Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No pattern? No problem.

In general, I'm pretty broke. About 6 months ago, I gave up on plastic all together and started to live within my means, cold turkey. It was a pretty big adjustment. In the past, my "needs" were always justified, and I would grab up a new outfit when I "needed" it for work, or eat lunch out every day, because I "need" nourishment. Now, the money isn't always there, and when I am coveting a new pair of jeans, I can't throw down a creddy and call it done. I have to save for the purchase, or at least work it into the budget.

Now, you may think this rant is heading toward a discussion of my annual yarn budget, but it's not. Not having credit lines has forced me to make some difficult decisions, and when my printer ran out of ink in, I'd say, October? (I remember shaking those cartridges to death to print ONE resume), replacements were not in my financial plan. So, I have lived without a functioning printer for quite some time now.

I use the internet to find most of my inspiration for knitting projects. When I find patterns I love, I (usually) print them out and put them in my polar bear binder that an old co-worker started for me. Without INK, I can't do that. So, what do I do? I sit here, like an old scribe, and write the pattern down on resume paper, because I don't have normal copy paper, because I ran out and it's not in my budget. It's worked out pretty well to this point.

I started a "bowtie" scarf a few weeks ago, and I was using one of the patterns I had jotted down. I was knitting along happily, and about 1/3 of the way through, something seemed really wrong. The scarf was double the width than it was at the beginning, and my yarn (Malabrigio, received as gift 2 years ago, will never be able to get another hank that matched the colorway) was running out quickly. I read and re-read my pattern, but I didn't know where I'd gone wrong. I made some quick adjustments to finish the scarf without running out of yarn, and it actually turned out ok. It's a tiny bit short, and I've been working to stretch it as much as possible, but it *does* fit, and it *is* cute. Here's a few pics:

Fun, right? But the anxiety and sheer hatred I had for this piece by the time I was binding off was indescribable. Upon finding the original pattern, I realized I had left out two lines entirely, the ones in which I was supposed to decrease from the increases I had made in the previous row. Oops. All of this chaos led me to a knitting resolution:


The short Florida winter is nearly over (unless Phil sees his shadow on Monday -- or doesn't; I always forget), and there is simply no need. I have to challenge myself to move forward, past the world of rectangles and simple increases and decreases. By the end of 2009, I want to write a blog post where I can chronicle all my knitting achievements of the year, and I do *not* want them to all be scarves. I should move on to washcloths, at least.

I have still not decided on an American Idol season 8 project, but I am open to suggestions... as long as it is not a scarf!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poultry Propaganda?

Any reader of this blog knows I am an outrageously huge (literally, from eating so much) fan of Chick-Fil-A. I first discovered CFA in Castleton Square Mall, a shopping mecca (insert sarcasm) we would go to when visiting my grandparents/aunts/uncles in Indianapolis. I loved how they would hand out samples of their delicious, juicy, chicken nuggets, and I always, always, ALWAYS wanted to eat there. Sometimes I even picked CFA over the Lazarus Tea Room.

Because of its irresistibly delicious menu offerings, innumerable coupons and savings opportunities, and the fact that the annual "Cow Appreciation Day" is almost always observed on my birthday, I have been able to overlook a few of CFA's opportunities, first and foremost being the fact that they remain closed on Sundays. I appreciate S. Truett Cathy's commitment to observing the day of rest and worship, and although I have been the moron who sits for 3 minutes at the drive thru before realizing it is, in fact, Sunday, I've never been too bothered by this.

It was merely a few months ago that I noticed the second problem. CFA's customary closing remark of, "My pleasure!" was replaced by, "Have a blessed day!". This was not the case at *all* locations, so I was willing to let it slide.

Then I noticed something else that was slightly odd. Upon dining in at a CFA location during my lunch break, I noticed the chords of DC Talk over the Muzak. Upon further investigation, I discovered that CFA locations now play Christian "rock". Weird, right? But a few weeks ago, I heard a MercyMe song on American Idol (being played as background music, not sung as an audition piece). So maybe Christian music is really hip right now, and it doesn't bother me that much anyway. I mean, I hardly EVER eat inside at a CFA, so I could get over it. I shouldn't have been surprised, anyway -- they've been giving away Veggie Tales toys in their kids' meals for *years*.

