Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Reading List

Books Read in July

104 - 01 The Knitting Diaries,  by Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and Christina Skye (7/2)
105 - 02 Not My Daughter, by Barbara Delinsky (7/8)
106 - 03 Deal Me In, by CynthiaThomason (7/9)
107 - 04 Running Hot, by Jayne Ann Krentz (7/10)
108 - 05 The Doctor's Blessing, by Patricia Davids (7/11)
109 - 06 The Untamed Bride, by Stephanie Laurens (7/12)
110 - 07 Beauty and the Beast, by Taylor Ryan (7/13)
111 - 08 A Silent Fury, by Lynette Eason (7/14)
112 - 09 Smoke Screen, by Stephanie Newton (7/16)
113 - 10 The Pursuit, by Johanna Lindsey (7/18)
114 - 11 Taken by the Prince, by Christina Dodd (7/18)
115 - 12 Write Now, by Karin L. Russell (7/19) textbook
116 - 13 It Happened One Night, by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro, and Candice Hern (7/20)
117 - 14 Logged On and Tuned Out, by Vicki Courtney (7/21)
118 - 15 Dangerous in Diamonds, by Madeline Hunter (7/22)
119 - 16 Create an Organized Life, by Marcia Zina Mager (7/22)
120 - 17 Dirty Deeds, by Suzanne Price (7/26)
121 - 18 Heart of Evil,  by Heather Graham (7/29)

The Doctor's Blessing, by Patricia Davids, was a quick "Love Inspired" romance. I think it took an entire hour to read. It stands out, though, for the fibromyalgia reference. One of the very minor characters keeps coming into the clinic with different complaints. First her head hurts, then her arm, then her left heel and right toe. This becomes a running joke, both with the main characters in the book as well as between the author and reader. However, the woman is finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and we learn that she really had been suffering. The situation is so true for those of us with this condition!

Heart of Evil, by Heather Graham, was one of the books my daughter gave me. On the front of the book it's noted: "Not For Sale. Advance Uncorrected Proofs." Inside, on the title page, it's signed: "Sandi~Hey! Best wishes and happy hauntings! Heather Graham." Is that cool, or what. The book itself is a mystery-romance. Actually, more of a mystery that happens to have romance in it. There is also a lot of civil war history and a couple of ghosts. I enjoyed reading it. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's the Subway Rats!

Okay, this picture isn't the subway rats. This is Anthony Ryan Auld, from Project Runway. This picture was taken on the first episode of Season 9 which aired this past Thursday. I haven't seen the actual episode (I've got to go check Hulu right away!), but apparently Heidi went crazy over Anthony's scarf. And I don't blame her.

I knit the same scarf for Cari back in February 2008.

I've heard that Anthony claimed to have designed his scarf. I don't know about that. It looks a whole lot like the pattern I used. And I bought my pattern from Morehouse Farm.

Speaking of Morehouse Farm, they have a really cool pattern for a frog scarf that I want to knit.Or maybe the frog hat instead. And the flamingo scarf. And a wormy apple hat (for Becca). And alligator scarves for Cassie and Logan. And a green dragon scarf for the next class reunion. And an alligator bag. And I have to stop looking at the Morehouse Farm site. My queue is already too long!

(Although if somebody wanted to buy a kit, I could probably be convinced to knit it up for them - as long as I got to keep the pattern afterward!)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bourbon Ball Cupcakes

I'm still waiting to hear back on a job interview from earlier this week, and I am not very patient. I want to know NOW what's going on. Not knowing means that I can't really move on and plan anything else. So I decided to cope with the stress by baking.

The Bourbon Ball Cupcakes from the Reynolds website seemed like a good choice. They're chocolate. With bourbon. What's not to like? 

It's an easy recipe. Basically you make chocolate cupcakes using a cake mix, except that you add 2 tablespoons of bourbon to the mix. I used 3 tablespoons because I think that Four Roses is a rather mild bourbon and I wanted it to have a bit more of a kick.

