Friday, December 3, 2010

A long time.

So most every week day I think about how I need to blog again. And then it doesn't happen. Oops.

I am now in the work furiously at Christmas crafts, and prey I get everything done, time of year. And this is dispite actually making, and for at least a time staying mostly on schedule, my Christmas Craft plan back in July/August. Ah well....there's always next year.

Plus I think everything that I make is going to be pretty awesome this year:
Mother's scarf/shaw - done and awesome
Grandma's blanket - done and awesome
Bran's blanket - getting close to being done....finally
Courtney's scarf - only have about a foot on the needles, this project needs the most work
Penguin aparal - I have all the supplies gathered and preliminary work done just need to get'er done
Christmas calanders - need to check for changes with the family and then print
Christmas pillow - the cross stitch is done I think I'll pick up some holiday fabric from joann's on Saturday and sew a log cabin square around it. Should be awesome.

Ok that list is kinda scary there. But I'm aiming to get a good bit of stuff done this weekend.

Wish me luck.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CSA

Today in my email I noticed that the big local farm where I love to get produce (and where I buy produce for any canning that I've done recently) will be offering a CSA next year.

I would absolutely love to get my weekly big batch of fresh fruits and veggies but alas I am only one person and I really don't need $15 of produce every week. But I can't think of how awesome it would be and how, hopefully, it would help mold me into better eating habits and trying more foods.

Maybe I'll be able to find someone to split it with....

Friday, November 5, 2010

26 Days.

It started on October 25th. There were concerts on the 30th and the 31st (which nearly sold out). November 7th is a big special Gala event. And on the 13th and 14th there's another concert. Saturday November 20th will be the start of my next non-work weekend.

That means a stretch of 26 days with one day (tomorrow the 6th) free of work. Ouch.

Actually I took off last Tuesday to go house viewing. But the "day off" ended up being very tiring and somewhat stressful as house hunting tends to be for me. Plus I seriously do not recommend taking a random Tuesday off as it really throws off ones internal chronology.

Go figure one of my co-workers decided to have a house (well apartment) - warming party on the 6th. If anyone brings up work I may scream. Yea, that'll never happen, it'll certainly be talked about. I probably ought to just start crying now.

The week before the first concert was absolutely crazy. Stupid POPS concerts and people wanting to come and absolutely everyone has accessibility issues.

By the Thursday or Friday after a concert my brain always is pretty mush like. Today is no exception. Even my most basic of tasks was proving to be nearly impossible.

*sigh*

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It is cold.

The weather this year has been a bit crazy. It was a brutally hot summer. And it seemed to stay warm rather well. Then suddenly it was cold. Then it was mild. And now it's frigid.

I am sad.

You see I am pretty much always cold. Even in the summer I spend most of the time cold because everyone feels the need to blast the AC.

Now the normal answer to this problem would be: so turn on the heat. But alas, I am also cheap. It's quite the dilemma, but the cheapness is totally winning.

Things that I have done to avoid turning on my heat (which btw is still off despite the fact that the apartment is consistently in the 50's now):

1. Add extra blankets - During the summer I have a sheet and a comforter on my bed. When it started getting cool at night I added a second comforter. When things were getting rather chilly I added in my retro electric blanket which I (aim to) turn on 20 minutes before bed and then turn off the idea being that body heat can then maintain stasis. At that point I was still waking up with cold feet which was very sad. So I recently added another thermal typeish blanket plus a fleece blanket (with penguins on it!) which covers the bottom 2/3 of the bed. I've also started sleeping in my pajama bottoms, thick socks, a long sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt.

2. Space heater - As awesome as it is, at times I am loath to use my space heater. This is because I know that the thing will totally jack up my electric bill. But it's less expensive than oil so it has been on recently. Plus Bran is not cheap like me and so turns things on without a second thought. Last winter I discovered the best use of heater was to open the foot rest part of my couch. Place the space heater under the foot rest. And cover me and it with a blanket. It pretty much always gets downright hot before too long.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crochet Hook Case


A year ago I really didn't know (or remember is more accurate) how to crochet. But for some reason I decided to pick it back up. And since then I've been hooking up a storm of granny squares and the occasional amigurimi. And so I've found myself going more and more often to my jar of hooks to try and find the right size for this or that project.

Realistically making a hook case would be more of an organizational project than a craft one. Nearly all of my hooks being hand-me-downs from my Grandmother's piles of stuff I have no idea what sizes I even have. It actually seems like I'm rather lacking in more "normal" sized hooks and I'm definitely overwhelmed by little teeny tiny lace (or something...I've never used them) hooks.

So pretty much this project would help to add in some organization to my crafty life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knitting lace.

Way back in July when I started planning Christmas gifts I decided that I wanted to spin enough lace weight alpaca to make my Mother a big scarf/shawl. It seemed like a pretty crazy goal, but at the time I was quite gung-ho on the spinning thing and for some reason seemed to think that the knitting part was practically a throw away.

The month past, and while I did accomplish a good bit of spinning, I didn't meet my goal. So when October came near everything was a bit iffy, but I decided to proceed with Mother's scarf/shawl reducing the repeats in efforts to still have enough remaining yarn to make a scarf for Bran's sister.

Then I proceeded to struggle with the 3rd row of the pattern. It took much longer than it should but after a while i figured it out, and i was off.

