Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cheapass Christmass Part 3: The Tree

Ok, this wins as my favorite installation of Cheapass Christmass hands down--the tree!

First off, I realize there are some purists out there that love a real tree and the act of going out with their family to some snowy Christmas tree lot (or farm) to pick the right tree. Therefore, this method might not be up your alley.

When we were living in Lansing we always made our pilgrimage to a tree lot to purchase a real tree.

We did this mainly because a fake tree would have been very difficult to store. Extremely difficult to store.

However this year, we (read: I!) decided to go the fake route.

Why? Quite honestly, a real tree just won’t feel the same down here. I have heard that they allegedly have Christmas tree farms down here. Somehow I picture a big dusty field with a few green firs poking up, sagebrush threatening to overtake the field, and tumbleweeds rolling by. Of course the weather plays a factor in our decision this year too. Can you imagine going to pick out your tree wearing shorts and flip flops? Blasphemy I say!

So I hatched an idea to actually make our Christmas tree this year.

Back before I had Chunky, I watched a lot of the Home and Garden Channel. I think after you have kids, you realize that your dreams of having an stylishly decorated house vanish. Christmas time was always the best time to watch this channel. On a tangent, when I was shopping at the world's largest Christmas store in Frankenmuth one February, I noticed these HGTV "celebrities" shopping there as well.

On one of their Christmas shows--some show that I can’t remember the name of now, (Design on a Dime? Room by Room?) they made this really funk-a-licious hoop skirt Christmas tree that hung from the ceiling.

It was just a series of graduated hoops covered with a white glitzy garland, attached together, and then hung.

Aside from being white and glitzy, it was pretty darn cool.

So after much showering and pondering on how to make my own Christmas tree it came to me.

Behold the materials:

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Here we have a six-foot pre-lit spiral tree decoration (you mainly see these in front yards, but they are made for indoor or outdoor use); fake pine garland; and twisty ties (I’m not sure what their real name is but they’re like those flex-cuffs rent-a-cops use and you can find them in the floral department of a craft store).

After assembling the tree I got to work. I took the pine garland and lined the spiral of the tree attaching it with the twisty ties.

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It took approximately 38 feet of pine garland. I ended up buying 3 packages of 18’ of garland. After tree assembly I had a good 16 feet of pine garland left. I’ll show you what I did with that at the end of this post.

Here's a picture of the tree with one garland wrapped and secured:

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After attaching all the garland, we trimmed the twistie tie things and Chunky and I decorated the tree.

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And ta-da, we were done.

Note that the star is another ghetto Bezzie original They only sell stupid angels for trees anymore it seems. I was raised with a star tree top and I'm not about to sodomize an angel. That's bad ju-ju.

Yes, I know, it’s a tad, um, barren. However, I really enjoy it. It’s a cone shape, it’s green, and it has lights and decorations.

Plus it provides a great place for Squeaky to chill out.

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Final price breakdown:

Tree: $14.99
Twistie Ties: $0.99
Pine Garland: $8.45
Tax: $1.98
Total: $26.41

Total Remaining Of $250.00 Budget Goal: $208.80*

*This total was arrived at by using the final total of budget money left after Cheapass Christmas Week 1.

What would a real tree have cost us if we had continued the real tree tradition? Anywhere from $43-45 before tax. I’ve yet to see a fake Christmas tree in a store for under $50.

So we saved anywhere from approximately $16 to $19 The best part? This tree collapses flat each year. Much easier to store than a real store-bought fake tree.

Tip of the week: Like many people have said—sometimes you have to change your expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a nice full, luscious real tree, but for this year, this tree will do. Even if we don’t use it again next year, it doubles as an outdoor decoration.

Another great place to find a Christmas tree if you're not crafty enough to make one yourself--Freecycle. I can't tell you how many Christmas trees I've seen people post on there. Thing is you have to think Christmas in July. Most people get rid of theirs when they move or do spring cleaning.

As a postscript, I researched what a box of non-personalized Christmas cards would cost on hallmark.com: $22.00. Yeouch. Again, you can find them for cheapy cheap at Walmart but those ones look kind of cheap. Even cheaper than my handmade ones. I won’t tell you who’s ex-boss used to make her send out hundreds of Christmas cards on her behalf every year and she would buy the cheapest looking ones she could find at Walmart and sign said boss’s name to them—muhahahahaha!

Oh! And I almost forgot! Here's what I did with the extra 16 feet of pine garland I had leftover:

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I took a strand of white lights I found in my Christmas boxes and fake misletoe and rigged up my headboard. Pretty cool huh? Looks like something you might see on HGTV. Ha!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kool Aid Cables

Again, I don't know why I do this to myself.

I haven't got a lick of presents for Chunky or The Mad Scientist (admittedly it is hard to go shopping when said child is always with you) but I'm for some reason cranking out cheapy Christmas presents for all the sibs.

Since I don't think my middle younger brother or his new wife read this blog, I'll post a progress picture of a scarf I'm making for her:

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It's a Braided Cable Scarf made from the recycled sweater yarn my original CASP Sherry gave me. I dyed it with some Koolaid of course. I'm really pleased with the way the colors are knitting up. The wool is pretty scratchy, but it will be an outside scarf. Said sister in law is fresh off the plane from Germany and is always bitching about how cold Alaska is. I apparently underestimated the balminess of Germany. Ha ha!

Now I'm debating whether I should block it to spread it a little or keep it as it is.

I'd like to make the middle younger brother the same scarf out of two balls of some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes I have left over from the Top Secrety Project in a dark gray. But I don't think 220 yards will be enough for an ample scarf. I have one ball of black KP Wool of the Andes left from that same project so I might make the ends of the scarf black. But I have reservations on whether or not that might look too weird.

Of course this all could be moot because this scarf is really slow going. I don't know if I'll have time to finish SIL's let alone another one for my brother!

It's a good thing my oldest younger brother lives in North Carolina and not someplace colder. My head might explode if I had to knit for them too. (Although I bet I could corrupt his wife and teach her to knit someday...muhahahahahahahaha!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

It Was Five Years Ago Today

No, Sgt. Pepper didn't teach the band to play.

Rather, five years ago our boy was ripped from my loins.

WARNING: Rambling birth story ahead. If you're squeamish and/or ever want to have unprotected sex again, click away!

I was a week overdue when I went in for my weekly exam on November 26. The doctor (with small uncomfortable hands--imagine the leprachaun off the Lucky Charms box but with a beard and that was the guy examining me that day) told us what the hell, head over to the hospital--he'd call over and reserve me a bed and an IV of pitocin.

I personally remember thinking "What? I can't have this kid now! I haven't had lunch!" I disobeyed doctor's orders and we stopped at the Meijer on Grand River to pick up a light lunch of salad and a potato roll.

When we turned from Grand River onto Marsh Road, our Ford Tempo decided to throw one of it's "Tempo Tantrums" and it stalled. Holy mother of freakin' god! The Mad Scientist later said the look on my face was priceless. Given our reputation with that piece of shit, it wouldn't have been surprising if I had had to hitch a ride to the hospital.

Thankfully the damn thing restarted and we made it to Sparrow Hospital just fine.

By 1:00 p.m. I was bedded and the joyful drugs to induce labor were coursing through me.

