Thursday, January 29, 2009

Even though I'm not comfortable talking about money

Announcement:

February is going to be a no-spend month for us.

First, here are some handy sites to visit if you're not familiar with the concept. I wasn't until I started visiting a lot of blogs where people post pictures of things they've made and their babies and their babies in slings that they've made. They talk about penny-pinching and raising children and making quick meals that involve lentils. For some reason, I'm practically addicted to that sort of thing.

So, if you need to, look at these these to get a basic idea of how this will work. I'll wait.

Small Notebook's no-spend
Happily Frugal's no-spend
One-Month Spending Crash Diet

Second, here's why we're doing this.
1. We're a little broke. We still owe over $12,000 on my car and the day when we need to replace Cody's beloved pile of awful is looming on the horizon. We could possibly handle two car payments a month, but I really don't want to try it and then fail. Being broke means we barely have enough money squirreled away to cover a month's expenses if one of us were to lose a job--and that's with regular contributions to our savings. Some friends of ours planned a relatively low-key trip to Dallas in a couple of weekends. But even with plenty of advance warning, it was not financially feasible for us. So basically, we'd like to be a little less broke. We're fine with being somewhat poor, but we're not fans of being terrified.

2. We spend too much on stuff that's not important enough. Dinner with friends is important. Christmas presents for family are important. Getting Cody new shoes was important (and we planned for it). Getting pictures developed is important. Shopping at Barnes & Noble because we're bored is not important. Even if we stick to the bargain sections. Even if we didn't spend that much. Even if it might make a good gift idea. Come on.

3. We spend too much. Period. We probably make less than you think (a W-2 arrived last weekend. We apparently make less than I think!), but it's still enough for us to live well. But we've gotten too accustomed to spending money since Christmas and living just beyond our means is just enough to get us in trouble. And this really hurts the image we have of ourselves as sensible people who are good with our money. We love this inaccurate image of ourselves and we like being prepared so that we're not completely destroyed by every eyeball misadventure, car repair, dentist appointment.......just a little tarnished.

This is the part where I could say that living is expensive and my arts and crafts supplies will save me money in the long run when it comes to gift-giving, but you know what? I probably have about $300 worth of yarn in my living room. Seriously. And there are vast quantities of it. I'm set for at least the next 6 months.

I could also say that eating a lot of our from-scratch meals at home is saving us money, but sometimes it does not. Yes, we need to eat to live. But y'all, we have 4 different kinds of flour in our cabinet. 4 different types of salt. 5 types of noodles. For the love of Mike, Cody sometimes buys fancy chunks of cheese!

We are foodies. It's taken me a while to come to terms with this, but we are foodies and as much fun as it is to try new things, we may be slightly out of control. There is an unopened bag of potato starch in our kitchen. It's for pumpernickel bread. We've got to stop this madness....or at least scale back on it. And finally:

4. There's not a lot going on in February, it's a short month, and we like adventures. It could be nice to just not spend money for a while. We're always saying we need to cut back, and then we don't. But this way, we'll have a time limit, an allowance, and a goal. Doing something because it's part of a project is a lot more fun than doing it out of necessity.

So. Here is the plan:
We will be living off of $200 for the whole month. And that's strictly cash.

This will (or should) pay for food, gas, entertainment, and any incidentals that come along.

Exceptions:
Monthly bills;
Medical necessities (Cody has another eye appointment and a dentist appointment [possibly 2 fillings!]); and
Surprises or emergencies.

I'm kind of excited. I'm trying to keep from hoarding things (like Tide! Holy smokes, it is not cheap.) and I'm trying to get Cody to go to the Andy Warhol exhibit on Saturday instead of Sunday, but still. This could be a good thing. And if it's not, we'll have learned something.

What I didn't think about when I first suggested this was February is the month of Valentine's Day. Oops. I don't know what we'll do about gifts yet, but I have informed Cody that his present to me will be thoughtful, heartfelt, and meaningful, and will require a great deal of creativity and effort on his part. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wish us luck!

It's a beautiful morning

Good morning!

I have flowers, a clean apartment, and tons of cold medicine.

I'm great.

Cody's great.

Even with some dismal-looking clouds, I think it's going to be a great day.

Supergreat.

I'll post more later today about our supergreat upcoming plans. Possibly tomorrow. It all depends on what time permits.