The frosting is a basic buttercream recipe, but with 2 tablespoons of bourbon added and some finely diced walnuts. Again, I added 3 tablespoons because I wanted to be sure to have the bourbon flavor. 

The only other change I made was to dip the tops of the cupcakes in a little bit of bourbon (and let it dry) before frosting them. I had read a tip online (I'm sorry, I wish I could credit the source but I don't remember it) that it helps keep the cupcakes moist if you seal the tops with either alcohol or a simple sugar syrup. I like the little extra flavor it adds. (Try a simple sugar syrup with a bit of lemon juice on otherwise plain vanilla cupcakes - yum!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The spicier, the better!

We had a busy day today. I took Becca over to take the last of her placement tests, and then she was able to register for classes. Let me tell you, they really don't make it easy. When I registered at Keiser, it was a very easy process. I was able to talk with my counselor and she was able to help me through the process. I'm even able to chit-chat with my financial aid officer. Like I said, it's an easy process. But at PBSC, it's almost impossible to speak to anyone higher than a receptionist. Everything is online, and you're expected to use your homepage to figure things out. It got very frustrating. We finally got lucky, and Becca has her classes all set for the fall semester. Best of all, they're all paid for!

When we came home, I felt like cooking. I don't know why. So I made a pot of chili. Spicy, of course, because that's the way I like it. And then I decided to make tortillas to go with it. Coggie had talked about homemade tortillas on her podcast, and that reminded me how much I liked homemade tortillas. I haven't made them in years, though.

They're very easy to make. You will need to buy masa harina. I found it on the baking aisle, near the flours. You just mix 2 cups of the masa harina with 1 1/2 cups of water and a little salt. I needed to add a little extra water. But be careful, because it doesn't take much. You just want the dough to form. It helps to mix it with your hands. Once you have a soft dough, divide it into 16 pieces.

Form each of the pieces into a ball, and then flatten. It's best if you have a tortilla press. Coggie suggested just flattening them between your palms, since she doesn't have a press. I found that putting the ball between two pieces of wax paper and using a plate to flatten it worked really well. I got nice, evenly thin tortillas.

Then you just cook the tortilla on a hot griddle, for about 50 seconds per side. I kept them warm (and flexible) by putting a kitchen towel over the plate of finished tortillas.

I was impressed by how well they turned out. And how quick it was to make them myself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I just need enough to tide me over until I need more. (Bill Hoest)

Walkcloth #1
I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with my knitting. I spent a lot of time this week working on the You-Know-It's-Going-To-End-Up-A-Dog-Bed-Someday Blanket, trying to catch up on my 2011 goal of one square a day. I haven't managed to keep up with any of my other knitting goals (like the one that says I'm not going to start any new projects until all the old WIPs are finally finished). So I don't know why it's so important that I keep up with the square-a-day goal. Although really, I have a better chance of catching up with the squares than I do finishing all the WIPs.

The good news is that I knit 12 squares this past week. The bad news is that in order to be caught up, I need to knit 30 squares this week (or 4.25 squares a day). Sigh.

I have to confess that I did start a pair of socks. If you will indulge me in a little self-serving logic, socks don't count as a new project. I need to have a pair of socks (or sometimes a preemie cap for charity) as my pocketbook knitting. Pocketbook knitting does not count, since it's purpose is to allow me to carry around a small project for those times when I have to wait in the car or in line, or any other time that I need to keep my hands busy so I don't lose my mind.

So anyway, I started a pair of socks. I'm knitting Cookie A's Hedera pattern, using yarn from Creatively Dyed Yarn. It's the Envy colorway, which is probably a little more variegated than I thought. (In the skein, it looked more tonal than a real variegation.) I almost frogged it, since Cookie A's patterns look so much better in solids or semi-solids. But this color has grown on me, and I think it's going to work.

My new sock goal, by the way, is to knit every pattern in Cookie A's book, Knit.Sock. Love. Hedera is the first pattern, and that's why I cast them on. The good news is that I have enough solid/semi-solid yarn in my stash to knit 12 of the 19 patterns in the book.

