Tuesday, December 30, 2008

iTunes FTL (angry face)!

As demonstrated fairly regularly on this blog, I'm pretty shameless. I admit to liking music others find atrocious, I blog regularly about what most would consider a v. unhealthy television addiction, and I often post about free food deals at fast food joints. The thing is, I see no reason to hide my guilty pleasures, and if even one person can benefit from the "information" contained in my blog, I've done my part.

That said, I have no problem telling my readers that, after last night's debut of The City, I logged onto the iTunes store to download not one, but two Pussycat Dolls songs. The first was "Top of the World", the theme song to Whitney's new gig. After the second ep of the hour premiere, there was a video clip for PCD's "I Hate this Part", so I figured I needed that, too (who doesn't love a good, healthy, choking sob-inducing breakup song?). "I Hate this Part" was not difficult to locate, but "Top of the World" (the song I even bothered logging in to the iTunes store for) was NOWHERE. I searched everything imaginable, and it is not there. This isn't the first time iTunes has done this to me, and I don't think it's an unreasonable demand to expect current songs that are featured on the radio or television shows (watched by millions of tweens, the iTunes target demo) to be available for purchase. I am not that on the cutting edge of what's new in music!

I was so upset that I didn't download a single thing. Instead, I revamped my OTG for a special occasion occurring this morning. For the first time in (honestly?) probably 18 months, I went to the GYM. I use my shuffle during any type of exercise (my out of shape ass can't take the added weight of the 80G video), so my OTG isn't technically an OTG, more like the first ten songs on my shuffle's playlist. It's posted anyway, though... that holiday stuff had to go. I'm sure I will utilize more oldie-but-goodie workout songs as I take advantage of my coupon for a 30 day free membership (let's face it, a gym contract is not in my financial future). If you'd like to download any of these gems, I would *not* recommend iTunes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The year in review.

It's almost New Year's! I have never been one to dwell on the past, so I hate to recap my year, but I am *thrilled* when my favorite tv "news" programs do it for me. The Dish highlighted this year's best moments in pop culture on this weekend's ep, but if you missed it, it is airing all over Style Network for the next week and a half. The Soup (E!) debuted their first half of the top 40 clips of 2008 countdown, and paid homage to some very remarkable pieces of footage I had forgotten about (spaghetti cat, anyone?). Best Year Ever (now anchored by my favorite commentator, Paul F. Tompkins) aired their yearly summary last Friday. Taylor Swift will host the top 50 country music videos tonight on GAC, and that special will air about 156 more times, as well. On New Year's Eve, I'm sure there will be more fabulous countdowns all over cable.

2008 was a good year overall, with lots of memorable events -- 2 DLO reunions (one with the concert of a lifetime), a new nephew, a new (fabulous!) job, and a mom officially in remission. I think 2009 might be even better. I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, so I'm completely incapable of recapping my year months by month. Instead, here's a breakdown of the highlights I am looking forward to the first half of this year:

January -- Playoff time. Can't wait to buy my Dallas Clark and/or Bob Sanders SuperBowl jersey!
February -- New Dierks Bentley CD. Maybe his new tunes will motivate me to participate in the 26.2 with Donna half-marathon. Maybe I'll just cheer on the real athletes... (Massive SideNote: XBox is releasing a "Guitar Hero Goes Country", which will feature "Free and Easy", and undoubtedly about a thousand other fabulous country tunes. Will this be the game that breaks me and forces me to invest in a new gaming system?!)
March -- Britney in Tampa and the Legally Blond Broadway Cast in Orlando! I haven't acquired tickets to either of these events, but am looking forward to both of them.
April -- Nothing yet. No doubt lots of pre-wedding and DLO bachelorette adventures?
May -- Emily and Casey's wedding! I will spend the first third of the year looking forward to this event, and the last two thirds of the year looking at the pictures.
June -- Deane's family reunion in Gatlinburg, TN. Dollywood, here I come...!
July -- I turn 28 and officially look down the barrel of 30. I'm thinking excitement will wane as the day draws near.

It's too early to call the rest of '09. I'm sure on Thursday, I'll make a few resolutions. I've been reading that instead of picking huge, daunting goals (i.e. "I'm going to the gym every day!" or "No more Starbucks, EVER!"), you should focus on small goals that will be easy to accomplish, yet contribute to your overall resolution. On a personal level, I'd like to be more fashionable, so I am going to accessorize more and limit my ponytails to no more than 4 days a week. For my overall wellness, I do have a weight loss goal, but my resolutions are to limit food court breakfast treats to one per paycheck (that's only one trip to Panera every two weeks!) and pack my lunch at least twice a week. I also plan to walk Lilly at least once a week, instead of just turning her loose to run all her energy out in the backyard. As far as my knitting goes, I am thinking of picking a project to work on during this season's American Idol, so that in May, instead of focusing on the countless hours I wasted watching the show, I will have some fabulous knit garment to envy! I'm taking suggestions...

I'll probably revise my resolutions by January 1. I can't even remember what I wanted to do last year. I think it was "Get Lasik", which I clearly forgot about. Do you remember what you wanted to accomplish in '08? Did you do it? What do you resolve to do in '09?

"Baby, it's New Year's Eve
Time we can believe
In making wishes
Dreams come true
Just for me and you...
Kiss me at midnight
Dance into the morning light
Party into the new year...!"
Happy 2009!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

R.I.P. Sparks.

You can officially mourn something when wikipedia begins referring to it in the past tense. Sadly, this is the case (as of December 19, 2008) for this blogger's favoritey-fave caffeinated malt beverage.

Sparks will still be available for purchase; however, the brewer (MillerCoors) will remove all caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng from the product as well as making some marketing changes. Apparently, Sparks looks too much like other energy drinks (Tilt, Monster, RedBull), and kids can't tell the difference. Who cares if kids can't tell the difference?! The cashier who has to verify that the purchaser is 21 years old can tell the difference!

Fellow Sparks enthusiast Lindsey says her local Kroger is already sold out of the black top (7% alcohol versus the orange topped 6%) Sparks. On a search for what I thought was a limited time Holiday Sparks (needless to say, this was a myth), I purchased the last orange top at my local gas station last night. I am traveling to southwest Florida to spend Christmas with my mom and other family this week, and you can bet we will be buying out the remainder of Sparks across the Sunshine State.

RIP, Sparks. RedBull and vods could never touch you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Does anyone have a calculator?

**Attention: If you have not yet watched 'The Biggest Loser: Families' finale, and plan to, do *not* read from this point on.

Ok, I got home after work/shopping for a new outfit for DM visit today around 11 pm last night, but I knew I had to watch the BL finale. I was pulling for Michelle, and I had seen all the bio pieces every other 17 times they have shown them throughout the season, so I figured the 2 hours of DVRed fluff could be narrowed down to about 40 minutes with proper editing.

Here's the big question of the night: If America had voted for Heba to be a finalist, would she have beaten out Michelle (LOVE you Michelle, WTG!)? I deleted the ep before I even thought about it, but I *think* Heba had lost over 50% of her body weight, and Michelle lost 110 of her original 224 (?) pounds, which would have put Heba ahead.

That said, THANK YOU AMERICA, for not voting that big meanie into the finalists' circle. She controlled everyone (especially her husband), but she couldn't control the nationwide vote! Everyone from this season looked great, especially Jared, who really has his life back. I can't wait to start watching the next season ('Couples', AGAIN, don't *any* NBC producers read my blog? Can I getan AllStars?) on January 6th.

