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


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


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?