Monday, June 30, 2008

Felted Bowls: Not for Soup

Felted Bowls: Not for soupThat's what the little sign I made for the upcoming craft show says. Hopefully, it's not too corny!

I made a bunch of these for the craft show, but one of the orange ones is going to the winner of the Tea Party drawing (along with some other Halloweeny goodies).

I really had a blast! I made sure to click on every single link in the participant list; it took me a very long time! For my drawing, I entered everyone that commented in that post, plus any participants that commented in other posts during the weekend (and today).

I really appreciate you dropping by, and hope some of you have decided to pop back in now & again.

The winner is (Drumroll Please):

Bluemuf, aka Karen.

Karen wins one of my orange felted bowls, plus a few other Halloween goodies. I've been in touch for her address. Congrats, and thanks ever so much for stopping by!

PS: Karen -- I've sent a couple of different emails. If you still aren't getting them, I've updated my profile so you can email me through that.

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Ah, the 60s. You could smoke in hospitals, doctor's offices, at your desk. Everyone smoked on TV shows, and they advertised cigarettes in commercials. Apparently, in my family, you could offer cigarettes to 2-year-olds and let infants play with cigars.

first smokes

The above pictures are of me. The first two were taken around my first Christmas; the third was taken when I was two (also at Christmas). As far as I can tell, my uncle Chuck is actually lighting that cigarette in the end picture. Fun times!

One of my fondest memories was of our neighbors, Bill and Maggie, who always made sure that there was a box of chocolate cigarettes on hand for me. They'd even light the end with a match, so I could smoke like everyone else.

Before you get all excited and point at how all this exposure to tobacco - real and fake - led to my downfall: Guess what? None of this made me want to smoke, which is why I still love candy cigarettes - chocolate, bubble gum and those weird white chalky ones. From the time I was three, I begged my mom to quit, and she finally did. Most of my friends smoked when I was a teen, but it never occurred to me.*

*Okay, I did attempt smoking twice: the earliest was during college. I made it through half of one of the long brown ones ("More"?). We bought them because it seemed to make economic sense (we didn't realize they were thinner). Another time, in my late 20s, I was in a very, very stressful job and started taking "smoke breaks" with the smokers. I smoked as an act of rebellion, but wasn't very good at it: I couldn't inhale and cigarette smoke gave me terrible headaches. It had an interesting effect: my boss's boss saw me and expressed his shock/horror. I told him that it was that or kill someone. He started to realize how bad morale was, but really didn't do anything about it. I ended up quitting instead. (ETA: Over the few weeks that I attempted smoking, I didn't finish a pack.)

Knitting fills that void now. Not that my rage is as severe or my morale as low as it was in that job. I think it's a pretty decent sign that you need to get the hell out of a job when it leads you to such dramatic ends.

Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of cigarettes, actually. The smoke does make me quite ill, and I have real issues with people who insist on smoking in vestibules. I love restaurants that are - voluntarily - no smoking. However, I don't support bans on it. Let people make up their own minds. I might avoid a place that allows smoking, but I'm all for them having the right to allow it.

Speaking of knitting
Sock #2 continues to grow. I'm past the cuff into the heel flap now. I can't wait to wear my first socks!

I design ads for a handful of advertisers on Ravelry, usually getting paid in yarn; sometimes in cash or Amazon gift certificates. Over the weekend, I did a print ad that will be in an upcoming issue of Interweave Knits. How exciting!

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blast from the Past

I need to dig out and scan some more old pictures. I love including them in my posts!

I can remember my mother singing two songs to me when I was a little girl. One of them gave me nightmares. Can you guess which one?

"Let the Sunshine in" (Pebbles & Bamm Bamm)

"Que Sera Sera" ("Video" of Doris Day)

Answer at the bottom.

Antique Amish Pincushion

Completely OT. I was in an antique store in Tennessee several years ago, and found a hackey sack labeled: "Antique Amish Pincushion." I think they wanted $5 for it.

Because I'm in a kooky mood, does anyone know what movie this is from?: Amish Terrarium. (I know, just wondering if there are other fans out there.)