I hope you're having a great day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vitriol, equality, and cleanliness

Part I
Dear Pet Owners,
If you discover that you are the type of pet owner who will let little Fluffy Poo-Poo do its business on the sidewalk instead of trotting it all the way to the designated Field of Filth, a delightful piece of nature that apartment complexes will set aside just so this extended member of your family can be disgusting, please go to your veterinarian as quickly as possible and request that you both be put down before you by chance happen to have children. Thank you.

Part II
When you finish reading this, please refrain from commenting, "Well, do you feel better now?" as if this is all just me blowing off steam because my feelings are not that important. No, I will not feel better when I finish this. This is not just a feminist issue, it is also a cleaning issue. So this is doubly important to me. Therefore, I am twice as angry as I normally would be.

Part III
Here's how my morning has gone so far.
The alarm goes off. I look out the window and watch the news to see when I should go to work. I find out there's a two-hour delay, so I stagger back to bed. I am grateful for the extra sleep because I've been coming down with a cold these past couple of days and my throat was hurting when I woke up. Cody gets up and begins getting ready. For the most part, he tries to be quiet because I feel terrible and I typically go to bed later than he does.

But then:
He starts telling me about what he's going to do.
"I guess I'll make some coffee." Yeah, you do that.
"I'm going to go check on outside to see if there's much ice." Fine.

Then:
He sits heavily on the bed and asks, "Do we have anything to clean the carpet with?"
I tell him we do. I tell him the name of the cleaner. I tell him it is under the sink. I pray that he will read the directions and take care of the problem and I can stay in the warm bed for a little while longer.

He doesn't move.
Finally, I ask: "Did you step in dog crap?"

Of course he did.

He leaves.

He comes back. He upset because there is still dog crap in his shoes. And he's sure he knows which neighbor has let an animal use the sidewalk as a toilet and starts complaining and name calling.

I remind him that if he wants the smell completely off of his shoes, he should use a Clorox wipe to really clean up the soles.

He says he should probably just put on work boots.

I try to rest a little more. But no. I ask Cody if he'd like for me to fix him a snack for later in the day and he says he doesn't care.

I am trying ridiculously hard to bolster his ridiculously cranky mood.

At 7:30, my hellacious morning began.
I stagger into the kitchen. The first thing I see is a single, dry washrag in the sink.

This was Cody's attempt to not only grind dog crap deeper into the carpet, but to also use the same washrag for each footprint--ensuring that if any dog crap did leave the carpet and get transferred onto the washrag, he could quickly transfer it to another spot before depositing the whole mess into the place where I clean dishes instead of the place where we put dirty clothes.

He said he thought he'd gotten most of it in the major areas.

I chopped up some fruit for us to have healthful snacks while we're at work.

If my eyes hadn't been so bleary, I would have kept all of the strawberries for myself.

Here's what happened next: Cody somehow decided and then demonstrated that his time--and I'm still not sure how this happened--was more important than mine.

While I chopped up our snacks, Cody.....made himself a cup of coffee. Started his car. Got his lunch together. Pouted about the dog crap.

Then he blithely skipped out the door.

Okay, maybe he didn't blithely skip. But he did leave his sick, hurting, wheezing wife with some seriously dirty carpet without so much as an "I'm really sorry you have to deal with my mess."

On top of everything else, Cody neglected to tell me he was out of clean jeans. So he pouted out the door while wearing a perfectly serviceable pair of khakis, and I immediately threw in a load of clothes because I felt guilty about not anticipating his laundry needs.

Because (and you can choose to believe this or not) I really do spend a lot of time trying to plan ahead to do things for Cody to make his life a little better. I (usually) make sure he has clean jeans to wear to work even though he has several pairs of pants that he could wear but doesn't want to even though it would mean I didn't need to do laundry in the middle of the week. I chop up fruit for snacks so that he won't go to the vending machine in the middle of afternoon and waste money and get fat. I (usually) keep all of the utensils and dishes clean so that he can cook whatever he wants, and we'll have containers for the leftovers. I make sure to occasionally ask him questions like, "Are you happy right now?", "Are you sad?", "Are you dehydrated?", "Do I need to rub your injured back?" and "Can I help with something?" because he's sure as get-out doesn't tell me these things even when he does kind of expect me to already know about them.

