Did You Miss Me?

Wow. I am bad at (consistent) blogging. Since my last post, almost six months have elapsed, during which time I have worked a lot, passed eighteen credits with a 3.85 GPA, and crafted only a little. Though I've been on break from school for nearly three weeks, Christmas shopping, crafting, and festivities have eaten up most of my time, and it's only now, with the New Year on the horizon, twelve months until graduation, and two weeks left of the vacation, that I'm able to get back and check in.

To go along with my triumphant return, I've decided to do NaBloPoMo for January. I have plenty to tell you, and a bunch of projects to post, so it should be fairly breezy.

So! Let's catch up: In the past six months, I have...

-put in six months at my semi-new job
-thoroughly enjoyed my season tickets to the local hockey team
-obtained a passport
-gone to Vancouver, BC for the first time
-discovered a love for Cranium (the game)
-committed to making a scrapbook of the season for one of the players on the aforementioned hockey team
-learned to use Adobe InDesign and Illustrator
-made another quilt... and a half

...And I guess that's about it, for the broad strokes. What about you?

Summer Jam*

I had never made jam, but I always wanted to. When one of the honchos at work brought in a huge haul of cherries from his orchard, I saw potential. So I took several pounds of them and asked my stepmom to teach me how to to make jam.

After searching awhile for jam recipes with cherries, I decided on a recipe and bought some blueberries. We adapted this recipe for Blueberry Cherry Jam, and doubled the batch. Aside from pitting the cherries, which took about forever, it was so easy! It ended up making 18 jars, some of which will be put into baskets with other goodies for Christmas. [Side note: every year, we have made several different varieties of cookies and given them in fun boxes or tins to family and friends as Christmas gifts. Though this has become something people look forward to, it takes WAY too long and is WAY too intensive for us to continue stressing over in the days right before our gift exchanges. This year, we're trying something new; something we can do most of the work on months in advance. We'll collect baskets and include a few different jam varieties, and then I'll bake some sort of fancy bread loaves to put in, as well. I'm trying to come up with some other (easy) goodies to include, but it's still early.]

Two weeks in, we had already gone through a jar and a quarter of the Blueberry Cherry jam, which, in case you're wondering, came out amazingly delicious.

The jam in question. Note that the jar on the right has already been dipped into.

Then, the aforementioned honcho brought in his harvest of apricots. Knowing that my father-in-law goes nuts for anything with apricots, I decided to try my hand at making jam without help. I borrowed my stepmom's canning equipment and made two batches over two days, which made two pint jars and ten half-pints. This recipe was even easier than the last, and I'm fairly certain there'll be more jam before summer's end. I haven't tried the apricot jam yet, but it looks and smells good, and I think my father-in-law is going to thoroughly enjoy his presents this year (and so will I, because the man is nearly impossible to shop for).

*Be glad I didn't give in to my urge to title this something punny, like "We Be Jammin'," "Jam On," or "Jammin' Mon."

Patchwork Pillows & Futon Cover

Remember when I made my first quilt, and saved the scraps and leftovers for pillows? I finally made them!

Before I tell you about them, I need to gush about the triumph that is my futon cover. Notice the tan serving as the background to the pillows and quilt. This is possibly my finest work.

See, once upon a time, I got this futon for free from a friend of my dad's. It wasn't like any other futon I'd ever seen, and folds uniquely, too. Therefore, no store-bought covers work for it, and no patterns I've ever found apply. For awhile, I used a fitted sheet and tucked it in strategically. This was functional, cheap, and easy, but required a lot of adjustment to look decent after you sat on it. A few months ago, I decided to make a fitted slipcover, pinning and sewing fabric to make a cover that only fit the futon when it was up and folded. This was my first time trying to slipcover a thing, and while it worked for a little while, I didn't allow enough give in the seams, and soon enough, the slipcover that I worked on for days was ripping pretty much all over. Also, there was slippage in places there shouldn't have been, resulting in it being too taut in other places. Long story short, it didn't really work out.

