Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 52 - Christmas At Last!

The beginning of the week went by in a blur while I slammed to get things done before heading east for Christmas. Of course I was working on the day I was flying so as not to waste vacation time so that added to the stress. When I left for work on Wednesday, my bags were in the car, the plants were watered and the cats all set for their week inside. I was expecting a mess since the cats were still divided into the back of the house interlopers and the old guard cowering in the front.

I made it to the airport with plenty of time, only to find that my flight was delayed. At the time my first flight left, it was scheduled to get in at the same time my next flight was leaving. But it all worked out because they were holding flights so other than having to bolt from one end of the terminal to the other to catch my second plane, my trip back east was the best in 3 years. I arrived just 45 minutes late rather than the day late of the past two years. It felt great to be there so I could finally relax.

Let the baking begin! It was a perfect day. The sun was beaming in the windows and Carolyn and I spent all day baking, knitting and chatting. By the time I had to head to Connecticut for my Aunt Bev’s funeral, we had made a major dent in our list.

Thank God for GPS. I was going to backwoods RI (Hope Valley) to pick up my Auntie Margaret and then taking country roads in the pitch black to get to Norwich. It was a beautiful service and the priest looked like Santa in a cassock – long curly white beard and all. Afterwards my sister, nephew, aunt and I went out for dinner and then I did the trip in reverse to drop Auntie Margaret home. I got home late and was glad to have happier things to look forward to.

Friday brought more baking and the steaming of the Christmas pudding – a Fenton family tradition. It takes hours and steams up the entire house but it’s Auntie Margaret’s favorite so is worth it. We finished the cookies (3 kinds), the macaroons, cranberry punch and dark chocolate crème brulee then it was on to my cousin’s for Christmas Eve festivities. It was fun to see everyone. My cousins’ kids are all grown now and I got to meet two significant others. I got up to leave and was saying goodbye to my sister when I realized I had forgotten her present. At least it was at David and Ronnie’s this year so it was only 15 minutes from Carolyn’s. Dottie and I drove to Carolyn’s to retrieve the presents, which made me an hour late for my next stop – John’s mom’s.

It’s always fun to see Marianne and Brian. From there I had to pick Carolyn up at Tracey and Andrea’s, where I’d also get to see Bob. After eating a few too many cookies, Carolyn and I drove home to play Santa. But although Matt and Aaron had been home for awhile, Aaron was not asleep and Matt was wrapping on the living room floor so Carolyn was banned from entering. We did what we could from the other room until Matt was done and then got the presents out, getting to be at 2:00. What a long day!

We got up at 7:30 and started opening presents. My sisters did really well on the stocking stuffers and between theirs and Carolyn’s, it took me awhile to open everything. Christmas stockings are SO much fun. After eating cardamom bread for breakfast, we started cooking dinner – prime rib, scalloped potatoes and Brussels sprouts. We had some timing issues so turned off the meat until the potatoes caught up. Ed and Helene, Carolyn’s parents, came for dinner and everything was delicious. We sat and chatted for hours and played one of Aaron’s games too. It was a wonderful Christmas.

The forecast for Sunday, when our annual open house was scheduled for 1:00, was looking bad. They were using the B word – blizzard! It was supposed to start snowing mid morning and then the winds would pick up in the early afternoon making visibility nil. I started making phone calls that morning and when the first two people said they weren’t coming, we decided to cancel. We had enough cookies for an army regiment but at least we hadn’t made the hot stuff yet. While it meant I wouldn’t see many of my friends, it also meant we could stay in our coolie pants, warm and toasty inside while it snowed like a banshee, which it did. We watched Disturbia (one of Aaron’s presents) and snacked and knitted all day. It was a pleasant day and it was a good thing we had cancelled because the weather was as bad as predicted. There’s something to be said about enforced relaxation. It was a fabulous end to a fun but hectic week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 51 - Prepping for Christmas

I spent most of the week obsessed with Christmas preparations. Me and the rest of the world. I started the week with a to do list parsed out by night so had a pretty clear idea of what needed doing. Lots!

I was also thinking I had some holes in my stocking stuffers but hit pay dirt at the dollar store on Tuesday. Am I the last person on the planet to discover Only a Dollar? I’d been in once before but hadn’t been impressed. This time I filled my cart with 43 items! I got lots of stocking stuffers (the fillers that I’d been lacking) plus tons of other stuff, from cleaning products to Pepperidge Farm cookies in single serve packs. I left feeling great because my Christmas shopping was officially done.

Next on the list was getting Ginny’s package shipped. I had hoped to get the calendars done in time to include but I didn’t get the last pages until Thursday so that was out. Crossing the calendar off of the to do list took some of the pressure off but I still missed my self-imposed Wednesday deadline to get the box in the mail. I mailed it Friday and hope a week is long enough for it to get there.

On the cat front, I took the mama cat in to get spayed on Wednesday so she'd be home and mostly recovered before I left. But I still needed to find a home for the gray and white kitten. Well, I was in the pool on Thursday night for the last time before break and asked Monica if she needed a kitten, just like I’ve asked everyone for the past couple of weeks, even complete strangers in the elevator. It’s a good thing the pool was shallow so I didn't drown from shock when she said yes. She had been looking for another cat but The Cat House (the local no kill shelter) turned her down because she rents. How perfect! Anne attested to the kitten’s total cuteness so I made plans to deliver her to Lincoln on Saturday. Yay!

Despite it being my last weekend to get everything done, I had lots of social things scheduled for the weekend. I delivered the kitten to Monica on Saturday morning and then met Susan for lunch, which was fun. From there I headed downtown to meet Darla at the movies to see Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was my favorite book of the 7 Narnia books growing up. We were seeing it in 3-D, which I was excited about too. The movie was great but the 3-D was a bust. They missed many opportunities, in my opinion. Oh well. It was fun anyway.

When I got home, I finally decorated my tree. The first step was my new LED lights. Well, the box said soft white but sheesh! With only 50 lights, it was still bright enough to land a plane by. Oh well, I’m doing my part for the environment and had hope that it wouldn’t be so bright once the ornaments were on. When I dug through all my boxes, I found plenty of kitten proof ornaments and despite losing some of my faves to the mildew, I still had plenty of fun ones. When I was done, the tree was still 100% me and looked great. And so far, so good. Totnes has only shown minimal interest in the tree but there’s no telling what it’ll look like after I’ve been gone for a week.

I had hoped Sunday would be a regular chore day with lots of time knitting between getting things done. But early in the day, I decided to tackle the calendar pages. This was the 5th year of our swap but this year people went Cricut crazy. When I got the pages, it was clear I had more work to do. Three of the pages went right into the trash and 3 others needed to be completely reworked. Before I knew it, it was 2:00 and I hadn’t even stopped for lunch. By the time I finished my last pages, it was almost time to head to Lorri’s for tea. And I hadn’t even begun to choose pictures, never mind scanning and uploading them. Finishing the calendars is going to have to be a post-Rhode Island project but at least I have the pages done.

Tea at Lorri’s was a nice break and it was good to catch up. Lorri and I always exchange a little something and she has totally embraced my attempts to limit stuff in my life. For the second year in a row, she gave me meat! I got 2 pork chops, some beer bread mix and a can of beer. What’s not to like! Then it was home to cook my pork chops for dinner and watch the Survivor finale, getting up during ads to get stuff done. Three days from now I’ll be landing in RI.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 50 - Need a Kitten?

So, what a hectic week! Who knew getting rid of 3 kittens (2 really) would be so stressful?

There were times during the week when I had so many people interested that I had leads on homes for not only all the kittens but the mama too. Brenda at work wanted one but had never had a cat before and so was full of questions. It also looked like she would be taking MY kitten, which at first I was willing to consider but was not happy about. But after giving it some thought, she decided not to take one at all. All but one of my leads went the same way so that by the end of the week, I was only down 1 kitten. Now I’m facing finding a home for my last kitten (assuming I'll keep the mom (outside) and my kitten) with only 10 days to go before I leave for RI. Sheesh!

The Hart’s were my only definite to take a kitten and they wanted the gray and white girl. Anne Marie and Veronica came over Thursday night thinking they’d be leaving with a kitten but they walked in the door and the kittens bolted. The long haired boy, the gregarious one of the bunch, came out briefly but I had no luck coaxing the others out. They left empty handed but we made plans for Veronica to come over on the weekend with a book so she could sit quietly and put the kittens at ease. Since all I had planned was to slam through some Christmas prep, I could easily work that in.

I started the weekend on Friday night by putting up my deck Christmas tree. It was in the 50’s on Friday so I was outside after work in a t-shirt and got the tree up. It’s so festive to put on the lights and have the tree glowing right outside my door. I cut the bottom off the inside tree and put it in water in the bathtub. My plan was to decorate it while It’s a Wonderful Life was on TV Saturday night, which is my annual tradition. I usually put it up the weekend before Christmas but since I'm leaving on Wednesday, I figured a bit earlier would work.

Well, it's a good thing I did the outside tree on Friday because I woke up Saturday to below zero wind chills and blowing snow. It would have been the perfect day to stay inside and start on my Christmas to do list but I had to go the library to pick up cash for deposit. Saturday being the only day the bank is open when I'm in town, I had no choice but to go. So after slogging through the laundry room in search of Christmas decorations and wrapping, I bundled up and headed out. After the library and bank, I stopped to get Veronica. Again, the boy was the only kitten who would come out and she played with him for 2 hours straight. I'd barricaded every door so was confident that Anne Marie could take the kitten when she came to get Veronica at 3:00. Yeah, right. When he got tired, he scaled a hip high box blocking the spare bedroom and joined his sisters inside the box spring. When I couldn't get him out, I agreed to deliver him later that night.

Once Veronica left, I got busy on my calendar pages. I had to design 3 months - January, May and September - and make 12 copies of each. I was in such a zone that I never stopped for supper and just kept going straight through It's a Wonderful Life without decorating the tree. Oh well. By the time I went to bed, all the pages were done except the 3rd, which had ink drying. That left Sunday to put up the inside tree and wrap my sister's presents so I they'd be ready to mail. Easy peasy. I bagged up the pages Sunday morning and started wrapping. I got all the gifts for both my sisters done so was feeling great. I did chores between wrapping and so only had the tree yet to go.