Clearly, I am a chump. A chump left holding the crap rag.

Upon re-examination (meaning: I turned on all the lights on started to really look everywhere) I saw that Cody had essentially spread fecal matter stains all over our home. There was even a trail leading to the bed, which probably means that he stepped in the dog crap and then asked me about the cleaning supplies he didn't use and then took off his shoes (and by the way, I have no idea where he left his shoes. I can only assume they're sole-down in the living room in a hidden spot.), I saw that there were at least 15 spots on the carpet.

[Stunned confusion with just a hint of mounting rage]

By this point, I'm still too confused and sleepy to realize how badly I've just been shafted, so I poured myself a cup of coffee and pulled out my can of One Shot Spot Cleaner. Because if there's anything we asthmatics love doing, it's getting a mere 18" inches away from some filthy carpet and inhaling aerosol fumes while in the midst of an attack.

It gets worse.

I ran out of carpet cleaner. I consulted my copy of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean (by Linda Cobb. Buy yourself a copy. It will change your life for the better) and found that I could use club soda. I actually had a bottle of club soda under the sink because the book had told me I would need it, so I broke that out. It worked, but not as well.

By this point, I really needed to get in the shower because I still have to go to work. As much as I would have loved to have spent my morning cleaning dirty carpet, running to the store to buy more cleaning products, and returning to clean even more dirty carpet, I had other things to do today. Like proofread bills for the legislature and earn our health insurance. That's right!
I had things to do today besides laundry and cleaning up the crap from someone else's dog that someone else had tracked into my home.

So I made note of two more spots I would have to clean when I got home, in addition to three stains I would have to (re)treat, and got ready for work in 30 minutes.

I showered almost completely in cold water because the washer was running.

Did I mention I'm sick? I would like to mention again that I am sick.

So finally, after 2 hours of non-stop work, I leave the apartment to....go to work. I see no dog crap on the concrete outside our door. I even saw no dog crap on our welcome mat.

And I think we all know what this means.

I am married (forever!!!) to someone who not only insists on wearing shoes indoors, but who does not wipe his feet before wearing his shoes indoors.

I should mention that I did take a break from my superawesome domestic tasks this morning to call Cody and let him know he was buying me flowers. What I did not tell him (because if he doesn't catch on to my perfectly spelled out rules, like the one that says "Wearing shoes indoors is bad for the carpet." I'm just going to go the crazy, passive, girl route) was that if he does not come home with flowers, he will be spending the night at his mother's house. At least she has wood floors in most of the rooms.

I'm pretty angry.

For too long, I have tried to be nice. For too long, I have let people tell me that I'm so insanely lucky to have a cooking husband that I felt like I had to do things to make up for the fact that I don't cook. For too long, I have let Cody imply that I am crazy for wanting to have things so nice and clean in our apartment despite the fact that what I love best about our home--our home, dang it--is that it's almost always clean enough for me to stay healthy (yes, this is in part a matter of my health) and tidy enough for us to have company at any time. (And having company over at any time is something we both enjoy.) For too long, I have been a gigantic flaming idiot to think that since cleaning is under my jurisdiction that Cody doesn't really have to clean up after himself unless I specifically ask him to help me with a specific task.

No more. The next time he makes a mess, he is cleaning it up. I refuse to freak out in my own home, running around behind him to disinfect every object he touches after handling raw meat. I will be more than happy to give him a demonstration on how to use the One Shot Spot Cleaner (I will be buying more on my way home), even though there are very clear instructions printed on the back of the can. I would love to do his laundry just as soon as he stops leaving it in the floors because if he cannot be troubled to place his dirty clothes in the two hampers we have in our three-room apartment, then I cannot be troubled to place it in the washer, place it in the dryer, fold it, iron it, and then put it away.

I may calm down later, but for now this is going to happen. Things are going to change.

Cody will be the one cleaning the crap out of the carpet this evening. It's his mess, I've already cleaned up the majority of it, I can't breathe that well, and--if the fun colors I've been seeing are any indication of things to follow--I plan to be in the throes of a full-on migraine by tonight.

And they had better be flowers that I like.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How was your National Pie Day?

Okay, National Pie Day did not go off without a hitch, but it did have a happy ending.

