Almost valentine’s day!

so I got up to the craft room for a bit today to start making the valentines. I love making cards so much! I made one card, and planned ut another, making some of the pieces for it. I also made a big mess trying to make my own paper. That’s what I love – trying new things to see how they come out, and figuring out how to improve on my methods. I think I know what I want things to look like, but they sometimes come out looking like mud. πŸ™‚ So, when a card comes out well, it feels really good.

So now I have just ten or eleven valentine’s to go over the next few weeks. Can’t wait to get at them. I’ll also try to remember to take photos. πŸ™‚

one day weekend – whining!

I’m glad to have a job. I’m glad to have a job. I’m glad to have a job.

I keep reminding my self of that, but today it is hard to believe! I worked over 60 hours last week, more if you count travel, and next week has two nights of working late. No chance to take time off to rest and recover…

BUT the Farmer’s market convention went very well, so that is good, and makes the exhaustion worthwhile.

But just having one day off over two weeks is rough on me who is used to being spoiled with 4 day work weeks and three-day weekends.

last free weekend for a long time to come

This weekend I did not have to work (much) and so got to do some fun things. Next weekend I have to work – the fifth annual Maine Farmers Market Convention at Point Lookout, in Northport Maine. It will be fun, but work. Then tax season begins, with lots of Fridays to work, and the occasional Saturday as well. So this weekend is a treasure.

What did I do with my treasure? Well, Friday was a knitting day in Portland, with mom and sister C. Cousin A was able to come up from Massachusetts, so it was extra special. We had a nice afternoon of knitting, eating, and chatting. We waited until C picked E up from school, so we could visit with her. That was fun, she was pretty wound up but basically well-behaved. She showed us the castle she has – her dad the architect made it out of a big cardboard box, and it is really cool, with windows and skylights, that she fits through, so she can stand up in her castle. It was very cute.

Anyway, it was a good afternoon. On the way there, Mom and I stopped in Bath at Halcyon Yarn, and that was wonderful, of course. I had a gift certificate, and my yarn stash money. So I was able to get enough Lamb’s Pride Bulky to make a sweater I saw in Vogue Knitting last month, and some yarn for socks, and some Addi turbo needles – one for the sweater and a set of lace turbo needles for all the Estonian lace I can’t stop making… I’ll let you know how I like them. They are nice and slippery, that is for sure.

I managed to spend almost every cent I had, but did NOT go over budget. I think I got home with 15 cents. Not bad. πŸ™‚

Saturday we had to go to Bangor to get the car serviced, so that was an opportunity to use the gift card to JoAnn. (they FINALLY sent me a new one after my online ordering fiasco. I will be sticking to the store only from now on.) A went with me, which is usually not good, but this time, it was. We managed to find some fabric she likes to make her curtains for her office – I am glad she was there, I never in a million years would have chosen what she did! It was on sale, so we got that. I’ll get the liner and thread, etc some other time, she had no more patience for that store. I also got a bunch of Spectrum Noir pens – I have been wanting Copics, but they are impossible to find in Bangor, and they are what JoAnn messed up with so royally in my online order, so I thought I would try these. They sure are cheaper than the others, plus I had lots of coupons for 50% off items. We managed to spend about $50 cash in that trip, but it wasn’t ALL for me. πŸ™‚ And if I don’t like the markers, at least it wasn’t a huge amount of money.

We also stopped at the jewelers’ to see if they could fix my slow watch. It isn’t the battery, so they of course can fix it, but it is $20 just to see what’s wrong. Grrr. I am pretty sure it will be cheaper to buy a new watch, and I hate that, as it seems so wasteful. But we will see, maybe they can clean it and all will be well.

Then the big grocery store. Not a good plan on a Saturday mid-day, but we survived it and stuck pretty close to our list. Once we got home, there were lots of chores to do, even though we had totally cleaned the house THursday night, we still had beds to make in preparation for a visit from our DEAN’S LIST college freshman, returning for her second semester at Husson University. Also, I made her some cookies to take up with her. A did chores up in her closet renovation project, and then we chilled in front of the TV – lots of shows to clean out of the DVR – good winter evening activity.

