"Whatever shall we do in that remote spot? Well, we'll write our memoirs. Work is the scythe of time." --Napoleon Bonaparte, on his way into exile.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Hands Off

Kristalla the wondufall Posted by Hello

What a nutty day. My best bud Kris is in from Portland, OR, and we got together today with two of her sisters (she has three) and their kids (her older sis has 2, younger sis has 1) and her mom. We met at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum and it was PACKED. I'm glad Kris and I are getting together separately, tomorrow -- she's going to come work out with me in the morning and then we'll probably blow any gains we make by eating lunch out at Seva's...mmm, Cocoa Cake...

Lovely display. Posted by Hello

Oh yes, Tess was fascinated by the cutaway toilet in the mini model home that is a new display. Frankly, so was I. So many kids came by to flush it that I had her wait (once everyone disappeared) until the tank was full so she could get the Extreme Flush Experience. Hey, I paid $7.50 to get in, I'm gettin' my money's worth!

Kris's mom and older sis (with her 2 kids) headed back to Livonia; Kris and her younger sis (husband and kid in tow) and myself with Tess headed down to Zingerman's -- good lord, it was like a Saturday afternoon, as packed as the museum. Tess behaved very well despite the crowd and crush and even got a bit of free bread and cheese. As you can see from the above toilet shot, she was wearing her new fairy costume (courtesy of Baba and Dyeda), charming young and old ladies alike, to whom she said, "NO!!! DON'T YOOK AT ME!!! ("yook" being 3-year-old for "look," of course). Contrary, indeed.

We met up with E for a real lunch at Weber's, then headed home. E played tennis this morning (8:30a) and this afternoon (3-5p). Yes, I am a saint. Hey, if he were at work, I'd be on my own with Tess anyway. He's giving Tess a bath right now and giving me the "day off" tomorrow, so I'll get mine, yes I will.

When I got home my new Close To My Heart Expressions catalog (for Feb/Mar) was in the mail. I am persona non grata in my upline's unit, but I am trying to get back into good graces with a gathering in mid-January. Man, there is some beautiful stuff in the new catty, but I don't have an online link to it yet. Trust me, pretty stuff for scrapbooking and rubberstamping. I can't wait to be a full consultant again.

Two exciting developments: I joined my first knitalong (see sidebar) AND I found (through the CTMH message boards) a place to host my button jpegs. So, thanks again to Karen D, but I've got a URL of my own now for those little buggers. Now, if I could just figure out why I need to download Hello photo uploading software every two weeks or so! And how to host my own knitalong for the fairy costume I'd like to make. Suggestions welcome...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

No ends to weave here...

Posted by Hello

I thought I was sooo smart...I said to myself when I picked up this sock again, "who could possibly go the wrong way knitting in the round? Not me!" The work always faces you, the yarn's always coming in from the right, who could mess that up?

Well, I did about two rounds last night before I noticed little purl bumps instead of smooth stockinette. All that reading about Peruvian knitters who carry with the left and string the yarn around their neck (with the wrong side facing) in the round must have scrambled my brain. Yeah, that's it.

I put it away for the night and went to sort out my scrapbooking/rubber stamping room instead. I went back to it this morning, unknit the purled rows, and got back on track.

The yarn is Fortissima Colori "Disco," kinda fine for my first sock, but I'm loving the stripes and colors without all the weaving. Only I'm using a pattern for Paton's yarn (same gauge) from the Patternwork's catalog, so the Fair Isle didn't come out on the ribbing. It's come back on the stockinette rows, though, so I can squint my eyes and overlook the muddled blue and white pattern up there at the top.

I'm doing a lot of squinting today, since I picked up my contacts yesterday. Man, I haven't worn these in over 6 years. The toric lens I've got in my right eye (to correct my astigmatism) is driving me insane. And somehow I've suddenly become farsighted; I have to hold things off to see them (reading, knitting, etc...). Annoying. Especially since computer work is nearly impossible until I get used to them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


My ex- editor called today. Luckily I missed it and only listened to the voice mail she left. Even that was enough to give me heart palpitations. She says she's been "thinking of me" and "wanting to stop by." Yeesh. Now she wants to invite me to lunch with "the girls" (ugh, double ugh). Thing is, I know my regular ex-co-worker in-cahoots is on vacation this week, so she obviously isn't invited. The final lure? Copies of "my" books, the ones I had in production before I left. Tempting, but...

