Friday, December 21, 2007

The Ice Queen Chronicles: Chapter One

When we last left our beloved heroine (me), I'd been pretty busy crankin out simple, mindless teacher gifts - Mindless and Simple referring to the super-easy items I'd made as gifts, not the teachers, just to clarify. But anyway, because this arrived at my house

before THIS did,

I was snowed in with beautiful soft handspun yarn, beads and a hook, and all other necessary materials, and I suddenly realized that I was trapped...

with the Ice Queen.

So I put the movie that Calvin and Ripple sent for the Apes

in the DVD player to buy myself an hour or two of relative peace so I could concentrate, and I boldly introduced myself.

Hello, Ice Queen, I'm Penny. Prepare to meet your doom. Your Provisional Cast On is powerless against me. Behold my Crochet Hook of Justice!! Have at you!!!

It only took me about 40 minutes to figure out the Provisional Cast On. Here's my first attempt, where I tried to crochet the chain first and then pick up the stitches by poking the bumps in the backside (yes, I said that on purpose). The problem was that I could never tell the front from the back, so I didn't know exactly which bumps I was supposed to be picking up with the needle and it came out horrible:

LOOK at that shit. Sucks, dunnit?

And you know how you can read ten different books describing the same concept, but sometimes you just have to read something a certain way before it actually makes sense in your brain? The Provisional Cast On instructions in Charmed Knits made sense to me - even without a drawing or anything visual to go on - and I figured it out. Here's how great I was doing:

The very first instructions were CAST ON 156 STITCHES. And I had about 100 beautiful, perfectly spaced stitches on there, when suddenly my Denise needle came unlocked and a whole bunch of my stitches fell off into oblivion. CURSES!!!!

But I wasn't going to give up that easily. Oh, no. And I am proud to announce that I successfully completed the Provisional Cast On. Yay, me!!

I was pretty sure it looked right, so I changed into my jammies and continued well into the night, and after a few rounds and it looked like this:

Yer goin' doooooown, Ice Queen.

As it turned out I fell asleep, needles in hand. Sexy.

The next day there was even more snow,

so I put the snow pants on the Apes and sent them outside, put my semi-famous Idiot Bean Soup in the Crock Pot (so named because an idiot can make it. Here's the recipe: one can each of pinto, kidney, black and great northern beans, a can of chicken broth, and some cut-up ham - it's awesome and it smells so good when it's cooking), started a loaf of bread in my bread machine, put on my game face and grabbed the Queen by the balls.

Next, I fearlessly approached the bead part. Think your beads can beat me, Queenie? HA! Totally easy! I bent those weak-ass beads to my will. Check me out.

My progress continued, the colors emerged beautifully, my feather and fan looked like it was supposed to (I thought), I had the right number of stitches, markers in the right places, and I was almost starting to see the finish line on the horizon.

The Ice Queen was gonna be my bitch before this day was through.

Then, dear readers, I got overconfident. I admit it. Somewhere around row 30-something, my stitch count got seriously screwed up. There were four stitches I couldn't find and I couldn't figure out how to get them back. Huh???

Sensing imminent mortal peril, I was faced with a choice. And so, rather leave a man (or four) behind, I gathered the troops and retreated.

The Ice Queen, she is frogged. And I'm really okay with it. I'll pop a Xannie and re-tool my battle plan.

The Ice Queen is a cruel mistress.
You win this round, Your Majesty.

But I am not defeated. Oh, no, Sister. I'll be back. And I'll be stronger. And this time I'll be armed with this Ice Queen Care Package from Carmen:

There are all kinds of faboo goodies in here - needles, row counters, handmade stitch markers, tape measures, dishcloth patterns, and The Knitter's Handbook

with topics relevant to this project flagged for my convenience! This was the coolest surprise! Thank you!


But I'll probably have to put the Queen away until after my parents have gone home.

How's that for a cliffhanger? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I probably shouldn't be proud, but I am.

First, I'm really proud of the fact that I have spent nothing on teacher gifts this year. Last year we have each of the kids' teachers a $10 gift card to Blockbuster and put it inside one of those microwavable popcorn tubs. Tito and Pie each had three teachers, and Beeb had two. So we spent $100, easily, on teacher gifts. STOOPID. This year I spent zero.

This year I had fewer teachers to deal with, which was great because I had less money too. So I fished around in my stash and found yarn to make scarves for the boys' teachers - this year Tito has two and Pie has only one - and hats for Beeb's two teachers, who are both men.

