Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sweet Obsession


 
I have finally earned my title as a gamester -- if playing Candy Crush counts as gaming. I'm not really sure if it does. It seems a little simplistic and sweet to be really gaming. Which is how it sucked me in.
 
"Go ahead, give it a try," the salesman at the electronics display said to me. "You know you've been wanting to."
 
So I gave it a try. I wasn't going to get hooked on one quick game. Just a few moves to see what the fuss was about. And I told myself that I was smart enough to put it down and walk away long before I  got drawn in.
 
Only it was fun. And I won the first time, with all three stars, without even really trying. So I tried the second level. And again I won. So I tried the third. Before I knew it, the salesman was telling me that I had to share, to let someone else take a turn. I didn't know what else to do; I downloaded the Candy Crush onto my iphone.
 
Soon I was sneaking onto the phone to play one quick game instead of cleaning my house. I took a gaming break at work to play a level. Worse of all to admit, I started bringing my phone into the restroom with me. And of course one quick game becomes two, or three. Thank goodness it's just a simple, sweet game and not a heavy addiction -- I'd obviously be a junkie without any hesitation!
 
The only redeeming grace is that the game itself gives me time-outs. You get five chances on a level, then the game makes you wait to earn more chances. Sometimes you only have to wait 15 minutes. Sometimes you have to wait 24 hours! You can buy your way to more chances, actually paying cash for that one more game you know is all it will take to win a level. Or you can beg your family and friends to join you in your obsession, and the game will reward you with another chance. So far, I haven't sunk that low. Yet. I can still put the game down and walk away -- until the timer goes off and that beep sounds calls me running back to play again. But I know that there will come a level that will have me throwing out the names and emails of everyone I've ever met in order to build up enough chances to get through that golden level.
 
Do yourself a favor. Block my name and ignore the invitation.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

What's in your bag?


October to April was a really long time to go without posting anything on this blog. In that time period I did not go without knitting. Just in case you were worried. I'm not going to bore you with the list of all the projects I've done in the past six months. Just in case you were now worried.
 
My goal in the past few months has been to try and reduce the number of projects I have on the needles. (So yes, you haven't missed anything in all that time I've been away.) I actually have made a little bit of progress. I'm down to 21 projects from the 48 of a year ago. Yeah for me!
 
Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to cheer. The picture above are the projects in my pocketbook right this very minute. This is my everyday, carry them me, knitting (and weaving and crochet). If it were a knit night instead of a bell practice, I'd have at least two more.
 
Sigh. I guess some things never change.
 
 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A bell's not a bell 'til you ring it ( Oscar Hammerstein II)

 
I belong to two bell choirs, and this year I am even playing the same bells in both, and yet I have found each choir to be totally different. (It's like children--you can raise them the same, and yet each one is going to have their own personality.)
 
On Mondays I ring with Voices in Bronze. This is a serious handbell choir. We're ringing five octaves, with matching chimes, on a level 4-5. We have a lot of fun, but our purpose is to make music. Our director is amazing. She has invested hours (years!) into the choir, and it shows in how easily she manages to move us along to produce wonderfully polished pieces of music. (Okay, maybe it's not always easy. Some of us present a bit of a challenge, but she handles it with grace.) I've made wonderful friends, and I love Monday nights enough to get there early and stay late. I have learned so much from this choir, and I'm very thankful that they made a place for me.
 
On Wednesdays I ring with the Boca Bells. This handbell choir is my "fun" choir. Forget making music; we're happy to manage a joyful noise unto the Lord! This group rings only three octaves, and we're on a 1-2 level. The church's choir director was thrust into the position of directing the handbells, despite having no previous handbell experience or even that much of a desire to be the handbell director. Despite her reluctance to take us on, she's gotten us into our third season as a group and we're really starting to see amazing progress. Rehearsals are loud, laughter-filled, rambunctious events. It gets even wilder on the days I get to take over as director! (This has happened a couple of times now, due to scheduling issues.)
 
