Sunday, December 30, 2012

Week 52 - Ready for Christmas

It was a whirlwind week between finishing knitting presents and flying out on Friday night. I was on autopilot, slamming through my to do list to get everything done. And get it done I did, in the knick of time as usual.

I was knitting like a banshee on Monday night and then again on Tuesday, bringing Cheryl’s scarf, my last Christmas project, to work so I could get more done on breaks. Not that I take breaks normally but I was under the gun. I got 2 lace repeats done sitting in the ladies room and then pulled it out at Anne’s that night too. We had a soup supper get together as a send off for our favorite water aerobics instructor who is not teaching next semester. It was fun and relaxing and I got more knitting done. I didn’t get home until 9:00 but decided to keep knitting until I was done. I was up late but it was worth it to have it done.

First thing Wednesday morning, I blocked the two scarves, which for my non-knitting readers means wetting them then pinning them stretched onto the back of the couch to dry. It makes all the difference. That done, I headed to work, relieved to have all my Christmas knitting done. Lunch was the UAAD Graze & Mingle, which I went to with Dodie and had fun. It was raining by the time we left and there was talk of snow. Then the rain turned to snow and there was talk of a blizzard. I was hoping so hard for a snow day since I had lots to do to be ready to fly on Friday. Then we got the up yours email from the Vice Chancellor saying we would not be closed on Thursday and that we should park in the garage because the lots wouldn’t be plowed and to dress warmly because we’d have a long walk to our offices, adding that we should use our discretion, and vacation time, if we didn’t think we could drive in safely. Seriously! The students and faculty were already gone and it was a day before the start of Christmas break but we should come in anyway. Way to value your staff!

So, no snow day for UNL but Wahoo was in the band of ick and there was no way I could get out of my driveway. It was still snowing and blowing (it was officially declared a blizzard) at 10:00 and I had 10” of snow. My guys were coming to plow out my driveway but I went out and shoveled the deck, sidewalk, path and doors. They arrived just before noon and the plows came before they were done so they cleaned up the end of the driveway after the plow. Perfect. Now I had the afternoon for laundry, packing and final prep. I got everything done with time to spare so enjoyed some knitting in the sun that afternoon. It was worth the vacation time.

I put my bags in the car and headed to work, happy to have had the extra time. I had given Mary her socks on Wednesday because she was out Friday and Thursday was iffy. Good thing. That left the scarves, which both Nora and Cheryl seemed to like, for Friday morning. I had lunch with Layton and then set out for the airport a bit earlier than I’d planned in case the snow was an issue. It wasn’t for getting to the airport but it was a zoo and my flight was delayed. The second one too so I didn’t get in until after 1:00 a.m. It was good to see Carolyn, as always.

I didn’t turn the light off until 2:15 so was exhausted the next morning. We made our shopping list over coffee, planning the menu for Sunday’s open house. As soon as we got back from the market, the baking began. Cookies galore. It was fun but by the end of the afternoon, I was spent. We had dinner and I couldn’t keep my eyes open so went to bed instead of staying up for a movie. I slept like a rock.

Sunday was busy busy, getting ready for the 3:00 start time. We chopped veggies, made the dips and got everything out on the table. Then we waited. And waited. Maruta was the first to show at 4:15 and then everyone arrived. It was fun to sit around the table and chat with all my friends. I was sitting at the end of the table with the veggies and dip so I think I ate a head of cauliflower before it was over. Cornelia was the last to leave and so got the parting gift of our homemade plate made of melted cinnamon candies, loaded down with all kinds of treats. We had very little left to clean up, which was nice. It was a wonderful end to the week and the next day was Christmas Eve. Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Week 51 - Exercising Friendly Flexibility

It was an odd week. I don’t know if I should blame holiday stress or what. Let’s just say I’m SO ready for break.