Here are Tito's teachers' gifts (I made two identical so there'd be no fighting amongst them):

And here is Pie's teacher's gift. I figured only a kindergarten teacher could get away with wearing it:

Yes, it's Thick N' Quick.

I wouldn't knit a guy a scarf unless I knew he was a scarf guy. And I have yet to meet a scarf guy. I'm sure they exist, but it's kinda more like an urban legend to me. So I decided to make Beeb's teacher a hat. And the stash yarn I had that was the most masculine in color (I have a lot of pinks and purples, for some reason) was this Lopi Lite wool that I'd never used before.

The hat itself came out well, I think. I thought I'd taken a picture of it, but I guess I didn't. Oh wait, here it is:

But it itched reeeeeally bad, and I didn't want Beeb's cool teacher to hate it. So when Beeb came and asked if I was done with her teacher's gift I told her yeah, it was finished but it was really itchy and I didn't think he would like it.

Incidentally, here's the one I ended up making to replace it. It's the House Beanie from Charmed Knits, in a marginally masculine self-striping Patons Merino. I think maybe I should have made a medium instead of a large.

But I didn't want to trash the itchy one, because aesthetically, it looked nice, and it could still pass as a gift for someone I was morally obligated but not totally thrilled to give a gift to. So I asked Beeb what she thought I should do with it.

Well, I could give it to Mr. French. I don't really like him. He's kinda mean.

My Inner Bitch secretly applauded her snarkiness.

Sure, Beebs, if you want to give to a teacher you don't like, that's fine with me. Like somebody's gonna complain about a handknitted gift.

Beeb giggled with a deliciously infectious catty glee.

It's fun to give a sucky gift to someone you hate!
Damn straight it is! I've taught you so well!!!!

We're a coupla bitches, aren't we, Beebie?

Yes, I said that out loud.

Monday, December 17, 2007

As if I could possibly love him more...

No, not R this time... Glenn.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Honey, Bring Your Caulk, I Want To Take A Nap.

Ok, I have like a billion things to talk about, I'm way behind on Blogstalking, AND I got my Turtlegirl Yarn in the mail yesterday, but I have to tell this story before I forget.

Yesterday we got the notification in the mail that Pie had been accepted to the district's Gifted Program. He made the 98th percentile! We were pretty confident that he'd make it, we would have been more surprised if he didn't.

But this means two things: A) He'll go for a full day on Mondays with Beebie (which gives me A MORNING TO MYSELF) and B) My reasons for not wanting to look at other school districts back when we were house-hunting were completely valid.

Told ya, FIL!!!

Oh, and it means one other thing. I get to remind the Aldis that my kids are smarter than theirs. And very few things in this world fill my cold black heart with as much glee as being a catty little bitch, especially when I get R to participate with me. He's an even cattier little bitch than I am, and I LOVE it.

I'm sure some of you may be new to my blog, and even if you're not, I think it might be appropriate at this point to remind you of a few of the myriad reasons why the Aldis (my husband's older brother and his wife) annoy me.

This is an actual email I sent to my friend Renee back in 2002:

Well, I'm sure you remember Reverend and Mrs. Aldi who are notorious for giving us re-gifted, crappy, age-inappropriate and incorrectly sized gifts (remember my Winnie-The-Pooh sweatshirt from the Juniors department and the Bubble Train for ages 18 months+ for Beeb's 4th birthday?) that were purchased on clearance and put away for a gift-giving occasion that could be months away, rendering the shitty gift virtually unreturnable and worth about 33 cents in store credit if you can even determine which store it was purchased from?

And forget a gift receipt since you'd only get back what they actually paid for it, which probably isn't much more anyway. We end up giving the gifts they give Beeb to Toys for Tots, which means I have to figure out a place to store it for 6 months.

And I'm sure you remember how we attempted to rise above this gift-giving inequity and continued to buy cool gifts for their daughter Aldigirl, such as a wooden dollhouse and a Rainbow Princess Barbie, which were met with Mrs. Aldi muttering audibly "oh greeeeeeeaaat, more little pieces for me to pick up..." Bitch.

Well, we got wise to their scheme and decided to play it to our advantage. Now, we look for toys with lots of parts that are completely annoying on clearance and put them away to give to Aldigirl. It's like a sport, and R and I are great at it. In fact, it's brought us closer together as a couple.

