Sunday, December 31, 2006

To mark the passing...

... of another year begs the question of what happened this year? Lots of stuff. Good and bad, but that happens every year, doesn't it?

Let's see. This year will remain in my memory as I lost my Dad back in July. I never thought I'd come to that day. Yeah, yeah, we all know it happens eventually, but isn't that supposed to happen to other people? Well, I can now say that I've got an angel on my shoulder because my Dad surely was an angel in life to put up with the likes of me...

My oldest daughter began the big college search and I'd secretly like to kill her because she has yet to begin the scholarship search, but that's going to be her problem. I've told her since she was six years old that I paid my own student loans and, collectively, we paid her father's. No way in hell am I going to pay hers. She's in for a rude awakening when she fails to come up with the financial means to go to the university of her choice. Sure, her grades are excellent and she's an educational institution's best possible candidate (she does community service, straight A's and plays sports, all kinds of activity clubs, etc), but she's still going to need financial aid to "fill the gap" of what she can afford.

Through no choice of my own, my job was changed. I used to work the main gate at the university, but they moved me into Siberia. So it's me and about 140 students off-campus where we smile at each other and wonder what we did to deserve this... Okay, I used to kid my bosses that my ultimate goal was to be paid to stay home and they've gotten me one mile closer to just sitting at home all day, but does that mean it will take another seven years to reach my goal?

I started a business. Introducing people to the concept of "Sip Twice, Eat & Profit". If you can drink twice a day and eat once, you can make money. People look at you like you're nuts, but it really does work. I'm sipping and eating and, maybe not making much right now, but I'm getting paid to do it. I hope this coming year will see the explosive growth that everyone swears is coming. Even if it doesn't, who can complain when they're getting paid about $150 a month to do stuff you're going to do anyway.

Which leads into what I hope to happen in the new year...

I hope to see growth in the business. I hope people are calling me and asking me how they can earn $150 a month to do nothing more than drink twice a day and eat once. My ultimate goal is to make enough that I can tell Siberia to take a hike. I hope to hand my boss a note that states, "Due to a restructuring of my life, I find you no longer serve a purpose in my day planner. Here's a crayon. (Pink should do it. ) Color me gone."

I hope to spin more and do colorwork in my knitting this year. No, not stripes. Try my hand at some fair isle work. I'm not sure of a sweater, but how about a nice big comfy and warm shawl for next winter? That would be wonderful, especially if it turns out nice.

I hope to get my daughter into the college of her choice rather than the one she's stuck with because she didn't do more for scholarships. But I have no control over that. That baby is in her playground...

I hope to work by choice and not by necessity. Boy, wouldn't that be a true dream?

I hope to not slobber and drool like a baby at my daughter's graduation. How in heck did she ever get old enough to graduate from high school!?!?!?! What happened to the ever-smiling baby with the belly laugh that was so infectious you couldn't help but join in?

I hope to bank lots and earn bonuses enough to take a real vacation.

I hope everyone stays healthy and happy and our remaining months with Shelby are filled with love and respect and not stress and strife.

I wish everyone the absolute best for the coming year and hope all your dreams are fulfilled. I'm still working on mine, but I hope to achieve a few along the way. Wouldn't it be sweet to look back next year and see that at least a couple have come true?

As the Beach Boys have been singing for 40 years, "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Good friends, good conversation....

Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Well, before I even get to that, I promised a lot of people a picture of Mom's shawl. Yup, that's what I made her. Really a stole because it's rectangular, but that's semantics, isn't it?

Yeah, I'd definitely prefer a better pic of me, but that's the shawl. Mom was wondering what color she should make her poncho and scarf and stuff like that. Hmm... let's see. She wears a lot of blue, but she really loves red, etc. I figure there's no worry with this baby. It's got them all...

One of the students who live in the complex where I work did this for me. Thanks, Mary!!!! I couldn't have done it without you!

Youngest daughter got a gorgeous camera as her big present and I know she took a ton of pics yesterday. I'll see if I can sort through and get some of the various socks and scarves I made for presents. The girls haven't told me yet if their socks are even the right size, but I hope they try them on today. I'd like to know because it's time to shop for some more yarn. Lisa Souza, love ya babe, but it's time to get some more Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarn. And I've been dying to get some Gypsy Girl yarns. ( In fact, Mom passed a skein of Tainted Love over to me. The colors weren't coming out right in the socks she'd started, so she gave it to me. I use 12 sts less in my socks and some colors just work better at different st counts.