One odd incident revolved around a hat I’d knitted for a friend. I gave it to him a month ago when it started getting cold but it was still on his desk, right where he’d put it a month ago. He mentioned that he was thinking about it so I dared to suggest that he try it on. OMG! He went ballistic and said I was tried to control his life. Really? By asking him to try on a hat? I walked away, hoping the hat wouldn’t end up in the trash. That was Monday.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon. The phone rang at 4:00 and it was the trainer, who had been out for a couple of weeks after tonsil surgery. Well, she had a training scheduled for the next morning and wasn’t feeling up to doing it so asked me to do it for her. Not the person who used to teach it but me. I’ve never even been to that training, never mind taught it. And I didn’t have the computer access to teach it either. And when I asked the woman who used to train it for help, the best I got was that she would sign on for me so I’d have the access. Really? I was supposed to stand up for an hour and a half and wing it? Since there was an online version of the same class that people could take on their own and only 3 people were signed up, I called them and told them to do that instead. Done! I was still shocked that there was any expectation that I’d have to teach that and was fine with how it turned out.

Then Wednesday happened. The boss got back from a conference and word trickled down that I’d over reacted and should have taught the class. I was NOT HAPPY! Since there was nothing I could do about that, I went down to the Canfield potluck for lunch, which was a total dud. Then I’m not sure if it was something I ate or what but my intestines were in an uproar. Their gurgling was so loud I could hear it and I was pretty uncomfortable. By 4:00, I was done with it all. Although there had been pleasant spots in the week (knitting on Monday, lunch with Dodie, swimming) I was over it. I headed home early, happily bailing on a 12/12/12 dinner after work. What a good decision since that was the turning point of a previously bad week.

My intestines calmed down and I sat down to wrap my white elephant gift for the next day’s office Christmas party. From there I just kept going and by 7:00, I had wrapped all the stocking stuffers for my sisters (that’s a grocery bag full each for those who don’t know the Fenton family stocking tradition) and had tuna casserole hot out of the oven to eat during Survivor. Then I boxes them up and had them ready to ship. My goal had been to ship them Saturday so now I was ahead of the game. Yay!

I headed to work Thursday with the boxes and mailed them at The Union later that morning. I even scored  at the clearance rack while I was waiting (the PO is in the bookstore.) See, things were turning around! The office party was fun and I got 2 lampshades, which I can actually use, in the white elephant exchange. On top of all this domestic productivity, I was getting lots of stuff done at work too, crossing things off my list left and right. Our Business & Finance Winter Festival was supposed to be from 3:00-5:00 and since water aerobics was right across the street at 5:15, Nora, Cheryl and I headed over at 4:30. Well, they were packing everything up and literally took the tablecloth off the table we were sitting at not eating because the food was already put away. Sheesh! Water aerobics was fun. It was the last class of our favorite instructor and she did the 12 Days of Water Aerobics (that’s why she’s our favorite – lots of planning and fun.) Then it was home for more knitting. With the packages mailed, finishing my last 2 knitting projects was my main goal. I had a busy weekend ahead so every minute would count.

I put my inside tree up on Friday night since I like to do the tree in the dark. I had bought colored lights because they were out of white and even though I found my lights, I decided to shake it up and do colored lights and white garland. The new look is fun and my tree smells great. What a nice start to the weekend.

Now that I didn’t have to get to the post office Saturday morning, my morning was my own. I had to gather a set of Corelle from the garage and get it cleaned up but that was all. I don’t know why I got off my butt early and got busy but it was a darn good thing. I was waiting for a call from Connie because she and Gordy were going to be in York, NE (75 miles from Wahoo) so I was going to meet them there in the afternoon, have some dinner and then crash Gordy’s show (a private party) under the guise of helping sell CD’s. Well the Corelle was already washed up and in the dishwasher for a 2nd pass and I was showered when the phone rang just before noon. They were 20 minutes from Wahoo and wanted to go out for lunch. So I threw on clothes and met them at The Wigwam for lunch, getting an earlier start on the day than I’d planned. They stopped briefly at my house and then headed to York.

 Since we’d discussed meeting at 6:00, I figured I had the afternoon to knit so I settled in and called both of my sisters. I had just hung up when Connie called to say they were there. Connie wanted me to come sooner so I finished my tea and left the house ~3:30. While Gordy went to the venue for a sound check, Connie and I headed out for a snack. We sat in the bar of a big local restaurant – Chances R – and had nachos. We got to the event and everyone was in cocktail dresses and suits. I was wearing jeans and sneakers. Oh well. Gordy’s show was fun but they only had him do 25 minutes. We sold 1 CD and then packed up. I drove home and was there by 10:30. Not bad and it was worth it to spend time with Connie.