January will also mark the return of the Tuesday night fight for my DVR love, when Idol comes back to Fox! This season will have some changes: the addition of a 4th female judge (with someone else's quips to listen to, will the episodes be stretched to 2 1/2 hours?), a drastically reduced airing of the audition rounds (prompted by the obsessed Paula Abdul fan/rejected auditioner suicide), more footage of the Hollywood rounds, and the return of the wildcard vote (I love this round. Who can forget Clay singing, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down?").

Hey, isn't this blog supposed to be about knitting...? I promise to return to my blogging roots after my holiday gifts have been distributed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MA Guide.

Cheers to Bravo's 'The Real Housewives of Orange County' for another fine episode this week. Thank goodness we have taken it back to the OC -- New York was mildly entertaining but ultimately forgettable, and Hot-lanta was a hot mess. Only Vicki, Jeana, Lauri, Tamra, and Gretchen (the new girl!) can do it right. This week's ep included some awesome footage of downtown Indy, IMS, and the 500 in all its glory, including cameos by racing greats.

Jeers to the same network, for teasing one housewife's departure, and airing a trailer for next week's episode during the first commercial break. The teaser for next week included the introduction of the newest housewife and showed the group photo, which, even at 4x DVR fast forward, I could see did *not* include Lauri. Way to blow the suspense! Boo, Bravo!

Now, Deane and I had a bet going in to this week's 'Housewives' sesh -- my money was on Lauri to leave, choosing to deal with her son's heroine addiction in a more private setting (of course I was right). He thought newcomer Gretchen would be the one to go, leaving the limelight to take care of her ailing (and older) boyfriend, Jeff, who was recently diagnosed with acute leukemia (wikipedia spoiler alert: Jeff passed away on September 13th of this year).

I don't even know if any of my readers watch 'Housewives', but if you don't, you should start!

In other viewing this week (actually, it's all been done today, on my v. rainy, dreary day off...!), I had an idea while watching The Biggest Loser. Bob mentioned that the season one winner, Ryan, has gained back alllll the weight he lost while on the show. As I found myself pondering the fate of other contestants, I was hit with a brilliant idea! Season 7 should feature the return of previous participants in the show who have not managed to keep their weight off. Let's get them back on the ranch and find out what issues we didn't deal with the first time around. Think of the things Jillian would have to say!

In even more TV news, I was attempting to uncover the date for Oprah's annual 'Favorite Things' show, when I realized I've already missed it entirely (it aired the week of November 24th). Now worries, though -- the economy has been especially rough on this talk show host, apparently, because her show featured "Recession-Friendly Gifts that Cost Next to Nothing". 'YOU get a pinecone ornament! YOU get a pinecone ornament! You're ALL getting pinecone ornaments!!' If I had managed to get tickets to that show, I would not have left the premises without a fridge with an LCD TV in it. Bah humbug, Oprah!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DVR alert!

Attention Whitney Port fans: don't miss tonight's 90 minute MTV special, 'Whitney: From The Hills to The City'. It should let us all know if Whitney, her NYC boyfriend, and her fabulous new job at DVF are entertaining enough to support her new series.

Anyone have an ETA for 'The Hills' series finale? Is the final nail in the coffin on this show, or will it be continuing?

'Whitney...' airs tonight at 10pm, and again at 11:30.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A 5 year tradition.

Today was one of my favorite days for holiday tradition... the holiday photo session. I knew I could pick this Sunday, as the Colts were facing the Bungles, and I could half-watch the game pretty non-comittally. When I was thinking back about the photos we have used on previous Christmases, I realized this year will be the fifth holiday card that Deane and I send together as a family. Each year, the card features our dogs (Roach and Lilly), with the exception of the first card ever (before Lilly was even born!). Sometimes Deane and I are in them, and sometimes not, but this year we decided to go for the all-out family pic. We tried to work out some ideas to get all 12 cats into the picture, as well, but short of hiring a professional photographer, that wasn't going to happen.

Picture day always stirs up a lot of emotions for me (mostly that of a spazoid freak). I want to make sure my family looks beautiful for those near and dear to me who don't get to see us too often. I have to ensure there are no weird objects in the background of the photo. I have to be the one to hit the button that sets the timer, then position myself back into the picture with hair/makeup/gut-sucking-in all in place. I also want to make sure the dogs are well-behaved and looking in the general direction of the camera (a difficult feat, indeed...). The day never ends without a lot of bloopers and general disagreement among all parties involved, but we always end up with a precious holiday photo (in which Roach nearly always looks like a rabies-crazed wolf, but that has pretty much become the tradition, anyway).

Without giving away the final chosen pic (which my blog readers will no doubt be receiving via real mail), here is a mini-photo diary of today's events:

We start the day with general protest from the dogs about wearing their holiday bandanas/posing for a picture:
Take it outside for some chances at pictures involving one or two cats (coincidentally, only one cat made it in):And after all of our antics, the day ends in complete exhaustion...

I can't reveal the indoor bloopers without giving away the final chosen pic, but I might post those at a later date. Today's time spent snapping pictures of ourselves and the dogs in our holiday best reminded me that Christmas is only 18 days away! What's your favorite tradition?

Friday, December 5, 2008

'Tis the Season for Re-gifting.

Every year, I receive a gift from someone that begs me to ask the question, "Who gave this to you in the first place?". I can't give details on the worst one ever, as a blog reader may stumble across and reveal me for the materialistic bitch that I am, but let's just say it involved a dusty, half-used bottle of something from Avon.

Usually the re-gifting would happen at work, and 2 years ago, an employee of mine gave me a scarf that ANOTHER employee of mine had MADE for her the year prior! I felt awful being in the midst of this uncomfortable predicament, and wouldn't wish it on a mortal enemy (although I'm sure there's a few exceptions).

This year, as I set forth on my craftiest (read: brokest) of holidays to date, I found myself examining my yarn stash in preparation of Christmas gift planning. I realized that I have received a lot of yarn as a gift in the past (love the gorg Malabrigo hand-picked at a yarn store, hate the cheapo WalMart clearance bin weird colors/textures). I can't remember who gave me what when, or for what occasion. I started to try to separate the yarn I had purchased for myself from the yarn I've received as a present. In the midst of doing so, I found myself struggling with a moral dilemma:

Is it ok to make a gift for someone out of yarn I received as a gift from someone else?

Don't get me wrong, blog readers. There are times where I have tiptoed along the re-gifting line myself. I mean, is it 100% wrong to use your Wachovia Rewards points on a gift card to give to someone else? I earned those points, and that gift card *would* be for me, but I am unceremoniously parting with it for the betterment of someone on my gift list. What about spending a gift card you received on a gift for someone else? Is that ok?

Please, readers, weigh in on your thoughts on this important issue facing all of us this and every holiday season. And please, in the name of everything holy, don't even thinking about re-gifting an MA* original knit piece!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Misleading punctuation.

Readers, this blogger has been duped by what I believe to be a misplaced colon. Yesterday, I viewed 'Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel'. Now, I know the title of the show does include the word 'party', but I had been lead to believe that this show would actually have something to do with rehab, and, in retrospect, that was probably a pretty naive assumption. However, truTV's episode info showed no details other than 'Reality, Medical'. Medical! It *must* be about rehab. On Tuesday, I blogged, 'It looks a lot like intervention meets Dr. Drew...'. How wrong I was.