Since all my kitten proof decorations were in one small bag (my tree is only 4.5 feet tall so doesn't take much), I figured an hour would do it. So I went down to grab the bag but reached in and pulled out a mildewed mess. Clearly the bag had gotten wet in this summer's flood and I had missed it. The cool circle garlands I'd made last year? Toast. The quilted star for the tree topper? Stinky and stained. Many of my treasured unbreakable ornaments? Dead. I went through the bag separating out things that had potential to be saved, pulled things to throw in the wash and another pile to try and wipe down. I ran a load of laundry and saved the tree skirt (the Fenton family skirt from my childhood) and a few ornaments. Mostly not so much. So, I ended the weekend on a down note and my tree is up but naked. I guess this is the time to upgrade to LED lights and see what I can buy at the library tomorrow night. It's also time to seriously think about getting the basement fixed. This is totally my bad. I've been ignoring the water situation all summer. Serves me right.

All that said, my Christmas spirit is still intact. I had done better shopping for stocking stuffers than I'd thought so don't have much last minute shopping pressure. Sure, I'll hit a few stores this week but I'm not desperate. I made a schedule of what needs doing by when so I can get most of it done after work this week, leaving this next weekend for packing and such. So despite the mildew, life is still good and Christmas will be merry. Ho, ho, ho!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 49 - More Kitten Fun

I woke up Monday feeling much better and ready to tackle life again. Life but not quite water aerobics yet. I skipped Monday night fearing I’d cough up a lung so went home and tackled a ton of chores before heading to knitting. On Tuesday I was leaving early to go to a reception in Fremont for the Extension Educator who had run our Master Gardener program for years. Lorri and I went up with her husband Bob and made a quick Wal Mart run afterwards. Despite the 60 mile ride from Lincoln, I was still home by 7:00, which was nice. By Wednesday I felt up for the pool but we don’t have class on Wednesdays until next semester so I headed home right after work to reclaim my frig and freeze the last of the Thanksgiving food. Then I enjoyed an evening of TV while eating another plate of turkey leftovers. I wasn’t sick of them yet. On Thursday I finally made it to the pool – yay! I made it through, despite some residual congestion, and it felt great.

The weather had turned really cold with a biting wind early in the week so I put my heating pad into the tote I had on the deck for the cats, hoping that the mom would stick on the deck and not take the kittens back to the dumpster. It worked and they spent their down time huddled in the warmth but by mid week, I was letting the kittens inside while I was home. Then the mom started coming in. Saturday morning I took them to the vet for shots, worming and a check up. Since they were all feeling dumpy, I let the kittens stay inside that night. I wormed the mom Saturday night and they all spent most of Sunday inside. It’s official – I’m a sucker. I finally got a purr out of the mom so am beginning to think I should keep her instead of the dilute calico kitten. I’m torn. I’m putting a free to a good home ad in the paper and plan to have the kittens gone by Christmas. Wish me luck. In the meantime, I’m enjoying watching the kittens scamper and play. I’ve never had a little of kittens before. It is so much fun!

I had a wonderful weekend! I stopped on the way home on Friday and bought both my Christmas trees, which, much to my surprise, totally kick started my Christmas spirit, which has been waning in recent years. I had made brownies for Santa coming to the library so dropped those Saturday morning on the way to the vet. I had wisely invited Andrea over for lunch so had to get all more chores done before she arrived at 1:00. We enjoyed turkey soup and homemade bread hot from the oven and then went to Christmas on the Prairie, where we were demonstrating knitting along with Anne Marie. Lots of people stopped by the chat and we had hot cider and cookies. It was fun afternoon.

Andrea and I were scheduled for an Omaha run to Trader Joe’s and Penzey’s on Sunday morning. I had a nice morning reading the paper and watching CBS Sunday morning and was on the road by 10:00. I went a bit nuts at TJ’s, mostly because I could actually walk the aisles and see the food this time. We were in and out of Penzey’s but then stopped at Sur La Table, where I mostly bought fun stuff for me, like the cutest little orange colander ever! Good thing I’d bought lots of stuff for others at TJ’s. We had planned to be home by noon but it was more like 2:00. My big plans to get all kinds of things crossed off my to do list didn’t work out so well. I did do some planning for my calendar pages, which was fun, and made yummy dinner (lobster ravioli with cream sauce), yogurt and banana pudding. Not a super productive end of the week but I’ll live. It was a great week. Less than 3 weeks until Christmas. Time to get organized.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 48 - They Finally Showed!

What a week! I woke up Monday with the first signs of a cold so started the Zicam swabs and kept it up all day. But by lunch time I was more concerned with my hell tooth – the one I’ve had problems with for decades but that had been fine since I got it crowned a couple of years ago. It had been bothering me for a few days but by lunch on Monday (a lovely impromptu trip to Applebee’s with Darla), I had to avoid eating on that side. This could not be good.

By Tuesday morning, my tooth was in real pain and the cold had progressed. I called and got an appointment for 4:30 that day. By the time I got to the dentist, just touching my tooth with my tongue hurt. Dr. Swanson took an x-ray but said it was so inflamed he couldn’t even evaluate how to fix it. So he sent me on my way with a prescription for antibiotics and an appointment for Monday morning. Sheesh!

I spent the wee hours coughing my head off and getting little sleep. I got up on Wednesday and dragged around getting ready for work. I felt awful but was the only person on the reporting team working. I sat down on the couch to put on my shoes and was still sitting there 20 minutes later. I finally called Mary, vowing to remote in if there were any urgent data requests , and officially called in sick. I used my last once of energy to put on sweats and park myself in my chair in the sun.

I hadn’t been sitting long when something on the deck caught my eye. One of the cats I’ve been feeding on the deck since the city tore down the junkyard at the end of my street had arrived with kittens! I had known she was pregnant but hadn’t seen the kittens. At first there were 2 but a 3rd showed up awhile later. They clearly were completely at home on my deck and I spent most of the day watching them scamper and play. My neighbor came over to ask if I was going to find them homes. Apparently they’ve been around for awhile but I haven’t been home to see them. She’d even had one in her house. Note to self – stop saying yes to things that keep me away from home!

Anyway, I felt like crap but took a Claritin D and sat like a zombie. By the end of the day, I called my friend who had invited me for Thanksgiving dinner and cancelled. Not only did I not have the energy to make anything but there was no point in sharing my germs plus I couldn’t eat. I didn’t have much appetite but when I did get hungry it was cream of wheat, oatmeal and other mushy food. When I made cream of wheat on Thanksgiving, I finally surpassed the canned ravioli dinner I had when I was in France as the most pathetic Thanksgiving dinner ever.

OK, I’ll admit it, I brought the kittens into the house to sit in my lap during my sitting marathon. And yes, there’s one I plan to keep. She’s a dilute calico with the sweetest face who I’ve named Totnes, Tot for short. Meavy, my dilute calico who died 2 years ago, was named after a village in Devon that I loved so I’m continuing the tradition and naming her after the town near Dartington Hall, where I stayed in Devon this past May.

I finally felt some better on Friday and was out of Claritin D so showered and headed to the pharmacy for more. It felt good to be clean and outside my house. It was a good thing I was hosting Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday because between my cold and my tooth, I wouldn’t have been up for it any sooner. By Friday night my tooth was much better and I ate my first real food in days – a tuna melt and tater tots, which are my ultimate comfort food. It felt like the best meal ever.

By Saturday I was feeling pretty good and went to BK for a burger – the first meat I’d eaten in almost a week. Yum! Then I went home and started prepping for Sunday. I picked up the house, did some chores and actually took advantage of the warm weather to clean up the pots on the driveway. Before I went to bed, I had two pies made and all the veggies prepped for Sunday. All I had to do on Sunday was stuff the bird and get it in the oven and then set the table. It’s amazing how full the day was though. I didn’t sit down until sometime after 1:00, grabbing a few minutes to read before the bird came out at 2:00. Helen, Charlie, Brenda and Michael arrived shortly after 2:00 and everything was delicious. We had a lot of fun playing Scattergories after we ate. After they left, I talked to my sister Dottie, loaded the dishwasher and went to bed. It was another successful Thanksgiving. I’m definitely sold on not doing it Thursday. It’s nice to have time to prep and since I’d rather lose a toe than shop the weekend after Thanksgiving…..

The week was anything but normal but ended on a high note. I do enjoy doing Thanksgiving and pretty much have it down. Now when everyone else is sick of leftovers, I’m just starting mine. Life is good!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Extra - Great Thanksgiving Recipe

Beth (a woman in my office) just shared a fabulous "pie" that she is test driving for Thanksgiving. It's SO good and easy. Check the recipe out here.

Week 47 - A Rough Middle

The week started off with a short work day because I had a long overdue mammogram scheduled at St. E’s at 3:30. It went fine and I was home before dark, which is always nice this time of year. I even had time to make pumpkin bread pie (see recipe here. If you try it, it bakes at 400 degrees) to bring to knitting. It was super easy to make and delicious. Everyone loved it and I gave it all away except one piece for my 2nd dessert of the week.

Tuesday was a full day at work, with 2 different presentations to make, which made the day fly. I went to the pool Tuesday and again on Wednesday then went to knitting at Village Inn, where I gave away tons of yarn – a whole back seat full. I was feeling good about life until I got home. There were 3 messages on my machine – 2 from my doctor’s office and 1 from St. E’s. While they just said to call, I knew it meant there was a problem with my mammogram. Crap!

Despite having gone through this when I had my last mammogram, I still slept badly. I tried to reason with myself but that only goes so far. I called St. E’s first thing, made an appointment for later that morning and tried not to fret. Yeah, right. Another mammogram and two ultrasounds later, which took hours, I got a clean bill of health. I grabbed lunch and headed back to work feeling like a new woman. Nothing like hearing you don’t have cancer to boost your mood.

I was absolutely exhausted but had made plans before all this boob stress to go to the movies with Nancy. And it wasn’t a happy, peppy movie – Inside Job about the financial crisis. Despite it being a movie with charts and graphs, it was interesting and we had lots of fun yucking it up over steak dinners at HyVee. For my east coast friends, that’s the big market around here and it has a restaurant in it. It’s a Midwest thing. I went home and collapsed into bed, sleeping like a rock. And the next day was Friday. Could life get any better?

