Wednesday, April 30, 2008

90

Today marks Dr. Mad Scientist's 90th day of sobriety.

Chunky and I went to his Sunday AA meeting where they had their "celebrations" edition of the meeting (fourth Sunday of the month).

I remember when Dr. Mad Scientist (raised a Mormon--now strayed from that flock) went to his first Catholic wedding that tacked on a mass. He said the chanting and ritual of it all really through him for a loop.

Now I have to laugh at this after attending his AA meeting having been half raised a Catholic and now having strayed from that flock. It's full of chanting and ritual! He'd fit right in with the Catholics.

Well except for that whole communion wine. That might pose a problem.

I still hold on to my guarded optimism because I think this time we're both "getting" it.

He's "working his program" and although I'm not affiliating myself with any 12 step group, I'm understanding it better than last time when we went through this shit in Michigan.

I understand the me part of it more and have learned to let go of any expectations or demands I have of him.

It ain't easy, that's for damn sure. But hey, who does enjoy getting out of their comfort zone?

But I'm feeling better equipped for the shit that life throws our way. Hopefully the next 90 days will be smooth, but if they're not, we'll deal.

Sometimes I hate the freaking drama of it all. But then I wonder about how boring "normal" marriages must be (if such a thing even exists! Ha ha!)

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Best Kept Secret

I did it.

Oye. I haven't spent this much money on something just for me in--well, never!!

Wait, I take that back, I guess you could count my phone bills from when I was dating Student Mad Scientist about a decade ago.

But it was my mini-bonus, and I was a good girl and put my Christmas bonus in our savings account last year. And lord knows I earned every penny of this mini-bonus--making dinner reservations and typing college essays and other weird tasks.

I bought a spinning wheel.

What kind of wheel?

A Fidelis wheel from Heavenly Handspinning.

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(Swiped from her site!)

These wheels are handmade by a lady in ATL (because that's what the cool kids call Atlanta) and I've read nothing but rave reviews of the few that are out there. And yes, I'll confess, I read said rave reviews of them on The Site That Shall Not Be Named. Maybe I should rename that site KnitterGoogle since that's all I use it for anymore--looking up shit.

I bought my spindle from her too.

I've never touched a wheel before in my life, but I already love this one so.

I know it's not for everyone--some people are turned off by the bike wheel or the single treadle. But would you buy your sixteen year old kid learning to drive a Rolls Royce?

Nah.

You buy them something affordable, not too ugly (because gah, you gotta look cool in your car right?) and reliable. This wheel fits all of those categories.

I was also drawn to her wheels when I read her "mission statement":

I began spinning (with a drop spindle) a couple of years ago and found myself really enjoying it. Wanting to try my hand at spinning with a wheel, my search for an affordable wheel began. To be honest, I was overwhelmed with the expense involved in purchasing a wheel. All I really wanted was a faster, some what simpler way of adding twist to wool roving, so that I could make yarn and enjoy the yarn more readily.
Good lord, she's a cheapass with a will to create a cheaper way to do things after my own heart!!!

Granted I think Babe Starter Wheels are similar in price to her Fidelis, but, and no offense to anyone with a Babe, I never thought those were pretty wheels. I wanted a wood one.

So there you have it.

My little beginner affordable beautiful wheel.

She should be here this weekend/early next week.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Wrapup: El Fin De La Semana

Another rip roaring exciting weekend down the tubes at our local Bezidence!

I hit Kid City in Clifton to purchase Chunky his summer attire. I got out of there with 5 outfits and a new set of swim trunks for $26.

Now, before you applaud me for this cheapassedness--Kid City probably has a direct line on the sweatshop market.

But, you know what? Who doesn't?

I could go to Walmart and buy the same t-shirt and shorts made in Bangladesh by young girls in shitacular conditions and pay $10 for it. At Kid City I only paid $1.99. And trust me, it's the same shirt. I came home with a couple of Faded Glory (Walmart's "brand") and even an OshKosh B'Gosh shirt for $1.99 each. Do I really think Kid City is paying that girl in Bangladesh any more money for her time and labor than Walmart? No.