But the other day, in a rare instance where I was "dining in", I went to use the (always clean and well-stocked, thank you crew!) restroom, and I saw *this* propped up on the sink:

FREE! Christian music! And if I take a copy, I'll be BLESSED, exclamation point with a heart at the bottom!

This really shouldn't bother me; I know. I mean, some nice, wonderful, caring Christian is just trying to spread the word. But I'm just trying to wash my hands. I can ignore the music and the "blessed" greetings, but this was staring me right in the face. If I *didn't* take the CD, was I destined to be damned to the fires of hell? Was it laced with subliminal messages to make me give money to the church? Or to make me buy more #5, 8 pack combos? I was terrified. Of course I did not take the "complimentary" album, and I left CFA so quickly I didn't even get my sweet tea free-fill.

People get their daily dose of faith or religion in many ways, but I prefer mine without a side of Polynesian sauce. Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trend Alert: Orla @ Target!

One of my very first employee discount purchases at my new job this fall was a gloriously quirky handbag by London-based designer Orla Kiely. It has been my only purchase of hers so far, but I have been coveting her goods online since I discovered her bold patterns, retro-inspired prints, and generally ADORABLE designs.

When I heard from a co-worker that Orla was coming to Target in February, my excitement simply could not be contained. I immediately came home and googled my new favoritey-fave designer. Sadly, I was under the assumption that Orla would be designing clothing for Target's featured designer apparel lines. It turns out she is launching home goods only at Target. My print shift dress for $48 (I mean, I think this can be done, Orla) will have to wait, and I will instead focus my saved-up Target gift cards on cute things for the kitchen. Orla's line will focus on dinner and serveware, table linens, storage boxes, and closet organization (something near and dear to my heart). Even though I am thoroughly distraught that Orla's clothing is still exponentially out of my financial reach, I will still hit Target on February 1st to see what she has to offer. I mean, how cute are those pears?!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dream Vacation!

This time of the year, a lot of people migrate down to Florida to find a warmer place to shed their wintertime blues (although, don't both coming to the 'Dina, as it is a balmy 41 here right now), but if I had my choice of vacation destinations for February '09, I would be headed to Bloomington, MN, the Mall of America, and the 2009 KNIT-OUT!

Not only is the Knit-Out held at the greatest shopping destination in the country (did you know it also has a wedding chapel?), but it has a kick-ass schedule of classes, speakers, and product sneak-peeks. Here are some of the things at this year's Knit-Out that I would be sure to not miss (if I could tear myself away from the Snoopy theme park, the new American Apparel, or the food court):

  • SCARF CONTEST: The "Neck's" Best Thing! Design and create an original knit or crochet scarf. Win great prizes. Contest is open to all ages.
  • CELEBRITY CORNER: Meet Debbie Macomber, NY Times best-selling women's fiction and "Knit-Lit" author (also a veteran guest on Knitty Gritty!), along with your favorite knit and crochet designers.
  • DEMOS…DEMOS…DEMOS! There are so many exciting demos to see that it's difficult to know where to begin. Cute project ideas and technique tips abound in these 45-minute sessions held in the Court areas of the Mall. To the delight of teachers, this year we will have portable mics to ensure that everyone can hear.
    To enable visitors to take advantage of as many demos as possible, many are repeated during the day or offered on both Saturday and Sunday. Plan your "demo crawl" now!

There are about a bajillion demos and classes I would love to attend -- socks! cables! variegated yarns! fair isle! intarsia! There's even a fashion show, a DOG fashion show, and a "fastest knitter" competition! You can click here for a full rundown of the weekend's activities.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Valentine's Day weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kleenex stock just went up 10 points.

Anyone else sob through the *entire* final fifteen minutes of tonight's 'Biggest Loser'? Even Allison was wiping tears!

Am seriously considering starting an "I Haaaaaaate Joelle" group on facebook.

On the bright side, how can I get Bob screaming "Shut the F*#& UP!!" incorporated onto my ipod shuffle for workout routines?

Monday, January 12, 2009

By Popular Demand!

