Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random Act of Kindness

It's been a while since I talked about 101 Goals. Today I worked on 91 - Random Acts of Kindness.

I couldn't bear to eat the last serving of the lasagna I didn't like. So I heated up the last serving and drove around until I found a homeless person to give it to. It took me longer than I expected, but not too long. (Do homeless people take Saturday off?)

Anyway, I hoped he enjoyed more than I did.

Happy Anniversary to me!

French Toast Bake

I wrote about it last year, and I'm writing about it again this year. Today is my two year anniversary at my current job.

Today is Saturday, but yesterday I brought in French Toast Bake in the Crockpot to celebrate. My boss was out of the office, and I wish he could have been there to partake. While there was a burnt edge that ended up in the trash, it was basically a hit.

Celebrating my anniversary at work seems a little nutty, but as I mentioned before, starting my current job in many ways signaled the end of a very difficult phase of my life.

And much like Christmas, this is a time of year that I remember how lucky I am. And with the current economy, it rings truer than ever. I have a reasonably secure job with decent pay, bonuses for performance and benefits.

And I work with people that I like. The management pays cares about morale. (Unlike my last job, where anything outside of our day to day work was frowned upon.) I got balloons on my birthday. We took time out to celebrate the end of the fiscal year. We have potlucks, and we have holiday parties. (Unfortunately, I missed this year's party.)

My boss listens to me. He tries to help me with my work-related problems, and is sympathetic to the challenges in my personal life. When I was in the hospital, nobody was asked me to see how soon I could be back at work. And when I returned, people asked me if I was ok. They didn't bitch about having to pick up my slack.

And at 5 p.m., I'm done. I get to live the rest of my life. No weekend assignments or late night meetings.

So I've been spending a lot of time bitching and moaning about work, but I really am lucky.

And two years ago, I couldn't say that. All I wanted in the world was a decent paying job with people I liked. I'd been basically unemployed for about six months (with the exception of a low-paying part time job.) My last job had driven me to (and maybe past) the breaking point. And I was living with my parents.

So while I'm thankful, I'm acknowledging that I'm way past the survival mode I was in two years ago. I have other ambitions.

Last night after work I met with some entrepreneurial-minded coworkers. We tossed around our ideas and dreams. And I realized one thing.

I need a business plan if I ever really want to achieve my dreams.

I've spent a lot of time tossing around ideas and dreaming, but I need to make something concrete. So far, I've been using the Underpants Gnomes Model of business.

(ETA - There's some naughty words in the Underpants Gnomes clip, if that kind of things bothers you. Probably NSFW.)

So for now, I have one New Year's Resolution.

By the end of February, I want to have a business plan in place. With some specific goals and deadlines.

Phase One - How do you write a business plan?

Ummm...I'll get back to you on that one.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Knitting, knitting everywhere, but not a stitch to knit

I've been in a bit of a knitting funk since I finished the One Day Beret. I have several WIPs on Ravelry, but none quite have mojo at the moment.

I was in the hospital when the latest Knitty came out, so I don't think I ever took a good look. But now that the surprises are out, I'm dreaming about sweaters again. I'm in love with the Montera coat.

This has happened before. I haven't even bought the yarn for Morrigan, and it's been a year and a half. Also, it's been a year, I haven't gotten past the swatch for Candy. (I finally moved it to "hibernate" in Ravelry.)

But this may be it. I may finish this one. The gauge is 3.5 stitches per inch, so even though it's long, it shouldn't be too terribly slow.

In my diminished financial state, my yarn choices are limited. I'd love to use Dream in Color Groovy, but I can't afford it. I'm thinking KnitPicks Swish Bulky or Valley Yarns Colrain. I'm leaning towards Colrain because the tencel should add some strength.

I'm even considering Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, but I'm wondering if I really want to commit to a project this big in 80% Acrylic. At least I like Wool Ease Chunky.

However you slice it, I'm going to have to wait until I start. I'm not going to order a sweater's amount of anything before I swatch.

In the meantime, I'll be looking at my WIPs. Or at least free patterns and my own stash.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FO: One Day Beret

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I was basically finished with this yesterday during my break at work, but I wove in the ends and finished things off this evening.

