How To Put On a Duvet Cover

We recently had guests come in to town, and prior to their visit, I wanted to make sure that the hardly-used guest room was all fixed up and comfy for them.  Clean sheets were put on the bed, a pretty picture was hung, fresh flowers were placed in a vase.

Only one problem remained.  I hadn’t gotten around to putting our newly bought comforter inside the duvet cover.

I knew there was a trick to this type of linen execution, and after a quick YouTube instruction from the Belle of Bedding, Martha Stewart, I performed something short of a miracle and put our comforter into a duvet cover.

Since I’ve got this thing down now,  I thought I’d share my new-found knowledge with you.

How To Put On a Duvet Cover.jpg

 

1. Lay your duvet cover on the bed, then line up the comforter to the cover.

2.  Slide the corners of top end of the comforter in to the hole of the cover and meet up with top corners of cover.  Tie the strings of the comforter and the cover together, if applicable.

3. Holding the two corners of the cover/comforter, pull up on the top edge of the duvet to allow the cover to fall down around the remainder of the comforter.

4.  Make sure the side edges of the comforter are on the side edges of the duvet cover, and shimmy the cover down to the un-covered bottom edge of the comforter.

5.  Match up the corners of the other end of the duvet to the comforter, and tie if applicable.

6.  Shake the covered comforter out to make it nice and smooth.

7.  Button up the toggles (buttons, loops, whatever you’ve got to work with).

8.  Stand back and admire your work.

9.  Realize that you’ve screwed up and got the short end of the comforter on the long end of the cover and have to start over.

10.  Not wanting to begin the whole process again, crawl in to the cover to untie the ties and attempt to rotate the comforter while pinned inside the cover.

11.  Crawl back out and realize your laziness only gave you more work.

12.  Start back at step 1 with the right sides lined up.

13.  Begin to curse under your breath and wipe your face, because you’re sweating now, you idiot.

14.  Wish you had just ponied up the extra $10 and bought the Bed-In-a-Bag deal at Target instead of trying to repurpose this crappy old duvet cover that you don’t really care about any more.

15.  Get all the sides and corners lined up, then try to shake out the comforter to make the #(!@* ^% thing smooth again.

16.  Resist the urge to fling the whole project out of the second-story window when you realize that you bought a full/queen-sized comforter for what now looks like a king-sized duvet cover.

17.  Button those stupid toggles back up again, chalking up that missing button halfway in the center to karmic retribution.

18.  Figure that since this is the guest room, no one will give as much of a crap as you do.

19.  Shove the loose edge of the cover that doesn’t contain any comforter down into the footboard and hope no one ever notices.

20.  Place some ill-matched pillows on the bed.

21.  Walk out of the room and head for the chilled wine in your refrigerator.

22.  Put Martha Stewart on your shit list.

 

How about you?  Have you tackled this beast and survived?  I’d love to hear your tips!

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New Music by Danny Weinkauf : “No School Today”

I can remember the first time I gave my mom a lame excuse for missing school.  I believe I woke up sweaty, feverish, a tad nauseous, and completely unable to attend 3rd Grade.

Two hours later, I was driving my Barbie around the living room in her Corvette without any hint of a temperature, and ate my grilled turkey sandwich without a hitch.

To say I got busted would be an understatement.

Once my parents sniffed out I was perfectly fine, I got an earful, along with my Barbie privileges taken away.

Calling in sick to school or work when you’re really not is something that probably everyone has attempted at some point.  So, naturally, that topic is perfect fodder for a children’s music song, and Danny Weinkauf has stepped up the plate to deliver an album that’s perfect for both sick and healthy days.

Danny Weinkauf

Danny Weinkauf, best known for his work as a bassist for They Might Be Giants, is personally responsible for the  awesome “I Am a Paleontologist” on TMBG’s album Here Comes Science.

No School TodayHe has an impressive list of song-writing credits for television, commercials, and film.  And now he can add solo children’s music album to his list of credits.  No School Today will be released on April 29th.

