've realized you really DO love metallic paint, and are dying to know what color that is, it's Champagne Gold, and I love it. It reminds me of white gold jewelry. It's gold without that brassiness. A subtle gold, if you will. It's like Gold and Silver had a beautiful mixed-race love child... which they then named after an alcoholic beverage (way to be a stereotype, you guys. Geez.)

Anyway, I hope I gave you some ideas on how many different possibilities there are with a basic wood frame.

Time for me to get back to my regularly-scheduled poverty.
Hello, blog; long time no see.

In case you were wondering what I've been up to, and I know you ALWAYS do, you thoughtful little blog you, I have been ridiculously busy. The past couple of weeks have involved me finally FINALLY FINALLY figuring out who my paternal grandparents are (in case you need a refresher on my dad, I talked about him in one of My Previous Dwellings posts... as you can see, I come from the SHAMEFUL branch of the family). I'm sure it seems like not that big of a deal, but I never knew my family on my dad's side, and barely knew my family on my mother's (we are divided by an ocean, and now also language and cultural barriers). The thing is, my father is a pathological liar. He just lies for funzies, and then sometimes sprinkles in one or two true things. Also, I barely knew the guy (thank god). But talking to him was like trying to solve one of those riddles where 5 people always lie, and 1 tells the truth, and now here are 6 statements they all made, figure out the true one! So, I didn't even know who my grandparents were, as I never once found anything to confirm the names my father gave me.

Because, as it would turn out, those names were my grandparents MIDDLE NAMES. Seasoned genealogists would know to look for these as middle names, but I did not. Going by a middle name is very much an American thing, and culturally foreign to me, so it never ONCE occurred to me that "Glenn" was a middle name. I may have spent most of my life in this country, but it's the little things like not knowing that people go by their middle names a lot in the "olden days" is one of those things that reminds me exactly how foreign I still am. (Don't even get me started on American idioms... those just all sound really fucking stupid to me and make no sense, and the grammar is atrocious to boot. Let those old-timey sayings just rest in peace, please).

So, obviously, when one doesn't even know their own grandparents name, figuring out any of your other family members becomes pretty much damn near impossible.

I have a genealogically savvy friend who ended up doing a lot of research for me (I can't even begin to thank her for her help). She actually found very distant cousins of mine on facebook and got information from them which although it contained a few errors, was enough for us to make a good guess as to who my grandfather might have been. We were having a really hard time finding concrete proof to link him to my father, and therefore to me, but she did find out where he had been buried and suggested calling the cemetery (sometimes they have "next of kin" information available).

So I called them, and they gave me as much information as they legally could (and maybe even a little bit more *wink*), and told me where he had his funeral services. The next of kin didn't match my father, so I called the funeral service and asked about getting a copy of his obituary. From 1975. I was THAT desperate. (And I already tried to get it online, but the local newspaper in that town only allowed online access back into the 90s... to go further back, I'd have to go to one of the county libraries, which sucks as this was a different state from me). Anyway, it turns out the employee I spoke to was sympathetic, as his mother-in-law happened to be into genealogy, and she helped him pull the archive from the library, and then the next day, he scanned it in and emailed it to me. (Best funeral service employee ever!)

And in the obituary, my father was listed as one of his surviving sons (along with a surviving daughter). Oh, also, I apparently have an aunt and uncles (no idea if they're alive or have passed on, I haven't quite researched them yet, but this is far more than I had ever known in my life). My grandmother was also listed in the obituary, though she died before him. They both passed away before I was born, so I would never have known them regardless, but... it's hard to describe. But just KNOWING who these people were... I don't know, it just matters to me. To be connected. To know where I come from. 

And from that, my friend was able to trace my family back all the way to the Revolutionary War, where my great great great great great great (maybe another great) grandfather, from Wales, fought on the side of the Americans and helped found the country. Holy shit, it's kind of cool. I am REALLY SUPER AMERICAN it would seem (I don't think you get more American than that, unless you're Native). Except for that whole part where I'm also an immigrant from South Korea who can't run for president. I am such a contradictory mixture of parts. Simultaneously "off-the-boat", and also "have-been-here-since-before-America-was-a-country".