Rehab is actually a massive poolside party held every Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Although this episode did recap a previous one where an unconscious 23 year old female had to be attended to by paramedics (which I thought would lead to a stint in actual rehab...), that was the closest truTV got to admitting the insanely high BAC floating in the overcrowded pool. This week featured security cracking down on a ring of counterfeit wristband producers, a $500 incentive to cocktail waitresses who could sell a 9 liter bottle of champagne (retail price: $20,000), and a barback who got written up for spraying a patron with water when she came behind the bar ('Do we sell WATER in this bar? Hell no, H20!' Coyote Ugs, anyone?). I would estimate that 30% of the hour long show featured gratuitous footage of bikinis, big tattooed biceps, rolls of 100 dolla bills, and screaming while holding drink cups high in the air.

All in all, the show was mildly entertaining, and something I may watch if my DVR were broken and I stumbled across a marathon when I was home sick one day from work (chance of this happening: 2%). It was pretty frustrating to watch customers spend more on one afternoon of alcohol than I spend on mortgage payments in a year. I also hated this rookie cocktail waitress (Kelly, maybe?) who was bitching about only receiving an 11% tip on a $1700 tab. She waited on this cabana for like 2 hours, and she was a horrible waitress, yet she still made $187 -- in addition to all of the other customers she served that day. Good work if you can get it.
Watch and decide for yourself; Rehab airs on truTV Tuesdays at 10pm.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Listmania!

It is December 2nd, and I officially have lists EVERYWHERE. I have always been a huge lover of lists. I make lists for the store, lists of daily tasks, lists of items to pack for a trip, lists of songs I hear at work and want to download later, lists of Bare Escentuals eye shadow colors I hope to own... I even make lists of what I need to make lists of! Today I made a list of holiday lists I need to make. It looked something like this:

- Christmas card list
- Christmas gifts to be shipped list
- Christmas gifts to be hand-delivered list
- Holiday budget list
- Gifts for co-workers list
- Baking supplies list
- Recipients of homemade cookie trays list
- Holiday tasks planned for days off between now and December 23rd list

In light of all of these exciting holiday tasks to accomplish, how could I neglect my favorite list of all? The list I could *never* live without - my DVR's To-Do List.

Every Sunday, I sit down and scroll through my DirecTV guide for the upcoming 7 days. Never technology-wise, I do not trust myself with my DVR presets, and live in constant fear that a Tim Gunn's Guide to Style Marathon could potentially overlap the season finale of ER, or some other comparable fiasco. Instead, I use myself as the quality assurance DVR scheduler, checking all days and times on my top favorite channels (FOX, NBC, CW, Bravo, VH1...), ensuring no overlap, checking that shows that always run over their allotted time (I can never believe that "The Hills" editors are unable to get that shit down to 28 minutes!) are scheduled into the next hour block, and so on.


In the spirit of the season, networks and cable channels alike are running Christmas specials all over the place this week. In scrolling through, I chose to record some and skip others. Here is what my DVR is set to record this week, along with some substitutions you may want to make for yourself and your viewing preferences. I kept it to prime time only, for the sake of time (and blogger web space). Unfortunately, my post is a bit late for you to catch Monday's programming, but if you missed Gossip Girl, it replays on Friday nights usually. You also missed 'Inside the Actor's Studio: Daniel Radcliffe', but I'm sure that will be shown again when the new HP movie starts getting promoted heavily.


Tuesday 12/2:

8pm: 'Biggest Loser: Families', NBC. I am 3 weeks behind on watching this show, and disappointed in this season's vindictive and mean-spirited contestants (I wish Heba and Vicki would just eat each other!). This week is MAKEOVER WEEK, and the contestants' new looks will be revealed on the scum of daytime talk shows, Tyra. I'm sure Tyra will find some way to make this episode about her.

8pm: '90210', CW. It's a repeat, but a good one! Watch as Naomi takes the fall for Adriana's lipstick full of coke.

8pm: 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town', ABC. I skipped this on my DVR. Is this the one with the HeatMiser?

10pm: 'The Real Housewives of Orange County', Bravo. Back to the OC wives, who do it right! Looking forward to some great drama this season. Tonight, Vicki's husband threatens to leave her when she wants to buy a yacht. Maybe he is looking for a huge alimony...?

10pm: 'Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel', truTV. I have not yet tuned in to this series, but I am going to watch the new ep tonight and might invest some weekend time in a marathon. It looks a lot like intervention meets Dr. Drew. Will report back. (Due to programming constraints, my DVR is set to record the 11pm run of this new ep).

10pm: 'Ace of Cakes', FoodNetwork. If you haven't watched this show in EIGHT MONTHS, it's new to you! When will Duff and the gang start filming again?!

10:30pm: 'Sports Soup', VS. 'The Soup' (E!) meets this week's sports highlights. Best of both worlds. I *love* this show.


Wednesday, 12/3:

7pm: 'Center Stage: Turn it Up', Oxygen. Natch, this is saved on my DVR already, but if you missed it, get it now! Peter Gallagher is back and Cooper Nielson still can't act.

8pm: 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer', CBS. I watch this classic every year. Love that Abominable Snowman!

8pm: 'Christmas From Rockefeller Center', NBC. The 76th annual lighting of the biggest tree in the nation! Performances include (but are not limited to) Miley, Beyonce, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, and Rascal Flatts. Stephen Colbert also makes an appearance! (but so does Rosie O'Donnell...)

9pm: 'Grammy Nominations Concert: Countdown to Music's Biggest Night', CBS. A concert featuring the nominees, with co-hosts Taylor Swift and... ready? Ready? LL COOL J. 2 great tastes that taste great together?

9:30pm: 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay', FoodNetwork. Bobby takes on gingerbread in this holiday-themed ep!

10pm: 'A Christmas Story', TNT. It's just not the same if you watch it on DVD. Something about the commercial breaks, maybe? Reminisce with the RedRyder, the flagpole, the snowsuits, the joy of it all!

10pm: 'Top Chef', Bravo. My favorite show on TV right now. Shout out to Denison alum Chris Homlish, Field Producer! You go, Hom!


Thursday, 12/4:

8pm: 'Ugly Betty', ABC. More laughs ensue as Betty and Amanda get into some (un?)predictable hi-jinks.

8pm: 'The Polar Express', Disney Channel. I have not yet seen this, but I think it will be a good holiday view.

8pm: 'Disney Holiday Magic with Samantha Brown', TravelChannel. Samantha shows us Mickey's Magical Christmas Parade and other fun things to do at Disney.

9pm: 'Grey's Anatomy', ABC. Cristina gets the solo surgery, and Callie is *still* a lesbian. Look for more surprising twists!

9pm: 'The Office', NBC. The Scranton branch discovers a huge cash surplus and debates the best way to spend it. I laughed just reading the ep descrip!

9pm: 'The Princess Bride', Bravo. I'm not recording, but you should, if you haven't seen this gem in a while.

10pm: 'ER', NBC. Another show I am 3 weeks behind on. I have no idea what will be happening this week, and I probably won't know until about February.

10pm: 'Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008', ABC. Cyrus! Phelps! Palin! And I hear Tina Fey talks about how she got that scar on her mouth. Number one will be announced on the show.

11:30pm: 'Larry the Cable Guy's Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza', CMT. Deane assures me this special will be worth the 90 minutes allotted on our DVR memory. I'll report back.