A previous post garnered a lot of positive comments, many of which asked for a regular posting of what to watch week to week. I'm spending the first four days of this week off work (for working extra days during holiday), so I had a lot of time this weekend to free up some much-needed DVR space. It is, after all, the new year, and all of my favorite shows (some old, some new) are back in action.

It's already Monday, so I've missed a day, but the NFL playoffs and the premiere of 24 took over my normal Fox Sunday night lineup anyway, so you haven't missed much. Just Rock of Love Bus! Bret is back for season 3 of looking for love -- the boobs are 3 times as big, the drama 3 times as ridiculous, and his eyeliner 3 times as thick. So far, they have hit Louisville KY and Indianapolis. As Bret's "tour" continues around the country, the contestants will continue to be eliminated. My early favorite to win is Taya, the Penthouse Pet. I also remember reading a story about a fatal car accident occurring during the taping of this season, so it will be interesting to see the footage that's shown. Here's what else you should be looking for this week:

Tonight! (Monday, January 12):

Gossip Girl, 8 pm, CW: We learn "the fate of the Bass empire". If it turns out that Bart had ZERO dollars, I will officially believe that this show is written by some 4 year olds watching the entire series of the O.C. on DVD. Meanwhile, Rufus searches for the child Lily had and gave up, and I continue to get my Gossip Girl and 90210 plotlines muddled together.

One Tree Hill, 9pm, CW: Peyton's pregnant, and it's time for everyone to find out. She gets herself into some pretty sticky situations, so I'm sure we're in for 9 months of up and down storylines. I am already calling a season-ending cliffhanger where she is badly injured in some horrifying accident and we don't know if her and/or the baby will survive.

Bromance, 9pm, MTV: This show is horrible. But I can't stop. I think Brody Jenner is actually genuine in some way, and my love for him grows as his bronzer gets heavier. Tonight, LC shows up and asks the guys questions, "Dating Game" style. The crazy Femi continues to rep the 904 (Holla Jacksonville!) appropriately.

The City, 10pm, MTV: Again, horrible television. I love Whitney's roommate, Erin, but that's the only thing keeping me on board at this point. It's more horribly scripted than 'The Hills', if you can even imagine such a thing.

Tuesday, January 13:

American Idol, 8pm, Fox: If I need to give a description here, I have no idea how you are even reading this blog, as you have obviously lived under a rock or in a monastery for the past 7 years.

The Biggest Loser, 8pm, NBC: This show surprised us all last week by sending home nearly half of the contestants in the season opener. This week it continues to make history as the participants and the trainers face the dreaded week 2 weigh-in. I am tuning in *solely* to hear Bob use the F word.

Chopped, 10pm, FoodNetwork: I haven't seen, read, or heard anything about this program. All I know is the description says, "Reality. Cooking. Premiere." I am IN. Probably something along the lines of 'Next Food Network Star', without the tv show contract part (btw, did anyone notice that NFNS LOSER Adam Gertler now has his own show on FoodNetwork? Lame!)

Real Housewives of Orange County, 10pm, Bravo: My favorite season to date continues as Tamra tries to get Gretchen drunk enough to hook up with her 22 year old son (who we recently discovered has the word "nugget" tattooed inside his lower lip). Meanwhile, Vicki visits family in Michigan and we might meet her first husband!

Wednesday, January 14:

American Idol, 8pm, Fox: Auditions continue as I have now officially given up 4 hours of my life to one show this week.

90210, 9pm, CW: This show is actually on Tuesdays at 8pm, but my DVR scheduler is full at that time (T.G. 'Big Brother' isn't on right now, too!) Anyway, Adrianna's pregnant, Brenda can't have kids, and I think Brenda might end up adopting Adrianna's kid. Meanwhile, Annie and Ethan DO IT.

Real World Brooklyn, 10pm, MTV: Season 437 of this show continues, breaking barriers with its first transgendered cast member and a record (?) 8 roommates (maybe so they don't have to go about filling a vacancy when one of them turns out to be insane halfway through the season?)