I went home Friday afternoon, with joy in my heart and plans in my head for some pie-baking and other weekend awesomeness. But then: Cody called me from the store to let me know that he couldn't find rhubarb (Original plan: strawberry-rhubarb pie. It is amazing.). Then he says, "Do you want to just not make a pie?"

Excuse me?

I had already told Alana we were making a pie! I had already blogged about it! I had been looking forward to the respectful observation of National Pie Day all day long! Buy some apples, I effectively told Cody, we are making a pie!

So. On National Pie Day, in honor of the nation, pies, and Cody's mom, we made the best apple pie ever.

Edit: I peeled apples, and then Cody made the best apple pie he's ever made. He seriously outdid himself. After making pork chops with sweet and sour cabbage (there's no way to say this without sounding like I'm bragging, so I'll brag. My husband is amazing.), he made a pie filling, poured it on top of the only pre-made pie crust we had in the house(he couldn't find any more pie crust at the store [he never can]), and then proceeded to make his own streusel.

Streusel topping.

I will say it again: my husband is amazing. Possibly even a genius gifted by God with the ability to make people extremely happy. I love him. I want us to remain best friends forever.

And I love pie. And when we went over to his mom's house on Sunday, we got to have some of it with dessert and it was seriously the best apple pie I've ever had.

It might have been the best pie Cody has ever made. Period.

*****************************************************
Some other cool things about my weekend

  • Pork chops with sweet and sour cabbage
  • I used my library kit twice this weekend! I used it incorrectly both times, but they were some joyous moments
  • I talked to my brother, and one of my sisters on the phone
  • I saw some friends
  • I ate some pie at the restaurant
  • I saw my parents and their dog on Sunday afternoon
  • I gave Mom a letter to give to Dallas
  • Then Dad bought everyone coffee and it was wonderful
  • Then we went to Cody's mom's house
  • We got to stay for dinner and it was wonderful
  • Cody was very handsome this weekend. I'm just putting that out there
  • Cody's new cousin, Egan, was born! No word yet on whether he's handsome, but I was told he looks just like a baby
  • Speaking of babies, I finally got to watch that show about the Duggars! It was awful, and we stayed way too long, and even though I had control of the remote, Mrs. Dicy wouldn't let me hit 'mute' when that one son sang to his bride. The whole show is amazing beyond description

Friday, January 23, 2009

Y'all, this is exciting!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Pie Day!!!!

So, our dear friends, Travis and Alana, gave us this wonderful personalized calendar for Christmas. And this wonderful calendar had holidays on it, such as federal holidays, birthdays, due dates, and wedding dates and anniversaries. And some awesome holidays like Pie Day and Send A Card Day.

So today I was already in a great mood because I had quesadillas for supper last night and fell asleep early and woke up happy and on time and had lots of coffee (and I'm drinking Mountain Dew as I type this. Wooo!) and it's Friday and a beautiful warm day in January with no chance of a tornado, and then Cody asked me what kind of pie I wanted to make.

What?! Oh man! (If we were having this conversation in real life, I would be yelling by this point and you would be getting annoyed.)

Next to ice cream and then jello, pie is my favorite dessert (except for when I like fresh fruit, but it seems a little cold for that now)! It's such a good idea! You get pie crust, and then you have all of these choices for fillings, and then you can cover it up with all kinds of things! Personally, I hate meringue, but the January issue of Martha Stewart's Living had some great pointers.

I love pie.

My favorite pies that Grandmother makes are pecan and chocolate.

My favorite pies that Cody makes are apple and strawberry-rhubarb and rhubarb.

My favorite pie to eat in a hospital cafeteria is banana creme.

My favorite pies to order in a restaurant are cherry and coconut cream. (And no, I don't know why I spelled them differently, but I think I've got it right.)

My favorite pie to eat with about 15 of my closest friends is peanut butter. It's rich, so I don't eat it by myself.

My favorite pie to eat when I want to have something I normally don't have is lemon meringue, after I give the meringue to someone else.

My favorite pie of all time is probably pumpkin.

Slices of pie look so pretty on a plate.

You can eat them with ice cream (my favorite dessert, remember?).

You can eat them with whipped cream.

With certain pies, you can just hold a slice in your hand and eat it!

You can warm them up in the microwave.

I just re-read what I typed and have no idea why I am not morbidly obese with all of my teeth rotted out.

