Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home again

I know, I know, I'm very tardy in getting this post up. It seems that Madame Fortune needed to toy a bit with the residents here at chez Wool. Camping was better than expected, but I will be leaving the details and photos for another post. (Really, given my previous camping experiences with Eric, this trip HAD to be better. My expectations were really quite low so as not to be disappointed when things went to hell in a hand basket.)

On Monday of this week, my car stopped working for the 3rd time in less than 3 months. As we just had the starter replaced we took it back to the shop that did the work but they were unable to find a problem. See, the car decided to start for them. Apparently, it has a grudge against me.

When we picked up the car from the shop, we took it to the Nissan dealership down the street and they were unable to figure it out and basically said that it appears to be an intermittent short in the electrical system. Which we take to mean that this car will suck the lifeblood from us if we try to find the problem with a skilled mechanic.

Seeing as how Eric's vacation month is up and he starts back on a full rotation complete with long hours and shitty commutes, I must have a vehicle that I can depend on. So, today we are heading out to test drive cars.

We went round and round on this: do we buy a used vehicle, a new, do we lease? In the end, we've decided to purchase a bare bones car (Hyundai or KIA most likely) so that we get the full manufacturer's warranty. By the time that the main warranties will be over, Eric will be just about done with residency so we could afford another car payment. Here's hoping that we can limp his POS along until residency though because there is no way we can afford 2 car payments on my salary.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back Home

Basking in the California sun.

The boys came home on Friday and I surprised them at the airport. They had a great time.

I didn't think that this was allowed post 9/11.

Tomorrow morning we leave for a quick overnight camping expedition at a local state recreation area (I think this means it is like a state park, only smaller {and probably more poorly funded}). We picked this location specifically because it is close to home and should the mid-night heebee-jeebees require that we hightail it for home, then at least it is close by. It should be interesting as I don't camp. Hopefully the bottle of wine that we are bringing will help with that. I also plan on bringing some portable knitting to do while the boys fish.
I keep hoping that I will have an opportunity to get some knitting photographed. I have 15 knitted hats done up for the show in November and have about 30 bags that I am sending to the show in October. I will need to work on more so my inventory levels don't fall too much because I am also going to have my very first purse party in October as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spicy Crackers

Someone brought these crackers into work the other day. Thankfully, his cube is in another group or I might have eaten them all!

Spicy Crackers

1 Box (4 sleeves) of Saltine Crackers
1 1/3 cup Canola Oil
2 packets of Dried Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons of Crushed Red Pepper


Split the ingredients in half and mix 2 half batches. Take 2 sleeves of crackers and put it into a 1 gallon zip lock bag, then pour a little less than ¾ cup of Canola Oil over as many crackers as you can. Then add 1 packet of Dried Ranch and 1 tablespoon of Crushed Red Peppers, try to cover as many crackers as well. Then just start turning the bag in every direction and mix the ingredients. I have found if you lay the bag flat and rub the bag on the crackers the excess ranch and peppers will stick to the crackers. Then repeat this for the other half batch, then add them together when done mixing.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Woot woot

I know, I know. Two posts in three days. Sit down before the astonishment overtakes you. Amazing how that can happen if one has peace and quiet.

But, I had to post again today. Yesterday after returning home from some hellacious running of errands (more on that later), I found a very pleasant surprise sitting on my doorstep. Yes indeed the lovely people at KnitPicks outdid themselves and my new options needles were here!

I immediately sat down and put the little case together, labeling all of the pockets for the needle tips with the sizes. Shortly after that, I pulled out my Ribbi Cardi and proceeded to add 3" to the back last night.

I also put 6 more skeins of the Frog Tree Alpaca into the dyepot yesterday. I will be taking them out today (I left them overnight to cool.) One lone skein was left over because it wouldn't fit in the pot and because it is actually 2 smaller balls. I still haven't decided what to do with this one yet. Once the boys are back from Cali, I will take a picture so you can see the before and after. The after is so much easier on the retinas. I have no IDEA what I was thinking. According to the ball bands it is color # 38, but on my monitor it looks way to subdued... The discount offered by the shop because of some samples I had knit must have overwhelmed my sense of reason. Either that or I had a blackout of some kind.

So - about 11am yesterday I set out for a quick run into downtown to go to the main branch of our public library because I had a bunch of books on hold, including Wrap Style and some books on dyeing. It should have been easy-peasy because I got off the interstate at the correct exit and managed to overshoot the street I was looking for by only 2 blocks. No big deal I thought, I'll just go around the block so that I don't have to make a left turn and block traffic.

That's when I noticed that every freaking cross street was barricaded. I went nearly 20 blocks and they were all blocked by the police. For a moment I thought that maybe there was some sort of bomb scare or something, but it dawned on me that they wouldn't cordon off an area that was 2 blocks wide and 25 blocks long for that.