Top Chef, 10pm, Bravo: Last week introduced us to British food critic Toby Young, the new judge who took Gail's place (because you apparently can't plan a wedding and have a bit part in a weekly television series at the same time). Toby is HILARIOUS (he compared Jeff's avocado sorbet to Tom Cruise's cameo in "Tropic Thunder"), and I look forward to more of his (pre-scripted or not) quips.

Thursday, January 15:

Ugly Betty, 8pm, ABC: Betty chooses between home and family, and career and YETI (I forget the acronym for this young publisher wanna be program). Justin is still the stand out favorite of this series.

Grey's Anatomy, 9pm, ABC: Did Denny actually leave this show last week? Please, God, yes. I can't take anymore of Izzie's insanity. This week, Derek's mom shows up and meets Meredith. Which should go really well, judging by the success of their relationship's major milestones thus far.

The Office, 9pm, NBC: No description needed. This shit is consistently hilarious.

Ace of Cakes, 10pm, FoodNetwork: Words cannot describe the joy in my heart when I saw the episode description said "2009". A new ep! FINALLY! Can't wait to see what Duff and the gang (particularly Geof, meooooow) have been up to.

ER, 10pm, NBC: In the least anticipated former cast member appearance of this show's final season, Alex Kingston stops by as Dr. Corday. Some other stuff happens, too, but I am really just waiting for Carter to show up.

Friday, January 16:

The Soup, 10pm, E!: Joel McHale (hilariously) recaps this week's best moments in TV and pop culture news. Be sure to watch any DVR'ed shows of the week *before* this one (last week, I found out about the 90210 pregnancy via 'The Soup' before watching the actual ep).

Best Week Ever, 11pm, VH1: Paul F. Tompkins (hilariously) recaps this week's best moments in TV and pop culture news. Sound familiar? Trust me, they are BOTH worth watching.

There you have it! That's my plan for prime time this week, and I hope to watch at least a few of these things via cardio theatre at the gym, rather than on my couch eating ice cream (Trainer Bob *totally* called me out on that last week). Enjoy your viewing!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to my roots.

This blog was originally born to discuss my new found passion of knitting, but naturally, it has taken some turns to include a lot of my other interests (namely, television, but also the occasional bout of healthy living). I thought it was about time that I shared a little bit of what has been going on in my world of patterns, needles, and delectable yarns.

First off, here are two pics of finished projects that went out as Christmas gifts. The first one is a scarf I knit for my brother's girlfriend's daughter (whew! She is technically Anakin's sister, so maybe that is a shorter description?). I loved the yarn (one scored at my Black Friday JoAnn's binge) and I used a drop stitch pattern that was actually really fun. Sadly, this will be the last picture for some time taken in Colts gear (I finish *so* many projects on Sundays!).

Next, we have a scarf with more stitch pattern than I have ever used before. I saw this criss-cross pattern on an old DVR'ed episode of Knitty Gritty (recently returned to the airwaves! Thank the heavens!) and it looked pretty simple. I decided to make it for Deane's mom for Christmas, but it turned out to be a bit harder than I anticipated (she just got it today...!). I knit it with the disgusting old Red Heart Super Saver (a girl's gotta use her stash somehow...) but the pattern made this piece, not the yarn, so it worked out nicely. I was worried that it looked more 'grandma' than 'grandma-chic' (a new favorite term of mine), but then Deane pointed out that his mom *is* a grandma, so it was ok. She loved it, either way.

I have 2 more post-holiday projects on the needles still. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times... I can *not* knit on a deadline! Michael, you and Kimberly might get your scarfs my winter '09.

As far as a holiday recap, Deane came through with another quality crafty gift this year. His previous presents have started me on some pretty fabulous artistic journeys (one stroke painting, and of course, KNITTING!), and this year, he kept that theme. Behold, the Knifty Knitter!

I have looked at this bad little lady several times when purchasing yarn, but it really scared me. I didn't understand all the pegs, hooks, and wrapping of yarn. I finally busted it out last night, read the (super easy) instructions, and produced a nice length (wish it would have been longer, but ran out of yarn, as I thought I would just be practicing) scarf in about an hour and a half! The only downfall (I thought) was that the loom is not versatile, but then I went on ravelry and found a *ton* of patterns just for Knifty Knitter looms. I am excited to pursue this new avenue of needlework, and I especially want to pick up the circular Knifty.

