Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year !!

Tonight I finished my Hoodie Tunic sweater.  I had to re-knit the sleeves a couple of times because the decreases where too close together and the sleeves were too snug and short.  Tomorrow I hope to finish weaving in the ends and sew on a button, then block the whole thing with a bit of steam.  I think I'll make the same pattern again, someday, so I'll have to write down my pattern modifications before I forget. (See resolutions from Monday's post .)

It was a quiet night, no Kevin, leftovers from Christmas dinner, and a bit of wine.  Not interested in watching the big ball drop.  I just want to go to bed and hope for a better year in 2010.  I wish I could be hopeful but it's just too hard with my job uncertainties.  I will be much more diligent about tracking my spending and looking for ways to save money.  I promise.

Right now I feel like a cold is coming on and I'm supposed to have dinner with Mom tomorrow.  Can't do that if I'm not feeling well since she has a compromised immune system due to her arthritis meds.  Heading to the medicine cabinet for some Nyquil -- cures what ails you!

I hope everyone has a safe, happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bliss

I'm sure it doesn't sound too nice but Kevin has gone up to Holly & Mike's for the New Year's holiday!  Whoohoo!!

We don't have much time apart, sadly, but I do love when I have the house all to myself.  Unfortunately, Kevin was not able to finish all of his laundry -- what?  you think that was his plan????  I finished it for him, and piled all of the mounds in his room.  Maggie will be sleeping in her crate so no problem there.

That crazy dog of mine -- chewed up another yarn label again tonight -- what's up with her????  She is such a nut.

I worked on my hoodie tunic and the Thai Vest, alternating rows for each.  I hope to have the hoodie done tomorrow so I can count it as completed in 2009.

What will 2010 hold for ME?  I can hardly wait.  My co-worker Seamus has a job interview next week and I hope it goes well for him.  I also hope he remembers the rest of us if it works out for him.....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hats for Charity

Tonight several of my knitting friends gathered at Coralee's new home.  I'm so happy for her -- she found a great condo at a fabulous price and once she adds her own touch of new paint and carpet she'll be all set.

Tanya had worked on a new plan -- knit and felt a bunch of hats, embellish them, and place them in Amici's Pizza restaurant in Berkley for a silent auction.  The South Oakland Shelter will benefit from all money raised.  Tanya and Judith did the knitting and felting and the rest of us gathered tonight to add the embellishments.  Judith had received a boatload of donated yarn and some of it was used for these hats. 

Here are a few of the hats we completed:


It was a lot of fun finishing these up and we all enjoyed 'leftovers' from Christmas dinner, too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Tad Early

I've been thinking about ways to improve myself during 2010.  I know there are still a few days left in 2009 but I'd rather focus on fixing a few things about me that aren't working too well.

I've added a new blog to my sidebar on the left.  It's called 'Not Made of Money' and if you click on the 'money tree' you'll go straight to their blog.  There are loads of tips on how to do all sorts of things in life for less money.  Considering that my job is in jeopardy next year, I'm sure I can learn a lot from them.

Secondly I added a list of projects on my needles so I can keep my feet to the fire and track my progress.

Third on my list is to write down the adaptations I make to patterns I use so that when I make the project again or recommend it to others I can recall the modifications I made.   I'm considering using  large sticky notes that I can place on the pattern, rather that writing on the actual pattern.  Many times I'll make a photocopy of a pattern from a book and jot down changes on that paper but usually toss it when I'm done so I completely lose the changes made.  So many times I can't remember the needle size I used or dimension changes (nearly everything I make for myself is shortened -- I know, shocking!) and I spend wasted time trying to retrieve this information from my overly full brain.

And lastly, at least for now, is finishing projects COMPLETELY when they're done.  That means sewing on buttons, blocking the item, adding pockets and handles, every stinking thing!  Done means done!!

Of course, there's always:  eat better, exercise more, walk the dog more, clean the house more.  More, more, more!

What's on your resolution list for 2010???

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Catch up day

I really enjoy having next to nothing on my agenda for a Saturday.  I got a few corrections made to my computer although it's not totally behaving just yet.  Seems there is some sort of issue with Microsoft.NET/Framework 3.5.  I can't actually tell you what that means but I can recite it.  Every day for the last two weeks there's an attempt to send me an update and every day it fails.  More investigation needed there.  I'm hoping a co-worker or two can lend some assistance.  Once that's corrected, then maybe, just maybe, I can get my Neat Receipts working again.  Right now, all my business data for the year is trapped in Never-Never-Land.  Ugh.

I used the day to get things organized in my bedroom.  I repaired a few sweaters, hung things up in their proper spot in my closet, decided to reverse knit a sweater where the sleeves were too short and snug.  There -- I said it -- frogging a sweater I had hoped to wear for Christmas but could not.  I spent a hunk of the day looking on Ravelry for a pattern to use some lovely Anny Blatt Merino/Cashmere yarn and found several patterns but none for a sweater.  I found about 13 skeins of this super soft yarn when I had to move a few things out of the way of my electrical outlet behind my Expedit.  I needed to plug in my new super duper heater to keep me toasty while I surfed.

I helped Kevin tear down his bunk bed and store it in the shed.  Egad -- it's finally time for a 'big boy bed'.  He's only 29.  Until he can get over to IKEA or some other furniture store, he's sleeping in the  remaining bottom bunk still but with the mattress from the top bunk.  This is a big step.  These bunk beds were used by his father and uncle starting in the early 1960's.  Original mattresses.  Yes, that is a very long time.