The fun didn't really begin until 5:00 p.m. when a petite doctor about to end her shift wielding a giant crochet hook (dude, no joke) broke my water for me. Three years later that same doctor would be involved in a particularly nasty divorce with our firm. What a psycho. Thank god she was going off her shift.

Dr. Frank N. McLazyeye came on after her. He was a large hulking man with large hands (an asset--trust me) and one lazy eye. I also became privy to some of his legal problems while working for The Man as well. Let's just say from some of the comments he made to The Mad Scientist it didn't surprise me.

About 7:00 p.m. was the time I graciously asked for the godsend known as an epidural. I crossed my fingers that another crazy nurse anesthesologist wasn't on call that day. She was also going through a nasty divorce and made a comment to me when she finally noticed that I was nine-months pregnant that she might see me when I delivered. Eek. Luckily it was just some random guy with a name I don't remember.

But he sucked. That I do remember. He succeeded in numbing the right side of my body. Meanwhile each contraction made the left side of my body feel like an unearthly holy hell that daren't be described.

The Mad Scientist, after finishing his quite delicious smelling ham sandwich from the cafeteria and between downs on the MAC Championship football game re-run he was watching on ESPN Classic--don't you love the random details you remember about life altering events?--convinced me to page the nurse to track down Dr. Schlepidural.

About forty five minutes later, Dr. Schlepidural showed up to work his alleged magic. Yep, he failed yet again and informed me that he couldn't give me any more pain killer lest too much of my body go numb.

At midnight I just stopped caring. At midnight I was finally given the go ahead to push. Thank freaking god. I'll never forget that sensation either. It is equivalent to have to take an enormous crap!

So for two hours straight I pushed.

And I pushed.

And I pushed some more.

The Mad Scientist held one leg and a nurse with the last name of Law held the other. I thought that was the coolest thing--here I was a legal secretary and she was a nurse with the last name Law. Hey, I was under the influence of bad drugs, cut me some slack.

At 2:00 a.m. Dr. McLazyeye informed us of the problem. Chunky was right side up. Damn kid wasn't face down like a normal kid being born would be. He was getting his forehead stuck on my pubic bone and every time they tried to turn him when I was in the middle of a contraction the little monkey wouldn't budge.

So we were presented with two options: 1. forceps and vacuum or 2. a c-section.

Now you must remember, I had been in hard labor for two mother effin hours with nothing to show for it except that they could tell me what color Chunky's hair was every time I bore down.

I asked Dr. McLazyeye what he recommended and he told me he couldn't make the decision for me. Yeah, like I wasn't exhausted enough to be thinking clearly!

So I asked him what were the odds of needing a c-section if the forceps and vacuum didn't work? He told me there was a 50% chance the forceps and vacuum would work.

Shit.

The Mad Scientist and I looked at each other and said we'd go with the straight up c-section. Why risk the forceps and vacuum? Again, I had seen enough cases in my job where kids were injured being pulled out like that and mommy and daddy sued for damages.

From there they wheeled me into the OR while Dr. McLazyeye informed The Mad Scientist that we were doing the right thing because, "In the old days your wife and kid would have just died." Um, yes, what a great comment to make to a nervous husband whose wife was about to be cut open and his kid removed.

At 2:30 or 2:45 a.m. I was so high on morphine that the only thing I could move was my head when they started cutting me open.

Now here's something no one ever tells you about--what a C-section is going to be like. You're going to feel tugging, and oh yes, you're going to HEAR them suctioning every bodily fluid from you as well. Gah. And if you're lucky like me, they'll wheel you right past the bloody pile of gauze when they're done with you.

Oh and how can I forget?! Because you're lying there in a crucifixal position with your arms numb, your husband (or whoever had the honor of knocking you up in the first place) will get to be the first to hold your precious little offspring. Oh no don't mind that you've been a ginormous ball of hormones, you've retained 40 gallons of water so that you can't feel your shins--your legs are literally spongy feeling, or that you've lugged around a 7 plus pound tapeworm of a kid for the past nine months--please by all means, let Mr. All I Did Was Ejaculate hold the kid first! But I digress. (Wow, no pent up issues there huh?)

At 3:00 a.m. EST, Chunky was finally pulled out (and thereby beating another doctor in another OR delivering another baby by C-section at the same time. That little girl was born at 3:01 a.m. Yes, that's right, the doctors were having a friendly little contest to see who would pull out the first baby).

Chunky's sex was a surprise too. The Mad Scientist was convinced he was a little girl. I on the other hand, sorta figured he was a boy. But it was great fun when they pulled him out and announced he was indeed a boy.

But for all that misery of labor, having to deal with psychotic doctors (remember kids just because they have medical degrees doesn't mean they're sane!), and McChili Burger commercials on TV in the delivery room that made me nearly toss my salad, it was worth it.

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Where did my baby go?????

Actually each year I reflect on where my baby went. Each year on his birthday I write him a letter.

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It's something I came up with Superbowl Sunday 2002 when he was just barely two months old and we had to take him to the ER and he spent a few days in the hospital with some unknown virus that gave him a dangerously high fever. I wrote him a letter while he was hooked to all that shit and all I could do was sit there watching him, feeling helpless.

Each year I write him a letter reflecting on the past year of his life and how he's made me proud.

Yeah OK, pretty damn sappy I know. But think of it this way--it's my ticket out of an expensive graduation present when he turns 18. I just hand him a stack of letters and smile. "Oh gee, you wanted a college fund honey? Or a new car? Shoot, well here, have these letters and pretend."

Once a cheapass, always a cheapass.

These would also make a great parting gift if I'm ever unexpectedly run over by a Fedex truck as well. Watch, now that I say that it will be a UPS truck instead.

So today, we shall eat cake:

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And celebrate our boy growing another year older.

And when I say "we" I mean myself and:

tms

Doctor Mad Scientist.

I'm so proud of my boys.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Finished Objects A Plenty, Finished Objects Galore

Finished objects on the cat and on the floor!

Felting was a success!!!

First up we have the box/dish/bowl/dohickey I felted for my Apple. I don't know what she'll do with it, or if she even needs it, but hey, it's cool and I made it.

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That's Springsy my furry little model. Check out the way those beads glow! They don't do that in real life, the flash must have done that!

Then I took a page out of Zib's book and lined it with a velour tank top I wore pre-Chunky when I wasn't so well, chunky myself!

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My handsewing skills leave much to be desired, but I'm able to fake it quite well to the untrained eye, which I know my Apple has!

Next up the Cat Poo Booga Bag!!

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Beautiful!! I LOVE it! The cat poo accent ended up curling over. But I've decided I like that because I was able to add this and sew the curl over the ugly sides hiding it nicely:

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A magnetic closure. I had one leftover from when I made my Shrunken Head bag for my youngest little sister last Christmas (they come in packs of two). Pretty professional looking huh?

I also took a page out of Turtlegirl's "It Felt Random" bag floppage solution and popped a piece of illustration board covered with yet some more of the aforementioned black velour glued to it to the bottom of the bag:

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So deep and dark!

The ornaments I felted also turned out great but I'll post pictures of those once I embellish them up a bit.

Cross your fingers for The Mad Scientist. He defends his thesis tomorrow.

