Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When I moved to my apartment I was forced to sign up for comcast cable (TV) and internet in order to get any kind of good speed internet. I got some kind of new person 6 month deal. So I started getting very nervous when the 6 months was nearing completion.

Steeling myself one morning I logged into their online customer service chat thing and inquired as to what kind of deal they would give me now. I didn't bring it up but I was prepared to ditch the TV. I only had it originally because I needed it to get the internet rate. But I've actually taken to using it a bit and it's good for a lazy evening. Although as of late I've been barely using it. And I find the disuse to be a good thing as watching TV always feels like a waste of life (even though I just about always use it as crafting time as well).

The online chat people were slow, but pleasant. And I was offered everything that I currently have for just a $5 per month increase.

Happily I agreed. All in all surprisingly painless. :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back in the saddle.

So far April has been a pretty good biking month. We were blessed with some ridiculously awesome weather early on. Here's what I was up to:
4/2: My ballet teacher has always wanted to ride the full path round our city so I offered to take her. It was quite pleasant to chat with someone the whole time and made the miles pass quite quickly. 18.1 miles, rather slow.

4/6: Finally I got myself up and out for a full solo loop around the city. It is significantly helpful that I finally have enough daylight for such things. I felt quite strong the whole time but my average speed says I wasn't very fast.

4/10: Bran bought a bike and out we went! At times it was another slow ride. But at this one nice flat paved part he put on the gas and honestly it would have been a problem for me to maintain that for very long. Uh-oh. (Actually this could be really good, I need someone to push me to improve.) 11.1 miles.

4/11: I was determined to get out for my first ride of decent length this year. The goal was 30 miles. Out by the river it turned windy and on a bike a head or cross wind is pretty much death. I kept going anyway. Having gone out a bit before a normal dinner time I determined that gel chews are a totally awesome bike food. Much better tasting than cliff bars and still filling. In the end though I think the challenge of the longer ride plus the wind helped me push myself harder because when I ended at 29.7 miles my average speed was the best yet! And for next time I think I know where I can easily add a mile.

And as an added bonus none of those rides really killed me. A few of the times I was tired that evening. But I particularly noticed that on the 30 I didn't even feel it the next day.

Rock on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bon appetit!

I may have discovered the perfect easy but good, real home made meal.

It's based off of this recepie: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tomato-Chicken-Parmesan/Detail.aspx
However I am a lazy chef so I've made some changes of my own:

As a small person I don't ever eat a whole chicken breast. So I use chicken tenders or I cut up a breast into smaller pieces. I did also make this using a full chicken breast once for Bran, so it does work. Dip the chicken pieces in egg and then in the breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese mix. To make the mix I just throw some of each in a bowl. No measuring needed. There's probably a trick to making it work better but I just really press down into the crumbs to have them stick and I'll add more on top once I've placed the chicken in the baking pan. But before I put the chicken in the pan I do lay down a small layer of tomato sauce. After all of the chickens are arranged in the pan I add more sauce plus putting a bit on top of the chicken. Then I stick the whole thing in the oven (or toaster oven depending upon scale) for a while. Cheese can be added towards the end if desired, but it's not needed. The resulting chicken is moist and tasty. Yumm.

 To complete the meal noodles can be easily cooked up. And green beans are a perfect compliment. Last time I made this meal I steamed some frozen green beans then used some garlic butter I had stored in the fridge from the last time we ordered Pappa Johns (it was an unopened container). That made tasty and ridiculously easy green beans (allbeit not so healthy). Plus the extra garlic butter then went on some old french bread from the freezer for a quick and easy garlic bread.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's (less) electric.

My utility bills this past winter were absolutely brutal. I had lots of strikes against me: a particularly cold winter, an apartment that's an old 1915 stand alone carriage house, and the first time I've ever been paying utilities all on my own (previously = roommates).

The oil bill was the worst so I worked to keep that down. The thermostat was set at 60. At first I would indulge in a weekend at 65 or once even 70, but by January/February I had steeled up (and or had enough sticker shock). And I relied on a space heater to keep me going.

Then the electric bill went through the roof. This also had strikes against it as PA went through some kind of crazy deregulation that had been holding rates down.

All in all it was sad.

So when I opened my March bill and discovered an amount nearly half of the previous months it was absolutely glorious.

I love the warmer months. Not only am I no longer running the space heater all the time, but I'm out and about doing so much more instead of collapsing in front of the TV.

Here's to plenty more sunshine to come!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I finally took a picture of my wall Dandelion. Each of those little seed pods is drawn and cut by hand so obviously it will take half of forever if I cover the whole stem. But even with just a few I think it looks pretty neat. And its one of those projects that it's easy to add on and it will keep looking cool all in the mean time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's just a bit big

Just about every time Bran leaves my house I find something that he left behind. Really it's pretty cute and rather endearing.

