Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Extra - My Famous Tree

My tree is featured on the blog mylifeinknitwear today for all its read hearts. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 51 - Some Good Decisions

Despite sleeping badly, I bounced into the office Monday morning, happy with my weekend’s productivity and asked the boys, “Good morning. Did everyone have a productive weekend?” The response? “It was nice but why would it have to be productive?” Seriously? Ten days before Christmas? You can bet the wives had a productive weekend. Men.

Anyway, Monday was the typical long day with work then knitting. I then slept badly again so I was exhausted on Tuesday. After doing a private training session across campus for most of the afternoon, I was spent. I had planned to swim then go out with the water aerobics crew. Normally I’d be all about a festive night out with friends but not that night. I opted instead to go right home and knew the second I walked in the door that I’d made the right decision. I made a nice dinner of cheesy baked cauliflower and ham slice. Yum! After talking to my sister, Ginny, and watching a bit of TV, I went to bed early, taking 2 benadryl as insurance (genius idea from Carolyn.) I slept for six hours straight and was able to fall back asleep so woke with the alarm. I felt like a new woman.

I had high hopes for a good day Wednesday and wasn’t disappointed. After a morning sitting in on a training session, I had UAAD’s Graze & Mingle holiday lunch. Not only did I get to enjoy pizza with friends but I won a pair of headphones in the drawing, which a friend promptly looked up to see if I could return them, which I can at Best Buy for money to put towards the flat screen I want for the craft room. Yay! I was looking forward to swimming. It would be the last water yoga class maybe ever. It’s my favorite class and isn’t being offered next semester. The day was winding down when the phone rang. It was the president of Husker Cats explaining that she had called a meeting at 5:15 and had sent the announcement to the wrong Marilyn a week before. I gave her an update on my feeding duties (nothing new there) and told her I already had plans. I then spent the last half hour of the day going back and forth on whether to swim or go to the meeting. Swimming won out and it was the right decision. I enjoyed it immensely and the cats were none the worse for my missing the meeting.

On Thursday morning I got a response from my sister. She had emailed earlier in the week that she had put up her first Christmas tree since she got married and converted to Judaism. I had offered to go through my ornaments, which I’d intended to do to donate to the library but had run out of time so now I could send some to her, which she happily accepted. So after a productive day at work punctuated by  a nice lunch with Dodie, I swam (last time for three weeks) then headed home to go through boxes and boxes of ornaments. I packed up a large flat rate box and prepped it for shipping before going to bed for the first night without Benadryl. The next day was Friday. : )

I finished my last pair of Christmas socks in the morning (another yay!) and after mailing Dottie’s ornaments, I stopped at the fancy donut shop because I hadn’t eaten enough sugar that week (OMG – so not true!) and headed to work. The day flew by and I checked quite a few things off my pre-break list, had lunch with Layton and made a beeline home at the end of the day.

I had a big weekend to do list to prepare for my Christmas trip. I never left the house all weekend and slammed through a million things. My goal was to get as much done as possible so I could spend Sunday sewing Carolyn’s purse. Almost 3 years ago, Carolyn had asked if I’d make a purse she liked. I agreed so she bought the pattern and the hardware and sent them to me. On my next trip, I brought fabric for her to chose from, none of which she liked. I emailed a photo of others awhile later and she chose one. My intent was to make it before the next time I saw Carolyn. Well, I’ve seen her several times and have yet to make it so Sunday was the day. The fabric and hardware are somewhere in the craft room so I headed down Sunday morning to dig them up. Well, 2.5 hours later I still hadn’t found them. I was upstairs digging through a tote in the spare room when Carolyn called and granted me a reprieve. The supplies must be somewhere downstairs and I’ll dig more after Christmas. With that off the list, the afternoon was all mine.

All I had left on my to do list was to pack (just a matter of putting the laundry into a suitcase), wrap a few more presents (I had socks and a felted set drying all over the house) and do a general tidy up – all doable in the breaks of the Downton Abbey season 4 marathon on PBS. What a lovely day I had. Lots of knitting interspersed with chores and I was in the home stretch to fly out Tuesday.

Just one more day at work and I’m off to Rhode Island. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. I intend to, surrounded by family and friends. Life doesn’t get better than that. Enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 50 - Loving the Season

What a busy, fun and productive week. I accomplished everything that needed doing on time, sold a bunch of yarn, had fun with family and friends and am on track for Christmas. Yay, right? The only negative was a stomach bug that had me puking in the wee hours and home from work on Wednesday. But in looking for the bright side, I’m hoping this got it out of the way so I won’t be puking on a plane like last Christmas.

