Fix Loose or Skewed Neckline with Darts

I love it when other people's mistakes benefit me. In this case, my coworker washed and dried her cute tartan dress, unfortunately shrinking it in the process. Now that it's a size smaller, she handed it down to me.

It fits me perfectly in its shrunken condition, except the neckline was loose and slightly skewed from the heat. Look at this poor neckline in the front AND back. So unattractive.

I find that adding darts will pull the neckline in. Technically I should remove the neckline, add darts, and sew the neckline back up. But I can't sew necklines to save my life, so to avoid ruining the entire dress, I opted for this lazy way.

I added two darts in the front and two in the back.

After adding the darts, the neckline instantly hugs the neck. Bam.

Fatten Up That Flat Body Pillow

Growing up in Vietnam, body pillows are the staple of a bedroom the way oil is a staple in the pantry. Every bedroom has a body pillow, except they're round like a sausage. Kids have small sausage pillows. Adults have big sausage pillows. Everyone and their mama has sausage pillows. (That sounds almost wrong.)

Here in the U.S., body pillows are more like regular pillows, only longer. They're also not as important, although I find sleeping with a body pillow is comforting, like cuddling a man that doesn't snore and judge you for wanting to cuddle all the time.

My body pillow from Target was one of my most coveted bedroom items, except that as years flew by, it got flatter and flatter, like my chest. My sister said "new pillow time!" But I wasn't ready. My body pillow and I had a long healthy relationship. Fortunately longer than my relationships with men. So I hung on to the old body pillow and came up with a brilliant plan to fatten it up.

I had an old comforter that I loved dearly. We also had a long relationship. Unlike the body pillow, the comforter was a goner. The cats destroyed it. I couldn't bring myself to save it, but it was in such a crappy shape that I don't think thrift stores would even take it. If I threw it away, my mother would drag it back to her house because she dumpster dives and hoards everything. I was in a pickle, so I decided to take the innards of the comforter and stuff it into the pillow. Some relationships can be salvaged. Others can't. But it doesn't mean I must say goodbye to both completely.

That's not to say that you should cut up your good comforter just to save a body pillow. There's no reason to destroy a good relationship just to improve another. But if there's an old comforter or pillows lying around that house that you could use to resurrect your flat body pillow, give this method a try.

Flat pillow, almost naked in all its glory.

Once beautiful, now crappy comforter, like an old supermodel. Beauty is never forever.

Snip off one end of the pillow to expose the innards.

Snip open the comforter to expose the innards.

Fold the comforter innards to match the shape of the body pillow. Pile it on top. Or below. Whatever floats your pillow boat.

I did an extra step and serged the edges of the pillow case. Optional.

Stuff the innards into the beautiful body of the pillow case. BAM. Full and beautiful. Who said skinny is beautiful? Not me. I've made myself the perfect man pillow that won't snore and complain when I cuddle him.

The $4.75/Day Experiment

It's been a while since I've last update this blog. I don't know what happened. I think life got less boring and now it's boring again so I'm back!

Let's start with some updates. I work for Habitat For Humanity of Greater San Francisco now. This is important because it leads to the experiment. Recently, on one of our job sites, we have a group of AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers. It stands for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. I was asking our construction manager for some boxes so I could start my "donate/throw away" pile (this is a whole other life experiment) and she said to save some for the NCCC folks. Why? Because in the Bay Area (and some counties in California) there's a ban on plastic shopping bags so if you go shopping and need a bag for your stuff, you have to pay $0.10 or $0.25 at some places. Anyhow, the NCCC folks only get $4.75/day for food stipend so they can't afford to spend $0.10 for shopping bags. This blew my mind. You can't even get a cheap ass sandwich for $4.75! And we live in the Bay Area!

These volunteers are living in Novato, CA, where the median household income in 2014 is at $76,609. The median household income of the whole US is at $53,482 according to the US Census Bureau. That's the long way of saying that we live in a fucking expensive area.