I've not done much lace knitting at all so it was something different. The project certainly didn't look like much while on the needles. But I found that when I stretched it out things were shaping up rather awesomely.

Unfortunately awesome or not things seemed to be crawling along at a snails pace. But then after about two weeks of plodding along suddenly I found my groove with the pattern and I started going more quickly. I also started to realize just how much size was added when the knitting was stretched. It was awesome.

And so late last Friday I found myself at a point where I could cast off! The next day (after a traumatic laundromat visit) I made my own blocking board. and on Sunday I stretched the whole thing out 20" by 60" and let the sucker dry. 

Inevitably there are a good many inconsistencies in the project. There are a few spots where you can see that I used a batch of coarser, not quite the same color, fleece. Really I need to get over it and just throw that stuff out next time (I hate waste!). At the end of my first skein I seemed to have gotten particularly fine with my spinning, then the next skein started off a bit more bulky. And lastly I'm not sure if I was just knitting more loosly or if the yarn changed, both are quite possible, but the start of the scarf is much tighter than it was when I casted off. Blocking helped this last issue some, but really the end didn't take nearly as much stretching, so who knows....

Plus I am quite worried that as Mother uses it the crazy hand-made item could easily loose shape. I was reading knitting horror stories about such things with alpaca yarn....that would be sad.

But for now at least I can enjoy marveling at this simple beauty.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3-D Paper Snowflake

The first project on my list (alphabetically) is a 3-D Paper Snowflake. I think I found and bookmarked this tutorial 2 Christmas seasons ago. 

It seems quite simple, yet very pretty. I'm not quite sure why I've never gotten around to it beyond that the holiday's tend to attract super-duper craft overload.

So this year maybe I'll try to use it as a break from all of my other projects. After all snowflakes are easily one of my favorite seasonal decorations. Ever since bizzardizing my college dorm rooms (all 3 years I'm proud to say) I have continued the tradition of cutting and hanging snowflakes en-masse.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

252 Squares

On Thursday October 14th at approximately 9:15 (while watching Grey's Anatomy - yay) I finished crocheting the last of the 252 little Granny Squares for Bran's Christmas Present (Mario Blanket). I began constructing squares while on the beach in Ocean City MD back in June 117 days ago. And so I am proud to say that dispite having sometimes stuck with it and sometimes ignored it, I did in fact keep up to my average goal of 2 squares per day. In fact I exceeded it nominally yea!

Unfortunately beyond the ability to take awesomely ridiculous pictures of piles and piles of squares I'm not feeling much accomplishment. Instead I'm just dreading the joining process. Ugh.

According to my Christmas Present creation schedule I don't need to join any of these squares until November. But now that they're finished I am itching to start it (or at least figure out what on earth I'm up against). My current thinking is to join all of the horizontal rows together and then join the long vertical rows. But we shall see.

A more pressing question is what to do with all of the ends? I probably should have been hiding them as I went but I am lazy....

This thing had better be the most awesome thing ever.

It is also possible that I'll not be posting anymore on this project. See Bran is pretty much the only person that I know reads this blog. And I'm planning on hiding the project out of his sight now to make the finished product more spectacular. So we'll see.....Maybe I'll just do verbal descriptions with no pictures.


And one last quick thing! I'm also totally at a loss as for what to use as a good take along project. These squares were so easy to grab and work on absolutely anywhere. Now I'm going to be back with projects that actually require my attention while I work on them. Tricky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crafts To-Do

As seems to always happen in the fall I'm so Christmas present-centric that I get really tired of those projects. And well the last few years all of those projects have been yarn crafting.

But when I'm not at home furiously knitting, hooking, or crocheting I spend good bits of time drooling over other awesome projects I could do.

And so I have decided to add a list of "Crafts To-Do" to this here blog. Basically it will serve as a nice concise list. And also a reminder of things that I really ought to get my butt in gear and accomplish.

I plan to describe and explain my list over the next few weeks. (hooray blog motivation!)

PS: Inevitably this list does not incorporate any of the numerous UFO's (Un-Finished Objects) that I have laying around. Nor does it include my extensive Ravelrly (Knitting and Crocheting) queue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Waiting Game.


I officially feel like the most spoiled 24 year old world ever.

It all started a month or two ago…..

My Aunt sent me an email with an idea. See my Uncle seems to enjoy buying houses, and he has the money for it. So with the market being so low they were thinking about investment properties. And they figured that instead of dealing with a renter that they didn’t know why not buy out near me then rent to me. They would even do rent to own with me if I decided I wanted to own the property after a few years.

This was pretty much ridiculously generous of them and since that initial email I have spent quite a good bit of time drooling over properties online.

Last week I finally started to visit some of the houses. I absolutely fell in love with one neighborhood which included two houses. So on Saturday my Aunt and Uncle traveled out here to view them. They’re both foreclosures that need some help. The first needed way way too much so was ruled out.

But supposedly my Uncle will be placing an offer on the second.

I am like so ridiculously excited about the prospect that the uncertainty is killing me now as I wait to hear what, if anything, is up.


Gah!!!!!

And to top it all off, while they were here my Uncle said that he’s planning on only charging me what I’m currently paying in rent. Needless to say this had better cover all of his costs (mortgage, taxes, insurance). But I’m not completely certain that it will.

Seriously this is beyond generous of them!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You better watch out....

I am already thinking very much about Christmas.

It started way back in July I believe when I typed up a plan for what I needed to accomplish each month in order to have a bunch of crafty presents. 

