Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mommy and Little Miss days...

 [author's note. I wrote this earlier in the week and for some reason it didn't post. So I'm posting it now. And then going to bed. Because Migraine. Enough said]

because Little Miss has a fever. We spent the morning yesterday in Mommy's bed watching movies and I introduced her to the joys of breakfast in bed.

I have been wavering between getting things accomplished or just resting with her and knitting and doing research for my upcoming design project. She tends to be rather clingy when not well, so I have a feeling that she will be deciding just how much I can get done around the house during her convalescence.

Sunday was the MS Walk and after doing only the 2k I was completely wiped the rest of the day. And then yesterday I a bad way. The only reason I went to work was because I had a few show notes and an important meeting. 

Now that I'm back and "settled" the cleanout continues.

I did a little rearranging. I'm slowly cleaning out the attic room, hoping that it leads to progress in it's completion. Even though we are somewhat halted on the mancave/playroom (damn that stupid sewer pipe!) we are using the space. We've put up all the drywall we can. I may start doing the joint compound work next week during Little Dude's vacation week. We are still deciding on material for the wainscoting. We keep eyeing the PVC beadboard for it's obvious benefits in a basement setting but the cost is so much more than our other choices.

In rearranging the living room we did away with the large (ugly particle board) entertainment center.

We moved it downstairs instead. Here is the 'couch' Little dude made for himself out of two chairs and a tiny gym mat. Gotta love that innovation.

I also brought down a work table from the attic and set up a little station for working on models and miniatures.  (I'm pushing the Geek-boy to finish his Warhammer 40K unit and go hit the gaming tables).

This weekend I emptied out this file cabinet to store the minature sets. It also was a great place to shift the drawer units to and give more work area on the table top.

 The drawers were acquired when a local yarn store went out of business. They were for embroidery floss. I love them and use them all over the house. Little Dude has one dedicated to his small Lego bits.

We just brought down my drafting/drawing table as well so that I can have a place to work on my designs.

We already set up the kids' train table and bean table down there as a good play area in the depths of winter.

We had also re-purposed Little Dude's old Ikea dresser for dress-up clothes after The Big Bedroom Switch-a-roo. Geek-boy has his desktop set up down there as well so it's turning into a nice little area. If we can just conquer the moisture issues down there and move the waste pipe, we will be all set. It will make a nice get away in the heat of summer, without wasting energy running the air conditioning.

I'm continuing to weed through my yarn stash and hitting the art supplies as well.

We're doing a similar clean-out at work and I find myself writing Craigslist ads for tools and items we could never use on stage.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

10 Foods That Belong Together

Hmm...interesting topic. Why do I think I'm going to be hungry after this???

  1. Dark Chocolate and Mint- whether in the form of patties, squares, or these fabulous chocolate mint brownies, they are perfect for each other.
  2. Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese Dressing- true Buffalo wings made with Frank's Red Hot.
  3. Mashed potatoes and Gravy- chicken gravy, turkey gravy, pork gravy, beef doesn't matter it just needs to be there and in copious amounts.
  4. Tortilla chips and Chile con queso- this doesn't last long in our house.   
  5. Potato chips and French onion dip- But the dip has to be Heluva Good
  6. Fresh Brussels sprouts and Bacon- Either halve the sprouts and oven roast with the bacon or completely pull them apart and lightly saute in the drippings and add the cooked bacon back in at the last minute.
  7. Kielbasa and Pirogi-Yes. I'm a good little Pollack.
  8. Chocolate pudding and Whipped cream- I may or may not have been indulging in a pudding cup from a hidden stash and the can of whipped cream after the minions went to bed last night. But I'll never tell.
  9.  Eggs, hash browns, and bacon/sausage- the perfect breakfast to me.
  10. Tomatoes and Basil- together fresh paired with cucumbers or fresh mozzarella or blended together for the perfect sauce. They are even beneficial to grow next to each other. Now that's a perfect pairing.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

After the con.....

