Saying Goodbye

This weekend, we had to say goodbye to Sponsel’s. They have been the location for our annual orchard visit for eight years now, and this fall they are closing. Sold to land developers.

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The weather was perfect! No color adjustments were made to this picture!

Lots of pictures were taken, though we generally avoided taking pictures of the depressing parts. (They have sold off a lot of their property, and the bakery/food area was entirely closed, and they no longer do wagon trips out to the orchard or horseback riding, no pumpkins, I could go on.)

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We even took pictures of taking pictures!

There was no oversight by staff out in the orchard, so we didn’t have to covertly climb trees or sample the apples. That was nice. Also, usually there are only 3-4 kinds of apples to pick on any given weekend, but now they were all up for grabs (mostly). There was a lot of tasting, trying to decide what we liked, what we didn’t like, what wasn’t ripe yet…. We came home with Harrelsons, Red Barons, and Honey Golds.

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Eat up!

As always, plenty of opportunities for practicing my photography. It was so bright out that I couldn’t see the screen, so I took a lot of duplicates, hoping at least one of them was in focus.

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Success!

Feeling a bit melancholy about the whole thing, I pulled together some of my favorite photographs from previous years (click to go to Flickr and see them a bit bigger).

Sponsel's 2003-2009
Sponsel's 2003-2009

I could tell so many stories… the year we learned that Emma Krumbee’s is not all it’s cracked up to be. The year we learned that late October is too cold for apple picking. Feeding the goats. Climbing trees. Generally being silly. We have 11 months to find a replacement, which is going to be hard! We want all of the good stuff without finding a place that is too kid-friendly, if you know what I mean. We’ll have to see what happens….

You have to really like someone…

… to take them to the airport at 4:30 am. On a weekend (Sunday). I’m just sayin’.

I had the house all to myself yesterday. All of yesterday. is in California (see the afore-mentioned airport run), and I will join him tomorrow, but until then it’s just me and the cats. And the billion things I want/need to do.

Most of Saturday was spent at ‘s house making jewelry for all of the daughters for the wedding (6 total, her fiance has four, plus and myself). If you didn’t know, it takes a really long time to make jewelry, if you want it to look good and coordinate well, that is. We made necklaces with matching earrings. We used the same formula for each, but they are all different, reflecting each girl’s preferences. I’d show you a picture, but I haven’t taken any yet. I still need to add in the clasps, which we left undone because we ran out of time. And I need to make mine, because I couldn’t find the beads I wanted at JoAnn. What can I say, I’m picky.

Needless to say, when I left her house, I was a bit dazed and blurry-eyed. The chain we were using was really small (it looks better and less hand-made, but is a pain to work with), and an afternoon of making design decisions had rendered me incapable of making any further decisions. Good thing was hungry.

After some delicious Papa John’s, we both packed up our luggage. I’d had multiple nightmares of making it to the airport on time, only to realize shortly before my flight that my luggage was empty. Since we packed, I have not had any more of these dreams, thankfully.

Sunday morning, I crawled back into bed after the airport run, only to be frightened awake by , who wanted to keep me safe from the stray cat who had wandered onto our patio. So instead of getting back to sleep by 5:30, it was 7, and when my alarm went off at 9, I hit snooze for a solid hour. The only reason I got out of bed was because I had an 11:00 date.

I met up with and at one of our favorite brunch places, Maria’s Cafe in Minneapolis. The corn pancakes were delicious, as always. came back to my house and we used the freezer paper stencil technique to decorate some shirts for a race she will be in soon. I managed to get some embroidery done while she was there too (there was only one iron), and we watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, much to our amusement.

After my dinner of reheated pizza (toaster ovens are great for this, saving me from microwave pizza, which is blech), I wrapped up the embroidery project (pictures coming soon). I also did a little bit of cleaning (just a little).

My list of things to do tonight when I get home from class is long, and the list for Tuesday morning is short (thankfully). The shuttle comes to pick me up at 4:35, and then I will spend most of the morning in airports or on airplanes. Strangely, I have been to both of the airports before (I transfer flights in Denver). I should make it to the hotel by 12:30 or 1 (see photos from ‘s trip [link removed]) California time, at which point I will take a long nap. We do have internet at the hotel, so I’m hoping to blog a little bit, but you never know. I’m bringing the camera, and am excited to have really good quality photos of San Francisco (since when I was there in 1999, digital cameras barely existed) and the San Jose area. On my list of things to do are several museums, some shopping sites, and a really good sandwich from Boudin.

We fly back on Sunday, and then life should return to normal for a bit. Well, kind of normal. The last night of class is that Monday, and then the summer semester starts the following week. I think I have 9 days off.

The… 7th day of Christmas

(Yes, that’s how many Christmas celebrations we had. This was the last.)

