Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tina Fey does it again!

First of all, please forgive me if you find these comedy skits offensive. I think they are absolutely hilarious! So here is the skit from last night just in case you missed it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Things happen in threes!

Three posts in a day for me! I decided to break up what would be a really long post into three parts. Be sure to check out the previous two!

It's been a busy week. I'm finding school to be a little difficult in some ways this year. I dislike my schedule in that I have lunch at 10:45 a.m. There is one advantage to that however. I've been losing weight. I eat a filling breakfast of a high fiber, high protein cereal with soy milk and juice right before I leave the house in the morning around 7:30. I'm just not that hungry at lunch time when it is so early. I end up eating just a small salad or a low calorie frozen entree which is typically less than I would eat. I have a little break an hour later so then I have a little bit of veggies--usually a snack size bag of cherry tomatoes or pepper strips. That tides me over until my last class. If I'm still hungry, then I'll have a lowfat string cheese that I always have on hand in my little fridge. Everyday on my ride home I have my cup of fresh berries. Berries to me are like candy. I just can't get enough of them. I always have blueberries and sometimes I mix them with raspberries or blackberries. I will also admit to having a small square of dark chocolate sometime in the afternoon. I guess my whacky schedule is making me eat healthier so all is not lost.

We had back to school night this week which kept me out late on Tuesday. I've been pretty much glued to the news this week. This financial mess has me rather worried. I fear that my rather meager retirement account may be in some jeopardy. I also worry about the ability to get credit--not for me, but mainly for Bird. He has a large amount of private student loans and we are hoping that he can consolidate them. The only way that he can get a halfway decent interest rate is if DH cosigns for it. That is a little scary in that if Bird can't get a decent job, then we will be responsible. I just don't want Bird to have to pay 18% on a large loan. We'll see how it all plays out. It's funny how one views money when they are, as my mother used to say, nearer the grave than the cradle. I look around and see that I've wasted a lot of money over the years on stuff--stuff that I don't need and stuff that I will never use. I've gotten much better about not buying things impulsively. I have bought some yarn for winter projects (more on that later) and some dvd's and that's about it. I've decided that I need to make a dent in my rather huge fabric stash so my future sewing projects will be stash projects. It's fun to go through my containers of fabric. I always come across stuff that I had totally forgotten about. My taste hasn't changed so I always love the fabric I have. I just often end up changing the pattern that I will use.

I was going through my container of fine silks and came across this:

This is a lace print silk charmeuse that I got on clearance at, of all places, Joann's. They must have gotten it from another store because I had never seen silk charmeuse there. I bought this a couple of years ago and got the beige china silk lining at G-Street. I also bought some of this fabric in a purple on lavender color for Ems. I'm going to bag up the fabrics I have for her and give them to her since she wants to start sewing more. Anyway I had this fabric with the zipper and pattern stored in a ziploc bag which is what I've done with all my sewing projects. Here is the pattern which is now out of print:

I am making view A which is in the bottom left hand corner. I think it will look smashing with my black jeans. It will also be nice with a black dressy skirt. It was like going fabric shopping as I had totally forgotten about it!

I've been watching dvd's while I've been sewing. We haven't run the cable line to my little dvd/tv. I watched the entire series of Sex and the City and now I am on this:

I already watched season 1 which I got for Christmas a few years ago. I had actually seen season 1 when it aired on HBO. I missed some seasons in the middle. I was able to pick up seasons 2,3 and 4 on Ebay for cheap. I still need to get season 5. After this series will come Allie McBeal. I got into that rather late when it aired--only seeing the last season or two. The series dvd's are not produced in the US as there are some copyright issues with the music. They can be obtained in a region free format from Asia--go figure! That show just wouldn't be the same without the music.

I am still plugging away at Surplice Camisole and I finished one side of the bodice front. There was an error in the pattern but it still looks okay. Here is the yarn that I mentioned above:

This is Malabrigo silk which will be used for Silken Scabbard. I have one more yarn purchase then I will be set for the winter. I am getting some Malabrigo worsted off of Ebay for the Dirndl Raglan.

Our latest home improvement project is this:

New front steps! Our porch has been a wreck this past week. We had to tear off the railing and some of the planking in front. The old concrete steps, which were cracked in the middle and a bit sunken, were torn up. Also the stone support on the right of the photo was completely taken apart. We had new foundation poured for the support and it was put back together then we got new steps. We still have to put up the wood part of the support as part of it was rotten and has to be made. DH hopes to tear out the wood floor and railing and rebuild it. We had done this some years ago using decking which is not what the original was. We need to use tongue and groove flooring which will be painted. We will also get white railing. It will look nice when it's finished. After this is done, I think we should wait on any other major home projects.

