New Year's Quiz

Linda over at All & Sundry has posted a New Year's Quiz. Since I read her blog regularly, am a big fan, and had some time on my hands this morning, I have completed the quiz. My answers are below, but if you want to answer it for yourself, visit Linda's blog and copy/paste the questions! Here we go...


1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

I got married, knit mittens and socks, ate scallops, bought a car from a dealership, participated in a graduation ceremony, and went to night school.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t remember what my new year’s resolutions were last year, so I would guess that I probably didn’t keep them. The only ones I will make for next year would be to get into better shape and to open an Etsy shop.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister-in-law, Sonja, did.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my brother-in-law, Matthew.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, aside from the one I live in. How sad.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A baby? Maybe. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted. Also, a new computer and a new jacket, for I am in desperate need of both. A policeman husband (he’s almost ready).

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 23rd, 2008 was our wedding day, and August 18th, 2008, was our nephew’s birthday. November 26th, 2008, was the day Matthew died.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I graduated with my AA! It only took over four years, but I did it! Oh, and ending Fall semester with a 3.76, my best GPA ever.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Neglecting to let go of the little things for long enough to enjoy my wedding. Allowing those little things bother me for so long.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Many minor instances of each. I am quite accident-prone.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A puppy. A reliable car. Both have brought unrelenting happiness and stress-relief.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Oh, many people. I was surprised at the outpouring of emotion from unlikely sources at both our wedding and after Matthew’s passing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My step-father’s. Conjecture wildly and odds are you will hit on at least some of his behaviors.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, credit card payments, eating out, and craft supplies (naturally).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Seeing my mother and brother for the first time in two years. That was awesome. Going to Ikea, because I’m kind of lame. Seeing Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Paper Planes by M.I.A. and Better Together by Jack Johnson. Oh, and Anyone Else But You by the Moldy Peaches.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier, in general. Sadder, for now.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter, unfortunately.
c) richer or poorer? Richer, fortunately (no pun intended, I swear).

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Cooking, saving, sewing, traveling. I wish I had spent more time with family.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying, dwelling, spending, hating, eating, complaining.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Eating and opening gifts with my family, driving 6 hours, and then a low-key celebration with my in-laws during which I doted on my nephew and received a screen-printing kit (woo!).

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

Yes, after realizing how much more amazing my husband is than I knew. And with Trumpy, the cutest puppy ever.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I have to choose one? I think it would have to be Private Practice. Or Firefly. I would watch that any day of the week.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

In general, I hate a lot fewer people nowadays.

24. What was the best book you read?

Cold Mountain, hands down. I would marry that book if I could.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Group X, via Chris’ iPod. Loves it.

26. What did you want and get?

A screenprinting kit, a Yaris, and a Kitchenaid mixer.

27. What did you want and not get?

A glass head from Pier One, and a new computer.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I also really liked Bedtime Stories.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 23, and I went to work and then to school. It was a pretty crappy birthday, as those go.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Hmm… I guess it would be if my husband were a police officer already. That development is going to be the catalyst to a lot of (hopefully positive) changes in our lives.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Sweaters, camis, jeans, and Danskos were my weekend attire, and would be my work wear if you substituted slacks for the jeans.

32. What kept you sane?

Knitting, and Chris.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Fancy romantically? Or just fancy in the sense of whose work I enjoyed? I don’t know, in either case. Let’s say Barack Obama, because I’m glad he’s here.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Gay rights. Gay marriage. Prop 8 in California.

35. Who did you miss?

My brother, and my mom.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

My friend Ti, who has been there for me an incredible amount for how short a time we have known each other.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Don’t take your life or the people in it for granted. You never know when things will change.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“I get closer to the place inside where I can be normal, too…” –Everclear, “Normal Like You”

Thanks for reading! Up next, I'll do a Christmas craft re-cap!

Hoarding for the Holidays

The holiday season always inspires in me the urge to hoard. I have recently found myself at the grocery store on a daily basis adding the most ridiculous things to my cart, just in case. Guava? Sure, I may need it! Eleven cans of chicken stock? Obviously! Heavy whipping cream? Why not!

I think this stems from my mother's similar behavior around the holidays, though hers made a bit more sense. Growing up in Alaska, one wants to spend as little time as possible in the middle of the dark and sludgy winter running to the store for a gallon of milk or carton of eggs, so when we went to the store, Mom would go overboard, particularly in the area of snack foods (this could also be the reason for my desire of late to buy dips and chips and veggie trays). We would have two of everything we might want or need, just so that when we were all cozied up in the warm house and a craving for whatever struck, we wouldn't even have to think about suiting up in pounds of outerwear to brave the cold and snow and venture to the store while risking getting stuck or sliding into something or someone along the way.

For me, however, there is much less snow or cold and hardly any ice to contend with. Living in the desert is an unhappy experience for much of the year, but the one thing I enjoy about it is that the winter is incredibly mild (and short!). So my drive to fill my house (with all two of us living there) with way too many groceries is a bit less Alaskan pioneer and a little more obsessive shopper. Add to that the fact that we live about two minutes from no less than three grocery stores, and that we don't even HAVE to wear boots, gloves, or hats outside, and I just seem like a crazy person.

Does anyone else hoard around the holidays, or is it just me (and my mom)?

