Friday, January 31, 2014

...And Stay Out!

In my quest to blog more in 2014, here is a good topic:

Five Style Trends you hope Never Come back!

1.  Poofy bangs.  If you were a teenage girl in the late eighties/early nineties, you know what I am talking about.  It's the hairstyle you got up super-early to engineer, using a curling iron, multiple brushes and at least half a bottle of hairspray.  Not only was it ugly, the effort alone makes me hope that it never comes back.

2.  Pegged pants. Seriously, unless your pants are too long and it's a temporary situation, rolled up-pants make it look like you're expecting a flood.  Otherwise, get your damn pants hemmed!

3.  The Leotard.  Good grief.  These popped up everywhere when I was in junior high, usually under a vest.  And in a variety of fabrics, although I think my least favorite was crushed velvet.  Who's idea was it to make a "shirt" that you have to unbutton at the crotch every time you needed to pee?  Probably the same people that brought you  my next "fun" gem:

4.  Double (or even triple!) socks.  It was considered great fun for girls to layer on their white athletic socks.  I can remember wearing "School Colors" ones with blue and white for our hometown.  Not only is it silly-looking, it creates that much more laundry.  That's something I never cared about back in the day but since I'm the primary laundry-doer, I'm totally boarding that train now.  Plus, you had to jam them into your shoes and they were ridiculously hot.

5.  Neon anything.  Looking around me, I'm too late to stop this one.  Fluorescent colors are hot again, though instead of rocking an allover neon look, it seems to be just touches, like sneakers.  I remember doing a charity walk with my friends in junior high and we all sported a different neon color.  I was Hot Pink.  Ewwww!  Better than orange or green I guess, though only slightly better.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Memoirs of a Manager

I'm a sucker for a good memoir.  I detest reality television but love reading about people's lives.  Celebrities and other famous people sure, but the average everyday person is pretty intriguing as well.   I especially love ones that feature people serving the public, such as waitstaff or once, a librarian.  Or the one about the guy who got stood up at his wedding and decided to go on the honeymoon anyway with his brother.  That book lead to them traveling all over the world.  Though the title "Honeymoon with my Brother" needed some work.  

I'm in the middle of one called "Hungry:  What Eighty Ravenous Guys Taught Me about Life, Love and the Power of Good Food "by Darlene Barnes.  It's pretty good so far.  And like with  many other memoirs that I've read, my mind starts to wander towards writing my own memoir someday.   

Someday I want to write a memoir on the joys and travesties of being a property manager.  I'll combine the sweet tales with the sordid ones and come up with a good read.  And if that's someone else's idea and they come out with it first, heck I'd read the hell out of that!    Sadly, it'll probably have to wait until I retire,  or change a lot of names and details.  I should probably start scrawling down the goods now, instead of waiting on my future-failing memory to recall it all.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Now Shipping

These two beauties are being sent out to Webs as part of the  "Podcaster Throwdown."  They'll be counted in the tally for team Ready Set Knit!  who were losing badly the last time I checked the tallies.  But really, no one is technically "losing" when we're talking about hundreds of hats being donated for Hats for Halos of Hope.  All that will be lost is bragging rights!

Both of these hats are a cotton/nylon blend.  I wanted to make more, but it turns out that I don't have all that much non-wool yarn in my stash.  Except for acrylic which is really more suited for baby items.  I'm very much a wool-kind-of-girl.  Though I love me some alpaca, too.

The top hat is the "slouchy beehive hat" and man, it is super slouchy.  It's a dark pink, almost the color of beets. The second hat is called the "chrysanthemum hat" and knits up rather quickly!  The picture doesn't do it justice, it's a beautiful teal green, and the edges don't curl like that.  This hat just didn't want to behave for the photo, that's all.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We Meet Again, Glasses

I was the kid in school who at age ten, could no longer see the blackboard.  A trip to the eye doctor revealed that I needed glasses.  Back then, getting glasses at that age in the world of mean kids, is like the kiss of death. Goodbye, dreams of being cool and popular.