It was all about deadlines this past week. I had a big list with things to do every day and night to get it done on time. I went through all my Christmas stuff and delivered the extra to the library on Monday night. I mailed yarn just about every day – 29 less skeins in my house and a newly replenished PayPal balance. After getting nothing done on Wednesday, I was back to work on Thursday, got my hair cut after work and then started wrapping stocking stuffers. I had Ginny’s box ready to go Thursday night and did Dottie’s on Friday. After pulling 3 lots of yarn from my basement acrylic stash for Dottie to crochet afghans, I packed up that huge box and was at the post office before they closed on Saturday. Done! All that was left on the short list for the weekend (except chores, of course) was to put up the inside tree.

I was scheduled to pick Andrea up at 1:00 on Saturday for a shopping trip to Seward. I had just gotten home from the post office when the phone rang. Helen was on her way into town and wanted to know if I wanted her to bring BK over. Sure. I only had an hour but we caught up over burgers and I ran out the door at 1:00 to get Andrea. After a fun time hitting all the stores in Seward, I suggested we drive to Stromsberg to the yarn shop to pick up the prize Andrea had won last month. They were open until 5:00 and we could be there by 4:30 so we headed west. But when we arrived after driving 40+ miles in the wrong direction, the store was dark. I was not happy. I called Lori to get the shop’s number and Andrea called the owner who agreed to come back. We crashed a private Christmas party at the coffee shop next door while we waited and then I bought a pity skein of yarn since she’d come back for us. That accomplished, the problem was Andrea had a date at 6:00 and this had held us up. She called her date and we made plans to meet on the highway near his farm so they could still make their dinner and basketball game. It was pitch black, foggy and drizzling and I’m trying to find an unlit, long defunct truck stop along a country highway, which I did and dropped Andrea at 5:50 and was home by 6:15. I thought that was it but…

Helen called to say she needed to drop something by my house on her way to the Laundromat. I was cooking dinner when she called and offered her some when she arrived but she didn’t have time. No problem. I made up 2 plates and threw placemats, windex, cutlery and salt into a book bag and headed out. By the time her loads were all in, I had windexed the funky Laundromat table with attached stools and set it for dinner. We had a lovely time continuing our chat from the morning. Of course I’d brought my knitting. What an odd but nice end to the day. Clearly I wasn’t getting my tree up Saturday. Sunday was another day. Lorri was coming after church for tea and cookies but I’d have time in the morning to neatize the house so went to bed.

And woke up at 3:30 a.m. After laying in bed for half an hour, I got up and picked up the entire house, did the pots and pans, read for half an hour and went back to bed at 5:30. The cats had all gone out because it was 54 degrees at 3:30 so I was able to sleep until 7:30. I had a nice morning having done everything in the wee hours then enjoyed a nice chat with Lorri over tea and the Christmas cookies she’d brought. Once she left, it was time for laundry and putting up the tree. My little inside tree had a funky shape but you'd never know it once it was up and decorated. It was a Charlie Brown transformation and I love it.

So by the end of the day I’d crossed the last thing off my week’s holiday to do list. All that was left for Christmas was wrapping Carolyn’s stocking stuffers and the few gifts for friends. Oh, and finishing my last pair of socks but I’m on the 2nd one so that’ll happened. Then I’ll prep for being gone and pack. Nothing stressful and I have a whole other weekend. I’m loving this holiday season! Love both my trees, love being so on top of things and love having time to socialize. I hope you are all having holiday fun too. Just ten more days. Ho ho ho.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 49 - Making the List

Tis the season for….. lists! It’s that time of year when I realize that Christmas is coming fast and start making lists. The only good thing about not seeing my sisters at Christmas is the fact that everything is pushed up a bit. All my to do’s are based getting stuff done in time for the shipping date for my sisters’ stocking packages. Once I get those done and shipped, the heat is off and I can enjoy the last week before I fly back to Rhode Island for Christmas at Carolyn’s. Let the countdown begin!

Now I’m usually pretty strategic (it’s my #1 theme in the Clifton StrenghtsFinder) about getting things done but that goes into overdrive this time of year. I cram things in before work, over lunch, whenever I can to get multiple things done at once so I have more time at home when I finally get there. So Monday wasn’t just going to knitting after work, it was getting gas, stopping home so I could deliver something to a knitter, getting pizza and stopping at the store for my last swap item then going to the library. That and a 30 mile drive all in 65 minutes. That kind of thing. In every available minute.

With Thanksgiving being so late, there was leftover turkey to deal with. I skipped swimming on Tuesday in favor of taking care of all the turkey. I divvied up the last of the stuffing into little casseroles then covered it with turkey and gravy and it went into the freezer with a dollop of cranberry for mid-winter turkey fixes. Then I cubed up all the breast meat into one cup portions and into the freezer it went. Last but not least was the pot of soup then a small quiche just to have some non-turkey. Done! Nora and I did a Trader Joe’s run on Wednesday for all the fun Christmas stuff and I was back in the pool after work. I had intended to spend a leisurely night watching Survivor and relaxing but something that happened on the drive home nixed that.