It's probably because I don't eat pie very often, which is probably what makes it so special.

Plus, it's just so pretty.

I wish I liked blueberry pie. That would look beautiful.

It's even fun to say, especially since I inexplicably say it with a stronger-than-what-I-usually-have Southern accent.

But back to my story: Cody asked me what kind of pie I wanted to make tonight (he tries to include me in baking projects, bless his heart) and after I finished rejoicing that Pie Day had finally arrived (apparently with lots of facial expressions) and exploding with happiness and excitement, I made my decision.

I will not tell you my decision, but I will tell you that it was a good one.

Cody will be going to the store on his way home tonight and we are going to bake a pie!

I don't think we've baked a pie since my mom's birthday--that's a month and a half ago!

I hope you bake a pie today. You're going to be so happy you did.

Happy Pie Day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I still don't know what to say

So let's see......
  • I cleaned the tub last night (no borax, just some Lysol cleaner. I felt lazy, but the bathroom still stinks like killer chemicals)
  • Work is insanely busy
  • I wish I was playing outside in the beautiful weather this afternoon
  • I bought a new blow dryer
  • I still love waking up early, but I still need help going to bed early
  • For the record, I loved Michelle Obama's inauguration coat and gloves
  • I finished a scarf the other day
  • I finished another baby hat, and forgot to take a picture. I used fuzzy-ish gray, brown, and white yarn and it was for one of Cody's coworkers. This baby could possibly look like a horned barn owl, which is either adorable or incredibly disconcerting
  • I almost walked into a bookcase a few minutes ago
  • Cody and I are planning to see some movies this weekend. Yes, plural. We are frivolous, hedonistic, weekend-loving maniacs
  • The February issue of Martha Stewart's Living is unbelievable. I told Cody that it made me want to travel back in time so that we could use the candied citrus recipe to make Chad the best lemon cake in the entire world for his winter solstice birthday party
  • We are totally going to make some kind of citrus-themed cake at some point very soon--Easter is citrus-y, right?
  • I have somewhat curly hair right now, and that makes me feel cute
  • I told Laine today that if Cody and I have babies, I want them to get to visit her in-laws because then they can get tractor rides. I should let Cody know about this
  • I'm worried about our toaster
  • In spite of teasing Sara for saying getting a new refrigerator would be "fun," I'm still looking forward to meeting my parents' new refrigerator
  • If you have not invited Martha Stewart and creative and practical wisdom into your life yet, I hope you will today as together we wrap up this blog post so I can have a snack

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's been crazy

I'm not sure what to say, but it seems like I should say something:
  • I had ice cream with my sister on Saturday.
  • Cody met some of my co-workers on Friday.
  • I talked to Levi on Sunday.
  • Cody has been baking a lot of bread and that seems to make him happy.
  • We can still enjoy sitcoms and each other even when we're sad.
  • I killed my blow dryer over the weekend and didn't know until it was too late.
  • I have braved the cold morning with wet hair for two days now.
  • Cody forgets everything when he's stressed.
  • His mom does the same thing.
  • I'm very grateful to be married into that family anyway.
  • I'm very grateful for the family I was born into.
  • I'm grateful for my friends.
  • I love inaugurations.
  • I love being American.
  • I'm hopeful for the future.
  • Cody and I have been together for 5 years today.
  • Ordering at Western Sizzlin is impossibly hard, and it's even worse when some guy who looks like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite is screaming at you because he's just that exuberant about his job.
  • I am far too easily flustered.
  • I'm knitting more baby hats.
  • I'm currently reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, A.S. Byatt's A Whistling Woman, and Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out.
  • I hope you're staying warm.
  • I hope you got to catch at least a little of the inauguration on TV or your computer.
  • I hope you're well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fridays are fantastic

It seems like I should leave you with something on this extra long weekend.

So here are some links.

Dual monitors are fantastic (courtesy of Jeff):
http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/115846

I thought this was a nice summary about Andew Wyeth:
http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=348101&GT1=28101

I read a great story about him one time in an old Reader's Digest

Also fantastic: decluttering stuff:
http://smallnotebook.org/2009/01/16/top-ten-rules-of-decluttering/

Not fantastic: girls like Claire in Elizabethtown. We watched it this week and I realized I loved everything about the film except for her. What in the world?! That girl is a psychotic stalker! End of discussion. But yeah, it made me think of this article that I've been wanting to blog about for a while now, but I'm too lazy. So here's the article:
http://www.avclub.com/articles/wild-things-16-films-featuring-manic-pixie-dream-g,2407/

(And ignore the comments that follow the article.)

