Friday, September 28, 2012

Dumpster Diving

Last night, Spousal Unit and I rescued this dresser from ultimate destruction down by the dumpster.

It's pretty gorgeous - I haven't cleaned it off yet to see how badly the top is actually scratched, but even if it's terrible, I don't care. We got this thing for free.

My back hates me for it, because it's about as sturdy as it looks. Plus, it's one more thing to move at the end of October.

Again, though: it, like most of our furniture, was free.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Leaves and Blossoms

There are approximately five million things I love about fall. But I especially love a couple of them.

This is a new one for me: a plant finally blossoming for the first time, at the end of summer. At its peak, my African violet had 21 blossoms at once.

I finally got to wear my colorful new pink Asian-style jacket. Remember when I bought it? I also picked up two awesome fall shirts, a really comfy pair of pants, and silky pajama pants to replace my old ones. (They had holes at both hips. One was the size of my head.)

Leaves are turning everywhere! The library parking lot (above) is especially resplendent right now, but I'm also impressed by the tree outside our window. It's almost chartreuse at sunset. This photo is not edited at all. Wow.

My least favorite color for a long time was yellow - and it was least favorite by a wide margin. Now, I may not wear yellow, but I appreciate it a lot more. I used to think yellow trees were boring, but that's not necessarily true.

Last weekend, we picked buckets and buckets of what once blossomed and have now ripened gloriously: acorn squash, pumpkins, butternuts, and something called red kuri squash. Yum - I can't wait for squash soup!

And lastly, in only somewhat unrelated news, the NFL and the refs have finally come to an agreement. Thanks for doing what's right for the kids, NFL. It only took one of them running into the street for you to suck it up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Letter to My Ex - the NFL

Dear NFL,

Please stop being miserly jackasses and give the real refs what they want, so we can stop watching utter B.S. every week.

I don't blame the replacement refs - I don't think anyone really does. They're doing the best they can with a crappy situation. They have no training for this level of football; it's like being thrown in the deep end and expected to swim. NFL, your replacement refs are drowning in the middle of the Astroturf. Throw them a frickin' life jacket.

As a result of these ridiculous calls that have been made, we now have at least one game whose outcome was called incorrectly. Regardless of which team caught the ball, there should have been a pass interference penalty - which would have won it for the Packers instead of the Seahawks. I'm hereby ignoring the official ruling.

NFL, I've had a long and tumultuous relationship with you in the past. At this point, I almost can't believe I ever loved you. You with your almighty dollar, you with your self-righteous grip on this season. I understand it's hard to admit fault and come down off your high horse, because you're likely to break your fool neck on the dismount. Guess what? Nobody cares. Shut up and get back down here where you belong.

I'm willing to believe that, if things continue like this, the entire season will be laughable. It's not just the players who determine the outcome of the game; it's how the rules are followed. When I was little and played pool with my grandpa, I made up the rules, too - but you're (supposedly) an adult. Put on your big boy pants.

There have been comparisons to "substitute-teacher syndrome," with players pushing the bounds while the refs who don't know what they're doing are in charge. We've seen a lack of sportsmanship, increased arguments on the field, and overall disintegration of a great game - after all, if no one's going to yell at you, why not go for it? If you let the kids play in the street, it's only a matter of time until they get hit by a car - and now it's happened. I hope you're happy.

NFL, the kids are getting into more trouble, and you're to blame. If you don't put the rules and the refs back into the game, they're going to keep fighting, events will go misreported, they'll get into hard drugs, and next thing you know, the players are all strung out on a street corner, waiting with misguided hope for the NFL pimp daddy to come along and rescue them from a life of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Save this sport before it gets to that point. Give the refs what they want, and give us our damn game back.

With complete lack of respect for your parenting skills,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back to the Language Board

So. Part of me was kind of looking forward to the upcoming move as being a bit easier than usual, because this time, I was going to have the same job throughout it all. I still won't be switching jobs when we move, but I am before the move. Yes, I will start a new job in a couple of weeks.

This all happened very quickly, once things got rolling. I found out about this position a month ago, through the temp agency that got Spousal Unit his job. Copy editing for a non-profit? It was exactly what I've been looking for since we moved back to Wisconsin last summer. I called the temp agency and tried not to sound like a dog begging for a Milk Bone. (I succeeded. I think.)

The company wasn't ready to hire yet, but they'd let me know as soon as the opportunity came. The call came on Monday last week; the interview was set on Tuesday; I interviewed on Wednesday; I got the job on Friday.