So I hatched an idea for a new cover. A simple cover. A, dare I say, brilliant cover. My plan was thus: Take two oversized sheets. Sandwich the futon mattress, laying flat. Sew on three sides, attach velcro to the last side. Turn inside out, pull over mattress, and voila, a futon cover that was cheap, simple, pretty, with more give and a lot less necessary tucking than previous options.

As you can tell from the wrinkles, some tucking IS necessary, especially after certain dogs use your newly covered futon as their personal playground, turning cartwheels and somersaults. However, it just takes one quick hand swipe to get all of the wrinkles onto the inside of the fold. The velcro was pretty ingenious, as we can adjust to allow for a little more or less give as needed. The other cool thing about this type of cover is that when we need to make the couch-futon into a bed-futon, we can just unfold it and throw on a blanket and some pillows (provided the cover has been washed recently).

That was probably WAY more discussion about the futon cover than strictly necessary, since I know that you're really here to see the pillows. I made two: one from the smaller bits of scraps, and one from 4 1/2" squares.

Scrappy pillow.

Squares pillow.

Here's another bit of brilliance. For the backs of the pillows, I used fabric leftover from the futon covering; particularly the parts with pre-hemmed edges.

I'm not sure why all of my photos turn out crooked. :/

So all I had to do was sew around the four edges, and presto, pillow. These were SO easy, they took (maybe) an hour, hour and a half to make. Including the patchwork. I'm not sure why I dragged my heels so long before making them.

Baby Matt's Felt Name Book

The trouble with "I'm back" proclamations is that after you make them, you have to have something to say. Since my last report, I have secured a job; I'm almost five weeks into a new gig as a Sales and Marketing Assistant, which has been interesting, to say the least.

So blame my (extended) absence on the stress and learning curve of a new job, on summer break, or on a lack of crafting. Until a week or so ago, I hadn't been doing anything much in the way of creative pursuits, but I'm coming up on some deadlines, so I have a few things to share. I'll start with just one today: my nephew's first birthday present, Baby Matt's Felt Name Book.

Soon after I wrote this post, I started sketching plans for each page, which consist of one letter of Matthew's name and a picture of something that corresponds with the letter. Then I bought what seemed like a billion pieces of felt and some assorted notions. I started working very slowly on the pages of what would become the felt name book.

In almost six months, I had completed only two pages. Last week, I realized that I had just over a month and a half before Matt's August birthday to do the other five letters, the cover page, the title page (you'll see), and to bind the thing. I had to get working. Here's what I've got done so far:

M is for Mittens.
This one isn't as crooked as it looks; it's just the way I took the picture. This is mostly felt with ric-rac and button trim for the mittens and snowflake buttons on the background.

T is for Train.
This is all felt except for the wheels, which are black buttons. And the embroidery floss, obviously.

T is for Tree.
This one took forevvver. The leaves are three different hues of green felt that I cut into tiny pieces and sewed on individually. The daisies are buttons, as is the bee.

H is for House.
This one took a similarly long time. The black trim was originally going to be quilt binding, which proved to be too thick and apt to fraying for this purpose, so I used little strips of felt, instead. The middle of the sun is a button, as are the flowers; the little plaque on the right is also a button that says "Home Sweet Home."

W is for Whale.
The whale's got a googly eye, and the fish are buttons. The seaweed and waves are ric rac, and the bottom of the seaweed has a variety of seed beads and sequins.

I've got another page about halfway done, but I'll wait til I have the rest of the pages before posting anything more on this project. What do you think so far?

*Obviously the many buttons and small parts are a choking hazard; I'm sure it will be implicit, but the book will be given with a note about it being meant to be looked at with close supervision. I also made sure all small pieces were firmly attached fo ensure as much safety as possible.

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Crafting...After This!

I've been M.I.A. again, I know. I have a really decent - nay, GOOD - excuse this time, however: I am being laid off, and therefore have been on the job hunt in a hardcore manner. I was informed in the middle of last month that my position would be eliminated at the end of May, and that in the meantime, my hours would be reduced. SUCK.