Last night, and came over for our annual Christmas in January gift exchange and yummy food. We learned how to make shrimp scampi, had delicious roasted Brussels sprouts that brought, and then consumed way more chocolate mousse than was advisable (but made it, and it was gooooood).

renewed my magazine subscription, which is always a welcome gift. gave me a lovely serving bowl that I had oggled at No Coast (it’s white with little birdies on the side!).

and I had a theme for our gifts to . She got flannel sheets, and

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pajamas! The pants aren't actually finished, because they need to be cust0m-fit to L, but they're 30 minutes away from being done. The sleep shirt was done by tracing a photo of the fabric in Flash and enlarging it, and freezer paper stenciling it using soft fabric paint. I was super pleased with how it turned out.

And, because in December not only did turn 30, she also graduated from nursing school (and it was Christmas). My gift to celebrate all of these things was a quilt that I had kept top secret.

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"The Next Step"

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Back

She loved it, and reacted as anyone should to a homemade gift. I was pleased.

And then we played dice and chatted and then I pushed them out the door so I could take down the Christmas decorations and clean the house before classes start (T minus three hours now).

…and that’s why I was so tired this morning.

Friday night, after a fabulous time at the No Coast Craft-o-Rama* with and , I spent an unreasonable quantity of time getting the PowerPoint presentation ready for class on Saturday. (This involved installing the trial version of Office 2007, which wouldn’t activate, among many other things.) It was much too late when I went to bed.

I was wise enough to drive to class on Saturday, and though I had told my group members that I would be there half an hour early, none of them showed up until about five minutes before class. (No worries – the professor gave us over 45 minutes to prep, while the rest of the class twiddled their thumbs. Bummer for them.) I had checked Facebook and saw a status update that warranted a call to . While on the phone with her, I found out that she is now officially engaged (not the reason I called)! Things had been unofficial for quite a few weeks, but on Friday night her boyfriend proposed. The wedding is in June. There was also some other drama on that side of the family that I won’t divulge, but suffice it to say, it was an eventful phone call.

Class went well enough. It was perhaps the first time I did some public speaking where I wasn’t nervous at all. I mean, I’m pretty comfortable with [planned] public speaking, but usually there’s still that little bit of nervousness in my stomach. Not this weekend. Everything went well (once I figured out the technical difficulties), and we got an A. I had already turned in my final exam, so I’m done with class! I don’t think grades will get posted for several weeks, but I’m comfortable in the knowledge that at mid-term I was the one who set the curve.

Saturday afternoon, and I cleaned the garage and managed to make enough space so that he can park in there now! A major accomplishment, for sure, and perfect timing. It’s getting quite cold here, and we’re expecting several inches of snow starting tomorrow. (Boo!)

Sunday afternoon we went to Target. We were thwarted in our attempts to get several things on our list (firewood bin, outdoor clips for hanging Christmas lights), but I did knock out most of one Christmas gift. had the awesome idea that we should skip hanging lights this year (which I was seriously considering already) and purchase lights and hooks/clips right after Christmas, when everything will be on sale. Genius!  This way we can hang the clips/hooks next summer after painting the house, and will just have to string lights after Thanksgiving. We might also figure out a way to get an additional power outlet on the front of the house that will make things much easier.

Then I learned that I still don’t like basil. Oh well. I tried. Really, I did! We did find a new good recipe, that is easily modified to create lots of variety. It was on the AllRecipes.com iPhone app, which is handy if you’re not very good at coming up with things to put on the dinner menu (“Orzo with Parmesan and Basil” if you’re looking – it’s probably on their website too). And then I set up the Christmas tree, which was wonderful and made me smile a lot. I don’t remember exactly who gave me each ornament, but I do remember a lot of them. The whole process reminds me of all the people I have had in my life over the years that have been so loving and caring. It also reminds me of childhood, since I have quite a few ornaments that I made in elementary school.

I’m still hard at work on some small embroidery pieces for the Ornament Swap. Sadly, I will be late, since the mailing deadline is today, but I don’t think I’ll be horribly late. Hopefully just a few days. I have half of them done, and at least a few stitches on the remaining ones. I have only received two so far, and last year several of my 10 partners didn’t send anything out, so I don’t feel too guilty for missing the deadline.

That is probably how I’ll spend most of my free time this week, working on those ornaments. I do have two weeks of Homework Hub left, but no more [personal] homework! My advisor hasn’t responded at all to my application to the program, so I’m assuming things are OK (barring my two missing recommendation letters). I am watching the three classes I want to register for, and they still have double-digits of seats available, so I’m not concerned at this point. It is, after all, a busy time for professors too, so I’m being patient.

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I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas holiday season!

*Purchased: a new Cayenne Peppy [link removed] purse, to replace the one I bought last year at the NCCOR and carried for an entire year, getting compliments all the time, and an alpaca knit scarf that I may or may not be allergic to. Also some foodstuff from the HolyLand Deli and some tamales for dinner.

Just for You

I’d pretend that I’m playing along with Wordless Wednesday, but really, I’m just being lazy.

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A making a silly face
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Guess whose hand is on whose butt

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New profile pic, L?
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This girl just can't stop herself from climbing trees!

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Sponsel's 2009

I think someone needs to change their Facebook profile image. (And it’s not me, because… there isn’t a single picture of me from Sunday, and that’s a really good thing. It was a very bad hair day.)