Weinkauf’s album feels like a relative of his work with They Might Be Giants but taken many steps further.  His sound makes me think of my college days, spent listening to Robyn Hitchcock (and NOT skipping class, I should say, in case my mother is reading this) with it’s rock-pop tunes and driving, “stick with you” melodies.  Reason enough to make this album a hit with both parents and children, alike.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Marsupial”, with its groovy baseline and syncopated chorus.  Another favorite is “Ballad of Ben”, a tribute to the artistic genius of Ben Folds with Folds-like “soft punk” and sophisticated piano-work.

Weinkauf wrote “Archaeology” as a follow up to the popular “I Am a Paleontologist” because fans often confused the two fields when approaching him.  The song has a very Elvis Costello feel, and explains what an archaeologist does, much like his take on paleontology.

Beloved children’s musician Laurie Berkner lends her distinctive voice to “Our Love Fits.”  This tune shows off Weinkauf’s sharp wit and humor, and Berkner and Weinkauf’s vocals go together, so the song says, like “the Mia to the Farrow.”

“No School Today” is an alternative rock list of ailments to skip school, with a great beat and lyrics that force you to bob your head in both rhythm and familiarity.

Danny Weinkauf premiered the video for this song last week, and I’m hooked! My first thought was remembering those cult classic sock puppets Sifl and Olly.  Anyone?

But I digress.  Check out this awesome video!

“Ice Cream” starts by doing it’s due diligence in touting the nutritional benefits of healthy eating, then confesses the truth that most of us know too well:  ice cream just tastes better.  The slightly-punk “The Moon is Made of Cheese” is a theory that would make Neil DeGrasse Tyson quiver in his shoes.  And “The Kidney That Lived in Four People”, featuring Hank Green, closes the album with lyrics based on a true story of one kidney that was donated many times over.

No School Today also includes interjects short and sweet tunes in to the mix, with the quirky “Whipped Cream” (a list of favorite treats with a funky backbeat), “Hey!” (the leadoff song to the album), “Oh No Oh Yeah”  and “Lullaby for Quinn.”

Danny Weinkauf’s son Kai sings lead vocals on many songs on the album, including “Champion of the Spelling Bee”, “Ambivalent”(a song for flip-floppers, short and to the point) and “Cast My Vote.” He also sings lead on the most mellow tune of the album, “Together We Can Fly” and while Kai’s voice is unique and fitting, I would have liked to hear Danny’s take on this one.

Whether you’re home with that “nasty cough” you’ve called in sick with, or alive and well and looking for music to dance with your kids in the kitchen to, Danny Weinkauf’s No School Today is sure to cure what ails you.

For a limited time only, you can access a FREE song download of the song “No School Today” by going HERE.

Danny Weinkauf’s No School Today will be available on iTunes and Amazon on April 29th, but  because I adore this album so much, I’m giving one away to a lucky reader who can give me the best No School Today excuse!  C’mon, let’s here them! What is the silliest/funniest/most creative tactic you’ve either used or heard for skipping school?

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter widget below, leaving a comment and doing a couple of social media things, by 11:59pm on Friday, April 18th.  Open to anyone 18 and over in the contiguous United States.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I can’t wait to hear what excuses you have!

The Happiness Formula

If you’ve ever found yourself rifling through the self-help aisle at a bookstore, or sat through a few sessions on Oprah.com, you know there is a shit-ton of advice out there on how to be happy.  There’s even a Happiness Project movement, based on the book by Gretchen Rubin that you can start up with friends and follow. 

And quite honestly, all that information is pretty freakin’ confusing and contradictory.

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For instance, here’s what I’ve gleaned are just some of the things I should be doing on a daily basis to help foster a warm and fuzzy feeling of happiness:

  • Get enough sleep,
  • But get up early to mediate for 20 minutes a day before everyone else wakes up.
  • Take time for myself,
  • But be sure to give my kids and husband my undivided, smart phone-free attention.
  • Work out or be active every day,
  • But don’t overschedule myself.
  • Be optimistic and less negative.  In other words, stop being such a fucking jerk,
  • But don’t be so hard on myself.
  • Have an organized home so that the clutter doesn’t interfere with my chi, and clean my sink daily,
  • But don’t stress out about squeezing in mundane tasks like cleaning and laundry so that I can spend more quality time with my family.

