December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays (also known as Shame)

Hello Readers!

I did not intend to take a 3 month break from my blog.

I really didn't.

But this new job is kicking my butt.

I'll post a really great post tonight. Actually I have a lot of things to post about. I'll spend the next week catching you up.

Thanks for being patient.

September 26, 2009

Good (and not good) News

Good News: I have a job next week.
Bad News: I was so excited about next week I didn't want to do anything last week.

Good News: The job comes with a significant pay increase.
Bad News: The job is 100% travel.

Good News: I knew I had a job before the school started inviting people in to extend job offers.
Bad News: Everyone else didn't know, so the fact that I didn't even get an invite had everyone looking at me funny.

Good News: The three people I was worried about the most in this transition got out clean; myself and my counterpart got jobs elsewhere, the CIO got a job offer at the school.
Other Good News: The school offered jobs to 7 additional employees.
Bad News: They canned L, C, D, and S. A. (sob). ***

New Job Excitement

I haz it.

The first indication that I had a new job arrived today. A 17" monitor to go with the laptop I have to pickup when I hit Manhattan.

I did mention that right?

My first 2 weeks on my new job will be in Manhattan. The Lincoln Center Area. Where my hotel room is 2 streets over from Central Park
I spent a truckload of money today.

That's definitely newsworthy because I'm definitely cheap.

September 17, 2009

God Don't Like UGLY

You better believe that. Wanna know why? Read on.


Yesterday, right after I wrote the blog post below, I received a call from the manager of the division I applied to. It was actually a pretty good conversation and it made me realize that in the 20 months that I've been on this job, I've learned very little. Even though I was overworked, stressed, and gaining weight like a sinking ship gains water at my previous job, I was learning a lot. Nothing that I've done in my current job has in any way measured up to that.

It all came in handy during that one hour phone call. We went through my work experience and resume, situations I've had to handle, ones I haven't, and I know that the manager was trying to pick my resume apart. I can't blame her; she called me out of courtesy, she had a candidate in mind, and now here I come, barreling down the runway begging for a job.

The conversation lasted an hour before she decided to pull in another consultant, someone who would be my co-worker, for a quickfire challenge, "Name that Form".

I did well. I didn't knock it out of the park like I would have liked, but I proved I had a good background and knowledge of the product. More importantly, I think like a Functional user, which is extremely important. Besides, having forms and processes thrown at me for 25 minutes was disconcerting and confusing. Toward the end I would have hesitated if you had asked me my own name.

So, I hung up thinking, "Eh." I went to the Gym, allowed Suzanne to kick my behind for 30 minutes, then went home and soothed my soul with Pork Chops (I don't want to hear it).

I did the correct and proper and sent the manager a follow-up "Thank you for the opportunity" email and went to bed.

What did I get for all my trouble?

I have a second interview today.


So why did I entitle this post "God Don't Like UGLY"?

Because the CIO pulled me into his office today to say that he was very concerned that I had not applied for my position here at the school and was wondering if everything was OK, or was I certain I was going to get the corporate job, or had I decided to simply not work once the contract was over?

Huh?

Apparently, someone in the schools' HR department told him I had not applied, so no one was making a job for me and that they might have been interested in retaining me except that I was making it very clear I had no desire to work for the school.

WHAT?

So CIO and I chatted, I assured him that I had applied for my own job, and had sent in all the requisite materials, and we discussed his job offer. Then I went back to my office, printed off a copy of my application, which showed the date I applied (Sept. 8, 2009 at 3:02 PM) and sat down. He can do with that what he will, but whoever lied will get it coming back to them.

I missed the second interview doing all that. Granted, I didn't know until I picked up my cell phone and realized I'd just missed the call. I called the number back immediately and, since I had not been informed that they were going to call right then, the manager was gracious enough to reschedule to 4:30 PM. So I'm walking out at 4:25 so I can stand in the sun, have an uninterrupted cellphone signal, and (hopefully) land this job.

There was a very boring call to corporate HR at 2 PM, then the quickest staff meeting on record. Sitting here, counting down time, I was surprised to see my cell phone ring with a familiar, but unknown number. It was corporate HR, calling me about another job that I had applied for. I applied for a sales position, selling enrollment software, and the manager over that division wanted to know if I had any recent experience presenting to large groups. Well, again, working here has stunted me, but I did have all that lovely previous school experience to fall back on and I have never been afraid of public speaking. I told her that. Apparently, that manager will be in Orlando at the beginning of October, so if I don't get one job, I might get a face-to-face interview for another.

God Don't Like UGLY. It's best to act with integrity in all the things that you must do. Either that or you better pray. Why?

In 48 hours I've gone from having no job prospects with my current company to having 2 job prospects. Lovely!