Problem is, how do I back out gracefully? E rightfully pointed out that just ignoring the ex-editor's call would be downright rude. He seems to think she wants to offer me a part-time job -- I seriously doubt it, and even if she did, I'd turn it down.

At the heart of the matter is my old nickname, "***'s 'bitch'" (*** being my ex-editor). I do have a tendency to pick one person as leader and retain my loyalty through perceived "big mistakes" and other observations by new hires. One gal who is still there is particularly venomous (behind ***'s back, of course), and she would be one of the "girls" I'd be having lunch with. I would look like a total hypocrite -- more to myself than to ex-co-workers, whose opinions I shouldn't really care about -- and under those circumstances I seriously doubt I could carry off any kind of normal conversation.

Yet, I don't want to burn any bridges. Not that I see myself ever going back to work for *** (or with the associate editor who moved up the ladder right after I left, MUCH to my further annoyance), but I'm not about closing doors before I find the open window. See how muddled I am? I hate mixed metaphors.

The whole idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If I bow out of the freebies, I'll have to contact the MIA ex-co-worker, who usually supplies me with books. She's already given me a handful, and I'm worried that knowledge of that fact might put her in danger (freebies are fine....doubles of freebies is excessive). The stupid things cost about $5 each for employees, and I'd hate her to lose her job over that (she's indicated things are already not going well for her). Thing is, I really WOULD like copies of "my" books (the ones I don't already have), and can't believe they haven't just been sent to me as they came out.

Ex-employees, no matter how hard they worked before they left, are still at the bottom of the thank-you list. And we apparently have to suffer (through lunch with "the girls") for our consolation prizes.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The OTHER Disney "Princess"

Forgive me, I had coffee at 5p tonight. This is why I love surfing the internet (and if it weren't for the coffee, I wouldn't have had the energy tonight to surf): I am so making this for Tess. She is a HUGE fan of Tinkerbell, and has been asking for a green fairy costume.

Purple is still a favorite, though, so either the skirt or the top might end up purple. Maybe she can shop for the yarn with me. Mom made her a pink and orange dress for Christmas, of which I did not get a picture YET, from yarn Tess brought to her in a shop and said "you could make me something out of this, 'Bama!" It's already in the wash...she actually SLEPT in it last having her along might be the trick.

Merry Knitting

Oh, the sewing, the sewing! Posted by Hello

"Sew" (sorry), this is where I was at Christmas Eve. Lining up the 2-row colors was the worst. I finally realized I could not grab two "ladders" at once when sewing it up; everything went wonky. I had to go. one. ladder. at. a. time. THEN I could keep things under control.

I found finishing instructions at the beginning of the Yarn Girls' Guide; here I've bitched to anyone who will listen (mostly in yarn shops) how lacking the YGs' are in this department, only to have overly creative knitters suggest everything from turning the ends into fringe -- in the front of the afghan (!) -- (one word: cats. This is going to someone with THREE cats!) to I-cord binding between the strips (my response to that, which came the Monday before Christmas: "I'm giving this on Christmas EVE.") No one seemed to think the sewing yarn would disappear into the seam, but it did. Hallelujah.

Weaving got faster the second time around, as did sewing. Right now, I have the last strip's ends to weave in and the crochet edging to do. I gave it to my inlaws like this (above) and then took it back. My MIL said, "Can I hang it on the wall?" To which I said "Heck no! It's for your LAP. To keep you WARM." She's a hoot.