I know that my plight is nothing new in the current economic climate, but I'll cop to letting it get to me for a few days because I HAVE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH IN THE LAST YEAR, THANK YOU. But then I realized that nothing good would happen (i.e. getting a new job) if I did nothing, so I started applying. To everywhere and everything I was qualified to apply for. I started to lose heart after a couple of weeks, because, to date, I have applied for over fifty jobs, and had received two calls back: one that was a bogus job (for an insurance company - it was more of a sales presentation than an interview, and was concluded with, "If you're interested in working for us, get your insurance license and come on back!" Umm....no.) and the other was for an on-call position with no benefits. So, not really the pick of the litter.

There were three or four jobs that I had really hoped to get calls back for, and when I hadn't heard anything after awhile, I was pretty disappointed. WELL! Earlier this week, I scheduled interviews for two of them, and just now got a call from a third. Three job interviews for three jobs I'd be stoked to get makes for pretty good odds. I should know more by the end of next week, and with any luck, I'll get to choose which job to take. Wish me luck!

Quilt One: Amy Butler Blues

In preparation for the Pants Project, I decided I would try my hand at a throw quilt and use less important fabrics. I collected a bunch of Amy Butler fabrics that had light and robin's egg blues as either the main or accent colors and cut the fat quarters into nine 5 1/2 inch squares. I have a fair bit of fabric leftover: this will be made into a throw pillow or two, and whatever's left over from that will go into Quilt Two, a quilt made of a multitude scrap fabric for my friend Toby. Only after I have completed Quilt Two will I embark on the next steps of the Pants Project.

But I digress. I had nine 5 1/2 inch squares of each pattern and just pieced them together into blocks of nine randomly. Then I pieced rows of five together, and finally pieced five rows of five into a square throw-sized quilt. I had originally planned to make it four blocks by six, but four seemed a bit too short, so I adjusted. Unfortunately, this impulsive decision led to my not having enough backing fabric, a problem I solved by hacking the remaining squares in half, sewing them into a train, and then sewing backing fabric on either side. Clever, right?

I had a LOT of trouble with the quilt sandwich (front of quilt + back of quilt + batting) and had to rip back stitches twice (well, my husband did, because stitch ripping is my least favorite activity, possibly ever). In the end, I had to get creative with the batting, because it shifted insanely during the sandwich assembly (there may or may not be overlapping pieces and some cosmetic cutting so that the finished quilt would lie flat). So far this hasn't effected either the cuteness or comfortability of the finished product.

So without further ado, here is the quilt:

Quilt front, sans ironing.

Cute detail courtesy of poor planning. Also, I really do own an iron.

Close-up of one section; you can see the patterns a bit better this way.

So what do you think? Not too shabby for a first time, eh? I think I'll go join the dogs, who have already claimed it as their own, on the couch. It's time for a movie.

Game On!

As you may recall, the first time I went to a hockey game in the Tri-Cities, I fell in love. By now Chris and I have gone to a dozen or so games, but we keep track of the team even when we're not at the games. I visit the team's website several times per week, and I regularly read a blog with awesome game commentary. Chris and I have a lot of discussions about hockey, hockey games, and the Tri City Americans, and a game is just not as good if we don't get to sit in our favorite section (which is N, if you're curious). Despite having been to so many games, the excitement never gets dampened, and in fact I think they're more fun as we understand more about what we're watching, and as we feel more connected not only to the team's progress, but to other fans, too.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what it is about this sport and team, specifically, that interests me so much, and honestly I haven't figured it out yet. It's surprising to most people who know me that even on a Monday I am SO EXCITED to go to a game on Friday, not just because I'm a homebody, a total nerd, and I normally dislike loud places, but also because I have never been a sports person. Ever. I think part of the draw is, as I said, the feeling of being connected with a community. Part of it, too, is getting to know the experience: in which period certain announcements happen, becoming familiar with the songs that play. Being able to predict or expect something and then watching it happen makes me happy.