I also know which distant family members fought for the Union, which ones had EPIC BEARDS (that's right, I've got pics, bitches!).... and which distant family members were church-founding Southern Baptist slave-owning pastors who fucked their own cousins and died of dysentery fighting for the confederates (the Arkansas branch of my great-grandmother's family is more like a cul-de-sac than a branch... the same last names and relatives marrying each other is just gross. I got excited every time I saw a NEW last name on the tree, because it meant someone married "outside of the family". Good thing I'm not directly descended from that branch. What the fuck is wrong with people in Arkansas?! *shudder*). Also, anytime I read that any of them died during the civil war, I smirked. I admit. (I am directly descended from fiercely-bearded blue-eyed people. I recessively carried the gene, as did my dark-eyed father, and the blue eyes showed up again in MY children. Genes are weird.)

After figuring out all this information, I now have nearly 1100 WikiTree contributions under my belt. In a week. Yeah, I might have done a whole lot of uploading. I went from not even knowing who my grandparents were, to having 250+ years of family history to wade through. In a week.

Also, I am thinking about joining the Daughters of the American Revolution, and then laugh about being an immigrant who joined the DAR.

I'm pretty sure I need to throw this in the face of the next person who makes a statement about immigrants not being "real" Americans, by the way. 
Now, time to break it down...

The MOMENT OF TRUTH: how much did this basement room cost me? (And by "me", I really mean "my reluctant husband")

Total Cost of Project:

Window Installation- $1597.66
Window well and drain-  $2529.81
Permits- $130.84
Flooring- $284.40
Drywall- $352
Masonry sealant- $120
Fireplace- $129
Insulation- $80
Electrical- $40
All that other shit like lumber, window sill, drywall mud, tape, drywall corner beads, paint, rollers, screws, more screws, fuck-we-bought-the-wrong-screws-so-now-we-need-different-screws, etc- $686 (nope, not itemizing it all out, it's bad enough I had to pore through receipts and itemize for the IRS, you guys just get a total)

Total: $5949.71

Now for the fun part, where, after itemizing the shit out of my deductions this year, I received a tax credit for my "energy efficient upgrades" (insulation and heat in the basement), to the tune of $29 (hey, that's better than nothing! That's like, two-and-a-half medium pizzas), and a tax deduction of $1,284.46 (that's literally a thousand pizzas, dude).

That's right, I got a tax return this year. Somehow. (Don't ask me how, I don't understand the tax code. Also, CPAs are worth every damn cent they charge)

If I had taken the standard deduction, our tax return would have been painfully smaller, but the basement renovation (along with mortgage interest deduction which we didn't take last year, since we had only paid one month of it before the end of the year... along with other deductions I won't get into because blah blah blah boring) pushed us over the standard deduction amount enough to give us a much larger return than we otherwise would have received. If we hadn't finished the basement, we would have received $1201 less dollars. Oh, sorry, forgot that energy efficient credit! I mean, $1230. 

So, even though I realize I'm making every CPA in the country groan, I'm going to go ahead and treat that like we just got a glorious mail-in rebate on our basement, and that the true cost of our renovation is actually $4719.71, because ultimately, that project paid us out, literally, $1230 that we otherwise would not have received, for reasons I don't really understand, so please don't ask me for tax advice. I am not a professional, nor do I play one on TV.

Total Time to Complete Project: 13 months. A very long, stressful, impecunious 13 months. The kind of 13 months where you find yourself arguing violently with your husband over stupid ass shit like vinyl flooring options. Like, where you're so seriously pissed off over THIRTY DOLLARS for paint that you're ready to just scrap the whole project. Where you regret ever starting this thing in the first place.The kind of 13 months that ages you. FEELING 13 MONTHS CLOSER TO DEATH.

Don't do it, people. Our basement was SMALL. Not even 400 square feet. If it were a full-sized basement, my husband and I would absolutely hate each other by the end of it and be divorced. This project was bigger than the both of us, and even with my woodworking licensed electrician father-in-law at my beck-and-call, it cost us so much more than just money. It took a toll on my relationship with my husband. No one should ever get balls-kicking angry over a gallon of paint and blaming each other over whose fault it is (because yes, paint has a "fault" and blame MUST BE PLACED).