Not like the "everyone does it so why shouldn't I?" argument really holds a lot of water...but I really don't have the money to outfit a six year old that's wear those clothes to shreds by the time summer ends.

But let's skip to happier things. Speaking of sweatshops and cheap poorly sewed things--I replaced Yasser. He was getting very stretched and bloated in his old age and he wasn't getting the job done very well anymore.

I replaced him with this:

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I ripped the idea off of a bag I saw on Etsy (is that a bad thing?) using some fabric and big-ass snaps I bought when Chris was up here last weekend.

Here's a crappy closeup of the print I used:

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Kind of a lucky/love theme going on.

And speaking of love (I'm kicking ass in the segue department today!)...

I planted my pot garden--to include the flowers in my "Falling Out of Love" socks made from STR Mustang Sally.

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Now if it would just stop raining! I'm a little worried my seedlings are getting over-watered.

I ran out of potting soil and still have to do my potato and my onions and radishes. I'll do that later this week.

Hm, well. No segue for this final picture that sums up my weekend.

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That's another crappy closeup of a half-eaten loaf of challah.

The landlord's son brought it to me on Sunday night as a thank you.

A thank you for what?

I can't remember what day it was, Wednesday perhaps, but Chunky and I pulled into the driveway to find Zorba the Landlord's car parked kind of funny in the parking lot and Zorba was sitting in the passenger side with the door open and his legs out.

As soon as I could say "Don't forget your lunchbag in the car, Chunky!" Zorba's Eastern European nurse--we'll call her Tatania (since her eyebrows have been solidly TATooed onto her forehead)--was all over me rambling in a frantic broken English diatribe.

Apparently Zorba had just gotten home from the hospital. Zorba and his sons decided he was well enough to go home. But he was still too weak to walk from the car into the house and despite Tatania trying to tell the sons that there was no way she'd be able to get him from the car to the house herself--they released him anyway. Needless to say she was pretty upset by all of this and why she pounced on me in the driveway.

So Tatania and I, with the help of a walker, manuevered Zorba into the house. WHEW! Who would have thought frail elderly people could be so heavy??? I don't know how nurses do it hefting patients around all day. I'd be a walking workers' comp claim so fast!!

I thought it was super sweet of his sons to bring us that loaf of bread as a thank you. I mean what was I going to do? Strand Zorba and Tatania out in the driveway? Good lord.

I may be a bitter bitch in some regards, but I'm not subhuman!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Chasing It.

What a busy mother friggin' week.

Monday I started work on a really big project I hope to have done by Christmas. If it turns out, I'll post it around then. But for now it's still in progress and you know me--no peeking!

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was working my tail off at work. We had a huge brief due in a fairly amusing case.

Let's just say if I belonged to the union we're up against, I'd want them to reevaluate how my dues were being spent especially with regards to kooky-ass lawsuits. That's all I'll say about that.

Last night I worked until 11:45 p.m. helping my Big Boss get the brief out.

I'm exhausted!!!

Wednesday was also Paper Pusher Appreciation Day (hereinafter "PPAD") as my fellow office workers will probably know.

As such, my Big Boss got me a beautiful arrangment, and my Medium Boss and Little Boss teamed up to get me something that never arrived--I think it fell off the truck. I think the story of it not being delivered is more fun than any whatever it was could ever be. I just hope they get their money back.

The partners of the firm gave us all a nice little mini-bonus for PPAD which was awesome and totally unexpected.

I've decided I'm going to use it to buy a wheel.

Yeah I realize this post follows a post about being a Cheapass. But it's all about progress, not perfection right? (Ha ha, how I loath AA slogans, but will use them to suit my will. Take what you want, leave the rest--right? Someone stop me!)

So stay tuned for that.

It's not one of those mainstream wheels that cost a lot of money. It's comparable to a Babe in price, not as expensive as a Fricke and I love it so.