Back in the Habit*

First, before I begin, let me thank you all so much for your supportive comments on my last post. Chris and I are doing better and it gets a tiny bit easier with each passing day. We have moments that are difficult and other moments where we almost forget to be sad, but in all, progress is being made a little at a time. All of the comments I received were so helpful, and I appreciate each one.

However: did you see who left me a comment? Freaking Swistle, you guys! Swistle-whose-blog-is-not-linked-on-the-blogroll-yet-but-whose-blogs-are-on-my-Google-Reader-list-and-are-read-with-fervor-Swistle! I have to admit I'm a little starstruck. Or, the blogger version of it, anyway. Blogstruck? Anyway... Hi Swistle! I like your blogs! (How did you find me?)

...and now I look all John Hinckleyish. I'm not creepy, I promise.

In other news: Christmas is almost here! What the hell? I guess when you spend the better part of three weeks on the zombie grief train, time flies. Thankfully, I'm almost done with the gifts. Eleven days and two pairs of mittens to go. Oh, and four journals, and four sets of labels for our homemade extracts. I think I can make it, even if only by the skin of my teeth.

Today, finally, I finished the last of Chris' presents: the pair of mittens and scarf to match his hat. I got the knitting portion of the mittens done ages ago but had been putting off weaving in the ends.

He's going to get these in pieces: mittens for his birthday on Wednesday, and scarf for Christmas.

I'm also finishing our stockings. I had originally planned to duplicate-stitch our initials onto them after finishing the knitting, but the initials may have to wait until next year. I've never attempted a duplicate-stitch before and therefore don't have a clue how long something like that might take, not that I have a lot of time to allot to decor at this point, anyway. Simple construction of the actual stocking may have to do for this year, but you'll be seeing them when they're finished, like it or not.

How are your holiday preparations coming?


*Yes, I DID just make a Sister Act II reference. Thank you for noticing and not judging me for it.

Radio Static

I failed at Nablopomo.

This, in the wake of everything else that has happened recently, is of extremely small consequence. I am nevertheless disappointed.

My brother-in-law, Matthew, passed away on Wednesday quite unexpectedly. He had just turned twenty-two and was my husband's best friend and brother. He was also recently married and had an infant son. I didn't know him well, but it has hit me hard. It's also been difficult for me to know how horribly I feel and try to imagine how his mother, wife, and brothers are feeling. I simply cannot fathom how deeply they hurt.

All of this is to tell you that I'm here and I'm thinking about blogging, I just can't right now. Maybe I will be back soon, maybe I'll be awhile. I will, however, be back.

Apparently This Exists.

I have to share something with you that just blew my mind.

The Band from TV.

Apparently, many of the people that I like to watch on TV (Teri Hatcher and James Denton of Desperate Housewives, Greg Grunberg and Adrian Pasdar from Heroes, and Hugh Laurie from House, among other people I don't know) are in a band together.

Freaking weird. (And don't ask me to explain why, I don't know. It just seems strange to me.)

Discuss.

Graphic Design Fail

People, I need a revamp. This blog design is tired.

I am having difficulty with my elementary graphic design skills. My problem is that I'll see something that looks simple, which my mind translates to easy, and then suddenly I'm knee-deep in wedding invitation designing and making millions of tweaks that just look wrong.

This happens to me over and over again: "I don't want to PAY for that. I can do it myself!" It's been said many times while visions of invitations, wedding programs, wedding activity books, etsy banners and avatars, blog banners, and blog buttons have danced in my head.

It's not as easy as it looks, is my point. And I am just anal-retentive enough that I will spend all day playing with the spacing of letters or trying to achieve perfect symmetry with an image and text. Most of the time, it takes so long and is so frustrating that I would have gotten off cheaply to have paid someone else to do the dirty work.

It's time, I think, to solicit help for my blog and for my etsy shop, the banner and avatar for which I have created several iterations of and subsequently tossed out. It kind of kills me to admit it, but this is something that I'm just plain not good at. And while my wedding invitations and programs and activity books and zillion other pieces of paper turned out fine, people only looked at those things once. And I spent so much time on them. So I requested a quote for someone to revamp my blog, and possibly my etsy, too. I just hope I can afford her.

Present Progress Rundown

Recently, in a quest to make headway on my Christmas list (cheaply!), I have finished:

1) Stenciled t-shirts for my brother

I downloaded a couple of wingding fonts from DaFont.com and printed choice "letters" onto cardstock, then cut out with an exacto. Add some paint, then presto and voila, custom t-shirts. I bought the blank shirts for $2.50 apiece, and already had the printer ink, paint, cardstock, and textile medium.

2) Socks, attempt #2, for my mom

Knit using Silver's Sock Tutorial and Vanna's Choice acrylic yarn (so mom can toss these into the washer). These were less than the cost of one skein, or about $2.

3) All three crayon rolls for neices and nephew.

I used Skip to My Lou's Crayon Roll Tutorial and some scrap fabric for these. Combined with a pack of crayons and color book from the dollar store, these are pretty economical gifts at $2.50 apiece (not counting fabric, interfacing, and ribbon I already had).

4) Personalized onesie set for the littlest nephew

Ready for their close-up...

Rolled up in their box...

Wrapped up and ready to go.