All about the princesses... Posted by Hello

This is my money shot for our annual scrapbook. It was All Disney Princesses All The Time on Christmas morning. Tess knew exactly which princesses were missing from her PJs (Jasmine and Ariel). For a mom who despised Disney growing up (stupid movies always made me cry, got me a thorough ribbing EVERY TIME from the older bros, then after college my best friend moved to Florida to work for "the Rat" for 10 years!), I -- er, I mean, Santa (!) -- was quite willing to hand over the big bucks to the DP marketing machine.

Tess scored a DP play tent (the "Tower," as she calls it) and a Leap Pad book (featuring the missing princesses from her pajamas) -- only somehow, somewhere, we've misplaced the damn Leap Pad. Which means repeated readings of insipid (and short) storylines without the bells and whistles of the marvelous Leap Pad system. Rats.

The Cap Posted by Hello

I completely forgot that The Afghan was not the only gift I knit this Christmas. I started E's watch cap in August and finished it pretty quick. It's the Ann Norling "Any Gauge, Any Hat" pattern, which I've used twice now (mainly to use up old yarn). It works wonders. Highly recommended.

He put it on and declared it perfect, then gave me an extra ego boost when he suddenly realized I actually made it myself. I got an extra "wow!" for that. Sweet.

The REAL knitter's knitting project Posted by Hello

Okay, this is my sister. Mom knit the cape for her, from the same Family Circle Easy Knitting from which I took my poncho pattern (Fall 2004). Mom is the real pro knitter in the family. Sis can't wait to go back to the yarn shop where she picked out the yarn for this; everyone (including myself!) thought it looked like dog hair, but it knit up gorgeous. Mom used black Squiggles for the collar. Very elegant. I like the slits for the arms, myself. Handy (again with the puns, sorry).

A busy, crazy holiday weekend:

1) At the inlaws' for dinner Friday (I spent the day alternately weaving, sewing, and FINALLY making cheese pierogi)...also, due to a healthy serving of Guilt a la Mom, we make it to a 7:30p church service -- Tess the Trouper in tow;

2) My folks & my sister arrived 2p Christmas Day, inlaws arrived at 3:30p, dinner (starring The Pierogi) at 4:30p. Everyone gone from our house by 7:30p (whew);

3) We sneak out of a request to be at church at 9:30a (ha! and again I say HA!) -- see #1, that got us off the hook -- and arrive at brother's at a healthy 2p. Dinner at 4:30p. Home by 7:30p, the kiddoodle conks out in the car on the way home. We manage to drop her in bed and she sleeps through 'til morning. Hurrah!

E casually mentions to me last night that he thinks he has the week off of work (!!!) -- this only goes to show what a complete workaholic he is. He even tried to go in for a couple of hours this morning, only to find the compound locked up tight, gates and all. Thank you, BigCorp!

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like pierogi.

I still have the last round of 6 rows per color to finish upon the afghan, but the end is in sight. Yesterday I had MUCH more important work to do: make pierogis.

Since I made the mistake of promising them to my family for Christmas Day dinner, much weeping and gnashing of teeth will follow if I don't get them done. My inlaws know nothing of the afghan, so if I don't finish it (and it won't be completely done by Xmas Eve anyway), no big deal. But, pierogi? Major deal.

Dad likes saurkraut, as sour as I can make them. They are the biggest pain (because the filling is so juicy and acidic), so I did them first. Actually, I start with the potato filling first, because I need cold potato water to make the dough. Then comes the Shredding of Cabbage. What did our grandmothers do before food processors? Lots of shredded knuckles, I'll bet.

The basics: shredded cabbage and boiled potatoes (save that water!!)Posted by Hello

I do use bagged saurkraut, but the woman who taught me how to make pierogi (more on her later) insists on having some fresh cabbage cooked up with it.

I do the fillings (except cheese, because it involves raw egg) the day before I actually assemble the pierogi, so this is a weekend-long project.

Cold potato water, a must for elastic dough (far right, in front of flour) Posted by Hello

Actually, it's going to be more than a weekend, because I only finished saurkraut yesterday. Had to drag the kidoodle to my inlaws yesterday morning so my "free time" was down to 4 hours. I need 8 to get all the different fillings in.

