Friday, December 24, 2010

Goodreads: Jane Eyre

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I didn't actually expect to like this book. I'd tried reading some "classics" in my younger years and found them boring, so, always the hedonist, I avoided them. But when I got my new eReader that came preloaded with a bunch of classic stories, I decided to give them a try.

Most already know the story of Jane Eyre: young girl goes to the home of an older man to be governess to his young ward, falls in love with him, finds out about his secret, etc. etc. I won't give the secret just in case there is someone out there who hasn't read it.

What the story comes down to is love, certainly, but also a quest for womanly independence. The writing style is loftier than anything we have now, but the story is good and I found that now that I'm older, I followed it easily as compared to when I was a pre-teen. There were some moments that seemed to drag on, and dialogue tended to be overdramatic, but it was a sign of the times for writing.

Recommended read, definitely!



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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Successful Date Night

J and I had a rare date night last night. We don't usually go out and do things in a "date" way, mostly because we're happy just hanging out at home. But we'd been talking about going to see "Tangled" for a couple weeks, so instead of coming home after work and getting lazy, we went out and just DID stuff. Together. Which isn't to say we never do stuff together, but we made last night "official."

So how did it go? Pretty well. We went to Panera Bread, which was a little bit of a disappointment. They didn't have bread bowls for soup and they wouldn't take the gift card I'd gotten from work. The portions were alot smaller than I remembered too. We laughed about how small J's sandwich was, but the truth is, I don't even think you could call it a half sandwich. Maybe more like a quarter sandwich.

We killed time by going to Target to check out their eReader selection. It was nonexistent.

The movie, however, was great. I don't think I've ever been to the movie theater to see a Disney movie. We only watched it in 2D but that was just fine. Most 3D movies anymore say they're 3D, but there are only a handful that are really worth the 3D experience. For once, there were no obnoxious people in the theater, and everyone else seemed to be enjoying the movie as much as we were. After we got home, J read some reviews that seemed to indicate that this movie wasn't as well received as some of them. Which is okay...everyone is entitled to their opinion. My opinion is that some people have really dumb opinions, and not because they did or didn't like it. Some of the reasoning behind why they didn't like it was just idiotic.

But I won't be negative. I loved the movie and will probably buy it on DVD unless it comes on Netflix and then I'll just watch the heck out of it.

Date night: success. Who knows when we'll actually do it again, though.

ALF

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On the Subject of Happiness

In the formative years, I wanted to be happy. Whenever I had to blow candles out on a cake or make a wish for any other reason, it was to just "to be happy." This makes me sound like a miserable child, and I did have a few rough patches, especially in elementary and junior high. I actually look back on high school with fond memories and I consider my college years to have been an amazing time in my life. Happiness always came and went, sometimes quickly, sometimes staying for awhile. There were times when I thought I was happy and I wasn't. There was also times when I thought I was miserable and was actually fairly content, at least relative to what else was going on around me. 

The focus on happiness in the latest issue of Real Simple got me thinking about it. A few years ago, the subject of making a wish came up and I didn't know what to wish for because truthfully, I was happy. And still am. That's not to say I don't have horribly bad days. I can be angry and hateful. There are a few areas of my life that I'm not particularly happy with. I still tend to be moody, and I take my Happy Pills religiously to keep myself from freaking out. 

The article talked about how happiness comes in small doses, not just huge ones, and instant gratification happiness doesn't always last long. Getting married? Huge shot of happiness, and one that keeps on making me happy. That's because I have an amazing husband who actually gives me little moments of happiness. Going to GenCon this past year? Again, big dose of happy made up of all sorts of little ones. Seeing my family? This is always a mixed bag depending on what's going on, but it's generally little momentary doses during the time we spend together. 

Growing up, I somehow got to this point of realizing that I don't need to have a huge helping of 'yay' delivered to me on a platter, I just need to learn to savor the small bites and enjoy them while they last. I think alot of people know this, but as someone who used to think I couldn't be happy until I lost all the weight or had all the things I wanted or had the perfect job, it really hits home for me. I don't have, or haven't done, any of that. But even on my worse days, I can find something that brings me joy. 

In preparing for the New Year and the resolutions that come with it, I'm thinking of starting a daily happiness blog, just to find one thing in my day that makes me happy. Once it's up, I'll link it if anyone wants to follow. 

ALF


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Social Networking for All Corners of Life

In a conversation with co-workers the other day that started with some talk about Tumblr, I ended up facing the fact that I have a little bit of a social network addiction.

To be fair, not all of the sites I do stuff on are social network sites. Some are blog sites, but I tend to think of blogging as just another way of social networking (even though none of my blogs extend far enough to be considered as such). Two of them are actually article writing sites that could be considered as ‘work’ sites other than social sites. To some extent though, even those are social, considering you can comment and be commented on.

When my mind is organized, I feel the need to compartmentalize my life, even if I overlap at all corners. I like to have my site to log what I’m reading, watching, listening to, or eating (www.allconsuming.net). I like writing reviews/opinions/rants about books and finding new books and authors to read (www.goodreads.com). I like sharing my knitting projects and collecting knitting patterns (www.ravelry.com). Then I like exhibiting it for others to see on a bunch of other sites, most that link into each other so my poor friends are spammed with my life.

I suppose it’s good that I go through phases where I do very little online, or I might have a lot fewer friends.

Here is the full list of my current (semi) active accounts and my name on each. Feel free to friend, add, follow, etc. me.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lifewithfelber

Tumblr: http://lifewithfelber.tumblr.com

Facebook: Amanda Lynne Felber (if you add me here, shoot me and email or message or comment to let me know you’re doing it. If I don’t know you, I won’t add).

Plurk: http://www.plurk.com/felbersgirl/invite

Ravelry: felbersgirl

LiveJournal: message me for details. I consider this my private journal, so for personal and professional reasons, I might not add everyone. Don’t take it personally. It’s just my thing.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/193580

All Consuming: I don't think I have a link for this, but if you're on there, I'm felbersgirl.

Triond: No page yet, but I'll continue to post articles.

Associated Content: http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/15114/amanda_sposato.html

I suppose as far as addictions go, this is a pretty minor one, but it does mean spamming everyone. So while I'd love to have more friends and followers, I can also respect that a few of you might want to go ahead and defriend me.

ALF

Goodreads: Shades of Green

Shades of GreenShades of Green by Ian Woodhead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


"Shades of Green" is a horror novel that gave me bits and pieces of Lovecraft nostalgia while drawing me in and giving me a real story I could sink my teeth in. I'm not comparing Woodhead to Lovecraft, however, because Woodhead has carved himself a definite niche in the horror genre that's a little unlike anyone else out there.

From the first scene, the story takes on a detached, dreamlike quality. Brothers Alan and Damien stumble across strange happenings in the forest, only to wake up to the possibility that it might have been a dream. Damien's girlfriend Jennifer is seeing signs of a strange transformation in her brother Tony. Some of the older citizens of the town of Holburn are visited by their past sins, and the town becomes infested with a sinister plant invasion that turns people into hideous creatures. It's up to Jennifer and Damien to figure out what's going on and to survive with the help of Alan, the obsessive compulsive brother who gains the ability to invade their minds and see and feel through them. Does he hold the secret to the plant infestation?

No spoilers here, as I think my fellow horror fans should give this one a read. Ian Woodhead takes several mysterious scenes and weaves them together to tell a full story. Don't let any initial confusion deter you from finishing. The journey is worth it. The horror scenes are great, relying on disturbing imagery rather than outright gore to entertain, and there's definitely a "can't put it down" factor to the book.