I headed to work Friday sporting my new orange keen sneakers and a new orange sailor neck sweater and feeling like a million bucks. It was a good day at work and Mary, Nora and Cheryl joined Layton and me for a belated birthday lunch for Nora and Cheryl. We went to Green Gateau and had a fun and yummy lunch. The afternoon flew by and I headed home, still feeling great. I stopped at Andrea’s shop, where we chatted for an hour, and then she came over to pick something up. When she left I sat down to a snack dinner of pate on baguette and my last glass of 3 Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw chardonnay from Trader Joe’s.) What a nice end to a wonderful Friday.

On Saturday I was going to the soil exhibit at the Durham Museum with Nancy and Lorri. This was my thank you to Lorri for taking care of the cats and especially Rebar while I was in California. We left early so we could be there when the museum opened. The exhibit was good and we did a few of the permanent exhibits before our hunger got to us. We had lunch at The Farmhouse Café and then ran a few errands before heading home. We dropped Lorri at her house where her granddaughter was there to help with pre-Thanksgiving cleaning then Nancy and I went back to my house for tea. When she left, I made my to do list and settled in for a relaxing evening. What a nice day!

Sunday was chores galore. I managed to get my plants all trimmed and situated all over the house, did some mending, some ironing and all my laundry. It’s just a three day work week ahead and then four days with no alarm. What’s not to love? And after this past week, it’s bound to be better.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 46 - Clone this Saturday

What a nice week! I knitted on Monday and went to the pool Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I was a maniac on Tuesday so had sore knees for a couple of days but it was worth it. It felt good to get back to normal.

On Monday morning, I had the ever exciting annual physical. It was the first time I’d be meeting the doctor who bought out my old doctors’ practice. I’d loved my old doctors and was skeptical that I’d like her as well. No worries - she was wonderful. She spent 45 minutes with me and shared lots of great information. When I had a few more questions after she left, she came back for another 10 minutes. I left there feeling great, like my health was in good hands – both mine and hers. Next stop, the even more fun mammogram. It’s always something.

On Tuesday Anne and I went to the Campus Rec Advisory Board meeting to plead the case for more accessible ladders or stairs in the new pool, which is due to open in March. The group was nice and hopefully we impressed our point on them. We can only wait and see.

A couple of people mentioned me getting a new kitten so Thursday night I got curious and did a bit of web surfing in search of an orange female kitten. No one had one until I checked Craig’s List. The only kitten listing in Lincoln was for a 6 week old orange female with mitten feet and blue eyes. She was even found alone on a farm in a pile of hay bales, which sounds just like Pixel’s appearance at Helen’s. It felt like it was meant to be. I emailed that night and then called on Friday. I was getting excited, even though I hadn’t planned to get another cat so soon. Well, it was all for naught because the kitten was already adopted. That was fine. A bit disappointing but clearly not meant to be. Maybe in the spring.

This was supposed to be my first weekend at home, with only a trip to Omaha on Saturday afternoon for the opening of Trader Joe’s. But Andrea called to say she’d gotten a tip about an auction Saturday morning in Fremont that had a spinning wheel and lots of yarn. Since she wanted to go so badly that she would close her shop, I agreed to go and then we’d go to Omaha from there. I would lose my leisurely morning but it sounded fun.

Andrea picked me up at 8:30 but I’d already managed to talk to Carolyn and get ready on time. Andrea’s friend who gave her the tip helps with the auctions and had put the yarn so it’d auction first. Perfect! There were boxes full of one pound cones of yarn, lots of which was 100% wool from Brown Sheep – our favorite western Nebraska yarn company. We won the first bid at $7.50/box so we each picked one. Then Andrea got a box of raw wool for $1, which means we both have a raw fleece now so we’ll be planning a road trip to Ansley to get them processed. Anyway, the spinning wheel, which was a utilitarian one made of PVC, came up and Andrea got that for $2.50. That won, we headed outside where there were tons of boxes of yarn and some furniture we had scoped out and might bid on.

We had already gone through the boxes outside and knew which ones we wanted. There was also another spinning wheel so I was hoping to win that for myself. When we won the first bid at $2.50/box, we said we’d take 6 boxes, 1 of which had the wheel (yay - I have a spinning wheel!) and another was a tall footlocker sized Rubbermaid tote full of more Brown Sheep. One other man took 3 boxes and then the rest were going for $1. When the auctioneer asked if we wanted any, we just took them all. We figured w’de pull out the acrylic for my mitten knitter friends and keep the wool for ourselves. We loaded up the SUV, which was filled to the roof with yarn in every nook and cranny. Then we went back for the furniture, just missing bidding on the hoosier bottom Andrea wanted and passing on the plant shelf I wanted when it went for $80! I did get a little painted table with a metal top (perfect for plants) and Andrea bought a stack of bushel baskets for $1. At that point, we pretty much decided we’d leave and went to cash out. It was $49 all together and we had 2 spinning wheels, a car full of yarn (literally thousands of dollars worth) and my cute little table.

We were feeling great when a man approached us and asked if we were the ones that had bought all the yarn. He had an antique shop in Fremont and had bought some boxes inside but wanted more. He asked if we’d be willing to sell him some at $10/box. We said sure and started going through the boxes, giving him some of the acrylics we didn’t want. We barely made a dent in what we had and he paid us $20. So we still had 2 wheels and enough yarn for years’ worth of projects for $29. Could this day get any better?

Yes! We headed to Omaha, stopping at Texas Roadhouse to split some ribs for lunch. I hadn’t been since Connie moved and was thrilled when Andrea loved the food. Then it was on to Penzey’s, where Kate Bush, one of my fave singers from the 80’s and pretty obscure one at that, was playing. I got out of there spending on 50 cents and getting a free replacement cap for my orange extract, which broke when it fell out of my cupboard. Next stop was Trader Joe’s, which was a mob scene. The aisles were crammed with people and there were lots of empty spots on the shelves but it felt great to be in Trader Joe’s in Omaha. I even met one of the workers from the Lincoln store, where I’ll probably go more often than Omaha. I did manage to get a few of my favorites and a bottle of 3 Buck Chuck to enjoy with my supper of truffle pate on multi grain baguette. But first Andrea and I had all the yarn to sort, which we did while drinking tea. What a wonderful day!

Sunday was my first day at home in what felt like forever. I woke up early and not feeling very good – the nagging pain in my back was there again. I had a lot to do though so just started my chores and ignored it. Whether it was getting moving or my meloxicam kicking in that banished it, I don’t know. I just called it good and kept plowing through my chores. I got tons done and ended the day with curried cauliflower and pork chops for dinner. What a wonderful week!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week 45 - Last Busy Week

The book sale was over so I was hopeful for a normal week but there was a lot of catching up to do. I cannot believe I’ve become one of those people but I was so excited to be getting back to the pool. It had been nearly 3 weeks since I’d had any exercise (not counting lifting books that is) and I was feeling it.

That said, I didn’t go to water aerobics on Monday. I had planned to but was starving and couldn’t fathom waiting until after knitting to eat so I headed home to eat supper before heading to the library, vowing that I’d go for the next 3 days for sure. So much for jonesing for the pool! It felt SO good to go on Tuesday though, both physically and to see all my friends. And I did go for the rest of the week so I figure I redeemed myself.

So the week was “normal” – I knitted on Monday, swam on Tuesday then voted (more on that later), swam on Wednesday but then decided against knitting afterwards in favor of a night at home to catch up, swam again Thursday then went right to the library for book club, which was fun, leaving Friday for food shopping and prepping for my weekend of scrapbooking and the Friends’ meeting Saturday morning. But I was so tired on Friday that I skipped the food shopping since I wouldn’t be home to cook or eat anyway. At about this point, I realized that even normal is too busy. Story of my life!

Voting – I always vote but this year had no clue what was going on. Most of the races were a shoe in for the Republicans, either because no one was running against them or because the Democrats in Nebraska are SO lame that I literally didn’t even know who was running against the current governor. There was one local race that was hotly contested but I didn’t even know the details there. Bad citizen! I debated all day whether or not to vote and had pretty much decided not to vote but then just couldn’t do it. I found myself stopping at my polling place and casting a ballot anyway, knowing the mostly it was a waste because all my votes went to losers. Oh well. I guess I did my civic duty, for what it was worth.

I started the weekend at the library not delivering my first Treasurer’s report because I didn’t have any paperwork from the bank. They were asking for volunteers for the Wine & Dine and despite the fact that I’ve done the door prizes for years, I didn’t say a word. Step one towards simplifying my life. Yay! From the library I headed home to load up my scrapbooking stuff and headed to Camp Fontanelle for a weekend of scrapbooking. I didn’t stay over, preferring instead to drive the 35 miles home and back, and was home by 5:00 on Sunday so I could cram in a few chores. I had fun at Fontanelle, did lots of perfect pages (always) and got enough done so that I have clean undies to wear for the week and picked up for the cleaning lady, who comes on Tuesday. This week will be less busy. Honest.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 44 - Farewell to Rebar

The week was beginning with a long travel day so, of course, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Luckily Debbie got up an hour later so we enjoyed some quiet time in the kitchen over coffee. It was a whirlwind while everyone was getting ready for work but then the house cleared out and we started packing and getting ready for our trip to the yarn shop.

That was when the phone rang. I saw it was Lorri and my stomach dropped. She was calling to say that Rebar had died. She had been to the vet a couple of weeks ago and was diagnosed with a kidney infection and I had thought she was on the mend. Lorri explained that she had been going twice a day to run the sink for Rebar to drink (Rebar was my dinged water kitty and loved everything about water) but saw that she was failing. When she didn’t meet her at the sink on Monday morning, she searched the house and found her dead under my bed. I burst into tears and started the inevitable beating myself up. Had I known she was so sick, I would have boarded her. She also died alone. It was not a pretty day.

I cried on and off all morning and then had to control myself since I was flying. It got easier as the day went on. There was wind in Denver so our flight was delayed leaving Orange County, which made for a tight layover. We power walked to our 2nd flight and made it home on time. I walked into my house at 11:45 p.m. and collapsed into bed.