In the meantime I've been spinning this:

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It's a merino superwash batt in "Malachite" that I bought from The Ranches Angora. Spinning from a batt is a little different than the braids of stuff I've been working with previously, so it's not as even as I'd like, but I'm enjoying it.

Finally, in honor of the craziness going on in NYC today (I'm not sure where I stand on the whole thing but I do think 50 bullets seems a tad excessive and they should have at least been charged with the misdemeanors...)--have you seen the preview for the new Summer IK?

They feature Elizabeth Zimmerman's (as reinterpreted by her daughter, whom I hope has spawned a knitter herself to continue on in the tradition of garter stitched boxy classics and sucking on the proverbial EZ teat of beating the "classics" to death for fun and profit) Maltese Hats.

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Is it just me or do you think this would be really easy to modify into a Klan hood?

I'm sorry, but unless you're the untoilet trained model in the above picture, a White Supremacist with a crafty streak, a gnome, or a White Supremacist gnome that poops his pants, this hat is not going to look good on you.

"Ma! Grab Junior and grab the knitted hoods! Let's go have us an old fashioned cross burning!"

Yick. How loathsome.

Although now that I think about it, EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket could easily be modified into a cross-cozy when you're in between hate crimes.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of this overly-commericalize-overly-mainstream-hippieized-quasi-holiday, I'm doing a special post!

Cheapass

I'm taking you for a tour of my house and pointing out the cheapass stuff that we do that has a nice earth friendly side effect. Most of these are pretty "duh" or I've talked about before, but it's nice to have them all in one post.

Let's start outside in the--

Driveway

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Yeah, it's no hybrid. It's no Begleymobile that runs on electricity and my own sense of self-smugness. It's a used car.

It's a four door sedan. It's not the tiniest thing, but it's not the largest sedan on the road either. It's an old lady Buick Century and I love it.

Cheapassedness: It's used. Just like buying second hand clothes or furniture, buying a second hand car isn't a bad thing. But y'all know this--that's old news!

Earthfriendliness: Like I said, she's no hybrid, so she only gets about 18 mpg city (which is only two more mpgs than say a 2002 Buick Rendevous SUV). But she does get nearly 33 mpg highway driving.

Room for Improvement: We could drive less. And honestly now that we're in Jersey, we drive much less than we did in Colorado, Michigan, and Texas thanks to mass transportation and the fact that Chunky goes to sleep and I ain't waking his ass up to go to the train station/AA meeting du jour to pick Dr. Mad Scientist's ass up. Dr. Mad Scientist walks home three nights a week or gets rides from his fellow AAers.

Now onto the--

Kitchen

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Here we have my recycling stuff. The white bin holds cans/bottles/plastic/glass. The cardboard box it sits in holds junk mail, school papers, scrap paper and newspapers.

But newspapers are what I'm talking about here!

Cheapassedness: I only buy the Sunday paper (I walk three blocks to the deli on our street). It costs me $2.00 to buy. I used to think this was an easy expense to trim but then it finally occured to me (and I think some readers here pointed it out) that you can easily recoup that $2.00 you spend plus some on the Sunday coupons. Be they craft store or hamburger helper coupons--I always at least break even saving $2.00 on something.

Earthfriendliness: As I sort of mentioned before--you can recycle it.

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It's my bag-pig! Mom made this for me eons ago (my kitchen has a pig theme). It's one of those campy dolls you stuff plastic bags into and then pull out when you need them.

Cheapassedness: Do people really buy those little one gallon-trash bags I see in the store? I mean there are 101 uses for the plastic bag--from dangerous and deadly yet amusing cat toy to trashbag liners--who doesn't reuse their grocery bags??

Earthfriendliness: They're reused, not thrown away immediately.

Room for Improvement: I suppose I could buy or make those uber-hip cloth grocery bags or take my bags back to be reused. Maybe someday. Right now I'm enjoying my plastic bags!

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Fakin' It Whoopie Pies!