I slept the entire ride to work this morning

True story. I did wake up several times and panic about where I was (I kept thinking I’d missed my stop by 15 minutes).

So, Friday night I quilted up the mini quilt (which will be in the mail tomorrow) and then went to buy groceries for the potsticker party. I learned a couple of things. 1) Friday night at 8 pm is when all the moms come and do their shopping. Many of them with small kids, surprisingly. 2) It is nearly impossible to find ground pork. Ground bison? Ground veal? Ground lamb? Ground you-pick-the-animal, just not pig. Ground pork was only found in sausage flavors, which I thought would not be appropriate for potstickers. At Byerly’s, thankfully, they had a very small section of ground pork, and I bought half their stock. A whole 4 pounds.

Saturday was mostly consumed with, you guessed it, the making of potstickers.
and came over (the latter with my adorable baby nephew, who was perfect and giggly most of the time) and we cranked out nearly 200 potstickers. And I have filling leftover in my fridge to make 50-100 more. Amazing, I know. Complicated, detailed, but not actually hard. That’s not to say that any of the potstickers we made were pretty. That, they were not. But they were tasty. We cooked some up just to see. No pictures of the potstickers – as I said, they weren’t pretty. Later I’ll post some links to the recipes we used and the tutorial on folding (that we only kind of used).

I also mowed the lawn. Not really as exciting.

Sunday, after walking over to the library to pick up some books I’d requested, we went to Ikea, where I promptly purchased 4 wrong items. I’ve never done that before. I bought 6, 2 each of 3 things (drawer fronts, drawers, and shelves). Well, the drawers I bought were the 19″ deep ones instead of the 15″ ones, so they don’t fit in the shelving unit. The shelves were actually a different type of drawer. The only correct thing was the drawer fronts, which are completely useless without drawers to attach them to. So I’ll be going back to fix that mistake (they also only charged us for some of those items, not all of them – that’ll be a fun visit with customer service, don’tcha think?). I also picked up some of their privacy glass film – for a whopping $4.99, I’ll give it a shot. We found a small bookshelf for for our bedroom too.

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting together (and then taking apart) wrong Ikea things. And then we walked up to 66th and tried a new (to us) restaurant, East Buffet. gave it 6/10, and I’m prone to agree. Good enough to eat at again, but not to rave about. I definitely found some of the really bad things on the menu, though. Cheese-covered mussels? Cheesy seafood bake? Both quite disgusting. The stuffed mushrooms were edible, but blah. I do highly recommend the mushroom chicken though, and liked their General Tsao’s.

Sunday night I got the binding sewn onto the mini quilt, so it’s all done (except for a label, and pictures). Yay! Off to the post office tomorrow with it (to be sent all the way to Germany!).

I’m thinking tonight needs to involve some outside time, if the weather is as nice as I think it is (I’ve been locked in my cube since 7:30 this morning – I really have no idea what it’s like outside). Perhaps some quality time spent weeding.

Meh

You know, if I didn’t think it was too dorky (which is not a long walk from where I am), I’d totally get a “meh” shirt, especially since that is how I’ve been feeling lately. That word floated around the internet for years and I ignored it. Somehow it wormed its way into my life recently and I’ve even said it outloud a few times. Late to the party, as usual.

Yesterday, I woke up late (6:00) and thought about the prospect of going to work, and my answer was: meh. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I lay in bed trying to think of a reason to go, some project that needed me, or work that needed to be completed, and I came up blank. Didn’t even have to answer phones. So, I dragged (drug?) myself out of bed and emailed a few co-workers and my boss, saying I wasn’t feeling well. It was the truth.

It actually turned out good because the city inspector was coming to the house to check the new circuit we had installed for the washer/dryer in the basement. The time frame we were given? 12-5. Lovely. So, I stayed home, and didn’t have to take the afternoon off work. In all, the inspector arrived at about 2:30 and stayed less than 5 minutes. Everything checked out great, as expected.

I also spent almost three hours in my office, fixing the paint that had bled under the blue painter’s tape. Painstakingly detailed work (and I had to do it with two separate colors, since I now have three colors in the room – but no pictures yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it), but work that I absolutely had to do. There was no way around it, no leaving it as-is. The center stripe (where all the bleeding is) sits at 36″ from the floor, which is eye-level if I’m sitting at my desk sewing or using the computer. I wouldn’t have been able to stand staring at it all the time. Plus, it really did bleed a lot. It’s not like I was being a perfectionist. The touch-up turned out great, and now the lines look crisp and clean. But, man did that hurt my body. Not a comfortable thing to do. Watched several episodes of Monk while doing it, so not entirely unenjoyable.

This means, of course, that the shelving unit can be mounted to the wall tonight (to keep it from tipping over), and I can finally put fabric away (which means getting rid of 6 boxes that are sitting in the room presently). The paint has all cured (except for the touch-ups I did yesterday), so I can also hang stuff on the walls, and all the switch plate and outlet covers have been re-attached. All that’s left (besides the organizing and putting away of stuff) is to paint some art on the walls. I suppose that means I should make up my mind.