September 16, 2009

Lower the Boom

The Tuesday before I left for vacation, we had a meeting with the corporate office and with the school's HR department about our employment. The school and corporate had come to an understanding that services from corporate to the school would end effective September 30, 2009. Everyone currently in the office would have to apply for their jobs. I left the meeting with a sense of ...I don't know. I think I just didn't care; I wanted to get on the road to Georgia. I had applied for another job with corporate and was waiting to hear back about that, so I just had no feelings at all.

While in Georgia I received the letter I had been waiting on (and dreading) for months: The letter containing the information about my termination, effective September 30, and the details of the possible severance package. Of course, if I managed to find another job with corporate before September 30, then the letter was null and void, but I can't say I was surprised at all. If anything, I felt a great sense of relief steal over me. Finally! Now I know where I stand.

So here's to hoping that I get the job I applied for. It was the same as my current job, but with 75% travel. Perfect!!! So I hunkered down in Georgia to wait for a call. Well, they called, but they called my office at school, not my cell phone. So the entire time they were trying to reach me, I was completely oblivious. When I walked into the office on Monday and saw all the missed calls, I immediately sprang into action, but it was too late. Well, the HR recruiter is pretty sure it's too late, the manager of that department has pretty much set her mind to someone and I probably won't even get an interview.

DAMN!

So, here I am, looking at unemployment in 2 weeks, and oddly enough, I still don't feel anything.

I finally finished Henry tonight.


The iCord bind-off makes it look professional and tailored. I had to pick up the cast on edge and apply iCord to it, but I'm pleased with the results. I think I'm going to plough through a couple of the books I got from LibraryThing before I start another knitting project, but I already know what it will be.

September 3, 2009

Vacation Knitting

I spent 30 minutes packing my knitting for my (oh so necessary) 10 day vacation. I packed the last 2 skeins of KnitPicks Palette yarn in Fog to finish Henry
Palette_Fog001

and packed the 4 Skeins of KnitPicks Palette yarn in Lipstick to start another Henry.
Palette_Lipstick001 copy

My problem is, knowing I'm fast but not that fast, I still feel as if this isn't enough yarn.
I really feel as if I need to pack enough yarn (and needles) for one more project. Whatever the project, it needs to be a project I can handle with a size 3 needle, because I'm not packing more needles.

Right now, I'm stuck on what project and yarn to pack.

Do I attempt another Print O' the Wave Stole? Or maybe the Icarus Shawl? Do I take socks instead? I dunno.

I have some Lacey Lamb I can use for the Print O' the Wave Stole, but I don't know if I want to.
JadeSapphire_LaceyLamb002

JadeSapphire_LaceyLamb004

This is the problem with having one skein of really nice yarn. Eventually, you simply don't want to knit anything with it because you don't know if another, nicer, prettier pattern will come along and make you regret using that nice lambswool on something else.

I think I will go with the Print O' the Wave Stole. I need to pack the yarn and pattern before I change my mind.

Last night, I finished packing the knitting before I packed the clothes.
I leave in 90 minutes. Once I leave the school I have to:
  • Swing by Albertsons and pick up the seafood I asked them to bag. That includes 20 lbs. of Snow Crab (on special down here and $8.99/lb. at home) & 6 lobsters.
  • Go home, pack car, hit the road to Tampa
  • Once in Tampa, hit IKEA. Pick up one small pink chair and 4 packs of mirrors (I'm going to end the night transferring a lot of money from Mom's account into mine)
  • Hit the road to Georgia. I should make it in around 1 AM.
I'm actually looking forward to this. For once, I have the trip planned out.

September 2, 2009

Now we are retreating

One of my biggest problems in life is an inability to make up my mind. I keep all options open far too long, just in case I need to make an about U-turn.

Why am I mentioning this?

I installed Ubuntu on my computer to use as a server.

At first, I was in love. It was simple, had a great interface, looked lovely. but as the weeks went on, I realized that
  1. It was taking me forever to install Samba and set it up for windows networking.
  2. I really wasn't keen on having to find alternatives to all my .aac, m4a, and mp3 files
  3. I wanted a Server. Not a desktop with server qualities. I wanted a headless server.
So I got another product key from Microsoft on Sunday and reinstalled Windows Home Server. I now have the 120GB and 200GB drives installed and running, but the 500GB drive does not want to work. I am trying to copy everything off that drive onto the other drives, then wipe the 500GB drive clean (because when I add it to WHS, it will format the drive anyway, so I might as well get my stuff off first).

Now that I no longer care about work, it's going much easier. Today I was praised for handling the client's issue quickly and without any drama.

Woo Hoo. That doesn't change the fact that I'm burnt out.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail that I'm actually looking forward to reading

The World is Open, by Curtis Bonk. I received the book through LibraryThing and I'm taking it (and some other books I need to review to remain in good graces) home with me to Georgia. I am already excited about reviewing this book. Even the first sentence is revolutionary and exciting:

"Anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime"

Wow! Think about what an amazing (and true) concept that is. Instead of children/students being the recipients of knowledge for 8 hrs/day under a rigid structure, they have become the pursuers of knowledge, thanks to the Internet, blogs, Wikipedia, TV, etc. This is a true knowledge-based generation and America's concept of education will have to change in order to address this reality. Even more so, it will have to change to address the reality of the students who do not have access to this knowledge all the time.