I got up Tuesday and had to bury Rebar before heading to work. It was going to be a frantic week but that was probably a good thing. The state auditors were at work and there would be no telling what data I’d have to pull for them. And then there was the book sale. I made it through the work week just fine but spent every night at the library. Tuesday I was there until the library closed but Wednesday I was home by 7:30. Thursday was the preview sale but there were so many workers that I was able to do some shopping and leave by 7:20. Friday night was my first free night, only because the library closes at 5:30 on Fridays. I went food shopping and ate real food for dinner. Just one more day.

I was at the library again Saturday morning so I could deposit the cash before the bank closed then headed back to break down the sale. Because the library was a polling place, we had to have the room cleared by 3:00 Saturday. We had 4 diversion kids (kids sentenced to do community service) and 3 of us sorting and packing books. With the boys to do the heavy lifting, we were done shortly after 2:00. The book store is stacked to the gills with boxes but the room was clear and I was home enjoying Burger King by 2:30. And the best part is, we finally broke the $2,000 mark. Yay!

I spent the rest of the weekend fighting the urge to sit. I managed to do the laundry and some cooking plus did my last 5 hours of master gardener continuing ed online. I also got all my plants repotted and ready to pull inside before the first hard frost, which will come later this week. The day ended with trick or treaters. I turned my light off at 8:45 with 5 pieces of candy left in the bowl. I guess 6 bags is the magic number. I’m looking forward to a quiet November. I want to get back into the pool, keep up the healthy eating and start getting ready for the holidays, which are right around the corner. Sheesh!

Week 43 - Hangin' in California

What a week! The beginning could not have been more opposite from the end if I tried. That's what happens when you take vacation mid week - you spend the first half slamming and the last half relaxing. And there's extra slamming if you weren't as productive as you should have been the previous weekend. : )

Monday was day one of the grand slam. I dropped food at State Fair Park for the feeder, ran home to bake some muffins to share with Andrea who was also flying and so needed plane snacks, threw some laundry in, ate dinner and had my coat on to head to knitting when the phone rang. It was my contractors and they wanted to come look at the roof. Not the best timing but I didn't have time any other night either so waited for them to come and check it out. They stayed about half an hour and I sprinted to the library, muffins in hand, to salvage a bit of knitting time. I finished the laundry when I got home and headed to bed early.

Tuesday was the Wellness Fair at work so I planned to have my blood drawn and so had to pack both a breakfast and lunch to bring with me. I threw in a few chores and headed to the Fair, only to find a huge line and only one person drawing blood. Who schedules a Wellness Fair for the entire campus when all the staff are out at training? So much for that. Anyway, I spent most of Tuesday night on the phone finding volunteers for the book sale, stopping now and then to fit a chore in. I also had a dentist appointment on Wednesday morning so had some time then to do a few more chores. By the time I left the house Wednesday, most everything was done. I had a very short list for Wednesday night when Helen would be staying over in preparation for our 3:30 wake up for our early flight.

We set 4 different alarms for 3:30 and went to bed relatively early. Two of the four alarms went off - the cell phone and the oven timer worked, the kitchen timer and spare room alarm clock not so much. But we made it to the airport with time to spare and had uneventful flights. When we arrived in Orange County at 9:30 a.m. (the one benefit to such an early flight - having the whole day ahead of you when you get there), it was raining! Yes, raining in LA - unreal! It was great to see Debbie and we pretty much went straight home, where we would spend the next four days visiting, knitting, cooking and hanging with Debbie's kids and grandkids. Other than walking the dog and a quick trip to the market to stock up for a family dinner, we didn't go anywhere. It was wonderful! We talked and talked, played fun games and ate great food. The rain, which continued on and off, mattered not at all. Since most everyone had to get up for work on Monday, we all went to bed early on Sunday. Helen and I would be flying home on Monday afternoon so a good night's sleep would work for us too. It had been a whirlwind week but with a happy, relaxing ending. Just like vacation should be.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 42 - A Rough One

It was a hard week. I had more free time than in a normal week but that didn’t end up being a good thing.

The first worry was Rebar, my oldest cat, who is only 11 and had recently gotten skinny and weak. I called the vet and made an appointment for 4:45 on Tuesday. Since cats don’t usually get sick, I was pretty worried and was expecting the worst. I was so thankful when he said it was just a kidney infection. He gave her 2 big syringes of fluid and a shot of antibiotics and gave me pills to give her for a week. Within an hour, she was markedly better and got even better with every passing day. What a relief.

Since I was home from the vet by 5:15, you would think I would have gotten a lot done but it was like I didn’t know what to do with all that time on a week night. Except for making dinner, I ended up doing a whole lot of nothing. As if one non-productive night wasn’t enough, I went straight home Wednesday and did nothing worthwhile again. And I mean nothing. I didn’t even knit a stitch. Sheesh! At least I was well rested though because all hell was about to break loose.

I did something I rarely do and asked a friend for help via email on Thursday morning. Not because it was something I couldn’t do myself but rather because I had something I thought was perfect for her and that she wouldn’t mind doing. I was wrong about that and when she said no, I went into a funk. I was still feeling crappy so went out for nachos and margaritas after work with a friend, which made me feel better but left me to deal with the problem on Friday. By the end of Friday, several emails and phone calls later, I was in tears at my desk and my friend got so engrossed in an email that she missed her daughter’s track meet. Nothing about this was pretty but we talked Friday night and I believe our friendship has survived this verbal enema. I can only hope.

On Saturday, Andrea and I went to the Scandinavian shop in Elkhorn for an open house. I ate my first ebelskever and watched the Scandinavian dancers then found a few stocking stuffers in the shop. It was fun. After a quick stop for groceries in Omaha, I was home by supper time. Since I’m leaving for LA on Thursday, I should have been super productive on Sunday but ended up sitting in the sun knitting. Go figure. It felt good to be knitting again, having not knit a stitch all week. But now I’m going to have to cram stuff in every night to get everything done by Wednesday night. It’ll be the exact opposite of this past week, when I had so much free time I didn’t know what to do with myself. One of these weeks I’ll find some balance. At least I hope so. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 41 - The Ebb Begins

Well, I vowed last week to slow down but I still had a few commitments before that could start. And I didn’t start the week off on a good foot when I woke up roasting in the wee hours Monday (I guess I jumped the gun pulling out the winter nightie) and lost several hours of sleep before falling asleep again. When the alarm went off Monday morning, it was a rude awakening. I spent Monday in a fog of exhaustion but still managed to run a few errands before knitting at the library.

On Tuesday I went to the pool after work and then went in search of a real milk shake for Nancy, who was recovering from surgery at St. E’s. I went to the UNL Dairy Store and got what they call a milk shake but it was so thick they served it with a spoon instead of a straw. Sheesh! I stopped for a chicken dinner for me and headed to the hospital. Nancy looked exhausted and the milk shake made her puke. The nurse took one look at it and exclaimed “Clear liquids! That is not clear.” Oh well. I just brought what she asked for. Plus she was a good sport about it and even let me take her picture holding her barf bag. There’s nothing quite like the fashion statement a hospital Johnny makes.

I didn’t get home until after 9:00 so went right to bed. Wednesday was the pool then knitting at Village Inn. It was good to see Mary again. The best part was that that was the last commitment for the week so I had a couple of free nights ahead of me. I had a hair appointment on Thursday at 5:45 so was guaranteed to be home early. Yay! I did run a few errands after my hair and was so tired when I got home that I couldn’t even hold up my end of the conversation when Connie called. I threw in the towel and went to bed early.

On Friday morning, I got up early and did a ton of stuff before work – got an oil change, picked up donuts, stopped at Starbuck’s, fed the cats and was at my desk by 8:10. Not bad! The day was busy and I even worked a bit late to make up for leaving to load cat food into the shed for Husker Cats. I stopped at Marilyn and Lynn’s on the way home to drop of some yarn and then headed home, ready and committed to doing less.

I had plans to go to Omaha with Andrea on Saturday afternoon but she called to say she’d messed up on the date and the open house at the Scandinavian store was next weekend. So I made a to do list for the weekend and was ready to start when Lorri called and asked if I wanted to go to Great Plains Nursery. When we checked and found it closed, we decided to meet at the fall fair at the library and then grab a coffee. So I headed outside to mow, showered and then headed to the library. Unfortunately, after having an iced blended chai I went home and crashed. I spent most of the rest of the day sitting on my butt and not accomplishing much. Oh well. Sunday was another day.

While I would have preferred another day of vegging, I had to force myself to get my chores done. I did a bit of cooking, plugged away at my chore list and even finished framing/hanging art, which was still all over the dining room table from my week off. All my yarn is organized and put away too. All in all, I got enough done to feel good about my day. So, I’m ready for the coming week and have only 1 night with anything committed. That’s a week to look forward to.

P.S. I finished a good book this week – River of Darkness by Rennie Airth. It was a post WW1 mystery set in England and there are 2 more in the series I’ll have to track down. But on and off while I was reading it, I had the nagging feeling I’d either read it before or had seen it on TV, mostly likely on Masterpiece Theatre or something similar. I googled around but couldn’t find any reference to it being on TV so I either had the worst case of déjà vu or had read it before. So, from now on I’m going to include the books I read at the end of my blog. It’s just my latest effort to keep track of the things I keep forgetting. These days, I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 40 - WAY too Busy!

Holy crap! I tend to be pretty busy and count a night where I’m home at 7:00 after the pool an early one but sheesh. This week was so maniacally busy that I hit the wall and decided something’s got to give. This seems to happen every few months but I’m really going to have to work on doing less. Sound good?

Monday was knitting at the library so I didn’t go to the pool and even had time to eat before knitting. What a nice start. On Tuesday I was scheduled to go the movies at the Ross with Nancy – Winter’s Bone. It wasn’t anything I was dying to see but we hadn’t gone to the movies in awhile and Tuesday worked for both of us so off we went. From there I had to go home and bake a cake for Food Day on Wednesday. Wednesday was water aerobics then knitting at Panera. I had planned to leave early but didn’t and got home at 9:00. I was toasty fried by this point.

