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 CafĂ© 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!