Ok, there it is, folks. I'm stopping before Friday, even. This took forever! I am sure I left out quite a bit (I didn't even *touch* premium movie channels), but please feel free to share when your favorite holiday special is airing this season. Enjoy your viewing!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Cheer.

In preparation of the official start of holiday tunes at work on Friday, I updated my OTG on Thanksgiving with my favorite Christmas songs. It was so difficult to narrow down to ten, particularly with the 14 tracks of pure joy on *NSync's "Home for Christmas", but I did my best. I must also interject that it has been near impossible for me to stop listening to Taylor Swift's "Fearless" since its purchase almost 3 weeks ago (insane greatness), and I am looking forward to a delivery of Sasha Fierce and Aguilera's latest, so I'm not sure how much play the jingle bells will receive between now and December 25th. I was also very disheartened by my inability to locate "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in my iTunes library. Anyway, if you don't already have my Holiday OTG downloaded, you should look into doing so. It can get you through any horrible traffic situation, long line in the grocery store, or annoying pedestrians, all of which could potentially ruin your day this time of year.

Black Friday Fallout.

Typical of this time of year, I have pretty much fallen off the map the last couple of weeks. Since the beginning of my retail career (at age 18), November and December have been a mix of the most fun/crazy and stressful/crazy months of my year. This year was different from those of recent memory (my first year in many as NOT being the *one* person in charge), but it was still a little nutty.

I was floored when I got my schedule for Anthro and was actually OFF not one, but BOTH days before Thanksgiving. This quickly changed, however, when my boss realized things were starting to spiral and I volunteered my services on Tuesday (I figured I would need the comp day much more down the road, especially with no paid vacation in sight). I still had Wednesday off, though, which was downright awesome. The last few years, the day before Thanksgiving has actually been my worst. It's not so much the 'calm before the storm'... more like the 'insane tornado before the storm'. There is always a huge, ridiculous, unnecessarily horrible ad to set, massive amounts of stock that HAVE to be delivered that day and HAVE to get to the sales floor for customers to gobble up on Friday, and the normal stocking of boxes/bags/bows/etc. Plus, there are a million customers in the store trying to find out what will be on sale for Friday and if they can go ahead and put it on hold. Beall's plans were no different this year, adding a one day sale discount on Wednesday (in conjunction with a 7am opening that day) and a brutal 4am opening on Friday. The store manager mandated shifts were no less than 3am - 5pm Friday and 5am - 5pm Saturday, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

LUCKILY, I am not there anymore! As I mentioned, I was off on Wednesday, allowing time for house cleaning, holiday baking, and general relaxation. I ended up working the early shifts on both Friday (5am - 2pm) and Saturday (6am - 3pm). I love the morning hours for many reasons, not least of which part of my time at work is spent with the store closed to customers. I also love the number one parking spot and lack of traffic. Both days, I got out *on time* and felt no where near the exhaustion I am used to feeling at the end of Thanksgiving week. Friday was without a doubt the easiest, least stressful, smoothest Day After Thanks I have ever worked. I'm feeling pretty good about the career move at this point.

Since I scored the early dismissal on Friday, I popped over to JoAnn's to take advantage of some yarn sales. The new job has forced me to concentrate the majority of my knitting time on researching cute work-appropriate attire items for myself, and I have not invested the effort into Christmas gifts that I should have up to this point. So, I hit the yarn aisles with basket and coupons in hand, in search of some super bulky at insanely low prices.

A lot of the colors had been picked over, and I had to fight my way past the cut counter (over 100 people waiting for fabric to be cut!), but I was generally pleased with my stash additions. I spent a grand total of $23, and left with a good 12 skeins of yarn. There was a beautiful colorway in a bulky yarn that is normally $6.99, but was on sale for $1.00! I gathered the rest of my bargains and headed to the checkout line, readying my excuse for why I couldn't be there before noon, and would they please honor my '20% off total purchase' coupon that expired at that hour. Thankfully, I had the greatest cashier ever (shoutout aisle 7!), and all I had to say was, "Actually, I have a question..." before she responded with, "Of course you can use your coupon".

The entire ordeal took about an hour and a half, and by the time I got through the line, I was ready to head home. Deane's entire family was here for the holiday, and one of his brothers was staying at the Ritz Carlton, so we headed there for a hangout/drink session. I should have recognized that my body was weakening at this point (the unrealized stress of new job, I think), but I didn't, and when I woke for my Saturday a.m. shift, my body was wrecked with a slight hangover and a massive head cold. As the day wore on, my immune system continued to shut down, and I left work yesterday afternoon achy, sniffly, congested, and bitchy. I have been off today, so I am trying to relax (the Colts/Browns offensive struggle of the century actually made me doze off several times), hoping the cold front passes quickly and my sinuses return to normal.

I'm not sure if you're supposed to feed a cold, starve a fever, or the other way around... but I am hoping that hours of knitting help me get well soon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Frogged.

You may notice my "On the Needles" column has been reduced to only TWO items... a record low for this knitter! Let me explain...

I attempted to cast on Chain Chomp a total of 3 times. The first time, the circulars were too long. The second time, the stitches got twisted (a rookie knitter mistake when working with circulars). The third time worked, even though it took me over an hour to get the first row pattern knit correctly.

In between attempts one and two, I had to make a decision. I had the right size circulars, but they were holding my (Valentine's Day themed) "Ballet School Dropout" legwarmers. I could have taken the stitches off the needle and held them either on a stitch holder or scrap yarn, but I was so aggravated at my wasted time at cast on attempt #1, I wanted those needles, and I wanted them NOW. It is NOVEMBER, I started those legwarmers in FEBRUARY, and every time I think about working on them, I get light-headed and experience stomach pains.

These thoughts led to the unthinkable. This is the first time I have ever legitimately frogged a WIP. Sure, I've quit after a few rows. I've realized I'm using the wrong size needles, or I started with too many stitches, or I'm not knitting with the right tension to produce the desired gauge. But I have never, *ever*, pored hours into a project just to yank it.

The determination to start this hate (and impending deadline of brother's aforementioned holiday parties) fueled my hatred of the legwarmers, and I yanked them off those needles so fast they actually stayed in tact. The aftermath of the frogging was akin to how I feel after eating an obscene amount of food -- "Why did I just DO that? I feel horrible!" So, my legwarmers are snuggled soundly in my knitting basket, their top row of stitches still in tact -- but they are, technically, OFF the needles. I doubt I will ever go back to them, but the guilt and shame I experienced after abandoning them paralyzed me from going any further.

RIP (or in my knitting basket), legwarmers. The world wasn't ready for you, and I wasn't ready to finish you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bye Bye, Bealls... Aloha, Anthro!

First of all, readers, while many of you have been quick to point out my lack of posts in the past week and a half (I answered my phone last night, only to hear my own mother bark, "Did your blog DIIIIIIE?!"), nary a one of you managed to comment on my last post, which included pictures of an FO! This could mean one of two things: either you really did think my capelet was frighteningly tiny and couldn't muster a single nice comment to post, or you just weren't moved enough by my post to be seized with the need to read/comment at *all*. When you're not compelled to comment, I'm not compelled to compose! Let this be a lesson to you all for the future.