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I won't really know how I feel about it until Lyndsey tries it on. She said she looked like a "demented swami" when she saw this picture. I know I increased too far, so there's more "slouch" them normal.

Lyndsey has a small head, so the brim is small. I can't even begin to put it on my fat head. I didn't switch to a smaller needle for the ribbing, so I'm hoping it's the right size.

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This is the pattern for the One Day Beret. I used one skein of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in "Black Purl." (I used almost the whole skein.)

I also used an extra long US Size 4 Addi Turbo Circular Knitting Needle. (I think it was 40 inches long, but I'm not sure.) I used magic loop.

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I'll follow up after I give it to Lyndsey. This is her belated birthday gift.

"Winter Mix"

humorous pictures
more animals

Central Texas is under a winter storm warning right now. If you're not from the area, you should know that we don't handle ice, sleet and snow very well. We normally react to this kind of weather by staying home and off the roads.

At my job handles these situations by doing whatever AISD decides to do. This conveniently puts the decision on the school district.

Of course, it doesn't seem like AISD has gotten the message that the storm warning lasts until 11 a.m. tomorrow.

According to the AISD website:
"It is the Austin School District's intention to begin all classes at their regular start times on Wednesday morning, January 28. District officials will closely monitor the local weather situation throughout the evening and early morning hours. The District will take action, if necessary, as appropriate."
The local news said they district would make a final decision at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Can't we get one by midnight? I'd rather not wake up early, if I can help it.

The news has also been trying to cover all aspects of the winter storms. You know who else has to be out in the freezing weather? News crews who trying to squeeze every drop out of "the big story."

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Last night's lasagna was pretty disappointing. I don't blame the recipe. I made a few mistakes.

First, I used cheap sauce in a can, not a jar. It was free with a combo. It was My parents bought the same combo, but with meat flavored sauce, and it was better than this. (But not great.) I bought the four-cheese sauce.

Also, I substituted cottage cheese for ricotta cheese. It works great when Mom does it. However, I remembered later that Mom adds an egg. (I think.)

Finally, I got the "oven ready" noodles, because the recipe doesn't require you to boil them ahead of time, and I was afraid they'd be hard. They were soggy.

It's not awful, and I do need to eat the rest of it. The leftovers were a little better because I put a bunch of extra shredded cheese on top.

I'm going to heat up a frozen pizza now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Catching Up

This past week has been kind of rough. Work's been stressful, but there are signs that things are about to get better. I've been tired and frustrated, and not blogging much. It's time to catch up.

In The Kitchen

Applesauce Chicken

Last week I made Applesauce Chicken in the Crockpot. It was good, except for the burnt edges. I think I cooked it too long.

It's taken all week to get all the burnt stuff off the crock. I soaked it over and over with dish soap, then I "cooked" water and vinegar in it twice. Finally, I managed to get the last of it off with a pocket knife this afternoon. All that's left now are a few specks.

Tonight I'm putting together lasagna for tomorrow night.

My dishwasher is broken again. The good news is that the apartment is going to replace it. The bad news is that I have to wait another week before they put it in, and the standing water is getting higher.

Also, I got chemical burns from cleaning the freezer with bleach last week. (I know, I should have used gloves.) They're almost healed, but the resulting calluses on my fingertips make it hard to appreciate fiber.

Maybe I should stay out of the kitchen.


Tuesday I saw a sleep specialist, something I probably should have done ten years ago.

I've never slept like a normal person, but when I was in college, it got a lot worse. I never seem to feel rested, I toss, turn, kick and moan in my sleep, and sometimes my breathing is shallow and rapid.

The doctor suspects Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. From what I've read, it looks like it can be treated with medication.

A week from tonight I'll be doing a sleep study, where they hook me up to all sorts of machines and monitor my sleep.

I'm anxious to get the results. There's a strong possibly that they'll find something that can be fixed with medication or some other relatively simple treatment.

Taco Xpress

Maria's Taco Express

I've lived in Austin most of my life, but until last night I hadn't eaten at Maria's Taco Xpress. They're known for their good food and the giant statue of Maria with outstretched arms. I went with my sister, Katie, and her boyfriend, Aaron.

Eating at Taco Express

(The tacos were messy, but good.)