Cheapassedness: Each Sunday (or Saturday in this case...) I bake something for our lunches for the week. I figure this saves money not having to buy pre-packaged cookies or sweets.

Earthfriendliness: I'm not buying all that extra packaging you get with individually wrapped, or even just a package of Chips Ahoy.

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Cheapassedness: We recycle ziploc baggies by washing them and reusing them. Yes, a package of 60 bags only costs me a dollar at the Dollar Store--but now I can get that package of 60 to last me 3 months instead of one!

Earthfriendliness: A few less baggies going into the landfill.

Next it's our--

Bedroom

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Cheapassedness: Used books and library books save money. I can't remember the last time I bought myself a new book from the bookstore. Chunky and Dr. Mad Scientist are a bit different. But even then, Chunky's books rarely cost more than $5 a pop and again, I can't remember the last time I bought him a book. Dr. Mad Scientist gets a majority of his new books throughout the year in the form of Father's Day, Birthday, and Christmas presents.

Earthfriendliness: You're saving a tree buying used or patronizing your local library.

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Cheapassedness: Used furniture is such a good deal! I rescued this lamp from the dumpster of my old Michigan office. It was a disgusting 1970's lamp/table ensemble that I repainted and gave an extremely kitschy Hawaiian theme. Our computer chair is also from that same office. Our dining room "set" is also from a friend who was downsizing her apartment. I can't imagine having to pay for that furniture!

Earthfriendliness: This is very "duh." You're saving that furniture from mucking up the landfill. Plus I can't help but think garbagemen really hate having to toss heavy furniture into the backs of their trucks.

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Cheapassedness: We saved so much money this year by not turning on the heat. Ok, we did cave on really cold weekends, but very very rarely did we have the heat on for both Saturday AND Sunday and I can't remember turning it on after work on weekdays. I spent $60 buying me and Dr. Mad Scientist a pair of electric blankets. Those blankets have already paid for themselves.

Earthfriendliness: While they still suck up electricity, it's not nearly as much energy used to heat a whole house. We would often curl up with our electric blankets on the couch or while on the computer.

Let's quickly check out the--

Bathroom

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Cheapassedness: We use our bath towels for at the very least 2 weeks before washing them. Chunky goes even longer since he doesn't shower as often as me and Dr. Mad Scientist. This saves a load of money on laundry.

Earthfriendliness: Less laundry equals less water used equals less soap used.

Now we'll walk through the--

Dining Room

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Cheapassedness: In the summer, these windows open give us a great cross breeze keeping the house cool. You can see there's a plug for a window-air-conditioner, but we obviously save more money in electricity by not having one. In the winter, I seal these windows with $6 shrinky plastic to keep the heat from escaping and thus I get more bang for my buck when I actually do turn the heat on.

Earthfrienliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Now we'll mosey to the--

Living Room

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Cheapassedness: More electricity and thus money saved by not having the cable box sucking electricity to stay dormant during the day. Chunky is good at remembering to turn off "the box" as we call this power strip that's hooked up to our tube, DVD player and cable box.

Earthfriendliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Last, but not least we have the closet off the living room.

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Cheapassedness: I know not everyone has a huge walk in closet that is pretty much empty--but it's still super easy to hang a load of laundry to dry in even the smallest of houses (ask me how I know--I grew up like this!) I save $1 each week by hanging out the jeans and bathtowels and not using the dryers at the laundromat. That's $4 a month and nearly $50 a year. That's a few skeins of primo sock yarn!

Earthfriendliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Like I said, most of these are pretty "duh" but I couldn't let Earth Day pass without a salute to cheapasses!!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

WIPs N'Nips

T'was a fine weekend!

Saturday we had marriage shrinky-dink day. I love this woman so much more than Pimple Face in Manhattan. Pimple Face was nice, don't get me wrong, but I think if she cut herself, she'd bleed green.

Plus I found out Saturday that Dr. Shrinky-Dink is a knitter and crocheter--ha ha! She's one of us! She can't be that bad right?