  I also sucked at taking care of them, losing my first pair within the first two weeks.  My school years are filled with ugly pairs and nasty accidents.  Such as the time I was babysitting and their dog sat on them.  Or the time in 8th grade that the frame cracked above the right lens and I glued them together myself with superglue.  Only I didn't wait long enough for them to dry, and put them on.  You really haven't lived until you've superglued your glasses to your face!

I was always vain as a kid and wore them only when absolutely necessary.  I can remember going whole summers at the YMCA camp, not being able to see clearly but refusing to put them on.  I begged for contacts, but didn't get them until my junior year of high school.  There is a picture of me floating around, at the prom with my then-boyfriend, of me in a pink dress with red Sally Jessy Raphael glasses.  (I took them off for the "Official" photo, this was a candid shot.)  There was no such thing as "attractive" glasses back in the day.

Years went by, and I finally decided to see if I was a candidate for LASIK surgery due to my baby's fondness for whipping my glasses off my face and throwing them on the floor.  And surprise!  I was a candidate!  It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Seven years later.....I'm celebrating with a prescription for reading glasses.  Yep, getting older sucks.  I knew that something was up long before I finally acquiesced and made the appointment.  I know I know, reading glasses aren't as bad as wearing them all the time.  Back then, my vision was so bad that I didn't trust myself to go anywhere but in my own house without my glasses.

I went to Lenscrafters and picked out a "fun" purple pair.  Because if I'm going to have to wear them, they're going to have to be pretty.  I've had them since Friday, and I'm having a devil of a time getting used to them when using the computer, or knitting.  Luckily that "baby" that used to love to throw them is excellent at scolding his mom for not wearing her glasses.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Martha, Martha Everywhere

Scene:  breakfast on a weekday morning.  Eating scrambled eggs with peppers and cheese, while the kids are going about their morning routine.  I'm flipping through a magazine between bites, toggling headlines such as "Healthy Meals for 2014!" or "Decorating with a Nautical Theme."  (This is why I sometimes despise womens' magazines....they feel redundant.)  Then I see it.

Martha Stewart is coming out with a line of nutritional supplements for women.  

Seriously.   According to the website, there's six in the line, depending on what you are looking for, ranging from menopause help to strong hair and nails.  Or there's  the "Martha Stewart Essentials."  Or for the generic minded, a multivitamin.

OK.  I understand Martha being almost everywhere.  I wasn't surprised to run into Martha at the craft store, in the yarn and needles aisle, or by quilting or paint or glitter.  Heck, she is the QUEEN of GLITTER.  At my latest trip to Target, I was unfazed to see that she has a line of office supplies and organizational tools.  And I'm not a Martha hater.  I'm not the fan of Martha that some of my friends are....I've on-occasion enjoyed snippets of her magazine in a waiting area, and I was all for her coming out with a poncho pattern and getting people to knit it when she got out of prison.

But when did we start taking nutritional and medical advice from Martha Stewart?  Did I miss that bus?  Is she a doctor/nutritionist as well as the world's expert on dinner, dining and decorating?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Whatta Guy

Time for this Day Zero List Item

32.  Write a love letter to my husband

This particular blog post will be his love letter.   It'll probably make him blush a bit but I really don't think he'll mind too much. Instead of making it all mushy and squishy, I will instead shout to the world, Internet, why I married perhaps the best Man on Earth.

1.  He's got a twisted sense of humor, and so do I.  We laugh over so many things and have lots of jokes that only the two of us "get." 

2.  He is a wonderful father.  He's always got time to spend with his boys and teach them stuff.  He enjoys talking about Legos and watching Mythbusters with Will, and making jokes and playing Angry Birds with Sean.  He's been a very hands-on Dad from the very beginning....changing diapers, kissing boo-boos, doing the baths and soothing after nightmares.

3.  He's a team player and a good partner.  We divide the housework nicely for the most part.  My favorite thing is that he's always willing to fold laundry during Flyers games, even if it's five loads.  