The Answer
I believe that "Let the Sunshine In" contributed to one pretty scary nightmare I had when I was very young. In it, the red dude with the pitchfork showed up at my house and took a bunch of us hostage in my parents bedroom. "Us" would have been my mom, brother and I, and the mom and kids of a family we were friends with. I'm guessing our dads were hunting. I saved us all with my magic blanket. But really -- a kid's song about the devil? Big shocker. Thank goodness I had my magic blanket. (Mom threw it away a few years later. I still haven't forgiven her completely. She wasn't a sentimental soul. She threw out my Barbies too, including Growing Up Ginger, which was the coolest doll, ever. I haven't forgiven her for that, either.)

Speaking of Ginger, I've only met a couple of people in my life who've heard of this doll and only one who had one. She was a Skipper-size doll (there was a "Growing up Skipper," too), with a flexible torso; when you cranked her arm, she grew about an inch taller, and boobs popped out.

I got mine on Easter weekend, 1975, on my way to spend break with my paternal grandparents. Apparently, it was quite controversial, but I thought I was being clever: two dolls for the price of one!

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3 AM

You find the coolest things when you find yourself wide awake at 3 AM and check your Bloglines. This post has a video as well.

The book isn't real
, by the way: it's a spoof, and the video is a spoof of the bios on VH1. Dave Lowe is a friend of Vickie's (he's worked on her show) and this isn't the first time I've run across knitting on his blog. The first time I read it, I scanned back a few days and found this: "Don't buy Knit Aid" (Vickie Howell's new book). Because she has a sense of humor, I'm thinking I will buy the book.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Now that's better (& Get Smart review)

Earlier this week, I posted about the discomfort I was experiencing with the ear buds that came with my iPod. Stacie sent me to a site that sold a wide variety. Rather than order online, I took note of the styles and finally got out to an electronics store today and found these. There are 3 sizes of covers, and the smallest one fits perfectly. (And look at the little skulls on the ends.) Huzzah!

Get Smart
I loved the Get Smart TV show when I was a kid. When I heard that this movie was coming out, I had really mixed feelings about it. Whenever things from my childhood get resurrected for now, they don't generally go so well. I've liked some of Steve Carell's work, so I was torn.

When John brought up going to the movies last night, he wanted to go see Wall-e. I'm not in the mood to see that, so I brought up Get Smart as an alternative (still not sure I wanted to see it). Then, last night, I caught another commercial for the movie, and this time they showed Hymie. Well. I adore Patrick Warburton, AND I loved Hymie from the show*. That settled it. We went to see the movie today.

My new rating guide is based on how much knitting I got done: the more yarn balls there are, the less knitting I accomplished. (5 would mean I forgot to knit.) I give Get Smart a 4. It was entertaining and fun, and did not -- most importantly -- spoof the original show.

*When we got our little dog many, many years ago, my dad suggested that we name him after Hymie, the robot on Get Smart. This is Hymie:

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Halloweeny Tea Party

halloween bunting
Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist is throwing a virtual tea party (of the costume variety). Because I love Halloween, and dressing up for it (even if I'm always a witch (I'm on the right) or a vampire (tiny bit racy, you've been warned)), I decided that my party would be a Halloween-in-June costume party.

Charlie, George and Fred, Halloween '04Oh, good; you made it! Charlie (the kitty), Fred (his bony friend) and George the rat (don't worry -- he's rubber) were watching for you. Don't mind the creaking doors and thunder -- it's just a sound effects record. Let me get you some punch and ladyfingers!
Lucky Parcel -- Halloween (outgoing/wrapped)While this is a virtual party, a door prize/goody bag awaits a brave soul who makes it to the end and comments. Because I love me some comments and I love me some goody bags!

If you're not already viewing the whole entry, you can click on the picture or the link below to open up the whole thing.

teddy scare1You can't have a tea party without a teddy bear. Here's mine. His name is Mundy Drudge, we found him in Hell; he's had a rough life, but is living it up at our place now. At this very moment, he is not wearing any pants. I don't know why I think that's relevant, but there you have it.

Mundy goes with me on road trips, but otherwise hangs out in my sewing area. Lots of scissors and pins there. Just the way he likes things.

I was kind of kidding about the punch and ladyfingers. I do have refreshments, though: Piña Ghouladas (regular & virgin) and Eyeball Martinis.

Have a cupcake. Really, if you don't eat at least one, then I'll have to have two. Or three.

Munchies? If you eat candy corn and dry roasted peanuts together, they taste like a Payday candy bar.