The only criticism I can give is that some of the punctuation and grammar seemed to be a little off, though I realized in some places this was a matter of dialect and regional writing that I wasn't used to. The issues didn't take away from the enjoyability of the story. This one is recommended and I definitely want to read more by this author.






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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Sixth Day of the Work Week

I decided to approach today a little bit differently than I do most Saturdays. Instead of wandering around, not sure of what to do, going from one thing to another and never actually getting anything accomplished, I treated today like another work day. I did this in part because I'm taking on new ventures, many revolving around writing and work from home ventures, and I wanted to see how it would work to schedule everything into a day in-house.

I started out by checking email and responding to Facebook (didn't get around to Twitter, though). From there, I looked online to find some new ventures and applied to a freelance proofreading website to start a profile. This took a couple hours, so I took a break when that was done, and the break consisted of doing some dishes and stretching my legs. Then it was back for some ChaCha guiding, which I was actually able to focus on for awhile (getting closer to my eReader). Took a lunch break a little after noon, then went back to do some more ChaCha and finish and article. It was here that I started getting sidetracked by internet curiosities and Lego Harry Potter. But I reined it in and finished the day off with some extra ChaCha. To make up for the lost time, I did some content promotion tonight.

For the first time in awhile, I actually feel like I got something accomplished, so tonight we're going to watch a movie and I'm going to kick back and enjoy some knitting and crocheting. Maybe treating weekends like a schedule workday will make me feel better and more productive. I'm not sure how to approach Sundays, but maybe I'll try it the same way, or at least for half a day.

Now onto some yarn and Scott Pilgrim!

ALF

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Alternative Entertainment

Once in awhile, J and I have to tighten the purse strings, and the tightening isn't conducive to certain frou frou things. Like Netflix. Until my payday next week, or until some magic money falls into our laps and bank account, we will be without Netflix.

This doesn't really bug me. Netflix is our main source of TV, but I've gone through long periods of time without television. We have our DVD collection, Hulu, and other websites that stream television shows. Netflix just makes it easier to pick and organize.

This will be a short break, since payday is only a few days away, but it will take us over the long hump of the weekend. So I'm thinking of alternative forms of entertainment in lieu of Instant View.  I'm going to revisit some old favorites from our DVD stash, including "Secretary," which is one of my all time favorite movies. I'm also going to catch up on my podcast collection, which will actually take awhile since I have alot of back episodes of several shows to catch up on. This will also be a good time to do some more song sorting and rating in iTunes.

Those are back up things for when I'm ChaCha-ing or knitting. I can also finish the two books I've started reading and start playing Harry Potter on the XBox, which I should probably do anyway since we got it from Gamefly a few weeks ago and I've yet to even take it out of the envelope. This might also be a good time to go ahead and clean. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Xmas decorating is going to happen this year, but maybe I can start the New Year by decluttering and organizing.

Good intentions, like always.

ALF

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time Management

I have weak time management skills. Forget about the fact that I did a seminar on time management in college, or the fact that I have no excuse not to get things done. I might be learning to keep my finances in order, but my time usage is still all over the place.

Today at work, I lost 8 hours. I got things done, but part of me thinks I could have gotten more done if I'd planned better. Tonight at home, I managed to write and ChaCha, but I didn't get any knitting done nor did I finish the book I was reading like I was thinking about doing this afternoon. Some nights I can cram all kinds of things into a few hours. Other nights, the clock hits 11:00, I'm sleepy, and I realize that there was all kinds of things I'd meant to do, but just didn't.

If I'd have just answered a few more questions, I'd be that much closer to my eReader.

If I'd have just stopped to knit a little more, I could have my current knitting project done.

If I'd just get my camera out and take the pictures I want to, I'd actually have interesting things to blog about.

And so on and so forth. Procrastination kicks my butt every time, and somewhere in my mental makeup, I'm constantly kicking myself for what I don't get done. But tomorrow is a new day with more chances to put stuff off until the last minute. It's another chance to let the internet suck my time, to think about all the things I should be doing, and to create a pile of chaos around me in the things not getting done.

So yay for tomorrow!

ALF

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Secondary Jobs

Considering I slept in until 2 today and suffered with some bad back pain, I still managed to get some things accomplished in the realm of what I'm starting to think of as my secondary jobs. Doing these jobs makes me wonder if I would ever have the motivation to actually try working from home. I know a few people who do it, and I'm envious that they find the self drive to get anything done.

I like my little secondary jobs, but I don't think they'd ever pay the rent, at least not with what I'm doing right now. The first of my secondary jobs, and one that I've been doing for several years, is as a content writer. I started with Associated Content shortly after I moved from Sault Ste. Marie as a way to bring in a little extra income. It wasn't alot of income by any means. I think the most I ever got for an upfront payment was ten dollars. But over time, I've built up a nice little portfolio of articles, and the page view payments have been nice, bringing me an extra thirty to forty dollars a month. More recently, I've started writing content for Triond. When I first started at that site, I gave up after a few articles, realizing that I was only pulling in about 3 cents per month. Recently, I revisited and realized that I needed to change my outlook a little bit. When you find what people are searching for, you can get alot of page views by tweaking your topics. I can still write about what I want and get a few cents per article if I promote what I'm writing (thank you Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr). In a couple weeks, I've gone from 3 cents a month to 54 cents a month. It's not alot, but it's proof that my articles are being read and that the more I write, the better chances I have of bringing in money.

The second "secondary" job is as a ChaCha expeditor. I gave this a try after hearing some people talk about it. Again, this isn't a job that's going to make you rich, and it can be tedious. But it can also be addictive if you're in the right frame of mind. For anyone who's ever lost two or three hours on Yahoo! Answers, it's the same idea, only you're making a couple cents for every question you answer. There are other jobs at ChaCha, including generalists/specialists and voice expeditors, and the different jobs pay at different rates. A couple friends of mine are generalists/specialists (a job I don't envy because I've seen some of the questions we expeditors send them...). ChaCha only pays at $150 which seems like a bum deal, but if it's not money you're counting on as part of your budget, then the pay cycle doesn't matter so much. I have yet to receive a payment from them, but I'm getting there. In fact, I've already decided that this "unbudgeted" money is going towards the eReader I want (as long as everything else is paid up at the time).

I have this fantasy of working from home in my pajamas, but realistically, I'm not sure if I could give up my 8 to 5. Besides the stability of having a steady paycheck, I need an outside source of motivation. While I can self motivate for a short time, I tend to lose interest in things really fast. Those of you who've known me for awhile know that I've gone through other writing phases only to drop off after a few months and remain silent for as long as a couple years. While ChaCha is great while I'm working toward a goal, if I don't keep that in mind, I won't commit any time to answering questions.

It may be possible in the future to try to work from home, but right now I'm going to continue working by day, writing and ChaCha-ing by night. Also...and I'm not going to say much about it at this point...after the New Year I'm going to be trying out another business venture with a friend of mine. It's not something I ever thought I'd do, nor am I sure I'm going to last long term, but I'm willing to take the risk for it. Trust me...once it happens, everyone will know about it.

On that note, it's time to go get some sleep in prep for my day job. Everyone have a happy Monday and a great week!

ALF

Friday, November 26, 2010

Knitting, Leftovers, and Other Mishaps

It's been a very long day, one which started at around 6 this morning. Luckily, my father in law drove to Texas so I got to relax in the backseat with my knitting and my iPod. It was so nice. I like driving, but it's good to have a break once in awhile. We made good time, only coming into one traffic jam due to an accident in Fort Worth, and made it to the family by 1:00 pm where leftovers from yesterday were ready for lunch.