4.  He's thoughtful, considerate and kind.  Most mornings he brings a cup of coffee to me while I am getting out of the shower.  Sometimes he takes my car and gets gas so that I don't have to worry about it.  And today he stopped by work to drop off a package of yarn that I had ordered, just so that I could work on a hat that I am knitting at Knit Night tonight!  How many guys would do that!

5.  He's an excellent cook, and loves to do it.  He also likes nothing more than having people over.  The more people to cook and show off his skills to, the merrier.

6.  And most importantly, he loves me at my best and he loves me at my worst.  He is proud of my accomplishments and gentle but willing to help me with my shortcomings.  

So there you have it....and this is an abbreviated list.  I love you, Brian!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Guilty? Guilty.

My Five Favorite Guilty Pleasures

1.  Pretty office supplies.  I always loved back-to-school time because it meant new school supplies.  I never lost that happy feeling, and I love to go to Staples for this reason.

2.  "Alone time."  That hour or so that I get at night when everyone else is in bed and I'm up either knitting, reading or watching TV.  That means I always go to bed late but most nights I don't get to sleep easily anyway.

3.  When my kids repeat funny things, such as "There's a time and a place for decaf; never and in the trash!"

4.  The first night of a freshly made bed, because we store our sheets in a cedar chest.  I love the smell of cedar.

5.  Lastly, the occasional chocolate bar that my kids don't know that I have stashed in the kitchen.  And if it's studded with almonds, all the better.  :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Dreaded Diet

On January First, I started the two dreaded words that all fiber enthusiasts fear:  Yarn Diet.

A yarn diet is where a knitter/crocheter takes a look at their yarn stash and decides to knit down from it.  As in, "Holy crap that's a lot of yarn.  I'm going to knit from what I have and not buy anything new for a time period."  Or as my husband likes to put it, "Good God!  You have enough for a small store in there!"   The marked end of my dreaded yarn diet is the annual Webs Tent Sale, which I would only miss if I were dying.

What brought this on?  Well besides the fact that I have a lot of that fibery goodness, we are planning a big secret family trip in April.  Secret as in secret to the boys, but everyone else knows.  And I don't plan on telling the kiddos until a few weeks out.  If I could hold off the fact until we're on our way to the airport, I would, but I don't have that kind of willpower!!  Not buying any yarn is one way to save some cash for the trip.  Because yarn shopping is quite possibly my favorite thing to do.

I've had some interesting experiences in the last couple of days, and I thought I'd share:

1.  I posted something earlier about the "Podcaster's Throwdown" for donating hats.  Diving into my stash to find non-wool yarns for hats to donate has actually been kind of fun.  I've already made one and am madly working on another.  I've found things that I had forgotten I had!  I've also found a couple of things that are clearly going into the "de-stash" pile to offer to my friends at our annual De-Stash Event before the Tent Sale.  (I'm looking at you, ten skeins of charcoal-colored cotton-acrylic blend that was going to be a sweater four years ago.  What in the hell was I thinking??)

2.  When catalogs from Knitpicks or emails from Webs come, I feel like I am doing something dirty by flipping thru the catalog.  It might as well just be porn.

3.  This yarn habit really is a mild addiction.  I've been tempted to fall off the wagon more than once!  The same emails that come in with subject lines like "Yarn for You" feel like my dealer is trying to entice me and pull me back into the fold.

4.  While working on projects for others with deadlines (of course), I am dangerously running low on yarn.  These are commissioned items, and I have to finish them.  One of them the person is paying for the yarn, the other is a more-than-half-done charity item.  I had to suck it up and order a ball of yarn.  Not only that, I had to pay a ridiculous amount of shipping for one damn ball of yarn.  Totally not counting that as a slip.