I also swept our driveway, which is about as exciting as it sounds. I will be so glad when the maple trees stop dropping those little helicopters, because they are impossible to sweep up. Our trees have quite a few dead branches (that are way high up, so I have yet to attack them with pruning shears), so every time it gets windy, there are little branches all over the ground. The lawn mower, of course, does not like this (but it’s not nearly as bad as the rocks in all of the gardening areas, which are constantly sneaking out of their area into the grass – says, “oh yeah, they’ll do that” – just another reason to get rid of all those rocks).

After dinner, came over, and we drove up to ‘s. We were supposed to be returning some stuff she left at our house, and picking up some extra tomato plants. Totally forgot the bag of stuff, though. Got the tomatoes. The three of us drove over to SR Harris and got lost in the warehouse of fabric for an hour or so. was the only one to find what she was looking for, unfortunately for the rest of us.

Today, my neck is still sore from the painting yesterday (I know it’s that because it’s in a different place from where my neck/shoulders are usually store/stiff). But, on a happy note, the nail polish I applied on Tuesday is still on my fingernails and has hardly chipped, which is unheard of for me. FYI, there’s a lovely turquoise-y shade that’s quite popular this year (I know because almost every brand had a version of it), and it actually looks good and flattering, and not at all juvenile. You might want to give it a shot, if you’re a nail polish-wearing sort of girl (or guy – I don’t judge).

I am feeling “meh” about the rest of the afternoon. There is a very good reason that some companies give their employees Friday afternoons off in the summer (or “beer Fridays” – it really does happen). Very good indeed. (Not that the government could ever partake in such a thing. Taxpayers and the media would be all over that in a heartbeat. However, if we were forced to take furlough, I’d have no problem using it on Friday afternoons in the summer. No news about that until the “new year,” which is July 1.)

Boring

It’s quite boring around here these days. I apologize. I’ve been busy with work and other stuff that doesn’t even make up a bad blog post, let alone something worth your time. For instance:

  • For the last two weeks, I’ve been having a lunch of granola and yogurt.
  • Today, I also had cantaloupe. (Did you know that word was spelled that way?)
  • I gave blood today, and it wasn’t the horror-fest I experienced in March.
  • Last night I had a massage, and it was lovely. My last one? 3 months ago. I think I’ll go back in 2 weeks, and maybe another two weeks after that (I have some saved up, you know). It might take that much, or more, to actually unknot my shoulders.
  • I’ve done a lot of ironing lately. And I’m not done yet. (But oh, the pretty fabric I’ll have when I’m done!)
  • In my spare time, I’ve been researching potsticker recipes, methods for freezing, cooking, etc. I’m still in need of a good (reputable, reliable) vegetarian one.
  • I’ve also looked at what to do with fresh from the garden tomatoes, because, as unlikely as it might be that I would ever consume a tomato, we’re growing some in our garden. And then this fall, and I will learn how to make tomato sauce with them.
  • We decided that the chest freezer that we inherited with the house doesn’t work. I mean, it works, but it never stops running, and since it’s at least 30 years old (manufactured by Sears Robuck, if you remember that long ago) and no where near energy efficient, we decided wasn’t working for us. I’m thinking craigslist, for someone who knows how to fix those things. So, the Von Hansen’s is in the freezer upstairs. Good thing we only got a small pack, and not, say, half a cow. 🙂
  • Apparently, no one that I work with knows how to insert a row or column into a table in Word. No one, that is, except me. How is that possible? And why does no one try right clicking before they ask me for help?

See? Totally boring. I’m surprised I didn’t fall asleep while typing it.

Maybe I can have something good for you tomorrow, or a picture, or something. No promises, though.

Where does the time go?

And how is it Wednesday already? Of course, it didn’t seem that way yesterday. By early afternoon, I was so tired, and bored, that I was sure it must be Friday. The day seemed to go on forever. But then, staff meeting, and just like that the work day was over.

And I never blogged like I promised I would.

Well, what can I say. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

What’s going on, you ask?

Friday night, and I spent a lot of time at two different ApplianceSmarts, purchasing a washer and dryer. His dad came out to help us get the dryer back to the house (we left the washer at the store for pickup later). Saturday, while they were out picking up the washer, I did some pruning, because you know how I love me some pruning. (What’s awesome? Adult-sized people can now walk under the trees in our back yard without having to duck. Yay!) Also, I got to experience this:

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Marching band practice

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The junior high (I think - they were pretty small, in both stature and number!) band learning how to march!