Throw into that whirlwind an unreasonable leasing agent, a night-before-the-interview discovery that our free printer was kicked to the curb for a reason, and a PT appointment where the therapist said, "Well, that's interesting," and you could say I had a crazy week. I'm not a fan of those.

Okay, I'm a fan if it ends with me getting a job I really wanted.

Things I will miss about the current job: some great coworkers, my random three-day weekends, and constantly being surrounded by new books. Things I will not miss: 40-pound boxes, customers who think working retail is code for "please treat me like crap," and not getting weekends with Spousal Unit unless I asked off for them.

Grand things about the new job: Spousal Unit and I can carpool, it's closer to the new apartment, better pay (by virtue of not being retail), and working with language again - for a living. Less grand things: adjusting to the new environment, a fear of my bosses deciding to hate me (thanks, HPB), and trying to use computer programs I supposedly know and haven't used in years.

Overall, I'd say the new job will be worth it - especially because the negatives so far are things that will get better. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

But I really hope the new coworkers are my kind of weird.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Pile of Yarn-y Goodness

It's the start of the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas (not yet, anyway) - I'm talking autumn! That wonderful time when we get to pull out the sweaters, enjoy a cup of hot cider, and wear our favorite slippers. I love it.

What I especially love are fall crafts. It's the perfect time to pull that wool close to you and watch the leaves fly outside, while ensconced in your favorite cozy chair. I always start too many projects at this time of year.

Fall Breeze Shawl by Denise Twum 

Imagine this one in an orange-red yarn - or even a variegated one with lots of fall colors!

Fall coasters by Melissa Hill

These little crocheted coasters are adorable, plus they're a quick, easy gift! If it was me, I'd make the leaves all different shades of fall - light green, red, orange, and yellow, all in one set.

Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole by Sivia Harding

I've wanted to make this one for ages now. Maybe this is the year! Look at all the tiny details - the stole is knit in a square, then the sides are knit outward from that. It looks like autumn, just in the pattern itself. It could be made in any color and still look like fall.

 Autumn Leaves by Linda Permann

These would be great to reuse every year. Imagine them hanging from a string of orange Halloween lights - and made with metallic yarn! I think I know what my next project will be.

Entrelac Scarf by Allison LoCicero

Entrelac looks so warm to me. It's just an illusion of woven strips of fabric, but I've certainly fallen for it. I managed to figure it out a little bit one day, experimenting with a dishcloth, but I'd like to find out if I'm doing it right. Oh look - a tutorial. Awesome.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Progress, of a Sort

All the physical therapy I've been doing this summer has at least marginally paid off: I've gone for three runs in the last week and a half.

Okay, that statement is kind of misleading. When I say "runs," I mean "10 minute bouts of exercise featuring alternating walking and running." Which is still more than I've done in far too long. And the most excellent part of this? No back pain immediately after!

Unfortunately, I am still getting teh painz of DOOM - they just happen when I've been lifting things. Like books. Oh wait - that's my job. Awesome.

One of the more delightful moments in PT happened this morning, when the therapist was examining my spine. "Well, that's interesting," he said suddenly.

(That's the phrase that's second most likely to mean something bad, directly behind "Whoops!" You don't want to hear either of these from your doctor, dentist, or waiter.)

Luckily, the items causing the "interesting" feature of my spine were mostly corrected by the time I left, but he still needs to "confer with his colleagues" about it. I am not reassured.

The upside of all this is that I wasn't told to stop running, and I was even encouraged to step it up, if I can.

Yeah. We'll see about that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes with Basil Cream Sauce

Spousal Unit and I had the most amazing dinner in the world last night, and the thing that really made it was the basil cream sauce. When we went to Vegas (the one with the lights and the shows and the hey-hey), one of the first things we ate was a noodle dish with this amazing sauce in it. I decided to try my hand at it, over the stuffed tomato you see above.

Problem: I meant to pick up half and half while I was out, and I totally forgot. So I improvised by adding milk, butter, and cream cheese. And it turned out smooth, delectable, and rich. The base for this sauce? Just a recipe of your favorite pesto. I love what can be done with pesto.

The tomato itself isn't stuffed with anything too special: squash, banana peppers, garlic, couscous, chickpeas, arugula, more tomato, and some pesto, to tie the flavors together (though next time, I'm adding cayenne instead). After stuffing the hollow tomatoes, I baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Pretty much everything you see above comes from our CSA. I'd never had blue potatoes before this summer, but they're a totally tasty dish. The gravy is my own recipe.