To me, this is mind-blowing because what we are really looking at here is the reorganization of the entire educational framework and the re-evaluation of what it means to "receive an education" in this country. . .I'm really excited about this book.

One the home front, I still need to mop my floors. They're a mess. My fridge is nearly empty...

and all my text messages have disappeared from my phone. WTF?

August 27, 2009

A vacation

I'm going home for Labor Day weekend. It's pretty necessary at this point.

I'm burnt out and I no longer love my job.

I need to be a traveling consultant. There is one traveling consultant position open with the company right now, but I haven't heard anything since I applied. I'm wishing I had uploaded by recommendation letters with the application.

In the meantime, I'm burning through money much faster than I need to.

I finished the Magic Mirror Socks.

I cast on with a US#3 40" circular and worked both socks from the toe-up two-at-a-time, turned the heel, then switched to the US#2 for the beginning of the leg. I worked with the #2 for one repeat, then switched to US#6 DPNs for the remainder of the foot. Not bad planning on my part. These should fit Stephanie's feet without any problems. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I also want to give her the Cloverleaf Cables socks....but I think I'll gift those to Andrea.

So now I'm working on Henry in KnitPicks Palette Fog for Daddy. I'm trying to decide if I want to make another one, in Lipstick, for Mom later.

August 21, 2009

Again, We are NOT retreating

we are advancing in an entirely different direction.
~Victoria, channeling Douglas McArthur

I know when I've been licked.

I've been licked.

Because it's Hurricane Season here in Florida, I've come home to blinking clocks twice this week. The first time, the server was fine, so I didn't think about it.

Tonight, I decided to rip some more music to the server. Hmm...the server isn't on. Turn it on (and yes, I've priced a few UPS systems. The one I want is $100; I'm not buying the cheap crap at Wal-Mart. I want the battery backup to last longer than 15 minutes.)

Greeted by
"Secondary IDE Channel no 80 conductor cable installed"

Crap. Reset the BIOS. Move battery backup to top of purchase list. Log into server.

"The Evaluation Period for this copy of Windows has ended. Windows cannot start. To continue using Windows, please purchase and install a retail copy of the product."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

I give up. I been licked. If you'll excuse me, I'm now looking for my last 120 GB drive. I'm going to clean it off and install Unbuntu onto that.

Windows Home Server is absolute crap. Linux, here I come.

August 15, 2009

We are not retreating

We are advancing in another direction.
--Douglas MacArthur

Sometimes I just can't win. Last weekend I built a server, a home file server. I was sooo excited about this. I should have known something would go wrong.

Sat., Aug 1: My new case arrives!!! It's a plain case from Newegg. This is a file server, not a gaming rig.

Wed., Aug 5: My 1 GB memory stick arrives. Finally, I have everything I need to rebuild my old computer into a file server.

Thursday, Aug. 6: I install the motherboard, the memory and the 200 GB hard drive into the case. On it goes....
"Secondary IDE Channel no 80 conductor cable installed"

Hmm...I wasn't expecting this...Google the error message on the laptop. Oh....the BIOS is looking for a floppy drive. I decided not to install one (who uses them anymore, anyway?), so into the BIOS to check all the settings.

Man, it's been a long time since I did all this.

Friday, Aug. 7: (this is really just a continuation of Thursday night). Hmm....I have Unbuntu running, but it says that it doesn't recognize my hard drive. This hard drive is brand new.....what's the problem?

Two hours, a glass of wine, and a longing glance at the vodka later....

Oh, I don't have any power going to the Hard drive....duh. Hook up power. Install Unbuntu. Go to sleep.

Late Afternoon: Hm....where the GUI? I suck at command line. Install GNOME. No GUI? Do some internet research. Crappers. I should have installed Unbuntu Desktop, not Unbuntu Server....

Wipe drives. Download Windows Home Server and burn to disc. Open Vodka.

Sunday, Aug. 9: Install WHS. This is great. . .wait, this is a stripped down version of Windows Server 2003! I feel somewhat cheated, but let's see how this works.

Late Sunday: In order to connect my 500 GB drive (the one with all my music and pictures, which is the entire reason I want a home server), I have to format the drive. . .which defeats the purpose of connecting it. Instead, I move all the music and pics to the 200 GB drive, then format the drive.

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Well, everything has been moved. Now for the moment of truth. Format 500 GB drive (it needed a cleanup so, why not) then connect it. Presto! 700 GB of space in my new server! Now, how in the hell do I activate this???

Wed. Aug. 12: How do I activate this?

Thursday, Aug 13: How do I activate this?