But inevitably, as most things go, I think that once again I’m being overambitious and I’m feeling behind. 

Sometimes I feel like I still have tons of time before the holiday’s and I shouldn’t be freaking out yet. But then I count the months and realize I’m at 2.5. Yikes! 



In other news I can’t help but plan how I would want to decorate “my” new house for Christmas. But that is boatloads of speculation so….maybe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smile!

Strolling through the World Show Case at Epcot I was enjoying looking at all of the neat architecture and making Bran pose for pictures.

Entering the Italy pavilion I noticed a man with a camera with a giant lens on one of those one-legged-not-actually-tri-pod things. And I noted to myself that it really would be a nice place (the whole park really) for photographers to come and take pictures.

Bran and I moved over to the water front and were taking pictures on the neat little Italian bridges. As I was posing and Bran taking pictures of me I noticed that the photographer seemed to be snapping pictures that seemed like they could be including me – or maybe he was just aiming to my left, it was hard to say. Then Bran and I exchanged places and then, as he grumbled about the heat and walking too much, I sent him over to a farther bridge to pose.

As we was making his way over a young woman approached me. She explained that they were taking some kind of publicity shots of people taking pictures of each other and that the photographer had gotten some good ones of my “husband” taking pictures of me. If we would just sign these waivers we could get free pins. Obviously I was game, and called after Bran to make him come all the way back. I also corrected the woman that he was my boyfriend, although her repeated use of the title “husband” had totally amused me (while also being ridiculously weird).


We gave them our names and where we are from. They had us pose again with Bran now faking to be taking pictures of me. We got free pins and then were along on our way. Whence I proceeded to make Bran go back to the far bridge for my planned picture.

It was weird and awesome at the same time. I totally hope that they use a picture of us somewhere because I think that’s pretty fun. But then I also realize the chances of me ever realizing it are approximately non-existent – which is very sad.

Altogether highly amusing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Togetherness

Disney world was, as it should be, magical. And even as I would get tired and cranky and sometimes unfairly short with him, I know I enjoyed every moment of being with Bran.

While we were down there we hit the one year anniversary of our First Date. We didn't do anything special really. But the whole trip was special so that was easily more than enough. Going into the trip I had already had the idea that I wanted to find him a gift while down there to be an anniversary gift. Because I figured it would also be a good reminder of our time together. And when we talked about it he first said that he'd gotten me something back home but didn't bring it because he knew I'd likely go through his suitcase. [Yup, he knows me. Although I only went through it a very little bit when I was holding the last threads of hope that he'd be able to condense into one suitcase.] So that was cute of him, but he ended up in my "lets get something here" camp before long.

However, then the awkwardness (for me at least) began. The problem arises because he is so apt to buy anything he wants for himself and I am so anti-spending any money at all. We're very tricky people. Luckily at some point we had the idea of both getting watches for multiple reasons generally centering around the fact that we are both dorks. (And perfectly proud of it.)

But anyways I completely wandered from the topic I wanted to discuss.

Now that we're back home I miss him quite intensely. We have a few things going against us. I work a pretty normal M-F 8:30-4:30 schedule but with the season starting soon I'll be loosing some weekends. Plus I like to keep busy so I do have certain activities, like band, which take up one evening each week. He has a ridiculous changes every week (It's like a 12 or 15 week rotation) schedule which can be pretty much one of 3 things. Regular work day, 6-6, all waking day, 6-10ish, all evening 6am-6pm. This sucks because things generally don't line up well which is aided by the fact that he doesn't do stuff on the day before an early wake up (a lot of them). And to top everything off he went and got sick immediately upon our return (likely from one of our fellow plane-riders). Which I am now tetering on the edge of (I just had to see him on Tuesday).

I used to think that I was quite the loner and wanted to have my own space all the time. But as time goes by I'm either changing, or finding that I was wrong. A girl can get very lonely being all on her own after having spent a rather blissful 24/7 (actually it was like 8 or 9 by the time we parted) with someone special.

Maybe I should convince him to move-in together.

Or maybe he had a dreadful time and is now trying to get away from me.

Hmm.....

Friday, August 6, 2010

Here’s what I want to accomplish in August:

1. Ride bike at least once a week. I ought to be doing more but hopefully this will be a good place to start.

2. At least 2 Mario Squares every day. I must get back on this bandwagon in order to keep up with my Christmas present plan (totally must explain this in another post).

3. 2 knit, 3 crochet afghan squares. So far I’ve been keeping up with this crazy output so here we’ll go again.

4. Finish current spinning project and continue with same fleece (Zeke) to total 800 yards of laceweight yarn. This may kill me but I’d really really really like to see it happen. And after last month I know if I really put my nose to the grind I can do as much as 300 yards start to finish in a week.

5. Read WoT book 8. Actually I started this last night and I’m quite willing to throw myself completely into another book, but must exercise restraint and accomplish other goals as well. The good news is this book is a measly 700ish pages and the font isn’t particularly tiny. Woot!

So my goals really are rather stagnant every month but ah well it’s helping me meet my larger goals.

July Results

Here’s what I accomplished in July:

TdF – I pretty much rocked the first ¾ of Le Tour. But alas when it got down to the wire (last 3 days) I was too distracted with camping prep and actually camping to finish my goal. Alas I really barely even started the last part. But the endeavor really was quite a success as I did in fact finish 2 UFO’s, over ½ complete a Christmas yarn, and learn to spin awesome laceweight.