As I had also wanted to stop at Whole Foods to see if they carry the dried papaya that I love, I headed over that way. On the drive over, I saw several people running a race and realized that must have been why the streets were blocked off. But, my luck being what it is, the dang route went right past where I wanted to go. I did eventually make it to Whole Foods and they did not have the papaya I wanted. After that, I was able to make it to the library and pick up my books. What should have taken about 45 minutes tops, there and back, took nearly 2 hours because of the race.

From there, it was a trip to one of the malls and pants shopping. I know, thrilling. I tried on eleventy hundred pairs of pants and came away with one pair that fits okay, needing only minor alterations that I can do myself.

However, it looks like they will require a new pair of shoes. What a bummer, I might just have to get myself a pair of cute ballet flats like this or this or this. I have a pretty firm policy that if I am buying trendy shoes, I buy them on the cheap. If I am buying a classic then I will spring for the good stuff, but I won't spend a lot of money that I will only wear for one season.

Today I need to run to Best Buy to pick up a new pair of headphones for my iPod because I accidentally yanked them out of my ears yesterday and now one of them is loose and makes a staticky noise. Here's hoping that I can get away with a cheaper pair and not pay 30 buck to Apple, but my guess is that they have designed the connectors so that you can't use different brand headphones. Bastards.

Caleb's best friend is having a birthday party weekend and I've been invited to family party today even though Caleb won't be there. I haven't decided yet if I want to go. The parties at their house are always great with lots of fun people but I'm concerned that it might weird out the birthday boy to have me there and not Caleb, who is having a great time in California.

More later.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Empty Nest

Caleb and Eric left for California this morning. On one hand I've been doing a mental happy dance for weeks knowing that I would finally have some peace and quiet. On the other hand, I could barely keep it together during the good-byes this morning and burst into tears as soon as they had driven out of sight. Part of this can be attributed to PMS and an utter lack of caffeine as the coffee maker chose this morning to crap out complete.

And apparently, I am completely unable to purchase an adequate coffee maker. I stopped at Walmart this morning on the way to work after seeing the boys off and picked up a new one. I set it up and went to grab the handle on the pot and realized that the metal band that secures the handle to the pot was loose. So loose that the pot would slip right out. Damn, damn, damn. After waiting until it was mostly dry, I packed it back up into the original box.

After doing a few things around the house (by this I mean knitting, duh) I realized that there was no way I could choke down instant coffee two mornings in a row and headed out to Target. BTW, shopping without a 4 year old, heavenly. I was overwhelmed by the number of options in the coffee maker aisle. Dude - $150 bucks for a damn coffee maker? At that price it better do the dishes as well. I decided on this lovely model by DeLonghi.

Years ago, Eric bought me one of their toasters when our old one died. I love it and will buy their stuff any day.

Again, I was back at home and setting up the newest coffee maker in an effort to avoid being severely under-caffinated when I realized that this one is too tall for our kitchen. How you ask, is this possible? Well the idiot who "remodeled" the kitchen in this house did a crap-ass job and hung the upper cabinets a good 5 inches too low. There is less that 13" between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinet. This is among the other idotic things that they did. Don't get me started. I would love a $50K budget to fix all of the things that were poorly done. This is a serious bone of contention for me. I'm not sure if the previous owners were midgets or just stupid, but we just rent so I live with it.

Given the difficulties in procurring a new coffee pot, I am thinking that digging out the percolator that we bought for camping will have to be the way of it for tomorrow. Now, I'm off to find instructions on how to make coffee in a percolator and to play some more mancala online.

Tomorrow will be given over to cleaning the house (at least some of it) and dyeing more yarn after a quick trip to the library.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A bullet post

I feel like life has been crazy lately. Both good and bad crazy.
  • Last week, Eric's car was in the shop. We thought it might be important to repair the leaking gas line. The sneaking suspicion that we could explode over-rode the need to hoard money and we took the car in. Thankfully, the bill wasn't as awful as it could have been. It only cost an arm.
  • September is Eric's vacation month (med school schedules make no sense). We decided that we would keep Caleb in daycare during the month in the mornings so that his schedule isn't completely off-kilter. With the time off, Eric has been given the responsibility of getting Caleb to daycare and from school. Apparently while his car was in the shop the boys were riding their bikes to school and Eric was riding back home with Caleb's bike on his handle bars. I would have loved to see a picture of this!
  • On Friday, my car wouldn't start after work. Eric walked with Caleb nearly a mile to the repair shop and picked up his car (which was completed, thankfully) and came to pick me up. My car ran fine over the weekend and Eric changed out the spark plugs and wires as well as the valve gasket. Yesterday my car wouldn't start again. It wasn't the battery and today we had it towed. Turns out the started was shot... But it is running again and I am thankful. This did cost an arm and a leg.
  • On Saturday I received a great surprise in the mail from Annie. I was the 2000th commentor on her blog and I won a great prize. There were 2 skeins of Koigu KPPPM and a very cute book. I can't wait to knit up the Koigu!
  • I spent some time over the weekend dyeing up some Frog Tree Alpaca that I have. Unfortunately, the original color is a bit eye-searing. Honestly, I have no idea what possessed me to purchase 13 skeins of the stuff. Granted it is soft and cuddly, but there is no way I can hope to wear that color. So, in an attempt to salvage the yarn, I decided to overdye it in a crock pot. Unfortunately, my crock pot isn't as cool as some others. I am pretty happy with the results of said dyeing adventure. One skein came out a bit darker than the others, but overall, am satisfied. On that note, I reserved a bunch of books at the library about dyeing yarn. I can't wait to pick them up this weekend and try out some new ideas.