I ought to know that one. Shelby's socks? Boy, what a mess. First, I was making them in Lisa Souza's Gendarme. They were absolutely gorgeous, but I have to totally rework my st count because the yarn is more a lace weight than a fingering weight. So I ripped that out and tried Shelby's in Cherry Tree Hill's Rose Garden. Wouldn't you figure that simply adding 4 sts to the pattern made the green section lump all together in one area? Yup, would have ended up with a very lopsided and mishmashed green stripe down the back of her leg. So I finally called Mom and she had Gypsy Girl's Watermelon Tourmaline. Whew! They came out simply gorgeous! (Hoping youngest daughter got pics of those. They really are fabulous!)

So what did I do with the Gendarme? I doubled it up and made it into a scarf for my friend, Linda. I did the quick and easy scarf design from Knit Picks where you YO every stitch in every 3rd row and then drop the YO when you knit the 4th row to make "holes". Then get a ribbon (I used 7/8" ribbon in a gorgeous peach) and thread it through the "holes". It came out very, very pretty.

So what's on the fire for today? Well, I really should trot myself off to the gym and start working off that lucious potato salad and ham from yesterday, but I think it's too risky. With the bed head on top of my noggin, I'll definitely be scaring small children and animals. So I might skip that one and get back on schedule tomorrow. More spinning today. I got the spinning stool to go with my wonderful Kromski Prelude wheel, so some more spinning is definitely in order. Best of all will be tonight. Concert in Hartford at 8PM. Trans-Siberian Orchestra to round out the holidays with an evening of heavy metal Christmas music. This is Mark's first time seeing them and I'm making him go. (He was nice and offered his ticket to Linda if she wanted it. He's not getting out that easy... ) For all his trepidations, I know he'll love the show.

So enjoy your after Christmas bonanza and drop a line to let me know what you got! I'm going to see if I can keep the girls out of the mall for one more day. Today is almost as bad as Black Friday with the madness. Yeah, I've got money burning a hole in my pocket also, but I'd rather miss the crowds if possible. (It's never entirely possible, which is why I prefer to shop online, but that's a whole 'nother post. )

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Almost done!

Two days and I'm almost done with everything that needs to be done. All the presents are made or bought, wrapped and waiting to be put under the tree. The ham is in the fridge and waiting to be stuffed in the oven. The veggie dish is staying cool. Tomorrow is the day to make some potato salad to go with the ham (buffet means food that doesn't mind being cool, so I do salads as opposed to hot stuff).

And I bought some eggs the other day because the girls were making cookies and I really thought we only had like three left. So I bought a couple dozen only to find out we already had a couple dozen. What to do? Tomorrow I hard-boil a couple dozen and make up the centers for deviled eggs. I won't stuff them until Christmas morning (once I get the ham out and make room for a tray... Yikes! ).

Dee is ready to make up her "sh!t dip", which is a Mexican-like dip for tortilla chips and goes over wonderful. In fact, her Spanish class remembered it from last year and requested it this year for their class party. And, because of this, we have chips and lots of them.

Desserts? We've got desserts. Shelby made some fabulous chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and (all of our favorite) the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. Add a mouth-watering red velvet cake and a strawberry-topped cheesecake. And I might just whip up one of my grandmother's chocolate cake... er, just in case... I haven't quite decided on that one yet because I can attempt some Butter S cookies or some terrific sugar cookies. I got the recipe from Kathryn Dallimore, one of the students from the university. She's so sweet, she brought me a little tin of cookies last year and I have to say that her cookies were the best sugar cookie I've ever tasted. I guess I'll decide once I get moving in the morning.

Shelby's out at the movies. Her boyfriend is leaving to spend the holidays in Virginia tomorrow, so she's out trading gifts with him. (That and having a chat that he has to STOP saying nasty things to and about Dee. If he doesn't, he won't live to see Christmas. Trust me and I have the firepower to prove it... LOL!) Anyway, she still has several miles to go to finish her Christmas projects and I'm kind of torn. I could help her out by sewing up some stuff while she's out or I could let her do it herself, but then she won't clean. Part of me says "sew now and watch her clean later"....

The big thing is that I'm going to nag the heck out of her next week. Once the actual holiday is over, her main job will be to get out and submit for scholarships. We're definitely going to need money in our pockets when we talk to her future alma maters next year and I'm going to chain her to the computer until she gets those applications in.

Oops... youngest daughter is roaming the house. Translate that into "When are you gonna be done?!?!!?" so she can Facebook or whatever she does with her friends.

So happy holidays in case I go MIA...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Only two days left!