5 afghan squares – Actually the last one was finished on August 1st, but eh close enough for me. I really need to spread out these suckers and take a photo. There’s a lot of them really.

WoT book 7 – Hooray for past half way! This month was particularly good because I had like no reading time during the TdF so I ended up saving most all of the book (600+ pages) for camping. Then I spent glorious hours just sitting and reading and being fully immersed the fantasy world. I’ve not had the opportunity to do that with a book in quite a while. Really I ought to get back to it methinks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Doldrums of Summer

Maybe it’s having come off of such a beautiful relaxing week last week…
Maybe it’s the hot sticky humid weather…
Maybe it’s my job…
Maybe it’s not seeing Bran for a full week…
Maybe it’s having crammed too much into July…

But I am just entirely devoid of motivation. It’s mainly killing me at work. Everyday it is such a battle to wake up. Then I stress about work. At the office I struggle through the hours. And even at home when I normally perk up I’m really just moving through the motions of my various craft projects and activities.

I don’t think I’ve even washed a single dish since returning home…..that’s kinda disgusting of me….

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last week.


There were a couple of things wrong with my camping trip last weekend...
I had bad thoughts in my head that wouldn’t go away. 
I was feeling physically off for a large number of the days. 
On the last night a bunch of interloper’s invaded my normally secluded campground. 

Luckily they were easily outweighed by the good things… 
I was able to clear my head of most of its normal worries. 
The weather spent most of the time in the 70’s with only 2ish days of rain. 
Most day’s we had the entire camp ground to ourselves. 
Bran likes camping. 
I got to have good quality alone time, free of distractions, with him and we still like each other. 
Bran learned to grill food. 
I was seriously sucked into the 700ish pages of WoT that I needed to finish which made finishing exceptionally easy and fun, plus I really want to read more now.


Camping is, has been, and quite possibly always will be one of my favorite activities. The opportunity to get away from it all and sit quietly in nature is one that I look forward to every year.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Canned

This past weekend I completed my first few Christmas presents. Yup, I'm being that well prepared this year (more details another post). I had noticed that my local farm stand place had tomatoes (they have a really awesome facebook page) and figured that the men in my family (notoriously difficult to find gifts for) would certainly enjoy some homemade salsa.

In the week leading up to my free days I did a good bit of research to prepare myself. I determined a number of things:
  • My pressure canner which I'm really not sure how I ended up with it beyond that someone in my family gave it to me could, logically, be a safety hazard. So I opted to go with the water bath method.
  • If I could find the supplies this would also be a good opportunity for pickle making.
  • Being a low-acid food the canning of tomato products can be a bit sketchy. Maybe I ought to warn the fam. before they dig in.
On Saturday I came home with a whole bunch of tomatoes (1/4 bushel maybe), lots of yellow onions, a bunch of jalapeno peppers, peaches to be eaten, and larger peppers whose name I couldn't remember. This forgetfulness caused me a bit of despair as I worried about making things too spicy. So steeling myself for possible doom I sliced a bit off, threw it in a hot pan (that I had just used to make myself an awesome BLT aka my new favorite food) and then ate it. Thankfully it was a very mild nicely sweet tasting pepper. Whew.

Sunday afternoon as the Sun roasted life in my apartments to new heights it was time to begin. First up was cleaning and filling the ginormous pot and hoping my little stove would be able to bring it to a boil. Thankfully it worked.

First up was the pickles. I sliced up my cucumbers, determined I really didn't have that many, and stuffed them in 4 jars. Then I used a bagged mix to prepare the pickle juice. Holy moly is that stuff strong. But everything went smoothly and soon I had 4 jars in the water bath. 

At some point I looked in and noticed one of the jars floating. "Well that's not right" I thought to myself and proceeded to try and sink it back down for proper processing. This mixing up of things however revealed that the entire bottom half of the jar had cracked of and therefore pickles-to-be and pickle juice had spread into the water bath. Very sad.

But as I shared the story with Bran I heard the tell-tale popping sound which both startles and delights me as it means the vacuum seal has taken over the jar. 3 out of 4 isn't horrible. Now I was stuck with the task of dumping the recently boiling giant hot pot of lightly pickled water. In attempts to cool things down more quickly I resorted to this set up in the middle of the room. It can also be noted that by this point walking into the living room felt cool, which is not quite right as the thermostat there read 90 which is in fact as high as it is capable of going.

Eventually the pickle chaos was cleaned up and after a break it was Salsa time. If I ever decide to do such a thing again I really ought to buy a food processor. My knife skills are horrible and the exact timing is iffy but I think it probably took me around 2 hours to get all this chopping done. And really I slacked off on a few things and didn't necessarily chop as much as was listed (minced jalapenos I'm looking at you). But here, at long last, was my finished prep. And everything went on the stove.

 Thankfully the Salsa processing went much more smoothly and I ended up with 3 pints, 3 half pints, and 3 little 1/4 pints :-)







Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beaches at Night

As previously mentioned after receiving notification of my raise I 'gave' myself $20 to spend however I liked. Given my current obsession with spinning (thank you TdF) I opted for roving.

I did a good bit of Etsy window shopping, marveling over all of the beautiful rovings. At first I was really leaning towards something cheaper to leave me some extra $. But in the end I went for this:


Found at BitsyKnits' Etsy Shop it's called Beaches at night. I first took notice of this particular roving a while back when BitsyKnits was the Phat Fiber give away shop. For some reason I absolutely love the subtle natural tones of it. The blues and browns are simply marvelous.

