Thursday, May 19, 2011

I like to drink wine more than I used to. (Vito Corleone in The Godfather )

With my friend Mary's help, I was able to mark off one of my 50 by 50 goals this evening. The two of us attended a Wine 101 class at Total Wine & More. We had a really good time, and I learned a lot.

The class started with a "bonus" taste of a German Riesling (Dr. Heidemanns). It was a great start, and I ended up bringing home a bottle. (So did Mary.)

We went over the basics of wine tasting, starting with how to open a bottle of wine. Once the wine is opened, there is a lot more than just swigging it down. But they walked us through the process slowly, and soon I was swirling my glass and admiring the aroma and bouquet with the best of them. I had a little more trouble identifying the different flavors and tastes. After a while I figured out that if I nodded wisely and murmured "hmm, oaky with complex layers" the others in the class would agree with me. Either I understood more than I thought I did, or everyone else was as confused as I was.

We had the opportunity to try four different white wines (a pinot grigio, a viognier, a chardonnay, and a chenin blanc) and four different red wines (Kitchen Sink Red, a pinot noir, a shiraz, and a cabernet sauvignon). I normally buy a bottle of wine based on what the bottle looks like (don't laugh, it's true!), so it was very exciting to be able to taste and compare the different types of wine. The fact that they selected some of the better examples for us to try helped, I'm sure. (Surprisingly, the prices weren't as high as I expected for good wines. All except the Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon (my favorite, naturally) were within my price range.

Our last wine of the evening was Macchia Zifendal Port ("Dangerous"). All I can say is YUM! A bottle of this came home with me. And I will not be sharing it.

I have to say that Total Wine (at the Wellington store) puts on a fantastic wine class. In addition to the ten types of wine we tasted, they provided platters of cheese and crackers (huge selection) and pizza for us to snack on in between the glasses of wine. We were frequently reminded to be responsible as we tasted the wine (don't drink and drive!), but they were generous with the wines that we liked.

I plan on taking more classes as they are offered.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Excited Wednesday

I feel like all I've been doing this past week is cleaning, knitting, and reading. But if that were true, my house would already be company ready and I would have a bunch of finished projects to show off. Instead, I'm starting to panic because I'm not willing to even let the bug man in tomorrow, much less actual company. And I only have a picture of almost-but-not-quite-finished socks for today's post.

I do have a big announcement, though. As of today, I am a full-time (12 credits/semester) college student! I've been saying for years that I wanted to go back to school, and I finally did it. I signed my pell grant and student loan this afternoon. I will pick up my schedule next Wednesday, and classes start May 31st. Since I'll be doing my classes online, it won't interfere when I finally find a job. Then in three years, I'll have a bachelors in accounting to add to my resume. (I'm thinking that by the time I'm 55, I'll have both a masters and a CPA license.)

 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:

121 squares in 137 days

(Status: I've fallen behind and I can't catch up!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One last time

I took my daughter to the bus stop this morning for the last time. I really didn't expect to get this choked up over not having to leave the house at 6 am in the morning...

Monday, May 16, 2011

I think housework is the reason most women go to the office. (Heloise Cruse)

I really don't have much to say today. It's been a gotta-get-the-house-clean type of a day. There's so much going on in the next few weeks -- my daughter's prom (with her friend and mother coming here to get ready), graduation and my older daughter's  visit home for that -- that I want the  house "company ready" as soon as possible. And "company ready" should be read as "obsessively clean and all clutter organized and/or removed so as to have a house that is worthy of a magazine spread." Because that's the way I get.

Sigh. I think I'm going to go eat another cookie...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Missing in cyberspace

For the past couple of days, I haven't been able to get into Blogger to write new posts. Apparently they had a problem after some routine maintenance. Posts disappeared, strange error messages appeared, and bloggers ended up confused and complaining. In an effort to fix the problems, Blogger had to revert to an earlier backup of the system, then go in to restore all the new posts and comments. For two days Blogger has been turned off, so to speak, so that the repairs and maintenance could be completed. (You can read all about it on the Buzz.)

Unfortunately, my Wednesday post was not restored. It's a shame, too, because it had a really great kniterary reference in it. I've already returned the book, but I'm going to try to find it again the next time I visit the library.