Sunday was so WARM! I went off to the Farmers Market in Ellsworth, at the Woodlawn, and watched the sledding on the hill for a while. We had a work family event – sledding on the hill, but no one came. That is the second such event, with the same results, discouraging. I did see a friend of mine there, and so chatted with him for a while. Got the ingredients for a good beef stew at the market, then came home. I worked on figuring out the Vogue sweater pattern, and A baked lasagna for supper. L and B arrived around 6:30 – long drive up from CT, so we didn’t have a long visit – supper and a bit of chat before bed. The end of the weekend – so fast! But I feel rested and relaxed and like I had a break. Ready for the week ahead? No quite sure, time will tell. It is a cold one, and a busy one, we will see how I do.

Christmas is almost gone

A and I finished getting the tree down Saturday. We did it without the 12 foot ladder, which is such a pain to get out of the basement, and then around and into the house, especially after we get snow.

But, since we don’t care about the ending condition of the tree, we got creative. We got everything off of it as far as we could reach with the 6 foot ladder, then cut all the low branches off the tree, and tipped it over, so we could reach the upper ornaments. It worked! Then we heaved the tree over the bank into the woods, and I put all the branches on top of the rose-bush, for a little extra mulch.

Other than that, we have just been puttering – and cleaning up the needles from the living room. House looks pretty unfestive right now. 😦 Although, I notice, A’s village is still set up on the sideboard, and I know there is a string of lights in the mudroom. Also, all the window candles are still up, and as far as I am concerned, can stay there until spring. It is so nice to come home from work and see them all lit up. I love battery operated candles! It is so easy to just leave them on with their timers and forget about them.

Other than that big chore, we have just been puttering around, A worked on the insulation in her big closet, I baked bread and cookies. We both played with the cats and did some laundry, vacuuming, etc. A even went to the dump on her own. Well, she took Allie with her. Allie likes riding in the car, but not in the crate. So A is taking her on short trips to get her more used to things. Zumba and I stayed home cooking. Zumba was a bit distressed to be left home alone, but she settled down after a bit. However, when Allie returned, Zumba was ecstatic to see her. They were quite cute. It is probably one of the very few times in their short lives that they have been really apart.

Other than that, nothing much new. Finished another hat, worked on the lace scarf. I have also started crocheting granny squares with the bits of yarn that are too small to even be stripes in a hat. Eventually, I will get enough squares to make a blanket or something, which will go along with the hats to charity. So far, three squares done. Many more to go.

Tomorrow starts another work week, and it promises to be a deusy, as they say. the next few months, in fact, will be crazy, but at least I passed my tax test! So I will be doing taxes a few days a week for the next three and half months. In addition to all that other stuff I do every day. I get tired just thinking about it.

tax hats

Each year as I go through my AARP Tax-Aide tax training, I knit. The volunteer who trains us says he doesn’t care, and I find it helps me focus. Since we have lecture in the morning, and practice on the computers in the afternoon, I get a solid 3-4 hours of knitting in. That’s enough for a simple hat, so I set myself a goal of a hat a day during tax training. I met this goal again this year, and here they are.

The Tax Hats!
The Tax Hats!

Saturday at home

We have been having a nice day. Got an early start as we both needed haircuts, and so headed over to the barber shop early, to get a good spot in the line. Amazingly, there was no one waiting, so we were out of there, done with errands and home by 10:30!

I had some work to do, so I booted up the 4 computers I needed to check for taxes, and got down to work. A went and tinkered with the snowblower – changed the spark plug, and got it started! That is a huge relief as we are currently between plow guys. I moved the cars and she cleaned up the last of the snow piles at the head of the driveway. We are ready for more snow now. Except I think what we might get is rain. Ugh. Ice.

I also was able to reach our neighbor, who IS interested in plowing for us – he will come over and take a look so he can give us a price, but if he is willing, I think we will go with him. Be glad to have someone nearby taking care of it, I must say.

I also managed to do laundry, and change the bed, and start taking the tree down. Didn’t get real far with that, as I didn’t feel like getting the 12 foot step-ladder out of the basement, but I did start it. I’ll keep plugging away at it, and it should be heaved off into the woods before next weekend. It has been a beautiful tree – still drinking a fair amount of water. There is something to be said for an absolutely fresh-cut tree – from the field into the bucket of water in our living room.

Among the other low-key things we did today – watched our first of the season UConn women’s basketball team, against Notre Dame. I am sorry that UConn lost (by 1) but ND gives them a good game. And unlike other rabid fans, I don’t expect my team to win every game. In fact, I don’t think it does them harm to lose the occasional game. Then March and April aren’t such a big surprise. I know I am in the minority on this one in CT of course. But in Maine, I feel safe saying it!