Laziness of my subscribers aside, I have been a busy blogging bee these past few weeks. Last Saturday, I bid adieu to my job of 3 1/2 years and set out on a new career path. I want to thank everyone at #732 (shoutout!) for being fabulous, pitching in on an unnecessary but MUCH appreciated gift card, floods of letters and cards, delicious baked goods, and lots of tearful farewells. The highlight of the day had to be the rousing chorus of "For She's a Jolly Good Fella (Remix)" (think "fella-ella-ella-hey-ey-ey..."). Combined with the message/Colts color theme on my cake (pictured below), I could tell my staff had really gotten to know me, and I appreciate all of your thoughtfulness.

After the celebration and packing (I considered opening a Colts memorabilia shop with the contents of my old office), I relaxed for the weekend and rested up to start the new job on Monday. It had been a while since I started at a new place, so Sunday night I took time to plan my outfit and lay my clothes out, similar to the night-before-a-new-school-year ritual. The Anthro aesthetic is one that, thus far, has been pretty difficult to nail. Everyone I work with seems to manage just the right amount of layers, just the right coordinating-but-not-matching color combinations, just the right shoes with just the right fit jeans. I have to admit I am a bit clumsy in this arena. I love absolutely *every* piece that we offer at Anthro, but I'm a little uneducated on how to wear it. I have sought approval from DLO members with pre-work day pictures every day this week, and they have assured me that I have not made any outfit missteps. So far, I haven't been sent home for dress code, no one has asked me if I got dressed in the dark, and I think I have managed to fit in among the well-dressed staff.

The ability to wear denim daily (yessss!) is not the only thing I missed about speciality retail. Although I've spent the majority of the week sick with nausea about being the new kid and knowing next to nothing, there have been some highlights:

-- THE HOURS. A nice, quiet, 10am - 9pm Monday - Saturday, 12pm - 6pm Sunday schedule means I have managed a lot more sleep so far this week. In addition, instead of bracing myself for a marathon of holiday hour insanity (not the least of which included a 3am - 5pm shift on Black Friday), I managed to score Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday off next week -- THANKSGIVING week! I cannot remember a time in my adult working (retail) life that I had the day before Thanksgiving off, let alone the *two* days before Thanksgiving.

-- My neighbors. Ahh, sweet shopping sanctuary. I am surrounded by Urban Outfitters, Coach, Juicy, Betsey, Kate, and Louis (to name a few). I have managed to stay away from the nearby residents' tantalizing goodies this week, instead choosing to exercise my...

-- Employee discount. Gone are the days of a measly 20% off my total. It is Employee Appreciation Time, and I am going to milk this event for alllllll its worth. I have purchased 3 wonderful items so far, and plan to spend part of the rest of my day off today purging my closet of all things non-Anthro. Adios, pinstripe suiting...! (Ok, I don't *really* own any pinstripe suiting).

-- Lunch options. Farewell, driving across the street to choose from Chili's, ChickFilA, Moe's, or the Target Eatery (not that I didn't exercise these options, and love them, regularly). Hello, Crisper's, Arby's, Qdoba, Panera, PF Chang's, and Renna's Pizza. And we can't forget my favorite afternoon pick-me-ups, Auntie Anne's and Yogaberry. Yummmmmm.


-- Morning breakfast runs. This is a double-edged sword. As a prior store manager, I want my staff to come to work READY to work, and that means your breakfast has at least been purchased, and is preferably in the process of being digested. This gang manages to make a morning coffee run part of the opening routine. At first, I was a little annoyed -- I already ATE breakfast, I prefer a fountain DC, and we have work to do! But, to each his own, and I can certainly get used to a morning breakfast sesh (as long as I know I can count on it).

All in all, I am thrilled to back in speciality retail. The customers are nice, the staff is close-knit, and the tasks are manageable. (The stockroom, however, needs a MAJOR overhaul...) Despite my paralyzing social phobia, the employees has been very welcoming. I'm pretty sure they're all talking smack in private, but I feel like they like me, so I'll focus on that. Not to mention, I am in *love* with the product. I am looking forward to seeing where Anthro takes me!

Monday, November 10, 2008

DIY.

It's finished! This capelet (version 2.0) is possibly one of the quickest things I have ever knit (in part because I sort of screwed up the measurements, and it is a little bit on the small side...). I love the color and the yarn is super soft. Plus, I only ended up having to use one skein, which means this teensy garment only cost me one measly dollar to make! Take that, inflated retail store prices! After I had separated the sleeves from the body, I thought it looked a little on the short side, so I actually added extra rows to the length. I am kidding myself thinking I can actually sport this is public, so it might end up in a box FedEx'ed to Cinci for my lovely skinny beautiful friends :) But, as I have proven before on this blog, I have no shame and will show you a picture of the capelet desperately trying to reach around my back and clinging to my body for dear life. Paired with the proper outfit, it might just work, but we all know I am an impulsive photo snapper ("Deane! Get the camera! I'm binding off my last ten stitches!") and this particular shot is right after the Colts blew past the Patriots, so I had quickly stripped my Anthony Gonzalez jersey and was wearing my Colts blue Gapper tank loud and proud (if you look closely, you can even see my rhinestone horseshoe necklace). You can pick up the (free!) pattern for this charming little piece here. On the first attempt, I had attached a button at the top to close it up. That's quite obviously not needed for little grey, but if you needed to (or knit in the proper dimensions, or took time to check your gauge, EVER, like smart knitters are *supposed* to do) you can even get a cool pin and clasp it together at the top. I'm quite certain I'll be trying to knit this beauty up at least one more time before winter is over.

In the spirit of homemade crafts, I thought it would be fun to post some pictures from Halloween. We had a "costume contest" at work, and, per usual, I didn't really think about my costume until Thursday (October 30th). I had to close that night at work, and I had to open the next day, so unless I felt like braving insane crowds of cranky procrastinators at a 24 hour supercenter between my off time of 10pm and my on-again time on 7am, I had to think fast. I picked up a yellow tunic tube top on clearance at work ($2.70, WITH tax) and stopped in Walgreens on my lunch break to purchase (the last) pair of wings, a pack of pipe cleaners, and a roll of black electrical tape. When I got home that night, I quickly fashioned a homemade costume worthy of kindergarten opponents (props to the boyfriend for making the stripes, assisting in legging choice, and being the creative inspiration behind the pipe cleaner "boppers", as I kept calling them). Here's a tiny pic of the finished product:
Lots of my employees participated, which I secretly loved, and we all voted on our favorites. The winner was Jessica, who dressed up as Austin Powers. I loved hers the most because she only spent a few dollars on an "Austin Accessory Pack" (she had a seasonal job at Party City) and found the velvet suit and frilly shirt on her own. She is super crafty, and I did not know *who* it was when she walked in to work on Friday. Groovy, Jess!
Friday night, we had zero Trick-or-Treaters, but we still carved some pumpkins and put them out on the porch. Mine is the cat; Deane's is the pirate:
A curious kitten swatted at the candle inside, making for an eerie photo:

And THAT is some picture-perfect DIY! Casting on the Chain Chomp hat tonight, and hope to finish him quickly, as Joey claims he has "lots of holiday parties to attend". In work-related news, direct relatives of mine will be happy to learn that they are now entitled to an Urban/Anthro discount. You can thank me via awesome Christmas gifts. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Steelers Sabotage.