Conversation is fantastic:
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/01/16/art_of_conversation/

Enjoy your copying and pasting and have a fantastic weekend!



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just to let you know...

I like glass. It doesn't stain or absorb smells. It's easier to see what glass containers hold, and it almost makes leftovers (dare I say it) look pretty.

I've started saving old spaghetti sauce and jelly jars and using them to store leftovers. There's a jar of Newman's Own salsa that is the perfect serving size for my lunches that I take to work. It's easier to transport leftover soup. I can do a quick look-through of the fridge and see what we still have to eat.

Best of all, I can put glass containers on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.

I like glass's durability. I like that a pint jar makes an okay travel mug.

I really like that the juice glass in this picture is several decades old and it still works wonderfully. My grandmother said her mother-in-law gave them to her. It figures prominently into several of my childhood memories. And unlike the plastic Shoney's cups that we used to love so much, it's still around.

When my own mother-in-law tore down an old storage shed in her yard, we discovered a lot quart jars that the previous owners had left behind and she let us have them. Once she washed the dead lizards out of them, they were as good as new. We'll definitely use them when we can some tomatoes this summer (after a few more washings and a nice sterilizing--stay calm).


We wound up giving a few of the quart jars to my mom when she canned vegetable soup. In return, she gave us some jelly jars.

And in the grand tradition of families passing stuff around, you may have gotten some with your Christmas present this year.

And really, I just love having containers for things. Nice, sterile, transparent containers with airtight lids. I hope this isn't getting weird for you. I just really like compartmentalizing.

If we gave you canned goods for Christmas, feel free to give back the jar when it's empty--unless you have plans for it of your own. I would never want to deprive someone of containers. But if you don't want them, please give them back. (And with the rings, too, if it's not too much trouble. But that's really no big deal.) And if you want to pass on some of your old Ragu jars, that would be cool.

Like I said, I like glass jars.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Tuesday

How are you?

I'm great.

I would blog about the weekend, but that would take longer than I'd like. It was full and happy. I attended 2 baby showers and then went to a friend's house on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I slept late and watched too much television and finished reading The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Our week is going well. I sent Cody to the grocery store by himself, so naturally he came back with fancy cheese and a red cabbage.

Work was fine yesterday. On my way home, I stopped by Micheal's and bought 6 skeins of yarn (two of one type, four of another), 7 spools of ribbon (4' each), and a stamp for a total of $19.61. The yarn was at a 70% discount. Beautiful.

Now it's Tuesday, and things are fine. I've started getting up earlier, and that's working out nicely. I'd rather get up early than stay up late. So last night I went to bed right at 10, and this morning I chopped up fruit for today's snacks and unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while Cody was in the shower. I like starting off the day by doing something productive, as opposed to getting ready and rushing out and showing up late.

So here I am, ready to do stuff.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Knitting: webcomics, childhood memories, and links!


(With many apologies to www.nataliedee.com for my poorly executed censorship.)

I don't know why these sheep can knit or talk, but I enjoy this because 1) this is something that people typically say to me when they see me knitting and 2) this is typically something I want to say to them. Obviously, I think everyone with working fingers and thumbs should learn to knit. But I don't necessarily think I'm the one to teach you.

My Mamaw Myrtle taught me how to knit. I think I was 9 or 10. I was still small enough to sit in her lap, so she sat me down and gave me two pairs of knitting needles (I still have them) and showed me how to make a basic stitch with some of her leftover yarn. I learned how to mess with my thread tension and work my fingers and I was so proud of my casting on abilities. I showed Mamaw what I'd done. She took it from me, looked at it, said "Oh, that's very good, Jennifer!" (She calls me "Jennifer.") She then unraveled it, handed it back to me, and said "Now, do it again a few more times to get the hang of it."

I tried this with a friend, about a decade later. I thought she was going to deck me.

But I did this again a few times, and over the course of the visit she taught me two different stitches and how to cast on (start) and cast off (finish) and what to do with the leftover yarn hanging from your project.

And so....ta-da! I was a knitter.