I have returned. I spent most of last week off at the USITT annual conference, which was in Fort Worth this year. I've not been to one of these in 15 years. It was quite different from what I remember. Back then I was still in college; now I am a professional in the field. I had gone to the one in Pittsburgh in 1997 and again to Toronto in 1999. We always kind of laugh when people talk of a work conference as a 'vacation'. Maybe for other fields, but we're an industry that works from sun-up until the wee hours. Why would our conference be any different?
Every day is filled with discussion sessions, teaching sessions, hands-on workshops, commission meetings, showcases and xxxxxxxxx . And then there is the Expo floor filled with booths from vendors, organizations and schools alike giving out swag, demonstrating new products, drumming up business, conducting interviews mixed with the chaos of friends new and old meeting. It's fun to put faces to the voices on the phone you order from, or play with a new fogger or automation system. Programming is scheduled from 8am until 7, 8, 9pm or later. And there are no meal breaks scheduled in, so you often have the dilemma of "do I attend this really interesting session on XXX, or do I eat?" Sometimes you might pick a session where they feed you. This is not kind of conference where you go to a meeting or two with a catered lunch and spend the rest of the time at the pool.

And I loved it. Even though it dang near killed me. There was a lot of walking. A LOT of walking, and even with my cane it wore me out. Luckily we booked the hotel that was right across the street. I made some new friends, finally put some faces and face-to-face time with people that I have corresponded with for years. I learned tons. Was inspired even more. And somehow I ended up chairing a session for next year's conference. (And I was totally sober when that happened. But then again, it was an 8am session).

Texas was lovely...for what I saw of it. I didn't wander much further than 4 blocks from the convention center, and that was to hunt for food. The weather was much nicer....86 in Texas in March is nothing like 86 in Hartford in August. Especially when I come home to be greeted by a freak snowstorm the next morning.

Things I learned from this conference:
  • Have business cards. Even if you aren't looking for a job. It's the best way to pass along your information.
  • Have a portfolio handy....both online and a brag book in hand. Again, even if you aren't looking for a job, people are going to ask to see your work. 
  • Take pictures and write everything down. You will be so inundated with information that you will never remember what happened 5 minutes ago.
  • Bring your own tea if you are picky about what you drink. (so glad I did this)
  • Powerbars/granola bars are your friends. Have lots of them on hand.
  • Talk to everyone you can. You never know what may come of it. If you like someone's work/idea/project, tell them. Everyone likes positive reinforcement. 
  • Don't be bitter. (at least out loud) There were a few Debbie Downers that ruined a good moment or two. 
  • Remember this is a small business. Everyone knows everyone whether you realize it or not. 
  • Drink More Water. 
  • Ask the locals where they eat. 
  • I hate iPads (borrowed one from the University library for the trip to use instead of my laptop.)
  • I can out eat a bunch old techies and a Army veteran under the table where all you can eat ribs are concerned. (Sorry Riscky's. You didn't make any money on me that night.)

And now I am back. Dealing with paperwork, waiting for a designer to arrive, cleaning/organizing the shop, and researching/writing up ads to see extraneous shop possessions on Craigslist. You know the budget is bad when you are selling things just to fix/replace your other things.

I did get knitting done on my flights. And I only had one schmuck ask how TSA let me through with my (circular) needles. I told the guy (who had an uncanny resemblance to George R.R. Martin so I didn't want to be rude in case it was him and he decided not to finish the books because of some snarky knitter) that TSA discovered that we knitters were far less dangerous with our needled than without them.

This is what I managed to get done while flying and waiting in airports. I did knit a little in sessions but I often had to take notes, and with the cane knitting while walking was out of the question. The yarn is Glissade from Ball and Skein. (I swear I'm addicted to her stuff) in the colorway Elderberry. The color perfectly matches the new color of my hair. (What you expected me to go to Texas looking like a normal person?) What you see is slowly becoming the Medusa shawl by Amanda Muscha. I originally fell in love with this pattern because the lace is more geometric than flowery/frilly looking. So far both the yarn and pattern have been wonderful. The beginning section of this is perfect airplane knitting paired with an audiobook. (Bleak House by Dickens via CraftLit).