Tomorrow I hope to get rolling on a vest I owe my friend Joanie.  I think I'll make one based on a vest I bought years ago from a now closed shop in Royal Oak that was made in Thailand.  It is an homage to the tenacity of the people devastated by that terrible tsunami that struck 5 years ago today.  I knit up a gauge swatch using size 7 needles but I'll need to go up to size 8s which means it will go so much faster!  Whoohoo!!  I look forward to completing the vest and moving on to projects for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All....

and to all a good night.  Now that we've all been able to fill our bellies with more glorious food than we ever needed, I know many of us are seeking out the most comfortable sofa, not to mention looser clothing.

I made a giant batch of cheesy potatoes to take to sister Carol's house for our family gathering today.  I waffled between a double batch and a triple batch and in the end I made a double batch.  Good thing since I brought home about half.  There was soooo much food a single batch would have been plenty.

It was a dreadful day weather-wise -- rained torrents much of the day with a high temperature about 41º -- very atypical for a Michigan Christmas.  On the other hand, though, we would have had many, many inches of snow had it been cold enough, so I'm really not complaining.

We gave my Mom her new camera and she cried.


I'll need to head over to her apartment soon to show her how to use the camera and make prints.

I didn't do a very good job of photographing everyone but here's my Mom with her 4 great grandchildren:














I didn't know what to get my great nieces and  nephews and settled on a Blockbuster gift card and bucket of their ready-to-pop popcorn.  I think they liked them, hard to tell with kids.  I gave my Mom the 6 pack popcorn assortment from Dale & Thomas -- I know she liked her gift.

My sister Carol gave each of her three sisters a really cute lighted holiday display ~~



I've got it on my kitchen table right now, just to see what it looks like lit up.  I'll find a better spot tomorrow.

I gave Holly the chiller pottery set from Jan the Potter and a couple of cookbooks.  Mike's gift was the flannel fish quilt I won at the quilt guild Holiday Bazaar.  They both loved their gifts.

 

I got a Meijer gift card from Holly & Mike, and a Right off the Sheep gift card from Kevin -- perfect!!




My friend Sue and I exchange gifts and here's what I got ~~





I'm such a lucky duck!  Can't wait to start knitting with this beautiful yarn!

I sure wish I had been able to take next week off from work -- I have plenty of things to catch up on.  Tomorrow I'll probably spend the day straightening out my computer.  Oh boy, can hardly wait.  I think I better get a good night's sleep so I'll have loads of patience to tackle the task ahead.

There were many times today when I thought about my Dad and how much I missed him and how different it is with him gone.  But there's a certain relief that comes from knowing that he's no longer suffering from the many things that ailed him over the years.  The lousy weather kept me from visiting his grave today but I'll head over there sometime this weekend.  I know he was with us in spirit today.

I hope everyone had a peaceful day and enjoyed the company of those they love (even if they don't always get along!).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chilly

It was a bit chilly doing my last bell ringing stint for the Salvation Army tonight.  I thought I'd be ringing again tomorrow but the website messed up and I won't.  That's perfectly fine by me.

I did see a few people I knew tonight -- Ann Marie (thanks for reading my blog -- time to be a 'follower'!), Louise (a knitting friend who got a new job -- yeah for someone among us), our esteemed mayor of Royal Oak, and a former local news anchor.  I also met the ringer before me, Frank, who was a very nice looking man.......

There were lots of shoppers, many donations, and loads of 'Merry Christmas' greetings exchanged.  I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday.

I'm heading to bed early tonight so I can get up tomorrow and be at my desk by 6:30 am.  Good night all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Toasty

Today at work my co-worker Seamus mentioned that his son who is fascinated with fans (he is high functioning ASD) got a new heater/fan for an early Christmas gift.  That got me thinking........

My bedroom gets chilly because I have to leave the door shut.  Why?  Because my curious canine has a fixation with paper -- any paper -- yarn ball labels, tissues, receipts, but luckily yet not money (although there tends not to be any of that just lying around.  Or is it laying around?  I always confuse the two.).

Anyway, while browsing today's Lowe's ad I noticed a little heater/fan for $12.97 so I decided I needed one for my chilly room.  Naturally when I got there I realized it was a hunk of junk piece of plastic that probably would burn up by New Year's so I checked out the other options.  Say............you don't think that was Lowe's plan, do you??!!
I narrowed it down to one that had a remote control and was a brand I recognized :

 
As a matter of fact, yes I am lazy and would to kick it up a notch in the middle of the night when my nose gets cold without having to get out of bed.

I like that it oscillates, shuts off when it reaches a determined temperature and kicks on when it gets too nippy.  Plus in the summer time it will act as a fan.  And then there's the white noise bonus.


Oh the bliss that comes from being toasty, not chilly.  Sometimes I get chilly working at this computer so I will have to find a plug I can use that won't make the computer go kerplunk.  No, I don't need two of these heaters....I'm not that lazy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

As promised...

......sort of.

Some days I'm such a forgetful Jones.  It's truly an act of God that I even get myself out of the house.  With clothes on.  Gifts in their bags.  Required food prepared.  But today....ah today something completely new happened to me.  I forgot to brush my TEETH!  Egad.  And do you think I had a breath mint in my purse to save me?  Oh, no.  Not even a Halls cherry cough drop to bail me out.  Plus I forgot my camera, which I was supposed to use to take a picture of my finished Chicken bag as proof that I actually do complete things.

Ok, so it was right up to the minute.  Nevermind, yes I was actually late getting out of the house.  No valid excuse, although the stupid bobbin thread ran out, as it always does when you're in a rush, with only 3 inches to go.  Don't you just hate it when you're sewing merrily along, only to discover that your bobbin ran out about 8 inches ago? &*#%@*?!  I simply begged for divine intervention to get me through it.  I kept saying to myself, 'I can do this, I can do this'.