Chances are that I will not fit in your lap, nor will you fit in mine. And that's sad, because I think the best way to learn to do something is to see how you're going to do it yourself. (Why else would cooking shows do that weird camera angle on top of the host's head during difficult procedures?) And I mentioned to a myspace friend (hi, Christi!) that sometimes friends will ask, "Can you show me how to knit?" when I have one pair of needles and I'm in the middle of the project. And then I look like a jerk and say, "Maybe you should try Youtube." But that's really not a blow-off, I think a video tutorial would be smart.....especially if it's being conducted by someone who can do something and then talk about what he or she is doing as he or she is doing it. I cannot.

Christy wrote me back a day or so later and gave me the names of some websites that had really helped her, and recommended I pass them on to anyone who may be interested.

That's right, kids! It's linking time!

After she mentioned really liking ExpertVillage, I waded through some of their categories and found the series "How to Knit" out of a bajillion or so (okay, several thousand) videos on every topic related to knitting in any way. Very cool. It's a series of 9 videos of varying length, divided by topic, and frankly, I'm kind of interested in learning how to do a cable stitch.

Very good stuff.

The next site she mentioned was Knitting Tips by Judy. Bless her heart, Judy kind of cracked me up. She's a "Hollywood knitter to the stars," which really just means that a lot of her creations are used in films (Waterworld! What?!?). I only watched one of her videos and it was shaky enough to make me feel a little woozy. However, she also had pages with step-by-step instructions with good pictures (also handy if you have a painfully slow Internet connection) that were really helpful. She's got everything divided up by category and she has links and free patterns for beginning knitters. Yay Judy!

And then I just found this site today and I'm linking it for you because I love pretty things and bright colors and cute names and lots of pictures. So I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things I have realized in the past 24 hours

  • I get louder when I'm cold.
  • If I'm not driving, and I think Cody is about to rear end the maniac who whips into our lane from out of nowhere, I tend to put my feet on the dash. In theory, this will help me brace for impact. In all likelihood, the air bag deployment will probably break my legs or send my knees flying into my face.
  • Cody apparently hates it when I scream in the car.
  • Pint jar = great travel mug in a pinch.
  • New Mountain Dew can design = ugly.
  • Jen with a pint jar = Dad, who can drive 50 m.p.h. down gravel roads while drinking coffee from a standard mug without spilling.
  • Mountain Dew from ugly new can = still good.
  • Baby things might not actually be cute. I may just think that it's cute, because it so small. Unless it has animals on it. Objectively speaking, baby clothes with animals on them are some of the most adorable creations in the world.
  • Baby articles of clothing with messages about how much Grandpa or Grandma want to spoil the wearer = I really hate them. I finally faced it. They're not cute. Misbehavior is not cute. Benevolent tolerance or encouragement of bad behavior leads to tyrants.
  • Jen = somewhat incapable of using the "=" symbol correctly.
  • Keeping it all in one notebook at a time is one of the best ideas I've ever had.
  • Having an attractive notebook means the notebook will get used.
  • The newest issue of Nylon magazine still has not arrived and this is a little unacceptable since I've been seeing it in stores since Saturday. That subscription seems a little bit like a stupid waste of money (especially after I got the television issue. I would not have bought that one myself. Blegh.).
  • My subscription to Martha Stewart's Living may have been some of the best money I've ever spent. The first issue I got has recipes for orange marmalades, tips for closet organization, and a month-by-month guide for floral arrangements! Be still, my dancing heart.
  • Jen = huge dork.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Resolutions

I wasn't going to do it, but I could help myself. I had mentioned some of this stuff to Laine a few days ago, and the more I thought about it this morning, the more I knew I had to:

I'm making some resolutions.

Yes, I know I'm a little late. I thought I'd skip it this year. I always say that I'm going to eat better, exercise more, and try to be a better person. And every year, I try these things and succeed a little bit.

It's very unsatisfying. Personal growth is something I always have to work on. It's not something with tangible results, and it's never going to be enough. I'm never going to turn into a nice person, and be able to cross "treat others better" off my list (which I typically lose around March).

So this year, I'm going to be a little more task-oriented. This year, I'm posting my resolutions here so you can see them and throw this in my face later in the year. This year, I'm writing them in my notebook that I always have with me. And really, resolutions are like a to-do list I have all year long to take care of. How could I resist the ultimate list?