Made an early supper of turkey pot pie from our favorite bakery (Frank’s in Bangor) by way of our freezer. It is really good, and A likes it because it is turkey, crust and gravy. No veggies. I like it because it is real – and yummy comfort food. Also, because it is not chinese! We got chinese take out for NY’s eve, and I have been eating it ever since. I think it is time to heave the last of it. It was good, but it just lasts too long, even when I don’t order lots.

this evening, we will head upstairs – A to work on her big walk in closet job – not remodeling because she never did finish it – so is that a modeling job? πŸ™‚ and me to the craft room to play with the toys I got yesterday. And to work more on my quilting project.

But before I go, here are a few photos of the last few weeks – trees, kittens, works in progress. Cleaning out the camera again. πŸ™‚

Allie and Zumba love their waffles!
Allie and Zumba love their waffles!

patchwork runner in progress
patchwork runner in progress
next Estonian lace on the needles
next estonian lace on the needles
the tree, going up
the tree, going up
all decorated, taken with flash.
all decorated, taken with flash.
with no flash...
with no flash…
close up of the tree
close up of the tree

letter to NPR

Dear NPR –

Are you listening? Because I was today, and I heard a teaser for a news bit. Desk jobs increase our risk of dying.

NO. STOP SAYING THAT. NOTHING WE DO ON THIS EARTH INCREASES OUR RISK OF DYING.

Our risk of dying is EXACTLY the same as it was the day we were born. 100%. It will never change. No matter how sedentary or full of risk our employment is, it remains the same every day of our life.

So please, NPR, and all you other blabbers on TV and radio – pay attention to what you are saying. If you mean it increases our risk of dying prematurely, then say so! Do not leave out the modifier. It’s important.

Sincerely,

Sal

pretty good day of shopping!

I wound up at the quilt store in Bangor, and of course they were out of my favorite fabric for the back, but had plenty of my second choice. I also got a few more fat quarters for the stash. They have the batiks I love and can’t resist. Thank goodness for fat quarters. They also talked me into a pinking disk for the rotary cutter when I asked about left-handed pinking shears. They tried to find them online (I could tell them the result of that!) and finally suggested I try them in the rotary cutter. I will, but had really been hoping to have some luck finding the shears. Someday.

I had fun wandering around AC Moore, but it is funny how when you have some money to spend, you get picky. I had a list, and they didn’t have a lot of what was on it, but I wound up getting a refill for the xyron, and some embossing folders. I also got a couple of pads of 6×6 christmas papers that were on sale – they will work great for next year’s tags and maybe Christmas cards – not sure yet as I haven’t given the design for next year an iota of thought.

From there I went to JoAnn’s, to find that they had NOT reinstated my gift card – grrr – and could not help me with it at the store, double grrr. (when I got home, I called customer service, and was helped by a very nice woman named Jenn, and we are all sorted out, I should have an email confirmation on Monday, so I am happy with them again.) I got a few more odds and ends – nothing too extraordinary – T pins and watercolor pads and colored gemstones. I found it interesting that neither store had a few things I wanted to check out – Addi lace needles and interlocking foam blocking squares. I know where I can probably get them – thank you for the LYS!- but I wonder – is all of greater Bangor really happy with all the polyester yarn and Susan Bates needles? I mean, those things have their place, but there are other more upscale things that neither store carries. I also could not find glass beads in size 8. they have ten, they have 6. So, thank goodness for my local bead store, too!

By the time I got to Target, I was sick to death of shopping. I went in, got exactly what I went in for and left – cheapest visit to Target ever – $7.50!! Got home minutes before A, and so we had supper together and I showed her all the presents she bought me for Christmas (since she gave me the gift cards!)

Now we are settled in front of a nice fire in the pellet stove watching Elementary on the DVR. Ahh, I love weekends.

friday typing with the cat

Cute Allie is being very helpful today. She is perched beside the keyboard watching my fingers and the screen. It’s a lot to keep track of and requires the occasional pounce, or walk across the keyboard to get closer to the screen. She isn’t usually this engrossed when I am on the laptop. She loves the desktop because she can get right up close to the screen and I can still type (ie no Mommy saying”get off of there, get out of my way”) but today she is right next to me on the couch, so it is interesting for both of us.

Today is a fun day – we are having a potluck at work to say goodbye to a coworker who is leaving, so I am cooking a pot roast in the crock pot to bring along, and will head to Ellsworth around 11. While there, I guess I will mosey along to the fabric store to get the batting and backing I need to finish my quilt project. But if they don’t have what I want, how sad, I will head up to Bangor to the store where I started this project. And while there, I will make a Target run, as we need new laundry lingerie bags, and that seems to be the only place around that I can rely on them being in stock (don’t say “Wal*Mart” to this woman, I do NOT shop there, unless under duress.)