And so I did.  Unfortunately I'm going to have to rely on my good friend Joyce to send me the pictures of the front and back of the finished bag.  Why Joyce? you ask.  Well, that would be because Joyce was fortunate enough to get my bag in our exchange today.  So many talented people in our group.  I got a lovely quilted tote in shades of green with black (thank you Pat!).  Our luncheon was filled with wonderful appetizers, desserts, and an out of this world punch that was aided by a bit (read: bottle) of Jim Beam.  Whooohooo!

I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends.  Friends are there when times are great and not so good, too.  You would have to go a long way to find such a great group -- we are all different but share a common love for each other.  I am truly blessed.

With that, I'll pass along a few of the prep pictures for the Chicken bag I made.

I used a drawing from a book on free art for craft people:

 

I had to enlarge it to about 200% to get it to be the size I needed for the front of the bag.  I labeled the pieces so that when I cut it apart I could at least figure out where everything went.  

I used some wacky scissors from Home Depot that had a laser on them to cut the background for the chicken.




Using the colors from the hand-dyed wool that I used to piece the back of the bag (this is where Joyce's pictures come in....) --




-- I chose hand-dyed roving to do a needle felted design of the chicken.  I struggled all day yesterday with this concept.  I really wanted to use the leftover pieces of hand-dyed wool to applique the chicken but I kept waffling so I went with the needle felted technique.



I used a blanket stitch on my Bernina Activa 240 sewing machine to apply the chicken to the wool bag fabric.







I finished sewing the bag together last night and made the lining from a yellow cotton I had set aside for a chicken quilt (some day....).  This morning I cut a piece of needlepoint canvas to fit and using a set of purse feet, placed it neatly on the inside of the bottom of the bag.  Next I made the cell phone/pen pocket and sewed it to the lining.  The last steps were to make the tabs for the purse handles and sew it all together:  lining, bag and handle tabs.  Phew.  Now if I hadn't run out of bobbin thread I might have uttered  fewer cuss words, so let's just blame it on the bobbin.

Once I got home from our gathering I had the house to clean up.  When I sew in a mad rush I tend to leave all the evidence behind.  Plus I had made a hot dip to take for the party and the skillet was still on the stove where I left it.  No, Kevin did NOT clean it for me.  Nevermind that he cleans dishes for a living and could have found a minute to take care of it for me.

So if Joyce can help me out by emailing me a couple of pictures of her bag, I will post them when I can.

I'm off to get in a bit of knitting before calling it an early night.  Hope everyone has a great week!  Safe travels to everyone heading somewhere for the holidays.

Hemming and Hawing

If I could just learn to go with my first instinct I would be able to get so much more accomplished.  I thought and thought and thought some more about my Chicken bag.  First it was one technique, then another, then back to the first, until eventually I went with what seems to be the desired outcome.  We'll see later today.  Yes, I'm writing this after midnight so it IS Sunday.  I'm off to bed soon so I can get up early and put the finishing touches on my bag.  I'll post pictures later today once the cat Chicken bag is out of the bag.  : * )

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dingy

Tonight was my second bell ringing stint at the Holiday Market.  I did not see anyone I know but it was eventful nonetheless.

First off, 5 minutes into my session my bell broke.  Completely came apart, splat onto the salt covered ground.  A shopper helped me pick up the pieces, plural.  Now what?  I stuck the wooden handle inside the brass bell and proceeded to whack the side of the bell with the striker piece.  I was definitely dinging not ringing the bell.  It worked well for the most part but I found I could not switch out hands and had to hold it pretty closely so now my fingers are stiff and my ears are ringing.  But the end justifies the means as the kettle seemed to have quite a bit of money in it.

Secondly, a car was behind me in the parking lot, loading up, when another car backed right into it.  I'm going to guess the elderly driver of the car backing up had to be deaf because she never stopped, even when the snarky driver of the Mustang was blaring her horn.  After a few words were exchanged both vehicles were on their way, although the elderly woman proceeded extremely s-l-o-w-l-y, while the Mustang went roaring off.

Today was not a fun day at work.  Several co-workers worked their final day before leaving the company for good.  I've known one gal for 30 years -- I met Kathy when I was pregnant and working as a temporary employee for MetLife.  Another guy, Cliff, had been there for 17 years and has 5 children plus 4 foster children.  Some people were fine with leaving, heading back to college to finish degrees or take jobs in preferred fields.  For the most part, however, it was not the employees' choice to be out of a job.  More of this to come next month.  Yippee.

I'm heading out now to drop off my kettle at the Salvation Army and hand over the bell parts for them to fiddle with.  I have a Christmas party to go to at friend Diane's house, where I'll get to meet her grandbaby Tristan, the one I made the hooded cardigan for back in October.  Food and beverages will be bountiful, no doubt, but I'm going to try to behave myself!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chicken Group Bag Exchange

Today I took a half day off work to run some errands.  I had to return the camera I had picked up for my Mom because my BIL Mike had already found one.  Then I was off to the Salvation Army to pick up my kettle, bell, and badge for my ringing stint at Holiday Market tomorrow (5-7 PM in case you're in the area and can stop by).  They were handing out toys for parents to take home and give to their children.  I saw a story about it on the 5 PM news.

My customer came to pick up the 'wretched wool' hats -- phew!  So glad they're gone and she loved them!  I'm relieved.  Now I can focus on my Chicken group bag exchange, which is Sunday.  Yes, this Sunday.  I completely changed my mind about what I was going to make.  I can't show you any pictures yet.  I'll post them on Sunday, once it's gone to its new home.  I have to find a lining fabric that works -- hopefully in my stash.  I have to say I'm liking this bag.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Options

There are so many times in our lives where the negative option seems to be the only option.