Otherwise I returned to a perfect shitstorm of a friendship imploding and new and scary health issues. One is the usual waiting game of doctor's appointments, tests, and more doctor's appointments. I'm doing my best not to dwell on the horrible notions that keep drifting across my brain. There's nothing I can do until I know more. And as far as the other one....who knows.


Back to reading about reed organs and band saws.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I should be in bed...

but I'm not.

I'm packing.

Well, I was packing. I've been side tracked by Twitter and hunting yarn shops in Ft. Worth.

Yep. I'm heading to Texas for a work conference. Without the family. I've never been away from the kids more than 2 days. This is going to be interesting. And the Geek-boy has his load-in week while I am gone. I think his work is going to learn 1. just how much he does and how much they rely on him to ditch everything else for them and 2. just where is priorities really lie. Meanwhile I'll be hobnobbing with people in the industry and possibly hitting the spa in the hotel. Just think. I will have almost a whole week where I will be allowed to us the bathroom on my own. I won't have to do someone's hair every morning while they steal my breakfast. And I won't have to wipe anyone's butt aside from my own.

This is my first real trip since being diagnosed. I'm slightly (very) anxious about it. Especially since the Geek-boy won't be there to help me and keep me calm. I hate flying. I'm stressing about going through security with all my meds. I'm worried I won't have the stamina to do all the walking around the convention. 

And speaking of diagnosed today was the two year anniversary. Woo hoo? With two major treatment changes over the last year I can't say it has been a fun ride. Part of me kicks myself for going off the infusions when I did. Had I hesitated a little longer, we would have had the study in our hands and known that it was safe for me to stay on it. And in those months of going off that and onto the pills and back again I know I lost some of what I had. And I am beginning to doubt if I will ever get it back again.

Enough of the depressing stuff. Packing has been insanely helpful in the Fifty Things project. I'm not sure if it was my tendency to procrastinate or the OCD, but my forays into The Closet of Doom led to a huge clean out. What is The Closet of Doom, might you ask? It is a strange anomaly in our house created by half-arsed renovations by the former owner. It used to be a part of the kitchen. It someday will be a part of the bathroom. But now it is a tiny space (about 4feet wide and 10 feet deep?) with open stud walls, various forms of flooring, and a bare bulb that serves as a linen, medicine, cleaning and catch-all closet. After this weekend, it is far more organized. Between that and my clothing closet I was able to add a bunch more to the list.

Tossed this time:
  • Travel sized toiletries we will never use
  • Old expired medicine and product
  • Travel alarm clocks (cell phones do this now)
  • Ace ankle wraps (too small and elastic cracked)
  • The disposable underwear from the hospital acquired when I had the minions. (Done with the baby making here. Don't need them)
  • Fake nails bought for a costume.
  • Old eyeglasses (going to the donation bin at the library)
  • Numerous scented lotions, body washes, bath extras and fancy body scrubby things. (Toss what's bad and donate what isn't)
  • Inflatable bath pillow. 
  • Stretchy skinny jeans (I don't even know how I got these)
  • Pull over fleece jacket (not to my taste. It can keep someone else warm)
  • Shoes
Fifty Things Total: 15

Not bad so far. I expect to make some huge progress when I return from the trip. And now I must to bed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fifty Things: the journey begins

I have been reading Throw out fifty things : clear the clutter, find your life by Gail Blanke. It challenges you to take a hard look at the clutter in your life, both mental and physical, and assess if it hinders or helps you. I've decided take up the challenge and blog about it.

It's not a big stretch. Over the last year I have been attempting to pare down our clutter and simplify things overall. I cleaned out a lot. Donated a bunch. Even had a tag sale. But there is still so much to do. I figure by documenting what goes, I'll have a tangble way to see my progress. When you have so much to toss out, it often feels like you aren't getting anywhere, when you are. It's just like knitting (see it all comes back to the knitting). There are times you knit and knit and knit and the project doesn't seem to be getting any bigger. I've adopted the tip of placing a marker where I start for the session so I can actually see how many rows I've knit, even if it feels like it's all going into a black hole somewhere. I'm hoping blogging about it will do the same. And maybe some others will join in.