So there you have it, the extent of my holiday gift-giving. What did I learn in '08? First off, MAKE A LIST. Secondly, start gift knitting for the holidays by mid-August. Third, no. more. scarves. I'm too good for this!

Friday, January 9, 2009

DFS strikes again.

Ok, I'm used to experiencing Displaced Fan Syndrome... I live in Jacksonville and root for the Colts. But for the most part, college football is off my radar.

Today, there's no escaping it. UF won the championship last night, for the second time in 3 years. While I appreciated the traffic-free commute this morning (apparently the day after a Gators win is some sort of corporate holiday?), there are other things I can't stand. I am surrounded by orange and blue, running commentary of last night's BCS championship game, and general screams of, "Go Gators!" How can the state that holds the highest population of relocatees have such an overwhelming collegiate following?

I never liked Ohio State, and I never understood the OSU/UF rivalry, but I *was* raised to root for the Big 10. Therefore, my annoyance level has officially reached its peak. One more Tim Tebow comment (btw, his mom shops in my store, and she is preeeeeetty thrifty for having a son about to sign in the NFL...) and you'll find me somewhere in the middle of Peterbrooke, most likely covered in chocolate popcorn. I can't take it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Two Great Tastes...

I'm not sure that my relationship with food is unhealthy, but I'm not sure that it's healthy, either. I have bounced up and down the scales for the past 27 years, and while I know *how* to lose weight, it's a love affair with food and a lack of prowess in the kitchen that have contributed extra inches to my waistline. I'm always on the lookout for low-cal (or low points, whatever program I'm loosely following at the time) sweets and treats, figuring if I make a few measly swap-outs, I'll stay on the underside of 200lb.

I have been receiving daily email updates from HungryGirl, and checking her website, pretty regularly for the past year or so. When the HungryGirl book was released, my mom sent it to me right away (thanks Donna!). I had never been much of a cook, but soon I was smothering everything in Egg Beaters and Fiber One crumbs, as well as exploring the world of baked goods using canned pumpkin. I haven't dieted, per se, but the book and the emails have helped me realize what I'm consuming, and how to make it a little bit better for myself. HG also introduces me to new delicious treats, such as 100 cal Twinkie packs (not worth it), and teaches me tips like how to take my daily espresso drink down about 250 cals. I am constantly on the lookout for new and exciting food products, thanks to HG.

HG had *not* told me about the new Diet Pomegranate 7Up, but luckily, blogger Emily was on the case. She recommended the beverage in a blog post about healthy food she loves (I am totally onboard with the plain yogurt with splenda!), and when I tried it, it was love at first sip. Once I had come to grips with the fact that my red bubbly would only be available for a limited time, I realized I had to make the most of it. I referenced a recipe I remember seeing in my HG cookbook, and modified to include my new favorite beverage. I can't post the original recipe here, as I'm sure it is copyrighted or something, but here is my take on a fab snack or dessert!

MA*s Red Jello Blob
-- Dissolve one large package Sugar Free Jello (8 serving size) into 2 c. boiling water.
-- Add one can Diet Pom 7Up. (Careful, it's FIZZY, and the red is hard to get off your kitchen counter. Use a large bowl!)
-- Let it chill in the fridge for about an hour and a half. The sides will be Jello-like, and the middle will still be pretty liquidy.
-- Using an electric mixer, add in one cup Cool Whip Free. (You may want to fold it in first, see the above note about red kitchen stains). Make sure it gets good and blended, leaving no Jello-y bits behind.
-- Put it back in the fridge and let it set up. The best is overnight, but I gave it a few hours and it was just as good (you'll want to eat it right away!)

The ENTIRE recipe has 200 calories and a measly 2 grams of fat, but it took me 2 days to get through the entire bowl (and that's saying a lot). The original idea called for orange Jello and diet cream soda, so you can definitely experiment with different Jello and soda flavors. But this one is awesome, trust me. When the Pom7 goes away, I'll have to try a new flavor (Mom suggested Diet Orange Crush). In the meantime, enjoy!