But on the plus side if they don't pass him, it might be just what I need to convince him to immigrate to Canada with me and start our Potato Commune!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tagged

I've got nothing to blog about or pictures to post until my adventures in felting tonight with the laundry. Do you think my coworkers will mind if the Cat Poo Booga Bag gets felted alongside Chunky's Spongebob Underpants? Hee hee, it's gross if you think about it, but there's hot water and soap involved right?

So I'll do Turtlegirl's meme since I haven't done one in a while.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Administrative Assistant
2. Legal Secretary
3. Popcorn Pusher
4. Office Automation Clerk

B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1. Old School
2. Office Space
3. Anchorman
4. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (really any Kevin Smith movie sans Jersey Girl)

C) Four places I have lived
1. Palmer, AK
2. Ft. Collins, CO
3. Lansing, MI
4. San Antonio, TX

D) Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. My Name is Earl
2. The Office
3. Scrubs
4. Six Feet Under (that's all Penny K's fault there...)

E) I have been on vacation:
1. Kalispell, MT
2. Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park, MI
3. Richmond, VA
4. Everywhere in Alaska you can drive to.

F) Websites visited daily:
1. Knitty Forum
2. adn.com
3. lsj.com
4. Bloglines


G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Kung Pao Chicken (spicy!)
2. Authentic Mexican food
3. My homemade mac n'cheese w/kielbasa
4. Straight up cheese


H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Lansing, MI (for the husband-factor only)
2. Palmer, AK
3. Somewhere with snow
4. Potatania, Canada


I) Four people I’m tagging with this questionnaire:

Tell you what, I'll let y'all off the hook but I'm going to tag you in a different way--tell me what your all time favorite holiday song of all time is.

I dug out my Christmas music last night. My collection is small and I'd like to make it my goal to add one CD a season. Thanks to the joy of the internet, I can download songs now for relatively cheap and get the songs I like instead of having to buy a CD with songs I already have/don't like. The cheesier the song, the better.

My favorite? It would have to be Barbra Streisand's version of Jingle Bells. There's just something freaking hilarious about a Jewish woman singing Christmas carols. (Yes I realize Jingle Bells isn't overtly Christmas-y, but the rest of the CD that song is on is!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Insomniac Knitting

It's funny, I laugh and shake my head at the poor knitters out there taking on projects for their friends and family and the freaking out that ensues because they don't have enough time to finish everything.

But then I realize I'm no different! Why am I laughing??

I'm loving this four day weekend. Specifically I'm loving not having go to go bed at a reasonable hour. I've been getting so much done.

Wednesday night I finished up Cat Poo Booga Bag for the White Elephant swap at work on the 13th.

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I ended up doing two rows of stockinette for the handle. I love the result.

I also surfed the internets looking for some green and gold sock yarn. I'd love to make The Mad Scientist a pair of green and gold socks. NO ONE sells green and gold sock yarn. Grrr. Or if they did--they don't anymore.

However, I had some Knitpicks Dye Your Own fingering weight 100% merino that Turtlegirl so kindly gifted me a while ago that I decided to dye.

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The gold turned out fabulous due to some Mexican koolaid I picked up at the store. I say Mexican because down here you can get some freaking cool flavors above and beyond the gringo cherry and grape flavors. I picked up Tamarind, Jamaica, and Mango. Mango gave this yarn the deeper gold color. I wish the green had turned out a bit darker, but beggars can't be choosers.

So I'll see if I can't knit The Mad Scientist a pair of Colorado State love socks. I was able to find out how many inches you should make a pair of socks for someone with 10 1/2 size feet, but I'm stuck on how many stitches to cast on for man-ankles. Hm.

Yesterday decided to make some of the little felted ornaments from the Knit Christmas Stockings! book my Aunt Jaywalker sent me. I did a heart and two Christmas Trees. I'm not so sure about the heart. It looks like a blob. I guess I'll see how it felts up.

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I'll do one more Christmas tree and then I think what I'll do is attach them to a card and if I find myself in a position to have to gift the three women in my department at work, I'll whip these little puppies out. A cute little Christmas card with removable ornament. Cheap, simple, and effective.

The fourth thing on the pillowcase there is my attempt at a felted bowl/dish. My Apple's birthday is on December 5. I've already made her two facecloths and got her some gourmet soap. However I need one other thing. Since her birthday falls so close to Christmas, I usually send her birthday and Christmas present at the same time. I'm running out of time to figure out what else to get/make her! If this felted dohickey turns out I might send that. If not, well I'm screwed.

And for those interested, Operation TV Dinner Thanksgiving was a huge success:

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Those TV dinners have come a long way in taste! It wasn't half bad!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cheapass Christmass Part 2: Articles & Stories

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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I’m skipping this week of Cheapass Christmass for Thanksgiving while Chunky and I enjoy our lovely Thanksgiving dinner:

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Stay tuned for next Thursday. I’ve got more Martha Stewart meets Scrooge McDuck style antics planned!

But I will provide you with a couple of articles that I’ve found and that T. (who seems to be my Cheapass Christmass partner in crime) has sent to me since I started this blog topic:

Gifts on the Cheap

Have a Tightwad’s Christmas

I’m Dreaming of a Cheap Christmas

These articles basically sum up what I’m doing here. But I like to think I’m giving my Cheapass Christmass a more kooky ghetto fabulous spin than the people writing the articles above. They all seem to think inside the box quite a bit.

Finally, to put y’all in the Cheapass Christmass spirit now that Thanksgiving is officially here (and gone by the time some of you read this) I’ll leave you with my Christmas present from T. last year.

To give you a little background, T. is a starving student with an English degree working at Borders part time and going to a school in Atlanta (or simply “ATL” to the allegedly cool peeps that live there). The program she’s involved with is a two year intensive full-time training for portfolio development in graphic design, advertising, photography and industrial design. She hopes to one day live in Maine and wax poetic about L.L. Bean All Weather Moccasins for money, or live on the Midwestern prairie schilling parkas to Garrison Keillor groupies. Needless to say she doesn’t have much moolah either.

As such, every birthday or Christmas we receive a short story from her (those English majors you know!) instead of a present. For all you Nanowrimoslomomofo participants out there this might be right up your alley. Write each gift recipient at your holiday gathering a chapter of a story and after you’re all tipsy on Aunt Harry’s special eggnog, have everyone read their chapter out loud in sequential order.

Below is last year’s Christmas story I received from T. I tried to sell it on ebay but apparently people want a more tangible item when shopping there.

I’m reprinting this with her permission (as with any knitting pattern, don't go ripping this off and claiming it as your own!)

The Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: As Told by an A+, Honor Roll, Top-of-the-Class Reindeer

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

His nose was very radiant. It was distracting, sitting there in class with him, trying to learn. But it wasn’t as distracting as his paste consumption or the way he picked that red bulb of a nose and devoured whatever he pulled out. The thing is that Rudolph had a lot more going on with him than just having a red nose.

In kindergarten, Rudolph was the one that held us back from getting a pizza party because he was the one and only reindeer who couldn’t recite the days of the week in order.

“Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…”

“Good he’s getting it,” we all would say after we had recited the days of the week correctly and gotten a gold star next to our names on a chart.