There are only two days left until Christmas. I have completed all projects that I started out to make. Lots of scarves, a couple scarves and a couple other projects. Course, now I have to wrap it all. That's today's project and get it done before the girls get out of school. Then I can start cleaning up the house (the girls had better join in and help me out or I'll take all their stuff BACK! )

I also have to get my stew on. I made a turkey on Monday and a pot roast the other night. I figure enough leftovers to get us through today and tomorrow. Christmas Eve is at the MIL's house. The traditional Italian Christmas Eve with about a dozen different kinds of seafood, everything from lobster to squid. For those who aren't used to squid (and I'm one of them, being a nice German/Irish girl ), it's really good when stuffed and baked. I have a couple of those. A couple stuffed shrimp, a small bit of lobster (since that's the DH's favorite, I leave the lion's share for him) and a bit of pasta with calamari. Antipasta. Stuffed filet of sole. I don't even know what else. I just show up with a healthy appetite... LOL!

Maybe later today, out for the ham and we need more coffeemate. Good time for a trip to BJ's.

Oh, great news on the business front! Picked up three new customers. I went down to pay my oil bill and all three ladies couldn't say enough about the weight I'd lost. Wow, I look fantastic and all that. (Yup, I was preening and feeling quite svelte by the time I'd left that day... ) So they asked me how I did it and I mentioned the Trim Advantage program, so they bought some products and want to try it for themselves. (The program is beyond easy. Modified from the true Trim Advantage diet. I use 1-2 meal replacement bars and drink 2 XS energy drinks and I lost 22 lbs over about 10 weeks. And, yes, I really did eat anything I wanted for dinner, including dessert if there was any in the house. ) So I brought them some samples and they placed an order. is the website. Just click on Diet and Fitness and you'll find the products.

The interesting thing for me is one of the women suffers from Restless Leg Syndrome. She said that after she'd had the energy drink (which is loaded with vitamin B12), her legs were actually calm the rest of the day. I can't attest to that as this is the first I've heard, but it will be miraculous if it turns out to be true. An all-natural way to help people with RLS? Wow.

Oh, and my friend Parke Godwin (more affectionately my friend Pete) sent me a Christmas story that he'd written. I adore Pete. A true wordsmith and you should consider yourself lucky if you can read his works. He is such a master of the English language that I don't care what he writes, I simply enjoy reading his work. An early present for me, but one I can't wait to dive into. I have to thank Carole Howey for introducing us. She gave me the pleasure of a lifelong friend.

Okay, off to the shower because I'm not human yet and then off to wrestle with paper and tape... I have the feeling the tape will win the battle.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Tips

Okay, so I got this off a list I belong to. It's perfect and says everything that I'd say myself, only better.

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when the guilt sets in. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you'll never see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up and totally worn out, screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Have a great holiday season and Merry, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A time for giving...

Okay, so I haven't been back to the gym since the last time I posted. Work, work and more work. But I have 4 days left (including today, but since I haven't even gotten there yet, I can't discount it yet ) and then I'm off for 5 weeks. I'll definitely miss the paycheck. That one is gonna hurt, but I can't wait for the time off. Need the time to get my "house in order".

Yup, have to clean more. With 4 people, 2 dogs and 2 cats, all my cleaning efforts for Thanksgiving have definitely fallen by the wayside. But I did grab one of the rooms last weekend and literally started at the ceiling and worked all the way to the floor. Okay, so I didn't open the cupboards and clean inside, but if anyone is curious enough to go inside the cabinets, then they're welcome to whatever they find...

That was the bathroom. Smallest room in the house, but it was a start.

Tomorrow starts the mandatory overtime for move-out at the university. Uh huh. Sorry, but my kids have a concert tomorrow night, so I'm booking out as soon as I get 5 mins without any traffic going past me. Their concert is more important and I don't see these kids moving off sooner than they absolutely have to... which means most will leave on Friday.

Next week is the last-minute shopping and a few more projects to complete. I have almost all of them done. I should be able to finish all but two final projects by tomorrow or Thursday. Then two for next week and I can finally wrap everything and take stock of what I've got, what needs to be bagged and tagged and what still needs to be done. As usual, Hubby gets the short end of the stick, but his list is like 3 items long. And I can't afford 2 of them, so I'm going to buy stock in the one I can afford. (IOW, he'll get like 4 of that... LOL!)

I also have plans to return to the gym with a vengeance and see if I can troll around to a few places to see if I can sell some products. I have ideas. We'll see if I can actually sell them to others.

And I'm going to get back to spinning. It's been a couple weeks, but I lost floor space in the living room to the tree. Hmm... Christmas tree or spinning wheel. Right now, I'll allow the tree to take what little floor space I've got. I'll simply move my wheel to the dining room and plug my iPod into my ears so I can get back to spinning. My goal is to get an hour a day so I can get good at this. Over the 5 weeks I have off, I should be able to get some kind of rhythm and even tension going on that, but that's my goal. We'll find out if I'll realize that one.