It was $16 +4.95 shipping.......whoa. That's actually $0.95 over my alotted spending. But in the end I decided to take a jump and go with the piece that spoke out the most to me. After all this is my splurge :-)


Alas I am rather a bit behind on my posting as I've already received the package (although she did ship awesomely fast). I still love it and I'm also ridiculously excited about the magnet and postcard she included....sometimes it's the small things!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TdF stage (yarn) 2

Well I may have fallen off of the July blogging bandwagon but I've been kicking butt with my Tour de Fleece progress!!!!


Here's the second UFO (un finished objected) which was checked off the list on Saturday:

Pre-tour roving and previously completed skein in the background.


First completed skein. 80 some yards maybe?
Varying stages represented. Original roving in the back. Torn bits of fiber drafted into long strips is the fluffy stuff. There's single ply yarn on the spindle. And a full skein beneath and in the back.
A batch of single ply wound off of the spindle waiting it's mate to become double ply.

When wound on the spindle the color changes could be very pretty. This is during plying even.
The final skein of 94 yards. Hooray!!!

I had an absolutely dreadful time capturing the true colors.....ah well....


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Don't spend it all in one place.

When I heard that I was going to get a raise (before I even knew the amount) I decided that I would take a bit to give myself a "treat". Pretty quickly I stettled upon two things. 1. I would buy some fiber, given the fun and success I am having with my TdF spinning. And also given just how very very much I'm enjoying it/ wanting to do more/ drooling over all of the other participants yarns. 2. I wold give myself $20.

I'm pretty sure that makes me rather cheap (which is true). $20 is not much at all, particularly if you consider that I'll be making over $1,000 more. But on the other hand given my frugal living it still feels like a big splurge for me. In my budget I have a monthly $50 which I designate my "freedom fund". Theoretically this is for any discretionary spending (like roving and yarn) but sadly it often ends up being hit with less cool things like replacing broken sunglasses and fans to futility try to combat weeks of weather in the high 90's.

So really I was quite excited for my $20.

I knew that I wanted to buy some kind of processed fiber but as I started thinking about it I realized that some other things would be pretty cool as well. Still on my radar is wanting to learn needle felting which requires about $10 of supplies to get started. Or it can even be broken up into components for less than $5. "That could be doable" said my overactive and easily excitable brain. Or what about a *gasp* second spindle. Looking at other peoples stuff in the TdF I've been coveting all of the beautiful spindles....my poor cheap beginner really doesn't compare. Plus different spindles obviously spin differently so it would open up new yarn possibilities!

Off to Etsy I went.....
to be continued

PS: I find it quite amusing how my two little worlds (crafting and finance) have here collided. Go me!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dreaming

I know that I have been watching too much TdF when I start dreaming of dating Lance Armstrong......goodness

TdF sprinting

My first Tour de Fleece skein is complete!

First up was 1oz of fluffly white alpaca that has been waiting for me for over a year now. The stuff practically fell into laceweight so I decided to go with it and even joined the TdF as a sprinter (fast spinning or lace).

I really wish I had more. My yarn, which is indeed a rather nice laceweight once double plied, came out to 101 yards. I would really like to make myself a lacy scarf (perfect for those cold winter days in the office perhaps?) but this may be cutting it a bit short. Maybe I'll just have to make something rather skinny to compensate...hmm....

Lastly it must be noted that spinning prepared fiber is my new favorite thing ever. I am so used to the tedium (and pain) of hand carding raw dirty alpaca that this cloud of fiber was absolutely a dream.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

I am raised

So it turns out that my most favoritiest finance manager and most favoritest co-worker in the whole world got permission from Boss to tell me about my raise :-)

We now turn to the numbers which probably make most people want to gouge their eyes out. But I find playing with excel sheets to be absolutely awesome fun and this is my blog so here we go.....

I have been raised 3.812%. This is 1.544 percentage points higher than the average rate of inflation so far in 2010 (http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_rate/CurrentInflation.asp). But better yet word on the street is that there wasn't an across the board raise but rather I did better than some other people. They must like me :-)

My gross salary was $30825.00 and now I shall be earning $32000.05 which is an increase of $1175.05. Honestly that doesn't seem like a huge increase. But check this out....My previous take home pay each period was $922.68 with my own approximation of taxes the increase will have me at 1037.67. And so my best estimation of the increase in monthly net take-home pay is $229.99. Now given that $1175.05 divided by 12 does not come close to $229.99 you are probably confused. I was too for a bit.

Back at the end of December our Finance Manager (who I shall now call CFO to make my life easier) came in the office and started talking to me. She was a bit frazzled because she had been to our payroll company to pick up checks where she was informed that when a company is paying its employees bi-weekly (as we were paid) that every 11 years there would be a 27th pay period in the year and so 2009 or 2010 would be that year for us. However since this was coming out of the blue for this fiscal year (we run July1-June30) the amount we recieve each pay period had been caluclated by dividing our salary by 26. And so continuing to pay us regularly would cost an extra lot of money for that extra pay period. Many phone calls then happened to various board members. The final decision was made that we would move to a twice monthly pay system. Somehow it worked out that we would get the same amount each pay period but now we had less pay periods - which made up for the 'extra' pay we had received. It was ridiculously confusing but I puzzled it all together at the time and it did work out.