Yes, I will be losing my job.  But....there could be another position in the same company at that time.  Then again, I have received quite a bit of training that can be transferred to another company and that leaves me in a pretty good position.  As I said yesterday, I'm not one who embraces change but you know what -- I've done it before and I can do it again.  Nearly 20 years ago our MetLife office lost the dental and vision claims business to the Atlanta office.  Cheaper, not necessarily better, as witnessed by their move to the Utica, NY office a few short years later.

I was divorced 18 years ago -- talk about changes.  I know all about living without to make it through the tough times.  I definitely have to scale back.  Even today I was considering a new project for my Chicken bag exchange but an epiphany occurred -- I decided to stick with my original idea for a bag.  Someday, though, I'll be creating this one:  Ribbon Purse   I think it's adorable but I'd have to modify it to meet our size requirements for our Christmas bag exchange, so it will have to wait.  I don't have the energy to re-design ANYTHING.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Different Focus

First off, thanks to everyone for your kind words of concern and especially poignant comment from Tanya.
: * )

I know yesterday's post was all doom and gloom.  So sorry for that with Christmas right around the corner and everyone trying to get in the spirit.  Things could always be worse.  I DO still have a job which is taking care of the bills for now but I am looking for ways to scale back.  Sometimes you just have to write everything down on paper to know exactly where you stand.  And I'll do that.  Starting next year.  Uh huh, I realize that's less than 3 weeks away.

I called the Salvation Army today to see how much was donated in my kettle last Saturday.  An amazing $339.20 was dropped into my kettle in just two hours of ringing.  Just think -- what if I could make $169.60 per hour in a real job?  One that was legal, that is.

My next ringing stint is Friday at the Holiday Market in Royal Oak from 5-7 PM.  If you're in the area stop by and see me.  I might even hug you if you bring me a hot cocoa........I'm expecting pretty brisk conditions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Joining the crowd....

....of out of work people.  Today it was announced that the work my team does is being put up for bid by the DiPs (Debtors in Possession) who now own Delphi.  Without knowing how pleased Delphi has been with our work, they are strictly looking to save money.  Beginning in January, it will take 3-5 months for the bidding process (my guess is less) and then the work will be transitioned to the new company.  I'm figuring I'll be out of a job by Fall 2010, maybe sooner, but could be later.  It depends on how ready the new company is to take over our work.  There's usually a lot of programming involved and testing to be sure everything goes smoothly.

There is a small chance that I'll be able to post for a position on another team but there will be about 30 of us scrambling for a handful of jobs.  Then there's always the possibility of leaving the area and taking a position in another MetLife office.  If I want to learn mortgages there are plenty of openings right now.

This is all so ironic since tomorrow I'm having my 25th anniversary breakfast with the vice president along with about 20 other employees, most of whom will be losing their jobs too. Yippee.

It's tough to think about making a career change at this point in my life.  I hate change.  I really enjoy what I do and the people I work with and for.  And I happen to be pretty darn good at what I do.  I'll have to start all over at the bottom and be the 'new girl'.  Ugh.

If only I could figure out a way to make a living doing crafty things.  I'm going to have to spend the next few months paring down and whittling my expenses.  Boy this sure puts the kibosh on things like a new computer or trips, and what will I do for a car when my lease is up in September??  I can take the bus only so many places.  And maybe I'll have to sell the house and get an apartment.  At work we joked about rooming with each other to cut costs.  Again, I really, really don't like change..........

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick

Do you ever feel like time is ticking away?  Days go by so quickly sometimes that I don't get nearly enough done in order to stay on track.  11 measly days left before Christmas.  I don't know how I'll get everything done that needs to get done.  I did get a couple more gifts knitted up this weekend but have several more items to go.  I purchased a quilt for son-in-law Mike at our guild's Holiday Bazaar and washed it up, only to find I'll need to repair the binding on it.  : (   Great, one more thing to add to my task list.

Today I was side tracked by computer problems.  My intention this morning was to scan in my receipts using my Neat Receipts software.  Problem.  Couldn't launch it, getting a 'failed to initialize properly' error message.  UGH!  I've been emailing back and forth with tech support with no success yet.  Since I rely on this software to keep track of my business expenses, this is a rotten development.  Hope to straighten this out tomorrow.  When you work all day long on computers for your job, the last thing you want to deal with is problems with your home computer.  I think the latest problem resulted from having received the XP Service Pack 3 upgrade and the Neat Receipts version has to be upgraded too.  We'll see if my theory is correct.

Tomorrow is our meeting with the vice president and I'm hoping she's only announcing some sort of reorganization but it could very well be that our whole team will be going away.  Again, we'll see if my theory is correct.  Like Madame Defarge, I'll just keep knitting along.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Generosity

Even in tough times people can reach down deep and find a way to help others who are less fortunate.  I did my first bell ringing stint today for the Salvation Army and by the end of my 2 hour shift my kettle was full.  I have a new tool for stuffing money down into the little criss-crossed opening in the kettle top -- I use the temples from my sunglasses -- perfect for shoving money all the way down into the kettle.  Plus, I can do it without having to remove my gloves.

Today's weather was beautiful with sunshine and a high temperature around 39º.  I have three more bell ringing stints coming up and while I'm fairly certain I won't be so lucky when it comes to weather from now on I can hope......

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here we go again....

Today at work we all got an email from our vice president saying we had a mandatory meeting on Monday.  All phones are to be shut down while our teams gather for this meeting.  Well that certainly sounded ominous.  Great.  Another weekend where we all stew, speculate, and worry.  Again.  We were barely past the cut back announcements and now this.  Time for the rest of us to tune up our resumes.  Again.