“Wednesday, Thursday…”

And then, just as soon as we had thought he had finally gotten it—that he was going to seal the deal for our pizza party—he said, “Saturday, Friday.”

On those timed multiplication tests it took him an eternity to pass the “One Test” (all of the problems were other numbers multiplied by one). How long does it take for a reindeer to realize that any number multiplied by one is itself? I had passed the “Ten Test” by simply adding a zero to any number that was multiplied by ten when he finally passed the One Test.

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

We did make fun of Rudolph. Who wouldn’t? In the fifth grade he still wore strap-shoes. Everyone else had graduated to tie shoes back in the second grade. He even still played with the Velcro straps during our reading hour (in the fifth grade we were old enough to read to ourselves and weren’t interested in being read to anyway) and the teacher had to tell him to knock it off.

The reindeer wasn’t coordinated at all. During gym class, while playing kickball, he would kick the ball as hard as he could (which wasn’t very hard) and it would inevitably go straight back to the pitcher who would throw it and hit Rudolph squarely on his red, shiny nose. No one would let him play games because no one wanted to lose.

We never felt really bad about calling him names. He didn’t seem to care. Rudolph would go around making these funny squawking sounds at recess. We’d ask him if that was his mating call and he would just go on squawking. He never cried, well, except for that one time one of the reindeer pushed him into the wall of the school and made him bleed and no one was laughing then. No one liked the reindeer who had pushed Rudolph, because that reindeer had pushed all of us around at one time or another.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Imagine all of our surprise. Rudolph’s nose wasn’t that luminous (headlights were still needed for the trip). In flight school, Rudolph was always grounded, he just couldn’t fly. No one even knew how he had gotten into the flight school, but we all suspected it was some state-funded program. After classes, we (all except for Rudolph) would hang out. Eventually the conversation would turn to Rudolph.

“Did you catch what he said today?”

“Why do they keep him in the program? I know he’s not passing.”

“I don’t care if he stays in the school, just as long as he doesn’t fly with me.”

And we all would chuckle and agree with the last comment.

Santa actually came to me that Christmas Eve, too. He asked if I would fly with him. Santa said he wanted me to fly in the rear of the reins—be the reindeer closest to the sleigh. Now any reindeer that has flown knows that the reindeer in that position is not only pulling a sleigh but pushing at the reindeer in front.

“Sure,” I told Santa eagerly. There was no way I was going to turn down the opportunity to fly with Santa Claus, the father of Christmas.

Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”

I was enraged when I heard this gleeful proclamation. First, why the hell was Rudolph leading the sleigh when he didn’t even have the required hours of flight time to even participate in such a flight? Why the hell was Rudolph getting all of the glory when it was me at the back of the line-up and, without a doubt, pushing him along? How come they weren’t shouting my name, proclaiming that I’d go down in history? I was the one who studied my ass off in school just to get accepted to flight school! I’m the one who spent countless hours practicing flying! I was at the top of my flight school class and Rudolph was getting the spotlight—that damn reindeer who was still wearing strap shoes!

Usually, I can let a few injustices pass, but this was ridiculous. So, I made my grievances clear to Santa as he was getting the harnesses and reins ready. He just looked at me and said with a smile, “It’s Christmas.”

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blogstalking & A Quasi FO

It's been a while since I did a blogstalking post. This week's theme is a trinket that you have, but aren't really sure why it's still around.

First up I give you the bilikin:

bilikin

Per The Anchorage Daily Press, June 2, 2005:

"The smiling Bilikin charm was as trendy in the early 1900s as rubber bracelets are today. Shops throughout North America stocked them and the Bilikin (an “Asian god” dreamed up by American trinket dealers) gained a strong foothold in Alaska."

This belonged to my parents, and quite honestly, I'm not sure how I ended up with him. But he's on my "Alaskana" knicknack shelf as you can see from the fakey muskrat tooth carving next to him.

I have to also include a favorite trinket that The Mad Scientist has never let me toss. He actually values this one a lot--so I guess that doesn't fit the criteria of this week's topic right?

TMS

It's an antique chemical bottle he electroplated in high school chemistry class. He loves it because his teacher told him his turned out the best. Hee hee. How cute. You would have thought he had the best handprint Thanksgiving turkey in kindergarden or something! It now acts as a bookstop for the mini leatherbound Shakespeare books my Aunt Jaywalker gave me back when I was a kid.

And finally, the next trinket (a sculpture my middle younger brother picked up for me when he was stationed in Korea) also doesn't really fit the "why do I have this?" catagory. But I love it so.
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I wish I could put that one on my desk at work.

Finally, I have a quasi finished object to present. I'm just having a hard time figuring out how I'm going to arrange it.

Option 1:
Option1

Option 2:
Option2

Option 3:
Option3

Option 4:
Option4

I'm leaning towards Option 1 or 4. Once I figure out the placement, I'll seam them together and work on the border. My plan was to do an entire queensize afghan out of these blocks, but yeah, as you can see I only ordered enough yarn to complete nine of them.

After I seam them, I'm going to use the remaining white TLC Cotton Plus to go around them, and then switch to a blue and pink TLC acrylic. (Did I mention I was too cheap to spring for more Cotton Plus?)

It will probably look barfalicous.

Geeze, now that I've finished the blocks for this and the Top Secret Project all I've got on the needles is the White Elephant Poop Bag. It's been a very productive weekend. I also finished two more hats for Pam's hat drive this weekend.

I suppose I should cast on for Rosie's stocking. Chunky started talking about stockings this weekend and realized his stuffed monkey, Rosie, didn't have one. Me and my big mouth. I told him I'd knit him one and he could pick the yarn. He picked the neon green mohair better known as Kermit the Frogged of Lupe and Shawnee fame. This should be interesting. Well, unless Grandma, now that she reads this blog, would like to make Rosie a stocking (cough, cough, hint, hint).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Rats Are Circling

I cast on for the white elephant Booga Bag.

As much as I dig the idea of the chain handle, I think Stephanie is right, and I had been unsure about this myself--attaching it would be a bit of a pain. So I think I'll take Elizabeth's piece of I-cord advice handed down by Zib, and just make a ginormous length of a few stockinette stitches. It curls anyway right?

Plus I wanted to give the bag a little "oomph" and was thinking about putting a novelty yarn edging on it. I think the chain handle would compete with that and just be a bit too much.

Because it's Saturday and it's laundry night, I knit a quick swatch of the Lion Brand 100% felting wool along with some novelty yarn my first CASP Sherry gave me (yeah, yeah, I know it was for Chunky, but I did donate about 1/2 of it to his old classroom in Lansing!).

Here it is prefelted:

prefelting

And admit it, you all like ugly porn. Not all yarn porn is pretty just like not all regular porn is gorgeous blondes with quadruple E boobs. Check this out:

closeup

Sexay! Actually it looks like something I cleaned out of the litterbox today.

Here it is post-felting:

the rats are circling

As you can see, the rats are circling in for the kill.

Looks like it only shrank about 1/2 an inch horizontally. I'm not too impressed with the felting after one cycle with this yarn. I'm hoping it's only because I mixed it with novelty yarn. I've heard good things about this Lion Brand stuff.

So what the heck, I'll throw caution into the wind and I'll go ahead and do the edging in the cat poo accent.