But anyways as a result of that transition even without a raise my pay would have gone up $76.89 each pay period ($153.78 monthly). So it would have already felt like I was getting more money. See I always budget monthly using 2 pay periods. In the old system this meant there would be 2 awesome months where I had extra awesome $. So when we changed it sucked to loose that but didn't impact my budgeting. The increase would have felt like a raise anyways so the real raise is kinda just more awesomeness.

Next up shall be budgeting!

PS: I could probably go on talking numbers for many more posts but I'll try to contain it and intermittently schedule it with more crafts :-)

Raise?

Sitting up front at my desk our Finance director (with whom I have a very good rapport) asked if I had talked to our boss yet. The question was rather out of the blue but quite intriguing.

See our fiscal year begins July 1 and so if we are to receive pay raises that is when they go into effect. Typically we have a performance review with the boss and he'll let us know whats what with regards to $ there. Traditionally he is behind the times and the pay raise ends up hitting my bank account before I am aware of what I'm newly earning. And so I have been somewhat nervously anticipating my review. Not that I think anyone has a problem with my performance, but still one never knows. Plus what if this year they're not doing raises?

So when she asked this I perked up. I told her that I had not but I'd been anticipating it to come up sometime. However as he was scheduled to not be in the office that day already owing to vacation it seemed like it would be a bit before it happened. Well from the hints she dropped things could be very happy. She said that I'd be able to buy spinning wheels and bake many many peach pies. (Can you tell that I like to share my life happenings with her?)

Now I am ridiculously anxious to see what I'll be getting. She's quite the character so I have no idea if I'm actually getting like a substantial raise or if she's just making a big deal out of something mediocre. But then I don't even know how I'd qualify substantial vs. mediocre really. I always just budget for where I'm at now.

Alas, unless I convince her to spill the beans (dunno if that's proper or not) I won't find out until the next pay period. The $ will hit my bank account on the 15th (direct deposit) but I should find out on the 14th which is when pay stubs are normally passed out.

I don't know if I can wait that long. I'm already envisioning how I might want to budget the extra $. And despite my best efforts I do believe that I may just have to open up my budget worksheet now and play with the numbers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Retro

It is quite possible that one of the first crafts that I was ever much into was sewing. My mother taught me to sew at a fairly young age and at some point I had one or two of the little tiny machines for kids. But using her big machine was always way better. And so at some point Grandma came up with this behemoth....my very own sewing machine.

Unfortunately she never really worked particularly well. Some of the settings were off and while it came with a manual, the paper had sustained some pretty serious water damage so it wasn't the most helpful. So I would occasionally drag thing thing out (it weights about 50 lbs), get frustrated, and then use her machine. By the end I was pretty exclusively using her machine for sewing....much less frustrating.

When I moved out of the house I don't think I took it at first a: because of the weight, b: because it only half worked. But one Christmas my parents found a repair person and had it looked fixed up. At first I thought this to be the most awesome thing ever. But now I'm really not quite sure that it ever quite made it up to ideal standards.

The primary problem is that it practically eats lightweight fabric. I can kinda almost get away with quilting cottons but forget about thin fashion fabrics. And I have found as I use it periodically it likes to skip the occasional stitch. But I still use it because I like making things.

Although every time I make things its a real pain on my back. My typical set up has the machine on the floor. I use the foot pedal either with my knee or somewhat awkwardly with my foot. This past time of sewing however I had the very smart idea of putting it up on my table by the window. I then sat on the lid and enjoyed the awesome view out my window (plus excellent light) while sewing.

Progress!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another one bites the dust

So I found out that one of my co-workers has given his notice. While there are many great things that I enjoy the ridiculous staff-turnover is not one of the better aspects of working for a small non-profit arts organization.

We currently have 7 full timers and 3 part timers who work here in the office (there are some other staff people that aren't in the office regularly so I'm not counting them). And once he leaves of that staff I, with my 3 years of employment, will be the 2nd longest term employee. Which is particularly humorous considering I am the youngest, by about 10 years, person here most of the other staff having a good 20 or 30 years on me.

Kinda makes ya wonder about workin here.....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Making it up as I go

For some reason before we went to the beach Bran had this ridiculous (but fun) notion that we were going to play video games on the beach. This was brought on in large part by the fact that he first bought me a Nintendo DS for my birthday way back in February. Then sometime later in the spring he got me addicted to Pokemon.

But before our trip I determined that for this to happen I needed a DS case......enter the sewing machine.

I sorted through (and ended up organizing) my big box of fabric picked out some of my favorites. At first I
was very tempted to go with both my fun ladybug print and a second blue print with bubbles because they are both awesomely fun. But in the end I decided that it would be best to tone myself down and just play off of the ladybug print. I think it was an excellent and wise choice. Here was the pile of supplies I put together.
I had the idea in my head to make an envelope type enclosure with a band across the top flap to hold extra games. I also wanted it to be completely lined and I didn't want to make it terribly bulky.

Because it was such a freeform project I started my cutting with everything a bit bigger than needed which was ok as I had more than enough supplies. It took a long time with lots of trial and error, but surprisingly only one (somewhat) serious re-do. I've made bag type projects with linings before and each time I get it figured out enough to be quite good.....by the end of the project. But I never manage to carry the knowledge into my next task. This is probably because they are so few and far between. But ah well at least I generally churn out something pretty cool by the end.