The only project I finished was a dishcloth that I knit during my morning walks. I've already started number two. (These don't count as new projects, either. Just for the record. The "walkcloths" are incentives to exercise and are therefore not really WIPs.)

 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
184 squares in 207 days
(Status: I will catch up. I will catch up. I will catch up. Maybe.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Excercise relieves stress. Nothing relieves exercise. ( Ikkadu, Hosaka, and Kawabata)

I'm almost proud of myself. I've been getting up every day between 6 and 6:30 am to walk for half an hour. I go around the pond (hence all the duck/geese pictures), knitting dishcloths as I walk. I still haven't found a workout that I feel I can get obsessive about, but at least I've started something.

It does help to get out each morning to remember that I'm working toward the P.A.L.A. patch. I like earning patches. The deal is that you og your exercise, whatever it is. If you are active (exercising) for 30 minutes, you get a point on a star. Five days of activity earns you the complete star for the week. The idea is that you have to exercise or be active 30 minutes for five of the seven days each week. When you have filled in six stars, you have earned the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.

Once you have gotten the P.A.L.A., you can go on to other challenges. I think the next one for me will be the Bronze Medal.

I'd love to have some company with the challenges. There is a group feature, so we could cheer each other on. Just let me know if you are interested.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's Favorite - A Memory

I submitted my last essay for English Composition today, and I am so glad to be finished with that course. I thought it was coincidental that today's essay prompt went along with the Friday's Favorite theme:

What is your favorite childhood memory? Write a 500-word essay that explains why this memory is so special to you.

So I have decided to totally cheat, and post the essay I wrote. Please feel free to share your favorite childhood memory. (It doesn't have to be 500 words.)

In 1976, Hurricane Belle threatened the Jersey coast. I was 13 years old, and it was the first summer after my father left. My mother, younger sister, and I were still living in the same house, and we were still trying to figure out how things worked without my father around to take care of them. Even though there were lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins in the area (I have huge, close-knit family), my mother was determined to figure things out for herself.
When the warnings of a major storm could no longer be ignored, my mother pulled out the rickety old ladder, and attempted to replace the screens with the storm windows. It was my job to hang onto the ladder so that it wouldn’t wiggle in the wind and make her drop the glass. My sister was left to watch from the safety of the house. I remember learning several new words that day; words that I still have trouble crediting my mother with knowing.
Just about the time that we had finished, my grandmother called. Claiming that my grandfather was worried, Grandma made my mother promise to leave the house and go straight to their home where it would be safer. Apparently the fact that our house was several miles further inland had nothing to do with the relative safety of a newly-divorced woman and her children. Giving in, my mother loaded the two of us girls in the car and drove into the storm to my grandparents’ house.
Grandma was waiting for us when we arrived. We didn’t even have a chance to go inside before she was putting us back in the car for a quick road trip. Totally forgetting her worries about our safety, my grandmother drove us to the beach so that we could watch the storm. At one point we were stopped by a policeman who tried to persuade my grandmother that a mandatory evacuation of the coast meant that nobody was allowed to go to the beach. Quietly reaching over, Grandma pinched me. Then, pointing at my tears, she very calmly explained that we had forgotten my kitten. I’m sure that my pinch-induced tears immediately dried up at my wide-eyed astonishment at the news that I suddenly had a pet. But the policeman believed her, and my sister and I were able to watch Hurricane Belle toss the waves and sand until the pier was completely destroyed and the water was up at our feet. I can still picture the dark skies and the waves, and I remember hanging onto a lamp post as the wind picked up my feet. The drive back home, however, is a blur of flooded streets and further language lessons. My memory skips instead to being in my grandparents’ home, as the wind continued to shake the windows and we drank hot cocoa. I can still hear Grandma telling my mother, “Now, wasn’t that adventure worth it?”
For me, this story sums up the dynamics of my family. We cared about each other’s safety, even as we encouraged each other’s reckless insanity. And to answer my grandmother, yes, the adventure was worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears. (Seneca)

It's still not safe for me to talk with anyone. Whining is so unattractive. So instead, I'm just going to offer you this pretty picture.