Then Thursday morning hit and nothing went right. I had to go back into the house twice for things I forgot and so was late for work, which meant I didn’t get a spot in the loop and so had to drive across campus to the other lot, getting stuck behind a biker riding in the road the entire time. By the time I got to my desk, I was in a foul mood. My office mates pitched in to cheer me up. A singing chicken card from Darla, a latte from Nora and lunch with Dodie turned my mood around. Damn good thing!

By then I had flipped the calendar to October, only to find I was scheduled to scrapbook on Friday, which meant I had to upload pics, find all my supplies and get the car loaded when I got home. So I decided to skip water aerobics in favor or heading home. But I had a couple of stops, including watering at Lorri’s, and got home at 6:40. I changed right into my comfy clothes and was ready to nuke some dinner when Helen drove up. Now I love my cousin and rarely see her, but she had to show up Thursday? We chatted for over an hour and she finally left at 8:00, by which time it was pitch black out and I was starving. I ate dinner at 8:15 and decided to load the car in the morning. I went to bed early, knowing Friday would be a long day.

Friday was deans’ reports day so it flew by. I had parked at a meter all day so left immediately at 5:00 and headed to Gretna for scrapbooking. I was starting a new album of my England trip and was planning to be home by midnight. Well, that didn’t work out. I got into it and didn’t leave until midnight, which meant I didn’t get to bed until 1:00. Too late!

I had a Friends’ meeting at the library at 9:30, which I got to ten minutes late and was elected Treasurer before I left. At least I didn’t get pressured to be President, although that probably would be less work. Oh well. I was home before noon but spent the rest of the day in a zombie funk watching TV and not having enough energy to even knit. I was counting the hours until 9:00, which is the earliest I can go to bed and still sleep though the night.

I woke up Sunday feeling like a new woman. I slammed through my chores and baked some cookies before Nancy stopped by. We had tea on the deck and enjoyed the fall weather before she left with all my recycling in tow. Cross that off my list. Yay! I headed to the market and then watered at Lorri’s before stopping at Andrea’s for kolaches hot from the oven. Then it was home to make baked penne with pepperoni to enjoy in front of the TV. It was a nice end to a super busy week. And the best part of this week, besides having the mania over, is that I’m committed to doing less. I will not be having such a busy week for a long time. Promise. : )

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week 39 - Our Good Deed

My first week back from vacation went by in a flash. It took me a couple of days to catch up at work and I taught on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons so that added to the feeling of it flying by. My cold was in full force by Monday morning but I think the zicam worked because it was over and done by Friday. Yay! I tried to be good about not taking Claritin D (the D is a no no for high blood pressure) so I toughed it out with just Claritin. Between that and not getting enough sleep, I was pretty punchy a lot of the time but lived to tell.

Monday night was knitting at the library, as usual, but then I went home and spent too much time designing yet another pair of color work mittens. I also prepped packages so I could mail them on Tuesday – one for Carolyn, another for Connie and a 3rd with the hats the Monday Night Knitters had made for charity. That night I updated all my yarn on Ravelry, crossing off two more to dos from my vacation list. By Wednesday I felt good enough to go to the pool and then knitted with the gang at Panera. By Thursday night, my energy was flagging and it was book club at the library, which Denise had asked me to lead. There were 5 people, which is a banner amount for this group, and we had a lively discussion. By the end of the day Friday, which was Homecoming and so campus was crawling with people and the parade was due to start at 5:30, I dropped all plans to grocery shop and headed straight home. I had made it through the week and just wanted to go home and knit.

The weather Saturday was pretty crappy. I had rained all night, stopping at 8:00 a.m. A group of us from work were scheduled to help a campus friend in her garden because her husband has terminal cancer and she hasn’t been able to garden. We had known the weather would be iffy so just planned for mud and headed over. There were 5 of us and we worked all morning. It’s amazing how much we got done but boy was it messy! And after 3 hours of bending over weeding, the back of my legs were singing. But I was home, showered and ready to knit by 1:00. And knit is what I did. Other than talking on the phone, I sat on my butt for the rest of the day and went to bed early. I had been a cold, dreary day but still a nice one at the end.

After such a leisurely Saturday, I had to kick butt on Sunday. Besides all my usual chores, I also wanted to get the last of my vacation leftovers taken care of. Also, Andrea and I were supposed to get together in the afternoon to organize her yarn. It started out as another cloudy, chilly day but the sun finally did come out so I could hang out my laundry and clean up the deck, which was covered with debris from the hail storm and still had all my painting stuff set up. Andrea called to say she was held up in Omaha so we postponed I just kept plugging away. There was still a chill in the air so I heated the oven and cooked off and on between chores. Homemade baked beans, corn muffins, banana bread and regular bread. It smelled great and kept the house toasty. I ended the day with the house picked up, chores done and many yummy carbs for the week. You know it’s coming – Life is good!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 38 - My Wonderful Vacation

What can I say – I had a fabulous week! I had a to do list an arm’s length long and didn’t get anywhere near all of it done but I did make a huge dent and am pleased with my progress. In the house that is. I didn’t do jack in the yard. Oh well. I’ll still call it good.

The weather forecast wasn’t the best for the week. There was lots of rain in the forecast so I had to plan my outdoor stuff around that. I headed outside first thing on Monday to start painting. I was painting my bedroom chair and the bar stool white and because everyone can use a bit more orange, I had a host of things to paint orange - my spool shelf, a covered barrel for yarn, a small magazine rack, my in box and a little bucket to start. I got the pieces deglossed and did the first coat before the sprinkles forced me inside. Little did I know that was just a taste of what was coming. We had the worst hail storm I’ve ever witnessed! It went strong for 15-20 minutes and there were tons of hail stones bigger than a golf ball. I wanted to run out and get one but as soon as it stopped hailing, the rain started pouring down. We got 1.5 inches in about an hour and that melted most of the hail. Call me a weenie but I chose not to get drenched just to retrieve some hail. I got off lucky with just 2 busted window screens on the north side of the house and a broken thermometer. It also bashed the paint off the north side of my garage, which needed painting but now really needs it. Damn! I had a few small branches to pick up in the backyard and the lawn was covered with leaves but that was it.

I knitted at the library that night and started my first ever color work, a.k.a. stranded, knitting project. I finally figured out continental knitting because you have to knit with 2 hands – 1 color in each. I can’t be specific on what it is (Christmas is coming after all) but can say that my project is super cute because I blazed through my first project and am ready to start another (those in the know can check it out on Ravely.) I already have big plans for my next project, having made a foray into designing my own color work pattern. Again, I can’t share specifics but am very excited to knit my new design. This is clearly going to be my new favorite thing. It’s addictive!

Tuesday was the day my cleaning lady was coming and I wanted to talk to her about changing some of the chores she does. I had in my head that she would come ~3:00 so was unprepared when she showed up just after 1:00. After we talked, I threw on socially acceptable clothes (she caught me dressed in grubbies in the thick of framing artwork) and headed to Omaha. I had yarn and needles to pick up at Personal Threads plus a list of other errands. I didn’t get much done on Tuesday otherwise. Oh well.

Wednesday found me outside painting the 2nd and 3rd coats of orange paint. I could have done a 4th but ran out of time. I also couldn’t wait to get inside and knit some more. : )

Thursday was another rainy day so spent most of it inside slogging through paper and completely emptying and reorganizing my desk. It felt great to fill the recycling and shredding bags. I ended up with only one small box of keepers that are destined for the file crate I have had sitting empty for years. I ran a few errands in town in the afternoon, stopping at Andrea’s store to get her approval of my new design. She gave it the thumbs up, which made me feel great. Then I headed home for, you guessed it, more knitting. I had tea so late in the afternoon that I just grabbed a bowl of cereal for supper and went to bed early. I needed to since Carolyn had forgotten I was on vacation and had woken me up at 6:30 that morning. Sheesh!

It was hotter than Hades on Friday, with the temp hovering near 90 and wicked humid. I stayed inside and tackled the spare bedroom, which is my dumping ground and so was full of crap. I started by going through the linen closet in the hallway, culling the sheets so I could then go through the tall bureau. It had enough full sheets for a hotel despite the fact that that bed only gets slept in a few times a year. I ended up with just a couple of changes of sheets and a mostly empty dresser that could now hold out of season clothes and my Christmas present stash. I also went through all my yarn and photographed it so I can add it to my stash on Ravelry, which is purely an accountability thing. Then I headed to my bedroom to hang the rest of my art in there. I also reupholstered the chair cushion and got that reattached. My bedroom was finally done! Now I have to decide what I’m going to display on my newly cleared dressers but that’s the fun part. I’m calling it done and moving on. Life is good!

That was it! My 5 days were over in a flash. I did make a lot of progress and had only a few things to clear up on the weekend, which I wanted to keep as normal as possible. I was pleased with my progress on my projects and had also had a decent amount of relaxation time, mostly spent knitting. What could be better?

I started Saturday with a trip to Clarkson with Lorri. We were headed for Bluebird Nursery and would stop at the bakery in Dodge and the meat market in Clarkson along the way. It was a raw and rainy day. While it had been 90 the day before, it was 46 and raining at noon on Saturday. The bakery in Dodge was long gone (another casualty of the quilt store closing I’m sure. Dodge used to have Vogies, which had been voted one of the 10 best quilt stores in the country and it kept the town, which is in the middle of nowhere, alive. The town has seemed to curl up and die since it closed, which is a shame. Anyway….) We went to the bakery in Clarkson for cinnamon rolls and then the butcher before hitting Garden Land. I had hoped the green houses would be toasty warm but the sides were still open so they were chilly and damp. I exercised control and only bought 2 plants and some rooting hormone. It felt good to get in the car and turn on the heat. Nebraska weather! We stopped in Fremont on the way back and got home ~2:00. It was nice to be social and get away after so many days at home.