Also, I'm pretty sure that damn basement window and well are the next 10 years of my Christmas, birthday, and anniversary presents. And if I ever ask for frivolous spending money, even if it's for my once-yearly-seasonal-latte-splurge, guess what gets thrown in my face: the window. Do you REALLY want something like a necessary (but expensive) safety feature thrown in your face for a decade? I can't even buy new socks without feeling like some entitled housewife bon-bon eating bitch. I am constantly reminded that the window blew over budget. Forever. In fact, when my husband is dead, his ghost will just be chillin' down there, muttering about how expensive that damn window was.

I 1000% advise against ever DIY-ing a major renovation project, or even a seemingly minor one like this basement bedroom. Don't do it. Not unless stabbing your significant other in the face with a screwdriver is what gets you off. Hooray for the tax deduction, but fuck no. I am not riding this merry-go-around twice.

I will never take on a large project like this one ever again. I'm sure there are some people who find it fulfilling, but I am not one of them (I really thought I *would* be), and I would rather NOT hate my husband at the end of day over something as fucking stupid as whether or not we should put in subflooring in the mudroom (yes, that was a real argument, that lasted a WEEK. A week of us being pissed off at each other. Over OSB. $19 worth of OSB. Let that marinate for a while).

Anyway, I'm really glad my taxes are done, filed, and I can finally put all the receipts in a box until the IRS decides to do something douchey like audit me, and then I can be all, "In yo' FACE, bitches! I gotz receipts for everything evah! Check out my awesome basement and SUCK IT!"

But still... don't do it. Just say no to major DIY home renovations. Friends don't let friends DIY large projects.
...I kind of didn't post last week. I admit, I was being a whiny woman-child over my birthday being cock-blocked by Dick Sherman and his Bros (otherwise known as the Seahawks, to all you foozeball fans). But, I ate an army of cake pops, can't actually fit more milk in the fridge due to the multiple growlers of craft beers courtesy of my awesome friends (sorry, children, you're just going to have to understand), and I discovered I have more power tools than I even realize (I have a circular saw thingy of sorts, and I should probably quit operating it while drunk. Pretty sure that's in the instructions I didn't read).
The I-can't-believe-people-trust-me-with-power-tools Selfie. That's a thing, right?
Oh god, I'm older than this beer company.
So, I started a new, overly ambitious project, like I do. I've decided that my basement entry way/mudroom/back door area is now my Craft Room. Well, more like Craft Hallway. In order to understand the space I'm dealing with, you're just going to have to SEE IT.

*Note: I have shittily photoshopped the builder's original floor plan and updated it to not only remove errors, but to also update the things we've added.

As you can see, it's an awkward area to turn into a "craft room". I will be working around a stairwell, three doors, and a window. 
I rearranged some furniture in the living room (more on that in a future post), and decided to alter the old TV armoire into craft storage. It was a total pain in the ass to move downstairs into the basement landing area, and I dropped that fucker on my big toe, then immediately dropped it on my OTHER big toe. It was pretty gruesome, and I considered taking a picture, but didn't, so YOU'RE WELCOME.
In case you wondered how small I am, I could fit like 3 of me in the main compartment, and a couple spares in the lower cabinets.
I simply removed the old backing, and then trimmed down the peg board with the new saw I found randomly in the garage, and then screwed it in place. Super easy modification. Also, if you only own a handsaw, peg board cuts really easily, so you can hack away at it the ol' fashioned way.
I then decided to hang peg board all along the upper wall of the hallway. This required that I use some 1x2 pieces of wood to build a frame behind it, since you need a gap between the pegboard and the wall in order to ACTUALLY use it.
It took a little bit less than a 4x8 sheet (and the sheets were cut into two 4x4 pieces by Home Depot so we could actually fit it in the van), and as you can see, my edges are a bit sloppy, and I intentionally left a slight gap between the two boards.
I decided to use some leftover wood trim/molding from a previous project, as a divider between the two pieces of peg board, and help gussy it up a bit. This had NOTHING to do with hiding my imperfect edges. *cough*
If you're smarter than me, and want to paint the pegboard an obnoxious color, you'll do that BEFORE hanging it up. D'oh.
Also, no duh, but paint the walls FIRST before moving all your furniture and craft supplies into a room. I REALLY made this more difficult on myself. I had not intended to paint the walls, but then realized that the drywall had huge sections where it had been patched up from installing heat in the basement (the entire lower level had no heating, whatsoever, thanks Idiot House Builder), so I pretty much HAD to paint. There was a lot of furniture shuffling involved. Totally not a pain in the ass AT ALL.
Behold my ruffled derriere
I went with a light gray color, because this part of the basement actually does get a nice amount of natural light due to the window. The color is Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore. 
It's very neutral, and probably the "safest" color I've chosen in the entire house, but then again, I have an entire hallway covered in turquoise peg board, so yeah... 
The turquoise paint is leftover from the kitchen and great room, and I painted that piece of trim white (I had Home Depot match paint to the white baseboard and trim in the house, so it's the same shade as all the other molding).