And then Sunday, I hung out with Chris.

We hit I've Got A Notion for some clasps she was looking for. We walked right past 'em in a button-tunnel-vision-induced haze. They've got about six carousel racks of buttons at this place. For button-deprived Jerseyians, it was mecca.

I walked away with some big-ass snaps and a 1/2 yard of fabric. I've decided to replace Yasser with a fabric bag. Yasser was too stretchy. He'd become too easily heavily laden with trash. It got to the point where I wouldn't dump him for months until he started to spit candy wrappers or gas receipts back at me in spite for gorging him with trash. RIP Yasser.

Next we hit Stix where we chatted with Monica and I picked up some yarn to break the monotony of knitting with that blue skein of acrylic for my Hats for Alex.

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A couple of skeins of Rosita novelty yarn leftover from Stix's incredible sale last weekend. I'm glad I didn't go because man, oh man, just looking at her leftover sale items this weekend and having a hard time resisting buying them--I would have and even harder time resisting had I gone last week.

I know what you're thinking looking at that picture: "You spent $20 on novelty yarn for baby hats?" Nope, I peeled off the real tags. They were $1 a ball. Can't beat that price with a stick--or a stake.

And speaking of steaks (ho ho! Antonymic segues!), I did one of those Meathead hats for Alex last night during laundry.

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Hm, yes. I can't say this pattern really revs me up. It's knit flat which I find kind of bizzare. God help the baby who gets this hat, I hope he/she doesn't find my seam too uncomfortable!

And it's basically just a pointed hat. I could have made that in the round. Maybe I didn't do it right since I did downgrade it a lot in the pattern to fit my 56-magical-stitch-number-for-a-baby-hat habit, but needless to say this will be the only true Meathead I make.

Any other pointy hats with kicky embellishments will be knit in the round and dubbed Tofuheads.

As long as I'm on the subject of finished objects and pieces of meat. Who wants to see my mother's boobie?

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Bow-chickie-bow-wow!!!

This is my modified tit-bit for mom. It's smaller than the first ones I made her and the nipple is further down--like a real boobie. The normal tit-bit has a more centrally placed nip.

It's a very rough looking boobie--this picture makes it look pretty darn good. The poor nip is a little flattened. But c'mon who among us with woman-boobs hasn't once in a while experienced a case of nipple squish (and not in a good way)?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

If I Were In Prison...

...I would file down my toothbrushes not to make shivs, but to make knitting needles.

And I would knit baby hats to calculate the passage of time.

Did you know we are entering the 16th week of the year already?

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I've already knit 15 Hats For Alex this year--that's one a week. Each Saturday night in my car in the parking lot of my laundromat.

Inspired by Zknitter and the recent freebization of the pattern--I might try a Meathead or two. (Although I want to call the hats Meatykins after one of my pet names for Springs...)

I was thinking about turning these hats over to Pam at Maryland Sheep & Wool in a few weeks, but I've been going over the books and yeah...as much as I'd LOVE to go, I just can't afford it. Ah well, still plenty of time to start saving for Rhinebeck!

Speaking of knitting. We got a package from Mom today.

In it was this:

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It's a medium-sized (a bit bigger than a traditional sock bag) project bag featuring knitting snowmen (or is it snowomen?). Because you know, snowmen really need to stay warm!

I'm adding this to the loot I'm collecting for the big end of the year K.A.Y.E. drawing. Given it has a wintry theme so it will be perfect for a December drawing. (She made me an identical one but with a ladybug fabric lining!)

Plus, it's lined with some polar bear flannel to keep your knitting nice and cozy!

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Of course if you're a sole-crocheter you may not dig this. Hm. Ah well, the drawing isn't until December. I'll worry about it then!

And finally to wrap up today's randomness--the first seedlings!

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Alyssum and...

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Bachelor buttons!! Hooray spring!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Updates and Answers

It's a huge-ass post chock full of kootchies, dirt, feet, and sex!!