The Tri-City Americans' Team Logo.

It should not surprise you, then, that I took this love affair with the Americans to fangirl levels and combined two of my favorite things: knitting and hockey. It took me a few tries, but I was finally able to use a South American Chullo pattern, Vanna's Choice acrylic in appropriate colors, and a graph paper chart to do my first color-stranded knitting. Behold, my handmade team gear:

Front view.

Front detail

View from the back. Those amorphous blobs are supposed to be stars, natch.

Back detail

I'm so proud. It's held up pretty well for the last three or four games I've worn it at. I may need to make another for next season, though, depending on how long these playoffs last. For a (maybe) prototype, I think it turned out pretty well though, eh?

On Marital Finances

Having been married almost eight months at this point, you'd think Chris and I would know by know how to handle our finances. The truth is, we have been trying different things for random periods of time and nothing has stuck. Part of the problem is that neither of us has any idea how other couples keep track of and plan for their money, so we are limited in our knowledge of options.

We have tried keeping two different bank accounts, which works to a point: splitting bills and other incidentals becomes difficult when due dates, pay dates, and income levels differ. We have tried sharing one bank account which, due to our exclusive use of debit cards as a payment method, gets pretty confusing (especially when one of us doesn't keep track of his spending). We have considered taking out a certain amount of cash as an allowance for each of us for the week, but have not yet taken the plunge.

And we have no experience budgeting. This, I know, will be the key to savings and to keeping better track of our money, but to be honest, I've never known where to start. While at the library last week, I picked up Personal Finance for Dummies and The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, and placed a request for The Total Money Makeover (I'm number seventeen on the request list, so if I get to read this book before the year is out, I'll count myself lucky). The knowledge in these books will probably help, but it won't tell me everything I need to know, and it certainly won't implement anything for me.

For now, after much discussion, I believe we have formulated a plan that may well get us at least halfway to where we need to go. First, to combat the "We have no idea what we have spent, what our balance is, or what needs to clear" situation, I made a bank ledger in Google Documents (the perks of which are that it is accessible from anywhere, we both have access to it, and it's easy to use). Then I found a better one on the Google Docs Template Directory that calculates your balance for you (my ledger had to be calculated manually). We have begun using this with success. In addition, to make sure we keep track of absolutely everything, when out and about we have begun sending text messages to our email accounts with where, when, and how much we have spent for input into the ledger when we get home. It's a bit lo-fi, but as long as we're on top of it, this should work.

Second, there's the budgetary issue. The biggest barrier we've faced in creating a budget is that when we're ready to do it, we want to get it done. To get it done, we need the past month's worth (or more) of transactions and what they included, so they can be categorized. We don't save m/any receipts, so this is a problem. Enter Mint. You can plug all of your account numbers into Mint, and it pulls your statements and shows them on the Transactions page, automatically categorized (some of these need to be fine-tuned, but once you classify something, you can set future transactions to be categorized the same). From there, it does many magical and helpful things. One of the best ones, I think, is the section showing how much of your money goes into a certain category - video games or hockey tickets, for instance - and creates a typical monthly budget based on your spending history in that category. Another cool feature of Mint is that it will alert you when your bills are due for the accounts you have plugged in (we have our car loan and credit cards in the system, as well as our checking and savings accounts).

The only thing that could be better about Mint is that you can't enter anything that hasn't cleared your account. You can view your statement, and it shows you a current balance, but if you have transactions that are pending or checks that have not yet cleared, the information is not up to date. I would totally be using Mint as a bank ledger, too, if I could put in this information. Overall, just using the transactions and categories to show us where our money goes is extremely helpful, and you can change your budget in each category as you wish, too. It keeps track of each category's budget on a little barometer (though keep in mind, the barometer is about two days behind, depending on how quickly your bank clears transactions), which is pretty neat.

We still have some work to do, particularly when it comes to setting the budgets. I know that having all of our spending in one place and categorized will make this much easier, however. For the moment, I'm interested in how other couples (married or not) manage their money. What can you tell me about how you budget and keep track of your money? Does it work?