The day is as one would expect following the death of a loved one. There's alot of food, there's alot of family time. We got a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express and are just now getting a chance to really sit back and relax before tomorrow. I've been knitting pretty much non-stop because it helps keep me calm. Even with my happy pills, this is a pretty anxiety inducing situation. I've finished two washcloths and decided to make a scarf to keep things fresh.

Tonight was the viewing. We survived, though it was heartbreaking to watch J's grandmother say goodbye to her husband. I cried, which lead to a nosebleed, which lead to big stain on the shirt I wore, so if anyone knows a good way to get out blood stains, please let me know. After that, it was back for more family time, more eating, and more knitting. For not thinking we were going to have a Thanksgiving dinner, we've now officially had one four times.

Tomorrow is going to be another long one, so I'm off to get some rest. Night all!

ALF

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Besides being thankful for making it down to Wichita safe and sound, I spent some time thinking about all the things I'm thankful for. I realize this is something I should do every day, and I usually do, it's just rare that I write about it. But since it's Thanksgiving, here's my general list of happy thankfulness.

1. My husband - When I think about how J and I met, I have to believe that there's a God with a plan, because there's no way I could be that lucky. He's the sweetest, coolest guy I know. He's my best friend and we have so much fun together. I don't think a day hasn't gone by that he hasn't made me laugh for some reason or another, even when I'm in a horrible mood or completely depressed. Haters gonna hate, but we have never had a fight. We've had some arguments, and I've had some "mood swings," but even through those, he's always been patient and we don't usually let an hour pass before we talk and make up. Even our worst argument just brought us closer together.

2. My family - My family has given me so much to be grateful for. Even the hard times have their place in my gratitude because they made me the person I am today. I'm thankful to have a mom who's one of my closest friends, a dad who I can now talk to comfortably and be proud of, a brother and a sister who have turned out to be responsible young adults with amazing families, including my two nephews who are adorable and smart. They might never get to know their Aunt Mandy, but I love them just the same and feel blessed to have them. I'm thankful for all my aunts and uncles and my grandparents, all of who have taught me so much in my 32 years and have added to who I am today.

3. My friends - It doesn't matter if I talk to them everyday, occasionally comment on their Facebook, or have lost touch with them completely, I'm thankful for all the friends who've come in and out of my life. Everyone one of them has touched me in some way and I'd like to think that I've had a small positive impact  on their lives as well. They have given me so many experiences and memories, all of which make up my unique history. It's these memories that make me happy with who I am, despite all the "improvements" I could use.

And some more that don't need as much description...

4. My in-laws, who have welcomed me into their lives,
5. My job, because it pays my bills and makes me feel productive,
6. My pets, because they don't judge and have their own personalities (even if those personalities are a product of my imagination),
7. My computer (or in this case, computers as an entity), because it allows me to continue to keep in touch with so many great people.

Hope you all had a wonderful, full Thanksgiving!

ALF

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Time to Be Thankful, In Spite of a Great Loss

This long Thanksgiving weekend will not be spent as J and I and much of his family had planned. Tomorrow night we'll be heading to Wichita, and Friday morning we'll be heading down to Texas to both mourn the death and celebrate the life of J's grandfather who passed away Tuesday evening.

I only knew this man for a short time, but the little bit I knew was pretty amazing. He'd raised a family of great people with wonderful values who in turn gave him good grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved alot and was loved in return. He survived cancer twice, and at 80 something years old had a head of hair that most men in their 30s would covet. He was always so nice to me, and I'd watch him with his family and I could always tell how much he loved just being with them. He was a quiet man, but there are things one can see even if they're not being said.  I only saw him a handful of times, but I never saw him get angry or upset about anything. I saw someone who was generous, who helped his grandkids even if they didn't admit to needing it. I watched him stay strong when J's mother passed away. More recently, J and I celebrated our marriage with him and the rest of the family, and I felt truly welcomed by him as a member of the family.

I don't know if there's actually a thing as a "good death," but there are natural deaths and there are tragic deaths. Papa Dan went naturally after living a good long life. There are so many good memories of him, memories that I wasn't around for but which I know I'll get to hear told, if not this weekend, then another time when I get together with my in-laws. Like the passing of my own grandfathers, this will leave it's mark on me, for better or worse. That mark might not be as strong as it is with the rest of his family, but it's no less significant.

The holidays can be lonely, but I encourage everyone thinking of their loved ones this season to be grateful for everything they gave you during their lifetime and the lessons they taught even after they left this world to move on to a better one.

ALF

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Quest to Be a Responsible Adult

In "I no longer have an excuse not to blog" news, J got his own computer. In the awesome tradition of frugal bartering, he traded his huge, not working laptop for a small, happy little Netbook that he can take wherever he goes. Sort of. The battery doesn't work well, so he needs to get that replaced, but the verdict on the whole trade is "Success." Have I mentioned how much I love Craigslist?

So now I have full use of my own laptop, which means the "I didn't blog because I was letting my husband use the computer" line won't stand. Having said that, I'm good at finding excuses, so there could be any other number of reasons for me being gone, but for now, I'm going to attempt to get my writing act together.

There really hasn't been anything huge to write about except for the fact that I've decided to try to be more responsible with my finances. I've been doing well for about three weeks now. My problem has always been twofold: Laziness at tracking my purchases and the need for instant gratification. Even when I thought I had it under control, I realized how half heartedly I was doing things and something would inevitably come back to bite me and cause huge issues in the accounts.

I was finally faced with an issue that I had to take care of, and the only way I'd be able to take care of it was to figure out my finances and get on a plan. So I set down with everything I had, bills, income, and my checkbook and figured out how things were going to work for the next few months. I think the "I really need to do this moment" came when I realized that if we're careful with our spending, we can be ahead as soon as January. Not hugely ahead, but enough so that all the bills are paid and I'm not scrambling to pay anything, nor am I letting my phone or internet get shut off.

So far so good. As long as I check and double check my work and not spend money on stupid stuff, things seem to be alright. We're still not 100% where we want to be, but then again, we're not even into December yet. What strikes me is how content I am not to be spending money and eating out all the time. I'm enjoying cooking meals at home and most of the time I realize I don't actually have to buy anything since I have pretty much everything I need at home to keep me busy, including my computer, enough stash yarn to keep me knitting for probably the next year, and a stack of books waiting to be read (plus a library card if I ever get through those).

My plan is to be able to travel more in 2011 and beyond. Already on our travel wishlist are trips to Omaha, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, and Colorado/Dodge City. If we save on our regular income, we can do it I think, and that's not counting extra money from writing and ChaCha. Overall, I'm feeling pretty darn good about our financial future. Who knows? Maybe I'm finally going to grow up.

Acting my age, though, is a whole other thing entirely.

ALF

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weekly Goals Recap (11/4)

I think the whole goal thing worked out this past week! I didn’t actually meet all my goals, but they did give me something to work towards and helped me stay focused when I was feeling overwhelmed. Here’s the recap:

Stay away from pop! - I didn’t completely cut pop out, but I did cut way back. In a week, I only purchased one can of soda from the work vending machine as opposed to the 3-5 I was drinking. I drank a little more over the weekend, but I also drank a lot of water and tea too, so I tried to make it even out. I consider this goal reached!

Use the food we have in the house for meals – With the exception of one night, we actually did this. Talk about getting creative. It helped though that we had friends who hooked us up with pizza or food at various parties and get togethers. Tuesday night we weren’t feeling really creative, so we took some of the leftover laundry money and bought hot dogs. Even with that one night, I’m considering this goal reached.

Take all my lunches and to get away from my desk for at least half of my lunch hour – I did this everyday and found that it really did help. I wasn’t as tired or stressed in the afternoon.