At one point we found the Baskin Robbins mini ice cream maker on clearance for $3.49 at Target, but then we found it at WalMart for 20 bucks, so we returned it to WalMart (hee hee) and made money on the deal.

Then we found Cootie Jitterbug - a battery-operated, noisy and annoying version of the original, and put it away for nearly a year until Aldigirl's birthday. Thank GOD they didn't have a party for her again this year. Every year they try to cram like 12 grownups and 7 kids in their house. No, Reverend Aldi had a conference in LA, so they actually purchased a plane ticket and took Aldigirl to Disneyland for her 4th birthday. Whatever.

Anyway, we presented Aldigirl with her gift at Easter (in a non-reusable slightly torn gift bag, as I had covered every detail) and to my delight, she shrieked "I ALREADY HAVE THIS GAME!!!"

Gleefully I imagined the scenario that we had endured so many times before - standing in line at the return counter "um, yeah, I got this as a gift and I need to return it..." "yeah, RIGHT! we haven't had those on the shelves for 6 months! You can have a dollar in store credit, if ya want it..." "no, thanks..."

Well, apparently Mrs. Aldi knew exactly what it was worth (since she probably bought it at the same time we did), because her reaction was NOT "that's okay, we'll see if they'll exchange it...", instead it was " love that you can have one upstairs and one downstairs..."

And the best part was that I was in the bathroom at the time, where I could hear everything and yet freely snicker without fear of an embarrassing social faux pas. I was so tickled by my triumphant victory, I don't even care if she's onto us, which I suspect she is.

Two years ago Aldigirl gave Beeb what appeared to be a surprisingly cool gift - a "Juice Box" MP3 player. It was cool, but we soon discovered that it was discontinued and finding new cartridges for it was going to be a major pain in the ass. Another clearance rack fiasco. Thanks, Aldis. At least they're consistent enough to be predictable.

The next amusing incident requires a little bit of a set-up. Since Aldigirl's birth, exactly nine months and five days after Beebie came, Mrs. Aldi got Aldigirl's picture taken once a month, every month, for YEARS. And she would buy them in four of five different poses, and let me "choose my favorites", which was always a little uncomfortable, since I really didn't like any of them.

Their kids look like they could be the love children of Mr. Bean. Seriously.

We literally have drawers full of baby pictures of Aldigirl and Aldiboy. And on the back of each one is a printed label with their respective ages in Months and in some cases, Weeks.


Now, I don't take my kids' pictures that often. With mine, I kinda went with the "once every three months for the first year and once a year after that" plan. (And I haven't even been that religious about it, really. I think Tito had a picture for his first birthday and that was it. Oops.) So whenever I have pictures of my kids, I feel obligated to share them with the Aldis.

On Mother's Day last year we took out the boys' school pictures and one that Beeb had taken of her sitting on the floor - one of those portraits where you're sitting and your shoes show up in the shot. It was taken at school, but it's not the standard School Picture picture. It was really cute.

I handed the pics to Mrs. Aldi and after she said how adorable and grown-up my boys looked, she asked where we got Beeb's picture taken.

"Oh, I think they took it at CCL..."

CCL is our district's Gifted Program. I just love pointing out that my kid got into it and theirs didn't. Yeah, it's bitchy. I know.

A few years ago Reverend and Mrs. Aldi informed the family that Aldigirl would be testing for the gifted program. I almost choked on whatever I was eating when I heard that. R and I personally witnessed the child eating a crayon when she was 5 years old, swear to God.

The best part of the next several weeks was that I didn't even have to do anything to enjoy how this story evolved. MIL and FIL were the ones who kept asking them if they'd heard anything yet. They hadn't, and R and I knew they weren't going to, but it was fun to hear the Aldis dodge the subject whenever it came up.

Then one day when I went to drop Beebie off at the gifted program building I saw Aldigirl's name on the visitor's sheet and "testing" beside it, dated two months earlier. So I was sure they had to have heard something by now.

And of course, they never actually told us that she didn't make it, but the excuses they kept giving were incredibly entertaining. My favorite had to do with the fact that Aldigirl had broken her arm a few weeks prior - I forget how but I'm sure it was funny - and it somehow affected her ability to perform on an intelligence test. Ok, maybe there's a valid case to be made for her not being able to focus or something, but come on, a broken arm doesn't affect your brain.