Lastly, show the plan, show the plan and show the plan some more. See if I can translate my dream into something others can see (inserting their dream, of course ). I know I can make this work if I can just get a couple people to believe in me and themselves. The potential is huge and all you have to do is sip twice and eat once. Something we do every day anyway and turn that into money. How can it be hard? Probably because people have forgotten how to dream. We've all learned to settle for mediocrity and that's such a sad reality. Who wants to be mediocre and settle for what we can afford? Who wants to live their life with someone else telling them what they're worth?

I sure as heck don't. I know I'm worth more than the university pays me, but I have to settle for that until the time comes when I can make more without them. I have a couple pet projects that I want to contribute to, but current finances preclude that. So I have to dream even bigger in order to make the finances so I can support those pet projects. Now, I'm not crazy. As I said before, have to get my own "house in order" (IOW, settle my own finances), but supporting projects like Animal Haven are also big on my list.

So don't forget your charities. I thank God every day that I'm not the one standing in line to accept charity. I'm lucky and I'm blessed that I've never had to do that. My goal is to be able to write checks to support those who need it. Give a haven to animals who live in unspeakable conditions, a place where a child can smile for the first time rather than live in fear, a home for women who've been abused into believing that death is the only way to escape the hell they're living in. Big dreams, eh?

'Tis the time to thank God that's not us. Rather than buy one more expensive item so there's 20 gifts under the tree rather than 19... Rather than making sure this Christmas bonanza is bigger than last year's... Rather than getting one more thing for someone who already has so much... Why not take that money and give it to someone who wouldn't have anything if it wasn't for your generosity? Why not give a card to your spouse and let them know that you were going to buy one more item but gave the cost of that item in their name to a charity who could really use it for someone who has nothing?

'Tis the season for giving, not receiving. Let us not forget that.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hey Brian!!!!

Oh boy, time for excitement! Another family member has tracked me down so I have an actual reader. Everyone, meet Brian! Brian, meet everyone!

We never did go to UVM... I figured that, if I took off, Mom's wrist would somehow take a life of its own and try to do something like fix the fence in the backyard or SST, so I stayed home to make sure that didn't happen. OTOH, what was nice was that I worked like a field horse all week and decided that Saturday would be my day of just simple play. I sat in my living room and spun up some absolutely gorgeous Lisa Souza roving in Mardi Gras. I have the yarn all spun and plied and it's waiting for me to turn it into something that will do it justice. (Uh huh, have to wait until after the holidays because I have WAY too much stuff on the needles right now to invest in yet another project.)

I cleaned, I cooked, I threw out (and practically threw up with some of the stuff I found in corners... ) My kitties were on alert that week and brought me the very dead and fully played with bodies of two mice. I told them to get back to work like me and find me the other 20 that are surely roaming the basement in their off hours.

That's the one thing I just can't get used to living near the woods. Mice think they can set up shop during the winter in my home. Get over it, guys. I have cats for a reason. And since they don't go outside to play, they have to find things to do inside the house....

Now, update on the bird. It turned out so absolutely wonderful that I barely had anything to pick off of later Thanksgiving night. I think I got one sandwich and the family scoffed anything that was left so I had no opportunity for those wonderful leftovers like open-faced sandwiches or even soup. (I'm telling you, this carcass had been picked clean like I live with vultures and scavengers.) I was so upset that I went out that Sunday and bought two more birds and tossed them in the freezer. I'm thinking New Year's Day would be a perfect time for another bird with all the trimmings.

How to brine? Easiest thing in the world. I simply took about 2 cups of salt, tossed it in a huge garbage bag with the bird and enough water to cover the bird. Let it defrost in the brine and ingest all the goodness of the water so the meat is perfectly tender and moist. About two days. (Though I will admit that the only place to put this thing is in the tub except for those minutes when I'm showering. I just have a thing about taking my shower with a dead body that's in the process of pickling, so I take it out and put it on the floor outside the shower while I'm in there... ) Take the bird out of the brine, rinse it good, stuff it as full as you can get it and then in the convection oven for about two and a half hours and my family won't touch it if I cook it any other way.

Trust me, you won't regret trying it. It's moist, tender, and the flavor gets in to the bird without being too salty. (Weird because it sits in salt for two days, but it's not overly salted.) You don't even have to flavor it outside of the stuffing. Perfect with very little work.

I'm actually off the gym this morning. A friend is looking for a new location to use and he never thought of our community center. So I'm going to take him in and get him a three-day guest pass. Let him try it and see if he likes it. A lot cheaper than a commercial gym and even closer to his house than most. We'll see if the "price is right" for him.

And it's incentive for me to get back on the elliptical...