Susan, who was in Lincoln from Kansas, was coming on Sunday after church. So I got up and made a double batch of corn chowder (mostly for a party on Tuesday but we could skim a couple of bowls) and corn muffins. When it was 12:20 and still no Susan, I called her and she said “I thought I was coming for supper.” After church is supper? Oh well, I ate a bowl of chowder figuring I’d cook something else for supper. I had phone calls to make plans for next weekend in RI so started laundry and got on the phone. Susan was going to call when she left Lincoln. Well, when she did call, she was within blocks of my house. Crap! No cooking would be going on now. We visited and I had a sandwich while she had chowder. When she left, I sat down to the season finale of Survivor and more wrapping. By the time it was done, all of Carolyn’s stocking stuffers were wrapped and most of the small gifts for friends.

What a busy but productive week. The good things outweighed the odd and I finished so many things on my holiday to do list ahead of schedule. Since I’d be flying east Friday after work, I was happy to get so much done. I’ll be in Rhode Island next week so will probably be late blogging. I hope you have a happy and productive week coming up and a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week 50 - Ups and Downs

This week was full of ups and downs but at least it ended on an up.

Monday was deans’ reports day and it was going so well that I decided to take a lunch (something I rarely do on deans’ reports day) and went to Yarn Charm. I exchanged my $34 skein of yarn that I’d bought the wrong weight of for a gorgeous skein of sock yarn. Still $34 but at least I’ll use this one. After chatting with the owners, I headed back and blazed through the rest of the reports, finishing in record time. I was on the fence about swimming and opted for heading home to bake brownies before knitting.

Tuesday didn’t start well. I picked up my glasses when I got out of bed and one of the temples fell to the floor. I dug through a box in the closet to find my last pair, which was a different prescription and 3 years old. I could see with them on but was left feeling slightly nauseous. Then I logged onto my email and saw one from the boss with a laundry list of problems from the deans’ reports emails but most of them were on Josh’s emails so I headed to work not feeling too bad. First on my list was to fix the emails and respond to the boss. Well, let's just leave it at it didn't go well. Even our first cookie sharing afternoon didn’t help. And I was struggling to see my computer screen with the old glasses. I had planned to swim but couldn’t find parking (Nothing was going my way. Nothing.) so I gave up and headed towards home, still feeling crappy.

My plan was to stop at the market on the way home and I had to drive right by Goodwill so went in to check out the yarn. Well, there is some justice in the world because the yarn gods smiled on me. I found 8 skeins of good quality yarn, including 5 for socks, and they were 99 cents each. I was still not happy but it helped a bit. I picked up my glasses, which they’d been able to fix enough to get me through until January when I’d already planned to buy new ones. Yay! The day was getting better and better. Then I got home and found my swap package and it was from ENGLAND! At last an international package that wasn’t from Canada. And it was full of wonderful things – gorgeous handmades, fabulous yarn and all kinds of goodies. There was a sweet note from my swap partner that I was supposed to read last. Well, I finished reading it and burst into tears, crying hard for 5 minutes. And when I was done? MUCH better.

Wednesday was a much better day. I had a nice lunch with Darla at Virginia’s CafĂ© – the local greasy spoon, where we had creamed chicken and biscuits and split a piece of lemon meringue pie. Beige comfort food. I finally made it to the pool for our last water in motion class (that instructor, who is our favorite and the only one who does that class, isn’t coming back next semester) and then went home to Survivor.

Josh called in sick on Thursday so I was all alone in the office. I got lots done on my to do list. Nora, Cheryl and I went to Ben Franklin’s over lunch and I found a couple of stocking stuffers for my sisters. We got pizza to go next door then it was back to work. The afternoon flew and I swam again, ate the sandwich I’d brought for lunch in the car and headed right to the library for book club. We had a good discussion on The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It’s a good book – check it out. Four of the Monday Night Knitters had all chipped in for a knitting surprise box and since 3 of us were at book club, we took the box to Anne Marie’s (the 4th) to open. It was kind of a bust with 4 skeins of meh yarn and a circular needle. I didn’t stay long because I hadn’t been home yet and Pixel had been out all day. I expected to find her waiting on the deck but I called and called and nothing. So I put on a sweater, picked up a flashlight and started walking the neighborhood calling her, looking like the crazy cat lady for sure. I gave up at 9:00 and went inside, worried and thinking I wouldn’t sleep at all if she didn’t come in. She showed up at the back door, scared to death and poofed to twice her normal size a few minutes later. What a relief!