5.  And perhaps the funniest example yet:  it's in my dreams.  I had a nightmare the other night that Brian and I had taken a trip to Montreal for some R+R without kids.  We ended up at a mall, and there was a yarn shop.  And every time I tried to walk in, the woman in charge would say in French, "Sorry, we're closed" and slam the door in my face.  But she let my husband in and I watched others shop.  Then I got lost while my husband went to a pub and got his drink on, and I had no knitting to entertain/calm me while I wondered where the hell he was.  I can't make this stuff up....I woke up in a foul mood.  He of course found the whole thing utterly HILARIOUS!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

E-Z Bake

We gave Will an Easy Bake oven for Christmas this year.  He loves to bake with his Dad so I thought it would be a cool gift.  He thought so too....upon peering in the bag, before gleefully shouting the contents he said "AWESOME!!!  Now, Dad....this is mine."  :)  We've already made chocolate chip cookies in it and I have to say, they weren't half bad.  it also came with mixes for vanilla and strawberry cakes, chocolate icing, whoopie pies and pretzels with nacho cheese sauce.

Tonight, Will wanted to make "pretzel appetizers" for when Dad got home from work.  We've got an "extended" winter break with two snow days, so we are all developing a bit of cabin fever.  So any ideas of new activities is great at this point!

The pretzels?  Tasted horrible.  The cheese sauce?  Beyond reproach.  Even Will said so, though not those exact words.  They had fun though, and have absolutely decided that it should be done again and again.  "Only we'll make just sweet things, Mom."  I've  played around on Pinterest a bit to see if one can make their own mixes for this thing instead of just buying the mixes that the Easy Bake Oven Manufacturer puts out.  Because that is obviously where they make their money, and I'll bet there are better-tasting ones out there.  After tonight, I know it for sure!

Books in Review and 2014 Reading List

I love books almost as much as I love knitting.  If I could find a way to read a book AND knit at the same time I'd be a happy girl.  Yes, I know that I could download an audiobook onto my iPod and listen to it, but that feels a little strange (and unsociable) in my own house.

For now, the 2013 review.  I turn to the fabulous tool Goodreads, which is so much better than keeping an Excel spreadsheet or (eek!) writing down all of those books in a notebook.

I left 2013 with 185 books on my "to-read" shelf.  This isn't an accurate portrayal of what I will actually read.  I put books on that "to-read" shelf if they catch my fancy for any reason.  Once in a while I go through and delete some of them in a "what was I thinking??" moment.

I read 96 books in 2013!  This includes books that I read aloud to the boys.  (Yes, I do think that they count.  I read them, didn't I?)  2013 was the first year that Will started reading books to himself, but I make sure to read out loud to him too, because I know that he loves it.   We are still plugging through the Harry Potter series, having finished the second book sometime in December and seeing "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"  during this past Winter Break.  I debated giving him "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"  for Christmas, but ultimately decided to take a short break and read something else.  He got a little afraid of some of the situations in the second book and the books get darker as the series moves on.  Perhaps this Spring we will start it, sooner if he breaks me down by begging.

Here's my list of books that I would like to read in 2014.  I'm trying to get some of the books that I queued on Goodreads when I first got my account (2008!)   There are other books, not counting any knitting books, and who knows what will catch my fancy at the library this year!

1.  The Yarn Whisperer.  (Clara Parkes)  I received this as a Christmas gift, so it will likely be first.

2.  More books from the Dresden Files series by James Butcher.  I stopped at the third one but will definitely keep going into the new year.

3.  Home Front.  (Kristin Hannah.)

4.  The Thirteenth Tale.  (Diane Setterfield.)

5.  The Post-Birthday World.  (Lionel Shriver.)

6.  Growing Up Amish:  A Memoir. (Ira Wagler)

7.  Bowling Avenue.  (Ann Shayne.)

8.  His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman) One knitting friend told me that these books were enormously satisfying after finishing the Harry Potter series for the second time and missing them.

9.  The Wander Year:  One Couple's Journey Around the World.  (Mike McIntyre)

10.  The Signature of All Things.  (Elizabeth Gilbert.)

11.  We Are Water.  (Wally Lamb)

12.  Nothing Daunted:  The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.  (Dorothy Wickendon)