Otherwise, the weekend was pretty normal – cooking, laundry, just general chores. I did finish up a few things, the last being loading up my car with all the recycling and bags of stuff destined for the office. With less crap obstructing my view, I was able to reevaluate some furniture pieces and have decided that the wall unit in my family room, which is filled with books and various crap I’m sick of looking at, will go to the basement. I’ll be bringing up a small chest with curved shelves on both sides (my teapot shelf from my Providence kitchen for those who’ll remember it) to put my TV on, which will open up the room and give me the cleaner, less cluttered look I’m striving for. My flat screen TV may end up mounted on the wall but will fit on the teapot shelf to start so I’ll play that by ear. I’m not sure how soon I’ll get the swap done but it’ll be before the Friends’ book sale at the end of October because that’s where most of the cookbooks are going. While I used to use them all the time, now I just google for recipes so will only be hanging onto a few favorites. Just enough (that word just keeps on working.)

All that said, I’m ready to head back to work tomorrow. I have food ready for lunches and at least a couple of dinners, the evidence of all my projects has been put away and I’m ready to get back to my friends and the pool. I have the beginnings of a cold, hopefully that won’t last long because I religiously zicammed for 3 days, but am otherwise rested and feeling good. There’s no vacation as good as a stay home one. I won’t wait 2.5 years before I take another one again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 37 - The Wind Up

It was a short work week that flew by, which was nice because it could have been endless what with my imminent vacation. I went to water aerobics three nights in a row, figuring I should get as much in as possible since next week would have none. We had our last Wednesday night knitting at Village Inn too. We’ll be moving it back to Panera and potentially changing back to Tuesdays, which will mean two knitting nights in a row for me. But there are worst things.

The end of the week brought a flurry of Husker Cats stuff. We were having an exec board meeting after work on Friday and the president wanted to talk about the State Fair Park cats. I had talked to the old man who feeds there once but he didn’t give me a number to reach him and never called me back. So on Thursday night, I headed to the park to see if I could find him. Well, I had just turned into the drive and spotted an old couple in a pick up and flagged them down. Yes! They did feed and knew the man I’d spoken too (this 70-ish man described him as “really old” – too funny!) We exchanged numbers and made plans to meet the next night so I could get him some food. That meant I had to get some so I stopped at Phyllis’ on the way home, hoping she’d be there to give me some. I lucked out because she was home with a stiff neck (not lucky for her) so I took 3 bags and headed home for a very late dinner.

On Friday, Nancy met Layton and I for lunch, which was fun and I slammed through my final to do list. The exec board meeting was quick and from there Belinda and I picked up a load of Science Diet and unloaded it at the church. From there I headed to State Fair Park to drop off that food. I left there and headed home for the start of my 9 day break.

I was determined to have a relatively normal weekend. I wanted all my chores to be done so I could start my 5 vacation days ready to hit my project list. I had a Friends of the Library meeting on Saturday morning and then ran errands in town. I then spent the next day and a half getting stuff done – dishes, laundry, mowing, etc. I went to bed Sunday with a relatively clean slate excited for my week of no alarms, few commitments and lots of free time. I have a project list a mile long but am confident I can make a dent. Even if I don’t get as much done as I hope, what can be bad about 9 days in a row of freedom? Nothing!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week 36 - Hanging with Connie

What a busy and fun week! And a long one at that since Labor Day felt like it belonged to last week.

Connie was due to arrive chez moi on Thursday evening, which meant I had to have the spare bedroom, which is normally a dumping ground for lots of crap, cleared out and ready for a guest before I left for work Thursday. What it really amounted to was clearing off the bed, which may sound like no biggie but with Monday and Wednesday nights taken up with knitting (can’t not knit!) and doctors’ appointments on Tuesday and Thursday, my time was tight. I actually got most of it done on Tuesday because my appointment was at 4:00 so I ran some errands afterwards, didn’t go to the pool and so was home early. Thursday was the eye doctor’s at 5:00 so Connie would be waiting for me when I got home. Luckily it was a HyVee steak fry day so I picked up 2 steak dinners and headed home for Connie time. It was great to catch up in person.

Friday morning, I was off to work and Connie to Lincoln, where she would be staying for the next 2 nights with her friend Betty. I was scheduled to meet Connie at the farmer’s market on Sunday so had Saturday at home to get all my chores done. Despite knowing it was my only chance at productivity all weekend, I still had trouble motivating myself and got only the bare minimum done opting instead to watch more Nip/Tuck and knit. It felt wonderful and decadent and I redeemed myself late in the day by mowing the lawn. I decided not to beat myself up for taking the day off (mostly). I deserve it!

I was on the road early Sunday and met up with Connie, her friend and her daughter at 10:00. We did the market (I scored a whole wheat baguette, some wax beans and a jalapeno) and then headed to Noodles for an early lunch. We had discussed going to the movies but it was a gorgeous day and there was nothing good playing so we decided to head to South Pointe to enjoy the weather while shopping. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to build an outdoor mall in Nebraska but we hit it on one of the few days of the year it’s actually pleasant. I bought some tea lights with a Yankee Candle coupon and some hand cream for my desk. We were done shopping at 2:00 and looking for something else to do.

Since it was a Connie weekend, I shouldn’t have been surprised by our next stop – pedicures! Luckily my feet were as smooth as they ever get having been to the podiatrist on Tuesday. Unfortunately I hadn’t anticipated the pedi and so had not shaved my legs. I figured I’d give her a big tip and put it out of my mind. They sat me across from Connie and Rachael so I ran to the car for my knitting and happily waited for the tech to get to me. I picked hot pink polish for some reason. A last homage to summer maybe? We parted ways with Rachael, heading back to Wahoo for a movie night. Connie would be staying at my house and would leave from there on Monday. We watched Star Trek and ate cottage cheese dip, popcorn and candy for supper. We disappointed the nutrition gods but had a fun time, even watching the gag reel and extras on the dvd.

The plan for Monday was that Rachael would drive to Wahoo and we’d all go to Omaha in 2 cars so Connie could jump on the interstate and head home from there. Somehow the wires got crossed (this happens a lot when Connie’s involved) so Rachael arrived at 9:00 instead of 11:00. We hung out for awhile and then headed to the Cheesecake Factory for an early lunch. We got lots of appetizers and then split a single piece of lemoncella cake. Yum! We then went into Westroads Mall (I’m surprised my body didn’t freak at 2 malls in 24 hours!) where I scored a cute sweater on sale plus I used a coupon, thereby helping to justify buying more clothes when I clearly have enough! Anyway, from the mall we went across the street to Whole Foods. Just as a storm was beginning (the above pic was taken just as it was starting to rain), Connie headed home to the wilds of western North Dakota and Rachael and I headed to Wahoo. Luckily she didn’t stay because I had 3 hours to prepare for knitting.

When we saw that the library would be closed for Labor Day, I not only invited everyone to knit at my house but also said I’d make dinner. There’s no one to blame for this but me. I offered, without prompting. Sheesh! It wasn’t bad though. The house was in decent shape (the cleaning lady had been on Tuesday) and I’d cooked the salsa pork on Saturday so all I needed to do was put on a pot of brown rice and put out the munchies I’d bought at Whole Foods. Andrea was bring Pea Pickin’ Cake (something from her childhood.) I actually found time to enjoy a cup of tea before getting set for my guests. It was a lot of fun and we got to linger longer than the hour we get at the library. The last people left at 9:00 so I cleaned up the leftovers , watched another episode of Nip/Tuck (I knew starting a 6 season show was going to be a problem!) and went to bed.

It was a fun weekend to end summer on. Luckily the weather cooperated and the heat is gone. Now it’s time to start making my to do list for next week. This 4 day work week will fly and I’ll be on vacation next week. 9 days without an alarm and with minimal commitments. I can’t wait! I’m going to have to be a grown up though and seriously limit my Nip/Tuck viewing and knitting. I must be productive! Wish me luck.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 35 - Not Much Happening

In general, it was an uneventful week, both at work and home. Water aerobics was back with some new instructors, the weather was finally cooler and the students were back. Fall is in the air at last! I finally spent some time in my garden and was rewarded with a bowl full of yummy tomatoes. Maybe I’ll have enough this year to can or freeze.

Lorri and I had been planning to go the Upper Midwest Master Gardener Conference in Rockford, Illinois in mid September. Since we were out of their region, they had told us we couldn’t register until the end of the registration period and this week we found out they were full. This left us scrambling to find other options to get our 10 hours of continuing education, with nothing available in Nebraska. I did find a few options (a 1 day conference in South Dakota and another in Kansas) but neither date worked for Lorri, who is the busiest retired person I know. I gave some thought to going on my own but decided that’d be no fun at all. It looks like we’ll both be doing our CE’s online. They’re due by the end of October so I have plenty of time to watch a few of the 2.5 hour sessions.

The lack of the conference has put a crimp in my newly minted vacation plans. I had decided to take the week of Labor Day off so that the conference wouldn’t impact my 9 day stretch of staying home and getting stuff done. The problem with taking the week so early in September is it could still be too hot for working outside. Now that the conference is off, I’ll be taking the week of September 13th off. I’ve started my list and it’s HUGE. I’m excited to be home for a week, which I haven’t done in 2.5 years.

I spent another weekend at home getting stuff done. Connie is coming for Labor Day weekend so I had to reclaim the spare bedroom, which mostly meant organizing my yarn and scrapbooking stuff. On the knitting front, I’m on my 3rd pair of mittens for Elliot School and finished the charity hat for the Ravelry group Anne Marie convinced me to join. It’s nice to have some mindless knitting, especially because I’ve been spending so much time watching Nip/Tuck online. Sheesh!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week 34 - My Echoing Bedroom

It was the last week of summer at UNL, which meant the students were trickling back to campus and there was no water aerobics. This should have meant I was home early most nights but it didn’t work out that way. Between knitting and errands, the week felt as busy as ever.

Knitting wise I finally wised up and started some easy projects to work on when I was knitting with friends. I used to bring my regular projects and then spend the time ripping out everything I’d messed up from talking and knitting. Both are charity projects. I made some blue mittens and have started a baby hat. Both are using worsted weight, which after knitting socks for so long feels like Fred Flinstone knitting.

The highlight of the week was the Professor’s Row neighborhood yard sales. I was at Nora’s before 8:00 on Saturday so we could get there early. We met Mary and Cheryl there and then started walking. There weren’t as many sales as last year but the Friends of Hillstead Gallery’s sale made it all worth it. Last year they had almost no yarn but this year they had a lot. I had already scored a huge cone of 100% wool lace weight at another sale but they had 100% wool Pendelton yarn in black for 50 cents a skein! I picked up as many as I could carry (9) plus a few other single skeins and walked away with a HUGE bag for only $8.50. I have big felting plans for the black. So many ideas!