Don't have a favorite pesto recipe? Here's my favorite, modified from The $7 a Meal Cookbook by Linda Larsen.

Basil Pesto

3 c. fresh basil leaves (substitute with some spinach, if you don't have enough)
3 T lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/3 c. parmesan cheese (fresh or powdered)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4-1/3 c. water

Stuff the first five ingredients into your food processor. Add the oil and blend again. Add enough water to reach your desired consistency. Blend like mad. Eat like a king.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Jumble

The Packers kicked some serious butt last night. Clay Matthews' enormous arms are a bit terrifying, but I'm glad he uses them for a good purpose, like tearing the Bears apart. There was some amazing stuff in that game - mostly defense and special teams related - and I'm glad to leave the previous week's game behind. Hopefully we won't see offense that pathetic for the rest of the season.

In news unrelated to that, I have two hilarious things to share with you: some reviews of a book called (and I'm not joking), What are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples?...I Need Them for the Fruit Salad. Worst. Book. Ever. And if you thought that was hilarious, Bic made pens (yes, pens) for women. Because otherwise, women wouldn't use them. The reviews are to die for.

Enjoy. I'll be in the Bat Cave, packing books.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Getting Our Move On

Spousal Unit and I have found a new place to live, and we're moving in a month and a half!

This may confuse some of you, as we are in a place already, and we are living there right now. I can see how that might be a head-scratcher. But our lease is up at the end of October on our current place, and we've decided to move out of one 'burb and into another.

It's not necessarily a better small town, and we're going to miss the one we're in now. Over the past year, we've found favorite restaurants, discovered great places for walks and runs, delved into a great library, and reveled in the joy of a full wall of windows.

Think they're awesome now? You should see it on a sunny day.

On the other hand, we've discovered a drunk in our hallway, been surprised by the car next to ours with four slashed tires, kept the windows closed all summer because of highway traffic, and had to commute a half hour or more to work.

The commute will be cut in half for Spousal Unit; mine will be a bit hairy for a while, but it'll improve when I find a new free place to park. The new area is nowhere near a highway, has a lower crime rate, a gorgeous neighborhood all around us, and my favorite yarn shop is in walking distance. (I foresee trouble with that one.)

The problem with all of this? Well, we're moving in a month and a half, and nothing is packed yet. And remember how I was last time we moved? How about the time before that?

My sanity is getting tired of all these dark, scary boxes. And there's another one sneaking up behind me.

I have a tendency, once something is about to change, to become totally enamored of my current situation - even if it's less than lovely. Right now, that drunk in the hallway seems like a funny, comforting story, letting me know that I'm home. (I'm not that crazy; I also recognize it's highly dangerous. But dammit, it's comforting too.)

Right now, this place is lovely as can be. I'm going to miss our beautiful windows, the uneven floor, the 2'x2' porch we share with a neighbor, and the background drone of high-speed automobiles 24 hours a day.

Hopefully, once we're in the new place, I'll get over that pretty quickly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Juice Jug to Watering Can

Yesterday, a huge jug of apple juice in the fridge ran dry, and I was going to recycle it. But then Spousal Unit said, "You could use it for watering plants. Maybe you could even poke some holes in the lid."

That boy has a lot of smart.

I'd been casually keeping an eye out for a cheap watering can at the secondhand stores - till now, I've just used a regular-sized water bottle, which I have to refill two or three times to satisfy all the plants. But even better than a secondhand watering device is a reused jug. It's not pretty, but it does the job, and that's all I need.

The lid was pretty sturdy, so I used a nail and hammer to pound holes in the lid.

They weren't big enough, so I got a bigger nail and cracked the lid.

The test run showed it worked okay, and then I realized the jug needed to let air out, too. So I pounded some holes in the jug itself, just above the handle. (I had to be careful to choose a spot that wouldn't make it just leak all over. That would be a tad counterproductive.)

And voila! A homemade watering jug - the basil is quite pleased with it.

The water is a bit unpredictable because of the slight crack in the lid, but how many watering cans have you known that water sideways? Most are at least a little off-kilter.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Monday Free of Close Proximity to Crime Scenes, Unlike My Weekend

Today, I have a lot to work on. I have an apartment application to fill out, cookies to bake, a cake to bake, a care package to send, a doctor to inquire after, CDs to return to the library, a budget to balance, a scarf to work on, a novel to work on, a kitchen to clean, wine to buy, and tomato sauce to make. (The last two are directly related.)

