Tag Archives: tips

No one wants to be bad company. Not even the band.

I can’t remember the last time I spent a weekend at home, probably because a nice restaurant here is considered Applebee’s or Pizza Ranch (Ooh, choices!) Add that to the fact we don’t have a Target, multiple that significant setback by at least five when I tell you the miniature golf course upped their prices for popsicles last year and I know you’re feeling my pain on an exponential level.

Those popsicles are $1.25 apiece now. Are you kidding me? If I’m going to pay more than a buck for flavored ice that’s paradoxically frostbitten AND melted, I’m going to do it in Omaha, even if it takes a price tag of $50 in gas to get there. Omaha popsicles – now with 100 percent more sweet victory and tart smugness. Suck on that, hometown economy.

Sends shivers down your spine just looking at it, doesn't it?

These are just a few major reasons I head out of town quite frequently. Most times, the weekend sneaks up on me like a ninja. I’ll be typing away in my windowless cubicle day after monotonous day just to realize it’s five p.m. and Friday and RUUUUNNN!

Only safely on the road and a good distance from town do I turn my worriment toward finding a place to stay. Luckily, I have incredible friends in surrounding cities who always take me in at a moment’s notice. They get it. Could it be they understand because they’ve unknowingly been lured here under false pretenses of “clubbing it up” some weekend when I couldn’t escape, desperately needing their support to make it through?

Heh, heh, heh.

The Amigos portion of the itinerary is my favorite part of the evening, but who doesn’t love a 2 a.m. burrito to get the taste of cheap drinks and the feel of old, strange men’s lingering stares off their mind? Not to mention it’s my way of apologizing for my shameless trickery. Amigos for my amigos! Yes, I let them splurge on tater tots with a side of ranch. I’m a good person.

Really.

One night here and they’re calling me on the phone later that week, cajoling me with weekend plans of live sporting events, wine and shopping in a town with (gasp!) an interstate system. Malls. More importantly – shoes that aren’t from a Payless Shoe Source.

Your source for officially knowing when you've given up on life.

Like I wouldn’t just show up on my own.

After multiple nights spent on a futon or inflatable mattress, living on travel-sized beauty products and wondering if it’s ok to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night in my undies, I suppose I consider myself somewhat of a houseguest expert. Therefore, I’ve taken the liberty to compile the five most important tips to keep in mind if you find yourself in the same predicament.

So much for a brief intro.

1. No “Don’t mind if I do” attitudes allowed.
That fancy face wash and spare change screaming “Take me!” on the bookshelf? They’re not yours. Neither is the toilet paper. Just kidding, unless house rules indicate otherwise and then you had better hope there’s a Target or nice oak tree outside to solve your most immediate dilemma. If you don’t heed this warning, you may end up borrowing the toothbrush that cleans those problematic grooves in the bathroom tile. Or the dog’s teeth. Not so minty fresh anymore, are we?

2. Manners. Get ‘em.

"Oh! Oh, God - it's like a tinier version of Andrew Zimmern from 'Bizarre Foods.'" "Just...leave it outside for now...we'll figure out what to do with it later."

You know all those pleasing interpersonal skills you use in job interviews to sell yourself? Quiet, pleasant, respectful, considerate and helpful are a few. Dust those off and while you’re at it, put the dishes you just used in the dishwasher, too.

If you aren’t constantly questioning if you’re doing your part as a houseguest, guess what? You’re a horrible houseguest. Don’t worry (too much) though. The guilt may be free, but it’s still part of the price you pay to stay at another’s home.

Some common questions that may run through your head that require a responsible, physical response discounting running away are:

  1. Do you think they’ll agree that the coffee I spilled adds a certain amount of retro flair to their armrest?
  2. Are cabinets typically so flammable?
  3. If I fix this showerhead I just broke with gum, will it outlive my stay?
  4. Did I remember to let the baby back in? Wait. Do babies have to be let out to pee? Wait. Did they even have a baby?

3. Clean up after yourself.
When you leave, at least make sure your bed looks like a five-year-old attempted to make it. Plus five points for leaving some of the corners un-tucked so the homeowners can feel like they’re needed. It makes their house feel alive again, they’ll say. They can almost here the pitter-patter of little feet again, they’ll comment, turning to one another and smiling gently. Of course, that’s all before they discover the beer bottles piling up in the yard and that you just accidentally dropped their wedding album into the baby pool in which you were skinny dipping.