Later that day: Huge Rainstorm today. Knocked all the power out at my house. I know this because the microwave clock was blinking and wrong. Hmm...server has been knocked out. Will power on later...(need to buy battery backup for it)

Friday, Aug. 14: Turn computer back on. Greeted by
"Secondary IDE Channel no 80 conductor cable installed"

Crap. Reset the BIOS. Move battery backup to top of purchase list. Log into server.

"The Evaluation Period for this copy of Windows has ended. Windows cannot start. To continue using Windows, please purchase and install a retail copy of the product.
"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! I've barely had this installed for a week. I'm supposed to be able to evaluate it for 120 days. It's barely been 120 hours!

Search Google again. Finally figure out how to register and get a product key. Then jet over to the Windows Forums (amazing how easy this stuff is to find when I'm in a blind panic) and get some help. Olaf tells me to do a server reinstall, not a new install, because a new install will wipe out everything on the drive. Message received. Reboot from CD, server reinstall . . .

At the moment, I'm back in business, but I'll tell you this now, I'm installing Unbuntu tonight and creating a dual boot system. I'm not going through that drama again.

Happy Days are here again

I have a new camera! A Canon PowerShot A1100 IS. I'm in love.

Because I knit so much, a camera that could take lovely macro shots, had intuitive controls, and had some control over manual settings was a must. However, the built-in settings are working wonderfully for me, especially the Indoor setting. I can take a picture that's so near perfect that when I open it in Photoshop, I barely need to make any adjustments.

:)

I also have a new mp3 player.


I miss my iPod horribly, but I'm getting over that. Apple has done a great job of making a wonderful music accessory that is very intuitive and nothing will come close, but at least this will play music (and pick up the radio, which even the iPod can't do...)

I went 2 weeks without an mp3 player, which is a lifetime for me. I haven't been without my iPod since I got the first one.


Update: After writing that post, I went and bought an 8GB iPod. Yes, I'm a hypocrite; I love iPod. The sansa will be taken to the gym, though. I'm not losing another iPod.

July 21, 2009

I am...

Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice!

You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgment that serves you very ill indeed.

I am Elizabeth Bennet!


Take the Quiz here!

July 19, 2009

A slight security Problem

I was burgled on Friday, July 17, 2009. I am still recovering from the shock. I wasn't at home at the time of the burglary, but I still feel very violated. These thieves took:
  • My brand-new, just-replaced-it-2-weeks-ago 120 GB iPod Classic
  • Silicone iPod protectors in Smoke, Clear, and Blue
  • My 5 year old, 6.1 MP, still takes excellent pictures Kodak Z760 Zoom digital camera
  • My shipment from Interweave Knits (unless UPS just didn't deliver)
  • A half-empty bottle of Cabo Wabo Tequila
  • 2 Cartons of Egg Beaters....
The last part is the one that confuses me. WHO IN THE HELL STEALS EGG BEATERS??? A geriatric burgler with cholesterol problems??? A tech happy knitter who loves Breakfast?? Seriously??

I mean honestly, don't steal the new laptop that was just sitting out in plain view. Or the attached 500 GB hard drive. Or the 42" TV (OK, maybe that is a bit big to hoist). Or the 19" TV (that would have made the burglary obvious). Or my Blackberry. Or any of the other expensive and sundry devices all around my home.

Seriously, take my iPod, which I just replaced on the 8th (literally, like 9 days earlier) after losing the one I had had for 4 years. Thankfully, I still had the box, and could give the officer the serial number. So if you try to fence that to a pawn shop, you are seriously screwed dude.

Take my digital camera, which I'm not too upset about since I wanted to replace it. But wanting to replace something and needing to replace something are two totally different playing fields. One pisses me off. The other sends me to Consumer Reports.

Take my Egg Beaters . . . which causes me not to call the police because I know that the ensuing conversation is going to make me sound like an idiot.
Me: I've been burgled.
Officer: Ok, what did they take?
Me: iPod, Silicone Cases for the iPod, Digital Camera, Knitting books, Egg Beaters
Officer: (thinking "I always get the nut jobs") Egg Beaters ma'am?
Me: YES! ...and a half-empty bottle of tequila.
Come on now, what would you think? I literally sat on this burglary for 24 hours because I thought reporting the Egg Beaters was inching toward the ridiculously sublime. Then I noticed the camera (and its charge dock) was gone and that's when I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I had been robbed.

Actually, that's pretty close to how the actual conversation went down, only Officer K. Smith was kind enough to let me know that I would definitely be his Facebook status in the morning and that he was going to tell every cop buddy he had about this one. Thieves lifting an iPod, a digital Camera, and Egg Beaters. What's more, the victim noticed the iPod and Egg Beaters missing first. The digital Camera took a bit longer, like 24 hours....

Yup, ridiculously sublime.

But he was very very nice. My mother, who continues to harbor hope that I'll find a nice new man down here in Florida, was heartened by the fact that this was a 1.5 hour conversation. However, I noticed the Wedding ring and he mentioned his kids and that one had a license, which meant both she and he were too old for me.