These were achieved through much trial and error using 10 onesies from Target (yes, there are only four in the package! Key words: trial and error), some stretchable transfer paper, Microsoft Publisher, several colorful strings of words, lots of help from my husband, and another wingding front from DaFont. Oh, and a plain wooden box. I quite like the finished product, even if it took ages and many failed attempts. A set of three similar onesies on etsy costs $32, but we made four for about $23 (imagine the savings if we'd gotten away with all ten!).


5) Started the steeping process of 4 sets of cooking extracts for my stepmom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and friend

L to R: Vanilla, lemon, and orange

I am making four sets of one bottle each vanilla, lemon, and orange extract. I used 4 vanilla beans, one orange peel, one lemon peel, and about 4 cups of vodka. I mis-calculated and accidentally bought a big jug of it, over half of which we're pondering other uses for (by which I mean, choosing what sort of mixed drinks we'd like to make). I also ordered 2 ounce amber glass bottles from E.D. Luce Packaging, and bought long tins from the dollar store to package them in. For tutorials, I used this one from Chickens in the Road for the vanilla, and this one for the orange and lemon. They need to steep for about a month, during which time I'll also design some labels. These will come to about $11.50 apiece when it's all said and done - actually, less, if I don't include the mass amounts of vodka that I purchased put didn't use for this project. If I take that away, it comes to around $9 per person, which is a pretty sweet deal for homemade "gourmet" extracts, and for a crafted gift that's not very labor intensive.

I am still working on the list, which includes some choice things like 3 pairs of mittens, a very specific photograph, a handbound journal, a scrabble pendant, and some felted clogs. I'll keep plugging away and will post more once I've completed a few projects.

Curse of the Matching Pair

For one of his Christmas gifts this year, I wanted to knit some mittens to match Chris' beloved Jayne Hat, as seen here:


I had never knit mittens before, and had major difficulty with previous attempts, always resulting in frogging of the entire project. I finally finished an entire recognizable mitten, and was ever so proud. It was much, much too big for me, but figured that the size was correct because I was using a pattern for Men's M/L mittens. So I knit another, and was excited when I finished it, because it was My Very First Pair of Mittens. The excitement continued until I compared the two individual mittens:

I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture, but something is Very Wrong with the mitten on the left. It is jumbo-sized, house of mirrors, oven-mitt worthy large. No man would be able to wear it comfortably, except maybe Paul Bunyan.

I have no idea how I skewed the pattern so much, but the second and third mittens I have attempted have turned out much more ordinary-man sized. I'm currently looking for uses for the odd mitten, however, because I don't want to frog it. Using it as an actual oven mitt is out, because the yarn is acrylic and would melt on contact with hot items. Any ideas?

To Knit, With Love

My "To Knit" list has blown up as of late. I owe this entirely to Christmas shopping, but in two parts: 1) Some of the knits are gifts for others, and 2) while searching for gifts to make others, I find gifts that I would like to make for myself.

Currently, I have one half of a pair of mittens (more on that tomorrow) finished and another 2.5 pairs to go. In addition, I want to make a ribbed scarf and pair of felted clogs or two. Those are for other people.

For myself, I'd like to try a knitted ripple blanket, a stocking each for Chris and me, and a Comfy Raglan Sweater.

Priority goes to gifts, but obviously we need stockings if we're going to fill them, and if everything went happily, I'd like to wear the sweater on Christmas day. Maybe. It's kind of a hefty list, but I'm really hoping that I'll be able to get a lot done this weekend and over Thanksgiving, particularly because we have a long, boring drive to make wherein I'll have eight hours to knit merrily in the passenger's seat. Wish me luck!

Trumpy Love

Remember, a long, long time ago, when I promised pictures of the puppy? Well, he's not so little anymore, put here's one of him from when he was a wee bit smaller:

The day he came home, sitting on Chris' lap.

People, I love this dog. Seeing him jump around and act like a crazy person makes all of my troubles melt away. Except when, in his craziness, he is causing more trouble for me. He is always causing trouble for me. My puppy is a hellion.

Ruby, our 4-year-old Chihuahua, had a big box full of toys that she never touched before Trumpy arrived. Now, all of the toys (which clearly belong to Trumpy and are only allowed to be played with or handled by him by punishment of very scary growling or pitiful yelping) are scattered throughout the house, and the tiny king moseys around at his leisure and chews on each of them in turn. He also has developed a fondness for shoes, anything wooden, and any clothing items light enough that he can drag around behind him. In short, he keeps us very busy. He also, very recently, figured out how to jump up onto things:

video
Please excuse... uh... everything.

I sense that things just got more complicated. Please send help.

Gloating

Our landlord installed a new showerhead today. It massages, or sprinkles, or drizzles like rain. It has multiple settings, is what I'm sayin'. I tested it out this afternoon and I honestly don't know how I ever showered without it.

...And that, friends, is a completely empty post for the purposes of Nablopomo. I'm sorry, I'll have more to tell you tomorrow.

Currently... 11/18/08

Knitting:
Country Wool Basic Mittens

Watching:
Ugly Betty, Season 2

Eating:
Andes Peppermint Crunch

Lusting Over:
Gap V-Neck Crazy Stripes Sweater

Smelling:
Panache French Vanilla Body Lotion

Christmas Creepy

While we're on the subject of Christmas, I have to tell you that I made my Christmas list today. While looking back over it, I had to laugh, because apart from copious amounts of candy, here's what I've asked for:

-yarn: Noro & Cascade 220
-books: 1 novel, 1 craft
-an underwear/sock drawer organizer from Ikea
-Chef soap (brings your hands back to their original non-stinky state after handling garlic or onions)
-a glass head
-a set of alphabet cookie cutters
-(more) argyle socks

It occurs to me that I may be the slightest little bit strange.