4. Show a little gratitude, man!
Still feeling guilty? Good, but it’s still not enough and you’ll have to actually pay/be accountable for something a bit more tangible. Something that comes with a receipt and can be documented. Might as well make it something you would enjoy or benefit from as well so everyone feels at home. I recommend a bottle or two of wine, sending an e-thank-you with a link to your sweet blog (No, you’re welcome), or thick steaks they can cook up conveniently when you visit in a fortnight, which is really unexpectedly tomorrow upon accidentally locking yourself out of your apartment.

Still thinking about it, aren't you?

5. Don’t act like you own the place.
If it were your place, would you leave the lint freshly cleaned out from between your toes on the countertop? Oh, you would? Well, don’t do that!

While you’re not at it, don’t help yourself to that last piece of pie, sit in the head of the house’s recliner or use up all the hot water or trust me – you’ll be the one in hot water! Well, you already are if you’re using the hot water in the shower. Lucky. I just meant…figuratively.

Still don’t get it? Take a listen to Nothing Painted Blue’s song, fittingly entitled, “Houseguest.”

Tips for inexperienced skiers hitting the slopes

Warning: Blog written under the severe influence of many, many (many) cold meds.

Acrylics: love at first plight

A beginner painter feels three things immediately upon embarking on his or her newfound hobby. The first is the thrill of attempting something new, an interest with virtually no restraints. The second is a feeling of sheer terror, which envelops you upon staring at your first blank canvas. The third is blatant astonishment at how much lighter your purse or wallet became after that initial trip to the art store.

A novice painter myself, I am grasping firmly to whatever tips and techniques I can get my hands on. I listen to my uncle as he energetically and eccentrically bounces our conversations between the three pieces on which he is currently working. I am glued to YouTube tutorials in the most unhealthy way. I steadfastly read the instructions on the back of my newest paint by numbers kit. (Kidding!)

Having to start somewhere, I decided to begin my artistic journey with basic acrylics in hand. About halfway through the ride, I realized that the feeling of terror decreased along with my growing relationship with the paint. Acrylics are the most forgiving and easy to work with of all mediums I have yet to try. Stick with them long enough and you’ll be taking them home to meet your mother.

Below are five basic tips that, when applied with the use of acrylics, will help you overcome initial painting plights.

  1. Onions – and paintings – have layers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that layering your objects from the background to the forefront is essential in creating a dynamic piece. Colors in the background should lack the richness of those in the foreground, especially your focal point. Keep layers from building up thickly by thinning your acrylics with water. If preferred, acrylics can be diluted to the point of having a watercolor-like consistency.
  2. Slow down time. With acrylics, you don’t have that slow drying time in between layers like you do with oils. Frustratingly enough, this means that mixing colors on your canvas for a seamless skyline or smooth river is a bit more complicated. Try using a retarder, which contains glycol, and will slow the drying process, as well as allow for a longer blending time.
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Applied too much pressure to your canvas and left a disastrous blotch behind? Didn’t like how those trees turned out? No matter how badly you think you’ve ruined your painting, it’s 100 percent fixable. Acrylics dry fast and can be painted over, which means you can get over your mistakes and onto an even better re-creation quickly. Trust me -I know. I have a kitten who thinks it’s perfectly ok to leave paint-filled paw prints across any available piece of canvas.   

  4. Experiment. When I first began painting, I struggled to replicate grass. Finding the correct technique for painting certain objects is all about testing the waters. Experiment with different brushes to see how they respond to the paint. Use diverse strokes and pressures. I always keep a practice piece of canvas nearby, which eliminates the chance of error on the canvas I’m working on and ensures I haven’t loaded my brush too full. When you’re ready, testing out different additives can instantly add a stronger dimension and creative aspect to any canvas. 
  5. Patience: it’s a virtue, after all. At times I think I’m getting the hang of a certain technique, only to realize it doesn’t fit into the scope of the new painting I’m working on. Enjoy finding the right style of painting that fits your personality, and don’t be upset when things don’t turn out the way you expected. Oftentimes, that’s an indication of your true painting style coming forth. Be prepared that with each new painting comes new difficulties and techniques to overcome. Although the road can be slow and sometimes arduous, finding your creative niche will make painting with acrylics a pastime you can truly enjoy.