I also finished the Top Secret Project tonight and am tickled pink about how well it turned out!!

Problem is I submitted it somewhere and that somewhere was really vague as to when the time frame when you can assume your design was rejected. Ugh. It's killing me. I REALLY want to show it off!

Bah, I don't know who I'm kidding, it's a very simplistic design, I ought to just go ahead and post about it. However, I'll save it for a day where it doesn't have to complete with cat turd swatches.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Albino Pachyderm

So the peeps at the office in charge of merriment and fun (maybe not so much for us enlightened folk) set the date for the "White Elephant" and Christmas party.

December 13.

I had to ask what the rules of a White Elephant were. Um, yeah, no one could answer me. All they could tell me is that the gift had to be $20. That's right, $20. That's not maximum $20--$20 on the nose.

Geeze. What do enlightened non-crafty people do in these situations???

So the felted bag is definately a go. Yes, the yarn was only like $8 total, but it will probably take me a good 5 hours to knit it (maybe more, maybe less). Say I charge the same hourly wage I earn keeping my seat warm at my place of employment, that comes out to be about $50. Add $1.00 to that because that's what it takes to run a load of laundry around this dump and that's $59. Add the tax I paid on the yarn and it's over $60.

The best part is, even though they know I knit, none of them have a crafty bone in their body and I'll merely tell them I bought it somewhere. With the felting, they'll never catch on.

As for the bag, I'm thinking of doing the standard Booga Bag, but instead of knitting literally five feet of i-cord (the temptation to hang myself with it might be too intense when I finished it), I was thinking maybe I could make the handles this instead.

I'm debating the tacky-factor there.

Oh and before I go--a quick update on the cable phone/internet deal. I tried switching to AT&T. Well apparently they couldn't set up my land line without gaining access to my apartment (lies!). When I called to reschedule them to come out--after apparently the first phone installation guy came out here at 8:00 a.m. while I was at work, I was informed that they did not have weekend or after hours appointments. Nor could they give me a solid window of when they could get here above and beyond 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

So I sent back the DSL equipment and cancelled the service. They couldn't wrap their feeble brains around the fact that I was a single mother, with no other 18 year olds at the residence, who couldn't afford to take time off work. (Ok, they don't need to know that I do have a bit of time off accrued but I'm saving that for Christmas and when The Mad Scientist comes back...we'll have five months of husband and wifeing to catch up on!)

Yesterday I get this letter in the mail from AT&T:

"Dear Bezzie,
Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you regarding your order for we need inside access to complete servie rescheduled for 11-17-06.

If we do not hear from you by November 17, 2006, we will assume you are no longer interested in arranging this service."

Woah. I think I dodged a bullet here. First off that first sentence makes NO sense whatsoever. They can't spell "service" what makes me think they can actually provide it? And to me it sounds like one minute they're saying they'll be by on 11-17 (today) to arrange the service (which I did NOT reschedule!) but the next it sounds like 11-17 is merely the day I have to respond to them by to reschedule it.

All I have to say is I will not be charged for that guy coming out here. The lady I spoke to when I first signed up said they may or may not need access to my apartment. Calling me on my cell phone while I'm at work when you're on your way to my apartment to set up the service is not cool.

But oh well. I can survive on spotty phone and internet until The Mad Scientist finds another job. He's so cute, he's going global in the job hunt now. Does anyone know if the English look poorly on Americanos working their government science jobs? (Like the Americans tend to do!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cheapass Christmass!! Part 1--Cards and Newsletters

Welcome to Week One of my Cheapass Christmass!!

If I’m dedicated enough, I will attempt to post every Thursday (I can't interfere with WPN Wednesday and Yarn Porn Friday in the blogosphere!) my tips and hints for making your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate that involves gross over-commercialization and promotes financial gluttony and overspending) the cheapest and merriest!*

This will be sort of like a reality-blog-game-show: “Can Bezzie have a very merry Christmas without going over her $250 spending limit?”

This week we cover Christmas cards and newsletters.

One of the first things I do every Christmas is make my cards. I usually do it in October. I’ve been making Christmas cards for years. Growing up enlightened with a mother and father with seven and five siblings respectively, sending Christmas cards to all our extended family got to be pretty pricey. So mom would set us up making cards in a sort of assembly line fashion. I seemed to get stuck with signing everyone's names to the cards (there's eight of us in the family). Now that I think about it, that's pretty sweatshop-esque.

About three years ago, tired of sending cards to every Uncle Tom, Grandpa Dick, and Aunt Harry, I put my foot down. I trimmed my list down to 20 friends and family that were going to get a Christmas card from us.

Sometimes you just have to make a sacrifice. If Aunt Sally doesn’t get a Christmas card is she really going to sob herself to sleep, wake up the next morning and write you out of her Will? Probably not.

This year, as most of the regulars know, I've already made my crop of Christmas cards. They were super simple and super cheapola. I used some Christmas books I found at Goodwill and a pack of 20 blank cards I bought from Michaels with a 40% off coupon.

My sister T. did some really cool cards last year too. She took a picture of herself wearing a dorkalicous snowflake fair isle Christmas sweater and a mug of hot chocolate and used photoshop to turn it into a "coloring book" picture. She printed it off on cardstock and sent it everyone with a couple of dollar store crayons and the message: "Something fun for you to do." If you have ever eaten Pez candies, you'll know exactly where she ripped this idea off from.

My cards this year however are a drastic change from last years' cards that looked like this before you opened them:

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And then this when you did open them:

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Oye. They were by far the most kick-ass Christmas cards I have ever made, but they were pretty pricey. About a $1 each.

BUT! Here's where a good cheapass tip comes in--recycle your scraps! I used the leftover scrap Christmas scrapbook paper from last year's cards with this year's.

Oh but wait, you really like sending those (ahem) lovely Christmas newsletters gushing about the joys of your wonderful life to all of your relatives and friends! But oh no, what if you can't afford that snazzy festive stationary at Staples to print said newsletter out on?

This year I set up a family blog where everytime we do something cool (like you know move to freakin' Texas for a bum job) or Chunky does some crazy pose, I take a picture and I post it on the family blog and send out a mass email to the relatives alerting them of a new post. I know, it's a pain to email everyone, but I'm lucky enough that my nearly 80 year old Grandma knows how to email, I can't expect her to know what an RSS feed is! When I sign my cards this year, I'll enclose the link to the website for them.

If you still want to enclose something written, might I suggest what I did last year? I enclosed a page of "Bez Libs." Remember Mad Libs? Same concept except that I wrote a brief synopsis of each month of the year ommitting crucial verbs, nouns, dates, or pronouns. I let the people on my Christmas card list decide what we did that year. For example:

"March: A little more excitement this month. Early in the month The Mad Scientist spent a week in _________(place). While he was there he hob-knobbed with other ___________(profession-plural) and learned more about the exciting field of toxicology. Later on in the month we celebrated The Mad Scientist's _________ (holiday). We ate ____________ (food) for dinner and had _________________ (flavor) cupcakes in lieu of birthday cake. At the end of the month, we dyed ____________ (noun) and the Easter ________________ (animal) visited Chunky and was generous with the jelly beans."