Portland Goodnesss: Part Two

A few days before going to Portland, I came across Yarnia's Facebook page. Intrigued, I went to the website and dubbed it the coolest yarn shop ever. Yarnia, "Portland's only DIY yarn store," has tons of different fibers that you choose and combine to create your own yarn. Awesome, right? Furthermore, they charge by the pound, so it's pretty good bang for your buck. My Portland companion and middle school friend, Toby (Hi, Toby!) agreed to go during my visit.

Tucked underneath and between other businesses, Yarnia was a bit hard to spot, but we found it eventually. Once inside, I was awed by all of the different colors and fibers. It was a virtual mecca of yarn.

About half of the fiber selection.

I wandered around pondering colors and fiber content and started picking cones to make up my special yarn. As I wandered, I noticed a few awesome things:
  • A color stranded knit banner with the store name, which I really wish I had a photo of.
  • A pitcher full of multi-colored knitting needles for customers to knit a swatch with their yarn, before it is combined, to ensure perfection.
  • A healthy selection of knitting books for reference.
  • Examples of knitted projects and the cost to knit them with yarn from Yarnia. You can see one of these in the photo above.
After about half an hour, I had chosen my yarn: different blue and turquoise wools, a navy rayon, and a single strand of silver Lurex. The shop owner helped figure out how much I wanted by my fairly abstract description of "Enough to knit a hat and scarf," which I figured would be a decent amount to be able to knit most small projects. It turned out to be about a pound and a half, and I paid under twenty dollars for all that yarn. It took about ten minutes for the yarn to be spun together and onto a cone, and then we were on our way.

My precious.

On our way out, Toby and I noticed another cool shop sign in the window, which was embroidered with yarn:

Yes, those letters are yarn. Impressive!

Everything about this store was so nifty. It was like the owner had thought of everything that a fantasy yarn store would have, and made it happen. Overall, it was a fantastic way to spend an hour, and I had so much fun playing with different possibilities, not to mention spending so little money for so much custom yarn. I'm really looking forward to going back next time I visit Portland.

Another One Bites the Dust

I have a new obsession: the Twilight series*.

I was able to avoid it for long enough, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me, and I downloaded the Twilight audio book to entertain me on my drive to Portland a few weekends ago. I figured, if I didn't like it I could listen to something else, but I wouldn't waste any time that I could have been spent doing something else - and driving is boring, no matter how you slice it. I was skeptical for the first hour or so, but then got so involved in the story that I barely noticed the subsequent highway driving and had a grand time. I couldn't wait to get back in the car and make my way home so I could hear more. The audio book was longer than a round-trip drive to Portland, and I've been listening in snippets as I drive to and from work and school, occasionally spending lunch hours in my car with Bella and Edward. I was hoping to finish it by the time Twilight came out on DVD, and I barely made it. On Friday, the release date, I went to a Redbox first thing in the morning and watched Twilight twice that day.

Now. Don't get me wrong, I get the criticism that the movie was really slow and angsty and pretty awkward in places. That's mostly true. It probably won't win any awards, but I was still captivated by it. Compared with the book, it goes much faster, and a few plot points are changed. Also, I wish they'd have developed Bella and Edward's relationship a bit more. In the movie, it went from Edward detesting Bella to being consumed by her in about five minutes. Overall, I really enjoyed both the book and the movie, but I think I like them in different ways.

Now I've begun New Moon, again in audio book format. This one is much longer than Twilight at around twelve hours, so I think it'll take me more than a month of tooling around town to get through it. Maybe I'll have it done by the time the movie version comes out.

*I know I'm late to the party, but if you love Twilight and want to gush over it, drop me a line.