I tried to finish knitting the last of the four 'wretched wool' hats.  After 5 tries I'm giving up -- there simply isn't enough yarn in the skein to make it work.  Maybe it can be made into another style hat.  I'm leaving it up to the customer.  I finished soaking two of the other completed hats in the Head and Shoulders bath and they are both much better off.  Unfortunately an altercation occurred when Maggie decided to abscond with a tissue and I tried to pry it from her mouth.  Let's just say I lost as evidenced by the bruise I got on my hand from her teeth.  She is now in her crate for a serious time out session.  She will remain there until Kevin gets home from work.  Naughty girl.

I'm mentally whipped from the difficult day at work and don't expect to be awake much longer.  I need to 'take to my bed' as they used to say.  A good night's sleep will do me some good.  I hope to hit the gym early in the morning.  I need it.  I'll be bell ringing tomorrow so I'm hoping the weather will be kind.

I'm really tired of this job uncertainty........

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Safety Tip

I received this tip at work the other day and I thought it was one worth passing on to all of you.

"What to take to bed with you - not a joke
Pretty neat idea. Never thought of it before.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night 
 
Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this:


It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it.
It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain....


It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around.

After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that.

And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic.


Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. Older folks should carry car keys with them in case they fall outside the house. They can activate the car alarm and then someone will know there's a problem. 


Please pass this on even IF you've read it before. It's a reminder."

Now just to be sure, I tested the key fob for my car and yes indeedy, the alarm went off from any room in my house.  Just ask Maggie, who was watching out the front living room window.  Ok, so it's a small house, but it worked.  You can give it a go in your house.  I think this is pretty slick. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dad's Birthday

Today was a sad day for me.  It would have been my Dad's 85th birthday.  Instead of celebrating it with him I visited him at the cemetery for a few minutes this afternoon.  It was a cold, blustery day with winds exceeding 25 MPH and pretty much fit the mood.  The grave was covered with a beautiful grave blanket which was holding its own against the elements.  I paused to reflect on the last year and how someone could decline so quickly.  I recalled how in the end I was disappointed that he no longer remembered my name even while he was glad to see me.  I appreciate every visit I had with him.

The wicked weather kept me inside tonight so I made good use of my time by baking 8 dozen cookies for tomorrow.  I'm taking two plates with 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies to Right off the Sheep so they can be donated and then the other 4 dozen cookies are going to the quilt guild Holiday Bazaar.  I  hope the weather holds out for tomorrow night.  It sure seems like we often get lousy weather on guild nights, which cuts down on attendance.  We'll see.

I watched the final episode of Top Chef for this season and though I wanted Kevin to win, when he didn't, I was glad it was Michael Voltaggio not his brother Bryan (who had the most annoying nervous laugh).  Project Runway didn't go the way I wanted this year with Irina winning over Carol Hannah.  Now I'm back to watching Tabatha's Salon Takeover. That's about all the reality TV I can take.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Got a minute?

If you have a minute how about taking a quick second to send a Thank You card to a U.S. servicemember. Here's a link to choose a card, designed by various children, a thank you comment, and send it on it's way via Xerox.

Monday, December 7, 2009

White Elephant

Tomorrow is our office holiday party and I needed to come up with a White Elephant gift.  I had thought about getting rid of this stained glass tealight holder that my evil former boss gave me but I changed my mind when I spotted this ~~



I think Holly got this a few years ago, former friend maybe?, not sure but I think it will work well for tomorrow.  Here's what's inside:


I think someone might just love it.  It was just sitting in a bag of things to be ebayed in my craft room.  Hope I get something I actually like.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Super Busy Week

This week will be filled to the hilt for me.  I'm super busy at work with our year end luncheon on Tuesday.  I've got to come up with a White Elephant gift -- hmmm, I've got some good ideas -- excellent opportunity to rid the house of a treasure or two.  Sure will be a really interesting time with four of my co-workers losing their jobs next month. : (

Tuesday is also the Black Sheep Knitting Guild meeting -- I still need to get the door prize options together.  Thursday is the Great Lakes Heritage Quilters guild meeting -- we'll be having our Holiday Bazaar, for which I think I may have an item or two to donate.  I'm also supposed to bring an appetizer for that plus donate 2 dozen cookies for a fundraiser that Right off the Sheep is supporting.

Friday night is my favorite wine tasting of the year held in Livonia and sponsored by my  #1 Italian market, Cantoro's.  It's only $25 and they have the best food and plenty of wine to sample.

Saturday is the Thrums and Chums meeting for rug hooking in Brighton.  I hope to make it for that -- depends on whether or not I go to the wine tasting!  Then later in the afternoon I'm doing my first bell ringing shift at the Holiday Market from 3-5 pm -- I hope there are lots of shoppers!

Somewhere in between all of these activities I need to continue to go to the gym.  I'm a bit sore but already feeling better having returned for a couple of sessions last week. 

I still have one more 'wretched wool' hat to complete.  I had it mostly completed yesterday when I realized I didn't have enough yarn, frogged it, and decided I needed to go up a needle size.  I can't wait to finish the last one, soak the others, and get them off to the customer.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Makeover

Today I found the courage to update my blog.  I've been petrified that I would blow the whole thing up if I tried to use a new template.  It didn't happen.  I'm still in one piece, though I've continued to tweak it all night.  It can be tough finding the right colors to use for the different sections.

I'd love to hear what you think about the changes -- comments anyone??

Friday, December 4, 2009

Half Day

Today I took a half vacation day at work.  I finished all that needed to be done and then bolted.  I drove Kevin over to get his repaired pickup truck and then headed to the Potters' Market in Madison Heights.  If you've never gone to this show, you need to put it on your agenda for Saturday or Sunday if you live in the Metro Detroit area.  It is the largest sale of its kind in the U.S.  Over 31,000 pieces of clay were sold at last year's show.