And don’t you know, my curmudgeony self has tried to cram all of this in to any given day in an effort to put more smiles on my face and hopefully piss off the members of my household less.

The only thing I felt at the end of the day was that I was harboring a multiple personality disorder and a filthy kitchen.

Seriously, how can one person fit all of this crap in to any given day?  And still be able to get to bed early enough to wake at the ass crack of dawn to center themselves?

It just seems nearly impossible.  Because by my calculations, there just isn’t enough time in my day.

The formula for happiness is pretty subjective.  What makes me happy may not make my husband happy, or my neighbor happy, or Jason Bateman happy.  Though, maybe Jason Bateman might make my neighbor happy.  How do I know?

But in my search for happiness, I’ve learned that it may or may not be achieved by cramming in an hour of meditation, or sweating my ass off on the treadmill while I eat kale in to what seems to be an already packed schedule.  But instead, sometimes the key to happiness isn’t doing more, but doing less.

Less holding on to the idea that my house needs to be spotless, and that everyone residing in it needs to have the same standards.  Less letting moods fester.  Less letting that little voice in my head feed me with insecurity, anxiety and ammunition.  Less Flappy Birds.

But, don’t get me wrong.  More sweet kisses from the ones I love and pints of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream wouldn’t hurt, either.

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Ships Ahoy! Our Time on a Disney Cruise

If you thought it’s been a bit quiet around here, you’re not imagining things.  It has been.  And no, I’m not staging another hiatus.

Instead, my family and I took a much needed vacation.

Last week we spent five days and nights on a Disney cruise aboard the Disney Wonder, sailing out of Miami to Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico.  Five days immersed in the magic of princesses and pirates and plush characters.

And it was awesome.

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Let me first state, my husband and I are not “cruisers.” I detest using the word “cruise” in any way, shape or form that might sound like something out of a Jimmy Buffet song. “Take a cruise,” or “Go on a cruise” I can swallow.  I did not want to “go cruising” or “be a cruiser,” all said while wearing a shirt from Tommy Bahama and flashing a Hang Ten sign.

My only experience on a cruise ship was one I took with my family over a decade ago on a Carnival ship for a week.  Most of it is a blur of booze, binge eating and trying to avoid being roped in to a “find your partner blindfolded by the feel of their hairy chest” contests.

So as we approached the idea of taking a cruise vacation as a family, I had my hesitations.

I had been told by many parents that if you were going to go on a cruise with your kids, a Disney cruise was the way to go.  And they were right.

From the moment we stepped on board the ship, Disney didn’t disappoint.

We were greeted by energetic crew members who asked for our family name.  Then, in grand Disney fashion, they announced that our family was on board and the line of crew applauded our arrival, as if we were walking on the red carpet.

Next, we headed to our room to check out our digs for the next few days.  We decided to splurge and get a room on the seventh deck with a verandah because the thought of being cooped up in a dark, black hole on the inside of the ship gave me the cold sweats.

The room was actually bigger than I expected, with two separate rooms for the toilet and the shower (both equipped with sinks), a large queen bed for the parents, a pull-out sofa and bunk bed for the kids, and a mid-room curtain so parents and kids could have their privacy.

The next stop was lunch in the buffet restaurant, because I can’t make it longer than two hours without needing a carbohydrate.  And here’s where my fears of contracting some type of pandemic bug were alleviated.

If you know me well, you know my anxiety about vomit.  Even hearing or reading about a Norovirus outbreak halfway across the country makes me reach for a face mask.

Yet, even before getting on the ship, I knew my fears were unfounded.  First of all, Disney hasn’t had a reported outbreak in over a decade.  And secondly?  My kids have a better chance of contracting some debilitating stomach virus at school then they do on a ship.