By the way, when I said I have a store's worth of scrapbook supplies, I mean it quite literally. Local peeps, hit me up if you need anything. I'm always here to enable your expensive crafting addiction; I'm like your 12x12 paper dealer. (I can see it now... me standing on the corner, next to my tulips, wearing an apron with various edging scissors and gluesticks in my pockets, peddling my stash, all, "I will hook a sister up, yo! Bitch, you KNOW my shit is acid-free archival quality! Double-sided!")

I have a LOT more to do, and I also have plans for that awkward "nook" in the basement, that 4x6' area that is only about 5 feet 4 inches tall because it's right beneath the stair landing. Sadly, I have no issue standing straight up in that area, and considered using it for an office area, except that there are no electrical outlets there for a computer.

I may have purchased a ridiculous shade of hot pink paint for that nook (my army of little girls clearly won that battle. I assure you it will look as terrible as you are imagining, and I am already looking forward to repainting).

Back to OCD color-sorting all of my paint. Because I'm an adult. And I do adult things. Like kiddie crafts that my kindergartener can also do, and she's totally jealous of my glitter collection, but it's all mine and I'M NOT SHARING GO PLAY WITH YOUR OWN TOYS DAMN IT

I'd like to say I'm close to completion, but bahahahahahahahahahahaha! *gasp for air* Ha! And one more ha.
With the basement room nearly completed (I have lots of piddly little finish work to do), the next (dramatically less expensive) goal is to wall off the formal dining room (that I use as a playroom) and create that 5th bedroom/ future office. It won't be a "legal" bedroom because I am not sure if I want to waste square footage by putting a closet in (and King County requires that all conforming bedrooms have a closet, for some reason). I have a massive antique armoire than can MORE than store my son's clothing. If I ever am in a dire enough situation where I have to sell the house, maybe. Though a 4 bed + bonus room/den/office would have a very large buyer pool anyway, and I doubt that 5th bedroom would make THAT much of a difference in resale over a 4 bed +den.

I haven't been posting much, but that's because there is a lot going on behind the scenes, such as paint color choices, furniture rearranging, me being pissed off at the Super Bowl and that the Seahawks are going to be in it OBVIOUSLY JUST TO RUIN MY BIRTHDAY, and then creating the budget for the project.

Here's the floorplan of my house (this is not "exact", as this is from the printout I got from the builder's douchebag agent when we were comparing lots, but it's close *enough*):
We will be putting double doors on that room, the French door kind with all the glass panes. I already have the doors (solid wood... they will be the nicest doors in the entire house), and unfortunately, that sucks for my son who will have less privacy (I will probably make some Roman shades). But, I offered him the basement room first, and he wasn't havin' it. If he complains, it's his own damn fault!

The reason I went with French doors is because one day, the kids will all be gone, and then it will not be used as a bedroom anymore. It'll probably be the Game Room of Ultimate Dorkery. Also, if it turns out we ever do sell, a lot of the homes in the area have French doors for "offices" on the main floor, so this would be consistent with my particular area's homes, and expected. I would hate to be that person who spends a bunch on remodeling only to find out that I didn't add any REAL value to the house because it's so specific to ME that any buyer would probably want to rip it out and redo it. Granted, I also don't want that boring beige house that has zero personality, so I'm trying to find that in-between. So far, I really like just painting my walls bright colors. That's super easy to "undo" if necessary, and has been the cheapest way for me to infuse some color into the house (I probably don't REALLY want a turquoise couch, as much as I think I do, but I can deal with some turquoise walls. $33 for the paint, a few more bucks for rollers and a pan, and I'm good to go).