I'm finally to the costume part of the costume party. I am dressed as an olde-tyme Renaissance witch/crone. Okay, I'm a wench with a witch hat. But it's a cool hat, yes? I overspent on it a little, so it will be part of any costume for many seasons to come.

Prior to the purchase of the fancy hat, I tried (within reason) to be "period" (historically accurate), but threw all caution to the wind after this. My best friend has the same hat, except in black, and we have all kinds of fun pushing the envelope. I added patches to my beloved but stained chartreuse skirt and made an apron with big pockets (for my knitting). Of course, when one is in one's home, entertaining guests at a costume party, one doesn't have to worry about silly things like accuracy. It's all about the party!

Thanks so much for coming to my party! I hope you had a good time. I'll be drawing from the comments for the door prize on Monday. I regret that I can only ship within the US & Canada. I will have to modify a package that goes overseas, okay? To make sure it's all legal.

Note: I don't know what it will like look yet - hopefully even cuter than the ones up top, which were for a swap last year.

The drawing is closed. I'll post the winner on Monday evening.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh, Energizer

And, to make things a little lighter:
After writing about my non-love for Energizer's Energi-to-Go doohicky, I thought it would be nice if I them know how I felt about it. It's not fair to gripe publicly about something the person/company doesn't even know about. In my experience, companies usually blow off complaints. Occasionally they try to make things right. I didn't really have an agenda, because I didn't expect a response. In hindsight, yes, a replacement would have been nice.

They get points for responding to my message within 24 hours. (I actually think it was just a couple of hours, but didn't note the time.) I think there's been a misunderstanding. Since I didn't expect even a response, I didn't ask for anything - not even a replacement. They seem to think that I want to send them this thing that I paid ~$20 for, in return for a vague promise of compensation, so they can look at it. I don't know what "compensate" means to them in this context. Does it mean replace? When would it be replaced? I actually use the thing (with rubber bands holding it together) about once a week. I'm not going out to buy another back-up charger so they can satisfy their curiosity. Do people do this?

I declined, so they offered me a $5 coupon. Still not getting it.

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Not a Waste of Time, part two

Reposting the first part from this old (April 11, 2007) blog entry: Not a Waste of Time.

Dad & JImmediately after learning of my father's death, we were faced with decision #1: organ donation. It's such an awkward approach the staff has to make. In our case, there wasn't quite as much urgency, since none of Dad's major organs were in good shape. We were told that maybe - and only maybe - his corneas could be used, although I agreed to them taking anything they could use that wouldn't affect the viewing. So, less than an hour after saying our goodbyes (he was already gone), I spent what seemed like hours on the phone with the Gift of Life people. Well, one person. I've already forgotten her name, but she was very respectful. But oh, the questions she had to ask! Every surgery I could remember, every drug taken, every hospitalization, the really awkward STD questions. And I found myself wondering: Is this a waste of time? I answered "yes" to every illness except AIDS, cancer and mad-cow disease (or so it seemed). So many times, I wanted to slam down the phone and say, "Forget it, this is a waste of time! He was too old, and had been too sick for this to make any difference."

Well, I was wrong. We received a letter today saying that two women - one from Trenton (where John & I got married) and one from Sterling Heights had each received one of Dad's corneas and were now able to see.

(See that dimple? I have the same one.)

Today (June 27, 2008), this came in the mail:

donor note

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Crafty Fun Friday, 27 June 08

first sock complete
Look! It's a sock!! Here's another view! Another hurdle mastered. Well, not mastered, but I'm not afraid of them anymore. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever be able to tackle these things that have intimidated me for so long. I've already cast on for #2. Specifics here.

I could go on and on about how much I love the colors, and how they come together without pooling.

(giving) Wrapping gifts with fabric (diagram), from angry chicken. (It's Furoshiki, which is more than just wrapping gifts, but this would be my application.)

(sewing) Cozy, Quick Blanket - I love the ric-rac edging!

(playing) Icy Treasures, via greetingarts

(playing) Sponge Balls, via Crafty Crow

(lunching) Also via Crafty Crow, I'm loving this Muffin Tin Monday idea. The "Monday" part is a meme, if you wanted to join, but otherwise, I think most kids would get a kick out of this. Clicking around on some of the participants' blogs, it looks like it's getting picky eaters to eat more/try new things. Sweet!