It's getting close to the end of the bell season. Boca Bells will perform on Easter morning, then again for a final performance this year on Mother's Day. Voice in Bronze has already played our Lenten service, so we have one more service on May 18th. Prior to that we will also be playing a farewell to one of our long-time members, Carol, who recently (unexpectedly) passed away. In It's a Wonderful Life, it's said that "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." We're going to make sure that Carol has her wings.
 
Until the end of May, for a few more weeks, I'll continue to ring my bells, sound my chimes, and join my laughter with my friends'. It really is a joyful noise.


Monday, April 07, 2014

So much to say, so little said

 
There have been so many changes lately that I don't even know where to start for this long-overdue Monday Makeover. I think I'm going to cheat a little bit, and take the easy way out by doing a "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" post.
 
The Good:
  1. My mom is officially cancer-free, having gotten an all-clear on her three month follow-up. She's going to have to continue to go in for regular scans to make sure that there isn't a reoccurrence, but things are looking pretty good. We are all extremely happy about that!
  2. My mom, my sister, and I are officially in business together. We just opened our first etsy shop, Three Painted Sheep, where we will be featuring hand-dyed yarn and roving. We'll also be adding hand-crafted swifts and warping boards that my brother-in-law has made. In a few days our second shop, Nana's Neuhaus, should also be opened. Nana's Neuhaus will feature gifts and household items that we've made.
  3. I actually like my new apartment. My youngest daughter came home (after a year of living on her own) in an effort to save some money while finishing up school. So in December we moved into a two-bedroom. I didn't want to move, since  I really liked my old apartment and the new apartment was on the second floor and overlooked the dumpsters. But we picked up some new (to us) furniture and hung pictures on the walls and the place is looking very nice. It's comfortable. And my violets are actually thriving, despite my fears that they wouldn't do well with the new lighting in this apartment.
The Bad:
  1. My laptop finally gave up, and crashed. It's been getting slower and slower, and it takes more patience than I possess to turn it on and wait to write something. (This is my excuse for having gone so long without posting.) It's going to be a while before my budget allows me to replace it. Luckily my phone gets emails, and the library has computer time for patrons. So it isn't the end of the world, despite the heavy dramatics enacted upon the computer's demise.
  2. In January, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to work on becoming a more positive person. And it's probably good that I have this goal. Otherwise, I could take advantage of this opportunity to whine. The "bads" could easily outnumber my "goods." I'm not going to let them take over; it's as simple as that.

The Ugly:
  1. After doing so well for so long with my diet changes and exercise schedule, I have started to slip back into the old patterns. For a long time my motivation was to get into shape for the family vacation we were planning. Unfortunately, those plans fell apart and we had to put the idea on hold indefinitely. Although I know it's no excuse, I pretty much gave up.
So that's my mind-set right now. I need to find new motivation, continue to work on expanding the no-whining zone, and celebrate the good things that are happing (such as having a legitimate reason to knit and weave more!).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On my walk today...


This is the St. Lucie Catholic Church in Port St. Lucie. I love the tiled picture of St. Lucy on the front of this church. In the picture St. Lucy is holding a wheat stalk and a dish with two eyes. I'm not sure why she has the wheat. She holds the eyes because according to church legend, St. Lucy was tortured for being a Christian after her jilted pagan bridegroom turned her in to the officials. When her eyes were put out as a part of the torture, God restored her sight. For this, and because her name means "light," St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and sight-impaired.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Following in My Daughter's Footsteps


My favorite thing this week is the Classic Pour-Over Brewer I bought from Starbucks. It's just like the one my daughter had when I visited her in NYC last April. I hate to admit it, but my daughter was right. Again.