It's been raining today so I haven't even gotten dressed! I have no desire to run errands in the rain. I have plenty of espresso and soy milk, so with the ability to make an endless amount of lattes, I will stay in today. I love days like this!

I will leave you with a picture of the lovely roses I found at Trader Joes:

Bushism of the day:
"And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it." --George W. Bush, interview on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

WoW! I wonder why there's distrust! If the revelations of the last two weeks don't explain that, nothing can!

Kitty Cam: Another one from Ems. Chelsea found a new toy--Cosmo's tail!

More goodies!

I seem to always have the best Secret Pals! I received my final package from Secret Pal 12 and I learned that my pal was Sherri Knits! I've been browsing her blog this morning and she seems like a wonderful person! Thank you so much Sherri! I am so thrilled with everything! You seemed to understand my taste and I couldn't be more thrilled with all of my goodies!

Let's check out my haul:
Here is the box as it was opened. It looks interesting!

First there was a beautiful Della Q project bag. Being an ADD knitter, I have a lot of projects on the needles at one time and I love to have them in their own little project bags. They are so much more aesthetic than zip loc bags. Don't you think? But wait--there's more! My pal gave me a neat little bamboo crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches and a needle gauge pendant. Boy can I use that! I'm always mixing up my Options needle tips. I can really use that!

My eyes and curiosity were immediately drawn to this little bag. Check out the logo. How could I not love Flying Cats!

But check out what was in that bag! A kitty tea bag holder (it looks just like my Greggie) and some unusual tea bags. I had seen these at Art Craft before and I thought they were interesting! I can't wait to try them. As much as I love my lattes, I love to have tea when I get home from work. There's just something relaxing about special teas!

Now check out the yarn haul! WoW! First there are two skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan in a nice muted buttery gold. This will make a great scarf! I love scarves and I wear them from the minute the weather gets crisp in the fall until it is just too hot in the late spring!

Then there was this gorgeous Fleece Artist yarn. For those who aren't yet aware--Fleece Artist and Handmaiden are my absolute faves!

Then there was another skein of yarn. This one is a Bamboo/Merino blend sock weight yarn. I had never seen this brand before and it is really lovely. I may just have to break down and knit a pair of socks--though I also have the Knitting New Mittens and Gloves book which has a slew of great glove projects. Hmmmm--so many patterns!

And last, but certainly not least, my pal got me another book from my wish list! Check this out:

It simply doesn't get any better than this! Thank you so much Sherri! For your first Secret Pal exchange, you participated like a pro! I just love everything! And congrats on your new granddaughter. You must really be having some fun knitting to do now!

The President Reassures the Nation

As usual, Jon Stewart hits the nail on the head!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What comes down, must go up!

. . . to paraphrase an old saying. Of course I am referring to the stock market. I've been glued to the news these last few days. When I heard the name "AIG" mentioned, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. As luck would have it, I have an annuity account with them. I've been contributing to it for about 25 years. Should something happen to that account, then retirement will be a figment of my imagination as it will be way out of my reach. There is simply no way that I can support 2 people on my Maryland State Pension--which until last year was ranked 50th in the country. How could we have gotten into this situation? McCain's answer is to form a commission to study the situation. Excuse me? This is a crisis situation which requires action NOW! Commissions are for looking at avoiding problems in the future--not for solving them now. I sincerely hope the electorate starts to see the connection between the administration of the last 8 years and the current economic crisis. Funny thing about lifting regulations on businesses. People get greedy and do whatever the hell they want. Anyone who thinks that business will just regulate themselves, is just completely out of touch. That would be like me throwing out all the rules in my classroom under the guise that the kids will just police themselves and do what's right. Huh? Is anybody home?

Enough negative talk. This week has been pretty productive. I finished the back bodice of my Surplice Camisole. No photos as it is really nothing to look at yet. I also finished my jacket. I have a special talent for making projects more difficult than they need to be. I'm not complaining as I end up much more pleased with the end result. I'm very happy with this jacket. It is a little tight, but since I am losing weight, it will be perfect when I lose a couple more pounds. I can just wear it unbuttoned until then.