Curses.

So, I'll replace the camera tomorrow with a brand-spanking new version. I'll wait a few weeks on the iPod, to see if it gets fenced.

I'll also replace my Egg Beaters. They're an important source of protein for someone trying to lose weight.

June 25, 2009

Queue

400+ items in Ravelry Queue


Don't get it. How about this?

400+ items in Ravelry Queue_Zoom


Nuff Said.

June 24, 2009

The Face of Evil

This is the face of evil.

PersonalTraining_009 copy

Don't be fooled by the innocent look.

Suzanne is evil and I'm the idiot who pays her to be evil.

I pay her to beat me up twice a week. I call her my "Personal Trainer."

PersonalTraining_011 copy

Why am I doing this? Because I have been asked to be in a wedding next April and I'll be damned if I'm the biggest chick in the group. If there is a single, cute groomsman, I'm determined to look my best.

Hence, the need for assistance.

In one month, she's help me drop 11 inches.

EVIL!!!

June 11, 2009

Life is getting me down.

I'm trying very hard not to get depressed.

I've been unemployed once....right out of college. After I ended up taking a job well below my skills and abilities, I vowed I would never be without a job again. If need be, I would always be ready to cast my resume out into the world, pull up stakes, and leave without a second glance.

That vow looks more and more difficult to fulfill right now.

Unemployment in Manatee County is around 11.5%. The fact that I have a job right now makes me one of the lucky ones. I have my health (and health coverage), I have some savings, and I have a home.

I should be happy.

However, every day that goes by at my job seems to take forever. I like what I do; I'm no longer enchanted by the people I work with. The client doesn't see the value in the services that either of the User Liaisons perform; we've been told our jobs are definitely on the line. They want to start transitioning the department back in July, so I have less than three weeks to get a nibble. During one of the most critical employment periods in the country, I have to start a job search....hopefully for a job with 75-100% travel. Yeah, I know, good luck.

So tomorrow I need to spend the day applying for jobs. I've resolved to apply for jobs inside and outside of higher education. I have an MPA, I have skills and abilities, I am willing. If I didn't have this house right now, I could pack up and leave at a moment's notice. I think that is the worst part of this recession; I'm not upside down in my mortgage b/c I bought last December but I know that if I put this house on the market right now, I wouldn't have any takers...unless I simply rented it.

I need a fallback option...Anyone have any ideas?

June 8, 2009

Organic Gardening is Pretty

My Square Foot Garden is a mixed blessing. Because I didn't get the seedlings into the ground fast enough, most of my plants died. The ones that survived are beautiful.

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Jalapenos (or Serranos...I'm not sure)

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Basil and Parsley (and Cilantro in the bottom corner)

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The Corn is really my pride and joy. My grandfather grew up on a farm for most of his childhood and he is the family expert on gardening....and he's jealous of the fact that I have corn in my garden.... :)

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This is what excited me...TOMATOES!!!
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YUM!

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I think this is the best photo of the day...a baby cucumber

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I forgot what kind of squash this is....Now it's kind of exciting to find out later....


I'm getting excited about nature.

June 7, 2009

Baking in the Heat

For some reason, I've had more success baking this month.

This is surprising, given that this is the weather outside

Gardening001

Hurricane Season in Florida started on June 1st and the weather is determined to live up to the reputation. It has rained 4 times today.

I hate when it rains.

Anyway, Feng's 50th Birthday party was on Thursday.

Fengs50thParty_001

I spent three days trying to figure out what to make, then I finally decided on the Strawberry Chiffon Cake that Smitten Kitchen had posted.

JuneCookingItems002 copy

Her's looks better (of course) but I didn't think mine looked too bad. I think he thanked me for the cake at least 10 times (no joke). I thought the cake was good, but not quite the knockout I wanted.


Today, I made Dorie Greenspan's Orange-Berry Muffins....

OH MY GOD
JuneCookingItems014 copy

DELICIOUS!

It's taking everything I have not to eat all 12 in one sitting....

Two is the limit today....



I'm glad I'm baking today. It's taking my mind off the fact that my job is in jeopardy. I have to find a new job ASAP but I'm having a mental block trying to complete my resume with the details of my current job. However, I'm determined to finish it and get some applications in before I go to bed tonight...

If you pray, pray for me. If you don't send good vibes my way.

June 3, 2009

I've never had so much difficulty

keeping my stomach settled or trying to find a new pattern to start.

I really like Henry.


But at 452 stitches, it's a beast to knit. Undeterred, I cast on with Rowan Cashcotton, miscounted and ended up with 490 stitches.

That should have been my clue to stop.

But I kept going and finished 3.5 rows before I realized the following:

  1. I would run out of yarn before I finished this.
  2. My daddy doesn't wear pink.
  3. I don't like cotton yarn, even cotton yarn that has cashmere in it.
  4. This is cute, but cotton scarves don't do crap for warmth.
So now I'm frogging it and trying to find something to knit. So now I'm casting on for Spring Forward.