This is going to be a relatively cheap project, in that we simply have to frame and drywall, and move one light switch over about a foot. Because this is not below grade, we can buy just standard sheetrock instead of the expensive mold and mildew resistant kind we used in the basement, and we don't need to have treated cedar 2x4s, we can just use the regular kind... and most importantly, we only have ONE wall to frame, which is only about 10 feet wide. And the doors were already purchased, for a mere $50 (thanks to my local online selling group on facebook).

The only thing is, since this is going to be right there, by our living room, right by the freaking front door, I really don't want this project to take a long time to be complete, since I have young kids. We really CAN'T live in a construction zone. (With the basement, it was really easy to just close the door and gate things off, and we didn't even have to look at the mess either, since it was on an entirely different floor).

So, I am actually considering hiring this out and having a team of professionals just pound through it really fast just to minimize the amount of time my kids will have to be banned from the front end of the house. Still crunching numbers on that of course...
I am usually the type to create a bulleted, overly-ambitious list of resolutions on January 1st, but this year, I've just stared at my computer screen blankly, not really sure what to write at all. It occurred to me that everything I had wanted to accomplish for 2013, I actually managed to accomplish, except for one thing. The SAME one thing that has been on my to-do list EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR: gain 10 lbs.

This year, it will not be on the list.

On my 30th birthday last year, I decided that it wasn't enough to just be thin, that skinny does not and has never meant that a person is automatically healthy. I have no idea why people assume that. In fact, my dietary choices were rather appalling (okay, fine, they kind of still are. I just really like beer, wine, and coffee, and I consider almond roca to be a perfectly valid breakfast option. I'm working on it). The fact is, there is no way to be healthy when you're completely sedentary and consume more sugar and carbs than a bulimic sorority girl who was just dumped by her boyfriend. 

But, I decided to make a change for the better. I am less than 3 weeks away from making it to ONE YEAR of prioritizing fitness and health. And for once, I didn't make it about my physical appearance, or my weight. I did in the beginning, but now that I'm here in the final stretch, I realize my priorities had shifted somewhere along the way.

At 31, I will be healthier, stronger, and faster than I have ever been in my life. I will admit that there is virtually no visible OUTWARD change in the way I look (well, unless you're so privileged as to see me neeekkkkkkiiiiiiid! Whoooooo!) But really, this is no longer about vanity. The difference in appearance between me working out 5 days per week and me sitting on my ass watching entire seasons of Korean dramas on Hulu while funneling cheap wine down my throat... is negligible, as depressing as that might sound. If it WERE merely vanity, there is no way I would have carried on for an entire year of working out. Oddly enough, I am not bothered by that. I am learning to make peace with my body. I've had my ups and downs, but I no longer want to change the way I look. I'm not even sure how or when that happened. I am no longer obsessing over the number on a scale or thinking I'll magically be "hot" if I could just gain 10 lbs.

A few weeks ago, I read some very glowing reviews on a company that specializes in "petite lingerie" for us small-busted, small-framed, tiny people. I was excited. Ill-fitting bras are par for the course when you are outside of the "normal" spectrum of sizes (whether you are small like me, or on the opposite end and your boobs land somewhere in the middle of the alphabet... good luck finding ANYTHING in your size, let alone something cute or sexy). 

I could fit my butt cheeks in those.
I paid the ridiculous high price and bought what is now the most expensive bra I own... that also doesn't fit. I actually cried. I sobbed, in fact. It wasn't a pretty moment. For some reason, it just really caught me off guard, and I became unhinged by this stupid bra that I couldn't fill out. I curled up in a ball, pulled a blanket over my head, and cried. It felt like every bully in junior high and high school mocking me again. I just could not believe that I was actually TOO SMALL for a company that specifically caters to people who are small! And in my huge facebook whine-fest about it, along with jokes about just buying new boobs or getting inserts put in my bra... I realized, "But I don't WANT bigger boobs. My boobs are fine. I don't want a bra stuffed full of padding. I just want something that actually fits my small boobs, damn it!" In that depressing moment, I realized something very important about myself: I had accepted what I have always viewed as not just my biggest flaw, but also a "deformity". I realized that I was actually okay with my very small, nonexistent breasts. I was just upset that the rest of the world did not see fit to manufacture a pretty little bra in my size.
AA boobs are like getting an A+, right?
It may not sound like that big of a deal, but at age 23, I was literally a huge deposit down and one week away from my surgery for a breast augmentation. The exact opposite of self-acceptance. The best thing that ever happened was me getting screwed out of having it done. (Seriously, can you imagine how fucking dumb I'd look with 500ccs of silicone-based self-loathing shoved into my chest? Because people totally take 98 lb Asian girls with huge gravity-defying tits seriously!). And, I also had (I guess I still have) quite the collection of extreme padded push-up bras, stuffed full of lies. I used every trick in the book to create the visual illusion that I was something I wasn't. I was going to surgically alter myself for it. So, getting to the point where I realized that I don't WANT huge ta-tas was a major milestone for me.
With all the money you'll make in stripping or porn, they'll practically pay for themselves!
I don't know how or when that changed. I realize I haven't even touched any of those ridiculous padded bras in so long that they are literally DUSTY. Yes, dusty. There are bats living in there and new species of spiders making their home in the squishy concaves of my push-up bras. (This may also be due to the fact that I have become REALLY lazy about how I dress at home, and bras are pretty much just for "date night" or "hosting guests who may or may not appreciate my awesome Mom-Nipples waving hi to them)