2009

Take non-awful pictures of Casey and Spencer.

I have plenty of good pictures of my siblings, but haven't fared as well with Cody's. The reason for this is simple: my family is used to me taking pictures when they'd prefer I didn't. As a result, they stay calm and do not try to run away. Casey and Spencer.......not so much. But granted, Cody was the same way. All three of them hate the flash (that family has some light issues. I think they're vampires.) and so a lot of pictures have them all squinty-eyed. But they're also prone to inexplicable facial expressions (not so much a problem with Cody), which means that I when I can finally get pictures of Cody's family, they turn out really badly. And I'm not waiting a year or two to get good pictures like I did with Cody--film and development are not cheap and I am not patient. It's totally going to happen this year. (Also: "Non-awful pictures of Casey and Spencer" does not mean "pictures of Casey and Spencer that they actually like." I just want to make that clear.)

Take a picture of Cody holding a baby.
I saw Cody hold a baby a couple of Thanksgivings ago and it was cuter than watching him play with puppies. Since we're going to meet a lot of babies this year, this the easy thing I'm putting on the list. You know, that easy thing you put on your list because it won't be hard to accomplish and you can cross it off really quickly. This is 2009's sure thing. So let Cody hold your baby!

Stop wasting pictures on "oh, isnt' this interesting" junk.
You know, funny signs, or things that remind of an in-joke, blahblahblah. I know enough people with digital cameras that I can ask them to take it, or just do without. Because I've been going through my photo albums a lot lately, and the pictures I really enjoy are the ones that are really good, and the ones of friends and family. Good ones of friends and family are the best.

Basically, the last three resolutions could be summed up as "Stop wasting my pictures."

Can tomatoes.
If we make a last-minute, unplanned run to the grocery store, it's probably for tomatoes. Diced, stewed, whole, something. It's probably our #1 thing. (Followed by toilet paper, and then pie crust. Just in case you were curious.) We intended to can tomatoes last summer, and of course did not. But this summer, Cody's mom has decided that her dad's old garden is going to be planted and we're going to help her. And if that doesn't work out, we may still do a little patio gardening. And if even that doesn't work, there's always the farmer's markets. You know why I know we're going to accomplish this one? Because I really hate running to the store. I like having things on hand. The end.

Stop freaking out about weddings.
Even when I'm not even remotely involved with the planning and execution of a wedding, I get really worried. Weddings are kind of terrifying to me. They're a huge deal, and there's just so much that can go wrong (ask me about the time I nearly showed up for my own wedding without a marriage license or a veil). I seriously get sick with worry, which is of no help to anyone. And because my sister is getting married this summer, I'm not going to panic about her wedding. It's going to be a simple affair, and I'm sure it will be great, and if I start to annoy her with my constant worrying, I'll spoil some of the happiness of her special day. And she'll probably hurt me. So it's really in everyone's best interest (especially my face's) if I just focus on the positive, help where I can, and remember to bring an aresenal of wedding planning necessities (safety pins, tape, and band aids. And you can never have too much Kleenex or hair spray. But that's just a given).

Cody is going to lose weight.
Why is this my goal? Because Cody probably didn't make resolutions (we seriously don't talk about this stuff) and I like to boss him around. I have a number in mind, and it is a little different from the current number. Obviously, I love him just as he is and find him unbearably handsome all the time. But when he weighed himself this fall and discovered that he'd returned to his just-started-dating weight, we were both pretty surprised and displeased. I know he's active. I know he eats pretty well. I know his annual checkups have revealed nothing troubling. I know he has since lost a little of the surprise-and-displeasure weight. But I want more weight off and I want it off soon. The younger he is when he loses some of this weight, the longer he'll live. Really, google it.

Read 70 books.
I read (I think) 57 books last year. As much time as I spend reading, that's really not that great. Either I need to get serious about finishing some of the books I'm currently reading, or I need to find some better books. So far, I've read 1 book. Well, there we go. I have probably about 50 unread books on my shelf. And I probably want to read at least 30 of them (the rest are Cody's G.K. Chesterton/devotionals/philosophy classes things).

I'm excited about this year's list.

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008: Picture Edition

This could take a while to load. Sorry about that.

If the pictures are to be believed, 2008 was a pretty full year.




























































It's been interesting.