Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 30 - Yarn and Produce

I made a new friend this week! Otherwise it was just another summer week – blazing heat and humidity at the start but by the end of the week, it was cool enough to open the windows. I was watering for Lorri and my neighbor so was stopping both before and after work to water. At work, closing meetings started so my busiest two weeks of my work year are here. It’s all good.

A woman from the Bursar’s Office had a party in our conference room to honor her mom, who had recently died. I popped in to pay my respects and ended up sitting, eating and listening to Theresa’s stories, which were touching. I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me, who works in the Registrar’s Office on the first floor yet I’d never seen her. We started talking and it’s like we were separated at birth. She’s a gardener, organic no less, liberal, my age and single. It was like old home week and we had a lovely chat. I emailed her when I got back to my desk and we made plans to eat lunch together on Wednesday. The conversation was easy and never lagged. We’re going to get together again after she finishes summer graduation and I’m back from RI. How fun to find a new friend, right?

I tried to not let the blazing heat impact my life and parking across the street helped. Have I mentioned recently how much, in a good way, paying for an assigned spot has made such a big difference in my life? Anyway, it was over 100 with the heat index on Tuesday but I ventured to East Campus at lunch to hear Timothy Schaffert speak about his new book The Swan Gondola, which I’m half way through. It was worth going out in the heat and I introduced myself and chatted with him a bit after the lecture. If you haven’t read his books, you should. They’re quirky and well written. He’s a Nebraska author and teaches at UNL.

The work week flew by. I was ticking things off of my Nora’s gone to do list and answering questions from all fronts constantly it seemed. By the end of the week, I was concentrating on closing meeting prep. Mary had been out of town but returned Wednesday afternoon and the first closing meeting was Thursday. Nora was back to work on Friday.

I was looking forward to the weekend big time. I had no plans, which was a first in awhile, and it was going to be hot on Saturday so I planned to stay inside and get stuff done. I’d fought the urge to head straight home on Friday, stopping at Menard’s and Home Depot to buy the egg crate plastic light cover panels I would use to keep the repacked Corelle boxes (the entire back seat of my car was loaded with new cardboard boxes) off the basement floor. So there was that and I wanted to do a bunch of cooking. The house hadn’t been cleaned since before the cookout. Yikes!

Well, I did keep busy on Saturday but can’t say I got anything done in the basement. Nor did I clean. But I did manage to go through every bit of my yarn and reorganize it all. That was because of a yarn fiasco that happened mid-week, where I sold some yarn that I had posted online but then couldn’t find it. I spent all night Wednesday ripping through all my yarn, still not finding it and leaving piles of yarn all over the front and spare rooms. The buyer was flexible about colors though so between my stash and Anne’s, I came up with replacement yarn. Anyway, I spent all afternoon Saturday reorganizing it all, never finding the missing yarn by the way. I have way too much yarn. There, I said it.

I had managed to get the house picked up and the kitchen back in order before I tackled the yarn so I spent Sunday messing it up again. I was drowning in produce! I had picked 2 kinds of squash from my garden then was given cucumbers (from 2 different people), peppers and a bag of sweet corn. The Warehouse had strawberries for 50 cents a box so I’d bought a couple of those too, which would need some heavy picking over but it was worth it at that price.

I woke up at 5:00 on Sunday and couldn’t fall back asleep so was up making an omelet at 5:30. After a relaxing morning of knitting and laundry, I got busy cooking. I made cucumber salad, ham salad, squash/pesto pasta for dinner, prepped a ton of strawberries (made sauce for cakes to take to knitting and froze some puree to make jam this winter) and made an experimental bread – strawberry/banana with chocolate chips. I still have the corn to deal with and will buy some Italian sausage for sausage and peppers but feel good with my cleaned out frig and lots of food for this busy week. I’ll bring a big bag of scraps to knitting for Lori’s chickens and have plenty to take good lunches to work and have more pasta to nuke for dinners too. This next week will be a busy one so it’ll be good to have yummy food that’s ready to go. And the weather will be glorious so it’s all good.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 29 - Some Gorgeous Weather

The weather was the star of this week and drove much of what I spent my time on. The polar vortex was a gift from Mother Nature – no humidity and highs in the 70’s all week, which meant cool nights too so I opened the windows and slept great. We got a solid week of this and I took advantage of it.

Early in the week I decided I needed to take some time off to work in the yard and Wednesday was the best day. I had to reschedule a training session I’d scheduled for that afternoon and once that was done, I just had to decide between a full and half day. The dermatologist made that decision.