One of the benefits of swimming after work is that I miss “rush hour” traffic, which is nothing much in Lincoln compared to back east but it’s still nice to miss it. I had just turned onto highway 77, which is the 2 lane road I’m on for 20+ miles between Lincoln and Wahoo. As is often the case in Nebraska where no one understands the concept of keeping right expect to pass, you get a granny dying in the left hand lane because 3 miles up the road she’s turning left. Well there was a Dodge Charger in the right lane that purposely kept pace with the granny (going 50 in a 55) and blocked the entire highway causing a clog of cars. He finally inched up and a string of cars passed the granny on the right. As soon as the 3rd car cleared her, the charger stepped on the gas and shot away. Jerk. I didn’t give him much thought until I was north of I-80 and he continued to be a jerk, doing the same move over and over. As we headed further north and the other cars thinned out, I made a concerted effort to get away from him but no matter what speed I went, he matched it, with occasional bursts of speed followed by slowing down. Since I was the only other car on the road, I was beginning to get worried but couldn’t lose him. Then I was going just below the speed limit (65) in the left hand lane in an attempt to avoid him when he swerved in front of me and slammed on his breaks. I slammed mine on, sending everything in the car flying and just when I was about to hit him, he floored it and sped off. I was shaken but had noted his license plate so turned off at Ceresco to put some distance between us. I got back on the highway but caught up with him again further on (WTF!) so cut over to the old highway via a gravel road. As soon as I got home, I called the cops. They listened to my story, took his plate number and my name and she said she’d tell the deputy and he’d most likely contact the guy. Sheesh! Talk about on edge! I was shaken and wondering if I’d have to worry about encountering him other nights. I nuked some quiche, poured a glass of wine and settled in for Survivor.

Well the TV was on but I wasn’t paying much attention while I was trying to find a hotel for the 2 nights in New Orleans before the cruise in February. Come to find out, it’s smack in the middle of Mardi Gras so everything was super pricey or fully booked. Between the highway drama and worrying about finding a hotel, I slept like crap and was up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Like up up – out of bed and on the computer. I finally was able to fall back asleep for an hour before the alarm went off. I was not as tired as I’d thought I’d be on Thursday and after a few emails with Connie, I booked the Hyatt for $200/night. Expensive but centrally located and close to the docks. Best part? Done! After another whirlwind night (pool, eating in the car and straight to the library for book club), I slept great Thursday night. Good thing because I’d need my energy for everything I planned to do over the weekend.

I had a big list for Friday too. I opted for a quick lunch with Layton so I’d have time to run to Menard’s afterwards. It took me longer to walk through the store to the garden center than it did to pick out my two trees and a wreath. I had them loaded in the car and was back to work. There was another list for after work too but I was home with groceries and ready to start my weekend by 6:30. Nice.

Getting the first blast of Christmas tree smell when I got into the car Friday night went a long way towards getting me in the Christmas spirit. Finding that it was story time with Santa at the library when I stopped to prep a Friends deposit on Saturday morning sealed the deal. I went home and had my wreath on the door and my outside tree up and decorated in short order. I then headed into the spare room to dig out all my stocking stuffers and see if I had any holes. Since the spare room is my dumping ground and holds most of my yarn, this was no easy step. I was happy to see I had plenty for all the stockings. Now it was time to neatize the entire house and clear the bar so I could get the calendars done. Between all this I was madly knitting on my sister’s Christmas socks, which would have to be done before I could ship stockings. Pressure!

Fast forward to Sunday night. The chores were done, the calendars were put together and all the scrapbooking stuff put away. The bar was clear and ready for wrapping. The only thing I didn’t get done was to go through all my Christmas stuff so I could donate the extras to the library’s holiday decoration sale. There was a box in the middle of the floor that would first up on next week’s list but there were more boxes in the basement that’d just have to wait. All in all, I was pleased with my progress and was even in the home stretch on Dottie’s second sock. I ended the week making a big batch of turkey tetrazzini with the last of the turkey stock (enough for the week’s dinners, to share with Andrea and put 2 small casseroles in the freezer) and getting a thank you from my friend Cindy for the socks I’d sent her earlier in the week. Then I got a note from the designer and she wants to use my socks on her pattern page. All good. Check them out. 

Now for the next week’s list. Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 48 - Busy Thanksgiving Break

This week was all about 4 days off. In a row. With no firm plans. Heaven!