The Grinch Who Loathed Christmas

I have spent many days recently planning for Christmas, actively shopping for materials and packaging for presents, and being generally merry. Contrary to previous years, I have not yet griped about Christmas music appearing in stores (already) and am drawn to the holiday aisles of stores instead of avoiding them.

It is slightly surprising to me that it isn't closer to Christmas. I've gotten a lot done already - I wrapped SEVEN presents today! - and when I start to tally up what's left, and how many days I still have to finish... well, it's a long time. I could do nothing for the next month and be alright. I have heard many people remark on the "Christmas creep" this year - the earlier and earlier start to the holiday season. It has been early, yes, but for me, it has been welcome.

You see, I have always been what you might call a "Christmas hater" or maybe even "Grinch." It's not that I hated Christmas itself, or what it represents, but the forcedness of the "holiday spirit" and the family gatherings that no one really wants to be at, not to mention how grouchy people seem to be when one goes out in public all really bother me. Oh, and how busy everyone is trying to shove as many events as possible into such a short time, the Christmas music everywhere, and the all-consuming Christmas-theme. In the past, my main complaint was, Christmas is one day. Why do we need to draw it out over two months?

Now, though, it seems welcome. I'm not sure why, but I'm suddenly yearning for a blazing Christmas tree, baking, my mom's Christmas fudge, the music, wrapping presents, everything. Even those little Cutie oranges, which I don't even like. I want those, too.

I am a little afraid, though, that being so gung-ho about the holiday now means an early burn-out. How long can one really sustain excitement about Christmas, particularly when it begins a month and a half early? I'm hoping that mine lasts until December 26th, at least.

Amanda's Big Adventure

Today, on a whim, I went to Seattle. Four hours away, alone.

And aside from getting lost constantly, I had a very good time. I went to Ikea, Archie McPhee, and Cupcake Royale. I bought some things for stocking stuffers, a couple of little treats, and of course, some cupcakes. And it was good.

What did you do today?

Wallet, Meet Noro.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am a real, live knitter.

That's right. I have made my first purchase from an actual yarn shop (or LYS, if I'm feeling decadent) rather than my usual haunts of Michaels, Jo-Anns, Craft Warehouse, et al. And that wonderful, wonderful purchase consisted of two skeins of my very first Noro. Behold:

Photo from here - same color and dye lot, though!


This is what my preciouses will look like once knitted up - photo from here.

Previously, when going into Local Yarn Stores, I balked at the prices, thinking, "This is insane! I can get yarn for TWO FIFTY A SKEIN at Michaels!" But that was before I knew that there are differences in fiber and quality, and before I had done any research on what "good" yarn costs. The Noro Kureyon, Kureyon Sock, and all of the Rowan brand stuff I saw was actually cheaper than anything I had seen online - even Ebay. And it's soft and lovely and I can spend as long as I want visiting it all before I chose what to take home.

I am thrilled with myself for getting to this point in my knitting, but also because I've stuck with it for so long (and there's no end in sight). However, now my problems are two: What am I going to do with this scrumptious yarn, and how am I going to afford buying the entire stock of my new favorite yarn source?

Sew Craft Blog

Woo hoo! I was just accepted into Sew Craft Blog. It's a community that features other crafty blogs and has a growing repository of general craft, sewing, fiber arts, scrapbooking (and more) blogs to read. Check it out!

Currently... 11/12/08

I'm going to introduce a new "feature" tonight. I'm going to call it "Currently..." and model it after notmartha's "Up to" posts. It'll be done... periodically. Whenever things change, I suppose. It's gonna go something like this:

Re-reading:
The World According to Garp by John Irving

Drinking:
Starbucks' Peppermint Twist Mocha

Playing:
Mobsters on MySpace

Eat the Meat.

My grandfather is a... well, he... he does something with cows.

What I do know is that he usually has one or two in his yard, sometimes including a calf that he dotes on, and subscribes to catalogs from which you can order bull sperm. I also know that periodically my family has a boon on beef. My dad, grandparents, and aunt get ground beef, steaks, roasts, stew meat and bones. Everyone is happy and their freezers are full.

This time, my dad and stepmom ran out of freezer room and offered us as much of whatever kind of beef we wanted. Woot! Free food! ...Right?

Normally, yes. I have to admit, though, that this particular beef squicks me out a bit more than usual.

See, I'm not really a meat-lover. In order to eat meat, I have to actively concentrate on something other than the fact that this used to be alive and have eyeballs and fur and maybe I would have petted it or thought it was adorable and now it's all mashed up into this burger, oh gross I can't eat it. Otherwise what happens is I fill up on whatever vegetable or starch is being served and claim to be full because I'm too disgusted to eat the rest of my entree.

So this, getting meat from a cow that I probably maybe saw hanging out in grandpa's yard, was led out to the pasture to see how well it's walking around or its coloring or how big it's gotten, cooed and blew it kisses... that kind of makes my head explode. Now that cow is grown up and slaughtered and in my freezer.

Sloppy joes, anyone?