(crafting) Recycled Cake Plates. What a cute idea! Via sycamore stirrings.

(stitching) Cross-stitch & Embroidery alphabets - type in your text and get the chart or back-stitch pattern. Nifty! via Whip-up.

(cooking) Will someone make this for me? Fudge w/ a layer of bacon.

(sewing) Pencil case.

(crafting) Getting married? Check out this list of how-tos for flowers, beaded combs, etc.

(baking) Glazed Orange Scones. Yummy.

(crocheting) I'm serious this time. Will someone make me a couple of these acorn necklaces? I'll trade for something good.

(reading) I discovered a couple of new blogs this week, and wanted to share them: Derfwad Manor & 3rd Eye Muse. You should definitely check them out!

(celebrating) Cake decorating with Starbursts.

(lunching) Summer Lunch, including a tomato pie recipe and mini cheesecakes. I want that pan!

(cutting) This is the first tutorial for cutting fabric into one long strip w/o sewing that made sense to me. Via Whip-up.

(everything) Monster list of shoes & slippers tutorials. Also via Whip-up.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dear Energizer

energizerDear Energizer:

See this little gizmo? I think it's pretty nifty that I can charge my cell phone with a couple of AA batteries. I think it was a little pricey, but less expensive than buying a car charger AND a back-up charger for work. It comes in handy when I'm out & about and notice the battery is getting low, and would have come in handy when we lost power during that storm last week and my phone was almost dead. (Except that we didn't have any batteries. My bad.)

But do you see a problem here? The rubber bands. Why on earth would you go to so much trouble to design, produce, package, ship and market this gizmo and not see if it would SHUT when you put BATTERIES in it? The little catches on the sides will not click in place when there are batteries inside. They work fine when it's empty. Handy, that.

Sigh. I'm so disappointed in you.


(ETA: I sent a message to Energizer about this, minus the sarcasm. Wonder if they'll respond?)

tulip mugI hope you'll come back on Saturday, for my part in the Virtual Tea Party (see sidebar). Mine is - of course - Halloween-themed, and there's talk of a prize.

Because it doesn't fit with the theme (remotely), I wanted to share the story of this mug. I received it as a gift from my mom many, many years ago; I liked tulips, and tea, and she thought it was pretty. I actually used it, although I don't now. During her long illness, there was a time when she enjoyed a nice mug of tea, and commented that she'd like to drink it out of a pretty mug. I took this to her in the hospital, and would make tea in it for her whenever she wanted.

We had a little incident with someone trying to take it home with them, but I've decided to try and not dwell on that stuff. At some point, I brought it home again, and have kept it in the kitchen window. I haven't used it since, I think because I'm afraid to break it. It still has a piece of tape on the bottom with her room number on it.

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Saucy's Wedding Party

I talked about the wedding at length here (old blog), including all the drama, so for this party, I'm just going to talk about good times.

Rehearsal KissRehearsal
Just a formality, mostly so the kids could understand what to do and my dad could practice walking me down the aisle. Afterwards, we all went out to a Chinese buffet, where we passed out the bridal party gifts. I gave my women Miss A knives and "Smart Women Thirst for Knowledge" glasses, and John found out what video game his best man wanted and got that for him later (we think it was Doom 3).

Ringbearer JRing Bearer
It was decided that nephew J would escort me down the stairs and deliver me to his papa. He wasn't quite three yet, and walking alone in front of me was not something he was interested in. He took his responsibility seriously, and held my hand very tightly as we walked down the stairs. When we reached the bottom, I took my dad's arm, and J bolted for the front of the chapel, where his dad was waiting with a tube of mini M&Ms.

I can't remember now if he carried the bear during that part, but he had it for the rest of the ceremony. The bear was my mom's, and I just tied a chartreuse-y bow around its neck. At one point, there were some fake rings, but I don't think they lasted through the rehearsal.

Speaking of my mom - Instead of a unity candle, we had a memorial candle. The program explained that it was there for my mom and John's grandfather, who couldn't be with us.

Flowergirl, KFlower Girl
Niece K was actually in a good mood the entire time. This picture just caught her in a blink. I knit her shawl and made the wreath out of silk flowers (she was very into dress-up at the time, and I wanted it to last).