About the book itself...I borrowed it from the library. I suggest you do the same. Some people might find it worth the money but honestly aside from the initial premise in the first chapter, I found most of it fluff and not very instructive. Much of the book is anecdotes and chatter about going through and tossing things. That might inspire some people, but not something that keeps me hooked beyond the first read. What really hooked me was the idea of a challenge with a definitive goal. "Decluttering" or "simplifying your life" can get to vague and overwhelming, but "throw out 50 (or 10 or 110) things" is a solid task. No question on what to do.

The basic idea of Fifty Things is to throw out 50 things over a two week period. Things that weigh you down and don't fit your life and the person you are hold you back and need to go. The items can be tossed, donated, sold, recycled....whatever. Just get them out of your life. Similar items count as one item. Therefore 75 magazines are one item. I won't give away the secret sauce of her rules (read the book) here, but it was enough to give me a push.

And with that in mind I did something I did something amazing and frightening and almost unheard of this weekend. I attacked my stash.

This was my yarn stash. (We won't discuss the fabric at the moment)

I set up several piles. One bin is what I am keeping. One bin is what I think is worth trying to sell on it's own. The third is for a person whom I found on Craigslist who wants all and any yarn and will pay for it. To her will go the lot of odds and ends and 'old lady yarn' I've inherited over the years.

I hit a snag in the process though. One in the form of a tangle that has taken up several hours of my life. I should probably just throw the whole thing out but there is some yarn in it worth keeping. I might just toss the rest tonight when I have the last bit extracted.

Before I waded into this quagmire, I tacked the box of jewelery from my husband's grandmother who passed away last year. I have a rather large collection of costume jewelery from my own grandmothers and great aunts. I decided to start documenting who the pieces belong to for future generations. Some of it will be saved for when my daughter is a tad more responsible, some will go into the dress up collection and some into collection of pieces that I wear.
Here are a few of my favorite items:

 I love the shiny.

 I love the dancers on each link.

 This pretty item had a lovely surprise inside....

 a beautiful gilt fan. If you look closely you can see that the flowers are tarnishing a touch on the folds where the are exposed. I'd love to display this but fear further tarnish.

I had hopes for the jewelery box that much of it had been kept in. It wasn't anything lavish. Just a basic inexpensive jewelery box, but it would be perfect to put on Little Miss's dresser and safe-keep the few items she does wear. But alas, too much time in storage meant that it acquired a musty odor that I just wasn't comfortable with. Frankly my throat was bothering me through the project and most of the evening. Out it went.

For now the jewelery was wrapped and packed away until I have homes for each category. (My own jewelery box is bursting after the death of my own grandmother).

Tossed this time:
  • 1 jewelery box
  • several broken pieces and odd earring backs
  • several rusty corsage pins
Fifty Things Total: 3

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

10 Things You Do That Your Spouse/Significant Other Could Do But Doesn't.

Well I guess I jumped the gun on this one a bit last week. Oh well, here we go.