I had my first ever dermatologist appointment on Tuesday afternoon. While I wanted a full body review for all my moles and bumps (thanks Grandma!), it was more about getting established as a patient for the next time my eczema flares up. I pointed out a spot on my back that I wanted them to look and a callous on my palm. I was floored when he said they could cut them right then so out came the needles and within a couple of minutes I was band aided and good to go. But I couldn’t swim that night so I decided on a half day Wednesday (it’d be too chilly to work first thing and by going to work, it ensured I’d not dink the morning away) and headed home to start.

I started in the front, cutting and nuking all the weed trees in the parking (the Nebraska word for the strip between the sidewalk and street.) When that was done, I cut down the huge weed trees (they’d been there a few years so were 2-3” in diameter) by the garage. Since I only have a pruning saw, this took some time so I was ready for a shower and dinner once I was done. It was a good start.

I had meant to water my veg beds before work on Wednesday morning but completely spaced. Lorri to the rescue! She went over and turned the sprinkler on so the soil would be soft and it’s be easy to weed when I got home. The neighborhood kid I’d hired to clean the gutters was almost done when I got home and was done by the time I’d eaten lunch. Then I started weeding. Unfortunately the sprinkler had broken and so hadn’t been oscillating. I did the two wet beds then put a different sprinkler on the other 2 beds and went out front to trim some lower branches on my crabapple that were interfering with mowing. Again just a pruning saw so hard word. I turned off the sprinkler and took a break while the worst of the water dripped off then weeded the last two beds, revealing my first crop of wax beans. Yay!

After a tea and knitting break, I headed in to do some cooking. First on the list was a pie for Ed – strawberry rhubarb. I made a big one for him, a small one for me and a quiche with the extra crust. I steamed up the beans and had already hulled all the strawberries so I just kept going and cleaned out the frig. After eating some quiche and beans for dinner (yum!), I delivered the pie and a huge bag of chicken food, getting home just in time to shower before sitting down at 8:00 to watch Extant. What a wonderfully productive afternoon off. All vacation time should be so satisfying.

Thursday was Nora’s last day before being off for a week so we needed some catch up time before she left. But I was scheduled at East Campus all afternoon for a custom training – two classes in one afternoon. My plan was to go as fast as possible so I could get back before 5:00. Well, despite being very specific that I needed a conference room with a computer that could project on the wall and get to SAP, the room they’d booked didn’t even have a computer. The laptop they brought in (I could have brought one myself!) was so old it couldn’t do SAP. After trying and failing in another room, I gave up and headed back to the office. It was a good thing, giving me plenty of time with Nora and I was done in time to swim. All good.

Friday was over in a flash as I dealt with all the emails Nora and Mary, who was also out, had sent overnight. I took an afternoon break to get a frapuccino because my Starbuck’s was closing at 5:00 for renovations so it’d be my last for awhile. I was supposed to meet Anne at a new thrift shop after work but she bailed so I went alone. It’s in an old Catholic school in a nice neighborhood but is a step down from the other thrifts in town. I did score a couple of skeins of good yarn for $1.00 each and then got a couple more at Goodwill on the way home. Nice way to end the work week.

Saturday was the last day before the heat and humidity was coming back. While I’d planned to spend it in the yard, when Darla suggested meeting for breakfast, I jumped at the chance. We met at 8:40 at Cook’s CafĂ©, which is where Connie and I used to eat after the farmers’ market. They have the best sausage. Yum. It was great to catch up (I miss my Darla fact time) then we did a bit of shopping but split up before noon. I was home by 1:00 but felt drained and sat in a chair for most of the afternoon, only getting up to neatize the house and do some dishes after tea time. Oh well. I did manage to get a bit done outside just at dark but at least the kitchen was picked up.

Sunday was blazing hot and humid. I spent the day inside, venturing out only to hang sheets on the line. I finally did some cooking. I can’t tell you what I’ve been eating this summer but it feels like I haven’t had a hardy meal in ages. I made my turkey dinner casserole and ate that with cranberry sauce and the last of the beans. It tasted SO good and now I have more to eat all week. It’s going to be a hot one and I’ll be inside for sure. Maybe with dinner ready to go I’ll get more done downstairs? I live in hope. Stay cool.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 28 - Yarny and Productive

What a fun week! What’s not to like about a week that starts and ends with yarn, includes new, cheap Birkenstocks, has plenty of productivity and ends with the polar vortex dropping temps to gorgeous levels? NOTHING.

Monday was our monster sock night at knitting. Monster socks, which are SO fun to knit, are socks made from leftover yarn. There are all kinds of ways to make them and they appeal to my favorite thing – using stuff up. So we all brought our scraps to knitting, threw them into the middle of the table and started matching things up. I had a ball! I couldn’t stop putting together color combinations and said, “Look at that!” so many times that they were ribbing me. Everyone left with beautiful yarn combinations and I left with way less than I brought – just enough for one pair. Worked for me! It’s not like I don’t have plenty more yarn, and leftovers, at home.