After scoring the yarn, I had to carry the huge bag for the rest of the sales, which was pretty heavy, and it was getting hotter with every passing minute so I was happy that we were done well before noon. We headed to Stauffer’s Café and Pie Shop, which was one of my dad’s favorite places, for an early lunch and, of course, pie. I had gooseberry. Yum! I had fun sitting next to Elise, Nora’s daughter, and then headed home for a shower with my belly full and most of the day still ahead of me.

After getting such an early start on my chores, I started Sunday with the whole day free. I wasn’t sure what I’d do but when I finished up the crocheted flower garland I’d started Saturday, I ended up in my bedroom. I started by hanging the garland and from there started clearing off my bureaus. Before you know it I was framing and hanging some art from etsy and tearing apart the chair that’s destined for a coat of white paint and a new Liberty fabric covered seat. By the end of the day, the room was nearly done (just need to paint that chair and buy a couple more frames) and it looked great. At one point the room echoed but getting some art on the wall seems to have taken care of that. Who’d ever have thought I’d have a room so clean it echoes!

I ended the day mowing the lawn for the first time in a few week (no rain = no growth) and then taking a shower and prepping for a new week. With all the faculty coming back, I’ll have to get to campus early or risk not finding a space in the loop, where I normally park. It’s another semester and the hot weather is supposed to break tomorrow so it’ll feel like a new season. Fall can’t come soon enough for me!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week 33 - Preserving the Harvest

After the blazing heat wave we’ve been in, it’s hard not to mention the break in the weather. With not so much as a drop of rain, a front came through on Saturday afternoon and the heat and humidity were gone. Yay! I opened the windows and got what felt like my first breath of fresh air in weeks. I didn’t sleep very well because of all the outside noise I was used to but a pair of ear plugs solved that problem for the next night. I can only hope the heat is over for good. I’m looking forward to fall – turtlenecks, cool air and pumpkins. Bring it on!

Otherwise it was a pretty normal week. I skipped Wednesday knitting in favor of sorting a huge amount of donated yarn at Anne’s. She’s recovering from surgery and I had some food for her so was planning a visit anyway. Sorting all the yarn was just an added bonus. There were 4 leaf bags and 3 big boxes, all destined for charity mittens. I left with a bag of feltable tapestry yarn and 7 skeins of some French yarn from the 50’s that’s so old it’s not on Ravelry. I’m not sure what I’ll do with that but the tapestry yarn will probably end up in felted bowls, which seem to be my current project of choice.

I decided to take Friday off just because I could. I’ve been looking for a long weekend so when Layton cancelled lunch, I grabbed this one. The intent was to do all my chores on Friday so I could head outside to do yard work as soon as the weather broke. I also bought some orange paint in hopes that I could start painting stray bits of furniture orange. Well, you know how that worked out.

Friday I did clean up the kitchen but, as usual, as soon as it was clean, I wanted to cook. I had some cukes my neighbor had given me so I started chopping and made sweet relish – something I had only done once before in the late 80’s. The good news is it tastes great and no high fructose corn syrup. It didn’t make as much as I’d hoped but hopefully will get me through the winter, when I eat less hamburgers and dogs than in the summer. As soon as I had the relish ingredients soaking, I started squeezing the grapes Lorri had given me for concord grape jam. The jam is delicious! So incredibly grapey - yum. By the time I was done with my canning, it was 8:30 so I was done for the day and went to bed early and read.

I had thought I’d have all day Saturday outside but the front didn’t come through until late in the day so I ran errands in the morning and then spent most of the afternoon reading The Passage and doing a few chores. On Sunday, I headed straight outside, not even stopping to read the paper. I used Andrea’s cordless hedge trimmer to trim the yew out front (that was long overdue) and then did some major pruning of the crab apple and cut the suckers. I stopped for lunch and then was back outside to cut out the out of control rose bush in the parking strip. By the time I was done with that, I was done. It was getting warm (not hot!) so I showered and sat down to finish The Passage, which was a fabulous book. I do love a post-apocalyptic story. Once my arms were no longer rubber, I finished my chores and put a load of wool into the washer to felt. When it was done, I delivered Donna's booties to her house, went to Lorri's to water (she's away so I'm watering her garden and containers ) and went home, calling it a nice week.

Here’s a recipe for something I made up last week that was quick and yummy. I was just using up leftovers but the result was so good, I’d totally make it again. I hope you like it. I call it…..

Southwest Casserole
2 cups pulled pork (cooked chicken would work too)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can pork and beans (~15 oz)
1 cup frozen corn
shredded cheese
Jiffy corn muffin mix, prepared as directed

Mix the meat, tomatoes, beans and corn and put in a shallow baking pan. Layer on 1/2 inch of shredded cheese and top with the corn muffin mix. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (until cornbread is golden brown). Flip it upside down and you end up with a cornbread crust with all kinds of goodness on top. It's relatively healthy too. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Week 32 - Into The Passage

It was another busy week at work. Fiscal year end closed on Tuesday night but then it was time to do everything I’d put off during closing meetings and a special project for the vice chancellor that kept us all hopping. By the end of the day Friday, I was toast and so actually spent the end of the day stuffing envelopes just to kill the time with brainlessness.

At home, I was obsessed with my latest socks. I had started them last Saturday before my 3 hour stint at the fair and was really enjoying them. My MO for the week was to knit every possible minute – as soon as I got home every night, after breakfast in the morning, anytime I could. By the end of the week, I had almost finished the first sock, which was the fastest I’d ever knitted one, but my house was a wreck. Good thing I had nothing planned for the weekend.

Someone asked me in the elevator what I was doing for the weekend and I got a strange look for being so excited about having a plan free weekend. I guess I’m getting old but life has been so busy lately that having 2 solid days with no obligations sounded like heaven. It was also going to be blazing hot and humid so having a weekend inside sounded doubly good. I did a bit of shopping on the way home Friday and was happy to be going home.

I ran errands in town on Saturday morning, grilled a burger for lunch and then started on my to do list, which was huge. I interspersed my chores with knitting all day and had lots done when I headed to bed with a new book I’d picked up at the library that morning – The Passage by Justin Cronin, another post apocalyptic book (my fave genre.) Well, that was it for the knitting. I didn’t read much before I fell asleep but it was enough to get me hooked.

I didn’t knit a stitch on Sunday! I didn’t watch TV either. I did do most of my chores and a ton of cooking but all of that was interspersed with hours of reading. Read a bit, do some laundry, read some more, make some deviled eggs – you get the picture. I had hoped to load up all my old TV’s, printers and computers into the car for the free electronics recycling drop off at UNL Monday morning but it was so hot out (as hot as I’ve ever felt) that I skipped that and concentrated on cooking. By the end of the day, the fridge was full of healthy food, including stuff to bring to Monica’s cook out on Tuesday, my chores were done and I’d read 1/3 of a great book while staying cool. Call me old but that counts as a great weekend in my book. Now to make it through the rest of this heat wave – just 5 more days if the weather dude is right. Here’s hoping!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Week 31 - County Fair Time

Between fiscal year end at work and the county fair, it was a busy week.

I spent Monday night knitting at the library prepping my entries for the fair. I’d decided on six scrapbooking items (2 whole books, 3 2 page spreads and 1 single page) plus 6 knitting projects. This would be the first time this decade that I’d entered anything. Andrea was dropping my entries off because on Tuesday I was working with Lorri from 5:00-8:00 checking in 4H entries. Wednesday was our semi-annual water aerobics cookout at Anne’s, which was a lot of fun and emptied a big chunk of my freezer because I took all the hamburgers and hotdogs I’d bought for my ill fated 4th of July cookout.

Wednesday was judging day at the fair so I drove like a bat out of hell to get back to Wahoo before 9:00 so I could see how my stuff had done. I got the open class building at 8:58, just in time for a quick run through. I had won 10 blue ribbons, 2 reds (1 of those was on the most elaborate project I knitted!) and 1 best of lot on a 2 page spread of strawberry picking with Carolyn, Sharyn, Maruta and Aaron. Pretty cool.

The cookout was my last evening commitment for the week, which was a good thing because by Thursday the closing meetings were coming hot and heavy. I was updating numbers and prepping Mary’s handouts as fast as I could. I went to the pool on Thursday and then stopped at the market. I wasn’t as tired as I’d thought I’d be so figured I’d get that out of the way. Once I got home, I started a pair of baby booties for Katie’s (Charlie’s niece) shower on Sunday. I already had a crocheted afghan for the baby but felt like I needed something else.

Friday flew by and was punctuated by a nice lunch with Layton and Nora at Green Gateau, chosen specifically so I could bring back a piece of chocolate cake for Mary. Nora and I split one too so it was all good. I had a few more errands to run on Friday but couldn’t cope and so just headed straight home to another night of knitting. I then spent most of Saturday knitting, both at home and at the fair where I was manning the library table in the commericial building from 4:00-7:00. By the time I got home, it was almost 8:00 and the day was shot. I’d finished the booties and they were adorable and I’d started a new pair of socks – always fun.

Since I’d done nothing productive on Saturday, I got up Sunday and slammed through my chores. The shower was at 3:00 in Elkhorn but I had arranged to meet friends in Omaha at 11:30 for lunch and shopping. We went to Costco, which I’d never been to, and I found a few bargains but mostly they wow you with the huge sizes when in fact prices are cheaper if you shop the sales at your local market. After we split up, I did a few more errands and then headed to the shower. There were a lot of people there and Katie scored lots of nice stuff. I’d say my booties were the cutest, of course. After the shower, I grilled hot dogs for supper and then headed out in the blazing heat and humidity to mow. Despite spending most of my weekend sitting on my butt knitting, I still managed to get enough done so I’m not behind starting the new week. Life is good!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 30 - Closer to Perfect

What a nice week! I finally feel like I’m getting back on track. I was in a particularly boring meeting this week when someone stated a goal of getting “closer to perfect.” How perfect is that? Isn’t that something to strive for? I think so.