Sometime between 23 and 30, I started moving away from that hatred of my thin frame and flat, boyish figure. I have learned to accept and even occasionally celebrate the negative space of my chest, and appreciate what my own husband always has: that I have my own understated sex appeal. I am not that "obvious" brand of sexy (and honestly, I don't want to be; all that attention sounds exhausting); I'm the kind that sneaks up on you and catches you by surprise. I know that physically, I am not everyone's cup of tea (more power to you if you love a woman with some kickin' curves!), but I am not bothered by it. At this age, I would MUCH rather be an "acquired taste". In fact, I smile about it.

This is how I look. And it's how I'm supposed to look. I will not fight my own body anymore, because it is worth so much more than the measurements of its parts, and was never meant to be merely decorative anyway. I am a well-oiled machine... that runs on beer and almond roca, but hey, I'm working on that. Baby steps, man.
You can't even handle all the sexiness going on in this photo right now.
And at the end of the day, I have never felt better about myself than after a workout or a good run. There is no drug like that (and trust me, I would know *cough*). There is no high like that. There is no anti-depressant that has ever made me feel like that. There is no therapy that can compete with my treadmill. A year of working out has changed the way I view myself and my body. It has reminded me that first and foremost, my body is functional. Incredibly functional. I'm sure I'll still have the occasional day where I am envious of my fuller-figured sisters, just like I'm occasionally envious of women who are taller than me, blonder than me, more blue-eyed than me, or can afford a twice-weekly housecleaner (fucking bitches with their housecleaners *mumble grumble*), which is just more of the same shit too, I realize, but those days are very few and far between lately.

My 31st birthday is rapidly approaching. There is a confidence and self-assurance that comes with age, and I have never been happier to no longer be a teenager, college student, or twenty-something. God I was whiny, bitchy, insecure, and mopey. If I had a time machine, I'd punch 23-year-old me in the face each and every time I stared in the mirror and sighed in that annoying way that I sigh (my husband knows what I'm talking about. It really is the most annoying of sighs).

I look forward to the rest of 2014. My only resolution? Keep being awesome. I place no conditions on it. For the first time in my life, I can't think of a single thing I would want to change.

...Well, I do kind of need a haircut though. 
Surprise! More sewing!

Remember the Ikea Hack banquette I made in the dining room? Well, the one-inch cheap craft foam I used is just not cutting it, but I don't have it in the budget yet to upgrade to a thicker (at least 2 inch) foam for the seats, so in the meantime, I made some super cheap, super fast throw pillows that can be used as butt cushions.
Personally I don't find the seats uncomfortable (how is it any less comfortable than sitting in a basic wood chair with NO cushion?), but I also weigh the same as a 10 year old, so the 1-inch foam is sufficient for ME, and the kids... but not for actual normal-sized adults it turns out.

I bought upholstery fabric from Ikea, but I only bought half a yard ($6.99 per yard though for UPHOLSTERY fabric! I should have bought the entire bolt), so I was able to make 3 pillows. I used some super cheap pillow forms, also from Ikea ($2.99 for each pillow form is amazingly cheap).
Total cost of the project for three pillows (that can easily be moved elsewhere if/when I get around to reupholstering the benches) is approximately $12.50, with the pillow forms being $9 of that. (You can always gut your kids old stuffed animals instead, which is something I've done in the past. They definitely have a floor cushions stuffed with the souls of teddy bears past).