At least it fulfills two memes today:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm hiding in a hermit cave

Contrary to popular belief, misery does not love company. Misery much prefers to wallow hidden away and alone, at least in my case. It's easier to hang on to the notion that you're unloved and unlovable that way.

Yeah, depression is out in full force today.

It started this morning when I attended a resume workshop at the Workforce Alliance. I've had such little luck in my job hunt that I decided to take advantage of the help offered by the state, even though I know how to write a good resume and cover letter. Except that apparently I don't know how to write a good resume. Thanks to the computer age, which I mistakenly thought I was keeping up with, resumes have different key words and are expected to be tailored to the individual application. Even thought I have a well-written, beautifully formatted resume on good quality paper, it's probably not getting passed along to the company decision-makers. In fact, scanning programs are probably dumping it into the computer's trash bin before any human eyes can read it. Sigh. One more thing thing that I thought I was good out, tossed out the window with the rest of my dreams. (I did mention that I was depressed, didn't I?)

But at least I still have knitting.

Ha! Just take a look at the plain vanilla socks I just finished knitting. I was feeling very proud of them, since I did it from memory only. I even managed to knit short row heels, which are not my usual style of heels. Do you see the problem?

You probably noticed it right away. Unfortunately, I didn't notice it until after I finished kitchenering the toe and I had woven in the ends.

Yup. I have a dropped stitch way back, just before I started the heels. Somehow I had picked up a stitch so that the count was correct as I finished the sock. But the originally-dropped stitch is just sitting there, waiting to unravel. If that was the only problem, I could just go in with a scrap piece of yarn and sew a stitch or two to catch it. But then there is the problem of the hole left with the short row heel. The other side of this sock, and the other sock, have perfect heels. It's just this one spot that I didn't wrap the stitches well enough to prevent the hole. Again, I could go in and fudge it closed. If there was only one problem or the other, that's what I would do. But with two problems on one sock, I'd never be totally happy with them. I definitely can't even think of giving them to somebody as I had planned.

So I frogged the pair. I unravelled a totally finished pair of socks, just because of two stupid little mistakes that probably wouldn't have made me cry on any other day. But drastic moods lead to drastic solutions, and the pair has been frogged.

I'm turning in my Ninja-knitter badge, along with  my sense-and-sensibility patch. I'll be off finishing the open bottle of wine, and looking for secret stashes of chocolate. I'd invite you to the pity-party, but there arent enough tissues to go around.
 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
172 squares in 200 days
(Status: I'm still behind. But 16 squares in one week is still pretty good.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's the same things again. Sigh.

I thought I would do a quick update on my 50 by 50 list, and I've realized that I'm stuck still working on the same things. I really need to pick a couple of the other items and get them done. Otherwise, I'm going to be scrambling to fit everything in at the last minute. (Which is my usual MO, but who really wants to admit that?)
Anyway, here are the items I can update:

2. Exercise regularly for 3 months

The truth is, I hate to exercise. Really. Obviously.

I keep thinking that as obsessive-compulsive as I can be (just look at my knitting or my organized work habits), I should be able to come up with some activity that I can obsess over in order to get fit. The problem is that it has to be free, since I don't have any money at all right now to spend on memberships or even supplies. (I found a water aerobics class nearby, but even the $5 per class is out of my range right now.) It also has to be Florida-friendly. Because face it, it's really hot outside so any activities (like biking, or hiking) are going to be uncomfortable, especially since I'm very overweight and actually sweat. (I didn't used to sweat, when I was younger and thinner. Strange, but true.) And it has to be something that I won't feel like a complete idiot in front of people. (My neighborhood offers free Zumba lessons, which are actually fun. But when you're the elephant clomping around in a room full of hip-swinging size 2 physically fit bodies - it's embarrassing.) My daughter suggested yoga, which has possibilities. And there are some yoga sessions available on Direct TV that I'm thinking of trying. But I really need to find something that makes me want to treat daily exercise sessions as if they're skeins of sock yarn.