Portland Goodness: Part One

This weekend, I spent the better part of two days in Portland visiting friends. Though we did a lot of really fun things, I have two that I really want to share, The Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft being the first. They had two amazing exhibits (for free!) that kind of blew my mind:

1. Dare alla Luce by Mandy GreerPictures via the Museum website

The museum's website doesn't have any photos of the entire room, but rest assured, it was breathtaking. Huge orbs of crocheted and knitted strands intertwined with beads and other media (one we looked at up close had plastic, something that looked like embroidery floss, and a few different strands of yarn) hung around the room - there were four, I think, in different shades of green. Upon examination, you could see all of the different yarns and fibers used - there was boucle and eyelash and what looked like acrylic and maybe some bamboo. In the orbs, there were also sewn things. In the first photo up top, you can see some leaves and baubles that were sewn together and detailed. The sheer magnitude of planning it must have taken, not to mention the time it took to spin all of that together, AND how many, many skeins of yarn must have been purchased... well, suffice it to say that there are an incredible amount of elements making this astonishing. To be fair, there was also a bird and some stars, which were also awe-inspiring - they had different types of beads, glass, and found objects stuck to them, while the bird was made up of different textures and types of black fabrics and had its own trail of black yarn, beads, and baubles - but what struck me the most were the hanging spheres.

2) The Large Works 1999–2008 by Darrel Morris
Pictures via the Museum website

These were bedsheet sized works of embroidery. They were mostly basic line drawings but with shifting perspectives and sometimes a creepy feel. Again, the sense of how long each of these must have taken is stupefying, but also how much deliberate work. In one of the pieces, there was a hill that was textured with thousands of tiny stitches, each going carefully in a different direction to look like sloping grass. The most astounding thing to me was that with embroidery, you can usually tell when a stitch has been made and then removed, there are telltale holes. There were no holes of this type in any of the pieces we examined. Can you imagine? It must have taken millions of stitches to complete each of these works and each of them was on purpose.

Bonus: Andy Paiko's FUNCTIONING Glass Spinning Wheel

The Museum gallery featured a glass spinning wheel in their window. While looking around at the various items for sale, I saw the wheel, and, thinking it was just a sculpture, walked on... Until I saw a video of the spinning wheel in action. I can't believe it works. Look at it! It's really pretty and delicate! It looks like it shouldn't function, but it does. Cool, huh?

...So I have something else, probably equally as exciting, which I will wait to tell you about until I upload the photos from my camera. Until then!

Currently... 3/4/09

Real Simple's Chicken & Vegetable Pot Pie

Listening to:
"It's Not Me, It's You" by Lily Allen

Twilight: The Audiobook

Cadbury Mini Eggs


The Reader

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Henckels 7" Forged Santoku

Mad Men, Season One

Sopranos, Season Four

The Pants Project: Beginnings

My brother-in-law, Matthew, was an avid lover, wearer, and apparent collector of vintage plaid pants. These pants were such a staple of his personality that they even merited a mention in his obituary. I think that there were only two occasions when I saw him wearing any pants that weren't part of this collection: his wedding, and mine. Therefore, when I was asked to make a quilt out of part of his pant assemblage for my sister-in-law, it was a weird sort of honor. When we saw her this weekend, she gave me two great garbage bags full of plaid pants (and a couple of shirts) so that I could get started.

A portion of the pants in my posession - I've already cut up a few pairs.

Now, I have never quilted before. I am a novice sew-er, but I'm not planning (and she's not expecting) anything fancy. Probably just squares, possibly rectangles. So, armed with this book, the internet, some quilting tools, and an army of plaid fabric, I hope to make a decent quilt.

Tan terry-cloth shirt on the left, pirate t-shirt on the right. Matt wore both of these often.

Here is what I know: I'm going to use the pirate shirt graphic as the centerpiece. I may use the tan terry-cloth shirt fabric as a border for the centerpiece, and might use squares of it for the corner squares, as well. I am trying to salvage as much fabric as I can, but also the buttons, fasteners, and zippers. I'm collecting one of each type of fastener and maybe a few pockets to make a little book or mini-quilt for my nephew (similar to the ones with velcro, buttons, etc) to practice his motor skills when he's a bit older. I started cutting into the pants yesterday, and for now I'm just cannibalizing the fabric and making it into more-or-less rectangles. Once I got the hang of where the best places to cut and how far to slice and such, it went fairly quickly. Each pair results in a tidy little pile of four pieces of fabric, like this:

...and I'd guess that there's 3/8 to 1/2 yard there total. How big of a quilt this ends up being will depend on how much fabric there is when all the cutting's done, and at that point I'll probably come up with measurements and sketch up what the finished product will look like.