Here are the details:
Pattern: McCall's 5717
Size: 10 - 12
Fabric: Polyester Brocade from Joann's, China Silk lining
Modifications: none to the pattern. Bound buttonholes were used in lieu of machine stitched buttonholes.
Buttons: Dichroic Czech glass

I love the collar. The upper collar has pleats which make it sort of puffy. I also like the lower sleeve which has pleats in lieu of gathers. The pockets are functional not just decorative flaps. I was particularly pleased with the bound buttonholes. I will be posting a tutorial for how to make them when I get the chance to type it up. Here are the photos of the jacket:

Now I'm planning my next sewing projects. These will be sewn from stash fabric. Several years ago my friend gave me this cotton with tiny embroidered daisies:

I'm hoping that there is enough fabric to make View D (the pink one) of this pattern:

The problem is that the fabric is only 36 inches wide. I may have to make some modifications. The first would be to make the lower neckline then possibly shorten the sleeves to elbow length. I'll lay out the pieces and see.

The other project in the planning stage involves this piece of rayon that I bought some years ago:

It is difficult to capture this fabric in a photo. It has an iridescent quality to it. Depending on how the light hits it, it can look bluish purple or gold. It is very drapey and it should be perfect for this dress:

It's been a long time since I've made a Folkwear pattern. I will have to measure like crazy. I also have to remember that they use 1/2 inch seam allowances which I've never understood. I have an issue with pattern companies not following the industry standard of 5/8 inch for woven fabrics. I still love this pattern. It is similar to a vintage 30's dress that I have which no longer fits.
I also picked up this New Look pattern at Joann's:

I love knit tops like this for work since I wear jeans most of the year so I'll have to search through my stash to see if I have a suitable knit for this. If not, then a trip to G Street will be in order. I need to plug away at my knitting for the rest of the week though. I want to get the Surplice Camisole finished so that I can begin one of my winter projects. I'm thinking that I will do the Opulent Raglan first. I have ordered the yarn for the Silken Scabbard and I'm hoping to order the yarn for the Dirndl Raglan as well. I must prefer knitting winter sweaters--particularly top down ones!

These next couple of weeks are somewhat busy with hockey meetings and back to school night!

Bushism of the day:
"More than two decades later, it is hard to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way." --George W. Bush, Martinsburg, W. Va., July 4, 2007

Kitty cam: Meet Chelsea (on the left). She was a little stray that Ems took in last week. Mokey seems to love her as you can see!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Short update

Not much going on around these parts. I have no knitting news to speak of except that I ordered yarn for the Silken Scabbard. Little Knits just got in the Silky Malabrigo and they had a solid in a lovely wheat gold color. I had originally considered getting some KnitPicks Andean Silk in Raisin which is a deep deep purple. My concern was that a color that dark wouldn't show the lovely cables on that sweater so I was delighted to see the Malabrigo.

I've been working on my brocade jacket. To my sewing friends--I have one piece of advice. If you ever have the opportunity to use Pellon fusible interfacing from JoAnns--Don't! I have used Pellon for more years than I care to count, but this stuff was simply the worst! I followed all the directions for fusing to a tee. Check this out:

Notice all the puckers? I placed the damp press cloth over the interfacing/fabric and held the medium heated iron on for the number of seconds indicated. For a split second, the interfacing looked smooth but as it cooled, it started puckering. Every piece that I interfaced did this. Since my fashion fabric is heavy enough the puckers don't show on the right side. However when I went to add my pocket facing to the interfaced piece, I found that the interfaced piece had shrunk by 1/2 inch due to the puckering. I was able to compensate by making sure that I measured my seam allowances using the uninterfaced piece. Does that make sense? I will say that you get what you pay for. I think I will make a trip to G Street Fabrics and just stock up on all different weights and types of interfacing to keep on hand so I can avoid this type of situation in the future.

One thing I did treat myself to at JoAnns' was this:

Two pairs of small scissors! I have several pairs of 4 inch embroidery scissors but they don't have the muscle that these little sewing scissors have. I wanted some small scissors that I could use to cut buttonholes and clip seams. Scissors that would cut multiple layers of fabric all the way to the tips. Embroidery scissors, while very sharp, do not do that. They cut thread and that's about it! The 5 inch craft scissors are very similar, but they are capable of cutting much heavier materials and I thought they would be good for coating and leather.

Other news--look what was waiting at my house last Tuesday:

Courtesy of the Howard County government! I assume these were given to all homes in the county as the brochure said that the bin belongs to the address. I find this rather humorous given the current state of the economy. Next year we will probably be denying cost of living increases to all our public employees and experiencing numerous reductions in public services, but we got new recycle bins! I was more than content to put my paper recycling in brown paper grocery bags and my other recycling in clear recycling bags, but obviously the powers that be thought that wasn't good enough. I realize that these bins were probably bought and paid for a couple of years ago when the budget was in better health, but it sends a rather ridiculous message, don't you think?