Annnnnyway, since then I have taken demented delight not in bringing up the Gifted Program, but in simply sitting back and allowing the Gifted Program to be brought up by other people in the Aldis' presence as much as possible. Y'all can hate me if you want, and you probably should, but exactly how often does shit fall together EXACTLY like I want it, for my maximum possible amusement?

Exactly never. Except for this.

And here's the total beauty of it - I NEVER bring it up myself, so that allows me to feel like slightly less of a bitch. See, they can't ever say, "Good God, Sarah never shuts up about that gifted program." So they can be bitter all they want, just not at me.

It would be one thing if I were the one bringing it up just to be twatty, but honestly, I'm not. MIL and FIL, every time we're out there, will ask us something about what Beebie's doing in the program, or sometimes at larger family functions Carol the Boob-Starer (R's cousin's wife who CONSTANTLY stares at my rack when she's talking to me) or Mrs. Happiestfamilyinthewholewideworld (not sure if I've mentioned her but her Christmas card will surely arrive any day) will ask which classes Beeb is taking because their kids go there too, and that's my absolute favorite.

Carol will talk about Little Ricky's Mission to Mars class, Mrs. Happiest will talk about how her Tracy's class raised $4000 for The Heifer Project, I'll talk about Beeb's French Civ class researching and formally submitting a potential route for the 2008 Tour De France (seriously!) and the Aldis get to talk about how their kid can twirl a flaming baton, throw it up in the air, land in the splits and catch it in her teeth.

Great fuckin resume she's got going there.

By now I'm sure you're probably wondering about the title of this post. Well, I'm going somewhere with all of this, I promise.

As I mentioned, R shares my sentiment toward the Aldis and enjoys just as much as I do passively drawing attention to why their kids are going to work for my kids someday. So when we got the packet in the mail, we already knew it was going to be (with absolutely no effort on our part) a topic of conversation at Christmas. Fuckin' beautiful!

Everyone knew that Pie was testing. A couple of weeks ago R went to get something from The Reverend and The Rev asked if we'd heard anything back yet. R said we hadn't, and the Reverend said (ok, imagine a recording of the voice of Eeyore playing at a super-slow speed),

Yeeeeeeahhh, wellllll... we think Aldigirl has the intellllllllllligence for it.... she just doesn't have the diiiiiiiiscipliiiiiiiine. We've had some prooooooblems getting her to doooooo her hoooooooomeworrrrrrrrk.

Whatever. Dude, seriously. Give it up.

I knew MIL and FIL had been anxious to hear if he got in, so I asked R if he wanted to call his parents right then to let them now, instead of waiting until Sunday evening like he and his siblings usually do.

No, I'll wait till Sunday, and I'll be sure to call them before the Aldis do.

And the fact that I knew exactly what he meant by it (that it would give his parents the opportunity to inform the Aldis, thereby keeping our consciences clear) I gotta tell ya, it was hot. So hot, in fact, that I said,


(Ok, the whole gifted program backstory was intended to paint a vivid picture of precisely why R's comment turned me on so much. I know I went a long way for it, and thanks for sticking with me.)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Beeb was sitting on the bed watching TV with us.

So after I announced that I was turned on (and I didn't say it very loud) R said, "Um, hey Beeb, why don't ya go read in your room. Mom and I want to... uh... take a nap."

I sincerely hope that his choice of words is no reflection on my (ahem) abilities.

Beeb came back with -

I KNOW what you guys are doing. I KNOW what you're talking about. AND IT'S TOOOOOOOTALLY DISTURBING.

I was shocked! What?? We're as icky as our parents are? But I'm only 36! I'm still hot! I'm a MILF!

Ugh, it's like, soooo gross to think about your parents...

Beebie, you should be happy that you have a mom and a dad who love each other so much! Seriously, Beeb, how do you think YOU got here?

I KNOW how I got here, Mom. I watched a movie about it at school last year.

Beeb, if it makes you feel any better, it kinda icks me out to think about my parents too...


So now, whenever we want to freak her out, we're going to wink at each other right in front of her and say "Hey, honey... ya wanna take a nap??!!"


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tito's Christmas Play.

Tell me this isn't the cutest little face you've ever seen.

"The little lord Jesus asleep on the hay..."

All together now... Awwwwwwwwww.

And special guest star: Robert Goulet!!

This was the first time Tito's ever done anything like this by himself. Last year he had Pie with him. I wasn't really sure how he was going to handle it. I had visions of him spinning in circles or picking his nose or something, but he stood there - very, very still and totally focused. I was blown away by his professionalism.