Yup, I'm back to my old standby: socks.
This pair is for Rowena, who recently lost her dog.

June 2, 2009

Overthinking the Simple

My boss's 50th birthday is coming up and, in acknowledgement, the office is going to throw him a potluck party. Usually I'm relegated to bringing Brisket , which has become an office favorite and cemented me into that role. However, that Brisket is a $30, 8 hour affair. I don't have the time or energy.

So, I planned on bringing the cake. Since my love affair with yeast and baking began, I've been on a baking kick. This will be the first time I've had willing (probably eager) volunteers for taste testing.

I just checked Dorie Greenspan's Baking out of the library yesterday and I'm anxious to play with it (although I can already tell I will need to buy my own copy). I need to figure out which cake I'm going to make for the party on Thursday....

Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Chiffon Cake?

Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcut Cake?

Some unknown goodie from Dorie????

Plant City, FL is known nationwide for their strawberries (unless you happen to get California's overgrown behemoths). They are sweet, tender, and juicy and right now is the perfect time to pick some up from the fruit stand near my house.

Which closes at four.....and I don't get off until 6.....darn....

I have to figure this out.

May 25, 2009

Random Thoughts

I'm not inspired in my knitting.

I went out last week and purchased new yarn. I don't know why; probably because I had been on a yarn fast and, like any bad dieter, was craving something new.

This gorgeous Lamb's Pride Worsted in Silver Streaks at Nite (my god, that's a great name)
LambsPride_SilverStreak_003

I wanted to make a scarf for my dad. Had the pattern picked out of Barbara Walker's Treasuries and everything before I realized that I needed a fingering yarn for the pattern. Worsted is way too big.

I love the yarn. Beautiful...

I also picked up this absolutely gorgeous Shibui Sock in Orchid.

ShibuiSock_Orchid_001 copy

I saw this and automatically thought AKA socks for Stephanie. Her beloved doggy Roc died about 2 months ago and she's been at a loose end. She has a new dog, Dayla, but Dayla isn't Roc.

Roc was half Chow, half-something else big. Roc could've eaten Dayla, a Shih Tzu.

Anyway, I bought the yarn and cast on for the scarf....that's when I discovered that the yarn was too thick.

The lace curtains in #10 crochet thread are not coming out too well either.

I'm exhausted. Not with Knitting, but with being on a budget....I want to buy yarn!!!

May 21, 2009

Swallowtail Shawl, post Blocking

Just for the record, I believe in the wet-bath method when I handblock. I send it through the washer on the spin cycle to remove the excess water, then pin flat.

This is the result.


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(Being modeled by my co-worker, Kate)

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(Being modeled by my co-worker, Sue Ann)

I think it looks better up against the red.

What a difference a blocking will make.

May 19, 2009

Book Review: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Three Sentence Synopsis: Catherine Crawfield (known as Cat) is a half-human, half-vampire vampire killer who meets Bones, a Vampire Hit man/Bounty Hunter during a kill. In exchange for her life (and help determining the identity of her rapist vampire father), Cat agrees to help Bones with a job of his own. She falls in love with Bones but as the bodies pile up around them, she is forced to make a difficult choice between staying with the man that she loves or protecting her own heart and soul.(Book One of a Trilogy, thus far).

Recommendation:
I recommend this book highly. The pacing is fast and the characters are well-drawn and interesting. The plot is mostly solid and well setup for sequels and books for offshoot characters (a book for Spade please!). All in all, an excellent first-book.

I would like to comment on the many reviewers who were turned off by what the perceived to be the main character's immaturity and shallowness. I think most of them forgot that at the beginning of this book, the main character was in her early twenties (like 20-22)! At that age no one's thinking is tied too tight and, when you consider the circumstances of her birth and her maternal family's conflicted feelings about her very existence, she's a lot more mature and clear thinking than a lot of people her age. However, I do feel that the author did a good job of convincingly aging her up in the next book and giving her more maturity without sacrificing her personality.


Main Review:
I will preface this review by saying that I am NOT a big fan of paranormal romance. Vampires, ghouls, the undead, none of that really tickles my fancy; give me a good old-fashioned Regency Bodice-Ripper any day. Normally I would never read this kind of book, but I received it from someone on LibraryThing and it sat on my coffee table for over a month before I offered it (half-heartedly) to a friend who loves paranormal. She was so excited about receiving that I decided to give the first chapter a go; if the book was good, I would loan it to her, otherwise, she could keep it.

That said, this book will be on LOAN only (sorry Nikki)!