She sprinkled silk rose petals down the aisle ahead of us, then carefully gathered them when the wedding was over. (She didn't have to do this -- she just wanted the petals.)

I left the dress up to her and her mom, and they found a cute white dress for a great price, which then served as K's Easter dress.

Bridal PartyThe Bridal Party
From left to right: Andrea, Jen and Heather were my best women. At the far right, next to John, was his best man, Tim.

Funny story about the dresses: I was all about being this offbeat, independent bride and had never wanted the traditional bridesmaid dresses. In fact, I really wasn't that worried about them matching at all; as long as they had on some shade of green. But they wanted to match. Andrea found this cute dress in a catalog and they all liked it. It wasn't expensive (< $30), washable, and didn't look remotely like a bridesmaid dress, so they could wear them again.

We wore matching tennies (white leather Ked-style) and socks from the same set (same colors, different patterns). One of the girls - I think it was Andrea - made matching headbands for the three of them.

I made all our bouquets the morning of. During all the reception prep (it was all DIY) the day before, I bought several bundles of flowers at either Costco or Sam's Club (we went to both) and arranged them on Saturday morning, following guidelines I'd downloaded in advance. I tried to find each girl's favorite flower, (it's not like the colors would clash) -- I managed to find the daisies and tiny sunflowers, but missed out on another (irises?), and wrapped them with polka-dot ribbon. I love them (we all did), and don't regret not spending a lot more for "official" flowers. My MIL didn't want a corsage, and none of the guys wanted boutonnières. After the wedding, I broke off a small lily and stuck it in my dad's lapel.

Starting down the aisleDown the aisle
As mentioned, my nephew escorted me to my dad, who was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Dad, who had one artificial leg, had practiced for weeks with a physical therapist so he could walk with just one cane. His therapist would pretend to be me, and he'd practice walking the approximate distance with her.

We made it to the end with no problems. I helped him sit down, then walked the rest of the way alone. He had no interest (thank goodness) in giving me away, and I put my foot down (with the chapel people) about the men having a handshake over the trade.

All Dad wanted, he'd said for years, was to walk me down the aisle before he died. He passed away a few weeks before our second anniversary.

Monet's gift to us was the music for the ceremony (she also got us some way cool margarita glasses, but we didn't know it until later). It was perfect.

Seal Promise with a KissGetting Married
We had to write the ceremony (PDF) because the chapel had nothing for us to preview, and there were some things I needed to make sure were included/excluded (small changes to the traditional service*). I'm thrilled with how the written ceremony turned out, and our families' participation (my goddaughter, my brother and John's sister each read something).

Interestingly enough, I wasn't nervous at all. John was the right man for me, and that was all there was to it. I got to marry my soul mate and have a party with friends and family. It was great!

Under it allAbout my dress & stuff
I wasn't all that concerned about having an actual wedding dress; in fact, I'm not a huge fan of white clothes in general. We went to several places, and finally ended up at my last resort for the day (long story). We'd had a little incident at David's Bridal, when Andrea asked the salesperson what brides with fat arms did (all the dresses were sleeveless). "Wear a veil," she said, and we turned around and left.

At this store (music alert), the associate understood immediately that I wouldn't bare my upper arms and she didn't think I should have to. She assured me that something could be done. Then she took me to a secret rack, where there was a dress - in my size - for $99 (it was an abandoned layaway), that fit perfectly; it was just too long. Some $80 later, my dress was the right length and had adorable, fluttering Italian ruffle sleeves. (My dream dress is a rust or deep jewel color, featuring a corset (& sleeves) and full skirt. Maybe for a vow renewal?)

Under the dress, I wore a pair of super-comfortable "kilt shorts." A friend had made them for me ages before, using swimsuit material and the pattern from the shop she worked at. I do not recommend hiking up your full skirt to show off even the most fabulous undergarments; note how it has bunched around my mid-section?

Rings & Bouquetwedding ring The Rings
I love these rings! John designed them -- my only request was that we use my mom's diamond and that the stone not stand up above the setting. They have an acorn motif: mine has a tiny gold acorn and John's has 2 acorns cut out of the band. Mine did double duty as both an engagement and wedding band.