Obviously my year is kicking off a little bit slowly, as I am so exhausted from all the birthdays, parties, etc. that I'm ready to just slip into a social coma until February or March. 
This isn't the usual type of DIY project I tend to show on my blog, I know, but sewing, hemming, and tailoring is one of those necessary skills that every petite person I know either has, or pays for. I'm cheap, so I do it myself (unless it's a suit jacket. I refuse to alter my own suit jackets.)

Over Christmas break, I went on a quest to purge my (already minimal) closet down to just the things I actually really wear, and threw out any items that are pre-millenium (yes, I am guilty of not only partying like it's 1999, but also still wearing hoodies, jeans, blazers, etc from 1999). I still have a Banana Republic ribbed mock turtleneck (with these cute buttons on the shoulder and up the neck) that I've been sporting since my first "real" job in 2000 with DSHS, and I just can't bring myself to get rid of it yet. I know, I know. It's just STILL my favorite sweater. I just love the color, and why won't BR just make another one for me, damn it?!
I don't care if mock turtlenecks are out of style. My neck is short (because I'm super short overall), and a regular turtleneck goes up to my nostrils, so fuck it. Mock turtleneck all the way! Whatevah, I do what I want!
Mock turtlenecks aside, my wardrobe ended up losing a lot of its basic staples (pencil skirt, trouser pants, suit jacket, etc.) due to irreparable holes, tears, or just being plain worn out to all hell. One of my trouser pants which I decided to keep instead of throwing out, are a pair of dark grey, pinstripe "Editor" pants from Express. I bought them a while ago on clearance for $10, and stupid me, I didn't try them on first because I had purchased enough clothing from Express where I was pretty familiar with their sizing, and I have always worn the same size, each and every time I went there. They obviously fit me poorly, and have just been hanging in my closet, in like new condition, for years.

I can't believe I'm about to put my measurements on the internet, but I think without that point of reference, the impact of this imagery of seemingly gigantic freakin' pants is just lost.

But this, my friends, is the Express "Editor" pant in a size 0. (Forgive the wet sloppy ponytail, I'd just gotten out of the shower)
I wear your Granddad's clothes... I look incredible...
My measurements are (dear lord, this will be used against me in the future I'm sure) 29-24-34. (Can we say "Extreme Pear"? Well, "Extreme Skinny Pear"? Which probably isn't pear-shaped at all.) I am 5'3". I'm not putting my weight on here though, as that is irrelevant to my size. So, there you have it. I'm tiny (and have a disproportionate ass). Anyway, based on my measurements I am a size 0. My measurements have remained very static (in spite of my best efforts to gain 10 lbs, and even though it doesn't look like it, I can bench the same amount as my 210 lb. 6 ft husband, and I'm marathon training in addition to heavy weight lifting, so I assure I am not starving or unhealthy, I eat over 3000 calories per day and I am athletic... but small. I am a former gymnast, and it shows. I joke that the most Korean thing about me is my small frame. Any body-shaming comments on this post are completely inappropriate and will be deleted, FYI. It is sad that I even felt the need to have to defend my body in the first place, but I have heard more than my fair share of hurtful comments). Anyway, my measurements are static, so it makes no sense that these size 0 pants would be this ridiculous on me. What the hell, Express? You were one of the few brands that even carried things in my size.

But, I decided that maybe I just needed some mondo heels to pull this off, and put on my ridiculous 5" platforms that my mother-in-law bought me for Christmas a couple of years ago (I loooooove them so hard).