Finish unpacking and find a nook or cranny for everything I brought back from vacation - I sort of finished this. I think I have one bag of washrags and towels that haven't been put away, but I think they'll be collateral stuff during the bedroom cleaning.

Finish "Resident Evil 5" – I didn’t reach this goal, but I don’t feel too bad about it. The last fight was extremely annoying, and it bothered me that the rest of the game had been minimally challenging, and all of a sudden I can’t beat this final thing. I understand it was supposed to be harder, but after about forty times, I just gave up. I like finishing a game, but I like not being angry more.

Complete 2 scarves – Done! I finished the last drop stitch scarf in Homespun that I think I’m going to do for awhile and I finished a pink scarf for a friend’s little girl. It came out great, so I’m working on another for another friend’s little girl. Pink seems to be what the kids are into these days.

Finish "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon – I finally finished this. I found to be pretty boring though, so it seemed to take forever.

Not a bad week overall, so I’m going to do another set of goals for this coming week, but in a different post.


ALF

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Goal Setting

On vacation, I had some time to kick back and recharge, and I'm thinking I need to start making small changes in several areas of life rather than continuing to try big changes in just a few. This feels kind of overwhelming, but I think it might make things a little more balanced for me. The trick will be to focus on the most important areas and set a weekly goal. For me, the most important areas are health, money, stress, environment, and other (being the things I want to accomplish that fall into the general hobby realm).

For this coming week (Th to Th), I've decided on the following goals:

Health - Stay away from pop! I found out that aspartame makes me sick and regular pop has too much sugar and calories in it, so I'm going to try to say 'no' to soda as much as possible. Today has been good so far. I've drank a ton of water, two cups of coffee, and have a packet of hot cocoa for my afternoon beverage. A financial benefit is that I'm not spending money on pop from the work vending machines.

Money - After completing a budget yesterday, if we stay frugal and not do anything crazy, we can be slightly ahead by the beginning of the year. My goal this coming week is use the food we have in the house for meals and holding off on groceries until next week when I'll have a better idea of "wiggle room" after both J and I get our paychecks. This is going to mean alot of creativity and alot of Ramen, but it's doable.

Stress - The main source of my stress is work, so this week, I'm going to make it a point to take all my lunches and to get away from my desk for at least half of my lunch hour. This includes Mondays, which are our busiest days of the week.

Environment - My apartment is in a constant state of chaos and I'm constantly saying "I need to clean my house." Besides keeping up on the basics (trash, laundry, dishes), I want to start getting the bigger stuff in order. This week, my goal is going to finish unpacking and find a nook or cranny for everything I brought back from vacation (didn't have to buy anything...my family is awesome and gave me all kinds of nifty things).

Other - This is the fun stuff and could probably just be renamed Hobbies (or "Fun Stuff"). This week, I need...and this has become an obsession...to finish "Resident Evil 5."  It's a fairly annoying game, but I'm to the last or the second to the last fight and so it would be silly of me to give up now (even if I am playing at the lowest difficulty level). I also have two scarf projects I want to complete, and I want to finish the book I started reading, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon.

Next Thursday I will hopefully have an update on how these goals go and have new ones for the following week.

ALF

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oohhhhklahoma!

This past week was spent in Oklahoma, visiting with family and spending time with my mom who flew down from Michigan. I picked her up in Kansas City last Tuesday, and on Wednesday we headed to McAlester, OK to see the maternal side of my family. It was alot of driving but it was so worth it! Oklahoma is beautiful. I'm in a small majority who believes this, but I don't care. I loved OK when I lived there and I miss it. This trip strengthened my desire to move back there someday. 

We stayed at my grandma's house, which is incidentally the house she grew up in, so it always feels so old fashioned to me, but in a good way. We visited with her the first day. On the second day, we took a drive to Shawnee to visit my Aunt Doris and do lunch at Cracker Barrel, where I tried catfish for the first time. It was actually pretty good, though I was warned that catfish that's not farm raised is a bit fishier. Grandma drove, which was nice, and I got some actual road trip knitting done. 

On Friday we hung out at my Aunt Sue's house, visiting her, my Uncle Sonny, and his wife Shirley. More knitting time for me. As much as I like being around my family, I very rarely have anything to add to the conversation, so I'm pretty quiet. Knitting kept me from feeling awkward. That night we went and visited with my mom's brother and his wife. Lauren is such a sweetheart and an amazing cook. She made our meals all week, and I know feel the need to find a way to duplicate her breakfast quiche, her banana pudding, and her manicotti. In exchange, I helped her with some knitting. 

We visited another aunt, did dinner at Sue's again, got lost in McAlester, and spent some more time with Monte and Lauren. I bonded with family and finished a pair of socks for Mom. I even got a little tipsy on German beer on Saturday night. It was good to get away and see people, and it was great for my mom who hasn't seen her family in several years. 

Unfortunately, I had to take her to the airport today and end our time together. I've been pretty sad today, but all good things come to an end. Like most quality times with family, there was alot of laughing, a few tears, and some great home cooked foods. 

Now, I have to look forward to the next few months and the holidays. My goals for the next couple of months are to get our finances in order and caught up on a few straggler bills. Nanowrimo starts Monday, and I'm ready to get the concept in my head down in story form. I have three parties to plan or help plan, a bunch of knitting to do, and some cleaning and organizing. I'm also going to give online writing a chance over at Triond. It feels a little more laid back than AC, so I'm going to try to get some chain of thought words on specific topics written over there for some page hit goodness. 

Good to be back!

ALF

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slow Cooker Love Affair

This past weekend, my slow cooker and I spent some quality time together. Meaning I used it and it cooked my dinner. But oh what dinners it made. I should say here and now that I'm proud of myself for just pulling it out of the cabinet. J and I go through phases where we're really good about cooking and other phases where the key word is takeout. A home cooked meal though is better than fast food any day, and even better when I don't have to do much to make it.

Saturday was Slow Cooker Corn Chowder. We were up early that day anyway since J had a work meeting, so I was able to set this cooking really early in the morning.


Instead of the bouillion I used a can of chicken broth and instead of ham I used smoked sausage. It gave it a good flavor but had a rubbery texture after sitting all day, so next time I might fry it up before putting it in. I skipped the celery and added good dose of garlic powder for some extra seasoning. We scored a day old bakery loaf of french bread at Dillons for 69 cents which we used in place of crackers. Let me tell ya...this was amazing! J doesn't even like corn all that much and he was impressed. Even though I cut the recipe down quite a bit, we still got two meals out of this, and the total cost, including the french bread, was about six bucks.

On Sunday, I made chili for what I think was the first time ever. I didn't even used to like chili, but these days it's one of my favorite things. The basic recipe I used can be found here, but like normal, I made quite a few changes. I was originally going to use ground turkey like this calls for, but the best place in town to get it is Aldi, and I didn't quite make it there, so we used beef instead. We had every intention of using the can of tomato soup the recipe called for but we accidentally picked up a can of chicken noodle instead of tomato and didn't realize it until we got home. Instead of going back, we improvised and used about a half can of leftover salsa and a half can of ketchup. I also didn't have an onion because I accidentally through what I had away, so I used a bunch of seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, and southwest seasoning cooked during the meat browning, and then salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and allspice in the crockpot. I also added a can of green chilies and omitted the ground cumin.

No pictures, unfortunately, but this chili was so good. We had it with crackers, sour cream, and cheese and again, it made another meal (though I let J have it for a lunch and dinner). Next time, I'm going to make a double batch and either freeze some or just have leftovers for a couple days because honestly? I loved it! I'm even considering entering this recipe into work's annual chili cook off this year. And in the tradition of chili, it was really cheap. If you count everything, including the toppings and crackers, the whole thing was about 8 bucks, and it would have been cheaper if we'd shopped at Aldi for ingredients.