Halfway to the Grave sucked me in from the first chapter! Catherine is the product of a rape and is half-human, half vampire. She has been taught from her earliest days that all vampires are evil creatures from hell who must be destroyed; thus begins her early career as a vampire killer. However, while staking out a victim, Cat runs into the most gorgeous vampire she's ever seen and the only vampire who's ever been able to take her out while she's on a job. In exchange for her life (and help finding the vampire who raped her mother and fathered her), Cat agrees to act as bait for a Master Vampire named Bones, who is trying to determine who is killing young human women all over the state of Ohio. Over the next few months, Cat learns more and more about her vampire heritage, embraces her strengths, and turns what had been a obsession into an almost full-time job. She must also confront the fact that, like humans, not all Vampires are evil and she has prejudice issues of her own to deal with. Bones, her new vampire partner, is determined to show Cat the limitations of her thinking while training her to be faster, stronger, agile, and more creative. Together they move closer and closer to the center of an interesting mystery where the guilty party is no one that you would assume and the list of people that can be trusted grows shorter and shorter.

Final Opinion:
After I finished this book, I checked Book 2 (One Foot in the Grave) out from the Library and I'm going to buy book 3 today. It's just that compelling but I sincerely hope that Jeanine Frost gives the side characters (Tate, Spade, possibly Cooper) their own books.

May 17, 2009

The Swallowtail Shawl is done

I'm moving through the Christmas knitting pretty well. I've finished the Swallowtail Shawl.

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SwallowtailShawl_001 copy


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Now to block...

Bread Baking

Lately I've been looking for new ways to save money. I'm having a great time going through my budget and trying to figure out how I can get the most bang for my buck.

One of the things I've decided to do is try to reduce the number of items I have to buy in stores. I don't think I'll be outside trying to milk a cow anytime soon (and unfortunately there are no sheep within shearing distance of me), but I can try to produce more of the simple items I have to pay for.

Like Bread.

Bread baking was my Rubicon because bread required Yeast. I simply wasn't going to cross that bridge again; I've never succeeded. Those gassy, unicellular creatures have never cooperated with me.

Yeast is SCARY.

But I'm cheaper than I am afraid.

So, here we go. I pulled The Joy of Cooking and read through the recipe.


Then I pulled Alton Brown's website, read through his instructions, and steadied myself. I could do this.

To the Kitchen!!! I measured everything carefully, reread the recipe and got started.


Hmm....
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This looks promising.


Let's Bake...

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Ni i i i i ce


I do believe this looks like bread.

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It slices like bread. It takes like bread.
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I'm going to eat the hell out of this, like bread.

**Edited because rereading this post in the light of day, I realized that the original read as if I'd written it while drunk.

Umm...I was drunk. Drunk on success. And passed out from the pure carb overload.

May 11, 2009

When it's a bad day...

It's a REALLY REALLY bad day. I'm talking major league bad day.

(cursing ahead)

Don't get me wrong, I love my job.
I love the work I do.
I love/like the people I work with.

I just don't like the people I have to work with.

Last week was a week from HELL! Monday (today) didn't start off that great either.

You know, I pride myself on being honest. I have no choice, since I'm a poor liar.

If I don't have an answer for you, I'll tell you. If I don't know, I'll say, "I don't know, but I'll find out."

What I hate is that honest answers make you look as if you don't know shit. Sometimes I don't know shit. And I'll say it. "I don't know....I really don't know. But I can find out..."

Why is this an unacceptable answer?

And when I find out, why is the answer unacceptable? I have an answer for you. It is based on the best intelligence I have at the moment. If and when I get more information, better information, new information, I'll update the answer.

At the moment, this is the best answer I have for you.

Why is this an unacceptable answer???

You know, I'm paid enough to come to work, but not enough to give a damn.

I have no problem articulating that. I'm going to make sure you feel that.

Please don't decide to be the lazy bastard who wants to make my day difficult. I'm not my co-worker. I CAN and WILL ignore your dumb ass.

And please don't be the hyper-sensitive control-freak bitch who won't calm down long enough to realize that there is not a major problem here.

Your inability to do your job is not my problem but I hate you both.

May 5, 2009

March 24, 2009

Tea

Ok, so this post is completely and totally about me . . .


I love Tea. I mean I really really really love tea. Right now, at 11:40 PM I am working on my third cup of Earl Grey. For some reason, I want to share that love with you.

Foglie de Tea, Earl Grey.
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I love the smell of Earl Grey.

Seriously, you should smell this.
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I would take a picture of myself but
a) that would involve getting out the tripod;
b) you do not want to see what I am wearing; and
c) I need to wipe the drool.

This is my Tea strainer. 99 cents at IKEA. Simple and functional. I'm making tea, not launching a space ship.
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So, let's see....Boil the water, then measure one level teaspoon of loose tea into the strainer.
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Oh, yeah, this is going to be good....


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This is after two minutes of steeping....This smells so good.