I've been wanting a Keurig coffee maker. I have a pretty good coffee maker. It's got a timer so I can set up the pot the night before and the coffee will automatically brew in the morning. This was the perfect coffee maker when my youngest was still living with me. Having coffee ready in the morning was wonderful. But now that it's just me in the apartment, it doesn't make sense to make a pot (or even just half a pot) of coffee every day. I end up drinking too much coffee, and throwing a bunch away. So instead, I've been waiting until I get to work to have a cup. But I missed having a cup as I get ready in the morning. A Keurig seemed to be the answer.

Keurig's let you make just one cup at a time, quickly and easily. Unfortunately, Keurig's are a lot of money and it's hard to justify spending that much on a coffee maker when I already have one. Then I was at my favorite coffee shop, and the barrista made me a pour over since the pot of my preferred blend wasn't ready. It was one of the best cups of brewed coffee I've ever had. So I bought the pour over brewer.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that my daughter has one of these. When I was visiting her, I couldn't quite figure out how to use it. I thought it was just another one of those odd ideas she picked up on living in the city. Since she isn't a coffee drinker herself, what could she know.

It turns out, she knew more than I did. The pour over, when used properly, is amazing. I use a slightly coarser ground bean, if I have the opportunity to grind it myself. If I'm feeling cheap, I just get an off-the-shelf regular grind. I've learned that it's better if I wet the filter with a little bit of the hot, boiling water (from my electric kettle, which is always on my counter top anyway for making tea) before adding the coffee. Then I slowly add hot water to the grounds, until I've added the full cup and let it drain. If  I'm feeling fancy, I warm my milk (okay, it's usually Almond Breeze since I can't have milk/casein) and froth it with a tiny battery-operated frother before adding it to my coffee. Yum!

In fact, I  think I'm going to go have a cup now.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

TechnoThursday - Instagram



I resisted the siren call of Instagram as long as I could. Although I love taking pictures and showing them off, it was difficult to figure out why I would need to join the Instagram community. After all, there's Facebook and my blog -- surely that's enough self-promotion  for any normal person.

Several of my knitting circle are on Instagram, and they have managed to convert me to the wonders of this program. I love that I can share what I am doing, in the moment. There's no finding time later to upload and describe, which is what's involved with a blog post. And, for now anyway, I don't have to edit and limit what I share since I only have a handful of followers who even know I'm on. So I can have fun and be me without censoring. (There are too many family and professional ties on Facebook to feel that same freedom.)

I have Instagram as an app on my iphone. I can take a picture from within the app, or use a photo from my phone's photo library. There are some really nice editing tools, including several filters as well as cropping and focus. You can let your photo speak for itself, or add a short note as you upload it. Others are free to "heart" your photo and/or add their own comments. You can follow people you know, which puts all of their photo posts in your updates. If you're bored, you can randomly view pictures other people have posted. I found a fellow tatter that way -- she's become a wonderful resource for tatting patterns.

I still feel that a lot of our online communities are just self-promotion  rather than real friendship. But I'm willing to buy into that, if it allows me an outlet and an excuse to keep taking pretty pictures.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Wednesday is WIP day


I am extremely happy to be able to say that I have finished knitting my Priscilla shrug. I still need to sew the arms and weave in the ends, but that can be done very quickly. I really love this project. The Malibrigo yarn is so soft and cuddly. I used a little over 3 skeins, and because Malibrigo is a single ply, pure wool yarn I added each skein by doing a spit join. Literally, you spit on each end so that you can join them together by hand felting them together. It's disgusting, but very effective. The best part is that it leaves no ends that have to be woven in.


I made a tiny bit of progress on the socks. I don't even know what I'm calling this project anymore, I've frogged and restarted so many times. And I think there's probably one more frogging in its future. I like the yarn; it's very comfortable to knit. I love the colorway, although it is just a bit too variegated to work with (or apparently, without) a complex stitch pattern. All in all, I feel like I should be a lot happier knitting socks and this pair just isn't doing it for me.