Here is my final product:




It has a few flaws to it. But I still quite love it and it works splendidly. Although we later determined that playing video games on the beach is just too bright, and too distracting. Ah well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

As American as Peach Pie

The planets have finally aligned so that I will be attending one of Bran's family picnics today. And as I prepared to meet his people I decided that bringing a pie ought to be a good way to impress people and encourage them to like me. 

And me being me of course I decided that I wanted to go all out. Never mind that I've only made one homemade pie crust before in my life (and that it didn't actually quite work out so well). I will be making a 100% from scratch awesome Peach Pie down to a what I'm sure will be beautiful lattice crust.

Somewhat unfortunately my designated pie baking time coincides with watching the TdF. This could be interesting.

Pie baking:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Given as I am already planning on devoting obscene amouts of my non-working life to following the Tour de France I decided to join in the Tour de Fleece hosted on Ravelry. According to the group site: "The concept is simple, They spin, we spin. A real spinning themed spin-along." Combining two of my loves: Priceless.

Alas I am cheap and so not only do I not have a spinning wheel, but in fact I have only one spindle. It's pretty lame. But I shall aim to spin every day of the tour never-the-less. And obviously I shall be shooting to watch as many stages of the tour as I can manage. However it may come about that I miss some stages. And in those instances I'll try to do a bit of spinning outside of my biker watching, just to keep up with the Tour de Fleece goal.

I'll be starting with some awesome white alpaca. Purchased as a part of the "learn to spin" kit which I purchased when I first began my spinning at first I didn't want to touch the fleece because I thought it was too beautiful to waste on learning. And then it just kinda got set off to the side while I did other things. Somewhat randomly I picked it up not too long ago and started spinning it into some very nice lace weight which is what I'll be aiming for. There will be a bit of getting used to as the carded batt of fleece is quite different from my regular self taught hand carded "rolags", and so far I also noticed a number of second cuts that are yucky. But it should be a good learning experiance and yield some pretty yarn.

After that I want to keep going on the dyed wool I picked up over a year ago when I visited Pittsburgh. Sometime in the spring I spun up a batch of it but there is still more to go - must get on that.

If I still have tour days after those projects I'll be back to my raw alpaca. So that will obviously require hand carding, which for my own purposes I consider to meet my TdF obligations, although I may try to spin at least a bit each day as well. I would really like to spin up a good bit of lace weight to use for a pretty scarf that I can give to Bran's sister for Christmas. Somewhat random, but I think it could be a pretty cool gift and I enjoy being random like that.

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Many blue squares

Progress on Bran's Mario blanket has been in full swing since I started it mid June. I've made a few good observations on the project.
  1. One skein of Caron Simply Soft (6 oz, 315 yds) = 20 blocks. Approximately 16 skeins will be needed to complete the blanket.
  2. One block takes me approximately 17 minutes to crochet without interruption while watching TV. Therefore the project will likely involve 3 days worth of time for the crocheting alone (who knows about the piecing together) unless I get faster.

Originally I was making good use of coupons and the fact that the craft store is right next to the grocery store to load up on skeins one at a time at a 40% or 50% discount. But then this past week they went on sale, which isn't as good as the coupon price, so I couldn't use my coupon and somehow I managed to remove myself from the store without then using the coupon for any superfilous spending. But when they sent me a coupon for 15% off of your total purchase including sale on Wednesday, I couldn't resist going on Wednesday and buying $20 of yarn (9 skeins). It was like a dollar more expensive than it would have been using the one skein system so I'm willing to eat that cost.

I committed myself to making 2 squares a day from the get go, and then if I could work beyond that I did. So I'm already sitting on 45 squares (I think) and given the concerts tonight and tomorrow that I'll be attending for work I anticipate being over 50 by Saturday. Holy awesome progress.

So I considered switching it from Christmas to Birthday (8/31) present, but I think instead I'm going to put it on the back burner and devote July to participating in the Tour de Fleece. I'm sure I'll still churn out a few more squares, they are an awesomely easy project that I can take pretty much anywhere, but no where near the volume.

I've considered trying out how I'll be attaching them together, but I kinda want to keep them in original square form until I have all 252 squares and take a picture :-)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Le Tour

This morning I realized that it is very nearly that time of year again....The 2010 Tour de France.

Last year I think I stumbled into the Tour somewhere in the middle, but I was fast addicted. I have never considered myself much of a sports person at all but sometimes things just manage to suck me in and I find myself wanting to devote my life to them.

The Tour is a particularly difficult challenge because if I actually watch the whole thing (which I really do want to do) it would be hours and hours and hours of just sitting and watching. The first hurdle against this is work. Being in the office 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday will rob me of the majority of the live tour coverage. Now this can be more or less compensated by watching the daily prime time coverage re-caps which happen later in the evening. Unfortunately this plan will likely collide with any kind of a life that I am trying to have for myself including but not limited to rehearsals and my boyfriend.

Plus to add insult to injury Comcast is not being my friend right now and I was just about to take the hard line with them and cancel my cable TV package. Alas I'd still be paying like $40 for internet, but at least it saves me $10. However if I cancel cable then I'll loose the tour coverage and so far the only online streaming coverage that I've found is $30 for unlimited access. It would be sweet and ridiculously awesome in that I could watch whenever I wanted when I had time....but I'm trying to save for other things. Ugh.