Maybe I'll eat it, but it's more likely I'll let Chris do the honors while I fill up on french fries or mashed potatoes and pretend like I'm bursting at the seams.

Nablopomo Update

Nablopomo is kicking my ass. I just can't be as interesting as I usually am when I have to post every single day. I don't want to be posting daily "what I did today" lists, but that's about what I'm down to. Although, when I have the time, I do want to write about the following topics:

-Myself, the grinch
-Eating the meat you know
-Puppy love
-Symmetry

So... I'll leave you to wonder what that means.

Weekend Update

Perhaps resolving to knit an entire pair of socks in a weekend was a bit unrealistic. I got through most of one sock, but I also:


Baked banana muffins...


Made rice krispie treats...


Received, bought frames for, framed, and hung our wedding prints...


Cut and interfaced pattern pieces for two crayon rolls...


Finished one crayon roll.


So it wasn't all for naught. I hope to finish the socks by the end of next weekend, and will show them off when I have them done.

Deadwood.

Chris and I just finished the first season of Deadwood, and I think I'm addicted.

My favorite part, I think, is that it's based in reality and one can go wiki all of the characters to find out more about them, including the parts they've shown on the series. ...Not that I've done that, or anything.

Anybody else watch this and want to gush?

$%@#!

Very little is as annoying as a botched craft. Last weekend, I started knitting a mitten three times and had to frog all three because the shaping or sizing was weird on each attempt. After the third time, I swore off knitting for good.

This evening, after having solved my printer issues, I decided to print iron-on transfers with designs I made. Then I started ironing them onto onesies for our nephew, and suffice it to say that it did. not. work. So I did what any crafty wife would do: I passed the project off to my husband.

We began with five onesies. We currently have three failed attempts and one in progress. I'm hell bent on one of us getting this right, but even if we figure out how to improve our success rate, I'll have to go out and buy another package of onesies. Grr.

UPDATE: Chris wins at crafting. He got pretty close with the "in progress" onesie discussed earlier, but he triumphed over the last attempt.

No Much Soup for You!

Y'know those days where you know you have about eight kabillion things you need to get done, but rather than get motivated and start moving, your ass drags even thinking of getting started?

That's me, today. I have homework, I have a ton of projects to finish at work, I have Christmas gift progress to make, and I have errands to run. All I really want to do is go back to bed.

This weekend, however, I am determined to be productive (and that may also bleed over into today, once I am fully awake). I will:

  • finish one pair of socks (for a Christmas gift)
  • cut the fabric for crayon rolls (for three Christmas gifts)
  • solve the problem of how to print onto iron-transfer paper without a suitable inkjet printer
  • cut out and affix said transfers (to a Christmas gift)
  • do any and all homework
  • clean the shit out of my house - deep clean, organize, beautify
  • decide when and where we'll be for the coming holidays
  • make egg flower soup
I have been very into making homemade soups lately. Last weekend I churned out a huge batch of turkey chili, and a regular sized batch of corn chowder, most of which has been frozen for future quick meals. I'm planning to double up on the egg flower and freeze some of that, too. It's a real challenge lately eating at home - three nights a week I don't get home until 8:30ish, and by then I'm usually past the point of being tired and not in any state to cook. I did keep a couple of small containers of soup in the fridge for lunches or quick dinners this week, which has worked out really great (and fast - 2 minutes in the microwave takes care of it) so far. Anybody have suggestions for other soups to try?

Can I Say

...thank you?

I'm feeling really wonderful this morning as a result of the national election.

The outcome of local elections leave me feeling not so wonderful, and the probable passing of California's Proposition 8 leaves me downright angry.

However, at this point it's less about hating on other voters and more about focusing on the future.

...which, thanks to President Obama, looks really bright.

My Fifteen Seconds

Speaking of voting and getting free things for doing so, I met a friend for coffee at Starbucks (not the free variety, because I didn't have proof of having voted) today, and on the way out was accosted by a reporter asking if we knew that Starbucks was giving out free coffee to voters. We said yes and were asked to do an on-camera interview.

I was late for work, but I agreed. I was asked if I thought it was a good thing that voters were giving free coffee, and I said, "Sure, it's a good incentive."

She asked, "Do you think people should need an incentive to vote?"

I said, "No, I think people should want to vote, but if they don't and coffee gets them to, well, that's a good thing."

The end.

I feel all weird and self-conscious about it, but I'm kind of hoping that no one I know watches the news and I won't get any crap about it. I also admitted on-camera to having voted for Obama, the end of which I'm sure I'll never hear if any of my Republican relatives see the segment.

What a weird day.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

We find out tomorrow. I cannot wait. And though I sincerely hope my candidate wins, I'll just be glad when this is over and we can stop scrutinizing these people.

I voted last week. Now go do your part... we're only a daaaaay aaaaawayyyyy!*

*sorry, it was really dorky, but I had to.

The Office Swap

I am a member of Craftster, where they occasionally hold themed craft swaps. Though I have been waaaay to busy to swap for quite some time, when I saw that someone was organizing a swap based on The Office, I couldn't say no.

Maybe that was a mistake, because I had very little time to do the projects I wanted to do and as a result was insanely stressed over it for about a month. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I tell you that the package is finished and in fact was mailed out on Friday. Here's what I made:

A three-hole punch Jim t-shirt, based on this one:

The inspiration was screen printed, but mine was freehanded.