After the show I said, "Tito, I was so proud of you! You didn't make faces or be silly, you did such a great job!!"

And he said, in a soft but very serious voice:

"It was VERY important."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This is why you love me, isn't it?

We've had a leak in our basement, nothing major, but just annoying especially after we'd had the plumber out not even two months ago for a leak in roughly the same place.

So today the plumber came by, took a look at my bathtub and determined that the problem was that water was dripping behind the metal disc that's between the faucet and the wall.

I asked if it was something that my rather handy hubby could fix, and he said that R could probably fix it, but since he was here now (and I would have to pay him anyway), he'd see if he had the necessary materials in his truck, and if he did, he'd go ahead and take care of it. Fantastic.

So, about 10 minutes later, he came out of the bathroom and said it was all taken care of, but to wait a few hours before taking a shower. No problem.

And so, as I handed him a check for $55, I said -

Wow! Good thing you brought your caulk!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do you know me?

I love interesting quizzes. I try to pass my favorites along for y'all's edification.


Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Your Score: Saffron

You scored 75% intoxication, 50% hotness, 75% complexity, and 50% craziness!

You are Saffron! Those other spices have nothing on you! You're warm, smart, and you make people feel really good (and with no side-effects!). You can be difficult to get to know and require a lot of those who try, but you're so totally worth it. *Sigh*

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I'm a little disappointed that I only scored 50% hotness, but I guess I'd rather be intoxicating and complex, since they require a little more depth.

Anti-Stella recently tagged me for a Seven Random Things About Me meme, and you know I don't do anything if I don't do it full-out, balls to the wall. So I've seen this one on a few different blogs and I decided to gank it and give my vast readership MORE than seven things. It's the holidays. I'm in a generous mood.

Elaborate on your default icon:
It's that black and white pic of me next to my name. I love that picture. It captures my essence quite well. Don't I just look like I'm about to make some smartass comment?

What’s your current relationship status?
Blissfully married to my awesome husband R for 10 years. And I never call him by his first name - I actually do call him R, which I have from even before we started dating. It was my code name for him whenever my work friends and I talked about the cute guys we liked in the office.

Ever have a near-death experience?
If you're talking about near death in the sense of being beckoned toward the big white light or whatever, no. If you mean have I ever been in a situation where I felt about 98% sure I was probably going to die? Yes.

Once insanely cold winter morning, my friend Michael called to ask if I could drive him to where his car had broken down the night before. Sure, sweetie, I said, where is it?

East St. Louis.

If you're unfamiliar, I can't even paint a picture other than it is THE scariest place he could possibly have said. I'm the kind of friend who doesn't ask questions in these situations.

Long story short, he got the car to start so I followed him back to my side of the River across the Poplar Street Bridge. And then, literally halfway between Missouri and Illinois, Michael's car died. We were in the far right lane, which was good because there is no breakdown lane, but bad because obviously, Hello, Mississippi River!!

I wasn't sure if I should call Missouri Motorist Assistance or Illinois Motorist Assistance, so I called 911. Oh, and the best part? I was pregnant with Beebie. I vividly remember screaming into the phone "And please hurry - I'm PREGNANT!!!",

I just kept thinking I am going to die on the Poplar Street Bridge. I'm either going to die in a crash or else someone's going to knock me over the rail and I'll drown in my car.... it's going to be on the news... I wonder what they'll say about me... we're pretty high up, so maybe I'd have time to unbuckle myself on the way down and try to swim to the shore... I wonder if I could get out through the sunroof... nah, never mind, the impact alone would probably kill me... FUCK FUCK FUCK...

It was bloody cold, and all I could do was roll my window down enough to get my arm out and motion to oncoming traffic to get out of the lane we were in. It felt like we were there a reeeeally long time but we couldn't have been. Eventually they came and towed Michael's car and everything was ok, but I can't drive over a bridge without remembering that moment.

Name an obvious quality you have:
(Sigh) Must I? Ok. Laziness.

What’s the name of the song that’s stuck in your head right now?
The Humpty Dance.

Any celeb you would marry?
Alan Rickman, and I'd want him to dress as Professor Snape and spank me on special occasions.

Who will cut and paste this first?
Most people have already done it. I'm late to the party, as usual.

Has anyone ever said you look like a celebrity?
When I had short hair I heard Katie Couric (think Bryant Gumbel era), and more recently, Tina Fey.