Those pictures were taken from my front window. They actually weren’t all that bad, as long as you don’t mind listening to scales. Very cute. At one point, I was out on the sidewalk on the other side of our fence, trimming the tree back so that pedestrians would no longer scorn us, the director shouted, “We have an audience! Let’s do it right!” I’m not sure, but I may have been that audience. 🙂

Then they came back with the very heavy washer and managed to get it downstairs without anyone getting broken. I was worried, but it all worked out. Then they got to work on the water hookup and everything else that needed to happen for us to be able to do laundry in our home. At some point, came over. On her day of rest (I totally didn’t realize you meant Rest – sorry!), she helped me remove the shower doors in my bathroom, scrape caulk, install a new curved shower curtain rod, and install a new shower head. It is now seriously lovely in my bathroom (well, all except the very outdated tile that I’m ignoring), especially after I went to town on the remaining caulk and all the dirt that had accumulated. Glorious. Now if I can just pick a color scheme or a fabric for my shower curtain, I’ll be in business. I’m avoiding purchasing an over-toilet storage thingy at the moment, because I wish they weren’t so expensive ($100, minimum, even at Target).

I can’t really remember how the afternoon was spent, but I’m sure I was productive. Huh. I do know that we did a lot of laundry on Saturday and Sunday, and that it was glorious. No more Spanish television! No more sitting at the laundromat! No more quarters! (Plus, the new stuff is high efficiency, which means less energy and less detergent. The dryer’s cost of ownership is an estimated $10 a year. A year!)

Sunday morning, I got up way earlier than I would have liked and saw finish her first half-marathon. We went out to breakfast at Maria’s afterward, where I managed to eat an entire corn pancake, which is a big accomplishment for me. When I got home, instead of taking a nap, we cleaned the garage. Not the most fun choice, but it needed to be done. We only got the left side done, so there are a few more hours of work left, but we’re getting there!

I also have pictures to share of the drawer and shelves that put in for me a while back.

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That's our new microwave on the top shelf, a short shelf for baking sheets (there isn't any vertical storage in the kitchen), and then a pull-out drawer for cleaning supplies. Very lovely.

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Of course, everything needs to be inspected by a cat.

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But the inspection was cut short, by the presence of a bird, or bug, or something else that caught his attention.

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Korben, pensive

I took this photo in a rare moment of standing still (at least, when the camera is in hand, he’s always moving). Equally rare is the look on his face; usually he sports one of two looks, known as “sad eyes” and “bedroom eyes,” which I think are self-explannatory. This look, however, is one of complete disdain. I think he was disgusted that I was taking pictures (of the kitchen, no less), instead of petting him. He doesn’t like being ignored.

Things are definitely winding down for a bit on the house front. We’re tired. I have a massage scheduled for this evening, which I am quite overdue for (they called me to let me know I have 2 saved up – my last massage was march 6th!). I should probably get a haircut, too, since it’s been… four months? What’s next on the list? I don’t even know. I’m taking a very laid-back approach to this week. Case in point? I’ve slept in every day this week. On purpose. That’s what vacation hours are for, right? Half an hour here, half an hour there….

So, be assured that it’s definitely not all work and no play at our house. Sure, I spent two hours ironing last night. But, I also set up my hammock, which is very exciting. I raked up all the dead leaves (and found a spot of ground that’s actually quite pretty) , and got set up underneath my favorite tree (which, unfortunately, still needs a lot of pruning, especially if I want to make it so people can walk underneath it). Just need to find myself a good fiction book and a margarita, and I’ll be all set for the next 3 months.

Eyelids

In spite of my best attempts to avoid it, I have been spending a lot of my time today looking at the back of my eyelids. I’m having a hard time staying awake. I’m often tired at work, but not so much so that I can nap sitting up, staring at my computer. Now would be a really good time for caffeine, if only….

Last night I finished piecing the top for the Mini Quilt in a Bag 2 swap. It looks really good. A hot iron with lots of steam helped make that happen. Tomorrow I’ll piece the back, and sandwich the whole thing up, and it should be in the mail by Saturday, I hope (the deadline is Monday).

There was also a trip to the gym (the first since January), brownies (I found a box that “expired” last month, so made them up after dinner), and the start of a new embroidery project. No pictures of anything, though. There was also some split pea soup from the crockpot, which turned out well, though a little mushy (perhaps because I let the legumes sit in the liquid in the refrigerator overnight, perhaps because that’s how it’s supposed to be). liked it though, so that’s good. It was a basic Better Homes & Gardens recipe, so perhaps with some tweaking I’d like it better. Maybe bacon instead of ham….

Today, goes to the doctor and schedules the birth of her baby boy (sometime next week). I’ve been trying to be better at turning on the ringer of my cell phone when I’m at home, in case she goes into labor early. It’s not expected, but you never know. I’d hate to miss out on that phone call.

There are 9 pictures of posted in my cube right now. How will I ever make room for pictures of a new baby (who still doesn’t have a name)? I’m going to need more push pins.

Today might be a “cleaning the cube” day. is out all week, and left me with very little to do. I need to take care of what’s in my inbox, but that’s about it. Oh, and eat the brownie that’s sitting here, waiting for me to finish lunch. Yum!

Tonight, I’m getting together with my girls (affectionately re-tagged here as “wonder women“) and . We’re meeting at TGIFriday’s for dinner and margaritas (I’m assuming the latter, perhaps incorrectly), and then will head across the street to the MOA for some shopping. I haven’t seen either of them since January, so there should be plenty to catch up on.