Today, I walked into my office at 12pm, the start of my weekly closing shift. I was greeted with this: an onslaught of black and gold, and a strong smell of latex. Tabitha and Lauren had snuck into my office the night before to re-decorate in honor of the Steelers-Colts matchup this Sunday. (I say sneak, but it wasn't so much of a break-in, more of a 'get everyone in on this prank, haha on MA*', as my management staff are the ones who let them in). Here are some pictures of the fine craftsmanship of Tab and Lauren:










You may be able to see that the Steelers banner is covering up my coveted Peyton DirecTV banner (still smells like bar smoke!) and the homemade "Black and Gold is How We Roll" poster covers up my Manning officially licensed NFL poster. Upon finding this debauchery, I immediately phoned Tabitha and gave her a good stern talking-to. About an hour after the fact, when I reached for a pen, I realized all the writing utensils in my desktop cup had been replaced with Steelers pens! An excellent touch.

This fine showmanship of creativity (and commitment of time!) could not go without notice, nor will this prank go unanswered. I am opening up the comment log on this post to ideas for Tabitha payback. Give me your best pranks, people! (Dean, who is here while I type, just suggested 'cream cheese deodorant stick' and 'vinegar in ketchup bottle', both fine submissions).

Luckily, I have been a good sport about this prank, in part because as of RIGHT NOW, I have only 6.5 more shifts left at Beall's! I will be starting my new job on November 17th! I cannot wait to start as the apparel manager in a creative, fun environment, surrounded my clothes I LOVE. I am sure I will post on this topic at length in the future.

In the meantime, get those prank ideas rolling... and go horse!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tastes like democracy.

This morning, I calorie-splurged on my favorite breakfast treat - Chick-Fil-A ChiknMinis (3 pack). When I was paying for my lovely morning treat, I noticed a sign: "Show us your 'I Voted' sticker and receieve a free milkshake!". I was super excited (who doesn't love free grub?), and when I got to work, one of my employees said that HER Chick-Fil-A was giving away sandwiches for voting stickers! So, if you haven't already, GO VOTE, then work the chicken circuit today and fuel up to watch late-night election coverage. Even if you voted early, I bet CFA will give you some free food (they always honor my expired coupons).

And if all this political junk makes you sleepy, hit up your local Starbucks -- they are giving away a free tall coffee to anyone who says they voted!

Anyone else got the scoop on election day freebies...?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A little something for myself...

Since I began knitting, I have spent a lot of time knitting gifts for others. I love giving a homemade gift to someone, and I love knitting (yarn is cheaper than therapy), so it works out! I am surprised, however, at the lack of things I have made for myself. I thought my love/learning of knitting would lead to many a cable knit cardi added to my wardrobe, but the truth is, I've been pretty terrified to move beyond basic rectangle shapes.

My first foray into apparel knitting produced what I am now calling version one of an Anthropologie-inspired capelet. I loved this little number, but I ended up not loving the yarn (massive stretch factor while wearing, lint problems, and I was underwhelmed by the color). Last weekend, I scored 2 skeins of a beeeeautiful pearly grey (inspiration for new blog layout colors!) on clearance for *a dollar* a piece. I am working on v. 2.0 of this piece now, and I think she will be a beauty.

I am also v. interested in making a "keyhole" scarf, where there is basically a huge buttonhole built in to your scarf, so you don't have to go about folding it in half and pulling the two ends through. I first saw something like this at (where else?) Anthropologie, but it was priced at an exorbitant $68. I easily found a pattern in a book at a craft store, and came home and found a similar (free!) pattern online. Here's a picture of what I'm thinking about:

I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it up in the gorgeous purple Malabrigo Michael got me for Christmas last year. Not sure if I ever posted a pic of my "One Hank Wonder" scarf I made with one of the colorways he got me (think it was before my before this blog was born), but it's shown here on the left. This yarn is absolutely scrumptious, and this is by far my favorite scarf (not only because it took me about 2 nights to knit!) to bundle up with during our 3 weeks of cold weather each year.

As I am shopping, I always see wonderful pieces that I just love, but refuse to invest because of the aforementioned short winter. Also, I am always thinking, "I can MAKE that!", and I refuse to shell out the dolla dollas. Luckily, a lot of smart and wonderful ladies on ravelry feel the same way, and they put together some awesome patterns. This one is a circular shrug, knit in one big piece, and inspired by an awesome sweater sold in 2005 at Urban Outfitters. This pattern is from the same knitter who provided the Anthro capelet pattern. I don't know if this lady is a professional knitwear designer or what, but can I just say that I. Love. Her. We have the same taste in little fun sweaters, and she has the brilliance to figure out the patterns! Here is her picture of her finished shrug:



This one will be one of the most challenging things I have knit to date, but I think I can figure it out. After all, I am going to need some new fashionable novelty pieces coming up shortly (look for a future blog post about great career news...!).

Off to work on my capelet as the Colts bludgeon the Patriots. Did everyone see the Bengals win today?! You may recall that when I posted pics of Lindsey's WhoDey scarf on 10/26, I wrote, "I have never been one to believe in superstitious sports rituals, but maybe the completion of this scarf will pull the Bengals out of their 0-8 slump." Who knew?

Monday, October 27, 2008

No, I will *not* knit you a Steelers scarf.

I do love Florida, but I tire quickly of the sweltering summers and long for the bitter chill of a 50 degree low. Luckily, tonight there is an inland frost advisory. That meant that today, I got to sport my Colts rugby stripe scarf (pictured, left) in honor of their Monday night football game vs. the undefeated Titans.

I am always thrilled when I am wearing something I knit and people comment, "Where did you get that? I love it!" I resist the urge to ask, "Why? How much would you pay for it?" and instead shyly admit that it is a creation of my own. This response is usually followed up by an uncomfortable line of, "Ooooh, can you make me/my grandson/my random neighbor/my kid's lunchlady something?" Today, my Colts scarf provoked *three* reactions, all the same: "Can you do one in black and gold?" The first time I heard it, I thought the person meant sparkly glittery gold, which I asked, just to clarify. To my dismay, they replied, "No no, like, Pittsburgh Steelers gold". (Or, as I call it, BHS Golden Bears gold). When I told them (as nicely as possible) there was no way, ever, and that it was absurd that they would even ASK such a wretched thing, they acted like *I* was the one who was nuts. One person even said, "Wow, you really ARE a big Colts fan". Really?? Was it the homemade scarf, the football/horseshoe earrings, and blue and white coordinated (but still professional and within dress code confines) outfit, or the "Manning to Wayne in the end zooooooone!" ringtone that tipped you off? Maybe you walked into my office and saw the MASSIVE Peyton Manning posters? I never knew that refusing to knit a scarf in a rival team's colors would be the quality that defined my "true fan" status.

This is not the first request I have had for a Steelers scarf (blogger shoutout to reader Tabitha, who asked for a "WEdey" version of Lindsey's orange and black striper), but I was appalled to have 3 in one day. (For the record, Tab, you are the only one I would ever maybe even consider knitting this for, and that would be strictly offseason ONLY).

If you do not know me well enough that my fingers would bleeeeeed knitting a Steelers scarf, then you do *not* know me well enough to be the receipient of an MA* Knit Creation.

Go horse! (7-6 at the half!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

WhoDEY!

A quick Sunday evening post to declare another project off the needles! As of 5 minutes ago, Lindsey's WhoDey lunchtime scarf is complete!