I could definitely get used to these crock pot recipes for the weekend. It makes being lazy all that easier.

ALF

Monday, October 4, 2010

Konza Prairie Reptile Show

At the beginning of September, J and I went to the Konza Reptile Show, an annual event in MHK. For anyone who doesn't know, I love reptiles. I've always kind of thought they were cute, but a couple years ago we had a roommate who was a big snake enthusiast. He got us into them and we ended up with a few of our own. In fact, at one time we had five of them. With the move into the smaller apartment, we downsized to two boas, but we love looking, so this show was right up our alley.

If you're squeamish about snakes, better stop here.

This guy was one of two tortoises there. Turtles and tortoises are so cute. I get a little upset whenever I see a little turtle trying to cross the busy highway somewhere.




J once brought up the idea of a pet alligator. I like snakes, but there's no way I'm having a big chomper that would likely think of me as a substantial meal. However, this little alligator was adorable. If I knew he'd stay that size, I would have considered it.

And finally, in a rare self pic, here I am holding onto a gorgeous albino burmese python. It took two people to get her on my shoulders and then back off, but she was so mellow. If I were stronger, I could have carried her around for a while and she would have just chilled. She was for sale too, but alas, no room in the apartment. Or money for new snakes for that matter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In the Kitchen: Mexican Shells & Pork Chops

Among other things I'm trying to do more of, cooking at home is high on the priority list to help save money and just feel better about eating. Not to mention that fast food and pizza gets old fast. So does ramen. This past week I made a full menu and grocery list and bought things for a couple meals (more shopping tomorrow at some of the other stores).

Last night, I made Mexican Shells & Pork Chops for an easy Friday night meal. It was a first time recipe for me and it turned out really good.




Mine doesn't look as pretty as the one on the recipe page, but it tasted awesome. J and I aren't big green pepper eaters, so I omitted that. I seasoned the chops with some southwest seasoning and did have to add a little extra water to keep the noodles from cooking to the bottom of the pan.

As far as budgeting, this wasn't really expensive. The pork chops were about a dollar a piece, the shells and cheese were about a buck and a half, and the salsa was around two dollars but only because we forgot to pick it up at the dollar store and picked some up at the convenience store down the road, which was convenient but more expensive.  Veggie oil and seasoning were on hand.

Not sure why I never thought of the mac and cheese/salsa combo before. It's delicious!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blog Fail

I'm such a fail at blogging and writing in general. You'd think that considering how much I say I love it (and I do when I'm doing it), I'd be so much better at keeping up with it.

Not the case though, sadly. However, I am still here and life is still happening. One of my many excuses for not blogging is that I'm currently sharing a computer with J. A few months back, his broke, and we didn't have the money to fix what we thought was wrong with it. Come to find out, it's actually a much simpler issue and one of the awesome Tech Geniuses I work with believes he can fix it. So yay! It'll still be a couple weeks though. We're waiting for some parts and Tech Genius has to do some work travel next week, but it's all good. Hope is on the horizon.

It's usually just easier for me to let J have the computer, though he gives it to me when I ask and I have full use of it when he's at work. There was a time when I was completely addicted to the internet. A few times actually, some of them leading to all night computer sessions, missed college classes, and pixel hangovers. These days, much like some of my old party girl tendencies, that need to be on the 'net has waned.

I'm still around though and one of these days will get back to blogging regularly. Things are looking to perk up in the next few months and I've started doing some cooking again. I baked for the first time in months last night, and while the thing I baked didn't come out exactly as I'd hoped it would, it just needs a few tweaks and I'll make it again and share some info and pics on here.

ALF

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Catching Up

I have a few things to blog about still, and they're on their way soon. I promise. As for current mundane stuff, here's a list for anyone who's keeping track.

1. I'm trying to decide if I want to have a Passion Party and/or Scentsy party in the near future. Passion Party is, much like it sounds, an adult themed party for people who want to spice things up a little bit. A Scentsy party is for flameless candles that make your home smell pretty. I have some things coming from E's party and I can't wait to get them. Even if I don't have a party, I'm glad to have stink pretty stuff, especially with the holidays coming on fast.

2. I'm purging a bunch of stuff to make extra room in my house, including clothes, books, some video games, and some other random stuff we don't really need. There's going to be some Craigslist postings and maybe a little extra cash if we can sell some things to the local "buying" merchants. Not too long ago I unloaded a bunch of yarn on some knitting friends, so I think my current stash will remain untouched except by me to knit even more things.

3. My mom is going to be here for a visit in less than a month. She'll get to kick around Manhattan for a couple days but most of that time will be spent in Oklahoma visiting with my grandma and other assorted family members. I'm excited. I think I'm going to try to introduce her to The Boondock Saints, HotPot, and Dr. Horrible.

4. I beat Alan Wake on the XBox. I loved the game and want someone to make a sequel. A good sequel, preferably.

5. I have my NaNoWriMo idea ready for November. The hard part is not starting on it until then, so I'm going to try to channel my energy into working on my other story, "Highest Bidder." I am going to have to give up some of my other writing commitments, unfortunately, because I'm lax on them and have no muse. It also doesn't help that since J and I are sharing a computer, I tend to let him have it more in favor of knitting or reading pursuits.

6. Speaking of reading pursuits, has anyone else read Poppy Z. Brite? I just finished a novel by her that I have yet to write into a Goodreads review, but I'm interested in what others think. If you've read her, leave me a comment and let me know your opinion.

ALF

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stash Busting Like a Boss!

With four days off over Labor Day weekend, I kicked some stash busting knitting butt. A month or so back, I tried to put myself on a fiber diet and said I'd stop buying yarn until I used up some of my stash. Since I wanted to pick up something at the local Alpaca Festival and in October I want to pick up some new sock yarn when J and I pick my mom up from the airport in Kansas City, I decided to go ahead and try to get a few quick projects done to start paring down my current stash.

First, I finished this Diagonal Lace Scarf. It's acrylic, but it's actually soft and fairly pretty.




Second, I finished the socks for my mom using the THUJA pattern on Knitty.com. Because I used a thicker, stiffer wool, they're more like footies, and I've started referring to them as Mom's Warm Woolies.



Third, I finished the latest washcloth from Rachel's Knitting Room. Nicely textured, I'm adding it to my growing stash of knitted washcloths.

Fourth, I revisited my hat making days and turned out this Star Crossed Slouchy Beret using a small bit of stash yarn and the remaining wool from the Warm Woolies. The color combo came out better than I'd expected and this slouchy hat is so adorable.



Fifth and last, I did another hat, this a Chunky Cable  Pattern with some chunky stash yarn. This one is definitely warmer than the beret and maybe more my mom's speed, but I'm going to let her choose from them if she wants a hat at all. I've always hated hats, but these ones kind of make me want to start wearing them. I look silly in hats, but I can almost pull off the beret look. Almost.


My current project is the River Rapids Socks using fingering weight yarn and size 2 needles. I love the pattern and it's just complicated enough to keep me interested but not so complicated I can't still watch something on TV. I figured out something neat, too. When I download a PDF pattern or convert one into PDF from another program, I can load it onto my phone and carry it with me instead of a piece of paper. However, social knitting is going to take something easier I think, so I'm looking at a few wraps and scarves on Ravelry to work on during busy social events.

ALF

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From the Queue: "Nip/Tuck" Seasons 1-6

My long weekend gave me the chance to plow through the rest of the Nip/Tuck series available on Netflix (currently through season 6). I was going to find somewhere online to watch s7, but decided against it as I needed a break and I figure that eventually it'll be on the queue anyway.