Lastly I have just discovered a most grievous problem: I scheduled my camping trip to start on the final 2 days of the Tour. *cries* 

It's really not the end of the world because things will be pretty shored up by then with regards to the winner....but there's always that sneaky thought in the back of your head 'well the entire peloton could crash leaving a small breakaway who takes it home'.

Obviously my life is very stressful and crazy since I have such important concerns.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1 up

Back in early June I went on a bit of an Amigurumi binge thanks largely to the drug that is the Ravelry pattern browser.

Somehow or another I stumbled upon an awesome little 1 up pattern. So easy and simple but absolutely cute. Plus on occasion I feel the need to come up with something to give to Bran. You see he is a most excellent boyfriend. He does things like brings me flowers for no reason (aside from my undying love of flowers and those who give me them) on quite a regular basis. And I am all about reciprocity. But what is the male equivalent of flowers? I was a bit stumped.

He does however happen to be a good bit of a gamer with a soft spot for old school nostalgia, particularly Nintendo. Perfect! And while some men might think a little stuffed trinket to be too girly-cutesy my man is secure in his manhood (although he won't wear a pink shirt). He has what I'm thinking may be the exact perfect amount of soft sentimentality to him.

Needless to say he likes it (or fakes it quite well). And I have attached it to his key chain so that he can think of me often. I'm sneaky like that :-)


Friday, June 4, 2010

8-bit blanket

As a part of my June freedom I was perusing Ravelry for some good yarn projects. I had somehow gotten on the theme of video games. Certainly it had something to do with Bran's fascination.

When I turned up this pattern I got really excited. But knowing my own aptness to be a complete dork I figured I best confirm it's awesomeness. I sent the link to the ultimate dorky-cool connoisseur, Bran, and asked cool or lame? His response was "Totally awesome." Rock on.

Now I am seriously itching to make it for him. For some reason projects always seem way better when they are for someone. There are however a few hurdles.

The thing is a pretty ginormous project. So far in my lifetime I have completed one blanket (and it came out pretty wonky) and have one pretty awesome blanket where I completed like 2.5 feet 3 years ago and haven't picked it up since. But I'm thinking Christmas Present. And if I work with this very specific goal in mind I'll stand a chance right?

It also requires some pretty serious yarnage. The original designer used Red Heart super saver yarn and estimated $25 of materals. That's pretty freaking sweet. But alas the stuff is cheap for a reason. I may pony up and go with my standard Carron Simply Soft which isn't horribly expensive but still pretty nice. Methinks the best approach will be to drag Bran into the craft store again (last time we went we lost each other for quite sometime....oops) and have him pick out his colors. Then I shall be cheap and buy the stuff over a series of trips. They always have coupons available and the craft store is right next to the grocery store. Bwahahahaha.

This is going to be freaking amazing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do what you like.

Tonight is a somewhat rare occurrence: a free night. No scheduled obligations (work, ballet, band), no plans with anyone else (saw the family all last weekend, a friend on Tuesday, and Bran tomorrow). This is glorious.

When I first started thinking on what I could do I thought I would be stuck at the laundromat as it is my normal every other Thursday. But earlier this week I realized that with the advent of the nice summer weather my clothing habits have changed and when combined with the recent purchase of more underwear I can totally make it to next Thursday, no sweat.

Back to the amazingness of a sweet sweet free evening my immediate conclusion was a bike ride. I've not been out nearly so much as I should be and I'm still totally out of shape. I could even still be back in time to watch So You Think You Can Dance (yup I'm a dance show addict) at 8.

But as I was pondering all of the various other things I wanted to do and turning things around in my brain I came to a realization. I really didn't want to go biking. It was put in more like another obligation on my schedule, albeit with good reason, then anything else.

So instead I have decided to drop all of those things I think that I ought to be doing. And instead do what I like.

My plan is to cook myself a good dinner (for the second night in a row!). Make sure the house is tidy because that makes me happy and ought to be easy. And most importantly spend a good bit of quality time with my crafts (other than squares).

Somewhat obviously relaxation is not one of my strong suits. So for tonight it will be my goal to just sit back, stop worrying about what I could or should do, and enjoy the evening.

Do what you like. Like what you do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lunchtime

I've been packing my lunch pretty much since sometime in early elementary school when for some reason buying lunch was too scary and made me cry (I was and in many ways still am quite a bit shy and not very accepting about anything I view as new and or scary). Although these days I do it mostly because I'm cheap. 

Every once in a blue moon I'll have a new shiny lunch box or bag which is for a time ridiculously awesome. But the majority of the time my lunch bags are rather dingy dirty and a bit yucky to think or look at.

Somewhat recently, or well maybe for like the last year or two, I've been thinking I should get a new lunch bag. Rather than looking in the stores I was thinking I ought to be able to make my own awesome bag. Also I am cheap and this would avoid sticker shock.

However given my propensity for thinking up projects and never following through. Plus realistically materials costs always end up costing as much if not more than something off the shelf. So I started browsing Etsy :-)

Things I now want:

Way brighter than my norm. But that's not a bad thing.
Very much my normal 'style'.
A bit funky but not too far out there. The complimentary lining is really cute too.
This could possibly be my favorite but it already sold. I love how quirky it is!

Now the only problem is that I am trying to absolutely not let myself spend any money on superfluous things because of saving towards so many awesome vacations. If only I were rich....
"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."