  • The boys are leaving for California on Friday and won't be back until Wednesday. (Is it inappropriate to celebrate this fact?) It does mean that I won't have the camera while they are gone.
  • Today at work someone posted a couple suggestions on how to reduce stress in the workplace. I would love to find something that actually works. These tips on the other hand appear to have been written by someone who telecommutes. The first tip was that every 1-2 hours spend 5 minutes practicing deep breathing. Not a bad idea, especially working in customer service. The second tip is to take a visual vacation (i.e. imagine you are someplace more relaxing than work). Again, not a bad idea, in theory. Um hellO. What exactly will be the reaction of my co-workers if I spend 5 minutes every hour breathing heavily with my eyes closed? How often can I pull this off before I am accused of being a slacker or a pervert?
  • Last but not least, we purchased Caleb's Halloween costume today. It cost entirely too much, but he LOVES it and will definitely use it more than just once. I can see that he will play with it a lot.

I keep trying to upload photos but blogger is having none of that tonight. When I can, I will post before and after shots of the alpaca.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First Day of School

What a week – Caleb started 4K on Tuesday and I took a vacation day so hubbo and I could see him off together. He seems to be settling in well. Look at the proud look on his face! I can hardly believe that he is old enough to be in the public school system already.

I also wanted to share this link that I found in the comments of another knit blog. Go ahead - I'll wait, it's worth it.
In other exciting (non-knitting) news, I will be selling bagatelle bags at an event with lots of local artisans near my hometown. My mom has sold quilts here before and has pretty good success. This will definitely be a good thing so that I can afford the supplies I need to ramp up inventory for the craft show in November. The two events are only a month apart, so there won’t be a lot of time to recover between them. Wish me lots of luck!
I am hoping this weekend to photograph all of my bags again so that I can post them the website with the new labels affixed. It takes so much time to get it all done... I find the worst part to be the color correction of the file. I am having a hard time finding an inexpensive light source that doesn't leave a noticeable cast in the photos.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vacation from Hell?

Last week, Eric received 3 free passes to a water and theme park about 2 hours from home. The type of place where rooms run $200 a night for a room with 2 queens and they are nothing special. Because the room rates are so high, we decided to make a day trip of it, figuring that Caleb is old enough now to handle that kind of drive with the help of the portable DVD player and Pixar.

We managed to arrive 15 minutes after the park opened and headed into the park in great spirits. It all changed shortly.

The changing rooms we found were NASTY, mildew covered and stinky. The waits for the rides were up to an hour. An HOUR to go on a slide for 30 seconds. The areas for the little kids were designed for toddlers, not the 4 to 7 year old crowd. Caleb wasn't allowed on the larger slides because of the height restrictions (along with the hour wait, yikes).

We tried the go-carts but the lines weren't any better. Again an hour to go on a 5 minute ride.

The miniature golf was worse yet. There were no kid sized putters (seriously people - a place for kids and nothing was their size? - they missed that demographic completely). We could live with that and started along the course. We had to call it quits at the eight hole because half of the green carpet was missing (This was a horrible time for the batteries in the camera to die - the pictures would have been priceless) and the plastic cup in the hole was broken.

Caleb was set on trying the wave pool so we bravely headed that way. We managed to find a single chair for our towels and set off in search of an inner tube for Bubba. Can you guess what happened? Predictably, there were none to be found and we headed into the arctic waters of the wave pool. Within a minute, Mr. NoBodyFat had blue lips and needed to warm up.

The last straw for my husband was when Caleb tried to go down one of the kiddie slides and it was so slooooow that he had to scoot himself down the damn thing.

After trying out a couple more areas in the park we decided to bug out and find the Wonder Spot. Par for the day, it wasn't where we remembered it. A quick google search proves the Wonder Spot was done in by modernity.

Because we tried to make due at a restaurant that had an arcade for kids, but overall, the entire day sucked ass. So much so that even Caleb pronounced it "not fun at all".

The piece de resistance was at MickeyD's where I found a large dead bug in my salad.