First up it's the 15th of the month meaning that aside from me having to make arrangements for my boss's taxes to be mailed today--it's time to unveil the April K.A.Y.E. prize.

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What the hell is it? It's a blank of yarn from Flat Feet! You start to unravel the blank and you start to knit or crochet directly off the blank. In essence it's like reverse frogging. There's enough here to make a pair of socks if that's your leaning. But think of all the other cool stuff you could make too!

The fun comes in that the pattern you see on the blank isn't going to be the pattern you're gonna get on the finished object.

I bought this from Yarny Goodness. Remember that name (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Go check out her store. She's got some great stuff there.

Next up I'm going to do a couple of updates/question answering of some stuff that people have addressed in the comments, or I forgot to include in my posts.

The Alaska sock yarn bag I made for Mystery Sea Socker Person and Cpurl was made using the ever so easy and gaining popularity pattern found here. Even a sewing doofus like me was able to figure it out and come out with a decent (not perfect!) bag.

Shifting gears, let me assure you that I will be posting regular updates of my adventures in sock planting.

I'm not going to line the socks with plastic or anything--I'm just going to shove the dirt in there and like fat dirty flowery Christmas stockings they shall stradle my railing.

And Mom, you should know better that Dr. Mad Scientist realizes I'm a kook and could really care less that I'm growing flowers out of my socks!

Rolling with my homeys, people have inquired about my ghetto fabuloso compost bin.

I'll be straight, I stole the basic idea from this article about urban composting.

Last fall I bought a big rubbermaid box (set me back like $5 at Target if I remember rightly--I know I didn't pay full price).

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Then I took an old knife (again, cheap and didn't last very long--but still handy in many ways!)

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And I held it to the gas flame on our stove. The previous tenant ruined the stovetop. You'd think after you noticed the choreboy was scratching the surface of the oven you'd stop scrubbing and use something else--not continue to scrub ALL FOUR burners!

I flipped over the box and with the hot knife I cut drainage slits.

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I did the same to the lid--making them more like holes for my compost to breathe.

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Then I filled the bottom with shredded newspaper, then I basically put my pot garden to bed in the compost pile--I put all my excess potting soil in there along with my dead sunflower, tomato and oregano plants (yes, I realize now oregano is an annual!).

For the first half of the winter I saved my kitchen compost in an old Folgers coffee tub.

But it got stinky.

What I'd really love is one of these. My Aunt Jaywalker has one at her house and I fell in love with it when I first saw it. I love the way you can fill it completely and not have to take multiple trips to the bin due to the size. The charcoal filter in the lid cuts down on the smell (I tried smelling hers!). But $40 is a little steep.

Dr. Mad Scientist has mentioned that he might get it for me for Mother's Day though.

Speaking of smells, some people have asked if the bin is stinky.

I'll preface it by saying, I'm not a compost expert, but sofar so good. I think as long as you turn it regularly and don't put any meat or protein in there it'll be OK.

Of course ask me if it stinks the first time the temperature hits 95 degrees this summer!

Have you made it this far wondering when I was going to start talking about sex? Ha ha--sorry, no sex--but it got your attention didn't it?

Sucker!!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Was I Kidding?

I should have known there was no way I'd be able to only plant the cold-weather seeds.

Instead I hauled out all of my pots.

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And all of my seedling starter yogurt, sour cream, ricotta cheese, and other non-curbside recyclable plastic tubs.

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I started pairing off seed packets with pots.

Then I took everything outside and arranged the pots so I could tell where they'd all fit and I could further plan what plant would go in what pot. Depending on where the pot fit on the balcony and how much sun that spot gets also helped determine what went where.

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Then me and Chunky got down on starting about 1/2 my seeds.

I put them up in the stained glass window ledge to sprout and keep them safe from Wingus and Dingus (Squeaky and Springs).

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The peas and lettuce are outside. We'll see if they live up to their true cold-weather nature.

Did you notice the pair of socks in the first picture?