In the meantime, do you have any quilting tips for me?

25 Things...

...about me in the form of random facts, habits or goals. This one has been making its rounds and has been done by many, many other bloggers. Since I'm bored at work this morning, here's mine:

1. I freak out if I inadvertently touch mold. I have to wash my hands, immediately and repeatedly, upon contact.
2. There is a Swiffer Duster in my car for the express purpose of cleaning the dust off of my dashboard.
3. Jennifer Aniston annoys me so badly that I am unable to watch anything with her on the cast. Ditto Kate Hudson.
4. When I was eight or nine, my aunt took me to get a corkscrew perm that resembled an afro in practice. There exist professional photos of me immediately after getting said perm in a denim cowgirl outfit. With fringe, natch.
5. Until my pre-wedding Mary Kay makeup lesson, I was unaware that the idea behind multiple eyeshadow colors in one package was to put one on the eyelid, one on the brow bone, and one in the crease.
6. I won the school spelling bee in fifth grade, then made it to the second round in the Alaska State Spelling Bee by correctly spelling "jauntily."
7. I was supposed to have been named "Roxy," but my mom changed her mind after I was born. I have wondered whether/how my life would have been different if I wasn't named Amanda.
8. Sometime in the last few years and without any good reason, I began to be disgusted by and therefore unable to drink milk.
9. I get nauseated when I enter hospitals. Any hospital, anywhere. Nausea. This was especially problematic when I worked in a hospital for a few months, but it never did subside like I hoped it would.
10. One of my biggest fears is to be smelly. I take great pains to ensure that I never stink; and if at any point I do smell bad, I am mortified for days.
11. While doing anything on the computer, you might find me spacing out and placing the cursor at the exact middle of a word or phrase, or aligning the mouse arrow in corners or edges of things on my screen.
12. As a kid, I used to enjoy playing library, video store, and office. By myself. The first two "games" mostly involved alphabetizing any and all books or videos I could find and arranging them in a pleasing manner, then creating a check-out log, assigning account numbers, and finally, checking out books or videos to myself. "Playing office" included talking on an old phone to no one, making forms, scribbling a fake signature on notepads, and "typing" on one of these, which made sounds just like a keyboard. Not terribly unlike my current office job, really.
13. If you leave the shower curtain open after showering, I just might kill you.
14. I constantly crave, and could eat any/all day, a tomato-corn salad and cheese fries from a specific restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska. One day I will attempt to replicate their corn vinaigrette for home consumption.
15. I love and use my Kitchenaid stand mixer more than I thought possible, and probably more than I would feel comfortable expressing in mixed company. It averages out to be more than once daily, I'm afraid.
16. At my peak, I had fourteen piercings. I only wear seven now, though.
17. I collect postcards and buttons (of the sewing variety, not the pinback type).
18. I have the horrible habit of cracking all of my joints, multiple times daily. All of my dad's family does this, and it's probably where I picked up the habit to the degree I have it.
19. I still have nightmares about The Wheelers from Return to Oz.
20. I was in the school orchestra for three years during 6th through 8th grades. My chosen instrument was the cello, but I lived in fear of having to play a solo because I was really horrible and could barely play, much less tune, my instrument. In the eighth grade I took two periods of orchestra to avoid having to take P.E. and still did not improve. I subsequently gave up the cello.
21. I abhor the phrase "my other half" in reference to someone's significant other. You are whole. Your significant other? They're whole, too. You are two people, not halves of one person. The phrase is just kind of TMI for me, especially when used by people I don't know.
22. I started wearing Dansko Professional clogs in high school and am virtually unable to wear other types of shoes, now. I have no idea how shoes besides these are supposed to fit and look, and what you're supposed to wear them with. Danskos go with everything. Done and done.
23. I think that macaroni & cheese in spirals or shapes (Scooby Doo, Spongebob, et al) is more satisfying than regular macaroni.
24. I am a typography nerd and troll DaFont.com on a regular basis to download fun new fonts.
25. I worship at the altar of Ikea like it's my own personal god. I will go through hell for the chance to spend a few hours there buying cute, cheap crap.