Each year I've gone I've been amazed and awed by the beautiful and sometimes whimsical pieces that artists create.  I snapped a few pictures of the day ~~


 
 
 

And a few interesting pieces ~~





And from the 'what was she thinking' category ~~




Yes, those ARE fishnet leggings and leopard stilettos.  Egad, apparently there are no mirrors or other humans in her household.

And lastly, all sorts of display ideas are used for the various pottery items.  I thought this one was particularly cute, since my niece Carla is currently living in California ~~



If you need an inexpensive item for a Christmas/Hanukkah gift you can find it at this show.  There are tons of ideas for under $15 -- butter dishes, holiday treat plates, jewelry, pins, flower frogs, mugs, and on and on.  But if you're looking for great values in platters, serving bowls, and everything else that is pottery, you will find it at this show.  I had a baking dish in my basket to purchase but I kept hearing Kevin's voice -- do you really need another baking dish??? -- and so I put it back, buying only things I need for Christmas gifts.  Darn that Kevin!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Scientific Knitting

I bet you've never thought about using knitting as a means of constructing a science fair project.  Some people are just too darned clever.  In this week's Knitters Review email Clara Parkes spread the word about an article that recently appeared in Discover Magazine that used fiber and needles.  I know -- what in the world were they thinking.  Check it out for yourself:  Discover Magazine -- I think you'll be amazed.  Sure wish I'd thought of this when I was in grade school -- I would have gotten an 'A' in science for sure!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Head and Shoulders

I'm sure that most of you think of Head and Shoulders Shampoo as something you use on a human head to straighten out a dandruff problem.  Oh no, not me.  I use the Shampoo & Conditioner version to straighten out 'wretched wool' problems.

Last night I soaked my latest 'wretched wool' hat in a bathroom sink full of the dandruff shampoo.  It was a miracle!  Now the hat is soft and free of the terrible roughness that had left my hands so raw.  I highly recommend this as a cure for 'wretched wool syndrome'.

Today I came across a new to me blog: Good Wines Under $20 As a daily (or nearly so) wine drinker I'm always looking for wines that don't cost a lot but are very tasty.  Tonight is a case in point. My local grocer, Westborn Market, has a section of 'under $10' wines, and tonight's selection 'Borsao' from Spain was a delicious choice.  At only $7.99 for the bottle, it was absolutely delicious.  'Chickens -- be on the lookout for this wine in the future'.  It was a superb blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo.  Very soft tannins and long finish.  Exquisite for the price.  A definite must-serve wine, especially for weekdays.  It paired very nicely with the Grana Padana cheese I had left over from last week.  Yummmmmmo.  And at 14% alcohol -- just enough to take the edge off the day!

I actually went back to the gym today for the first time in over 4 months.  I saw several of the regulars there today but I didn't speak to anyone.  I'm sure they wondered where I've been.  Part of my excuse for not going is a really bad groin muscle pull, then there's the bursitis in my shoulder, but mostly it's been the passing of my father.  In addition, there were a couple of creepy men that made me not want to go too.  I always caught them staring at me and that creeped me out.  But I had a good 60 minute workout, stretching quite a bit.  I reminded myself that I'm starting all over again and that jogging at 4.5 mph is quite alright.  For now.  But not for long.  I'm ready to get back into shape.  Tired of my paunch.  I know my Dad was proud of me working out so I have to keep going for him, and me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can there be too much?

One of my fellow Royal Oak residents puts up an unbelievable light display every Christmas season.  I should actually say they never really take it down completely either.  Much to their neighbors' chagrin.  They have so many displays going that their electric bill is out of this world and they've put out a kettle (like the Salvation Army) to help defray the cost of their display.

I've driven by it before but I had never taken the time to get out of the car and examine their display.  I can truly say that there does come a time when there can be TOO much.  First off, you hear music playing -- not a way to endear the neighbors.  Then there's the steady stream of traffic creeping by at a snail's pace, clogging up the street.  I would cringe if this were my neighbor.  Everyone in town knows about this house and each year it ends up on the news and in the papers.

There are several moving characters.  A full children's choir.  Complete manger scene.  Reindeer.  Giant candy canes.  You name it, it's there.


Don't you love Santa with the angels?

I apologize for the 'shaky' pictures.  I'll try something different next time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Phew!

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and I'm happy to say I managed to post every single day of November.  Yeah for me!  Hopefully I've had something of interest to say or show each day.  Although, I do have to say, I've not been getting any comments lately.  Hmmmm.

Today is also the last day for knitting with civilized wool yarn for a while.  I put the braids on the Ear Flap Hat from yesterday and I finished knitting the Ponytail Hat as well.



I'm just auditioning the buttons -- I have a feeling that my co-worker will decide against them, but they're the only ones I have that match and fit correctly right now!  You can see the ponytail opening just above the buttons and to the right.  And here's a close up of the buttons and the lower ribbed band.




It hasn't been blocked yet, but you already knew that!

Now it's back to the 'wretched wool' -- ugh.  Can't get those hats done fast enough.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back to Nice Wool

Such a relief today to be knitting on soft wool.  After a couple of days of the 'wretched wool' I had nearly forgotten how nice wool could be.

I made the Ear Flap Hat for my coworker's daughter today but I think she wants the braids that can dangle from the ear flap so I'll need to add that tomorrow after I confirm.



This was a very interesting pattern for a number of reasons.  Remember it came from Lucia (see yesterday's post for the link) and it used short rows for the ear flaps and had a headband seam.  It's super warm and I think Ariana will love it.  Here's a close up of the yarn, Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes Bulky.  It used all of one skein and I will have to nab a few yards of a second skein if I need the braided ties.