I did sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. The deal is that you are active for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for at least 6 out of 8 weeks in order to get the award. It can be any activity you would like to do. I've signed up as an individual, which will hopefully give some motivation to getting out there and doing something. If anyone would like to get involved, let me know. We can set up a group and cheer each other on.

14. Organize my papers and receipts

In my last 50 by 50 update, I misspoke. This item was reported as having been done. Actually, most of it was done. But "most" is not "all," so I lied. I did organize the papers that were on my desk in in my box of "file these someday, maybe-please." But when I went to reconcile my July bank statement, I found out that I had only reconciled through April 2011. Oops. This is not a good thing. And it's probably not something a person studying to become a CPA should admit to. There are also a couple of boxes of files in my closet that I wanted to go through and try to consolidate. So I'm putting this back on the list of items, and it's back on my task list. Drats.

15. Give up soda for 1 month.

I actually did this back in March. I managed to stay away from sodas for almost 3 months. But the past couple of weeks I've been backsliding. I had one soda because it was cold and I was thirsty, and the next thing I know I'm drinking an entire case in just a couple of days. I think the only reason I'm not completely hooked back on colas is that I just don't have the money to be buying cases of it every week. So I'm going to do the responsible, mature thing and give it up now before it gets a chance to become a problem.

19. Birthday Cards

After sending out cards in May, I managed to miss all the June and July birthdays. I'm making a list, and my goal is to start this again in August. With apologizes to all my friends and family who were bone in June and July. I'll remember you next year!

25. Fix 5 new recipes for dinner.

I haven't done as much baking and cooking as I would like. Even though I have the time, I don't really have the money to go out and buy "exotic" ingredients. And by exotic, I mean anything that isn't either on sale or normally in my cupboard. But I have become addicted to several food blogs. It started with the cupcake blogs, and progressed to cookie bloggers. Now I'm starting to be attracted to other food blogs. The result is that I have a long list of recipes I want to try, once I can go shopping again. I did try one new recipe, Egyptian Pea Stew, and it was wonderful. Very easy to make, although I think I need to do a little more research to learn how to properly "caramelize" the tomatoes. This is definitely going to be on my "make again" list.

41. Change my job.

Just in case you didn't catch it, what with all the whining I've been doing about finances, I'm still looking for a job. It's getting very discouraging. It's so bad, I've been applying at fast food places and practicing saying, "Do you want fries with that?" (I know a lot of people who have good jobs in the fast food industry. But they've been in it since they were much younger than I am, and they're mostly management by now. I'm only whining about having to resort to this because I'm way too old to have to start way back at the very beginning. Not to mention that I'm losing the competition for the jobs against high school kids!)

And that's about all I have managed to get done on my 50 by 50.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. (Aristophanes)

This week's wine selection is Condado De Eguren Tempranillo. My friend Paula's husband had recommended a tempranillo for me to try when I first got interested in learning about wines. Tempranillo is a grape grown mostly in Spain. When I asked at the wine shop, they recommended the Condado De Eguren as a good tempranillo. And as usual, I liked their recommendation.

 I drank this room temperature, and ran it through my aerator first. My first thought was that it was a very light wine. Researching tempranillos, I learned that they do tend to be light, with low alcohol and heavy acid. The Condado De Eguren was a dark ruby, with a fruity nose. There may be a little bit of leathery notes, but I'm really going more on my research than what I noticed since my nose is still just learning. I did find the taste to be soft and fruity, and almost sweet. I thought it left a puckering feel, which might actually make sense with a high acid content.

All in all, I liked this wine. It's a good sipping wine, which isn't how I normally think of a red wine (other than my favorite port, of course). In the class I took, they recommended having a favorite "house" wine in both the red and white as you build your wine cellar. This tempranillo just might become my house red.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I found knitting!