For the most part, I loved this series. Not for the characters though. The plot lines were interesting and got weirder as the series went on. Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn't seen this series and would eventually like to. Stop here if you want to be surprised.

For anyone not familiar with the premise, the show starts in Miami and centers around two plastic surgeons who own a business together. Christian is womanizing and vain, the Sean is sort of like a lost puppy dog who wants to be a good person but somehow always ends up just being weak. Sean's wife has a thing for Christian, Sean's oldest son turns out to be Christian's kid, Christian's porn star girlfriend is nutso and at some point during the series ends up having an affair with Sean and marrying the oldest son, Matt. Matt's a trainwreck from the very beginning and gets caught up in all sorts of bad situations: older girlfriend turns out to be a transsexual who likes young men, same age girlfriend comes from a white supremacist family, third girlfriend/wife drags him into Scientology, then gets him hooked on meth, then leaves him to be a porn star again, fourth girlfriend ends up being his biological sister, fifth girlfriend is his prison cell mate. When he finally does find someone who seems normal, he leaves her at the alter to run away with the transsexual. Did I also mention he becomes a mime at one point in time?

His storylines are probably the most tragic, but the rest of them are just as messed up. Season 2-3 brings us the Carver storyline, where a serial rapist is disfiguring people. Season 4 has a ring of organ thieves as their main conflict. In season 5, the doctors re-open their business in Beverly Hills and hilarity ensues when Sean takes a role on a television show. The cameos are pretty good in that season, my favorite being Alanis Morisette as Liz Cruz's (the nurse at the practice) short term girlfriend.

For me, the show jumped the shark in season 6. The fun tone from s5 disappeared and it turned into a bunch of dark, angsty plotlines and fighting. Plus, the same storylines seemed to be recycled and the characters were only proving that they were never going to learn anything and were just going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. It was fun the first time around. The second time it was just annoying.

I think season 7 ends it and I do plan on watching that one when it comes on Netflix. Even with the fact of having to crawl through s6, I would definitely recommend this show if you're okay with darker, more graphic shows. Be warned...they show the surgeries so there's alot of cutting, scalpels, and needles. And alot of sex, so send the kids to bed before watching.

ALF

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday is the New Friday

Because of the holiday weekend, today is my last day of work for four glorious days. I love long weekends. The plan is to get some things done around the house, get some knitting done, write some things I've been putting off, and completely recharge for next week.

Unfortunately, my hands are hurting today. Carpal tunnel and/or arthritis are making me fairly miserable. I've taken ibuprofen, but it's not like I can rest my hands when my job involves typing and writing. This may put a damper on all my knitting plans too, which really stinks. But I'll keep trucking. Maybe if I just take tonight to rest them I'll be okay for the rest of the weekend to use them.

I'm also going to try to get some new pics up of knitted objects. On Sunday, J and I are going to the Konza Prairie Reptile Show and I should have alot of pics for those of you not creeped out by scaly and slithery cuties. After that is DnD and a planned Applebee's outing...it's been too long.

On that note, hope everyone has an awesome weekend and a great holiday!

ALF

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last Time I Watch This Exorcism Movie

My horror movie compadre, E, and I went to the movies last night to see The Last Exorcism. The previews looked pretty creepy and I had high hopes for the movie itself.

Unfortunately, it was kind of a disappointment.

Good things:
1. It was documentary style, which I enjoy. I'm one of those who enjoyed "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity" because I find that documentary style movies tend to be creepier than standard  ones.

2. It was funny. Though a horror movie in effect, the main character, a jaded preacher and swindler, has some great one liners.

Not so great things:
1. This movie is barely scary. The creepy scenes are few and far between, and many of the scenes seem to try too hard to be scary.

2. The plot is cliched. I won't give the ending away, but it's the kind of twist that isn't really a twist because it's been done before. In this case, it wasn't even done well.

My favorite response to this movie? The guy behind us told the person he was with "This is the last time I let you pick the movie we go see."

My recommendation? Wait for the DVD.

ALF

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Friends, Good Talks

J and I have a few different groups of friends. Some are our gaming friends, others are our writing group friends. We both have our separate work friends and then there are friends and family in other places of the country who we keep in touch with through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Long distance communication is usually done through a quick blog comment or status update. When we get together with local friends, we spend our time gaming or watching movies. It's not that our time together isn't good, but I tend to forget how therapeutic talking can be. 

This past week involved alot of talking. At the beginning of the week, I received messages from both my sister and one of my BILs that went beyond the quick comment through social networking. It was good to hear from them and even though I'm usually a communication deadbeat, I tried to reply in kind. 

On Wednesday, we gathered with our regular Hot Pot friends at PG's house where instead of retiring to TV or Rock Band after dinner, we sat around and visited. It was generally talk and alot of goofiness, but it was therapeutic and releasing. Friday was much the same. I went to dinner with some co-workers, then J and I went to the home of some of our other gaming friends. While we did end the night watching a movie, we spent the first couple hours chatting. 

There's alot to be said for just talking with people. It doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes you just don't have anything to talk about, or one or more of the group feels more introverted (and yeah, I'm generally one of the introverts). The week ended with a message from my aunt-in-law. I think everyone was in the communicating mood. 

In other news, I'm having some car issues that have me a little worried but we're dealing with them. I think I have a coolant leak, so we're monitoring it closely and keeping water on hand for the radiator. This is an issue I'll have to make sure is fixed before winter, but I'm holding hope that it won't be horrible. I'm almost done with the second season of "Nip/Tuck." Though our plan was to watch "Angel,"  I decided I need a break. I'm completely sucked into "Nip/Tuck" right now. It's so strange and graphic, and totally addicting. 

Hope everyone has a great week! 

ALF

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Thoughts on the Full Series

Considering Buffy is several years old, there will be spoilers in this post, so if for some reason you've been procrastinating but still don't want to do know the details of the series, you might want to skip this one.

After a failed attempt a couple years ago, J and I finally made it through all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Overall, I thought it was a pretty entertaining show. Season 4 was amazing and probably my favorite. Some of the other seasons weren't as good, but there were some great episodes, including the musical episode and the one titled "Hush" which was creepy and well done. Two episodes I found particularly well done, even if they did make me cry, were the two that centered around Joyce Summers' death. I remember watching it and thinking that Joss Whedon, the creator, was spot on with the reaction that sudden death brings to loved ones.

Having said that, the series was a supernatural soap opera. Sure, there's slaying, but there's also interspecies love affairs (vamps and humans, demons and humans), issues between friends, family drama, and teenage angst. Even after the gang moves out of high school, they're still filled with early twentysomething angst.

I enjoyed most of the plots, but some of the characters were annoying. Okay, MOST of the characters were annoying, especially the main ones. Buffy is a pain. She has a few good moments, but her superior martyr complex gets old and she tends to be self centered. Her friends are about the same. Willow overplayed the nerd angle until she went psycho. I did enjoy Evil Willow though, especially because she pointed out all the things wrong with the other characters. Xander was the comic relief, and even he got whiny.

The characters I loved: Rupert Giles is amazing. I love Anthony Stewart Head anyway and the character of Giles just totally tweaks me...in a good way of course. Spike was the coolest vampire in the whole show and I was definitely Team Spike the whole time. Sure, he was pretty nasty in the first few seasons and then kind of got fluffy later, but he was always the epitome of cool in my opinion. Anya, the vengeance demon turned human turned demon turned human again, was also a great addition to the cast.