Another fun thing was the Birkenstock store’s annual sale on Thursday. I had gone too late last year and hadn’t found anything so I was determined to go earlier. It opens at 10:00 and that’s always a mob scene so I left work at 11:30, figuring I’d arrive before the lunch crowd. I got to the store and there was a line out the door, down the plaza and then back again. It was the line to pay! Inside the store wasn’t as crowded and I immediately found what I was looking for – purple summer sandals. Then I found a pair of Keen tie shoes for winter. Score! I went out to wait in line, which took 50 minutes but was fun because I chatted with the women on either side of me. Then when I got inside and could access the side of my size table that was blocked by the line, I found another pair of sandals – navy blue with a soft footbed. Nice. All told my lunch hour was almost 2 hours long but I scored 3 pairs of shoes for $221 ($70 each plus tax) so I was happy, happy, happy.

Otherwise, there was nothing special about the week, unless you count getting my summer short haircut, which always feels good. I did get quite a few things off my to do list but it all about getting to the weekend for me. I was heading down to the basement and looking forward to it.

I was down there Saturday morning right after breakfast and coffee. I had put the linen shelf back together on Friday night with real milk crates so it wouldn’t collapse so I was ready to organize those linens. It didn’t take long to load the shelf up but then I moved to the other wall, which was stacked with baskets that were a bit precarious and I was worried that I’d find pooled water under them. Nope! That was a relief. I restacked everything and by lunch time the room was in apple pie order. Even the table in the center was clear and there was nothing on the floor that wasn’t in a basket and where it needed to be. Now to deal with the other rooms but that would have to wait.

Andrea and I were headed to the grand opening of the newly relocation to Omaha yarn shop – Wooly Mammoth. A few of the knitting group had been there before and said there was a $5/skein sale bin full of fun stuff. I had hoped for a quick trip so I could be home in time for tea then get downstairs again before supper. Yeah, right. But it was worth it to include a few other stops. The first one was Omaha’s old yarn shop – Personal Threads. We were there for Koigu mill ends, which Heidi from knitting had bought to monster sock night, but I found a few other skeins I had to have. At least a couple were from the clearance rack. Then we hit Goodwill, where I dropped the bag that had been in my backseat for a week, and then Penzey’s, where I cashed in 3 coupons for free spices so at least something was frugal. Then it was on to Wooly Mammoth.

The $5 rack was full of fun stuff and I got some bargains. The best bargain though was some Regia Fluormania sock yarn in a day glow green colorway for just $3.95/skein! Of course I took one look and knew I could make it beautiful with kool aid. I bought 2 skeins and Jacob from spinning group, who we bumped into at the store, bought the rest. I did buy one skein of full price sock yarn but had so many deals that I left with a bag full of quality yarn for only $70. What fun! We didn’t get home until dinner time but I still had Sunday so was fine with our yarny afternoon.

I was back downstairs right after breakfast and got busy in the craft room.  Just moving the ebay linens back to the linen room made a big difference but then I started going through the baskets looking for summer clothes that had languished in the ironing basket since last fall. By lunchtime, I’d made a big dent and although I’d considered hosting knitting in the afternoon, I decided I’d rather keep going downstairs so ate a quick lunch and went back down. I sorted and sorted – sweaters for felting, yarn and already felted, immediate ironing (found those summer clothes) and ironing to wait, mending and fabric. Lots and lots of baskets but at least they’re organized and I freed up lots of floor space. There's another big bag for Goodwill and even the table is clear. I did lots of laundry and some actual ironing before going upstairs to clean up the kitchen. I had hoped to get some cooking done but ran out of time. I can eat out of the freezer this week if I must. It was all worth it to make such progress downstairs.

And mid afternoon, when I was upstairs taking a yarn dyeing break to fix a skein of the hideous day glow yarn with blue kool aid, my cell phone rang (always unusual) and it was Peggy from DocKnits calling to get my credit card info to book the fall retreat. So that’s official and Sue has me in a suite in the main B&B (there’s an overflow one too) with Cindy, Eileen and Gail so I’ll be back with all my Lakes and York trip friends knitting in Canada at the end of September. I also checked email to see I'd won some beautiful yarn from a blog contest. Yet more yarny goodness!