Do you wear a watch?
I used to feel naked if I didn't have one on. Now there's really no place I have to be at any certain time.

Do you have anything pierced?
Both ears and both nipples. And yes, it hurt.

Do you have any tattoos?
Yes, a blue star right above my bellybutton.

Do you like pain?
Sweet pain, like a needle through your nips, sure. Kidney infection pain, not so much.

Do you like to shop?
I used to when I had money. Now I do it as infrequently as possible. There's not much I need.

What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
A Sunday newspaper. And a soda.

What was the last thing you paid for with your credit card?
We got a store credit card when we bought our sofa last year and paid it off in 3 months before the interest started. But we have no actual credit cards.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
About 10 seconds ago the counselor from Beebie's school called. Apparently some boy punched her in the nose on the bus yesterday and she didn't tell me. That'll be an interesting story for the dinner table.

What is on your desktop background?
A picture of me and Tito riding on the Metrolink. The look on his face is hilarious.

What is the background on your cell phone?
A picture of the kids at Purina Farms.

Do you like redheads?
I married one!

Do you know any twins?
Anti-Stella's a twin, and my cousin Amylovie from Yarntopia is a twin who has her own twins. My friend Mike (not Michael from the bridge story) has twin redheaded girls. R knows I have a friend named Mike, but my friend Mike's wife doesn't know that I have a friend named Mike, so please keep it on the downlow.

Do you have any weird relatives?
Have you ever read my blog? Click on Life at Chez Aldi in the archives to get you started.

What is the last movie you saw?
Life is Beautiful. One of my very favorite movies. It was on regular TV. Only don't watch it dubbed, watch it in Italian with subtitles. It's an incredible story.

What was the last book you read?
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I read it with Pie.

Is there such a thing as love at first sight, or it is more likely to be lust at first sight?
I first hooked up with R at a Happy Hour. It started out as lust, but it quickly morphed into the passionate love we've had ever since.

What’s your favorite book?
I loved The Color Purple. I didn't want it to end.

When was the last time you googled your own name?
It's been a little while. Sarah (my maiden name) is a British Porn Star.

What was / is your favorite subject at school?
I've always loved literature. Particularly American literature, plus Jane Austen and Shakespeare sonnets.

What was / is your least favorite subject at school?
I hated history. I have no sense of global historical perspective. It's embarrassing.

Do you like having your photograph taken?
Not really. Unless my hair looks good.

What time were you born?
I don't remember, I was pretty young then. And I wasn't wearing a watch.

Ever seriously questioned your sanity?

How many phone numbers do you have remembered and can say off the top of your head?
Most of the people I call are listed either on my cell phone or on Speed Dial so I don't have to know very many. I do have the number to Domino's Pizza memorized, however.

Can you Limbo?
No, and people who can totally creep me out.

Have you ever killed your own dinner?
No, but I'm thankful to whomever did.

How long have you been living at your current residence?
Almost two months. Still unpacking.

What phobias do you have?
Bridges. We've covered this.

What’s your ideal breakfast?
Eggs with cheese, bacon, a biscuit, and a mimosa.

Where are you right now?
In my bedroom.

Why do you blog?
Cheaper than therapy.

What would you call your autobiography?
It's Not Magic... It's Mommy.

What’s the longest time you’ve stayed out of the country / where?
Maybe a night or two at my aunt and uncle's house in Ontario, that's it.

Do you use ICQ, AIM, etc..?
Yahoo IM. Say hi sometime!

Do you have nightmares frequently?
I have intense dreams, but I wouldn't call them nightmares.

If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Absolutely. I'm an awesome friend and I'm a damn hoot to be around.

Which TV character could you be friends with?
Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. I would have been great friends with Maeby Funke from Arrested Development. I miss that show.

What’s on your mouse pad?
Don't have one.

What is your ring tone?
It depends on who's calling me. I like to customize clever ones for each of my frequent callers. For example, when my parents call, it plays Mama Said Knock You Out. It defaults to the Mizzou fight song.

What did you watch on TV last night?
I honestly don't remember.

Scary movies or happy endings?
I like the surprise twist endings you never saw coming.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Major Award!

Remember how resolute I was about sticking with scarves? Well, I timidly announce that I will, very soon, be taking on something more challenging. Why, you ask? Because I threw my hat in the ring for a contest on Turtlegirl's blog. In order to win the Grande Prize - some beautiful angora yarn (wut smellz like da bunniez) that she spun herself - participants were asked to give one good reason why they should be the winner.