Now, in the eternal debate of milk first or last, I am solidly on the fence. Sometimes I put the milk in first, sometimes it goes in last. Sometimes it's half-and-half, sometimes it's 2% milk, sometimes it's Heavy Whipping Cream (most of the time it's heavy whipping cream. American milk tastes nothing like the milk you can get in the UK). No matter what, 1 teaspoon of sugar is a definite.
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Ouch...I just scalded my tongue. Oh well.

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Now, I need some scones.

Spring has Sprung, but the Break is over

Last week was Spring Break at the college. I took off back to Georgia.


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Sometimes I still can't believe I used to make that 5 hour drive every other weekend... here's a quick run down of the week:

Friday: Watched the first part of the Battlestar Galactica Finale with Sue Ann. Tried not to cry.
Saturday: Slept in. Was rudely awakened at 8:30 by parents who assumed I had hit the road at 5 AM and were anxious for me to arrive (I'm still a bit concerned about that.... I never see 5AM unless I have been awake all night.) Went back to sleep. Hit the road ~4PM. Hit Albany around 9:30-10PM. Met up with Andrea and hit Waffle House. Full of sugar, I easily stayed up until 4AM.
Sunday: Slept in. Watched as parents tried desperately not to sit underfoot. Man, they missed me.
Monday: Mommy left around 5AM to go to work in Columbus. Sat around house with Daddy all day. Drove to Columbus to take Mommy out for her birthday and celebrate their anniversary. Drove back to Albany.
Tuesday: Sat around house all day. Snoozed on couch. Slept in bed. Very exciting day.
Wednesday: Daddy cut work to spend the day with me. So, we spent the day together just like we used to: he worked in the yard while I slept in every conceivable room in the house, including the kitchen.
Thursday: Daddy had to go to work today. Thank God. I went to Thomasville to visit the Grandparents. They were overjoyed when I arrived [Sidenote: Why did everyone feel the need to warn me that the cops were watching the road? I KNOW!!!! I'm not speeding (that much...)] and in their determination to spend as much time with me as possible, they stayed up until 3AM!!! Come on people, can't I get some alone time....?
Friday: Woke up with every intention of going back to Albany. Granny had different plans. She hid my keys, then put on the "sad-sack" face. I stayed another day, but warned them I was running out of clean undies. . .she did my laundry while I took a nap. Watched the BSG Finale. Cried for hours....I'm still not ready for the show to be over, but it is over.
Saturday: My keys returned, I set off to return to Albany. Met up with parents for breakfast, then a little mall crawl. However, my plans were rudely interrupted when some random teacher friend of my mother's showed up and started yapping her mouth. DAMN! I've been ditched. So I ditched her when Andrea swung by. I hit WalMart for the first time all trip (good looking out!), then a few more stores. Stephanie called me because my sorority was having an intake soon and the new DP and Pres didn't know what to do, so would I come by ~6PM to help them plan, since I had been the pres during one of our more infamous lines. Sure, so I split from Dree (her sister's on the line, so she didn't need to know anything going on) and headed home to get a few things. Wouldn't you know, Mommy's home and she's cooked. So, seafood night at the parents, then over to Steph's. She's cooked (I'm feeling the fat settle on) so a small plate of Spaghetti and let's start planning. I'm finally free at 3AM.
Sunday
: Mommy wants to try our girl's day out again. Great, but all the rest of my clothes are in the wash. So she ditches me again, (how rude!) then calls me back 1.5 hours later to meet her at the nail shop. At that point, I'm ticked, but I go. She pays. My toes are hot pink.


NOTE: I had no interest in alone time. I have quite enough of that in Florida.


When conscious, I spent my time in GA looking at plant catalogs and dreaming about Square Foot Gardening (the price of tomatoes is simply ridiculous!) . . . I feel rather confident that I can pull it off this year. I also looked at acquiring a few houseplants.


<--Like Dieffenbachia I grew up with this plant. Lost quite a few stupid dogs to it too (the leaves are poisonious).


Pothos: I grew up with this plant and it's also poisonous....What were my grandparents trying to do to us?





<--Philodendron: I grew up with this plant and it's also poisonous....I'm beginning to see a pattern.



Arrowhead Vine: My mother had this plant.....I'm seeing a disturbing trend here.


<--Cast-Iron Plant: Finally, a plant that isn't poisonous.


Well, I live by myself and I don't have a dog. I think I can manage not to chew on the plants.




I've stalked the Pioneer Woman's Gardening site for information on how she built her raised beds (not difficult at all) and I am almost living at Mel Bartholomew's site, but I may have a problem finding vermiculite. . . apparently it's tough to lay hands on.

While at home I had a great time finishing projects that have been on the back burner for a while:

I now have a pair of Pomatomus Socks and they are gorgeous! I am in love with them. A little blocking and they'll be ready for wearing.
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A Koolhaas hat in Cream: Daddy claimed the hat, then Mommy stole the hat, then Grandy decided she wanted the hat (but in Blue) and PawPaw wanted the same hat but in a different blue from Granny. Let the Christmas 2009 Knitting BEGIN!
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