I did end up casting on a different pair of socks. NOT because I'm unhappy with the pair I've been working on. I am totally determined to get that pair finished one way or another. But I had jury duty Tuesday, and I wanted to bring a fun knitting project with me. So I grabbed a pretty skein of sock yarn and I cast on a Monkey sock at the courthouse. This yarn, Alpaca Sox from Classic Elite Yarns, is another very variegated colorway. (They call it #1850, just in case you were wondering. I wish yarn companies were required to use fun names -- numbered colorways are so very undescriptive.) I've made several pairs using Cookie A's Monkey pattern, so I practically have it memorized. And since it works up equally great with wild colors as it does in a solid color, it seemed like a good choice for courthouse socks. I'm doing this pair a little differently, at least for me. I have two sets of my size 2 dpns tied up with the first pair of socks (let's refer to them as the Froggy Socks, just to make things easier). Which left me with only free 1 set the size 2 dpns (that I could easily find, anyway). Normally I cast on the first sock and knit the cuff, then cast on the 2nd sock and knit the cuff and the leg, go back to the first sock and knit the leg and the heel flap, so back to the 2nd sock and knit the heel flap, and so on. By doing each portion of my socks alternately, it means that I only have a toe left to knit after I kitchner off the toe of the first sock. Because I only have the 1 set of dpns, this pair is going to have be knit one complete sock at a time. Unless, of course, I break down and buy another set of dpns. Which I'll probably end up doing. Sigh. This is why my needle stash is almost as large as my yarn stash.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Doing these chores is not a privilege

When my children were little, I was able to convince them that doing chores was a privileged. I rewarded good behavior by letting them help me clean the house. It was a pretty great racket while it lasted.

Unfortunately, I've always been aware that doing chores is not a treat. There are some things I really don't mind doing. For instance, I love to mow the lawn -- although keep in mind I say that as a long-time apartment dweller. And I like to sweep, and wash the dishes, and vacuum. But there are some chores that are, well, a chore to do. Today's "Ten on Tuesday" is a list of the ten chores I hate to do.

  1. My most-hated chore has to be cleaning the bathtub. It's uncomfortable to bend over to get to it, but there isn't any room to kneel and do it in my tiny little apartment bathroom. On the other hand, it's the most satisfying chore to finish, because I love a gleaming white tub!
  2. I don't like to dust. I don't hate it, but I'm easily distracted from doing it. And moving all the little collectibles and the various knitting supplies that find their way to the various shelves and tables provide plenty of distractions.
  3. I don't like to do the laundry. Which isn't really true. I don't like taking my laundry to the laundry. When I had my own washer and dryer, it was my favorite chore. And if I go to an actual laundry mat, that's not so bad. It's no longer my favorite chore, but I don't mind. It gives me an excuse to indulge in a large soda, and I get to sit and read and/or knit while the clothes are in the machines. Most of the time, there are really fascinating people to watch at the laundry mat. It's having to go back and forth to the laundry room at the apartment complex that I hate. First, there's no change machine which means I have to go to a store, or late at night to McDonald's, and beg for quarters. The room has windows on two sides, so everyone passing and can see in as I fold my clothes. (I accept that it's not logical to hold this against the laundry room. I'm aware that people can see me folding my clothes at a laundry mat. But those people are busy folding their own clothes and don't have time to watch me fold mine. It's thinking that my neighbors might be watching me folding my impulsively purchased sexy nighty or the old ragged sweatshirt I wear when I have the flu that freaks me out.) And since it's so close to the apartment, I don't even get an excuse to sit and read/knit. (Although I still usually end up with the large soda, a result of the above-mentioned begging for quarters.)
  4. I don't like changing the sheets on the bed. I like clean sheets, so they get changed every week without fail. But I don't enjoy doing it.
  5. Another chore I could do without is cleaning out the cat's litter box. I don't think any explanation is necessary on this one.
  6. Surprisingly, I don't like filing. I'm an organizational freak. I admit it. Every single piece of paper that crosses my desk (either at home or at work) has a place, and any paper not in its place makes me anxious and somewhat crazy. And yet I really hate to file. It makes no sense, but there it is.
  7. I won't clean the cobwebs in the corners of the room. As far as I'm concerned this is a job for whoever comes to visit me, whether they are a relative, friend, a random salesman, or even a Jehovah's Witness. I am completely phobic about spiders. Cobwebs are made by spiders. Therefore, there is no way I can get even within a broom's length of the offending cobwebs. Hence, anyone who comes by is obligated - at least in my eyes - to save me from the spiders that are trying to take over my home.
  8. Cleaning the oven is another chore that I avoid as long as possible. Which makes no sense, since I have a self-cleaning oven. But I always put it off as long as possible. When I do finally clean it, I feel so wonderfully happy that I have to wonder why I put it off for so long.
  9. I don't like washing the patio furniture. Cleaning the patio is like cleaning the car -- as soon as you finish, it starts raining and all your work is wasted.
  10. Which brings me to the tenth and final chore I don't like: washing my car. Thank goodness I have a son who will take care of it for me, whenever I ask. (I love you, PJ!)