We've discussed my competitive nature.

I, in my zeal to win something, offered up the following entry:

I will, so f*ckin help me, make something other than a scarf... preferably something just beyond my advanced beginner status... and then I will, for as long as it takes, document my progress (or lack thereof) on my blog until I either finish it or go crazy trying. Either way, I guarantee it will be fun to read. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

Pick me!

Sweet Turtlegirl viewed this opportunity to let her handiwork become an instrument of learning, and I was thrilled to be named the winner. And then I thought, OH SHIT.

Turtlegirl chose this pattern from the current issue of Knitty. It's called Ice Queen.

There are several elements to this pattern that will be new territory for me.

1. Lace. Lace and I, historically, do not get along. I wish I had taken a picture of Foliage before I frogged it, but seriously, I was too embarrassed by it to post it. And you've all seen the shit I'm NOT embarrassed to post but probably should be.

2. Beads. Like I have the time, patience and manual dexterity to deal with THAT.

3. Dear God, not the Chart! Charts give me a headache just looking at them.

4. And the element which will I will have to learn most immediately: The Provisional Cast On. I've never been able to master this technique, and, as a result, have passed over any pattern that requires it. I'll love what the finished item looks like in the picture, then read over the Materials... Yeah, I got that, got that.... What? Provisional Cast-On? Crap. Forget it. The pattern links to a tutorial, so maybe I'll be okay, but if the first picture I post is one of me curled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth and sucking my thumb, don't be alarmed.

Folks, this blog's going to get really interesting really quick. And Muggles, fear not. I know a lot of the faithful Beholders of my dubious Brilliance aren't knitters.

But, knitter or not, if you enjoy the schadenfreude of watching someone of reasonable intelligence make an utter ass of herself, Santa's comin' early.

Y'all are in for a fuckin' treat.

I'm so glad I have the NC-17 language warning label.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Why My Weatherman is better than Your Weatherman.

You might remember that I have a bit of an impure crush on my local meteorologist . I actually do know him personally (and have for several years), so obviously I have to curttail my lustful thoughts, but he's just supercute and I can't help myself.

In addition to his dashing good looks, the man is cool as hell. He wore the nosewarmer I made him on the air last winter (seriously, what other TV personality would do that, except maybe Ellen DeGeneres? I don't see nosewarmers atop the list of Oprah's Favorite Things. Hmmmm... perhaps I'll send her one.). He plays guitar and sings in a band, has fantastic taste in music, and is totally hilarious.

So because I was pretty sure he'd say yes, I presented him with an idea. While I was unpacking boxes, I found a bunch of ugly vintage ties. I'd found them at estate sales and had the intention of sewing them together into a skirt but of course I never did because I have no idea how to sew. But they were the kind of ugly that's so ugly it's cool and it was a shame to throw them out.

See? Was I kidding? UGLY.

At this time of year his station raises money for The Salvation Army and he and his Morning Show crew compete against the Evening Anchors to see who can raise the most. I offered to send him the ugly ties and make a donation for each tie he dared to wear on the air.

And my weatherman, in his infinite coolness, said he'd do it.

So, on Monday mornings at about 7:25, tune in for a segment called My Tie Mondays. And, if you are so inclined, feel free to send in the ugliest tie you can find and a donation to The Salvation Army and he'll wear it on the air (unless it's green because of the green screen) and you'll enjoy 30 seconds of St. Louis fame!*

* unless there's a Winter Weather Advisory, like today.

How cool is that?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm Stickin to Scarves.

So the weekend of the Big 12 Championship (which I refuse to discuss) I made the kids each a back and gold Tiger Spirit hat of their very own.

I used Vanna's Choice yarn, as it was the cheapest (and only) yarn I could find in the colors I wanted.

Pros - I made all three hats from one ball of each color, $2.99 a ball. Quite economical.

Cons - It itches like bloody hell and nobody will wear the damn things.

Bottom Line - THIS ST_FF S_CKS. Buy a vowel.

So then I got the idea to make a hat that someone would actually wear, and fueled by my recent mastery of the Feather and Fan Scarf (currently blocking), I thought I might tackle Foliage, in the Fall issue of Knitty.