Most recently he left a zip up fleece jacket thing. It happened to co-incide with a fall back into some cool weather I have taken to wearing it. And as it is quite warm and comfy I'm enjoying it.

Last evening in talking to him I commented that I was making use of the jacket. His response was something to the extent of "well I'll never see that again". I responded back that it was his so I would certainly give it back next time he was over. But then he said that he wouldn't be wearing it now that it's spring anyways. And so I plan on keeping it.

It's kinda cliche but I seem to have a mild obsession with wearing his stuff. Although there is a distinct point in the fact that mens-wear seems to be significantly more designed with comfort in mind.

I will admit that it is a bit big however:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This past weekend was quite rather spectacular. And really what made it so good was that every bit of my glorious free time from 7PM Friday til 1PM Sunday was spent with my man, whom I do believe I shall now take to calling Bran. I love being with him and we did awesome stuffs.

On Friday we started by doing a bit of bike window shopping. Then we went to a hip restaurant. There we had a decadent feast that for me included an appetizer (yay free coupon) of Nachos, French Onion Soup, and a delicious Chicken Fajita entree. Plus I even got me a nice fruity alcoholic beverage (Mango Rum Drop). Holy moly! Bran got a steak because he is a man and eats manly things like steaks. And then he drove home because I was acting really giddy (completely convinced it was more placebo effect than the actual alcohol).

On Saturday we went bike shopping for real and Bran bought himself this new beautiful shiny bike. I think I'm in love. Of course we immediately went home and went for a bike ride. It made me happy.

Then that evening we got together with a bunch of his friends to eat pizza (always a yum), watch the end of A Knights Tale, and play trivial pursuit. There are many funny parts to this because these boys were in the middle of watching a chick flick that they tried to say was not a chick flick but it obviously is. And really I gotta love me any group of people who has the intellectual capacity and desire to play a game of trivial pursuit. Plus given that here it was/is considered a fun activity. Well now that just means I've found a good group of people methinks.

Sunday we were supposed to have brunch but ended up doing lunch at a local place that's been on the 'go there' list. It's a burger and fries type place (even though I get a chicken sandwitch). I hadn't been in a long time plus I'd never been to this particular location. But it was a rousing success! Bran enjoyed his ginormous plain burger, my chicken sandwitch was good, and they had nacho cheese that I could dip my fries in. Yumm.

Finally before he left Bran started us on a new TV series: Arrested Development. So far it's a good bit out there, but enjoyable. And if the boy is to believe it'll be getting better.

All in all: happiness.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spinning a yarn.

Recently I have been getting back onto the spinning band wagon. I bought this roving back in June of last year when I visited a friend in Pittsburgh. It was when I was first getting started with spinning. And the idea of going to a store and buying prepared fleece was awesome.

This is the first time I've used sheep's wool! I'm not a huge fan of the colors. But when I picked it out alas price and the softness really were my determining factors. 

The more I spin the more I find that I am a pretty 'fine yarn' type spinner. My draw naturally gives me a very tiny, albeit not yet even, strand. That's fine by me except that it's a: slow, b: slightly limiting in what I can use the yarn for.

I love the look of the variegated colors on the spindle. That was probably my favorite part. I attempted to split my roving so that I could line up the colors once plied. But that failed. And the result was a jumble of complimenting and sometimes juxtaposing colors.

It measured out to approximately 90 yards. Which is ok. And I think I still have over half the roving to go.  Also I need to figure out if and how I need to wash/set it. I've got my alpaca system down pat. But this is sheep, it's different!

I have no idea what I'll use it to make. Ideally I'll think of something cool....hmmm....

I couldn't get a picture with the colors well represented. In person it seems more green-y to me kinda like this picture. Except this is too bright/washed out. Oh well.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Two years ago I had some success with my container gardens on our back porch. Last year I considered my container gardening and even some regular (flower) gardening to be quite awesome. This year I have no porch on which to put out containers. I am sad :-(

What I do however have is three smallish window boxes. And as they get some decent light all is not lost.

Originally I saw the brackets on the windows and anticipated that I would buy my own window boxes and fill 'em up. But after talking with my landlady turns out they had dirt filled boxes already. She said that typically she plants them and then asks the tenant to water as they are on a second floor so all but impossible to water from the ground. Then inevitably the flowers would die and it'd be a pity.