The characters I hated: Freakin' Dawn. While I may have disliked many of the other characters, I think the show took it's shark jump turn when Buffy's random little sister was introduced. Of course, she wasn't actually human, just a key that had been made human and woven into the fabric of everyone lives so Buffy would protect her, but I spent most of the time wishing Buffy would just hand her over and be done with it. Dawn's character was horrible...whiny, selfish, painfully awkward in some parts, and just annoying. I told J that the show would have been better if in every episode someone just whomped her on the head and reminded her that she wasn't actually human. This would have effectively sent her off crying and I wouldn't have had to watch her. The only other character I actually hated was Warren, another reason why Evil Willow was pretty cool since she effectively took care of him.

I'm glad I watched the show though. I now feel like a (delayed) part of pop culture and now move on to watching "Angel" (not my fave character in Buffy but J says the series is good and I miss Cordelia).

ALF

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sock Love

As promised, I finally got around to taking some pics of the socks I've been knitting. The first are the Angler's Loop Socks I knitted for J. He likes wearing them and seems to enjoy modeling them even more. I didn't get all the shots on here, but he was a regular foot model for about five minutes today.

My cables are really messy and I think that's because I accidentally twisted most of them. I'm still new to cable knitting...cut me some slack.

The second pair isn't actually a pair yet, but I'm so close to finishing the second one that I figured I'd save an upload and just post about them now. These are the Jaywalkers that I'm knitting for my youngest BIL. J modeled the one I had finished, which just leaves me hoping that the second one fits as well (let's keep our fingers crossed since I had to frog the first one of these I knit because the pattern made it way to small to fit on anyone's foot).


Socks have become one of my favorite things to knit and I think I'm getting better at them. I use the magic loop technique but someday I might get crazy and try out the dpn method. In the meantime, if anyone wants socks, let me know. I don't promise a timely delivery, but I'd love to have a reason to knit more.

ALF

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Future Projects

I decided to take some Buffy watching time to organize my next few knitting projects. I anticipate that I'll be finishing the Jaywalkers tonight or tomorrow night and I wanted to have something on deck to start.


The two giant skeins of yarn are for my winter project, an afghan. They were originally designated for a double knit scarf but I'd hibernated that project for a long time and ended up frogging it as something I wasn't really into. The afghan should be a fairly mindless project which will be nice for winter TV watching. It's acrylic, but I love acrylic afghans because they soften up the more you use them and they wash well.

In the bag is a ball of softer acrylic for the Diagonal Lace Scarf and a skein of merino like the one you can more clearly see in this picture for the Thuja Socks I want to knit. They're for man socks, but I like the pattern so might just keep them for myself.

The small pinkish ball with the cable coming out is for the August dishcloth KAL at Rachel's Knitting Room. The KAL started, but I haven't started yet. I tend to wait until the full pattern is up and then do it all at once without looking at the pics so I'm happily surprised at the finished project.

Of course, this is just what I'm planning. Who knows what projects will automatically pop up randomly and beg to be done.

ALF

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spreading the Knitting Love

I've somehow managed to snag a few new people into my happy little knitting hobby. I love spreading the knitting love, especially when I see those I've brought to the yarn side actually learn and enjoy themselves. I also love it when they show such pride in their projects, especially those first projects that they approached with nervousness and the thought that they could probably never do it.

Last night I got together with one of my recruits to help her learn some finishing touches to her first full project, a knitted baby hat. Just to put it out there, I didn't actually teach her to knit. I love recruiting, but I'm a horrible teacher, so I leave that to CV and Sophers. But I like to think that I was one of those pusher types..."Come knit with us...everyone is doing it...you'll like it...it feels good..."

While many new knitters like to start with scarves, HH decided to start with a baby hat. What I love about this is that the pattern itself was relatively simple and not frilly, but in the process of learning, HH made a few mistakes that she went with instead. She did admit that she frogged a few times but eventually just kept going to see what would happen.


The hat as several holes which are likely the result of random yarn overs.


Before I left, HH managed to get one ear flap on. She also got the news that the baby she'd knitted it for had arrived. How cool is that?


My little knitter is growing up...it makes me kind of emotional...but very proud!

ALF

Friday, August 20, 2010

In This Moment

In This Moment...

I'm both relieved and concerned for friends,
I'm sad about not going to Tulsa,
I'm creeped out by people driving past cafe windows and peering in,
I'm annoyed by fast food brought into a bookstore cafe both because the smell bothers me and because I think it's poor social etiquette,
I'm overwhelmed by the pictures I still have to organize,
I'm procrastinating doing the writing I need to do,
and I'm wanting to groove to Kings of Leon but realize that doing so in public would cause people to question my sanity.

ALF

Goodreads: The Rocky Road to Romance

The Rocky Road to RomanceThe Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


One of my favorite series is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Because I like her style of writing, I gave this one a try. The style remains the same, and there are some really funny moments and characters.

Daisy Adams has managed to fill her days completely with school, work, and volunteering. In order to make ends meet, she takes on the job as traffic reporter at the radio station where she works, even though she has no idea what to do. She becomes involved with the owner of the station, Steve Crow, in the process. When she accidentally takes down a local drug dealer, Daisy starts receiving threats.

I liked that this book was light and fluffy and didn't really take alot of brain power to get through. I'm not really in a reading place right now, but it's nice to lay down and read a few pages before bed. What I didn't like is that the plot moved too quickly and everything was packaged fairly neatly. There wasn't really any characters not to like, and while this is okay, I do like to have a protagonist every now and again.

I probably won't read this book again, but for it was a good read for a one time round of pre-sleepy time relaxation.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where is the Week Going?

I can't believe we're already getting to the end of another week, nor can I believe we're past the halfway mark of August.

Work has been kicking my tail this week, so blog posts have been few due to the fact that once I'm home I just want to veg out in front of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knit. I'm procrastinating taking pictures of the socks I finished for J and the socks I'm almost done with for the BIL, but I'll get those up soon.

As we near the end of the week, I'm trying to figure out plans for helping a sick friend, getting to Tulsa to visit other friends, and playing DnD on Saturday night and running my own game on Sunday night. I still need to write up the encounters for that one. I also need to write up an article for F1337 Command. 

The busy week is probably going to end with a busy weekend, but in just a couple weeks I'll be kicking back on a four day weekend for Labor Day. This will mean lots of knitting and probably lots of "Angel." J and I are only one season away from being done with BtVS and are planning on continuing our trek into the Buffyverse with the other side of things. I'll do a full write up on Buffy once we finish the final season.

On that note, back to the productivity grind.

ALF

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gencon Day 4 & 5: The Road Home

Contrary to our original plan, we didn't hit the dealer's room on Sunday morning. Both of us were sore and tired and just decided to get on the road early. We did make a quick trip down Mass Street to try to find the yarn store but that didn't pan out either, so we just headed to Springfield.

Spending time with J's grandma proved to be nice and relaxing. She made us an awesome dinner and I was able to veg and knit some more. There was no stress to get anything done. J and I crashed pretty early in a small but super comfy bed. The next morning we met up with some of J's other relatives for breakfast at IHOP which brought a fun knitting in public opportunity and some good food.

The drive back to Manhattan was long but podcasts kept it from dragging. I finished my backlog of KnitPicks episodes and J napped or read his book. It was good to get back to our own place and sleep in our own bed.

This was a great vacation and we're already planning to go back to GenCon next year. This time we're going to try to stay closer to the convention center and hopefully drag a few newbies with us.