Aside: Allie just left. She is now boxing with Zumba, who before that was curled up asleep in a box under the Christmas tree. Zumba is surely wondering what she did that made her deserve to be pounced upon by her sister.

Anyway… Once in Target, I might find a few other things to buy. Just maybe. And as long as I am in Bangor, I might as well head over to AC Moore and use my gift card. he he he.

I am sort of annoyed at JoAnn’s – I also got a gift card for their store, and I went online, found a real deal on copic markers, ordered a whole bunch, used the gift card and credit card to pay. They confirmed the order, then cancelled it with the terse note that they would refund my credit card. I emailed back to ask if they would also restore my gift card balance so I could use it in the store. No response. Helllloooo – JoAnn customer service if you are reading this, please go read my email and respond.

So I am not sure if I will stop there – maybe I will and start by having them check the balance on it.

Either way, I see a day of consumerism on my horizon. And how nice that I can do most of it without spending “real” money. And leaving my little yarn stash intact!

Another aside: have I told you how I get my yarn money? Very crafty of me, I am sure. Each week we give ourselves an allowance of $20 for incidentals. My deal is when I get the new $20, I take all the remaining money out of my wallet and stash it. Also, we save all of our change in a bank, and now and then we roll it up and split it between us – that also goes in the yarn stash. And any stray money that comes my way, like my Biggest Loser winnings, or little lottery winnings (also split) or small gifts or findings goes right in there. It is amazing to me how fast it adds up to enough cash to buy real yarn! This Christmas, Mom gave it a big boost with a gift certificate to Halcyon in Bath, which I will have so much fun spending! But not today, as Bath is a whole day trip. I’ll wait until Mom and sister C can go, too. So anyway, if I need to make a big purchase, I use my yarn stash. But for small things like half a yard of muslin, the regular old household account can handle. I try to keep my yarn stash for special occasions like Maine Fiber Frolic, the Common ground Fair, and trips to the “real” yarn stores in Belfast, Rockland and Bath. I haven’t been over to Shirley’s in Hancock in a while, either. That’s another good LYS. Which is why I have almost $100 in the yarn stash right now.

The other project I am working on is our mortgage refinancing application. It is so annoyingly tedious. Not hard, just tedious. I want to get it done, so we can reduce our rate and get rid of our PMI faster, but of course, we are nervous about the appraisal value and wondering if it has dropped a lot since we last did this. Only one way to find out – apply, get it appraised, and pay the hundreds of dollars to see how we are faring. Is it any wonder I keep putting this off?

time to go log on and plug away at it. Let me just run and do that. After I move the laundry. And do the breakfast dishes. And get another cup of coffee.

Happy 2013!

I don’t usually like holidays in the middle of the week – but I have to say this extra “Sunday” is quite nice. Of course, I won’t like the extra “Monday” tomorrow. The price, I know.

We started the morning with no crying kittens! It is like they finally figured out that if the alarm doesn’t go off, the moms don’t have to get up at 4:30. I sure hope they really learned this, that it is not just a fluke.

A’s back has recovered from all the shoveling on Friday, so she celebrated by doing some more – but the easy stuff. She shoveled off the two decks while I went back to work on the driveway. The snow is still light and fluffy, so it is easier than it could be, but still amazingly tiring. I got a good part of the door yard cleaned out, enough that one of our cars can easily get closer to the house. Still cursing the snowblower that won’t start, I cleaned up a lot of the edges from where we had snow piled from shoveling and plowing. More to do, but I figure I will hack away at it. Of course, it is about to get bitter cold and I will regret not going back out this afternoon to finish it. Except that…

I went to the craft room! Oh, what joy to have really free time up here.

I worked on a patchwork quilt table runner I started this past week, and found I had enough left overs to also make two placemats. I do need to go get batting and backing material, but otherwise, I am in good shape. The runner is all put together, and the strips are sorted out for the place mats. They need ironing and seaming, that won’t take long this weekend.

I also played with the cricut cartridges A got me for Christmas, and made a thank you note to send off to Mom.

All in all it was fun. Now I think I will head into the living room to watch a movie with A and work on my knitting. maybe take a few photos of the works in progress.

I love winter days. Especially the ones where I don’t have to go anywhere!