I also started the second hat, the ponytail hat, with some Araucania Limari multicolor wool from Chile.  I've finished the band and am just about to the point where you make the hole for the ponytail.  Pictures will hopefully be posted tomorrow.  For now, though, here is the yarn.



Both yarns were selected by my coworker to match her daughter's teal winter jacket.  I hope she likes both hats.  You know how particular teenage girls can be.

And finally, I've been driving around my neighborhood for the past few nights and noticing how many folks have decorated their houses for the holidays.  I'll be posting pics of some of the ones I've come across.




They're not necessarily tricked out to the hilt -- I just like what they've done.  Some are simple and some are elaborate.  Either way they dress up the neighborhood and put us all in the proper spirit.

I signed up for 4 bell ringing sessions with the Salvation Army next month.  How about you?  Can you spare a couple of hours to stand outside and ring the bell and make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than you?  I don't have any money to donate to worthy causes like this one but I do have time and that's what I'm giving.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tidying Up

Today I spent much of the day putting things back in their places.  Most of my time was spent organizing my wayward knitting patterns back into their proper binders.  For a brief moment Kevin stepped into my craft room and announced that if I knit for 10 hours a day I might be able to knit all my yarn in a year and half, maybe two years.  He's such a man.  I expect it would take the better part of five years at that pace and NO more buying in order to achieve that goal.

He's not my husband but sometimes he sounds just like one.  'When are you going to go back to the gym?'  'You really should cut out drinking pop and using butter.'  'You can't possibly need any more yarn or pattern.'  As long as he's around I don't really need a husband, do I?

I started a new hat, Hand Knit Ear Flap Hat, by a gal named Lucia.  Check out her website:  Lucia's hat calculator  I hope to post some pictures tomorrow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not me

I was not one of those early bird shoppers at 3 AM lined up outside of Old Navy.  Nor was I waiting for the doors to open at 4 AM at Kohls.  Not I.  No, I was sound asleep and enjoying every minute of my restful sleep, waking at 7:30 AM, thinking it was time to get up and get knitting.

I putzed around the house, cleaning a bit, ran some laundry, and washed dishes leftover from yesterday's  dinner preparation.  For lunch I treated myself to a delicious corned beef/swiss/rye sandwich from the Onion Roll Deli.  I think it's my favorite place for that sandwich.

I started another hat from the 'wretched wool' assortment.  Again, I can't wait to get them done.  I went over to my friend Kate's house tonight to knit with several friends, including the birthday girl Tanya.  I won't say how old she is but it's more than 39 and less than 41.

My hands ache from that nasty yarn so I'm popping a couple Motrins and calling it a night.  Tomorrow I'll knit another hat from different yarn for a different customer.  I deserve a break!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day

I hope everyone has had a memorable day visiting with family and friends today.  I trust you all were well fed and had plenty of treats.  It's good to get together and remember to be grateful for all that we have.

I'm grateful for:

  1. My children
  2. My Mom
  3. My sisters and their families
  4. My friends
  5. My job
  6. My home
  7. My dog
  8. The changing seasons
  9. My love of crafts
  10. A good night's sleep
There are so many things to be grateful for in life.  All too often, though, I get fixated on what isn't going well.  Like when my washing machine broke -- at least I had a washing machine TO fix and the money to make it happen.  While things are not going too well at work, at least I still have a job and benefits.

It's just about time for me to sign up to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army's red kettle drive.  I've done it for the last 3 years and it's really rewarding.  How many other times in life do you have people thank you for doing a charitable act or say 'God Bless You'?  Most of the times I have done this it's been miserably cold.  Perhaps that leads to getting more people donating when I look pitiful.  This year I've got plenty of pocket warmers so I'll be packing them to help keep me from turning into an icicle. 

I finished the first of the four Republic hats I need to knit for my customer in Dryden.  I want to get the other three done plus the pair of fingerless mitts for my friend Eddie.  Then I need to finish Holly & Mike's rug.  I'll be glad when the 'have to do' items are checked off my list of things to do and I can go back to knitting things for me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bleh Yarn

Sunday I picked up four skeins of handspun wool yarn from a customer to make four of my Republic hats for her.  She had seen my hats at the Mt. Bruce show but wanted to use her own yarns.  She had two skeins spun by a friend and a couple of others that were purchased from a fiber show of some sort.

I wound each of the four hanks into a center pull ball and grumbled at the roughness as I did so.  I normally use a bulky yarn and size 10 needles to knit those hats but it was quickly apparent that I would have to drop down in needle size.  I began with 8s, which left the gauge too loose.  Next it was size 7s, same problem.  I gave up on that yarn and completely unraveled that hat at about the half way point and set it in the time out corner.  I picked out another of the yarn balls and after trying size 7s, frogged that one too, and switched to size 6s.  I really dislike working with the yarn -- it's way too rough and there's not enough lanolin left in it to compensate.  I'll be glad when these hats are done.  Here are a couple of shots of the yarn and the hat so far......

 

Working with yarns like these make me appreciate the better yarns that I'm used to using.  This hat was worked with Rowan Country wool -- so much softer and easier to knit with ~~


Kind of a man-ly color, a bit more denim-y than the photo shows.

Can't wait to get back to knitting with my regularly scheduled yarns...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preparation

Every Thanksgiving it seems like there's so much preparation.  This year my sister Carol is hosting our family dinner in her new home.  It will be good to be in a different place.  Some place other than my Mom & Dad's apartment.  I don't look forward to going to the apartment anymore.  I really wish Mom would get a new place.  Maybe that will happen in March when her current lease is up.