I hate to post pics before this little lover reaches her Cinci destination, but I was excited to have her finished. This scarf is of my own design, knit in a basic 1x1 rib with 16x16 stitch blocks. You can use any yarn (obv), but I used "Peaches & Creme" worsted weight, 70 oz. of each color ("11-Sunburst" and "2-Black"). I worked the scarf until it reached 7' in length (!), and then added black fringe to the ends, so it is about 8 feet long overall! It is skinny and super stretchy, so Linds will be able to bundle up for the chillier Bengals games this winter.

I dubbed this pattern the "Lunchtime Scarf" because I would knit 1-2 blocks on my lunch hour at work. It helped me relax and prep for the second half of my usually horrific days, but it didn't go without garnering some weird looks from other patrons of my favorite lunch establishments (mostly, I work the Chili's, Moe's, ChickFilA circuit). Toward the end, I stopped knitting it at lunch because it was so long (and I was reading the new Nicholas Sparks book, look for a review in a later post!).



Of course, a post celebrating a finished project would not be complete without a picture of me in my pajamas with no makeup on and a pony that has seen better days. This blogger has no shame -- enjoy :)

I have never been one to believe in superstitious sports rituals, but maybe the completion of this scarf will pull the Bengals out of their 0-8 slump. If they win next week, I will believe in the jinx of the project-in-progress and finish my Colts square right away!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The hot stories on the playground.

I may not be shouting it from the rooftops, but I've never tried to hide my massive crush on Zac Efron. The rumor is that he may be cast as the newest addition to the motley cast of Pirates 4. As if the HQ* of this movie trilogy could *get* any higher! Zac denies it, of course, just like he denied his romance with Vanessa Hudgens until they'd been dating for oh, I don't know, 18 months or so? I have had to lay down some pretty serious hints to my 12 year old neighbor to try and get her to ask me to go to HSM3 with her (some movies I can attend on my own, this one I'm not so sure). Pirates 4, however, I would gladly line up to see solo. Perhaps Zac would even have a musical number?

In other tween-interest stories, Jenny Humphrey was released from the hospital today after battling some sort of "potentially life-threatening throat infection". This blogger thinks it was either the rampant bulimia or aggressive crack habit that caused this serious infection. Any other guesses out there?

*HQ = hottie quotient. Tiger Beat editors, please accept this blog post as a submission for a freelance job with your publication.

**Blogger's Note: I attempted to open this Zac Efron pic in "Paint" and add a pirate bandana and token gold hoop earring. My skills in this format have sadly declined horribly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Future Model.

The Linus-inspired blankie for Anakin was finished several blog posts ago, and Lord knows I donated *plenty* of blog real estate to the trials and tribulations of this stepping stone in my knitting career.

Once I saw this pic of Ani celebrating his new cuddly friend, I could not resist posting it. My Aunt Brenda also knit him a lovely blankie, featured in the other picture here. I know none of my blog readers knew my brother Michael when he was a baby (even I did not know him then!), but his son looks exactly like him. Look at the adorable smile!




I think I will test my baby hoodie pattern on Ani for Christmas. This kid can make anything look good.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Today's blog brought to you by the color pink.

You did it, Mom! Here is a pic of my amazing Mom and equally wonderful Aunt Kimberley at the finish line of this past Saturday's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk in Fort Myers, FL. Even though the 5K course consisted mostly of one huge (scary) bridge, Donna laced up her tennies, registered proudly as a "Survivor", and kicked some serious bridge butt! I'm so proud of her and can't wait for all the girls to RUN the 5K next year. (Even Lilly has her pink collar and harness ready!)

Since I was unable to walk with Donna this weekend, I set forth on my own road race with my 80 lb. beast of a dog and the aforementioned harness hookup. I have been "running" noncommittally all summer, but the heat has been so hateful I have been less than consistent. (The fact that I am lazy, have a 2 hour daily commute, and general unease about any type of physical activity hasn't helped, either). Determined to conquer 13.1 with Donna in February, and fearful of Hal's tip that, before embarking on a 12 week training program to a half-marathon, one should "need to possess a basic fitness level" and "the training schedule assumes you have the ability to run 3 miles, three to four times a week", I thought I should see how I was doing. 3 miles, 35 minutes, a one VERY overheated dog later, I was happy to say I had "run" for 23 minutes of the 3 miles, a feat I was pretty ok with. Sunday morning, my legs were pretty darn sore, but I am working through it and took lots of stretching breaks during football/knitting time.

Also this weekend, I received my new pink BlackBerry Pearl! I thought I was pretty tech savvy, but I must admit that I know next to nothing about how to use this phone (is it really necessary to send me a text when I have a missed call?!) or how to use it (thanks to Michael's help, I did manage to download some free ringtones), but I am pretty impressed with having the internet at my fingertips. I am already a CrackBerry addict, and this phone is all but glued to my hand like a Barbie accessory. I am getting used to the typing, and am proud (?) to say I wrote 80% of this blog with my new pink lover. I think it will really help me in half marathon training (if I manage to make it that far). I will have inspiration, training schedules, and potential running courses at my disposal no matter where I am!


More later this week as I learn the proper way to align my knuckles for maximum typing efficiency...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vote or... Knit?















Now, I do not want this blog to get political, but when I received my weekly Lion Brand weemail and saw the pattern for these guys, I couldn't resist posting them. Your eyes do not deceive you; these are in fact Senator McCain and Senator Obama FINGER PUPPETS. Whip these guys up and hold your own debate!

Lion Brand Yarns says, "These are serious times and we have a serious choice to make, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun! Who do yarn lovers choose for president? Tell us who your presidential pick is and we'll publish the results!"

Could your choice at the polls in November have an impact on the price of yarn in the future? Who knew?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin'...

It's cliche, but true... Christmas comes earlier every. year. This past week, that realization set in pretty hard as I received the biggest truck of stock to date since my store has been open for 11 months. I had been a bit nervous since we received our full assortment of boxed Christmas cards just in time for Labor Day weekend, but I had no idea what was about to hit.

Over the past few weeks of deliveries, we have been seeing the occasional shipment of wreaths, holiday-themed dishes, and ornaments. This week, Christmas officially arrived. There is at least 3500 square feet of space in my store devoted to what the company has deemed the "Florida Lifestyle Holiday Must-Haves". Think surfing Santas, flamingos with wreaths around their necks (see above), penguins in bathing suits, and the like. Then put all of these outrageously kitsch-y themes onto everything imaginable: t-shirts, dishes, towels, stocking, ornaments, figurines... the list goes on and on.

I have tried my best to get in to the spirit of the season early, at least for the sake of my staff, who all (with good reason) cannot for the life of them understand why anyone thinks we will sell this product 3 weeks before Halloween has even hit. As part of this effort, I even attempted an OTG Holiday list of my 10 favorites ("Kiss Me at Midnight" can get me pumped ANY time of the year), but 2 minutes into "Santa Can You Hear Me?", I still wasn't sold.

The one silver lining of the onslaught of Christmas product was Friday afternoon when I signed for a delivery of 545 pounds of holiday candy. Now, I loooooove my Moose Munch as much as the next girl, but I couldn't get excited about unpacking Lindt truffles and Ghiradelli peppermint bark before the candy corn had gone stale. It's just TOO early.

As this post goes to press, I'd like to extend a shout-out to all of my favorite athletes and their outstanding accomplishments today! The Colts have settled comfortably into a 31-0 lead over Baltimore, Peyton and Marvin have both gotten their groove back, and I have received 3 v. important text message alerts letting me know Em, Linds, and Casey have made it across the finish line in Chicago. So proud of the three of you and of the money you raised for Team Lungevity! Can't wait to read the post full of deets.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

CHOMP CHOMP.