It was a ridiculous book. Of course, a lot of the stuff I read is just ridiculous. But as I've said before, I happen to appreciate junk romances. They go well with m&m's and wine.

Anyway, I was reading Beauty and the Beast, by Taylor Ryan. I won't bother going into the plot, other than it was a regency romance so you can assume girl meets boy, girl is demure while boy is needy, girl falls for boy, boy turns out to be rich jerk, girl rejects boy, boy then falls for girl, and they live happily forever after. Oh, I guess I did just give you the entire plot. Sorry.

Anyway, this particular romance turned out to have kniterary references. The first one is about mid-way through the book:

"Miss Penwell, I suspect you are poking fun of me!" Claymore accused..."One would think you enjoy being housebound by foul weather."

"Housebound? Oh, I suppose I don't mind, though it's always a good thing to have candles, some tobacco, a pack of cards, perhaps a little whiskey in the house, like a sailors preparing for a storm." She glanced out the window for a moment, then returned to her work. "Also knitting needles and wool for the women, a well-stocked library..."
It sounds a lot like my own storm supplies.

Later, knitting comes up again.

To take her mind off her worries, Marke had attempted to knit, but she soon threw the needles and ball of wool into the chair opposite her in irritation at her incompetence.

It's amazing how often knitting appears in books, once you start looking for it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Not My Daughter

Click on picture for link to

I've been reading Not My Daughter, by Barbara Delinsky and it is a wonderful kniterary novel. I hadn't expected it to have anything to do with knitting. My mom had read the book and was quite upset by it. Since she had such a strong reaction, I had to read it.

It's the story of three high school girls who make a pact to get pregnant. Naively, they believe that because they planned their pregnancies, everything will work out the way they want it to. Being teenagers, they never considered the impact their pact would have on their families and their community. The book centers on the mothers of these teenagers and how they come to terms with their daughters' decision and the consequences it has for everyone.

Throughout the book, the mothers and the daughters connect through their knitting. There are even Saturday mornings spent dying wool! Best of all, the knitting and the wool are just as commonplace in the story as making dinner. A nice change from other knitting-based stories I've suffered  through lately. (NOT that I'm going to stop reading the junk-knits any more than I'll ever completely give up knitting with acrylic even though the alpaca or bamboo blends are so much nicer.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

It's nice to accomplish something for a change


I finished quite a few projects, and I'm feeling proud of myself. The 10-stitch baby blanket is done, and ready to be mailed out.  It's a small baby blanket, but I think it's a good size for using with a car seat, or when they're out hiking with the baby. (Yes, I said hiking with the baby. This couple likes to hike and I don't imagine they will stop just because they have a child to take along. And I can mention this because I really don't think either one of them reads my blog, so I'm not giving away the surprise.) I really hope that they turn out to be knit-worthy, because I've seen quite a few pretty little baby girl sweaters that I would love to knit and they live in an area that baby sweaters would actually be very useful.

This is Blanket Bob. Blanket Bob is a lot of fun to knit. Blanket Bob (the blue one) is going to baby Bode because even if the family isn't knit-worthy, Bode is definitely adorable enough to spoil with knitted surprises.


I finished both of the ruffled flamenco scarves. The blue is from the yarn I was given, and the pink is the yarn I bought because I felt to guilty about accepting the blue yarn. (It made sense to me at the time.) The scarves are gorgeous. I was going to give them as gifts, but now I'm thinking that I might just be selfish and keep them both for myself.

I finished knitting the FromMemory socks, and I think I did a pretty good job. I'm excited to know that I've knit enough socks that I have the basic formula memorized. (This pair is for me. I've become very selfish with my knitting lately.)

This is my new sock project. It's another pair of FromMemory socks, using Patons Stretch Socks yarn. I got to the heel, and decided I didn't want to ruin the stripes by doing a heel flap. So I'm trying a short-row heel instead. I don't usually use a short row heel, so its going to be fun to see how many tries its going to take me to figure it out.