I think I'm going to eat my leftover taco after I finish blogging.

All my Taco Xpress pictures are here.

Parting Shot

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After much questioning, I'm finally confident that I got the decreases right on the One Day Beret for my friend Lyndsey. Here she is modeling it. It should be finished tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Meh. Job sux. Pay sux. Doan wanna get outtaƂ bed.
more animals

Meh. That's about all I have to say tonight. My job is the biggest source of stress in my life right now.

I think I'll go to bed early.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

WIP: One Day Beret (and a look at my "Reeling Machine")

"Reeling Machine"

Last I week I broke out the "Reeling Machine" (a.k.a. swift) that I got for Christmas.

I had planned to set it up either on my coffee table or on the "bar" around my kitchen. However, both were too thick for the clamp. Instead, I set it up on a clutter-filled table. (Eventually, I'll clean it up and taking all that stuff to recycle. I'm working on the bedroom right now.)

My new swift

This is the skein of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb "Black Purl" that I bought on eBay. I wanted to make something quick and easy with really nice yarn. I found this skein while I was cleaning up, and I decided it was perfect.

Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb

The swift made winding the yarn much easier. No tangles.

One Day Beret

I'm making the One Day Beret. So far, it's taking much more than a day, although it's still going quickly. The pattern is a "recipe" that can be used with any weight of yarn. I bet a chunkier yarn would have gone faster.

I presented the unfinished beret to my friend for her birthday. As you can see, it was the size of a small yarmulke when I gave it to her.

At her birthday party we watched Iron Jawed Angels. It's all about the women's suffrage movement. I highly recommend it, even if you aren't a Women's Studies major. (I have a Women's Studies minor.)

Anyway, I got involved in the movie and I increased until the beret was more than 8.5 inches in diameter. I debated unraveling it, but I decided The extra inch or so wouldn't be a big deal.

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Here's where I am this evening. Hopefully I can make this a one week beret.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Conest: Who wants handspun?

I know I do.

There's a contest over at vivo est precor. The prizes include handknit socks or (my choice) handspun yarn.

Now I must go and clean the freezer. I promised Jules I would clean it out, and the freezer doesn't have much in it right now. (And I'm going to load it up again after I go to HEB tonight.)

The rest of the fridge will have to wait.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Knitting with Ramen

I think this falls under the category of "art for art's sake."

If you've tried this, let me know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Tens: Ten Goals for this Blog in 2009

I'm pretty proud of my blog, but there's a lot I would like to improve. So I've joined the Blog Improvement Project.

The week one assignment is to blog about our goals for our blog. I'm hoping my blog will be the path to someday making the fiber arts a career. Perhaps that's the biggest goal of all.

(FYI - I recommend reading this interview with Jonathan Fields from Zen Habits about making your own career path. Fields actually mentions knitting as a passion without a clear career path.)

Here are ten goals that I for this blog in 2009.

1. Have someone create a logo. I already have a lead, I just need to move on it. It's time to do some branding.

2. Completely revamp the design of my blog. I've been meaning to do this for a while. I picked one early on that I wasn't completely satisfied with, and stuck with it out of laziness. It's time for a change.

3. Fix my RSS feed and make sure I'm connected on all the social networks. My RSS feed has been doing weird things for a while now.

4. Find more ways to get more readers to participate. This goes along with number two. Blogger doesn't have a very good format for comments. I'd like something more interactive, where we could have discussions in the comments.

5. Create some sort of "Panel of Experts." I need a better way to get information from other knitters for blog entries. I'm thinking maybe some sort of Google Group or mailing list.

6. Create some sort of newsletter or way for people to subscribe to the blog. I've heard it's a good way to grow readership.

7. Increase my ad revenue. There's a lot of avenues for advertising. I need to find the best ones that aren't too intrusive.

8. Work ahead. Maybe I'll have an easier time keeping up regular features.

9. Find a better way to keep track of blog ideas. This hasn't been too much of a problem, but I think keeping some sort of running list will help me come up with more innovative ideas.

10. Have a fabulous contest to promote my blog once all my work is done. Free stuff is good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Roc Day Party

Gigi has good taste in wool.

(Gigi has good taste. She likes wool and wrapping paper.)