I couldn't get in to post on Thursday or Friday. Thursday's post was going to be about cookies.(They are really yummy cookies, and I'm still going to share the pictures.) Friday's was a rant about doctors and testing and spending money to be told what everyone already knew. (So it's probably best that I couldn't post Friday.)

(Just admire the cookies, and ignore the ugly old cookie trays please.)

I used to be the computer geek for where I worked, and I know how much pressure it could be to try to figure out a computer problem while a non-tech-savvy person is breathing down your neck with helpful comments like, "Typewriters never lost my letter. Where did the computer put it?" I can't imagine what the guys at Blogger must have been going through with the thousands of bloggers crying, "But MY post was important. Fix mine first!" So while I'm frustrated over the loss of an unusually good Wednesday WIPs posting, I appreciate the dedication and expertise of the techs in bringing back Blogger.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An apple for her teacher

My daughter has two days left of school (if you don't count finals, which she doesn't - apparently time in school without socializing isn't really school). So she and a few of her friends decided to throw a party to thank one of their favorite teachers. 

I thought the cake that she came up with was perfect for the occasion!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Podcast Episode #3 has been posted!

I had originally intended to post episodes of the Lilypad Podcast every other week. So far, I've managed to post one every other month. Sigh.But at least the third episode is up and ready for you to hear. You can listen to it over at the show notes, which are found at Or you can subscribe to the podcast over in itunes. (You could also do it the easy way, and click on the episode's link in the sidebar.)

Let me know what you think of it...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Yellow roses, my favorites, delivered the day before. (I think it was just a coincidence that they came with a cute delivery guy.)

Dinner at Ginza, my favorite Japanese hibachi steak house. I was even allowed to order the chicken & shrimp meal. Yum!

A card from my far-away daughter, with a very nice letter. Plus a refill on my B&N card (which means I get to sip grande vanilla lattes while I knit for another year).

It was a very happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

I look to the sea. Reflections on the waves spark my memories. (Styx)

Becka attended Grad Bash last night. For anyone not familiar with this, it's a big party in Orlando for all Florida high school seniors. Well, all seniors who meet their school's requirements and can afford the ticket. The kids get to go into the parks after hours to enjoy the rides, food, and special concerts. The charter bus from Becka's school left at 1 pm on Friday, and I had to pick her up at 5:30 am on Saturday. (They weren't expected until 6 am, but apparently there wasn't any traffic. Luckily I had gotten out early, hoping for coffee from Dunkin Donuts, so it wasn't a big deal.)

It was actually a good thing that the kids made it home early. Becka couldn't get anyone to cover her hours, so we had to rush her home to change, and then I took her in to work the breakfast shift. Since I was up, dressed, and full of coffee I decided to to walk along the beach and enjoy the sunrise.

Sometimes, having a teenager who makes you get up way too early is a good thing.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

It's time for a change

Blogger, the host company for this blog, has recently rolled out some wonderful new features. I really like the changes. Considering it's still a free hosting site, they have all they whistles and bells I could want.

I can now add a geotag to posts. So on my "travelogue" posts, I can put a link into google maps for to the location I'm talking about. When you read the post, you'll find this link at the bottom of the post.

Blogger also upgraded the video and picture uploader, making it super simple to use. (You probably don't care about that, but it makes things nice for me.)

The best change, in my opinion, is the ability to have my very own domain name. Right now when I tell someone about my blog, I have to go  through a big long explanation: "You can find my blog at www dot sandi, that's sandi-with-an-i, dash pics, that's p-i-c-s dot blogspot dot com." It would be so much nicer to be able to use something that's easier to tell and remember.

The problem is that is already taken. I don't want to use because (1) it sounds stupid and (2) it really isn't that much easier to remember than what I have now. So I guess I'm asking for advice and suggestions. I want ideas for my "new" url address for the blog. I'd be willing to change the name of the blog, if I could find something a little more creative/interesting/meaningful than Staying Focused.

Let me know any suggestions you have in the comments. And come back soon to see what I decide. (I promise not to change without notice!)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Just a little bit bigger, just a little bit brighter

 The Never-Ending Sampler-Sock Blanket

Now I remember why I prefer to knit sweaters as baby gifts instead of blankets. With a sweater, it's easier to see that you're making progress. Although I've been working fairly faithfully on the Ten Stitch Blanket and have gone through two skeins of yarn, it doesn't feel as if  I'm getting anywhere. I didn't even bother taking a picture to share this week.

* ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
117 squares in 123 days
(Status: I need to catch up!)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Goals are dreams with deadlines. (Diana Scarf Hunt)

I thought I'd do a quick review of my 50 by 50 list. I'm not quite as far along as I would like to be, but at least I'm working on it.

Lose 100 lbs (lose 5 lbs per month).
Exercise regularly for 3 months.

Health-wise, I'm making an attempt. It's probably just a half-hearted attempt, since I'm horribly depressed between the lack of a job and the resulting stress flaring the fibromyalgia. I had to stop the Weight Watcher's plan (all "extra" expenses have been cut until I have a regular income again), so I'm open to any ideas of what diet to follow and how to do it. I'm debating about ordering a nutrition bracelet and just trying to eat my daily allotment of "good foods" before allowing any "junk" treats. I could also use a (FREE) personal trainer since the fibro is such a handy excuse to skip a session at the gym. Sigh. It's so hard to figure out what to do, especially when you don't feel like doing anything at all.

Declutter my closet.
Declutter my bedroom.
Declutter the living room, including the book shelves.

I haven't actually started the decluttering process yet. But I've put my children on notice that they will have to help me with this in the next couple of weeks. I'm using my oldest's visit home at the end of May as the excuse to get the decluttering done.

Organize my papers and receipts.

I've actually managed to get most of my papers and receipts in order. I have a working filing system in place, and I have one last folder to go through before I can mark this item done.

Give up soda for 1 month.

I have been soda-free since March 21st, and I think I will probably stay away from soda from now on. I had a glass earlier today as a treat, and was disappointed that it didn't taste as good as I remembered. I guess I've lost my taste for colas, which is actually a good thing.

Finish or frog the 10 existing WIPs.

Officially, I'm working on the Lady Sweater from my list of existing WIPs. Unofficially, I've set it aside in favor of a baby gift. But I will not, will not, will not (if I keep saying it, maybe somebody will believe me) cast on anything else until I get a couple of the existing projects finished. My current plan is that I have to finish two existing projects before I can cast on something new. I even made myself a cute little chart that reminds me of a tournament playoff to keep track of this goal.

Take a wine class.

I found a Wine Tasting 101 class that is scheduled this month in Wellington. Hopefully I'm not too late signing up for it.

Send out birthday cards for a year.

I have officially started this goal by sending out ten birthday cards and four Mother's Day cards for May. (Leave a comment if you would like me to include you on my mailing list and I will send you a card on your birthday!)

List 100 Things That Make Me Happy.

I've started my list, and I'll post it as a separate page on the blog. (You'll be able to see it up at the top of the blog.) I think I'd been able to come up with more things if I wasn't so depressed. But I'm working on it.

Don't complain for 1 full week.

Obviously, I haven't even attempted this one! But I will. Someday when I'm feeling better. Or perhaps the last week in October 2012.

Change my job.

I'm working on this one. Not that I wanted to be working on it.

Have a totally silly and/or unexpected adventure.

My sister tried to talk me into doing this goal today. I probably should have taken her up on it, but I just wasn't feeling good enough. But she's promised me a raincheck. I promise to give a full report on whatever silliness we get ourselves into!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Our Memories of yesterday will last a lifetime. We'll take the best, forget the rest. (The Best of Times - Styx)

I spent Saturday at Sunfest. It was hot, crowded, loud, and wonderful. It was also free, since I had won a couple of tickets, which made the day even better.

I had planned to spend the day with my daughter, who had entered the drawing with me. But she had a last minute chance to go away for the weekend, so I found myself alone. I did try to tempt a friend, any friend, into joining me by posting on Facebook. But it was just too last minute to get any takers on the free festival. So I went by myself, and my son used the second ticket today.

I didn't mind being alone. I found that I could take my time looking at every art and craft booth. I admired prints, debating which one I would hang up if I ever buy my dream house. I tried on rings and necklaces, wishing I was working so that I felt free to treat myself to something for mother's day. And I indulged in dinner, without having to consult with anyone else's taste. I walked, I sat by the inlet and knit, and I stopped to listen to whatever band took my fancy.

The best part of the day? Without a doubt, Styx!

Even if this was my view for most of the show.