Jewelry: I wore my mom's pearls and her "wedding earrings," which she loaned to every bride she knew. They are matched pearls, with one at the post and another dangling , and dad got them for mom when my brother was born. (No big gifts when I was born -- they were poor.) My MIL surprised me with a charm bracelet featuring a baby picture of John. (There are almost no pictures in existence of him as a baby or young boy.)

Accessories: I ordered my freshwater pearl & peridot-color swarovski crystal headband-tiara-thingy from ebay, but the seller is no longer active. My veil (never covering my face) was from Michael's, with a coupon. I wore my glasses, because I wanted to see everything.

rings by cakeReception
At the reception, we cut the cake with my dagger. I did the printed paper items (escort cards, table numbers, etc.), and SIL T decorated and made favors (envelopes of 'nip from our kitties and acorn-embellished candles (what those little boxes were for)). The food was purchased the day before and stored in refrigerators in a nearby home and the reception site. We had pizza, appetizers, veggies, hummus, cheese & desserts. There were activity bags at each kids' place. The orange cake on the left was a birthday cake for one of my cousins, who was turning 13 the next day.

wedding collage
Monogram 3

*Tiny plug (for which I get zero compensation (I had to buy my own copy)): My advice (given on a bridal site) was included in the book Offbeat Bride. It's simple: if you are planning any deviations from the traditional - whatever that means in your area/family/religion - and are worried about how people are going to take it, don't tell them in advance. All you're accomplishing if you do is giving them plenty of time to get worked up into a frenzy, but if you play it cool, they probably won't notice until it's too late - if they notice. No one even realized that our ceremony didn't actually include a prayer. Instead, my brother read a poem entitled "Wedding Prayer" (see ceremony PDF link). No one noticed that I didn't say "obey," didn't throw the bouquet (or have the guests throw rice/birdseed), but if I had announced it in advance, people might have tried to insist.** If you are planning an offbeat kind of wedding, or are looking for ideas for one, I highly recommend the book.

**I was at a wedding where the bride had let it slip that they weren't having people throw rice; instead they were having guests blow bubbles. (This was over 12 years ago, before everyone was doing it.) Anyway, one of the female relatives freaked out and brought her own bag of rice, then pelted the bride with it, hard. Charming, right? She was so worried about what people would think about the lack of rice that she didn't consider how silly she would look with a big plastic bag of it, hurling handfuls of it at the lovely bride.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Tunes

Looks like I'm going to be up a little later tonight than intended. I finally caved and signed up for iTunes so I could download the song I mentioned earlier* and the other one I remembered**. They had the former (woot) but not the latter (weird). I also tracked down an MP3 of this fantastic performance. You know, I don't care if the Canon is corny or whatever people want to call it. I like it. And I really like it on electric guitar.

Since I got my new computer a couple months ago, and lost my my iTunes, I haven't gotten everything straightened out; I've just been using my work computer to charge my iPod. But it's time. I was serious about either just sending out CDs or doing a swap if anyone is interested.

*The Vogues, You're the One (not an easy task -- iTunes has crap-loads of re-recorded stuff and the first one I bought was not the original)

**Badfinger, Day after Day. Hello? How can they only have re-recorded versions and not one copy of the original? Come on!

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A few more things; calendar

Red Scarf Project: In addition to Interim House, I also support the Red Scarf Project. Norma has a sweet story here, plus an update.

This story made me cry a little. Via needle book.

One more update (I keep editing this post, sorry): Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs came out yesterday. Of course we already watched it. Verdict: kooky, but excellent.


Thursday, June 26: Saucy's Wedding Party.

Saturday, Jun 28: A Fanciful Twist's Mad Tea Party (of the costume variety).

Friday, July 4: It looks like John & I are heading to Ohio for a BBQ. Should be interesting. I've never partied with a bunch of Libertarians before.

Tuesday, July 8: Psych season 2 released on DVD

Friday, July 11: Hellboy II comes out. One convert (Hi, Anita) is going with us!

Friday, July 18: Psych season starts

Friday, August 8: IH Contest drawing; my birthday

Saturday, August 23: Craft Show @ Holly Library 9:30 - ?

September: Viva Pinata 2

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It's almost zen; Tunes

I heard something on the radio last week, and darn if I can't find any stats to support it (yet), but it intrigued me: angry drivers use more gas than patient drivers. Well, yeah, if you think about it: impatient/angry drivers are constantly revving their engines, running up on the car in front of them, braking hard, switching lanes, etc.