Josh was out again on Friday so I had another quiet day. I had lunch with Layton at the Chinese buffet and picked up some photos at Walgreen’s for my calendars. I tried to leave early but that didn’t work out so well (10 minutes does not count as early!) I had a big weekend planned so was happy to get home. I didn’t get much done on Friday night but enjoyed sitting, knitting and going to bed early.

I was up early on Saturday and decorated my deck tree before the sun was up. I just love having it glowing outside and this year I put my too bright for inside LED lights out there. Perfect! I had an 8:30 hair appointment and then ran my errands in town, getting home by 9:30, ready to tackle my big list. The first thing was calendars. Now you’d think that with the pages all made and the photos all printed, it’d be easy and quick. Not so much. Between jockeying the not quite what I had planned pictures (I never got around to scanning the old prints I’d chosen so resorted, yet again, to my scanned slides file) and looking for just the right embellishments to flesh out the pages, it took most of the day. I stood and worked at the bar so I took several breaks for knitting, finishing my 2nd to last Christmas gift. When I was done ~5:00, I sat down to give my knees a rest and started my last gift. I got quite a bit done before going to bed.

Lorri and I were leaving for Lincoln at 12:30 to see Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies’ Christmas at The Lied so I spent the morning doing chores. When I left, they were pretty much done so if I got nothing done when I got home, I’d still be good to go. We had lunch at Panera (a pick 2 of my fave steak and blue cheese salad and mac and cheese, which was the perfect antidote to the newly arrived frigid cold) and then went to the play, which was enjoyable. I had talked about stopping at HyVee afterwards but just wanted to go home so we did. Lorri gave me some English rock cookies (very fruitcake ish) when I dropped her off so I made a big cup of tea and had some of those, calling it dinner since it was after 5:00. I did have some cheese and crackers later and was bummed that I couldn’t get CBS in (I never can when it’s windy and boy was it blowing!) to watch the finale of The Amazing Race so I put on Downton Abbey repeats on PBS and knitted the night away.

After a rocky start, the week had completely turned around. I was pleased with the progress I’d made on my Christmas to do list and was actually enjoying the long overdue winter weather. With eleven days until I fly east, I still have time to get things done and not feel too stressed. Ho ho ho!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week 49 - Back to Reality

It was a rude awakening when the alarm went off Monday morning. It was the sound of my vacation being over. Insert sad face here.

Actually it wasn’t that bad going back. I’d ended my time off with a bang and my frig was full of Thanksgiving leftover so I’d be eating well all week. So I packed a turkey sandwich and headed to work. As usual, it took most of the morning to get through all my emails and catch up on what I’d missed. I had a meeting at 3:00 across campus so day one was over in a flash. I stopped at the new local yarn shop on the way home, got chatting and didn’t leave until after 6:00. Yes, with more yarn. Let’s not mention that. Anyway, I scarfed down some leftovers (too quickly to enjoy them) and headed to knitting with my show and tell. All in all, it wasn’t a bad first day back.

On Tuesday I felt like I actually got back to work, having caught up on Monday. But I had to teach the uber exciting Online Reconciliation class that afternoon, so only had the morning and the day was over before I noticed. At some point, I got the itinerary for my Ireland trip next May so got excited about that. I went home and actually enjoyed my leftovers and finished another pair of Christmas socks. Just one more to go. And another project. And finish the one that’s half done. Yikes! Christmas knitting pressure has set in.

I was tired on Wednesday and then had to finish the reallocation prep, which is boring and tedious work. After an afternoon catch up meeting with Nora, I headed to the pool for the first time in almost two weeks. It felt great to be moving again and to see my swimming friends.