I hadn't even heard of Roc Day until a couple of days ago. It's on January 7, right after the twelve days of Christmas. It's day the spinners got to work. (It's also known as Distaff Day.)

Emily in her kitchen

Emily (above) decided to have a party to celebrate Roc Day on Sunday. (Sunday wasn't technically Roc Day, but close enough.) She invited a bunch of knitters from Gauge. The party included a ham dinner, champagne, gelato and a White Elephant stash swap.

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We spend the first hour or so knitting and talking. There's Ceci with Gigi, and Ana knitting a Bumble Bee Baby Surprise Jacket.

(As I mentioned yesterday, I ran out of yarn for Jules' Gloves during the party. Luckily I had a back up project.)

After we chowed down, it was time for the white elephant swap. The Baby Surprise Jacket showed up again.

Baby Surprise UFO

Jane got an abandoned Baby Surprise Jacket. It was hilarious when she opened. Everyone oohed and ahhed over the yarn, then cracked up when the UFO came out of the bag.

Actually, Jane didn't end up with it in the end. Faye was the final person to steal it. It was some nice yarn, and came with the needles, so it was in demand. I think the person who started it was relieved to see it go.

Ana got my <span class=

Ana got ended up with a skein of my Kool Aid yarn from ages ago. I decided I didn't need all four skeins. I think she appreciated it.

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I opened a nostepinne from Craftiness. It was promptly stolen from me.

My White Elephant Gift

I ended up with a notion kit from Ana. It included Ana's stitch markers, a holder for the stitch markers and a nifty gauge.

We haven't had OPP in a while. (Other People's Projects) You saw the Bumble Bee Baby Surprise above. Here's some of the other projects I saw at the party.

Robin's Sweater from the Front

Robin wore her Klaralund sweater (Ravelry link) made from super soft Malabrigo Worsted in Dusty Olive.

Faye's Hat

Faye wore her hat. I think (but I'm not positive) that it's the Virtue hat (Ravelry link) knit in Malabrigo.

Rings on Emily's Christmas Tree

Finally, Emily still had her tree up, adorned with the rings we helped her knit in November.

I like Roc Day. I think we should celebrate it again next year.

You can see all my Roc Day pictures here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Out of Yarn

I'm going to have more on the Roc Day party I attended later. But I had to share this.

I ran out of yarn for Jules' gloves.

I was knitting along, involved in conversation, and all of a sudden I hit the end of the ball. That brown tag in the picture is attached to the very end of the yarn. Crap.

So until I find another skein of Aslan Trends Guanaco, these will be on hold.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Things that cut into my yarn budget: More medical stuff for me and the bunny

A while back I mentioned that the bunny would need her teeth trimmed soon. Well, yesterday I got a call from the vet's office confirming my appointment for today. I vaguely remembered scheduling it for January, but I didn't remember the day. I had to make last minute arrangements to take Bunny Foo-Foo to Mom and Dad's house. Dad took her in first thing this morning, and she's resting comfortably at Mom and Dad's house tonight. (We decided to wait a day before making her ride in the car all the way back to my house. She hates riding in the car.)

When I made the appointment, I was thinking that I would have recovered financially from the holidays by that point. I was wrong. (I made the appointment before I went to the hospital.)

Speaking of the hospital, I mentioned here that they had found a nodule on my thyroid. After much back and forth with my doctor and the hospital, I finally got the results of the ultrasound of my neck that they did at the hospital. And the results were that they need more tests.

I thought we'd know the results based on the ultrasound. But all the ultrasound showed was that there was a 1.4 centimeter nodule. It wasn't someone else's finger on the cat scan or a Junior Mint.

So now I have to see an endocrinologist, who will more than likely do a needle biopsy of the nodule. At least my FSA rolled over, but I've still met my maximum out of pocket. Yay?

The good news is that they still think that it's nothing.

And speaking of medical stuff...

Stab Wound

I managed to stab my self with a pair of scissors last night. And it hurt a lot.

I was trying to close a pair of folding scissors like these, and something slipped. I managed to stab myself just below the thumb on both hands. It didn't break the skin on the left hand, but it bruised both sides. This is my right hand 24 hours later. There was actually a bump last night, but it's gone now. It still hurts, though.