I hate driving. Like, a lot. Of course, I have a near-hour commute each morning and a slightly longer one each afternoon. Thank God I get to work from home one day a week, because I would have to find another job if I had to do this every day. Part of my drive involves 275, which stretches from here to Florida, and part of that includes at least 2 different junctions where I have to get across all the lanes in a reasonable amount of time to stay on my route. (This is not a picture of 275. It's a picture I borrowed from Microsoft Clip Art.)

275 is kind of notorious for asinine, aggressive drivers and 80+MPH speeds. By the time I get to work (and have to deal with the shuttle, which is a whole other post), I'm wiped out. Getting home is worse, and that's only if I don't have errands to run afterwards.

I'm a little impatient, but I'm not an ass; however, I decided to try something new: driving more patiently. All week, I've been just going the speed limit, or even a little less (if someone is going slow in front of me). I do still switch lanes if I get behind someone moving very slowly, but no longer freak out if they're going below 75. My speedometer hasn't seen 80 all week. I don't know if my gas mileage has improved, but I am calmer in the car. I figure that it might take me 4-5 minutes longer to get somewhere, but I'm calmer, and safer, when I arrive.

You know how, when you are trying to remember a song that you like, but it just won't come? Awhile back, I was putting together a list of songs for John to track down for me, and I couldn't remember one song for the life of me. I finally gave up. Over the weekend, I jumped in the car to run to the grocery store, and it was on the radio! I had left the radio tuned to the oldies station (rare for me), and I'm so glad! I haven't found it yet, but at least I know what I was looking for: You're the One (That I Love) by the Vogues, released the year I was born. There's always another song, just out of reach.

Other old favorites that have randomly popped up:
Build me up Buttercup, The Foundations (for Bec)
Come a Little Bit Closer, Jay and the Americans
Black Betty, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (never heard it my whole life until a few months ago)
Oh How Happy, Shades of Blue (I liked this song before I knew that John's uncle was the lead singer)
A Little Bit of Soap, The Jarmels

So... is anyone interested in an eclectic CD mix from me? I'll put a couple together if anyone wants, just for fun. Regular CD or MP3, just say the word. Even better, but not necessary: a music swap, so I can hear some other folks' eclectic faves.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IH Contest Prize Update

(Updated 7/23/08)

The main post is too long, so here are pictures of the prizes:

stash claudia handpaint

Good news! Illiane's Corner has generously donated an knit or crochet bag of the winner's choice! The blue knit bag is shown here, but the winner will be able to select the style and color & have it shipped directly to her/him.

Stacie, another longtime IH supporter, has donated a prize package consisting of a (sold out) Ravelry tote, a "Where My Stitches At" T-shirt (size M) - which I don't think is available at all anywhere, and a couple of Ravelry buttons.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Interim House Contest Time


It's about that time again: my third annual Interim House contest! If you're new to it, this post should cover everything you need to know (and you can leave comments with questions). If you're an IH Contest veteran, I'll do my best to get the info. you're looking for at the top. Check for updates via the ih_contest label in the sidebar. I'll post about developments, update about prizes, etc.

Click below to read the whole entry -- if it's not already visible.

The basics
This contest will run until noon EST on Friday, August 8th, which happens to be my 43rd birthday. To enter, you need to mail a package (details follow) to Interim House. Please include a postcard from your area and consider a personal note -- the ladies like hearing about where the packages are coming from. Send me an email with a picture of its contents, and tell me who referred you (if applicable). My email ends with and starts with crazycatladymel (just switch the order and pop 'em together). Absolutely EVERYONE qualifies, no matter where you live or if you won last time.

On the 8th, I'll draw at least two names. The first winner will get to pick their prize, and the second winner will get the remaining prize.

Edit: See this post for prizes.

#1: Two skeins of Claudia Hand Painted yarn in fingering weight, colorway "Desert Dude." If I recall correctly, these two skeins alone are close to - if not over - a $50 value.

#2: Emergency Knitting bag in blue (I ordered it 6/24/08.) If a crocheter wins, I'll keep this for myself and order an emergency crochet bag, in the winner's choice of colors (if availabile). NOTE: Wonderful news -- Illiane's Corner will ship either a knit or crochet bag to the winner in their preferred color!