As much as I love the colors of Socks that Rock, I'm highly disappointed in their "superwash" label. Both pairs of STR socks I've made are highly felted and are now a pain the ass to get on my feet anymore.

So I've decided to rechristen them into planters.

Have you ever seen those plastic saddle-bags filled with dirt that you straddle over a railing, water, and ta-da, flowers bloom?

Why not with my STR socks? I figure I'll i-cord them together so they'll stradle my railing and plant Alyssum in one, and Forget-Me-Nots in the other.

I can't get them on my feet--might as well use them for something useful!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

SSS

No, not Second Sock Syndrome. I thankfully have never suffered from that.

S-Sewing

First up I sewed a bottom for a Monkey Bottom Barf Bag for Chunky's teacher Miss Donna. Apparently she really likes the gigantic Monkey Bottom Barf Bag I made to haul his nap stuff back and forth. She was hired after Christmas so I never knit her anything. I knew I wanted to knit her something before Chunky left for public school in Fall, and this will be perfect!

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Next, you've probably seen these all over Etsy, and I figured why not make my own? Now that the weather is getting warmer, I won't have my trusty coat pockets to shove my keys into. So I pulled out my sheepy fabric and made myself a key fob.

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(No, they will not be for sale. You can't tell from that picture my top-stitching skills need a bit of time to be honed.)

Next, I'm sure some of you have heard of the Sea Socks Cruise. It's basically where a bunch of knitters get on a boat and go places while taking classes from famous knitting teachers between ports of call.

This year the cruise goes to Alaska.

Ok, here's where I'm going to get honest.

I HATE these Inside Passage cruises. I think they're a poor representation of the great state of Alaska. Whew. I could go off into a really long diatribe as to why I think this, but I won't.

But what does this have to do with sewing?

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Why this of course. I already made one of these Alaskan Sock bags for someone going on the Sea Socks Cruise this year and I made another one yesterday--for another person going on the Sea Socks Cruise.

I fell in love with this fabric--it's designed by Jon Van Zyle (if you're Alaskan you'll recognize that name immediately) and has the names of tons of different Alaskan cities on there. Pay no attention to the funky seaming there.

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The inside I used otter fabric. (Never mind that it's upside down!) I do rest assured that the Sea Sockers will at least be able to see sea otters.

I remember my freshman algebra class taking place in a classroom with large windows overlooking a cove where you could regularly see eagles soaring and sea otters basking. It's no wonder I nearly flunked that class.

S-Spinning

My spinning is getting better!

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This is some natural colored wool from Smoky Mountain Fibers. It was cheap (I don't want anything too expensive until I get spinning down better!) and is very soft. I'm getting better control over the thickness of the yarn produced.

It's still not doing anything to help my resolve in eventually getting a wheel though!

S-Seeds

I was trying to hold off planting until next weekend. But today I'll be starting my colder weather plants--peas and lettuce.

Don't worry about the rest being planted too early if I plant them next weekend. That's the joy of pot gardening--you can control the weather your plants are subjected to. I'm starting to think even if I won the lottery and we bought a house, I'm not sure I could convert to a "real" garden in the ground!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's a Panther! Run!

I had this really long post about how my new regimen of teaching myself to run in high heels will aid me running away from any freed panthers in Newark when my office relocates there in the fall.

But it wasn't very witty and didn't have much appeal.

So here's some pictures instead.

The sock I started for Chunky in some tiger yarn gifted by Mags.

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Oh god, what if a tiger gets loose in Newark?

And a picture of Chunky climbing the apple tree in our yard.

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I blame the landlord's son for this one. His son offhandedly mentioned to Chunky one day that there used to be cherry trees on the property and he used to climb them as a kid to pick the cherries.

Chunky's already informed me he's ready now that he's learned to climb the tree to pick apples in the fall.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cheapass Tip #103

When faced with a large loan, say for a car, some knowledge you had crammed between your ears by a team of professors wearing motheaten sweaters and living on boats, a house, or a luxury yacht--consider NOT making the minimum payment.