ALF

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gencon Day 3: Killer Breakfast, DnD, and Meet-Ups

Day 3 started out pretty rough for J. I was exhausted having gotten only a few hours of sleep, but J didn't get any. The night before I'd left him to attend an NES show. We'd decided he'd just stick around the convention center and we'd meet up the next morning. We'd been told that people crashed all over the place and so to take a cat nap in a chair wasn't a big deal. In fact, we'd seen evidence of it several times during our walks around the center. Unfortunately, the rules changed somewhere along the way, and security wouldn't let J sleep anywhere. So when I met up with him around 8, he was ready to crash.

Our first even was Hickman's Killer Breakfast. Poor J didn't make it even a half hour into the show before he had to go crash somewhere. PG gave him use of her room couch for the morning where he was able to get a good nap in. This is one of the main reasons we're planning to get a room downtown next year for sure. HKB was a great show! I'm bummed J missed it, but I had a blast watching the players get onstage and sometimes just as quickly get offstage at the whim of XDM Tracy Hickman. I'm glad I watched. I don't think playing in this one would have been my thing, but Bru and Other J are in talks to participate next year.

DnD 4th edition was next. This is my fave of all the RPGs so I was ready to get in there and kick some NPC rearend.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a character made. Wizards of the Coast had several computers set up in the gaming room with their newest character builder so it didn't take me long to build one and get ready for the session.

Having played some sort of fighter all week, I decided to make a half elf sorceress named Birel. Since I was playing speed builder, I didn't take the time to really look at all the powers were available to her, so I ended up with a character who had a few really cool things and then a bunch of useless stuff. No big deal...I still managed to make several successful checks and even killed a few monsters. I ended up playing with a group of guys, none of which I knew. Bru had generic tickets and we were trying to play in a group with him, PG, and Other J, but they weren't seating generics until pre-bought ticket holders were seated. I jumped into another group, figuring they'd have better luck with just the three of them. For whatever reason, I was feeling saucy that day and ended up having a blast with the gaming group. The only thing that bummed me out was that I hadn't signed up for me DnD events. However, this is a lesson for next year and I plan on spending a good chunk of time in that room.

J woke up later and seemed to feel alot better. He and I wandered around looking at costumes and catching up. I was glad to hear that sleep dep was worth it..his concert was awesome. The costumes were so fun to look at, and we even managed to snap some pictures of the cos players.



Since we didn't make the Nascrag second round, we met up with some people from one of the sites J is active on, Mythweavers. The predetermined meeting place was The Ram, a local brewery and steakhouse that welcomes Gencon goers by changing their menu to reflect gaming specific dishes, like Fog Drake Tenderloin (which I had). I was a little apprehensive about it. First, the wait for a table is always really long at The Ram. When we got there, it was an hour and 20 minute wait, and that was on the short side for the con week. Second, several people had told us that the dishes were really expensive, and with our budget, J and I didn't think we'd be able to afford meals (we were hoping for a cheap appetizer to split somewhere in there).


Turns out, the larger your group is, the shorter your wait. By the time the whole group got there, we had seven people and the wait fell to 30 minutes. It also turned out that the prices were not that high, and were in fact comparable to what we usually spend if we go to Applebee's here in Manhattan. The dinner was delicious and the company was great. After chatting with the people that J knew, I'm tempted to start playing on that site as well.

I think everyone had a good time and I hope we get to meet up again next year.

After dinner, we picked up PG and Mr. PG and went to wait in line for the Hentai Dubbing. It started out okay, but I ended up leaving early. I was really tired and the fact that people were screaming in my ear so they could be picked to go onstage was making me crabby. I think this is one event I probably won't be doing again next year, but I'm glad I went this year as part of the experience.

J had signed up for a midnight Magic: The Gathering draft that didn't really end up being a draft. I ended up waiting for him until about 2 in the morning, and even though I was extremely tired I was able to fit in some good knitting time while I waited for him to get done.


 He finally got done and we made our way back to our hotel room alone. Other J didn't stay the last night with us, so we had the chance to just veg and rehash the week. Our plan was to get up and hit the dealer room for some good deals on the last day before heading towards home.

ALF

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Testify!

"Repo! The Genetic Opera" is one of my favorite movies. It's been hailed as the "Rocky Horror of our generation" but it stands on its own content wise. Like RHPS, it's gained a cult following and shadowcasts have sprung up all over for the show. Audience participation has become the norm at these showings, and Repo has become not just a movie, but a full experience.

During Gencon, I got to see the first shadowcast show by Indy's Surgen Generals. This small group of fans put on a great show, even though they were limited in space and actors. With only a small cast, they acted out several scenes with awesome energy. Friday was my tired day at the con, but watching them totally revved me up again.




One of the more unique parts of this cast was Blind Mag, played in the Surgen Generals by 9-year-old Kitrena Stebbins. Though the youngest member of the cast, she had no trouble keeping up with the rest of them and stole the show in "Chase the Morning" and "Chromaggia."



I also got to meet Spooky Dan, who was able to come for the SGs' first appearance.





The Surgen Generals will be putting on their first full show hopefully sometime in February. If you're in the Indy area, I highly recommend attending their show. I'd be there if I lived closer. I'm hoping to see this troupe again at Gencon next year.

ALF

Pseudo-Tornado

MHK got hit with a big storm yesterday afternoon. The power went down at work and we had to evacuate to the central hallway when rumors of tornado sirens started (I say rumors because I never actually heard them). After I left work, I realized that it wasn't just a minor scare. True, there was no tornado, or at least not one I'd heard of. However, the winds were strong and caused alot of destruction here.

All the traffic lights were off due to power outages, trees were down everywhere, and a few of the cars in the Hastings parking lot had smashed windshields from things the wind threw at them. The drive home was interesting. Luckily, we had power at our apartment, though our internet was spotty.

You wouldn't know there was a big storm by how nice it is today if it weren't for all the trees and branches on the streets and sidewalks. It definitely looks like a disaster zone, even if there wasn't a true tornado.

ALF

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gencon Day 2: A Mellow Day and The Genetic Opera

I did not get enough sleep on Thursday night, so on Friday I was really tired and sore. Not yet cranky, but definitely feeling emotional, which is just a normal side effect when I don't get enough rest. Luckily, we didn't have too much planned for the day.

I was able to do some early morning knitting before and during the seminar I'd scheduled for that morning. The topic was about taboo things in writing and while it was mildly interesting, nothing they talked about struck me as really scandalous. A few of the other attendees seemed to be trying to use the forum to air their political views, but the mods were great and managed to keep it on topic.

I used a character I'd built with PG to play a Pathfinder game, and while I met some cool people while playing, the game was only okay. The room we were in was extremely loud and there were some fairly obnoxious people in the room. I did meet another knitter though, which was cool!

We had dinner at PG's hotel room where we ordered pizza, and I helped J sort out a card game he'd bought for cheap in the Dealer's room. The day was wearing on me though and when we went back to the convention center I had to take my twenty minutes of tears. The immediate cause was that I was going to be leaving J there on this own to stay late for a concert, and for some reason this really bugged me. Not to the extent that I would make him miss it, but more because I was worried about something happening.

During my cry, we found somewhere to sit and got to see the Zombie Walk pass by us.


I finally got over my tear fest and J and I went to another forum, this one called The Panel About Nothing. It was actually pretty hilarious until some drunk guy threw up all over the place and we had to evacuate. They cleaned up the mess and sanitized in time for the showing of "Repo! The Genetic Opera." Earlier in the day, Other J and I had come close to heading back to the hotel room early so I could get some sleep, but I'm so glad we stayed to see the showing with the Indy Shadowcast, the Surgen Generals. Just to be prickly, I'm not going to talk about them in this blog. They're going to get their own post, complete with links and pictures, so stay tuned.

Finally called it a night and got some more sleep before another early morning.

ALF