Good week, right? Not only did I have some yarny fun but I got the basement on the way to under control. To top it all off, I spent Sunday night watching PBS and stashing all my new yarn on Ravelry. And I ended the night by finishing a pair of problem socks that would have been done days earlier but for a mistake that left me ripping out 2/3rds of the 2nd socks just before I’d thought I was done. And the best end to the week was the polar vortex that would be ushering in gorgeous, cool weather while I slept. Life is good!

And on that note, I meant to share this link. What a great post! Time to rethink my password practices. : )

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 27 - Quite a Turnaround

I was looking forward to a four day week and making lists of what I’d do every night so I wouldn’t be slamming for the cookout on Friday. The difference this year was I didn’t have a cleaning lady so had to worry about not only the usual cookout prep but cleaning the entire house too. It definitely needed a thorough cleaning and it’s not like I got anything done the previous weekend.

Sounds good, right? Well, I was walking to the ladies’ room on Monday morning and my knee blew. It was very bent and I couldn’t put any weight on it. A co-worker went to my car for my cane and I started making calls – Parking for a temp handicapped permit, my doctor for a shot (got a Wednesday afternoon appointment – not bad) and Belinda to have her husband feed my campus cats. All that done, I plowed ahead, ignoring my knee and keeping working. I contemplated not going to knitting but when Donna said I could use the lift to get into the club, I decided to go. I could sit at home not using my knee or sit with friends not using me knee. Easy decision.

I didn’t sleep much at all Monday night because every time I shifted in my sleep, I woke up because of the knee. I got up and tried to get ready for work but just couldn’t do it. Between the problematic knee and being so tired, I called in. Yes, I did. A rarity but I’m glad I did. I sat and knitted all morning, only getting up when I had to go. Well, at some point late morning, I got up and my knee wasn’t bent and I could put weight on it again! It wasn’t perfect but SO much better. At that point I started feeling guilty, completely dismissing the idea that staying home and off my knee is probably what fixed it. Oh well. That’s me.

I went back to work on Wednesday and left early for the doctor’s appointment. My knee was still better but with the cookout coming, I got the shot anyway. I woke up Thursday morning feeling great but still took it easy and didn’t do any cookout prep until Friday morning, when I was a veritable banshee. It was finally heating up so I got the outside stuff done early and then cleaned like I haven’t in decades. Luckily I tried to cook a burger on the grill for lunch because I was out of gas, which meant a run to the gas station, in a completely socially unacceptable outfit, mind you. I finished my short list and jumped in the shower, getting out just before people started arriving.

It was a gorgeous night and everyone seemed to have fun. The marinated sirloin kabobs I’d made were a big hit (much easier to deal with than steaks) and the corn on the cob was delicious – my first this year. Everyone brought yummy food to share and we all chatted around the table waiting for dark and the fireworks, with Anne, Andrea and I knitting, of course. Everyone left after the fireworks except Andrea, who stayed to help me clean up. By the time I went to bed at 1:00, just about everything was done. It was another successful 4th of July party. Much better than last year when I was alone and covered in hives. : )

I was up at 6:30 on Saturday so was pretty tired. I finished cleaning up the kitchen and put away the outside chairs but didn’t do much else besides sit and knit until late afternoon. I made sausage and peppers for supper and a strata for breakfast then slogged through the refrigerator, prepping berries and making of a bag for Lori’s chickens of leftover corn, old berries, etc. Not much done by the end of the day but I could live with that.

Sunday was chores, which really only meant laundry because I’d spent all day Friday cleaning. But in prepping for Friday I’d also loaded up the spare room with lots of stuff from around the house, including filling my laundry basket with papers from the desk, which is notorious as my hot spot. I started going through those papers and before you know it, I’d continued on and didn’t stop until I’d gone through every paper on the desk. And I didn’t just pile them up but created files. I’ve had that file crate under my desk for at least ten years and have finally put it to use. Happy happy! Then having found my missing poster from Victory Garden of Tomorrow behind the desk, I framed it and hung it, which lead to hanging the print I’d bought in Ireland in the bathroom and another in the living room. I even dyed some yarn in the afternoon, inspired by my hanging impatiens. By the end of the day, I was feeling pretty good about things. My knee was twinging a bit so I spent the evening relaxing. I deserved it, don’t you think?

So, I’ve inspired myself to keep tackling some of the things I’ve been looking at for so long that they look normal but are really just out of place piles of crap. Know what I mean? Next up will be the shelf over the couch, which a year after having the floors redone is still full of breakables from all over the house that I moved there for safety reasons. I have until Labor Day to finish the spare room and there’s always the basement. If this heat and humidity sticks around, I’ll have plenty of inside time this summer. And if it does get cooler, there’s the garden. Either way I have plenty to do and can only hope I don’t lose my mojo. Please ask how I’m doing. That should help.