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Tonight I finished one of Jules' Gloves and started the other. These things are huge! The good news is that one of my coworkers tried it on in the break room, and it fit him. So it's possible that they'll actually fit Jules.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

WIP: Jules' Gloves

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This is Jules' belated Christmas gift, a pair of gloves that he requested ages ago.

The day before Jules went back to California, I finally got around to having him try it on. I think it's a little big, but he said it was fine. (This is what happens when you take hand measurements with a metal tape measure.)

I was on track to finish these before I got sick. I had gotten up to the fingers when I left The Knitting Nest the afternoon before I went to the ER. I started the little finger after I got home, but put it away soon after to work on Christmas gifts I could finish before Christmas Eve.

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Today I finished the pinky during my break at work. It's hard to get back in the groove with these gloves. I knew I shouldn't have stopped just before the fingers.

BTW - I'm using the Basic Glove Pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, an excellent reference book. Also, I'm using the skein of Aslan Trends Guanaco that Jules picked out on his last trip. It's pretty bulky, but it's what he wanted.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I can haz Crockpot!

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I can cook!

My New <span class=

After I helped some friends make "stoop" for a church event (it's half stew, half soup and 100% delicious!) and reading A Year of CrockPotting, I was inspired to ask for one for Christmas. I liked the idea of coming home to a hot meal.

I never cook because I have to do all the work after I come home from work, when I'm tired and hungry. With a Crockpot, I can do most of the prep the night before, dump it all in first thing in the morning and eat when I get home.

Taco Soup Ingredients

I decided to start with Taco Soup. This recipe makes 10-12 servings. Now I wanted leftovers, but I thought this was overkill. So here's what I put in my soup:
1 pound of cooked ground beef
Dash of pepper
1/2 package of ranch seasoning
1/2 package of taco seasoning
1 can of corn (plus a little bit I had leftover from Bill Miller earlier last week.)
1 can of pinto beans
2 cans of stewed tomatoes
cheddar cheese to put on top
You're supposed to blend the tomatoes, but since I have no blender, I decided to have chunkier soup.

I mixed most of the ingredients in tubs ahead of time so I didn't have much to do in the morning. This is what it looked like before I left for work:

Taco Soup

And this is what it looked like when I got home:

Taco Soup

Because I cut down the recipe, I was a little worried about overcooking. But it did just fine, except for the edges of one or two tomatoes. Good enough for me.

Soup's On

It was just what I hoped for. A hot, satisfying meal as soon as I got home.

Leftover Taco Soup

And there were leftovers. If it freezes well, I'll probably make the full recipe next time.


Of course, I still have to do the dishes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Toys

Me and Jules

Can you tell we're sad?

Jules and I ate at Phil's Icehouse yesterday before I dropped him off at the airport. *sigh*

It kind of sucks that I have to get back to real life, but the upside is that I have some time to play with my new toys.

I still haven't taken my new spinning wheel out of the box. It's still at Mom and Dad's house. I need to decide exactly how to finish it and devote an entire day to it. I was thinking about staining it, but now I'm not so sure. I'm going to do some research.

The spinning wheel was for my birthday, but I got something else for Christmas.

What the heck is a "Reeling Machine"?

I was confused when I unwrapped the box. What's a reeling machine? For some reason I was thinking pasta. (I doubted that my parents gave me fishing equipment.)

Then I opened it.

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It's a swift!!!

I still don't have a ball winder, but I've always said if I have to choose one or another, I'd take the swift. It will make winding by hand much easier. I won't have to use my knees to hold the yarn.

Then on Christmas morning, Santa came and brought me something else.

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I got my own Niddy Noddy!

Mom was a little jealous. She said she'd take the new one, and I could keep her old Niddy Noddy. I said no deal. The dark wood is gorgeous.

I've already blogged all my FOs, but Mom had one.

Katie's Tea Wallet

She made a tea wallet for my sister.

Katie's Tea Wallet

Before I got sick, Mom had planned on sewing a bunch of wonderful gifts for everyone, but staying with me at the hospital screwed up those plans. She did manage to finish this one. I like it. It makes me want to sew some.

But first, I breaking out my new Crock Pot. Stay tuned for pictures of that.