But, even with shoes that add 5 inches to my height, these pants still looked ridiculous. And really, who is going to wear platform heels to work and tromp around in them for 8+ hours? Grocery store, date night, or errands are one thing. Plus there seems to be something especially tragic about my shoes being completely hidden. My shoes are always the best part of my outfits. Hiding those should be illegal.
Speaking of other awesome gifts from my mother-in-law, I guessed correctly that my large birthday present from her this year was a new sewing machine. *angelic chorus*

I decided that hemming and altering these pants were long over due, and that with a sewing machine with such advanced technological features like "goes forward AND backward", I had no excuse to not get it done now.
Normally I would do a step-by-step tutorial, but MY method of altering clothing has always been fucking stupid, and you probably DON'T want to do it my way. I employ the dumbass method of sewing, trying on, dethreading and resewing to adjust, trying on, dethreading and resewing, trying on... ALL. FUCKING. DAY. (Can you tell I learned to alter my clothing as a child? You'd think I'd have refined my methods by now...) If you want a step by step breakdown, just google a tutorial by an actual seamstress, who, you know, takes measurements and shit.
Asymmetrical pant legs are going to be the next big thing, trust me.
In the end, I ended up taking an inch off the hips and inseam, narrowing the legs dramatically, and taking over 6 inches off the hem (there was a lot of fabric once I undid the cuff, which I decided to not re-cuff, because cuffs on pants just make me look shorter for some reason. An uninterrupted vertical pant line creates a visual trick to making me look less miniature. The cuff just chops me off prematurely. Great on taller, leggier women, but not so much on me).

My pants ended up a bit slimmer than I had wanted (I did a straight leg cut, instead of a boot cut, because I think a straight cut looks better with heels, and I based the hemline on wearing a basic 3-3.5" heel). Obviously my pants are in need of pressing, but I just wanted to get the "after" picture taken so badly that I just put them on right after sewing, grabbed the heels closest to me, and went for it.
They're not perfect, but they're pretty damn good and a huge improvement overall. Ill-fitting clothes on petite, thin people just makes them look younger and smaller than they are (i.e. like a kid borrowing mommy's clothes, not like an actual adult professional).

I'm trying to adultify my wardrobe now (adultify is totally a word now, because if "selfie" and "twerk" are words, then fuck it, all my made up jargon counts too). I turn 31 next month, and I'll be damned if I'm ever outright denied alcohol again (yes, even with an ID), carded for a rated R movie, or asked if I'm my kids' babysitter, or even worse, people being surprised to find out I'm old enough to drive (someone asked about the scar on my face and I told them I got into a car accident, and they were surprised I was the one behind the wheel because apparently it was assumed I was 15. Yikes. I should never wear t-shirts, jeans, and chucks ever again...). I also notice that when I tell people my oldest is 7, that I can see them start doing the math in their head and then they assume I was a teen mom (I had my first at 23, damn it! Though out here in Seattle, no one has kids before their late 30s, so 23 really isn't much better in their eyes. Sigh.)

Anyway, I don't think I look THAT young, but the rest of the world seems to disagree with me. I have noticed that the best way for me to add a few years to my appearance is to simply be out and about with my tall, hairy, bearded husband. He adds more years than any accessories or shoes ever could! Hmph, why can't *I* grow a beard?! Maybe I can just borrow his the next time I go out for drinks.

Happy 2014! May your pants hug your ass in all the right places this upcoming year.
Until the New Year! See you in 2014!
If you are a football fan, or simply like Super Bowl parties and the commercials, would you attend a friend's birthday party if it was on the same day as the Super Bowl? This friend (which is totally NOT me, by the way *cough*), HATES SPORTS, so there is no way in hell she's just throwing a combination Super Bowl Birthday party, and in fact, her previous milestone birthday, her 21st, also had the joy of competing with the Super Bowl, and no one celebrated with her because of the game (which is some fucking bullshit, and she has NOT forgotten!) She had the birthday joy of attending someone's *dry* Super Bowl Party, and she couldn't even bring her own beer to celebrate her 21st, because you can't buy alcohol on Sundays in that state she used to live in. Which is also some fucking bullshit.

Does it matter if it is a milestone birthday? (Note: this is her Nerdy Thirty that she didn't get to throw last year due to her daughter's multiple eye surgeries. Technically, it will be on her 31st birthday, but she will be, in fact, celebrating
the milestone of entering her 30s. She does not throw birthday parties for herself unless it's a milestone, and the last one was her 21st. She has an open grudge against the Super Bowl, obviously).

FYI, this friend lives in Seattle, and some bullshit about the Seahawks being one of the contenders for the Super Bowl, or something. I don't know, she doesn't really follow these things

This poll is completely anonymous, so I encourage honesty. I have no way of figuring out who you are, but the results are important as it will help me decide how to proceed. I mean, for my friend to proceed. Yeah.