Keep in mind for the sake of this quote I put the actual types of words I was looking for directly in the paragraph. Keeping true to the Mad Lib spirit, when I sent the cards, I created a separate sheet asking for a list of words so people could fill them in later. Yes, we did receive a few back in the mail--too funny!

So let's recap the Cheapassedness:

* Recycle crap you have from other craft projects lying around the house

* Use used books/found items for cheap yet "interesting" cards (people will just throw out the card anyway, don't worry if it looks like crap, it's still better than the printed in China junk they paid out the nose for at Hallmark!)

* Blog your families' escapades instead of enclosing a holiday newsletter

And now for the monetary breakdown:

Blank cards purchased at Michaels w/a 40% off coupon =$3.81(includes tax)

3 used xmas books Puchased at Goodwill=$3.18 (includes tax)

Stamps for 20 cards=$7.80

Total Spent=$14.79

Total Remaining from $250 Budget=$235.21

Yeouch, I got nailed by the postage. Oh well. Hallmark can still kiss my cheapass.

Finally, to keep myself motivated, I've decided to post each week's link of cheapassy goodness in my sidebar. But of course I'll need a cute little button!! I've made two. However, I just don't know which one to pick--which do you prefer?

Cheapass Xmass 1

Ho ho ho buttcheeks? Or:

Cheapass Xmass 2

Santa butt?

*DISCLAIMER: All of the above statements were made by one crazy chick with a penchant for the crafty and waaay to much time on her hands. Try these stunts at home at your own risk. Random Meanderings, Bezzie, and/or any subsidiary of Curler N'Bubble Enterprises cannot be held responsible for fatal scrapbook paper cuts, third degree hot glue gun burns, or strangulation by excessive amounts of yarn coupled with holiday stress.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gold Card

Sorry for all the rapid fire daily posts. I feel like I have to get it all in before I disconnect the cable internet and switch to DSL hopefully later this week. Given the issues I had setting up the internet when we moved here, I'm paranoid.

This weekend I finished Gold Card:

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No, I won't get any closer detail of this. A) My beading skills suck B) my hand felting skills suck even harder. As a result this little purselet is only lightly felted.

The bottom looks like this:

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The inside looks like this:

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Yes, pouring boiling water on a credit card WILL warp it.

It's big enough to hold a cell phone and a few other small deelybobs. I just don't know what I'm going to do with this thing though. My days of carrying a snappy little purse are over. Sigh.

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Not really crazy. However, I believe I have some inspiration for my next project involving knitting and credit cards. I think this time I'm going to go with the cardboard ones they give you. Punching the holes in the base credit card for this purselet was a pain in the butt.

As a teaser, my next credit card project will be a recycled clothing one. I took this article as a sign showing up in my mailbox today. I love Slate.com. I do take issue with the way people slap the word "organic" on everything though. If something has carbon in it, it technically qualifies as "organic."

Finally, I must beg of your help dear knitters, readers, and other crazies who surf through here. At lunch the co-workers were talking about doing their annual Christmas White Elephant trade during the Christmas party. A $20 gift limit. Ugh. This definately throws a kink in my Cheapass Christmas.

I'm thinking maybe a felted bag? All the people in the office are women, so that makes it a bit easier. I've got two skeins of Lion Brand Wool in a nice chocolate brown. What do you think? That wouldn't be too cheapy right? Well, as long as I don't try to hand felt it!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Caught Off Guard & Fiber "Fest" Review

I believe this week we're going with the theme of something that caught you off guard for Blogstalking.

Friday at work we celebrated a co-worker's birthday. We had cake but no icecream. Someone mentioned that they should have picked up a 1/2 gallon of Blue Bell. Not knowing what "Blue Bell" was I asked. I was met with stares of incredulity and gaping jaws that I had never heard of, nor tasted Blue Bell ice cream. Apparently, to Texans, this is the end all of ice creams.

So Friday after work, I picked up a pint of Mint Chocolate Chip. I had to see how it compared to one my personal favorites Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie.

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The price was right--$1.78 for a pint of Blue Bell. Ben and Jerry's usually runs a good dollar or more than that. The packaging seemed attractive enough, although I could do without the words "New Tastier Chips" right above a silouette of a cow. But maybe that's just me.

So what's the verdict? Here's where the blogstalking theme comes in. I'm surprised that for all the hype this ice cream was getting from my coworkers, it was not that good. In fact I would go so far as to say it was comparable to the bricks of the Kroger brand crap I used to buy when I needed a quick cheap ice cream fix back in Lansing. It was grainy and the mint to chocolate ratio left much to be desired.

Doing a little research I think I figured out why this ice cream sucked cow chips. Ben and Jerry's has 260 calories for a 1/2 cup serving with 140 of those calories being from fat. Blue Bell? Only 170 calories for 1/2 a cup with 80 coming from fat. Any good ice cream eater will tell you that the proof is in the fat. The more fat in ice cream (or hell anything!) the better it tastes.

My second theory as to why it doesn't match up is because maybe it's the fact that Ben and Jerry's doesn't bleach their cartons and therefore there are no dioxins leaching into the ice cream. Maybe Texans like the taste of dioxins. Considering I live ten miles from a Superfund Site where dry cleaning chemicals and instant oil change store wastes have worked their way into the drinking water, this would not surprise me. It could be an acquired taste and my non-carcinogenic pallette could be why I did not enjoy this ice cream.

Sorry Texas, for all your bravado and "everything is bigger and better" in this state, a pair of granola crunching hippies in New England have you beat in the ice cream department.

As an interesting aside, I discovered a B&J's flavor that Turtlegirl might enjoy. Mmmmmm!!!

Moving on, yesterday Chunky and I went to Kid N'Ewe and Llamas Too, a little fiber festival in Boerne. Note that Texans pronounce the name of this town "bernie" not "born" as I wanted to. It's almost as bad as the way Michiganians would pronounce Charlotte "shar-lot" instead of "shar-leht."

Kid N'Ewe was, um, small. I did at least get to meet Entrelac in person. Sadly it was only briefly. Chunky wasn't having any of the yarn and fiber fondling. And there were only two alpacas that didn't have a crowd around them to check out. After watching them eat and kiss for about 10 minutes he was done with the whole affair.

Which was fine. Everything was pretty expensive and more spinning related. It was mesmerizing to watch Ana test drive a wheel though. I totally think I could get into spinning with a wheel. I hate drop spindling. But it's such an expensive hobby. There's no way I could shell out that kind of money for a wheel. I know they make less expensive wheels, but it's still a lot of money to this tightwad. I swear there's got to be a way to make a wheel out of an old bicycle and a pair of hubcaps.

I did however shell out some serious beans for these:

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Very pretty. Don't tell The Mad Scientist but I pulled some money from my old Alaskan bank account I had as a kid growing up. Last winter when I was working for the Macho Tax Man, I would put every other paycheck in that account. It wasn't much really, but I forfeited how many nights away from home shuffling tax returns, the least I deserve is a $14 pair of buttons right?!

You can find a whole bevy of these buttons here.

So that was our weekend in a nutshell. I finished up the credit card project. I'll try to post it later this week.