Since I though living on $4.75/day for food is pretty ridiculous, I decided to take it upon myself to see if it's possible. So starting on June 18, 2016, I set out of eat frugally. However, since I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and I also don't believe in self-torture, these rules were set:
1. Whatever, that I have in my place that is already half-way used/opened, I will not count toward the weekly budget.
2. I don't count salt, pepper, spices, etc. that I already have at home.
3. Free food is free and doesn't get counted. A real AmeriCorps would NEVER say no to free food!
4. I would try to keep going out with my friends at a minimum and will not count it as a part of my budget because if I go out once, that would blow my budget for the whole week. I also would like to keep in touch with my friends using our normal activities (eat like gluttons) and not be a hermit for the month.
5. To normalize thing, weekly costs of food will be kept but average cost per day will only be calculated at the end of the experiment period.
6. I have to eat a balance diet. I cannot cheat by just eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches or ramen.

With that being said, behold the spreadsheet (click on it for a better view):

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 12.04.30 PM

As you can see, I spent a total of $24.18 on food I ate this week (not counting free food). The weekly budget is set at $33.25.

Breakfast for the last week looked like this:

Typical meal looked like this: IMG_20160618_120453

A few observations from the past week:

1. There's a small voice saying "I'm hungry" in the back of my head all the time.
2. I take full advantage of free snacks at work. That means I ate a lot of M&M candies and Oreo cookies.
3. My friend Emily thinks that I'm a starving child so she invited me to dinner and fed me food. She also packed leftovers for me so I got a bunch of free meals from Emily.
4. My friend Helen also made me a free sandwich and gave me an avocado.
5. Afraid of going over budget, I tend to not eat a lot which affected my weight lifting abilities. I struggle to meet my ever increasing goals to lift more weight each time I hit the gym.
6. Overall, I'm not dying.
7. It helps to not eat meat. I did eat some shrimps I have left in my fridge and tilapia.
8. My poop smelled like plant materials. There's that green smell.
9. Seeing that I am under budget. I will allow myself to eat more food next week.
10. I only eat oatmeal for breakfast everyday.
11. I supplemented my protein intake with protein powder (because I really really need to build muscles) and didn't count that as a part of the budget because I have half a jug of protein already.
12. I made a corn and black bean salsa but didn't eat it at all last week. It'll be saved for this coming week.
13. I only went out to eat with my friends once this week. I made to sure eat at home before hand so I wouldn't go full force and order a lot of food.

Why does it say $4.95/day experiment on the spreadsheet but it's actual $4.75/day, you ask? Because originally I thought it was $4.95/day but later found out that it was actually lower than that!

Overall, I think I'm having fun with this experiment. It makes me get creative. I have to give up on a lot of my favorite foods. I can't just go and get sashimi or buy a tub of ice cream.

I'm actually surprise at how supportive my friends are with this experiment. If my parents know about this originally they would try to send me free food which will defeat the whole purpose of the experiment! Until next time, all!

Orchids in bloom again :)

This time I'll post phalaenopsis orchids since I have a bunch of them in bloom. Enjoy!

Phalaenopsis Kerble Yelow

Orchids in bloom

I promised my sister I was going to post these glorious pictures of my orchids in bloom, made possible by her generous gift in the form of a professional flash for my camera. These have not been retouched. Are these perfect, or are they perfect? ;)

Phalaenopsis with green petals, purple sprays, and pink lips.

Wilsonara Opalescent 'Springtime'

Green phalaenopsis with mostly dark red veins.

White phalaenopsis with pink lips.

Dendrobium Sweet Pinky 'Love' from Yamamoto orchids.

More to come later!

Stick Art

I saw this Driftwood Seahorse thing on Pinterest and thought it was a cool idea. Then I saw that my dad was trimming the birch trees and were throwing away a bunch of small branches. I thought to myself that maybe I can try to be artsy and make my own woody wall art. By the way, my sister was the one who had the bright idea of using the birch branches. I would have just collected sticks on the ground.

So I dragged in a couple of branches and spent some good time trimming them down to bare branches.

I also cut out this silhouette from a random piece of cardboard. I only wanted to make a small one first to see if I'll like it before spending time on a large one.

Glue gun. Bam!

Cut branches and glue glue glue!

Done! I must say, I'm very happy with the result. However, I think it was a lot easier for me to cut the branches because they are still fresh and soft.

I showed the finished product to my parents and both of them thought that I made a swan. I can see that. Maybe it'll be an interpret art piece. Maybe I'll even hang it upside down!