Lastly, I have new shoes. And they’re wonderful. Have I touted my love for Clarks “unstructured” line yet? I don’t see in my archives that I have. Let me tell you, they’re well worth the money, and they’re currently on sale. No break-in time for women’s dress shoes? Priceless.

A very boring post

I have fun things to tell you, but they won’t seem that way, because I don’t have the necessary pictures to make it truly exciting. So, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet (or at least sweet – I don’t do “short” very well), and post the good stuff with pictures later.

Saturday started early and quite boringly (it’s a word, I promise). We woke up at 7 to clean the house because we had some showings (one? two? we weren’t sure) and so we pulled out all the stops for them. The house looked spectacular. (Feedback report – one buyer “not at all” interested, haven’t heard anything from the other one.) We then went over to the bank to open a CD, which they made quite easy and was a nice, risk-free way of saving – earning slightly more in interest than our savings account.

No Coast Craft-o-Rama was excellent – crowded as all get out, but great. I bought stuff. did too, and she wrote about it on her blog. I think made it through without buying anything more than lunch, lucky her. I could have totally spent a lot more money, but it would have required much more patience than I brought with, since by the time we were “done,” I was ready for the crowds to go away. I could have looked at the cool stuff for hours longer, if all the people had miraculously disappeared. (However, it sounds like that wouldn’t have been a very successful craft show, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.)

After parting ways, I did a very luxurious thing and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, alone, for nothing in particular (OK, I had some ideas of what I was trying to find). This is why it took me over 2 1/2 hours to get from Minneapolis back home, because I stopped at Super Target, Half Price Books, and JoAnns. It was glorious (and I didn’t even spend that much money, and got some stocking stuffers, and a few things I needed too).

I was still feeling very tired Saturday night, but somehow managed to make it all the way upstairs to the spare bedroom where my sewing machine is set up. I wanted to get the two center lines quilted on ‘s quilt – the big X in the middle, if you will. However, it all went so easily and smoothly that I did the whole thing. It took about two hours, which isn’t bad considering that it’s a twin bed-sized quilt and my machine was not meant to create anything that large.

Sunday, I got the binding made and sewn onto the front. I took a break to decorate the tree that had been so nice as to go get from storage. He hung our “Let it snow” signs too. Now our house is all Christmasy, especially since I bought a wreath while I was out at JoAnns.

After dinner, I started hand-sewing the binding onto the back of the quilt. It looks spectacular. Really. I stopped several times to admire my work, and made look too. My corners are turning out perfectly, which is a first (though it’s only the third quilt I’ve put binding on, so maybe I’ve finally had enough practice to be halfway good at it?). I can’t wait until I have pictures to show you all, because it’s p-e-r-f-e-c-t!

Today, the reindeer ornaments made it out in the mail, which is a good thing. They’re not due until Wednesday, but I wanted them to get out this weekend (however, getting to the post office seemed to be difficult).

When I finally get pictures, here’s what I’ll post: the doll quilt I received in the mail for the DQS5, ‘s quilt (at whatever percentage complete it is when I have a camera in hand), Christmas decorations, my craft fair purchases, and whatever else catches my eye.

Coming up this week: a few swaps (CD, charm squares) to complete, completing ‘s quilt, cookies for my co-workers on Wednesday (holiday party), and ‘s second birthday on Friday (celebrating Saturday). Oh, and picking out fabrics for ‘s Christmas gift (she requested new pillows for her living room, and has a very narrow idea of what is acceptable, and a very difficult color scheme).

Shock and Awe

Amazingly enough, even with the surprise-scheduled (less than 24 hour notice, that is) house showing, I managed to get a lot done this weekend and I’m feeling pretty good about my progress on the bazillions of things I’ve got in the hopper.

So, to show it all off in pictures…

Friday night, I did homework. No pictures of that. It was terribly boring. Saturday we went out and ran errands, which included a disgustingly easy shoe buying experience at Clark’s at the MOA. If they come in the mail this week like they’re supposed to (they were out of black in the store, but shipping was free), and they’re as comfortable as they felt in the store, I may be a lifetime convert. I’d post a picture, but I kinda forgot which pair I ordered; the whole thing happened so fast!

also walked into the Apple store and came out with a new laptop (planned, of course, because the night before he’d sold his old one to a guy on Craigslist). Then it was back home for more homework. Once I finished reading the Kozol book, I could take a break and work on something else.

If you recall on the BTRS Swap quilt, I had appliqued the flowers on last. I made the coin strip for the backing, and shortly found myself doing this:

btrs_swap_quilting_closeup
Am I really quilting?

Did you need a closeup? Because I happen to have one:

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Yes, I think I am!

The whole process was a bit messy (cutting out the strips, that is), but I didn’t get any pictures of that.