I may also be experiencing some posting difficulties later this week. I had my phone and internet switched to AT&T. I'm waiting for the DSL equipment to come in the mail from them before I cancel the cable internet and phone with the cable company. Allegedly AT&T set up the phone on Friday, but I've got no dialtone. So another fustercluck awaits me on that one I'm sure. I might just go with my original plan to cancel land line service and work with a cell. Have I mentioned I hate living here?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Do They Make Ritalin For Knitters?

I swear to god, I can't seem to concentrate on one project lately. And they're all small little pissant projects too. Bah! Where's my concentration? Where's my determination? Of course the fact that my Pandora Radio seems to be stuck in an all-punk loop isn't helping my frenetic mood any.

You know those little fakey credit cards you get in the mail with all those godawful credit card applications? I've been saving them for about two years now. Someday I will make something great out of them. I'm just not sure what yet.

But I am making this:

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I'm not sure what exactly it's going to be yet or if I'll even finish it. But that's 100% alpaca I'm using. What a waste of alpaca huh? On some crazy ass weird-o craft project! Those stacks in the background are the cards I've collected already.

When I was going through my stack of cards, it appears I also have saved old insurance cards, library cards, voter registration cards, and this gem:

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Holy lord, is it any wonder I never got any wearing those glasses? Oye. That's my junior picture. None of us kids wasted our hard earned money on senior pictures in high school so they recycled my junior picture for my school ID senior year.

Now that I look at my old ID, who else can claim they went to school on Arctic Avenue and had a moose for a high school mascot? (Shut up T!)

Ok, back to attempting to concentrate on one thing at a time!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Cloth & Random Thoughts

Another facecloth for my Apple:

washcloth

Ignore the splotchiness, I'm blocking it in this picture and it's half wet. I made this one out of Knitpicks Shine in their "Green Apple" color.

This time in a lace pattern you can find here. I didn't give proper props to the apple pattern. You can find it here. I know if I had spent the time designing a cute little washcloth and someone posted a finished one on their blog I'd want at least a linkback to the pattern.

Speaking of which, for those of you that requested, I have posted the pattern for my headband. I didn't really write down the pattern like I did with the black widow baby hat as I was knitting it, so my apologies if it doesn't turn out perfect.

I have a lot of admiration for large project knit pattern designers. I can't imagine having to make a pattern for something with different sizes. For me, the hardest part is condensing a pattern. I tend to spell it all out, row by stinkin' row, stitch by stitch, as opposed to writing it: "Repeat as in Row X" or using various methods to indicate a stitch sequence is repeated in a row.

I guess writing a good pattern is like learning a new language and at first you write and speak it very properly. For example, in Spanish, when I was first learning it, I would always say: "Yo vivo en Texas." After you get the hang of a language you can shorten it a bit and not spell it out so much. Again like in Spanish: "Vivo en Texas." You can drop the "Yo" without losing the meaning of the sentence. What can I say? I think in analogies quite a bit.

Moving on, now that we're done with potential student interviews, in between fielding phone calls from said potential students wondering when they're going to get an acceptance/declination letter--I don't know about you but when I was applying to college I NEVER thought to call the college to bug them, talk about rude and impatient, but I digress--I've had a lot of time to think on my hands.

So I've decided to create a little challenge for myself: The Cheapass Christmas

With The Mad Scientist soon to be sans paycheck and I on a paltry state employee's salary and the sole breadwinner, things this Christmas will be tight.

Starting next week in the same vein as Penny Karma and T.'s weekly features on their blogs (lord, I'm such a bandwagoner!) I will document my Cheapass Christmas planning.

My goal will be to spend $250 or less in Christmas gifts, cards, decorating, Christmas dinner, the tree, and other miscellaneous prep.

Each week I'll attempt to tackle one aspect of the Christmas melee and keep it on the thrifty side and document it here on the old Random Meanderings. At the end of each weekly post I'll break down the cost of that particular week's expenditure and update the running total.

I wonder if I can do it? I love a good challenge especially when it comes to being a cheapass.

However, I must preface everything by saying I do have it easier than a lot of people. I only have one kid who is still relatively young (i.e. easily impressed by simple shit) and I have no immediate family in the area to deal with. Plus I was lucky enough to grow up "enlightened" as my mother likes to say. That's a nice way of saying we was po'. Let's just say my standards of fulfillment are probably a little lower.

I'm hoping this challenge to myself will get me more into a Christmas mood since this year the holidays have been or will be a real bummer without my husband around. And of course you can't forget that I'm living in my own climactic version of hell where people think nothing of scantily-clad-Christmas-carolling because it's 90 degrees outside. I guess you have to be from here to think that that's Christmas-y.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

You May Already Be a Winner

After reviewing the many hilarious entries--be they be about pissing on cars, stealing flags, pumpkin effigies, engineering espionage, garbage disposal sandwich or wasabi food dares, very interesting tattoos, sailing to the 50th state, fun with shot puts, random birds defecating on you, dragon prayers, truth swindlers, or nasal pretzel sticks...I picked my favorite one.

Sarah's story about naked high school escapades was a classic!!

For the second purely-by-chance-winner I had my lovely assistant, with tonight's supper smeared on his face and looking a tad bit out of it, help me pluck a name out of a hat (a cowboy hat of course!):

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Avrienne, you're a winner too!!!

What do you win? Well what fun would it be if I told you? Nothing's more fun than getting a surprise in the mail right? Send me your addys (you can email me at rkbezzie @ yahoo . com) and I'll try to get your prizes out by early next week.

Thanks to you all who swing by here every now and then to listen to me ramble, piss and/or moan on a semi-daily basis!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Civic Duty

My Fellow Texans,

I voted. Fully 100% uneducated votes. If you had an "R" after your name, you did not receive my vote. If your name was Beezlebub and you had a "D" after your name--you got my vote.

Was it better not to vote or to vote uneducated? I guess it depends how you look at it. Quite honestly I could have given two shits about the state races, I was only interested in the federal ones.

I did come this close for voting for Kinky. Why? No, not because he's some aging hipster cowboy spouting a plethora of one liners and clever quips.

Because of his signs:

logo

These are everwhere! They're eyecatching, they've got great colors and I love the way they have a newage-art-deco feel. Clean lines, crisp colors. None of that stars and stripes bullshit you see on every other yard sign. I'm really tempted to steal one.

The Mad Scientist voted a pretty straight Democrat ticket too in Michigan. He said the only Republicans he voted for were the ones on the MSU board of trustees and were all incumbents. He voted for them because they just ousted MSU's football coach John L(oser) Smith. I love my husband.

He said he got a little wistful when he went to vote and above his name on the list was mine. Sniff sniff.

I tell you what though this election make me think Canada's looking better and better.

The Mad Scientist had to show NO ID to vote. NOTHING. No voter registration. No picture ID. NADA. All he had to do was give them his name and sign it next to where it was printed on the list. Now excuse me, what's to stop someone from pretending they're you and voting?? Hell, I could have called up one of my friends in Lansing and told them to go vote in my behalf. Apparently all they'd have to know is how to spell my last name.

Plus apparently Michigan (at least Lansing) has switched from a hanging chad ballot to a scantron color the arrow ballot. He spent his whole time voting coloring in pictures of arrows. Yeah, I remember how accurate scantron tests were when I was in school. Remember the fear of god they put in you should any mark wander outside of the circle? This is probably why I bombed the SATs. (Scantron error! I was robbed!)