  1. Paint- That's my job. I don't think he'd even want to attempt it because there would be lots of critiquing and 'helpful tips'. Just stand back and let me do my thing. 
  2. Drywall finishing- My father taught me how to hang drywall and finish it when I was young. And when I say young I mean like 12. I'm particular and a perfectionist so it's just easier to do the finish work myself.
  3. The sewing- I cringe when he touches my sewing machine. Not that he can't sew at all, he'll often do a bunch for work but that sort of sewing is completely different. And it's not on my machine. 
  4. Some cooking and all baking-(biscuits not included.) Again, not because of complete lack of skill but more due to a more detailed and finer understanding of things. Plus he just pairs the weirdest shit together sometimes. 
  5. Assembling outfits for important events- Love the boy....but he can't match colors for anything. If we had a dress code that resembled anything old English sumptuary laws, the boy would be in the stocks. All the time. I used to joke (with a hint of seriousness) that I was going to make stickers to put on the kids that said "Daddy Dressed Me Today". Turns out I didn't need to. The teachers could always tell. 
  6. Grocery shopping- This is a task that just wears me out but I won't relinquish. It's always a mistake when I send him. I know our stock better and will remember things that I didn't put on the list. I also know what to get or not get when they don't have something on the list. I also don't come home with bags of junk food. (Remember this is the man who constantly has a hidden stash of Little Debbie in his car). And I'm a much more savvy shopper when it comes to keeping the cost down. I just wish we had Wegmans to make my alone time at the grocery store more of a delight.
  7. Cards/gifts/birthdays/holidays- This apparently is mine to deal with and not exactly by choice. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. This is a task I would gladly share. 
  8. Social/appointment calendar- I'm the one that knows when the kids' doctors appointments are and when it is movie night at the school and when the library books are due. I have a binder just for my own medical appointments and information. I've basically told his co-workers to notify me if there is an event because he won't remember. If it isn't directly related to his job it is a hit or miss with him. And with the kids having more things as they get older I see this becoming a bigger task.
  9. Planning outings- If I didn't I don't think we'd ever leave the house. 
  10. Kid maintenance- Don't get me wrong. He is a very hands on kind of Dad. When they were infants he was the one changing them in the middle of the night because I was the one doing all of the feeding. He bathes and feeds and dresses and reads to and potty trains just as much as I do. But...I'm the one who knows what size they wear, and what they are eating/not eating, and all the little quirks of their routine, and that you have to remember to make sure Little Dude has a belt on with his jeans and the jeans have to be snap instead of button if it is a school day or that Little Miss is a lot more cooperative in the tub is washing is done via The Hokey Pokey. I even know which pair of underpants is their favorite. Doesn't mean that he loves them less or cares for them less than I do. I just means what use to be Shakespeare and history in my brain has been replaced with He-man/She-ra characters and who has better prices on applesauce cups and mac&cheese. 


Friday, March 14, 2014

Just weird

I don't know how else to describe the past week other than the above. Just weird. It has been a mix of the delightful and the just plain awful. Our weather is a fine example of the range of things. On Tuesday it nearly reached sixty. Yesterday it struggled to get out of the twenties. And tomorrow back into the mid to high 50's. With weather like that, not to mention Daylight Savings schedule disruptions, it was bound to be a bit odd.

One odd thing was that I got this in the mail.

Yep. That's baby formula. Nope. I'm not pregnant. Actually I was very much in the throws of knowing I'm not pregnant when this arrived. I know that Target has a fabulous algorithm for predicting pregnancy. Even before the people know it themselves. (Read the article. It is fascinating and scary) That's why I just chalked up all the new Target Baby coupons I've receiving lately to my shopping for baby shower gifts. But this was a surprise.  All I can assume is that now that Little Miss is 3, and we had her two and a half years after Little Dude, they've just assumed that I'm going to continue the trend. What really throws me is that I've never bought baby formula. EVER. Both kids were exclusively breastfed until they could go onto cow's milk. Though I have to admit the initial look on my husband's face was priceless. (Have I mentioned he had a vasectomy last year?)

Much of the week has been a downward spiral into the murky depths of depression. I'm sure the weather has much to do with it. My cycle is probably contributing as well. Instead of dwelling on it, I've decided that tomorrow is the day to yank myself out of it. I usually reach this point when feeling like this. I realize that I have to do something and force myself up and out of the hole. Temps should be back up tomorrow and I hope they are wrong about the cloud cover. I know I could definitely use some sun.

Despite everything else this week, my Monday started off kick-ass. How does one make a gloomy Monday simply fantastic?
Here is my simple recipe:
1- cityscape set (about to be struck)
1-5 year old in a Godzilla costume

Mix and sit back and enjoy.


(I did get some video as well but that will take some time editing.)

Is that not awesome, or what?

I should to bed. Actually I'm in bed and my husband's snoring is distracting me from my writing.

Tomorrow we journey back up the spiral. Come hell or high water.