I started Thursday tearing through all my yarn for the second morning in a row trying to find my $34 skein of yarn. I’d bought the wrong weight and they yarn shop owners said I could exchange it. I didn’t find it and was stumped until I realized on the way to work that it was right where it belonged – in my yarn bookcase. Being organized is so against my nature that putting it away was as good as losing it. Nuts! Nora and I went to lunch at Green Gateau for her birthday. The food was yummy and it was nice to get off campus and chat. Then I taught in the afternoon again so it was another quick day. I swam again and went home to, you guessed it, more turkey. I was nearing my limit on turkey at that point so it was good that it was the last of it.

Nora was off on Friday and had emailed a file for Mary late on Thursday. Like midnight late. And first thing on Friday, Mary came in with changes she needed. Major changes. Both Josh and I cranked on it for most of the day. I went to Noodles with Dodie over lunch and then slammed some more. We were pretty much done when Jo from Payroll and Mary talked and decided that everything we’d done was for nothing because of something in  the Affordable Health Care Act. Sheesh! Mary was happy that we’d tried so hard so it wasn’t for nothing but jeez! Jo couldn’t have come in a few hours earlier?

I had to stop at the market after work and then on the spur of the moment, I went to Menard’s and bought my Christmas trees. I had them picked out, paid for and in the car in ten minutes. When I think how I used to traipse through the fields for hours looking for just the right tree. Oh how times, and my standards, have changed. But I think I got two nice ones.

I woke up early on Saturday and immediately got busy. I made a big pot of steel cut oats. Have you tried them? They have to cook for a long time but are absolutely delicious! With my belly full of healthy breakfast, I got busy. After my weekly chat with Carolyn, I headed to the library to pick up the deposit from the Christmas decoration sale. Santa arrived for story time with Santa as I was prepping the deposit. I got all choked up watching the kids with Santa. So cute! After the bank, I hit the thrift store for the bag sale. The bins were half empty instead of brimming like usual so I wasn’t thinking I’d find much but four bags later, I paid my $6.15 (yes, for four bags full of stuff!) and went right to Andrea’s to hand over what I’d bought for her. She got 2 really cute J. Jill tops, a 100% silk hoodie and a few other things. I sorted the stacks for everyone else while I was there. Then it was home to pick the turkey.

Picking a turkey is work! I made the first pass and had my last serving of turkey with the stuffing scavenged from the carcass, froze a couple of bags for casseroles and put the bones on for stock. While that was cooking, I headed outside, where we were having another freakishly warm day. It was in the mid 60’s so I was fine in just a t-shirt and even got a bit sweaty dealing with the trees. I put the deck tree in the stand and cut the bottom off my inside tree and put it in water. I trimmed enough off the bottom to make a swag for the side door and moved the pretty wreath to the front. Then it was time to head inside and pick more turkey. Sheesh. I had enough stock for soup and tetrazzini and had plenty of icky bits for the cats. After enjoying a cup of tea in the living room in the fading sun, I made tetrazzini and Brussels sprouts and sat down to yummy dinner with a glass of wine. I had hoped to start my calendar pages but only got the stamp sets picked. It’d have to be Sunday.

I was up early again on Sunday and made some eggs before sitting down to read the paper and watch CBS Sunday Morning. As soon as it was over, I started the laundry and slogged through all my scrapbook paper looking for inspiration. I had four pages to design and had one down by noon. I had intended to stop for lunch but was in the groove so finished another before stopping for a late lunch. I created  grilled stuffed burritos in my George Foreman with turkey, salsa, corn and cheese with some Arizona Dreamin’ spice from Penzeys. Yum! Then it was back to pages after hanging out my sheets, which would not have enough time to dry on the line before dark. Oh well. I had my pages done in time to have a late cup of tea on the deck as the sun went down. Then I cleaned up the incredible mess I’d made pulling out all the paper, ink and tools so I wouldn’t be facing a mess. Since that was all tidy, I cleaned up the kitchen too. Then after another dinner of tetrazzini, I went through photos and picked a few possibilities for the calendars.

All in all, it was a good week. I won a pair of socks and a project bag on Ravelry plus got a lot done. There’s still some Christmas knitting pressure but it’s only the 2nd so I’m going to keep plugging away and try not to stress about it. There are two more weekends and plenty to do – trees to decorate, stocking stuffers to wrap and ship… it’ll all get done. It always does. Ho ho ho.