Here in Texas things were different. I voted at an elementary school that was bigger than my high school growing up. Yikes.

The line was about a twenty minute wait. When I got there, there must have been two precincts voting because when I got to the voting stalls after signing in, I was asked by a dude in a smock what my precinct number was. Hell if I knew!! So I told him I didn't know. He stared at me like I was some kind of freak that snuck in there to vote. Ended up all he had to do was ask Miss Thang who checked my ID and signed me in what precinct I was in. Then he did some juju magic to the electronic voting "pad" before he let me on it. I'm only assuming he set it to my precinct.

When I got to my voting stall, I was presented with an electronic "ballot" that was similar to those touchpads you see at the U-Scans at grocery checkouts. No instructions. No stylus. So I just assumed I used my fingers. Now I can't help but think how many votes will be effed up because of fat fingers. My fat finger made me check the box for this putz:

rick_perry
"Hey baby, wanna hop into my car and stroke your fingers through my perfectly coiffed hair? I swear it's real..."

So I'm sitting their panicking and trying to figure out how to uncheck the box. You would think if you touched the box again it would uncheck right? Ha! Not at first! I'm frantically pounding on the pad with my fat sausage fingers trying to uncheck the box and cussing up a storm under my breath. Meanwhile Mr. Voter Pad Reset Man who couldn't figure out why I didn't know my precinct number isn't paying any attention to me when I try to get his attention to figure out how to uncheck the box because like I said there are NO instructions given with this voting device. Mr. Voter Pad Reset Man is too busy rearranging the pens in his nifty red smock. After smacking up the ballot a bit, I finally got the box to uncheck. When I went to check the correct box--my finger AGAIN checked the box for the aforementioned windbag. Thankfully by this time I was a pro at massaging my ballot into doing what I wanted it to do.

I coaxed her along until I reached the end of the sixteen screen ballot.

As I walked away I felt fully unsatisfied. There is just something to be said for voting with a tangible ballot that's more gratifying than voting electronically. It's like comparing sex with a man to sex with a machine. It's just not the same. Not that I would know how to validate that analogy, but if you've made it this far into reading this post, I thought it might make you laugh (or possibly gag in horror).

I suppose the days of the hanging chad are gone. Thank you senior citizens of Florida for screwing the rest of us into having to vote this way. I hope you all get confused when you have to vote electronically and when your arthritic fingers make you check the wrong box your red smocked Mr. Voter Pad Reset Man ignores you too.

I know I said I'd do it today, but I'll announce winners of my blogiversary contest tomorrow. I'll have Chunky draw the random winner. He couldn't tonight because apparently waiting 20 minutes in line is exhausting when you're four years old and he just wanted to go to bed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Texas Forgotten Frost Toque

Ok, well "it" turned out ok!!!

Here "it" is:

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That's before I finished "it" completely.

Here "it" is completed:

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Can't tell the difference between "it" completed and uncompleted?

It's probably because you can't see "it" close up in the pictures:

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Pretty cool huh?

The stats:

Yarn: Handspun 100% Corridale spun by Karen. She estimated it as about 52 yards spun. I probably have a good 15 to 20 yards left.

Pattern: A Bezzie original using Knit Pattern #205 from The Book of Knitting and Crochet (which I just looked up as retailing for $60 used on Amazon--I got it for $6 at Half Price Books--score!) I added the beading afterwards. Not my best work, but no one should be examining my head that closely.

Needles: size US 7 for the band; size US 9 for the lace pattern

I dig it, it's kinda hippie chick. I could see myself wearing this when the weather gets "colder."

I suppose I should give "it" a better name eh? Any ideas?

I just filed these pics in my finished object picture folder and it has occurred to me that I'm a small project knitter. I'm not a large-project knitter. Hm. Maybe I'll make that a new years knitsolution--to knit X number of large projects.

Ha ha, who am I kidding? Losing 5 pounds would be easier than that!

Here's the pattern for y'all who asked:

Texas Forgotten Frost Toque

I wrote this pattern on the back of a Dixie cup. I got sick of wearing my diamond scrunchie and decided to make this. If you can tell me where I pulled references for those first two sentences, brownie points for you.

My apologies if this pattern is crap. I always assume that everyone knows what I know and it can make spelling it out in the form of a pattern difficult.

Materials:

US 7 needles
US 9 needles
Small button
Sewing thread and beads (optional)

Gauge:

I made my headband with some handspun yarn. I suppose any worsted weight yarn would work. If you went with a lighter weight yarn, you would want to probably lengthen the band and add another repeat of the lace to get the same effect. So for the most part, gauge isn’t important.

Using US 7 (double check that size) needles, CO 6 sts

K2, P2 for1 inch

K2, BO 2, K2 (to make buttonhole)

Next row: K2, CO 2 and P2, K2

Continue band until it reaches 4 inches long

Now you’ll start the increases for the lace pattern. At this point I sorta tried to switch to seed stitch to keep it from curling as stockinette would or excessively stretching as garter stitch would do. But I’m not sure it turned out that hot. The beauty of handspun is that it will sometimes hide those flaws. Besides, this part will be under you hair. If anyone’s close enough to your head to notice a few funky stitches, you had better be sleeping with them, or you should at the very least seriously think about redefining your concept of personal space.

Row 1: K1, K-f/b (increase 1 stitch by knitting in the front and back loops of the same stitch), P2, K-f/b, K1 (8 sts total)
Row 2: K1, P1 to end of row
Row 3: K1, P1, K-f/b, P1, K1, P1, K-f/b, P1 (10 sts total)
Row 4: K1, P1 to end of row
Row 5: K1, P1, K1, P1, K-f/b, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1 (11 sts total)

Switch to US 9 needles and knit the next row

Lace time!

Row 1: YO, K1, YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K5, K2tog, YO, K1, YO
Row 2, and all other even rows: p all sts and YOs
Row 3: YO, K3, YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K3, K2tog, YO, K3, YO
Row 5: YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO
Row 7: YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO, K3tog (sl1, K2tog and draw slipped st over), YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO
Row 9: YO, Sl1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, SL1, K1 and draw slipped st over, K1, K2tog, YO
Row 11: Same as Row 9
End Row 12.


Sorry suckas, no lace chart here. This headband wearing hippie chica hates trying to read lace charts.

Repeat the lace pattern 4 times or as many times as you need it to fit around your head snuggly.
Decrease time!

Row 1: K1, P1 to end
Row 2: K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1 (10 sts total)
Row 3: K1, P1 to end
Row 4: K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K1, P1, SSK, P1 (8 sts total)
Row 5: K1, P1 to end
Row 6: K1, P1, K2tog, P1, SSK, P1 (6 sts total)

Switch back to US 7 needle and knit a row

From here until the band is 4.5 inches continue in the K2, P2 pattern.

Bind off.

Weave in ends, wet, and block.

Once the headband is dry, sew your button on the band. That’s it if you want to skip the beading.

To bead it all I did was: with a piece of doubled cotton thread, I did a simple running stitch outlining the “V”s that occur on the lace pattern. I beaded five glass seed beads onto the stitch facing the right side.

That’s it. Wear it with all your Snow Queen Hippie Chick pride!