Nora was out all week and left me a stack of things to finish up for her. Between that, my normal work and starting prep for next week, which is fiscal year end closing meeting week and the busiest week of my work year, the days flew by. It was blazing hot again so I spent my lunches inside madly reading My Antonia, hoping I’d finish before book club on Thursday. It took a final cram session Wednesday night after knitting but I got it done and loved it. I guess it’s time I read more of Willa Cather’s work.

I did a big food shopping on Friday night and headed home for a productive weekend. In addition to my usual chores, I wanted to do a ton of cooking and it was my last chance to finish projects to enter in the fair. I got up and got busy on Saturday so had gotten most of my chores done before I sat down to finish my purple socks, which I started in January and have been “my fair socks” since I saw how perfect the first sock was. Andrea was coming over for a felting party on Sunday morning so I also wanted to finish the felted bowl I’d started with the yarn I bought last weekend. I stayed up until midnight to get them all done.

I threw together a pan of lasagna and some brownies before Andrea arrived at 11:00. She brought a big bag to felt and I added my flowers and the bowl. I’m sure we looked odd standing over the machine, watching it agitate but it was fun to see how everything came out. We blocked all the felted stuff then had a nice lunch before Andrea left to get all her stuff done. I gave her most of the lasagna and brownies to share with Anne Marie, figuring I’d make the manicotti I’d cooked the pasta for. While I didn’t do anymore cooking, I did manage to do a few things done – blocked more knitting for the fair and laundry – but spent most of the rest of the day knitting. There are worst ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. Now to decide what to knit next. So many options!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 29 - What’s My Normal?

What’s My Normal?

Another hot summer week dawned and I was hoping for a normal week of water aerobics, knitting and getting stuff done. Other than Pie bringing a juvenile starling into the house, which required moving the wall unit to find it, all was looking good until Wednesday.

I was happily knitting with the water aerobics gang at Village Inn when the sky started getting dark. The windows we were facing were looking south, which meant I didn’t leave as early as I would have if I’d been looking north, where the sky was black and packed with clouds. I was just north of i-80 when the skies opened up, making for an interesting ride home. I drove like the wind through pounding rain, just happy that I had no hail to contend with. When I got to Wahoo, I had to dodge branches in the streets to get home where I found the electricity off. I didn’t realize that until I got out of the car thinking my garage door opener’s battery was dead, getting soaked in the process. So I got out the candles and waited ~20 minutes for the electricity to come back on. When it did, I looked down the stairs to see water everywhere!

We’d gotten 3.5 inches in an hour, which was more than my basement could handle. So I got out my squeegee and got busy in the laundry room and at the bottom of the stairs. With the magic of the dehumidifier and evaporation (plus I suspect some of it seeped out the way it came in), it was much better the next morning but I knew I still had a lot more to do.

This isn’t the first water I’ve had in the basement so most everything was in totes and baskets so shouldn’t be wet. But all it takes is an apron tie to be touching the floor to wick the water into a basket of linens (really, this is the fall I get back to selling on ebay!) plus every tote and basket would trap water underneath it. I had hoped to take Friday off to start slogging through everything but it was Nora’s last day before a week off so that didn’t work. I had to content myself with doing what I could until the weekend. Nancy stopped by on Friday night and it was good to catch up before her big trip to Japan.

I gathered wet linens, mopped and moved the dehumidifier every morning and night until Saturday morning, when I finally had time to devote to it. I spent all morning at it and got both the craft and ebay rooms sorted out. I left for a yarn run to Omaha with Andrea that afternoon feeling good about my progress. We were headed to Personal Threads to pick up some variegated orange yarn for some felted boxes I’ll be making to coralle some stuff on my shelves. We also hit Penzey’s, of course, and the supermarket. We got home at 5:30 and I promptly casted on a felted bowl with the other yarn I bought – only 1 skein so it could have been worse.
I finished the basement clean up on Sunday, organizing my ridiculous stash of yarn in the process, and spent most of the rest of the day untangling and winding a basket of yarn while talking on the phone and doing load after load of laundry. I finished the day using all the produce I’d bought last Monday after knitting – red sauce for lasagna and turkey dinner casserole used the mushrooms and I prepped cukes for potato salad. No money for the RNC this week but it was close.

This week has definitely made me wonder what “normal” is? Even with no plans on my agenda, it seems like every week there’s something going on that keeps me from achieving “normal.” Is it this summer? Is it my life in general? I’m beginning to wonder. But there’s nothing I can do but hope for normal and deal with whatever life brings me. And no matter what I’m faced with, life is still good! There are more storms forecast for this afternoon so I’ll just hope for a dry basement.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 28 - Operation: Stash Busting

In the knitting world, stash buster projects are ones that use up yarn you already have – your stash. This week I started knitting a neck warmer to combat the chill in my new office with yarn from my stash, which I got free in England from one of the designers who taught a workshop. Since I’ve recently bought enough yarn for years worth of knitting, my plan is to continue to knit with yarn I already own. But the stash busting isn’t stopping there.

Considering that it’s just me, the amount of food I have in my house is ridiculous! I have 2 freezers full of food and cabinets that are bursting. I buy produce as if I were feeding a family of 5 and end up composting a lot of it. Enough! (I know, that’s last year’s word but it still works) I am now expanding stash busting beyond my crafting. It’s time to stash bust with food.

In preparation for cooking food I already have, I defrosted the basement freezer and inventoried both. I now have a detailed list of the food I have (WAY too much!) and plan to eat from my freezer for the foreseeable future. With a bit of creativity, I’ll be eating free for a long time.

In an effort to curtail the over purchase of fresh food, I’ve come up with an ingenious plan to stop this. I’ve made a deal with myself. If I buy produce and do not use it within a week, I have to take the amount of money I spent for said produce and donate it to something that goes against everything I believe in – the RNC. Yes, you read that right – the Republican National Committee. Not only would they get the money but I’d have to give it anonymously so they wouldn’t get me on their mailing lists, which would just be too much to bear! This makes it a double whammy – supporting the RNC and not getting a tax deduction. Ingenious, n’est-ce pas?

Other than my stash busting work on the weekend, it was a pretty normal week. Knitting Monday and Wednesday and the pool Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was fun though. Anne was adopting a campus kitten that Husker Cats had trapped at the museum. I was going to meet her at her house to go with her to pick up Lucy but Anne called just before 5:00 to say her bike had broken down and she was at the zoo. So I headed there, threw her bike in the back of the Fit (everything fits in my Fit!) and we went to get the kitten. She is gorgeous! I took some pics of Anne and Lucy and headed home to start my weekend. What a nice start to a productive weekend.

Now another hot summer week is here. But I’m headed into it with the laundry caught up, the lawn mowed, the refrigerator cleaned out and a plan for using stuff up. Life is good!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 27 - Jumped the Gun

It was a typical week at the start but would end with my 3rd annual 4th of July cookout so I was busy making lists – chores to do, food to buy, people who were coming – the usual. I was also in the final throes of returns from my painting project so was trying to fit in final stops for that. By mid week, the lists were huge.

That’s when I took a look at my calendar, saw that no one on the reporting team was taking Friday off and started thinking about a four day weekend. I had burned 2 weeks of vacation on my England trip and so had been a vacation time miser all year. When I ran a report to see what I had used, it was only a ½ day to leave for Wichita and 1 day to help Helen out after her surgery. No wonder I was feeling toasted! Then and there, I decided to take Friday off and take some of the pressure off my cook out prep.

Despite having no idea how many people were coming (I’d given people until Friday to let me know), I shopped on the way home on Thursday, hitting the sales at 2 supermarkets and finally doing my Menard’s returns. I was headed home to 2.5 days of cookout prep and a day afterwards to recoup. Now if the weather would just hold! They were predicting rain for the 4th and 5th.

I was outside by 9:30 on Friday, to tackle the yard chores. I cleared up the driveway and the yard (I still had empty pots and yard tools scattered around and there were lots of weedy spots) and then started pruning my cherry tree. Before I knew it, I was cutting down all the weed trees in the vegetable garden, which was LONG overdue (one mulberry actually had berries!) When I was done with that, I mowed the lawn, after which I was dripping with sweat and exhausted. I went inside, took a shower and despite having enough hamburgers in the freezer for an army, went to Burger King to pick up a late lunch. My body was a noodle and I sat in my chair knitting and watching True Blood for the rest of the day. I never did get anything else done but went to bed feeling good about my progress.

Saturday was inside chore day. Susan was coming from Kansas for the weekend so I had to tackle the spare room, which had been a dumping ground during the whole painting ordeal and so was a mess. I also had to neatize the entire house. I got busy and had a productive day, ending with everything ready for Sunday but for a few last minute things. I was feeling good about everything and looking forward to the cookout.

I woke up Sunday to black skies and pouring rain. The weather forecast looked bleak. To quote Channel 6’s forecast, “Independence Day 2010 is a washout.” It was supposed to rain all day and then turn to thunderstorms for the evening. It was decision time. I checked 3 different online forecasts and they were all in agreement so I made the decision to cancel. My little house just could not accommodate having 25 people, half of them kids, inside. So I started making phone calls early, figuring it’d give people time to make alternate plans. I was bummed but felt like I had no alternative. In an attempt to salvage something from the day, I headed to the basement and reorganized the laundry room, which had gotten some water in it with the rain and so needed attention. That accomplished, I settled in to a rainy day of watching DVD’s and waiting for Susan to arrive.

Then the weather turned. By mid afternoon it had already stopped raining. I checked the radar and it looked like the front that was causing the problems was already passed. The drear kept up but by dinner time, the clouds were clearing and by 7:00 the sun was shining. I was feeling like SH*T! By the time it was clear the fireworks would happen and I cancelled for nothing, it was after 7:00 and too late to pull it off. I beat myself up all evening. Susan and I still grilled burgers and went down to the fireworks, where we met up with the Harts and Andrea, who were some of my uninvited guests. I was SO embarrassed! I know just how the Chancellor felt that time he cancelled school based on a snowfall forecast that never materialized. The only thing I can take away from this is that I should have waited longer before cancelling. Now I just have to decide what to do with all the food – reschedule (there’s not much to do at my house without the fireworks as a draw) or give it away. !$&#*&!#*