I broke down on the way home from my inlaws and got myself a festive mocha to charge me up for the afternoon. It's there on the far left of the above picture. I'll have to remember that trick; I went without one single "mistake" (pierogi falling apart in the water, which of course must then be eaten immediately).

Five dozen saurkraut pierogi yesterday. And you only get some if you come to my house Christmas Day. Sorry.

High-tech cutting (not) & pasting Posted by Hello

You can see why I can't have a toddler in the house. Kitchen counter AND kitchen table all put to work. Tess will eat half the dough, anyway. Still, I have to figure out a way to finish the potato and the cheese pierogi while she's around (see "weeping and gnashing," above).

My cutter? A wide-mouth juice glass. I had a well-meaning co-worker once give me a fancy plastic pierogi cutter set (in hopes of getting some pierogi, no doubt) but I was back to the juice glass as soon as I noticed the cutters were just too small.

All oiled up Posted by Hello

Once they are par-boiled (3 minutes, 6 to a pot, I had two pots of boiling water going so I was able to get a dozen going at a time, hooray!), I drain & cool them on a broiler rack, then rub a little oil on them before putting them in baggies. Then straight to the freezer so there is no temptation.

I learned to make these about 15 years ago. There was a woman at my mother's real estate office known as the Polish Princess. She was in her 60s and had 11 (!) kids. When my mom first took over management of the office, Theresa's husband had just passed away. At the funeral home, I got to talking to her and when she found out I was Polish but didn't know how to make pierogi, she took me under her wing.

I was adopted, and while I had a half-Hungarian mother to show me how to make stuffed cabbage, I was without a country when it came to pierogi. So a big shout-out to Theresa, who probably just needed me to help out that year, making pierogi for her 11 kids. I only have 8 people to feed on Christmas Day, so I learned from the right person.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Thanks, Minxxy

Girly Mama 2
You're a girl power mommy! You love to be girly,
but you're no pushover. Your kids are learning
that gender differences don't have to mean
gender inequality. You've taken back pink, and
you don't care who knows it!

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Afghan Strip 2

Posted by Hello

Sunday night I figured out that each afghan strip can be broken down into 7 segments. First up, 6 rows of each color, then 2, then 4, then 2 again, then 8, 2, and finally 6 rows again (colors in reverse of the top order). SO! If I started the last strip on Sunday (which I did), I could conceivably be finished with it by Saturday. This leaves me next Sunday to figure out, at the very least, how to put this thing together (not to mention weaving in all those ends, which I may be able to use to sew the strips together...still pondering that...) and get it in some semblance of its final form so that I can put it in a box, wrap it, and present it to my in-laws Christmas Eve.

That doesn't account for the single crochet edging, which I have yet to learn how to do, three times around in three different colors.

I don't know how Yarn Harlot does it. Then again, she's knitting mittens and socks (for the entire Province of Ontario, apparently), not an afghan. Still - never again (yeah, right).

We joined the athletic club I've been wanting to join ever since we first visited it, before Tess was born. We toured the place again when she was quite small (14 months?) and decided it was just too much to consider, yet. E wanted to find other places to play tennis, for free (the operative word when it comes to him relaxing and enjoying himself).

The one-time membership fee is a doozy, and we'll (make that I'll) have to make sacrifices in my budget to meet the monthly dues, but I've been there twice since joining on Sunday and I'm taking full advantage of the fitness assessment (possibly even a couple of sessions with a personal trainer -- more $$), pool (took Tess swimming after my Aqua Aerobics yesterday), luxury locker room, and tomorrow: Women's Drop-in Tennis, for newbies ranked from 2.0-3.0 (I'm a 2.5, yipee me, but that was 3 years ago). E and I have tennis evaluations on Saturday, perhaps I've dropped a half-point (or more), but I'm looking forward to playing again. Hopefully I will get a kind partner and not embarrass myself too much tomorrow morning.

Two words: Child. Care. Again, $, but nominal, and worth it, for 2 hours of peace and exercise a day, three days a week.

A small prize to anyone who can correctly guess my body fat ratio. Here's a hint: it's also a doozy.