And finally, a quick update on my Someday-It'll-Be-A-Sock Blanket. Even though I'm still way behind on my goal of one square a day, I've hit a milestone. If my math is correct, I need 1050 squares plus the four sides edged. Fifty percent of 1054 is 527. Since I've finished 533 squares as of this week, I am officially halfway finished!
 * ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
146 squares in 186 days
(Status: If I do 2 squares a day, I can catch up by the end of the month.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I'm falling by the wayside

 I haven't been making a lot of progress on my 50x50 list. Here's a quick update, just to keep me honest.

1. Lose 100 lbs (lose 5 lbs per month). - I don't think I want to talk about this one. Not only have I failed to lose 5 pounds a month, I've actually gained a couple of pounds this past month. I'm blaming it on the depression. I've heard people say, "When I'm upset, I can't eat a thing." Not me. Sigh. I seriously need to do something about this goal. Soon. 

2. Exercise regularly for 3 months.- If I were working on this goal, I probably would be doing better with the first goal. I had a good excuse for not exercising in May/June (medical problems), but it's time I got serious and started to do something.

5. Declutter  my bedroom - This has been done! Yeah for me! Is it perfect? No. But it is definitely better than it's been in a long time. I'm happy.

6. Declutter the living room, including the book shelves. - Clearing up the bookcase was the hardest part about decluttering the living room. I decided to limit the books to what actually fit on the bookcase shelves, which meant getting rid of a lot of books. While Cari was down we took the cast-offs to the used bookstore, where we used the credit to get more books. But everything still fits on the bookcase, and the living room is looking "company ready."

12. Write 50 thank you notes. (Works out to 3 per month) - I haven't done any of these. I should have, since it might have made me feel better about life.

14. Organize my papers and receipts. - Done!

16. Finish or frog the 10 existing WIPs.- I'm trying to stick to the plan and knit the existing projects first. Honest. But did you see that new pattern...

17. Take a wine class. - I did this!

18. Win the lottery - or at least buy a ticket every paycheck for a year. - I'm trying to win. It would be a lot easier if I had a paycheck and the money to actually buy tickets. (I'm really going to hate it if the numbers I pick out "just for practice" each week actually win.)

19. Send out birthday cards for a year. - I sent out birthday cards in May, and then missed getting the June cards out. Sigh. I'm going to try to get July greetings mailed in the next couple of days.

21. Save all my change until the 50th - Does it count if I put the change in the jar each evening, then raid it every couple of days in desperation? I really, really need to find a job soon.

23. Start recycling at home (for at least 3 months). - I set up a rubbermaid box in June for the recycling. I keep two trash bags in the box; one for plastics and metals, and one for paper. I like the rubbermaid box because (1) I already had an empty one that I could use, instead of having to buy new trash cans and (2) it has a lid that the dog can't get off. The kids aren't really on board yet. We have valet trash, which means that we can set out the garbage just outside our door and they take it away each day. But we have to take the recycling bags to the dumpster area ourselves. I'm lobbying to get the complex to include recycling with the valet trash, but so far there isn't a lot of interest.

24. Implement a plan to keep the house clean. (Keep up with it for at least 3 months.) - Since I'm out of work, I felt like I had no excuse not to be working on this goal. The house has been clean enough for drop-in company for 6 weeks now. Too bad company never drops in to see it.

25. Fix 5 new recipes for dinner. (Cupcakes don't count.) - The other night, out of desperation, I made Pasta with Garlic and Oil. I thought it was pretty good, but then I love garlic. PJ liked it, but Becca refused to eat it after the first taste. Although the reviews were split, my vote wins it and this stays on as a permanent choice for dinner.

38. Don't complain for 1 full week - I hope nobody's counting on me actually accomplishing this one.

41. Change my job. - Still working on this one. I thought the economy was getting better and that there were jobs out there. Apparently I'm both over-qualified and under-qualified.  I'm tired of being out of work and out of money.