Bonus: Promote this on your blog (send me a link!), and I'll enter you a second time (button-thingy here). If someone enters and says you sent them, I'll enter your name again (as well as theirs, of course). Up to 5 total entries per person -- you can't beat that! Of course, you need to enter yourself for this to work!

What to send
According to Kathy, the social worker at IH, they never have enough circular needles in varying lengths, as follows:
  • circulars in size 11 and 13 for blankets 36",
  • circulars for pocketbooks which are 10-1/2 or 10 in a 24 inch
  • hat circulars which are 16 inches in maybe an 8 to 10-1/2
"We have beginners just learning and it usually takes the whole six months to get really comfortable knitting and purling. Felted bags work great to learn how to knit because holes just felt together and you get a handbag that is like magic."
They're always happy to get partial balls of yarn, and feel free to include them; however, for this contest, if sending yarn please consider sending complete skeins**. An assortment of accessories and tools would also qualify (including zippered lingerie bags for felting). A great thing that more than one person has done in the past is to put a kit together, with everything needed for a project: yarn, needles and pattern. The key: please send what you feel led to. Many people have sent large boxes, at least one filled up the back of her SUV and delivered the yarn in person. Most folks send a small-to-medium box or padded envelope. At minimum, please send at least 3 full-sized items (skeins of yarn and needles), or the equivalent. Shopping from your stash is encouraged!

**Please do not send ratty or stinky old yarn. It's totally fine to send on a style of yarn that you have in your stash but don't care to knit with (yarn that just doesn't speak to you), but not cool to send crap that no one should have to knit with. (This has never been a problem. I'm just trying to cover all the potential bases.)

Send stuff to:
Kathy Duffy, Social Worker
Interim House Inc.
333 W. Upsal St.
Philadelphia PA 19119

Why Interim House?
Interim House is a 6-month rehab facility in Philadelphia, PA, with both in- and out-patient programs. Kathy, the social worker at IH, added knitting & crochet to the therapy schedule a couple of years ago, and it's doing amazingly well. All the students start out with a simple washcloth project.

Here's a link to their blog, where you can see pics of some clients' work (never their faces, for privacy reasons). Any faces you see are staff or volunteers. Only current clients and those that have graduated and come back to help are allowed to use the donated products.

My background re: charities

I don't support a lot of charities. I know there are tons of wonderful ones, but since I worked for a (very similar to IH) charity that ended up being corrupt, I'm very slow and careful when it comes to picking groups to support.

I found out about IH via another blog that pointed me over to applekale's blog. Because of my background , I did a little research, and decided to take a chance. I chatted with Kathy quite a bit, and feel like this is a project I can get behind 100%. I like that the graduates return to show off projects and help new students.

I think each person has to make their own decisions about what charities to support (if they even go that route). I'm glad to have one that I can throw myself behind completely, and offer up my "testimony" to that effect, but understand if not everyone that reads this doesn't take my word for it, and either does their own investigation or selects another charity entirely. I hope I've shown enough character and integrity that my support of IH at least puts them on the possible list for some folks, but I don't take it personally if everyone doesn't jump onto the bandwagon behind me.

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I have weird ears. Decent hearing (when I'm paying attention), ridiculously narrow ear canals, according to the E-N-T doc, and Miniere's disease (okay, that's the inner ear). Also, my iPod earbuds hurt. They do not fit in the normal way, and actually hurt quite a bit if I wear them that way.

So, I'm looking for alternatives. Preferably under $20, even better if they're less than $10. Suggestions appreciated. Simply put: I need something that a small child could comfortably use.

Midsummer Festival (WoW)
I've been slowly leveling my undead (shadow) priest on World of Warcraft. I reached level 50 yesterday. It's slow-going when you have a guild of two and a pretty intense fear of dungeons. Just hitting all of the horde bonfires during this festival will get me pretty close to the next level. I hit a couple of allie bonfires last night, which was fun (double experience).

This festival beats the Easter celebration (whatever they called it -- oh, wait -- Noblegarden) into the ground. I think it would be fun to join a group and hit as many alliance fires as possible.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

First sock, take two

first sock take 2

I'm so glad that I tried on my first sock yesterday. It was a little snug, and since I hadn't gotten that far, I decided to frog it and cast on a few more stitches. And look! Magic!! There's a heel, and a gusset and stuff. Go me.

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