Today was my first Monday at school and it felt every bit like a Monday--complete with a long, boring, irrelevant meeting at the end of the day. I had hoped to work more on my jacket when I got home, but I wanted to watch my main man Obama on Keith Olberman's Countdown. Also, I've been rather fascinated with the whole Sarah Palin thing though I must admit that she scares the bejeezus out of me. I have one question for all you good folks--something that I've been thinking about after watching all the commentary on the conventions--If questioning Sarah Palin's experience makes one a sexist, does questioning Barack Obama's experience make one a racist?

And with that, I will offer my Bushism of the day:
"I'm going to try to see if I can remember as much to make it sound like I'm smart on the subject." --George W. Bush, answering a question about a possible flu pandemic, Cleveland, July 10, 2007

Kitty cam: Samantha strikes a pose!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another baby bird leaves the nest!

We moved Ems to Pittsburgh this weekend.  DH rented a truck and they packed up the stuff in her apartment on Friday.  She and Mokey spent the night here Friday night.  Poor Mokey.  He has totally forgotten that he lived here with the other cats.  Ems had to tranquilize him and he staggered around growling all night.  When we put him in the carrier Saturday morning he acted like a rabid animal--screeching, growling and thrashing around.  Once the carrier was taken out of the house, he was fine.  Obviously it was the other cats who freaked him out.  She left around 9 a.m. as she had to get to the rental office before 3 to sign her lease and get her key.  DH left around noon and I left around 1 pm.  A couple of hours into the trip, I received a call from Ems.  She went to her studio apt. to find that it was a basement apartment with no windows,  the toilet didn't work and the entire place smelled like urine.  She was furious and called the rental agency telling them that they had not told her that it was a basement and that she came prepared to move in that day.  She insisted that they find her another place.  Fortunately they had another apartment and the current resident was moving out by 11 am Sunday morning.  She went to look at the place and was happy with it.  It cost $175 more per month but gas was included.  She insisted to the rental agency that she would not pay the additional amount on the security deposit and would split the difference on the rent for the first month.  They were okay with that.   It is an interesting place.  The apartment is in a house that must have been quite elegant in its day.  It was built around 1900 and has an incredible entryway with ornate woodwork and and everything else you see in homes built in this period.  She has an efficiency which has a small kitchen, a very large bathroom and walk in closet and another small closet.  Plus she gets a large room across the hallway that she will use for sewing and doing hair.  There are large old trees around the house and it seems to be a very nice neighborhood.  Here you see her and Joan on the front steps.

And here they are with Ems new neighbor and his dog, Samantha.

Here's a couple of shots of what the entry area is like.

Since we didn't get to move her in on Saturday as we had planned, we parked the truck in front of the house and went to the Quiet Storm for dinner--all 4 of us plus Joan. It was a neat little place. One tends to have some preconceived notions about vegetarian restaurants and this one helped to quell those ideas. It was very easy not to miss meat with the food they served! After dinner Ems stayed at Joans and they went out with Bird since he had taken the night off to help her move. We went to our hotel.

Sunday, DH and I got up, drove to the Southside and went to Starbucks before walking 11 blocks to Bird's house which we hadn't seen yet. After the tour, Bird took us back to our car and we all met up with Ems at the new place. We got the stuff off the truck then Bird showered there and went to work. After moving her stuff, DH, Ems, Joan and I headed to Mad Mex, which is absolutely my favorite Mexican restaurant in the whole world. After dinner DH, Ems and I did a Target run--to the tune of $300--to get stuff for her new place. After picking up Cosmo at Joan's we helped Ems hang some things and get settled before we hit the road for home at 9:30 pm. I'm glad it was a 3 day weekend as we got home around 1:30 am. After unpacking and getting the cats squared away, I finally hit the hay around 3 am. Of course the original plan had us getting home mid afternoon on Sunday, but fortunately we had a little cushion since it was a 3 day weekend.

I had originally thought I would get some things done this weekend, but I'm taking a break. I did make my denim skirt last weekend. Here's photo of Racquel wearing it:

One thing that bugs me about so many patterns with fly fronts is that they have the fly opening to the left side which means you would have to zip it with your left hand. This strikes me as odd as it is opposite what is done in ready to wear clothes. I always end up switching it around so that it is a right handed opening. I made a lot of modifications on this pattern. The original view is very long and I shortened the pattern about 9 inches! It is still several inches below the knee on me. It fits well, but I wish it sat lower on my hips like it does on the mannequin.

No knitting news this week except that I received my copy of Wendy Bernard's new book. There is not one design in that book that I would not knit. While I love top down sweater patterns, hers are my absolute favorites. The patterns are well written and they always fit like a glove!