One of the most fun things about knitting is hopping online and seeing all of the ridiculous patterns/projects others have embarked upon. Let's be honest about one thing: I am a complete nerd. The majority of those who knit are nerds. You would be surprised by the number of blogs I have come across featuring patterns in computer code, and lots of inside jokes I could never understand.

One shared passion between me and this community of nerds is our love of Nintendo. Never one to be lured by the advanced graphics and plotlines of xbox and playstation games, I have remain tried and true to Mario and Yoshi. Ever since I realized any pixelated image from these old-school games would translate nicely into a knitting project, it's been hard to narrow down which Nintendo project I would start on first.

Enter Chain Chomp (pictured above). Featured throughout the Mario Bros. series of games, Chomp is a worthy adversary of Mario, Luigi, & co. When I saw this hat pattern, I knew my brother Joey HAD to have it.


So, Yoshi tote bag will have to wait as I search for the yarn needed to complete Chomp. To see more awesome Nintendo-inspired projects, check out the link to "The Mario Scarf Project".

Holcs, I might end up knitting this for you (for Christmas 2014):


I love etsy...!

Monday, October 6, 2008

TA-DA!!

You may recall a post back in June when I had recently gotten the fabulous news that I would soon be an aunt! I was toiling with the decision of what yarn to choose for what would become the most insane project I have knit to date.

I can't pinpoint the day I cast on this project, but it was somewhere between June 20th and June 23rd. Anakin came on August 4th, 2008, and I was nowhere near done with his Linus-replica blankie (inspired by his middle name).

Today, 3 1/2 months later, I can proudly say that this project is OFF. THE. NEEDLES. The finished dimensions are 26" wide by 38" long, and knit with a v. light baby-weight super soft yarn, this beast contains an approximate 46,208 stitches (which actually seems like a lot fewer than it felt like).


Here you can see me holding up the finished work, a close up of the stitch pattern as it is bundled up and ready for delivery, and the dimensions after blocking (the silver thing is a ruler!)






I must admit, I had a bit of a separation anxiety attack when I was binding off the last 20 or so stitches. Anakin Leonard Linus, I know you will treasure this blankie as much as your daddy cherishes caveman Zeke and all his stuffed kids. I hope it is big enough to grow with you over the years!

What will Aunt Sis knit next...?!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Awareness.

Pictured here is one of the many, many breast cancer awareness pieces I knit when my mom was diagnosed a year and a half ago. Throughout her surgery and various treatment stages, I was surprised to find how many people I knew who had been personally affected by the disease, whether it was themselves or a loved one. Research and treatment methods have come a long way, and these days, a diagnosis merely states the type of treatment options you will pursue, rather than a consideration of throwing in the towel.

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I'm pretty sure the majority of the population is aware that this disease exists. What you may not know is that an estimated 182,460 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2008 alone.

While the focus on a cure is encouraging and noble, there is a new organization focusing on what causes the disease. Lindsey sent me a link to a group that made its debut this week on The Today Show:

"The Love/Avon Army of Women offers a revolutionary new opportunity for YOU to partner with research scientists to move us beyond a cure.

Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts. This is your chance to be part of the research that will end breast cancer.

Sign up for your sister, mother, daughter, granddaughter, best friend, and the woman you met last week.

Help us eradicate breast cancer once and for all. Join the Army of Women today!"

Check out this site, and while you're at it, stop by and read Susan G. Komen's site. Many "Race for the Cure" events are occurring this month in various locations throughout the country. This year is the 25th anniversary of Race for the Cure, the largest 5K run/walk in the world.

This month is also a great time to stock up on adorable pink items, brought to you by manufacturers such as Brita, Ralph Lauren, and KitchenAid, to name a few. A portion of the proceeds from certain items they sell will be donated to breast cancer awareness and research.

Mom, your strength, determination, and courage continue to inspire me every day. You did not let this disease slow you down one bit, and because of brave and wonderful women like you, we are miles closer to discovering treatment options and eventually eradicating this disease. I love you!






Sunday, September 28, 2008

Once a fan, always a fan...?

It's been several years since I hung up my "er fan club" tee and stopped watching what *was* one of the best shows on television. As original characters left (I don't think I'm the only one who skipped a day of high school after George Clooney's final episode?) and plot lines became more and more difficult to swallow (cue "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") and tolerate (Chen, I hated every word you ever uttered), I did the unthinkable and turned to Grey's in my hour of need. Despite missing the entire first season, I caught on pretty quickly and have happily given up my Thursday night DVR space (it becomes a tight race during spring sweeps) to Meredith and McDreamy. Over the years, I have tried to stop by County and catch up on what the staff is up to, but I missed a lot and couldn't work out most of the deets on my own. Abby's alcoholism, Pratt's position as CHIEF, and the fact that Morris hasn't killed over 100 people yet? None of these are things that I quite understood.

When I read that ER was embarking on its 15th and final season, I knew I had to recommit. Regardless of our breakup, the final season promises returns from old cast members (I will watched a million bloody surgeries for the chance to see Carter's face again) and explanations for lots of questions. Here's some discoveries that I made during this week's episode, which I finally viewed yesterday:

-- ER is way, way more bloody and gory than Grey's. In addition, there is about 5 minutes of plot advancement to every 45 minutes of impaled skulls, infected broken legs, or erupting neck tumors. Grey's has a much more 50/50 approach.
-- I have missed more than I thought. Pratt's storylines were always the most difficult for me to endure, so I was amiss to see that his BROTHER is now an ambulance driver/EMT and I would have to deal with 2 of them. Luckily (SPOILER ALERT), Pratt kicked it in episode one of this final season. Thank you, writers! You have me for another week!
-- There are lots of allusions to Abby and Kovac, but no actual Luka spotting as of yet. I thought they were getting married? I missed a *big* story here, so a fill-in would be much appreciated.
-- Neela is still the most. annoying. doctor. ever. I thought she left? I cannot look at her without thinking of Bend it Like Beckham.
-- Frank's still around, which I was happy about, but he was hitting the sauce harder than anyone else at Pratt's "remembrance" at Ike's. Potential future drinking problem?

And while we're talking about Uncle Jesse in scrubs , it reminds me that I haven't yet blogged about Aunt Becky's new show -- the new 90210. Or, as I've taken to calling it, "9021 -- OC". This show is more like the smash phenomenon that its original predecessor. In the pilot, there is a bonfire by the beach (just like the OC's pilot), where one kid yells "Welcome to Beverly Hills!", just like Luke spat "Welcome to the OC, bitch" when he first beat Ryan's ass to the ground. After the pilot, I found myself seriously readdressing my weight and wondering if I was a lot older than I feel (taking away "coffee money" is an actual punishment?). I was also a little disappointed at the INSANE number of references to the original show. I get it -- it's still West Beverly, the Peach Pit is still around (will always love Nat), but the adult plotlines need to diminish. I want more teenage sex and drug abuse, less reminiscing about Dylan (though am excited about a potential return) and Brandon. Did anyone catch that Andrea and Jesse's daughter Hannah was the news anchor of the school's news program? It's too much to comprehend! All in all, though, I am a slave to the CW, and I am loving this program. It might warrant its own blog, someday... when it runs 15 seasons like ER. Who's with me in re-watching the first 14 seasons before the May series finale? I'll bring the snacks!