First of all, it took me forever to distribute the eight stitches and knit the first round on the double-point needles. Then I finally got to the part where you switch over to circs, and I am pretty sure I had it perfect up until that point. And then I was reminded why I can't do any pattern that requires me to actually pay attention to what I'm doing. I am constantly interrupted. CONSTANTLY.

I know how to do all of the necessary stitches, and yes, I can count to 100, but every time I'd start a round with eight repeats in it, one of the Apes would barge in to tattle on another of the Apes for something. I worked feverishly for two days on Foliage and finally realized that my handiwork looked nothing like the picture. So I took it apart, and, quite remarkably, didn't cry. Thank God for meds.

So scarves, once again, will be my holiday gift of choice for teachers and friends.

Oh, and remember how we had $50, one tank of gas, a gallon of milk and whatever food there is in the house to live on for ten days? We have done really well without spending a single dime on the debit card. I used my breadmaker a few times and dug to the very back of the freezer for stuff I could make for dinner. You'll know we've hit rock bottom when I make the frozen salmon filets that have been in my freezer for about a year.

I also sold about $40 worth of stuff on Craigslist last week (enough to get some groceries and put a little gas in the van), plus I got a $10 rebate check in the mail, got paid on PayPal for a mystery shop I did, and I got quite creative with other ideas for saving money.

For example, I remembered that we have AAA (or, as Tito calls it "Chik Fil A"), which entitles us to a few free gallons if we run out of gas somewhere on the road. I figured I would drive the van on fumes until it finally died, call AAA and get me some free gas, if it came to that. Then I decided that was too white trash, even for me.

So in trying to conserve gas and to concurrently minimize the temptation to spend money, I spent most of the last two weeks at home, looking for things I could either sell or otherwise get rid of. I found some cheap crappy plastic DPN's I had bought at Hobby Lobby a long time ago.

For some reason I had two identical sets of size 4's that I'd never opened, so I decided to see if Hobby Lobby would let me exchange them. I know most LYS's won't let you return needles, but I figured they probably wouldn't have a Needles Exemption in their return policy.

I only got half of their value, since I didn't have a receipt, but it wound up being a little over $4.00 in store credit. Not a lot, but certainly better than nothing, and as a bonus, I got rid of some shitty needles.

So a few days later, after the Foliage Fiasco, I told Beeb I'd make her friends some scarves in that pukey Hobby Lobby Frosting yarn that I have in my stash, and she could give them as Christmas presents. She wanted me to make a green one for her friend Lola, the only color I didn't already have. So Pie and I went to Hobby Lobby to see if it even came in green. I was armed with $4.76 in store credit and a 40% Off Any One Item coupon.

Lo and behold, Frosting does come in a mint green, so I grabbed a skein (marked $3.99) and got in the checkout line.

"Oh, you can't use your coupon. This is already on sale."

It is?

"Yeah, you see, this is a type of yarn called eyelash, and the eyelash yarn is on sale for 99 cents."

It is?

"Uh huh!"

Well, shoot, I'll go get some more!

I walked back to the yarn area thinking, She's wrong, this shit's not on sale, there's an actual Yarn Bee Yarn called Eyelash, THAT's what's on sale, not the whole darn eyelash genre. And I'm not even sure Frosting falls into that category anyway, but I'm not gonna question it - fuck her if she doesn't know what's on sale and what's not.

Long story short, I got four balls of Frosting for FREE. So I'm making Christmas scarves with no out-of-pocket expenses. Brilliant.

During this time I also managed to give a TON of stuff away. I gave away four sets of nice flannel sheets and a full-sized comforter to a woman on Freecycle who was collecting for a man who was down on his luck. Then a woman on Craigslist was collecting for a family with three little girls, so I gave away all of the My Little Ponys in the house as well as all of the Sweet Streets buildings and accessories. I also gave two girls' comforters and matching shams, some books, some dolls and three winter coats.

It felt great to help give some little kids a Christmas, after having been the Adopt-A-Family family ourselves, two years in a row. Nothing makes you mindful of how much you have like giving your excess away. And I was so proud of the kids for helping me look around for things that the little girls might like.

And I also need to say how great the kids have been about not asking for much for Christmas. They really understand how the house and the van have left us with less money for extras, and we are all in agreement that the house and the van are well worth the sacrifices we find ourselves making. After May I won't have the childcare expense anymore, plus I'll be able to look for something part-time, so that will help. Until then, it's Craigslist.

Wanna buy a gently used, authentic Coach purse, cheap?