I quite like the way the collar turned out.

A Schrute Farms Beets tote:
Not as ragged-looking as it should be, but still good.

Some Dunder Mifflin personalized business cards, and a huge pile of The Office goodies from the dollar section of Target. And candy, of course.

Ready to seal and send, complete with a letter from Pam Beesley.

Pornoween.

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Every year since leaving high school, out of habit, I get excited for Halloween. This time of year always brings forward in my mind class parties with a variety of sweet treats, the careful deliberation of a clever and amazing costume, and also, of course, a crapload of candy.

It is unfortunate, then, that every year I'm excited for Halloween, only to realize a week in advance that I have no party to go to, no one to invite to a party of my own, and virtually no reason to dress up. And then I struggle to find something to do to make my Halloween not disappointing. ...and fail.

Until this year!

Though I celebrated in a different way, I had a really awesome day yesterday. First, on route to the movie, Chris stopped at his work, which is next to a used bookstore. I went in and browsed, something I hadn't done in ages and which I enjoyed probably way too much. I bought a few books and resolved to bring some back for credit and another contact high.

Yes, browsing a used bookstore really gets me hot and bothered. Nerd.

Then, we went to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Not Halloween-related, granted, but I enjoyed seeing all of the movie theater employees dressed up, and saw a manager-esque person in a Borat costume. Righteous.

And then there was the movie: different than I expected, more mushy than I expected (especially for something with the word "porno" in the title), less porno than I expected (see previous). Still good, still hilarious, still buying the deluxe edition when it comes out on DVD.

Afterwards, we ran a few errands and came home to prepare for the night. After donning a pink wig and way too much makeup, I helped rig up a chair and sign for our bowl o' candy to hang out on and wait for children.

And then! We went to a hockey game. And it was great fun, the likes of which I never expected to have in this very small, very boring place. We enjoyed it so much we discussed buying season tickets. I surprised myself by having such a good time - I'm a nerd, remember? - but man, do I want to go to another game tonight. We won't, only because Chris has to work early in the morning, but expect there to be more about hockey (not, like, a lot, because that would be boring - but I'll tell you if we go again).

After the game, we came home to find maybe a handful of candy missing from our bowl, but just as likely it was as full as when we left. I was disappointed for a few seconds, all "we spent twenty bucks on candy...why?" but then I realized, score! We get to eat it all. And that's a problem I like to have.

NaBloPoMo Ho!

I've decided to participate in NaBloPoMo (or National Blog Post Month) in November.

"National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, is a month long writing exercise intended to occur annually in November...

The rules of NaBloPoMo are simple, although the challenge is set up on an honor system. Participants are required to publish one post on their personal website or blog every day. There is no length requirement, with some posters writing long essays every day and others posting photographs and brief captions. Participants are not permitted to back post or schedule chron jobs to upload posts in the future, but must actively create a post every day for the month of November. "

via Wisegeek

Sounds fun, right? Get ready to get sick of me in November, because I'm going to be here every day.

Also? Having a little trouble with my blogroll. I have about 35 blogs I'd like to link, but I can't get it to work. Anyone have suggestions?

Inaction Items

What? I've been busy!

I have been neglecting you for almost a month, and I'm sorry. But I have a lot to discuss, and I hope my rambling makes up for my absence.

On to the updates...

Item the first! Upon being offered more money and some gratitude, I decided to stay at my current job. This decision was made mostly on financial grounds, because I need to make roughly what I make now (and I was looking at a pretty drastic pay cut when considering taking another job, due to less hours and having to pay for insurance out of pocket), and though I'm sad that I don't get to start somewhere else from scratch, I did get more responsibility and more credit (in addition to more money) and I feel satisfied with that.

Item the second! I finished knitting my first pair of socks. This is a huge triumph, because they've been on the needles for about a year. I was knitting cuff-down, and I got as far as finishing the first cuff before I got spooked at the rest of the pattern and let them sit for about eleven months. Recently, I picked them back up and understood the directions like it was no thang, but I'm really glad to have them done. They're comfy, too.

As modeled by my chair.

Item the third! I tried the New York Times No-Knead Bread recipe that I keep reading about, and though it was a bigger pain in the ass to make than normal bread*, it turned out really delicious. I made two loaves and froze one, giving me two weeks worth of the yummy english-muffiny goodness.

While rising.

Item the fourth! I have finally settled on a name for this here blog. Inexplicable Candor, from Sublime Irony. I like it better, and I guess I'm not as ironic as Sublime Irony would have had you believe. But I am more inexplicably candid. I think.

Item the fifth! I have outlined a plan and begun procuring supplies for Christmas gifts. Yes, I know it's still October; however, handmade takes longer and I don't like the frenzy that occurs on December 20th and half of my projects aren't finished. Thus, I start early, and have time to revel in the calm that is having everything finished and wrapped before the season reaches fever pitch. I will be posting projects and progress as things get started and then completed.

Item the sixth! Zack and Miri Make a Porno comes out in two days. Chris and I will be arriving early for the first showing, such is our (my?) excitement for this momentous occasion. I might be more delighted by the premier of this movie than the upcoming Harry Potter. [Marginally.] I saw the preview while waiting for Sex Drive to start a couple of weeks ago, and declared Zack and Miri my favorite movie ever, just based on that. Note the inclusion of Craig Robinson of the Office and Seth Rogen of Many Awesome Movies in the cast, as well as the involvement of Kevin Smith as reasons for my fervor. Hell yes.