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Reading List

Books Read in September

134 - 01  Night Tales: Nightshade and Night Smoke, by Nora Roberts (9/1) 
135 - 02  Three Wishes, by Barbara Delinsky (9/2)
136 - 03  Flirting with Pete, by Barbara Delinsky (9/4)
137 - 04  Split Second, by Catherine Coulter (9/7)
I really wish I had stopped reading this FBI romance/mystery series a couple of books ago. It's just getting ridiculous now. This book involved a magical item as one of the subplots. The angst of whether it was morally just to judge who was worth saving magically didn't work for me, since one person was saved magically and not the other. I am very disappointed, since I initially liked Catherine Coulter's books.
138 - 05  The Husband List, by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (9/7)
139 - 06  By Design, by Jayne Denker (9/8) 
140 - 07  Manhunt, by Janet Evanovich (9/10) 
141 - 08  Accidentally Yours, by Susan Mallery (9/12)
142 - 09  The Fault in our Stars, by John Green (9/13)
First of all, this was not a book to be read when someone you love has just been diagnosed with cancer. It is also a must-read book for anyone who has ever loved someone with cancer. You will cry. You will also laugh, and will probably feel guilty that you laughed. You will love this book. You'll also hate it, and will want to re-read it over and over.

My daughter recommended that I read this young adult novel, and when I took too long to follow her advice she bought me a copy of it. It was even better than she said it would be.
143 - 10  Lie by Moonlight, by Amanda Quick (9/14)  
144 - 11  The Mystery Woman, by Amanda Quick (9/17) 
145 - 12  Fireside, by Susan Wiggs (9/19)
146 - 13  1st to Die, by James Patterson (9/22)
148 - 14  2nd Chance, by James Patterson (9/25)
149 - 15  Dream Eyes, by Jayne Ann Krentz (9/28)
150 - 16  Just One Kiss, by Susan Mallery (9/30)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

GasBuddy


I have become an app junkie! It is amazing all the wonderful things that I am finding out I can do with my iphone. Why did I wait so long to get one? 

 

This morning I discovered GasBuddy. Due to some rather annoying circumstances (gotta love family drama!), I spent the night at my mom's Tuesday. Which meant that I got to watch the morning news yesterday. The only thing I really miss about not having cable in my apartment is the local news. So I made sure that I was up early enough (4:00 am) in order to watch the news before I had to leave to drive to work (at 6 am). One of the things the news station did was list the cheapest gas stations in the area. They mentioned that this information was available on their website.

So this morning, I went looking for the best place to stop for gas on my way to work. The news station wasn't really a help, but they did lead me to a link for GasBuddy.com. And GasBuddy.com just happens to have an app for the iphone! Happy dance!