I also have the incredible goals of buying a spatula and taking a bath, though not at the same time.

I'll be amazed if I accomplish even half of those things - I have a terrible tendency to make an extensive, unreachable to-do list for my days off, which leaves me feeling half accomplished and very tired. That, or I give up after the first two are crossed off because the tasks ahead are too daunting.

But not today. I can feel the days speeding up as we approach the end of our lease, and it's time to start getting ready for the next part of our lives, whatever that might entail. The crisp weather delights me, but also worries me - what if we're not packed up in time? What if we don't get the place we want, and end up having to pick something of ghetto-tastic proportions? What if the first snow hits and I still haven't fixed the boots I bought last year?

This is a day to focus on where I am, though, not on the many detours my life could take in the near future. I will accomplish all of these things on my list, and I will do them with panache.

Which is why I'm sharing this picture of a crocheted car. Because delaying the inevitable is a big part of my panache.

Knit and crocheted car covers

ALSO: Today's XKCD accidentally relates to my extravagant list for the day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Awesomeness, Instead of Negativeness

It's been kind of a rough week. Today may be Friday, but it's my Thursday - I still work tomorrow night before my weekend begins. To encourage myself to get through it, I'm going to use some good ol' positivity in today's post - here are some things that are awesome in my life.

- My African violet now has seven flowers.

- The weather is trending toward sweaters! It's beginning to look a lot like autumn!

- I finished an adorable hat earlier this week - can't share with you yet, because it's a gift!

- I started reading Splendid Solution by Jeffrey Kluger, about Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine. (Novel research!) Usually nonfiction doesn't thrill me, but this is a very exciting read so far!

- I only have a five-hour shift at work today. Maybe I'll make a wine cake tonight.

- We're looking at two apartments tomorrow - I hope one of them is our next home!

- I shredded one zucchini earlier this week and made two loaves of bread. There's enough zucchini leftover for another loaf and a half. And I still have another (bigger) zucchini to shred!

- Spousal Unit, Spousal Unit, Spousal Unit.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Letter to Students

Dear first-year students plaguing my bookstore,

STFU already.

I've had the good fortune of only working two days so far this new semester, but I still have a forty-hour work week. I know classes have just started, and you're exhausted and inattentive already. (Believe me, I was there once.) But allow me to give you a brief lesson that will make things a lot easier for you.

1. The first price I state for a book is the price you have to pay. Being indignant or pissed off at me personally will not change that. I did not choose your whiny tendencies, but you don't see me scowling at you for that.

2. When I tell you there are no used copies of a book, I am telling the truth. I promise you, we do not have all the used copies sequestered in a dank basement. We are not torturing them with fire and mold; we are not forcing them to give us the answers to life's persistent questions before we set them free. The used copies have already been taken home by loving families of one, who got the used copies as a reward for coming early. I promise you, I'm not lying: there are really and truly no used copies left.

3. Yes, I can easily tell which of you are using your parents' money for everything. The big tip-off is when you purposely buy the more expensive book. Unless all the used copies have dog pee on them, you should be going for the cheaper copies anyway. I shudder to think of you paying for your own anything.

4. When I tell you a book hasn't come in at all yet, that means your classmates don't have it either. I highly doubt your professor wants all of you to read something that no one has for tomorrow. That would be like expecting everyone to come to class with a brand-new, spontaneously sprouted limb. With its own brain.

5. The next time someone says, "Wait, what?" after I state my little spiel for PSY 139 (slowly and clearly, I might add), I'm just going to walk away. And then probably get fired. Then I'll decide I can live on my writing, no one will publish me, I'll start writing for Tea Party cronies, and I will end up at the bottom of a brandy bottle every night. Dear, dear students: please don't make me become a wino. It just doesn't sound fun.

6. This one's a bit more beyond your individual control, but if you could manage to not come in droves of fifty students at once, that would be great. I prefer not to use my cattle prod.

Study these lessons well, and maybe one day you'll reach the next level of idiocy: sophomore.

Your guide on the scholarly path,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Birthday Weekend

Say hello to my little friend.

It's an African violet, which finally bloomed for the first time since I got it from my mom, a year and a half ago. Apparently, the key was just more sunlight - look at all those buds waiting to burst into glorious flower!

It was Spousal Unit's birthday this weekend, so I got him a cake.

We let Luke cut it, but he seemed rather distraught about the whole thing. Maybe because it was his X-Wing on the cake. 

Or maybe because his little hand pops off.
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