I may do some sewing today, though I don't know. It's already almost 4 pm and I haven't even gotten dressed! I needed to rest. I get sick every school year. I'm convinced that there are air quality issues in my classroom. My respiratory symptoms--chest congestion, clogged ears, post nasal drip--start kicking in about the second week of school and they last the entire school year. If I get extended time off like Thanksgiving and winter or spring breaks, my symptoms clear up, only to start up again when I go back to school. I've submitted air quality report forms, but since no parents complain, nothing gets done. Since I only see my classes once a week for 45 minutes, the students aren't in the room long enough to develop symptoms. I'm in there for 8 or more hours a day every day. I may have to get the union involved because I cannot do my job with respiratory issues. What good is a vocal music teacher who cannot sing!

Anyway, I will leave you on this first day of the Republican National Convention with my
Bushism of the day:
"You never know what your history is going to be like until long after you're gone." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2006

Kitty cam: Mikey and Samantha have been competing over sleeping in this box. Each one waits for their turn. Obviously it was Mike's turn and he's not budging!

Let the Games Begin!

Today is the first day of the Republican National Convention. We've already had the Democratic National Convention. Now the fun will really begin. First of all, let me preface this by saying that I am a die hard Democrat--but then if you read my blog regularly, you already know that. I haven't always been, however. I voted Republican in my first two elections. Probably because I was young, unaware, and content with the status quo. What happened? Ronald Reagan is what happened. In 1980, I voted Democratic for the first time and have ever since. Ronald Reagan terrified me and to this day I will never understand why the conservatives worship him so much. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not one of those who just vote my party line without thinking. I just vehemently disagree with every policy the Republican Party has put into play. It is frustrating though to not be enthusiastic about one's candidate which has been my experience. 1992 changed all of that. I was totally psyched about Bill Clinton. I was enthusiastic and I felt that for the first time I was actually voting for a candidate rather than just voting against his opponent. This feeling repeated in 1996. After that, it's been back to the same old thing. Don't get me wrong--I liked Al Gore and John Kerry. I just wasn't enthusiastic about them. This year, I experienced the enthusiasm once again. I supported Hilary Clinton and I was totally psyched during the primaries that she started out doing so well. When she lost the bid for the White House, I felt that same ambivalence once again. That is until last Thursday. I always liked Obama but last Thursday night I finally drank the Koolaid. He hit nail on the head in his speech--again and again and again. And the Clintons did me proud by enthusiastically endorsing him. They need to drive that message home because there is so much riding on this election. 

I must admit that I am puzzled by the Republicans' desire to have a "regular person" running for VP or any other high office. I meet people who like that. I have a relative who voted for Bush because "he talks just like I do." Excuse me? I love regular folks. I am one. But I want an exceptional person running the country not my next door neighbor! I want someone intelligent, thoughtful, reflective, experienced, well spoken etc. etc. etc. Not some maverick who doesn't understand how Washington works. I've lived in the DC area all my life. One has to know how to work the system. Being a "Washington insider" is not a bad thing if you use your knowledge of the system to enact change. I believe that is what Barrack Obama and Joe Biden will do. The thought of John McCain being old and his running mate having no clue about living in a diverse world terrifies me. The woman was mayor of a town of 7000 and governer of a state of 600,000. Tell me--how diverse is Alaska? Pardon me if I just don't get it. More important than experience is the issue of judgement. George Bush had years of experience. Add his years to those of John Ashcroft and Ronald Rumsfeld and I bet you have more than 100 years of experience. Look what those years of experience have cost us as a nation. We have gone from peace to war, economic surplus to record deficits, global respect to global loathing, and the list goes on.  So here is a list of why I believe Obama needs to win this election:
  • the war needs to end
  • we need to regain our standing in the world
  • we need qualified people in positions of authority ("Heck of a job, Brownie")
  • we need to take care of the earth and not abuse its natural resources
  • we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and explore alternative energy sources
  • I believe in our right to free speech
  • I believe that patriotism doesn't mean blindly accepting what the administration tells us to believe
  • we need to lift people out of poverty, not put more people into poverty
  • we need to create jobs in the United States, not ship more jobs overseas
  • we need to educate our children adequately and appropriately, not have them slaving over math and reading tests all day.
  • we need to find a way for everyone to afford a higher education
  • we need to provide health care to everyone
  • we need to protect a woman's right to choose
  • we need to protect lesser species from extinction
  • we need to all have a voice
If you are not registered to vote.  Please register.  I won't tell you who to vote for.  You have to make that decision on your own.  But please exercise your constitutional right to be heard. Please don't refuse to participate then complain about the outcome of this election.   We are one of the few nations on earth that gives all its citizens a voice.  Please use yours.  There is just too much at stake.