Item the seventh! Despite several setbacks in the way of communication and U.S. mail snafus, our photographer is mailing out our wedding prints and a cd full of all of our photos today. This means I can finally a) make the photo books I've been yearning for for two months b) frame the prints and put them in our empty hallway, and c) get people the pictures they requested, already. I look forward to it.

*For me, at least. With normal kneaded bread, I use the dough hook on my mixer, which makes it super easy and fast to make homemade bread. This took several rounds of flopping and turning and rising.

That's What She Said.

Life is funny. I'll save you the hallmark-y stuff about how good things happen when you least expect them and to never fear because life will turn a corner and etcetera, ad infinitum.

Good things are happening to me now, all over the place. First and foremost, a friend is starting her own business (under a very stable contract) and has offered me a position with her that relates to my field of study, lets me work less, and bring in a similar (albeit slightly less, but c'mon, ten hours a week to spend how I please is worth it) income. This means that my stint at my current unstable, obnoxious, uninteresting, too-much-work-for-too-little-appreciation job is coming to a close.

THANK THE GODS.

I cannot begin to tell you how this has begun to change my outlook on just about everything. I feel like I'm finally getting out of the rut I've been in for the last almost two years. This has been the catalyst to me feeling like myself again: I am funky, I am stylish, I am different. I'm not the conservative prep with no personality that I've been dressing as for so long.

So I cut my hair. Seven inches off of it, actually, and I feel amazing. And I'm wearing makeup and earrings and acting like I give a damn about what I look like, because I feel good inside.

These are wonderful things.

In addition, we got a puppy who has been the loviest little thing, and I have been delighting in watching him stumble around and learn and grow. His name is Trumpy, he's a daschund, and pictures are forthcoming.

So... things are good. Everything has been a whirlwind of change for the past couple of months, and I think that I'm finally satisfied with where things are laying. I'll leave it all alone for awhile, and enjoy this satisfaction while it lasts.

Did Somebody Break A Mirror?

I am sick. I have a cold, or a flu, or something similarly unpleasant. This would normally be something that wouldn't necessarily phase me - it's fall, after all, school is just in session and doesn't EVERYONE get sick right about now? - however, this seems to be the latest in a long line of displeasing or down right obnoxious things to happen. Let us recount:

1. Finding out my job may be in danger.
2. Wedding debacle. Chock full of smaller debacles, this is the big daddy of the badness.
3. Starting school at an institution that is... well, let's call it disorganized. And small.
4. My birthday being the day after school started, and being spent entirely at work and school.
5. That night, tearing my eyeball while taking out contacts with the leftover fake nails from the wedding.
6. Chris got an expensive speeding ticket.
7. This crappy illness.

Seems kind of unlucky, right? I don't know what's going on with my life and/or body, but what I DO know is that I have taken off a shitload of work lately, and I'm kind of afraid to take off anymore (see #1) even though the reasons have all been genuine, excused, and justified (wedding, temporary blindness, and whooping cough).

But is it getting me down? Not especially. I'm aware of the suckiness of the situation, but said suckiness isn't bothering me so terribly. I think it normally would, but I'm still stoked and energized from having seen all of my people so recently, and excited about making new friends at school. There are good things, and for once, it's nice to have that in the front of my mind. Healing!

(In addition, I have some super good news to report: Duckman FINALLY came out on DVD today! I have been waiting for this for so many years. Yessss.)

Passion... Fruit?

Since classes started for my school, I am in a new program. It's the Social Work program and I'm learning some really interesting, really inspiring things.

But I don't really feel like I belong there. I am told over and over by those who know me, and who have experience with this field that I'm past these people in terms of familiarity with the field - I just don't realize it. I'm told that I will be a good social worker and a better counselor, that where I am is where I belong. That I should start thinking of myself as a provider.

My classmates all have, and can identify, a Passion (with a capital P). They each have something that they care about, a subject they have researched and considered and are something of an authority on. Anytime we are asked to introduce ourselves, and talk about why we are in the Social Work program, they state their name, their background and their Passion.

I don't think I have a Passion. Does no Passion = wrong for the program? Or does it just mean I haven't found it yet? With most subjects, I play things close to the vest, and talking openly about Passions makes me uncomfortable. Does discomfort with Passion spell my doom in terms of helping others? Or can I help them without exposing myself (not literally. heh.) to others? Is being comfortable showing one's inner self necessary to be helpful to those in need? Will I, in time, feel okay with connecting on a deeper level with people I don't know well?

Stay tuned...

Name Change: Impressions

I'm mostly (around 80%, if I were to venture a guess) through with changing my last name. Well, from changing my last name to a second middle name and then slapping a new last name onto the end. This has been problematic, because no one can seem to understand that, no, Maidenname is NOT a first last-name, it's a second middle. The distinction is important, for crap's sake. Or also that when middle initials are used, BOTH MIDDLE INITIALS go there. I have TWO middle names, and ONE last name.

This isn't supposed to be so difficult. Damn, people.