We also ate dinner, and I did some reading/research for class. Oh, and we went to Home Depot to get a new kitchen faucet (Delta), which installed while I did homework. It’s so pretty! Here’s the stock image, but ours is brushed nickel, not this silly chrome (which would look just awful in our kitchen):

New kitchen faucet

The old one looked nice, but we had terrible issues with dripping, and we had an on-faucet filtration system and they just didn’t get along. I grew up with a pull-out one like this, and has installed them in several houses, and I just adore them. This one toggles on the side nicely, switching between a regular stream and sprinkling/rain. It works nice and we’re pleased.

Sunday morning we cleaned the house and left so that some lovely people could come over and fall in love with it (hey, a girl can dream, right?). We managed to stop into Linens N Things while we were out, since they are going out of business (everything is currently “10% – 50% off,” but it’s more like 10% for most stuff). We didn’t find anything that was on our list (well, we found it, but 10% wasn’t enough of an incentive to buy it), but we did get some other stuff we’d wanted (like a very un-exciting ice cube tray, and a wine foil cutter). We also stopped at Sears and bought an in-sink water filtration system, which replaces the on-tap one we had before. Here’s what it looks like (it sits where the soap dispenser used to):

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New water filter

did a great job of installing it. Conveniently, it sits underneath the sink and doesn’t have to be mounted, and Sears gave us a good deal on it (a lot better than the prices at Home Depot, surprisingly, who only carries GE brand).

More homework for me, and then I got the binding for the quilt sewn onto the front by machine, and after dinner set out to start sewing it onto the back by hand. I was dreading this part of the process, because it’s like hemming pants, which I hate, and my hands cramp up something awful after just one pant leg. Imagine a whole lap quilt! Surprisingly, my hands didn’t cramp up at all, and only hurt mildly towards the end, which I’m attributing to my embroidery work as of late. Also, as a nice bonus, I got it done in 2 hours! I was so thrilled, I kept showing it to at every stage of the game and he was quite nice to humor me.

So at about 10 pm, I popped it in the washing machine, quickly dried it, and we took these photos of the finished product:

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BTRS Swap Lap Quilt finished – front
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BTRS Swap Lap Quilt finished – back

Awesome, no? And, it’s officially my first completed quilt, since I have two others that need the binding sewn on. It will make it into the mail tonight or tomorrow morning, just in time for the deadline (which is today). I know I’m not the only one who was doing work at the last minute, and that several people haven’t finished yet. I feel very lucky that mine was sent to me last week, and that it is just gorgeous!

I suppose one of these days I should tell you about our trip to Grand Rapids last weekend, but the truth is that I keep forgetting to upload the photos to Flickr, and they’re at home on the server, which I can probably access from work but I don’t know how. So, another day….

The one thing I didn’t get done that I really needed to was call . I know she’s a bit disconnected from the internet these days, but if she’s reading this, know that I thought about you a lot this weekend and just wasn’t able to make any phone calls (and I refrained from emailing since I thought talking would be better).

Homework-wise I got one book finished, and my “Racial Autobiography” done. So before Wednesday I need to formalize my presentation (30 minutes on the afore-mentioned book), and by Thursday I need to do my take-home essay. No rest for the weary, right? Conveniently, all my swap items are taken care of except for the Doll Quilt Swap, which isn’t due until December 1st, and I have a lot of embroidery work completed on that, so I can take a breather from that if need be.

I’ve heard is back from Africa, which is good. She has some sweet pictures of penguins and other African things – maybe she’ll post some on her blog one of these days.

Did I say I’d post this yesterday? Oops.

And I don’t have that much time today either, because I’ve got a project to work on and a meeting with someone, but I did say I’d put pictures up from the orchard, so here’s what I’ve got from the weekend (the rest are in my Flickr Photostream)….

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Pumpkins
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Green apples
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Tractor
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Wildlife
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Red apple
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Lots of apples
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A’s feet
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L’s feet
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Also, I sent some fabric out to California for the BTRS Swap.
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Matea proved that Korben isn’t the only one who likes to sleep on my stuff.
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And, while taking pictures of our house (most of which turned out horribly due to bad lighting and my failure to look at them on the computer until a day later – oops), I took this one of our new blinds, because I like them very much (which is good, because they were a tad pricey and took a lot of time to install and custom-fit).

How I Spent My Weekend

Between blowing my nose, sleeping, eating, and knitting, I spent most of my time this weekend playing The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I’d link to the game directly, but all gaming-related sites are blocked from our work servers, so you’ll just have to search for it yourself. Friday night and I went to Best Buy and I picked up that little gem for my DS as well as an old version of Mario Brothers (don’t ask which one – I don’t know, and it doesn’t really mean that much to me). I was unsure about Zelda, because all of the video games I’ve played have either been puzzles (like Tetris and Dr Mario) or action (Mario Brothers, of which I enjoyed most of the brand new one, except that World 8 is super hard and I decided I didn’t feel the need to torture myself and finish it). Zelda is different. Sure, there’s some action – some killing of monsters and the like – but a lot of it is questing and searching to find things and figuring out stuff. Well, needless to say, my worry over spending the $35 (which generously offered to give me and he’d play the game if I decided I didn’t like it) was for naught. I got almost nothing else done over the long weekend. No laundry. Almost no cleaning. It’s sad, really. But I’m enjoying myself, so that’s good. And I did get my week’s worth of homework done last night, so I haven’t totally lost touch with reality.