But this discovery made me happy:  Disney cleans the shit out of that ship.

Everywhere we turned, someone was disinfecting sinks or scrubbing walls or wiping stair rails.   And there were greeters standing at every entrance to every restaurant handing out sanitizing wipes before we ate.  Disney don’t mess around, y’all.

Then, our Disney cruise took off.  We had two full days at sea, where our kids swam in the pools, dove down the slide, treaded water while watching their favorite Disney flicks, and ate all the ice cream their small stomachs could hold.

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And did I mention that there were Disney character meeting opportunities at every turn?  We saw just about every major character on the ship, and the lines to meet them and get their autograph were a snap compared to what it takes to meet a character at a Disney park.  The one thing I was amazed by with the Disney characters is that they seemed to take their time with each kid.  There wasn’t an urgent rush to do a fast turnover, and they made each child feel special.  That cements more memories than any photo or signature ever could.

A friend asked me if the ship was all “It’s a Small World” all of the time on the Disney cruise, and surprisingly, it wasn’t.  Sure, they piped Disney music in to the hallways and such, but it was at a modest level (and I have to admit, I was prone to singing along).  There were adult clubs, bars and pools where we could escape children and feel like we were on a legitimate adult vacation.

The shows on board were pretty impressive, featuring Broadway-style choreography and music, but just short enough to keep a little one’s attention.  My son loved heading up to the Wide World of Sports deck a couple of times a day to play hoops, jump in a soccer game, or swat at a ping-pong ball.

And the Oceaneer Lab was a big hit too.

I wasn’t sure how well the “kids club” was going to go over with our kids, since they protested their time at Club Med like it was a prison sentence.  But after seeing how much awesomeness there was during the Oceaneer Lab’s open house, the kids were sold.

We took advantage of their excitement and participated in the Dine and Play option, since we ate so late for the second seating at 8:15pm.  The servers would bring out our kids’ food first, and then at around 9, the activity counselors would come get them and bring them to the lab so that Jon and I could finish our dinner in peace and quiet.  Like a date.  Like grown-ups.

cruise

Our port adventures were pretty fun too.  We spent our day in Grand Cayman on the beach.  Did I mention how spectacularly gorgeous the water is in the Caribbean?  It’s so much prettier than the mysteriously brown stuff I grew up wading in in the Gulf of Mexico.  The kids loved strapping on their goggles and swimming to see colorful fish.  And I didn’t mind sipping fruity cocktails on the shore.

caribbean waters

But perhaps the best thing we did was swim with the dolphins in Cozumel.

When I first booked this excursion, I grappled with the dilemma.  I hated the idea of these captive dolphins being cooped up for human enjoyment.  But then countered it with the thought that I would probably never get this chance again.  And that thought won out.

Because two seconds after being in the water with these beautiful mammals, all of those animal rights thoughts rode the current out to sea.  What an amazing experience!  And to see the wonder and excitement on my children’s faces as they took a ride in the sea with a dolphin was pretty priceless.

dolphin.jpg

All in all, our family had a fantastic time on our Disney cruise.  So much so that coming back to reality has been hard.

No one wanted to head back to work or school.  We’re suffering from self-serve withdrawal.  I miss having someone make my bed twice a day.  We didn’t get our “land legs” for a couple of days and Jon and I feared that other families who spotted us at IHOP the next morning we returned suspected we were all drunk.

The kids are already asking when we can head back to a Disney cruise again.  And my guess is, we’ll definitely do it again.

Who knows.  Perhaps we’ll become “cruisers” after all.

What’s In Your Bracket?

I’m teetering dangerously towards the bottom of our 100+ person tournament pool.  But I can’t really take all the credit, as my son helped me pick this year.  Normally, I choose by what mascot I like best.  His choice? What state’s he’s been to.

To each his own.

So, with that time of year again, I thought I’d drag this out again.  The Tantrum Tournament, broken down in bracket style, complete with seeds and everything.  What’s in YOUR bracket?

2014 tantrum tournament.jpg

 

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