There are three things I feel you need to know, speaking of this name change thing:
1) I am surprised by how many people, upon hearing the new last name, want to talk about Die Hard. I feel very sorry for my father-in-law, whose whole name is the same as a Die Hard character. I only share the character's last name, and it's spelled differently, to boot.
2) When Chris calls me at work, my new name pops up on the caller ID. I get super excited when this happens.
3) Changing your name is a pain in the ass. There, I've said it.

With a Vengeance.

I am ever so sorry for the long hiatus. It was brought on by visiting relatives, wedding preparations, wedding drama, and wedding exhaustion. Oh, and then school starting.

I will refrain from heavily recapping the wedding, but I will say this: it wasn't what I expected it to be. I didn't feel how I thought I would, mostly better but I didn't have the "wedding tunnel vision" that I was expecting. Y'know, that maybe some things would be different than I wanted but I wouldn't care because "I AM GETTING MARRIED TODAY"... only I was my same perfectionistic self and overall I was disappointed. For many days following the wedding, I had serious issues which resulted in my inability to eat, really, anything. Or think about anything else. Or have normal sleep.

But things are becoming rosier in my memory as it fades, and for that I am grateful. I have to admit that I am a little scared to see the professional photos in case they jog my memory.

However! There were some good things. My new husband is amazing (and totally hot, to boot), and I'm excited to finally be married. My friends surprised me by saying some really lovely things, and I was amazed by how glad I was to see my family. My mother and brother made me feel like home again while they were here, and being with them and my two best friends since middle school was a really surreal experience.

So now we're settling in. We bought a car, as my old one was awful and unreliable, and I'm over the moon at not having to fret over any car problems for at least six years (because we got the uber warranty, the one that covers everything up to the glove box latch), which is new for me. I had gotten used to having to get my car fixed every few months.

I have been baking and cooking often since things have begun to settle down. This morning I made Amish White Bread, and yesterday it was Banana Muffins. I'm really savoring this long weekend, because once we get back to regular weeks I won't have time to cook a frozen pizza. School started a week ago and I am already inundated with reading and papers and research and I'm trying not to be crazed about finishing it right. this. second. but it bothers me to have unfinished work, even though I have no motivation to do it (how's that work?).

In any case, I am back. With a vengeance.

It's August, I'm Going Shopping.

Perhaps because of all those Augusts shopping for school clothes and picking out binders and pencils, I feel like it's time to go shopping.

Nevermind that at this point I have no use for Elmer's glue, the 64-color pack of crayons, or safety scissors (at least in the school setting), I have an urge to go buy those things anyway. As for clothes, I have a nagging feeling that I will start my new (BSW!) program looking like a pauper if I don't get on it and find myself something to wear, a new pair of shoes, and replace my socks. I feel like it's time for a haircut, to buy a new backpack, to arrange all of my things just so in that new backpack in order to allow for ease of travel.

But I have a backpack, and school supplies these days will be more like pens and notebooks, and maybe some of those post-it page flags. I am expected to spend several hundred dollars on textbooks, half of which I will barely use.

I guess that the urge to shop represents the urge to reinvent myself, or maybe to make sure I'm giving the most accurate impression of myself. I want to be seen as quirky, hip, smart, artsy. Deserving of being in the setting; professional, yet fun and worth getting to know. So I find myself on the lookout for whatever I can use to show others who I am, and maybe that's the reason I'm wanting to spend so much time looking for those things that will let my personality shine through.

The first day of anything is always about impressions. Impressions of others sometimes turn out to be the polar opposite of the real person; however, I want to come across as interesting at the very least. It's about the presentation.

And not just this, either: I also do really need some clothes. A lot of my things are old and wearing out or don't fit right anymore. I need to purge and then replace some of those items with something more appropriate.

So this weekend, I will go on a hunt with hopes of securing a few little pieces of myself.

About This Blog.

This blog will mostly be whatever I feel like writing about.

That's vague, I know, but consider my interests: my life, my dog, my job, movies, music, crafts, celebrity gossip, reading, knitting, nerding out online. Across the board, right?

Therefore, it stands that what I write about will encompass all those things, and probably more. Because I'm non-committal like that.

I won't be getting too personal, and I will attempt to write often. I welcome comments and feedback, as well as healthy discussion.

About Amanda.

I am a female in my mid-twenties, originally from Alaska but now living in the desert area of Washington State. I recently got married. Five things about me:

First, I'm a nerd. A big one. I love me some Firefly, nerd culture, words, and computer/gaming lingo.

Second, a huge part of my identity comes from being creative. I personalize almost everything, and I knit and sew. I'm not so great at either yet, but I'm getting there. I collect buttons and postcards.

Third, I love: Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow movies, my dog, Dr. Pepper, typewriters, nuts and chocolate in any combination, vegetables, things that look like other things (those cardboard "bricks" at daycare? Loved 'em. Woodgrain notecards? My favorite.), silver, bare trees in the winter, and polka dots. King of the Hill will always have a special place in my heart. In my fantasy life I would be a graphic designer. In real life, I am going to school to get a degree in social work so that I might eventually become a counselor.

Fourth, I have issues with anxiety and depression, for which I have been diagnosed and prescribed mediation. I am trying to manage these with counseling and education.

Fifth, I have really varied taste in music. A sample playlist includes: Jason Mraz, Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, Weezer, Al Green, Frank Sinatra, Tori Amos, Abba, Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, and Shakira. I have a particular affinity for gangster rap and hip hop, even though I'm mostly embarrassed to admit it.