There could be a long post with pictures coming, but for the time being, let me recommend the following:

  • for the friend who recently admitted her love for owls, Etsy. I know you’re already familiar with the site, , but as I was perusing the “vintage” category, I found more owl stuff than I could ever get you. And seeing as how it’s about 6 months too early to start buying you birthday or Christmas gifts, I’ll just have to recommend you get yourself over there.
  • for the friend who’s remodeling her kitchen, Organized Living. I did a quick perusal and found their section of drawer liners, , so you should be set there. They probably have cutting boards as well. I can’t remember what else you were looking for, but they probably have it. Oh, and I found salt and pepper shakers you should get over on Etsy.

So there you have it. Nothing much of substance, but what did you expect?

Some late in the week humor

Don’t ask how I find these things, just enjoy a good laugh or two.

From “Wondermark” :

  • On coffee [link removed]
  • On jobs [link removed]
  • On honesty [link removed]

From “Questionable Content” (despite the profanity, one of my favorite comics of all time):

  • Getting dressed to meet parents [link removed]
  • Something I could picture doing with my friends [link removed] (have we done this? if not, maybe we should – next SNB?)

The boring stuff…

The “fun” project I have at work right now involves making up a photo staff directory of our staff here in admin. It was fine until I realized I’d forgotten someone, which totally messed up the alphabetical order I had going on. Oh, yeah, I’m using Publisher, so it looks pretty, but isn’t exactly the best program of all time or anything.

This means, of course, that I had to have my picture taken. I knew this while getting ready this morning, however, and dressed appropriately and did my makeup. (Yes, this is the case most days, but sometimes all the details don’t fall right into place, you know?)

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Voila! Work Kelly

Looking at my picture reminded me that I have gained weight. If two years ago when I lost weight it was considered “a significant amount,” then I have, since getting married, gained a significant amount. That’s not really fair, since it’s only 10 pounds. However, I am unhappy about it. A pound can be attributed to my slightly larger chest and potentially larger butt, both of which are fine and I’ll keep those. Perhaps a few pounds can be attributed to the fact that I’ve been going to the gym and some of my previously weak extremities are now slightly more muscular. But a larger part can be attributed to … a change in my lifestyle. I eat slightly more now than I used to (comes from cooking for two and then splitting it, as compared to coming home from work tired and lazily making up ramen), snack a little bit more at work (though not much), and eat out more than I used to (I blame the car, which most of the time is a wonderful thing except when I’m feeling like my pants are a bit too tight). I probably drink more than I used to, though I drink less soda and more wine (does that even out? anyone know?). I eat a whole extra meal now (breakfast), because I wake up starving (why, I’m not sure, but I do). I snack at home less, however.

I told and this over the weekend and , who had gained a whole pound over the holidays, said it made her feel better about herself. At the time, I said I didn’t really care as long as my pants still fit. Well, they don’t fit exactly as I want them to. They’re just a little snugger than I’m comfortable with (especially since and I have worked so hard to find me clothes for my wardrobe that fit!). Plus, I wonder if the new haircut (the bangs specifically) make my face look rounder (I wondered this while looking at our photos from Florida when I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the way I looked). Technically the bangs are supposed to hide the fact that I have a really tall forehead and make my face look less oval-like, and that’s supposed to be a good thing. But I’m sitting here looking at wedding photos and the dimple I have on my right cheek is to blame, not the bangs. I don’t think there’s a cream for that. Bummer. I’m not really a fan of dieting, other than small changes (like when I switched the milk in my coffee to skim for six months before ‘s wedding, which won’t work this time because my favorite drink tastes awful with anything less than whole in it). I have the lung capacity of a smoker apparently, since I am unable to do more than 15 minutes on the treadmill. It’s winter, so it’s not like I’m going to suddenly develop the habit of walking to the grocery store. It looks like my options are 1) accept that there’s just [slightly, but annoyingly] more of me to love, or 2) develop a fondness for the treadmill (which means finding the time and energy to do so). Anyone have other options for me? [Editor’s note: as I sit here, I’d like to note that I’m starving and contemplating what to consume next. Additionally, the first person to suggest I give up coffee and hence my only middle of the workday escape is banned from commenting forever.]

Also, today I decided that my cube needed to be redecorated, so I pulled down the pictures I had up, printed up new ones (the ones of and I were all way more than a year old, and I had pictures of friends with their significant others before they became husbands, babies in the hospital who are now quite old, and I had no pictures of up at all, though in my defense my screensaver is only pictures of him), and totally rearranged how they were displayed. I like the end result though. (If you feel the need to obtain some of these pictures, many are in my “fav” tag in Flickr.)

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Hello, everyone I love!

This, of course, led to cleaning and other organizing. Germs have been effectively eliminated, however temporarily, from my cube. Next I might make new labels for my binders or reorganize the books in my “library.” What this actually means is that I have some projects that are less than fun that I have been avoiding for quite some time.