For example:

When we receive the bills for Dr. Mad Scientist's bachelor's degree loans--that's right people, the PhD is paid for--we're still paying for the damn bachelor's degree!--each month the minimum payment due is $78.72. (We were able to consolidate his loans when interest rates were obscenely low. Remember those days? Heady times, man, heady times!)

Anyway, instead of writing out a check for $78.72 each month (I could have them deduct them this amount out of our bank account and lower our interest rate .25%, but I have relatives that work for the postal service. My mail supports their lives.), I write out a check for $100.

Ok, so I'm only paying an extra $21.28 each month, but times that by the four years it would normally take us to finish paying off these damn student loans and we'll be able to pay off the student loan much faster.

I know my mom will pipe in in the comments about how she's done this...so I'll spare you that example.

I also did this with my car. I purchased it back in 2003 for a killer of a deal at Andrews Chevrolet (Mid-Michigan represent!). Another cheapass tip: grease your connections. I had a connection I can't talk about with that dealership that paid off nicely in knowing I wasn't getting the shaft when I bought my [used] car.

Every month instead of paying the amount due, I paid the amount due as if I was making the payment late. I always paid on time, but paying the late amount due meant I paid $15 more than I should have each month.

I did this ever month since September 2003 except for one--this past Sucky September when I paid the actual amount due.

I knew I was getting close to paying her off, so I called the bank yesterday to get the final payoff amount.

The person helping me informed me that the loan was paid off as of March 18 when they received my payment last month.

Score!

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She's MINE!!!!!

The paperwork is in the mail and should be here shortly.

Looking at the payment coupon book, I paid off my car exactly six months early by paying a measly $15 extra a month.

What's $15 really? That's what, a week's worth of "good" coffee (Although I hear Starbucks is giving away free coffee 12:00 to 12:30 EST at all their nationwide stores)? Maybe four trips for one to McDonalds? Two and a half 12 packs of soda? A skein of decent sock yarn? 4 oz. of handdyed roving?

The savings don't stop at now having an extra $170 a month to pay for the aforementioned student loan, or that evil MasterCard balance that I am determined to get back down to nothing by the end of this year.

Once I get the paperwork squared away, I'll be able to drop the collision coverage the bank makes you keep on your car when they're the lienholder and I'll save on my car insurance.

This couldn't have happened at a better time for us.

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And thus ends my post wherein I sound like the biggest mother smugger of all time!

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

We had delightfully warm weather here on Saturday.

After we got back from our marriage shrinking appointment (I must say I think we did the right thing switching to a closer person). I grabbed a rubber glove and a trash bag and Chunky grabbed his scooter.

While Chunky scooted, I picked up the trash that seems to collect every winter in our driveway, along the chain link fence outlining the yard, and in the tiny alley/walkway that separates us from the neighbor's yard.

I snapped a few pics.

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It was soooo tempting not to start my seeds. But I've vowed not to start my seeds until April 15thish.

To quash my urge to pot, I dug around in my compost box that I started this fall.

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On Sunday, when the nice weather went away, there was some knitting.

I frogged Devon. Despite getting an smidge smaller than gauge (which was OK with me if it was on the snug side), this vest was turning out HUGE. I pulled a sweater vest out of my closet and have decided I'll just wing a pattern based on it. Shouldn't be too hard. It's a simple vest.

There was even some spinning.

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I think I'm hooked!

I also am quite OK with not utilizing a drop spindle "properly." I already knit "wrong" (a combo style where I don't support the yarn to be knitted--it sits slack until I'm ready for it--no wrapping around the fingers of it for me!) it's only fitting I should spindle "wrong." I use quotes because blah, blah, it's not really wrong if it works, blah, blah.

I honestly was never fond of the really thin yarn that "proper" drop spindling seems to always produce.

I do want to get it a bit thinner than my last attempt to spin.

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But not so thin that it's lace/sockweighty.

I think it's time to start saving for that wheel I've been lusting after.

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