Today after work I went to my favorite Italian market.  I love buying their cannoli and enjoyed eating one on the way home, nuts and sugar falling all over me in the car.  Their bread is to die for -- freshly baked onsite, 24 hours a day.  I could only think about getting home and slathering some soft butter on the still-warm slices.  I picked up a nice chunk of Grana Padana to take for dinner Thursday and pondered for quite a while in the wine aisle, picking up a half dozen bottles for future consumption.

After knitting with the ladies at Panera I headed to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for my dishes for Thanksgiving.  I didn't want to wait until tomorrow when the crowds will be large, cranky, and hurried.  I bought the fixings for the appetizers I'm bringing along with all the necessities for the famous green bean casserole.  That's one of Holly's favorites and one that usually goes over well at family gatherings although I do remember that Dad didn't care for it.  He liked just about everything else about Thanksgiving dinner and usually ate more than he should have(don't we all??) -- I think it was his favorite holiday.  I know he will  be missed at the table Thursday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Newlyweds

Yesterday I had a great visit with Holly & Mike, even if it was a short one.  I told her next time I'll come early on a Saturday and spend the day with her.  We talked about me getting some snowshoes and wandering around the property once it's covered with snow.  There was also mention about some very cute sheep that Mike had heard about.....

I snapped a few pictures of the happy couple and here's the best ~~

Mike was getting over a bad cold and cough so he wasn't feeling the best but he was a trooper.

I know it will be challenging for them to hit her dad's family, my family and Mike's family for Thanksgiving Day dinners.  I hope they save a bit of appetite so they can try my new appetizers at my sister Carol's house.  I bought a new piece of pottery yesterday and it came with a Hot Crab meat Dip recipe.  What's not to like about Crab meat!  I'm also in charge of Green Bean Casserole.  I'm waiting to hear from Carol whether the extra relatives from Buffalo will be coming or not.  I want to pick up the groceries tomorrow since Wednesday will be a madhouse for sure at the grocery store.

Today I finally got my hair cut and colored.  Egads, it was getting so darn grey and shaggy.  Now I'm back to brown and spiffy.  I met up with Tanya and Linda to debrief our weekend craft show.  We strategized about how we could do things differently/better next year.  Unfortunately I wound up getting the pizza we were eating stuck near my temporary crown, the one on top in the back (tooth #15 for those of you familiar with dentistry).  Once home, it decided to pop off while I was trying to floss out the stuck substance.  Lucky for me it didn't pop off into the toilet.  Have I mentioned that I'm always multi-tasking??

Fear not, I called the dentist and they were able to get me in right away to re-glue the wayward temporary crown and advised me to floss carefully back there by simply pulling the floss through the teeth instead of up and out.  Gargling with warm salt water might help with the gum swelling I've been experiencing too.  I say a little wine ought to do the trick too.  Drinking it that is, not gargling with it.  Though that does give me an idea...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

No Knit Day

I had a nice visit with my Mom today and I think she liked Holly & Mike's new house.  Mike made a delicious pot of Ham & Bean soup and they had used the canning book I gave them to make some applesauce yesterday, which was also very good.  I nearly hit another deer on our way back home.  I suppose they are all a bit skiddish since it's hunting season.

Today is a no-knit day.  My bursitis has flared up in my left shoulder so I'm just going to wind some yarn I picked up today from a customer who wants 4 button hats made from her yarn.  I've already taken a Naproxen which will hopefully kick in by the time I finish eating dinner and then I just might go to bed early.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Done, done, diddly done

The last of my craft shows for 2009 is over and I have to say I'm relieved.  It was not a good show for me but my friends Tanya and Linda fared much better.

Now I need to finish an order for fingerless mitts for my friend Eddie and knit up a charcoal gray felted hat for a customer from the Mt. Bruce show.  Next I can concentrate on Christmas knitting and personal knitting.  So glad for that!  I have to work on my hoodie tunic sweater -- nearly done, unravel another WIP sweater that wasn't behaving, and start working on some of the yarn my sister Denise has brought back for me from various trips over the past few years.  I've been woefully slow in using them and they're all so nice.

Tomorrow morning I'm picking up my Mom and driving her out to see Holly & Mike's new house.  Mike has cooked up a pot of Ham & Bean soup for us for lunch so we'll get there early enough to tour the house and then eat.  Mom will no doubt take pictures and I'm sure will love the place.

If I get home early enough I want to head over to Jan the Potter's house to pick up this great piece of pottery that can be used for dips.  I'll post a picture if I end up getting one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Done for the day

Today was such a full day.  I worked this morning and took the afternoon off of work so I could finish preparing for our craft show.  I made 8 signs to advertise the show and placed them in several locations near Tanya's house.  The basement looked great and we had plenty of things to sell.

I think we had just short of 20 people show up from 4 pm to 6:30 pm and that's not too bad.  I think nearly everyone who came bought something, but I, alas, did not sell a single thing.  Fiddledeedee.  I hope tomorrow is more fruitful.  For now I'm just going to wash up and go to bed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hard to believe.....

but this is post #200.  When I began early this year I'm sure I didn't expect to keep up with this project.  But I have.  And I've really enjoyed writing about all that matters to me.  I get some nice feedback too, so some of you are enjoying it too!

My friends Tanya and Linda and I are having a home craft show this weekend.  We have so much great stuff for sale -- Tanya's basement looks amazing.  Now all we need are customers.  We've passed out flyers, invited co-workers, friends, family.  PLEASE SHOW UP! 

Here are some great shots of the available items -- I KNOW you need them!


 
 
 
 
 

We will have some light refreshments and door prizes -- even more incentive to come!