Your Bones Got a Little Machine

This, I think, is the third in a series of lazy weekends during which I only get dressed about once over three days (I don't work Fridays, so every weekend for me is a three-day). I haven't been sick, just feeling rather in need of a life hiatus and to watch an unhealthy amount of television in my pajamas (the video games aren't helping my desire to hang out at home, either).

This weekend, we kicked it off by breaking in our fancy new antenna (prior to buying which we got absolutely no TV reception) and watched Ugly Betty and Private Practice with the rest of the U.S. and not online days later, as per usual. In addition, we watched Total Recall, Die Hard, Righteous Kill, lots of Arrested Development, and The Goonies. Oh, and some Sopranos. See? Unhealthy amount.

I suppose that I'm selling myself a little short by proclaiming this a do-nothing weekend: I also did our taxes. We ended up with a refund, and a celebration was had by all.

Last night on spur of the moment we decided to go to a hockey game, which is our second since I last posted about them. It was a perfect way to get out of my head, and included three (!) fights, some delicious nachos, and a 6-0 win.

So, for lack of any other notable updates - talk to me: Have you done your taxes yet? What do you do when you're in a funk and feeling lazy? Got any movie suggestions for me?

We'll All Float On, Alright*

I almost hesitate to post this, because then you'll know what a nerd I am. I guess you probably already know, I'll just cement it. Here we go:

Chris and I have been amusing ourselves for the past two days with an X-Box 360 and Rock Band 2. I was incredibly adverse to buying an X-Box to begin with, because A) Who has time to sit around and play games? B) If we did have time to sit around and play games, it would probably be better spent, I don't know, cleaning the house or walking the dogs, and C) Three hundred dollars? For a game system? That will serve as a procrastination/time wasting tool? The hell???

I'm sort of ashamed to say that I was the one who initiated the Rock Band purchase and who has been jumping at the chance to play even more than Chris has. So far, we've been playing in a band as Dr. Girlfriend (me), the singer who can reach pitch but sometimes not get the words out (it turns out all you MUST do to get points - at least on the easy setting - is match the pitch. One needn't clearly say the lyrics, which has resulted in more than one song being "sung" in pitch-perfect gibberish by yours truly), and Toki (Chris) the guitarist. It's been a really fun way to spend time together and hanging out.

Truth be told, though, I have felt guilty spending so much time on activity that doesn't allow me to cross something off of my to-do list, but it has been nice to just relax. Really relax. Usually, when I "relax," I'm watching TV or a movie while knitting, folding or sorting laundry, or thinking of things I could or should be doing rather than sitting there. So spending some mindless time enjoying myself and not taking care of responsibilities has been rather rejuvenating. Something I tend to forget, since I have so little time at home, is that I don't HAVE to spend each moment striving for perfection in tidiness of the house or the like. I can let some things slide and give myself a break.

So I think I'll go give myself another break. Probably for the entire afternoon.

*We keep getting "Float On" by Modest Mouse handed to us in set lists and though it's a very good song, the fact that it's stuck in my head is driving me crazy.


A few things I've been daydreaming about lately:

Making a blanket of felted sweater squares...

Making a quilt of different patterns and hues from the same color family, and another one of multicolored scraps...

from Laupre

Having a tidy closet craft space, rather than the dining room corner my supplies currently inhabit...

Current craft space

Fantasy closet craft space, from this post via whip up

Making felt baby name books: one for my nephew on his first birthday, and eventually for my own children...

by annam42 on Craftster

by kahlan on Craftster