The three work days flew by, which was an added bonus. With my usual long days with knitting Monday and swimming Tuesday, getting out just after 3:00 (they always let us leave early but don’t let us know until right before “trickle out” time starts) was extra nice. While I usually would make a beeline home, I’d gotten a Big Lots coupon for $5 off $25 and since I hadn’t been in awhile, I decided to go. I got lots of fun stuff so it was worth the trip and after a stop at the supermarket in Wahoo (so no long lines), I was ready for my Thanksgiving break. Or so I thought. I looked in the cupboard and didn’t find turkey bags so had to get dressed and go back out at 8:00 because I was determined to not leave the house on Thursday. Sheesh!

I slept late Thursday, which was wonderful because I’ve been having lots of nights of bad sleep lately, so instead of making a nice breakfast and then having turkey mid-afternoon, I had a bowl of cheerios first thing because I didn’t want to wait for breakfast. I enjoyed the morning, sitting in the sun and knitting, ate something small for lunch then got cooking. First up was blueberry pie and after that was done, the stuffed turkey and sweet potatoes went into the oven. I was keeping it simple so other than gravy and some broccoli, the cooking was done. I then got a wild hair (or it is hare?) that I needed to take a picture of my latest socks, called Corn Mint Socks, in a corn field. So despite my vow to not leave the house, I found myself driving the back roads outside of town looking for an unhavested cornfield. After settling for a photo on a single stalk at the edge of a field, I was on the way home when I found a half harvested field and trudged out to get my pics. I snapped this one in the stubble on the way back to the car. Gorgeous, right? It was worth going out in the cold and the smell of baking turkey when I went back into my toasty house was the icing on the cake. I enjoyed my turkey dinner for one (I’d declined two invitations in favor of my solo dinner, btw) and talked to my sister at the end of the day. It’d been a lovely Thanksgiving.

Darla and I were going out to breakfast and a movie on Friday so I was out the door at 8:00 to meet at a diner in Lincoln, having already chosen calendar pics, uploaded them and ordered prints from Walgreens. We had a yummy breakfast (they substituted tater tots for hash browns – nothing better!) and catch up the decided to hit our favorite thrift store before the movie. I’d popped in quickly earlier in the week but only to check for yarn (none) so we did the whole store. I got a short sleeved shirt and Darla got a pair of pants but we really scored in the yarn. They had bags and bags stuffed with yarn for $1.98 each. I filled the cart with bags for Anne and then hit the best bargain ever just down the aisle – a brand new pair of Birkenstocks in brown for $35. They’re the same style as a blue pair I wear all the time. Yay! We then headed to Interstellar. The weather had turned and it was warming way up so when we got out just before 3:00 (that was a shock because it was 3 hours long!), I headed straight home to mow. It was going to be even warmer on Saturday so mowing was just step #1 in my outdoor to do list.

I got up early on Saturday and stripped my bed to the bare mattress, flipped it and started washing linens to hang on the line. I had four loads done and on the line when I headed to Lori’s to drop my two pumpkins and my Thanksgiving dinner scraps for her girls (chickens.) After a quick lunch, I was outside trimming perennials out front. A complete stranger was driving by with a pick up load of leaves and after chatting to my neighbors, he helped me cut the last of the dead plants and then added them to his load a drove off. Nice! From there it was on to the monstrously overgrown yew in front of the house. I’d borrowed an electric hedge trimmer from Lori and started at it. It took hours and by the time the sun was going down, my arms were rubber and it was done but for a few tall branches in the middle that I’d have to use my loppers while hanging out my bedroom window. It’d have to wait until I could use my arms again. I forced myself to drain the hoses and store them away while my tea water boiled. I was exhausted but happy with what I’d gotten done. It wasn’t everything but was the big stuff. I’ll handle the rest in spring if it doesn’t get warm again.

So I’d made a huge list during the previous week of all the things I was going to get done inside over break. I’d done almost none of them so Sunday was going to have to be productive inside. I still had some clean up from cooking, more laundry to do, bags of yarn all over the back of the house and crap everywhere. I had also agreed to go to Lori’s for knitting at 3:00. I got it all done and even went through all the paper on my desk but never made it to my project list. The only thing I was really disappointed at not getting done was going through all my Christmas stuff so I could donate the spare stuff to the library’s holiday sale. Oh well. It’ll have to wait until next weekend. Knitting at Lori’s was fun and I didn’t get home until after 7:00.

Despite not getting to most of my to do list, it was a lovely break. I had good food, time with friends and got tons done. The warm weather was a gift. Did I mention that I did my outdoor chores in short and a t-shirt? And it was -4 with the wind chill 12 hours later. With the outside put to bed for winter and now that Thanksgiving’s over, I feel ready for Christmas mode. I have three weeks to finish my last 2 pairs of socks, wrap and ship stockings and get ready to fly to RI. It will all get done. It always does.