My plan: I love flowers and think that petunias are a summer must. And for a window box they are perfect. But I also have loved my success with vegetable growing. To balance everything out I've planted pink petunias on the sides of each box. And I've researched what veggies grow in a small box. I really wanted to do some peas which they say would be fine. The idea of a trellis balanced against the window/house with the peas growing up it is so much fun. But then I realized that the things grow quite tall and the fruit is at the top and I'd be trying to stand up while hanging out my window to pick snap peas. Not the best idea ever. So after visiting Lowes and getting some cheap seed so far I've planted two types of lettuce: Romaine and something I'm hoping is a loose leaf variety, Spinach, and Radishes. I still have plenty of space so I'd like to find some scallions and would be delighted with other options. But it will also work just as well to start more seed in 2 weeks or in hopes of a rotating harvest.

Or (typing this out has my brain growing) I really ought to just start up a mini indoor greenhouse. I can use plastic cups and grow seedlings that can be swapped out. This will enable me to have more usable space. Yup...I'm nuts.

Lastly I really really really want to have a tomato plant. My tomato plants have been my new favorite thing. As a slowly reforming picky-eater the discovery of tomato's as a delicious summer treat fresh from the garden is somewhat surprising. But last summer BLT's were pretty much the most awesome thing ever. So I'm quite set on getting one of those upside down plant hanger things and planting me a tomato plant inside (probably actually in the enclosed stair case) where I have a nice south facing window. It could be a most dreadful idea. Or it could work. Fingers crossed that it will rock :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Craft stuff

I set out to organize all of my craft materials.....this is no easy feat. Here I shall tell the story in pictures:

I have a rather large amount of arts and crafts supplies. And some of it is totally still in storage at my parents...
Sewing, knitting, paper, fabric on and on...
Paint, glue, brushes, pins, thread...
I didn't even realize the patterns in this thing I grabbed from my Grandmother's house were so awesome.

I don't know how to use this thing.
Crazy old art kit (still awesome as proven by recent use). But where are the colored pencils?
Based on the fact that these were arranged by color years ago I'd say I'm a fan of organization :-)
Gotta love some mostly, but not fully, completed hand sewn min-penguins. This was an awesome project.
It was practically a million years ago that I made these and tried to sell them.
The missing colored pencils were found in a bag of buttons!
These be some old sewing notions. Most likely pirated from my parents house. I'm thinking they won't miss them :-)
Someday I will finish this butterfly box mosaic. And until then I'll keep collecting paint chips because they are awesome.
Seems like projects never quite use the whole roll of batting.
The set is once again complete. I can now rest easy.
Pretty soon I shall need a bigger tin for my embroidery floss. That or I need to take up more embroidery. That's a good plan.
Everything now has a place with it's like kind.

Rock on!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

March Goal Review

This is significantly late. But hey better late then never at least.

  • WoT Reading: Check Plus. Finished 2 books.
  • Bike 100 miles: Utter failure. I think I managed 30something....ugh
  • Blocks of the month: Success! Knit 3, Crochet 3.5
  • Art Journal: D: Finished a few pages and started a few but not 4 total. Quasi-accomplished
  • Wall-decal:I started the project. The things are crazy detailed so it needs more, but still looks good so I'll give it a check :-)
  • Blog comments: Not quite sure if I made the posted 10 but still happy with what I did. Check.
  • Postcards: Fail. I didn't get farther than some thoughts.
  • Organize craft stuff: Check! It's awesome.
  • Cook: Not the best but I'll give it a check because I'm generous.

Overall I consider that to be a success 6.5/9 isn't horrible.

Now I must come up with April goals. I'm behind already!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Picture this.

Yesterday the weather hit over 90 degrees, which is pretty much my idea of heaven. So I rushed home made a quick change and brought out my bike.
I also stuck my camera in my pocket because once again the idea has come into my head that I should like to learn to take good pictures. This has been an occasionally reoccurring theme with me and as a general rule I don't go much of anywhere with it.

On this particularly trip I stopped out at the river where along the bank someone planted a whole row of tulips and daffodils. I absolutely love it. As much as I'm a fan of flowers I don't think I'd ever have the guts to plant things in a public park. But some serious kudos to whomever did it.

Seriously there are a ton of flowers. That's an awful lot of bulbs! Picture one is there to show you a bit of an idea how long the line stretched. And I really was pretty much in the middle not at the end.

Here I was shooting into the sun so I knew the outcome was questionable. But while a little dark I do quite love the outcome. And the sunbeam 'sparkling' the tulip there on the end is cool. Plus the two diagonal lines intersecting is interesting. Although if I were to re-do it I think I might try to straighten the bridge line.

This is my favorite picture. On and off for years I have attempted to figure out how to use the aperture setting to focus one one thing and blur the rest. Everyone in a while I'd get it, but I never quite fully got the hang of it. So here I am ridiculously excited to have pulled it off! Me thinks I may be improving :-)

I am quite tempted to ride back out today or tomorrow and try for some more photos before the flowers die. But I really don't have much time tonight, which is sad. Here's hoping that I'll stick with it at least on occasion. And before I know it I'll be less of a snapshotter and more of an artist!