45. Take a class. - I think going back to school (full-time, online) for a degree in Accounting counts for this. I received an A in my first class (Intro to computers) and I'm in the middle of my second class (English Comp). It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I'm enjoying it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Everyone celebrates in their own unique way. This year, my way was blueberry pancakes for dinner, followed by a glass of my favorite port for dessert. Please don't judge. At least it was red, white, and blue.

The Macchia Port Dangerous (2007)  is one of the wines I purchased at the Wine 101 class back in May. It really is a wonderful wine. I will be buying another bottle, since this one was finished up tonight. Produced by California's Linsteadt Vineyard in Armador County (in the Sierra foothills), the Dangerous Port is made with zifendal grapes. (I really don't understand the significance of some of what I just said, but it's stuff that wine-lovers are supposed to know.)

To me, Dangerous Port is a very fruity, sweet drink with a spicy twist. It should be served warm - and trust me on this. The bottle was accidentally put in the refrigerator, so my first few sips were chilled. The port was much better after I had left it sitting on the table for a while; it had a much rounder taste. It makes a wonderful dessert on its own, but it is even better paired with dark chocolate.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Medical term: the heebie-jeebies

I need to learn to meditate.

For the past several weeks I've been driven crazy by a mysterious rash that is covering my body. It gets so itchy that all I can do is scratch until I'm bleeding. We thought bugs, so I've been staying inside. Then we thought allergies, so I've been tracking everything I eat, touch, and smell. We also thought I was nuts, so we blamed it on the fibromyalgia. (Actually, the fibro is partly to blame.)

The itching gets so bad  at times that I'm tempted to take a knife and cut the rash out of my body. I probably would have done it, too, except that I only have cheap kitchen knives with dull blades.

It turns out that it's a stress rash. And I'm not supposed to itch it. Camomile compresses were recommended, except that I react badly to camomile. So it's ice packs to keep from scratching, and meditation to lower the stress.

(I was hoping for chocolate and wine to deal with the stress, but apparently these only make it worse. Which I totally don't understand!)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

My card is what?!

The Daily Shoot
Assignment:  feature a plant

I'm having a very bad day, and it will probably end up being a bad week. I say this because I am officially broke. There's money in the bank (so you don't have to feel too sorry for me), it's just that there isn't any in my wallet. Normally I rely on my debit card. Unfortunately, this afternoon as I attempted to pay for lunch I discovered that my card is "invalid." Looking at my card, I realized that the magnetic strip is torn which is the only reason I can figure out for the "invalid" refusal. Naturally the bank was already closed, and since Monday is a holiday it is going to be Tuesday before I can find out for sure what is going on and get it fixed. Sigh.

Thank goodness Becca was carrying cash with her, so she treated to lunch.

Friday, July 01, 2011

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. (Bernard-Paul Heroux)

At the moment, my favorite thing is the Teavana TeaMaker that I bought while my daughter was visiting. I really didn't need another teapot, since I have a collection of china teapots plus several infusers for making individual cups. But I was indulging myself in celebration of her visit (poor child, to be blamed when really any excuse would have worked) and so the TeaMaker came home with me.

I had heard good things about this gadget, which is why I wanted one. Well, my friends were telling the truth when they said that it was like, the greatest teapot ever. You simply put the tea leaves in, and fill it with hot water. Once it's finished steeping, you put the TeaMaker on top of your teacup and the tea is released into your cup. You can lift the TeaMaker at any point, and it will seal itself back up so that the tea doesn't leak out. It's very cool. I confess to lifting the TeaMaker, putting it back down, lifting the TeaMaker, putting it back down - just for the fun of it!

I also like that you can use the TeaMaker on any size cup. I've filled a tumbler with ice, then placed my TeaMaker on top of the glass in order to make brewed ice tea. Add a little guava (also a new favorite item, again thanks to my daughter) and it's sweet tea for the summer.