You can either put in the city, state or the zip in order to find the best gas prices for a particular area or you can click a button to see what's close to your current location. I found out that there is a gas station only a little bit further from my apartment that is 2 cents cheaper than the gas station I've been going to. Two cents isn't a whole lot, I know. But if I can save a little bit of money without going out of my way, it makes sense to change stations. 

The site works a lot like Yelp.com in that it depends on members to provide data. People have the opportunity to update the information for a station. If there are people in the area participating on the website, the information is current. 

I've downloaded this onto my phone, and I'll see how well it works out. I also signed up for a profile, and I'll try to remember to add my 2 cents to the data. After all, it's worth at least that!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This is how I've spent my time



Since it's been so long (almost a month!) since I've posted, there's a lot of knitting to update. Despite the continual knitting and appearance of progress, I don't have any FOs (finished objects) to report.  The Sweet Tomato Socks were frogged once again. I made it as far as actually knitting the heel. Then I had mom try the socks on. I hated the way it looked. The instep was baggy. So being me, I frogged both socks.

Frogging the socks worked out okay, because it gave me something to do when I got stuck in a horrible traffic jam on I-95 one morning. I just cast the socks back on, and ended up knitting half a leg of the first sock.

Then, of course, I got distracted by a new knitting project.


I made a little bit of progress on the bibs. I actually finished the ones I promised my volunteer...almost. Her bibs just need the buttons and patches. 
 



My big distraction has been a Priscilla shrug. My mom's knit a couple of these. She knit one for herself. Then a couple of ladies at church liked it, so she knit the shrug for them. Since then, I've been telling mom how much I liked it and would love to have one for work. Mom finally listened, and took the hint. She made me a copy of the pattern. (Just wait until there's a pair of socks she wants; I'm handing her a set of dpns and a skein of sock yarn!) I had Malibrigo -- yum, Malibrigo! -- from an old project I frogged recently and the shrug is knitting up so soft and squishy. All my love and attention is going into this shrug for me.

I need to get it finished quickly, because other projects are already calling out to me...

Sunday, September 01, 2013

August Reading List

Books Read in August


120 - 01  Wyatt:  Return of the Cowboy, by Cathy McDavid (8/1) 
121 - 02  The Cove, by Catherine Coulter (8/3)
122 - 03  The Maze, by Catherine Coulter (8/6)
123 - 04  The Target, by Catherine Coulter (8/9)
124 - 05  Riptide, by Catherine Coulter (8/12) 
125 - 06  Eleventh Hour, by Catherine Coulter (8/14) 
126 - 07  The Edge, by Catherine Coulter (8/16) 
127 - 08  Point Blank, by Catherine Coulter (8/18)
128 - 09  Blind Side, by Catherine Coulter (8/20)
129 - 10  Blow Out, by Catherine Coulter (8/20)
130 - 11  Double Take, by Catherine Coulter (8/22)
131 - 12  Tail Spin, by Catherine Coulter (8/24)
132 - 13   Whiplash, by Catherine Coulter (8/27)
133 - 14  Deception, by Amanda Quick (8/29)

I have approximately 350 books on my Nook that I haven't read yet. And yet I was always going to the library's website to download something to read. So I decided that I would go through my Nook's files, either reading or deleting the books. Since I had almost the entire series of Catherine Coulter's FBI mystery romances, I started with those books.

For the most part I've enjoyed them. Each mystery is wonderfully written. I was only able to guess the secret in two of the books and yet the answer is so obvious once you're told it. To me, that's what makes a great mystery -- an obvious answer that is obscured too much to guess. I enjoyed the romance of each book as well. The heroes are strong, handsome, smart, and they are always there ready to rescue the heroine. The heroines are beautiful, strong, and smart, and usually end up rescuing the heroes. I did get annoyed with the supernatural aspect that developed in Whiplash (book 14 in the series), mostly because that made me feel that Coulter was either selling out to the popular "vampire" and other-world genre that has been gaining popularity, or perhaps she's just running out of storylines and was stretching to find something new. I will be keeping this series on my Nook for possible future re-reads.