Weekly Update: Feeling better, getting ready

Flu took me out for part of the week. Though I’m fairly certain I have the flu, I actually feel really good considering. But then I try to go out and do things, and I find my limitations! So I’m taking it easy today, working on some knitting.

First, I knit a few more squares for my new niece’s baby blanket. She is due in three months, so this needs to come together! Graph paper to create my own brocade square pattern. Love writing my own patterns, but I rarely have the patience for the trial and error it requires. Luckily, this one worked the first time.

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Got sent some yarn goodies from my Mom. She bought this yarn in South Africa, and Internet searches for this exact yarn have been fruitless, but apparently it’s pretty popular over there. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but here’s my first attempt to knit it up.

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She also sent me this beauty, two balls of 100% merino yarn in a gorgeous blue-green and brown colorway. Only downside? It’s a cobweb weight yarn! And she’s requested an infinity scarf! Just so I don’t have to knit on size 0 needles for infinity, I’m going to pair this with a fingering weight. Cream colored maybe? Something to compliment and show off the colors.

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I also finished the first square of a blanket for myself, although I don’t really have an end point in sight for this one. Inspired by Knitting in Circles, I started a sock yarn patchwork blanket. The first square had some pooling, and I missed a few yarnovers, but, as they say, it’s not supposed to be perfect. This one was knit with Deborah Norville sock yarn in topaz colorway, left over from my monkey socks.

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That’s what I’ve been getting up to this week. Hopefully I’ll be recovered this week, because next Monday I start my new job! I’m really looking forward to it, better pay and benefits, and hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than what I’m doing now. But you know what they say: mo’ money, mo’ yarn.

And now, for no reason, a picture of sports I found earlier this week. Enjoy and see you next week!

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Ten on Tuesday: Ten thoughts about the Oscars

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All my feels!

I watch the Oscars fairly regularly. I don’t clear my schedule, but if I’m home when it’s on, I watch. I don’t watch the red carpet, and I don’t watch any fashion police nonsense. That’s my disclaimer. I have a few thoughts, as usual these are in no particular order.

1) I pretty much approve of all the winners.
I maybe would have done a few things different, I thought American Hustle was woefully snubbed. They should have won costumes, The Great Gatsby was a good choice, though. I agree with all the technical and effects awards that Gravity got, as well as Directing. I was surprised by Cate Blanchett’s win, but then, I didn’t see Blue Jasmine and don’t intend to. But I predicted 12 Years a Slave would win, and especially Lupita Nyong’o. I was surprised by the men’s acting awards, but I guess I didn’t have any strong front-runners in mind.

2) Ellen Degeneres was delightful.
I love Ellen, ever since he sitcom. She has such a subtle humor, and yet it’s not safe. She’s not afraid to take shots, because nobody could ever be mad at that face. Plus, her style and sense of self are incredible. I thought she made the show. The pizza bit, the opening monologue, no song! This is what it should always be like!

3) Slightly disappointed by the musical numbers.
Karen O was wonderful in an intimate moment, sitting at the edge of the stage with her guitarist who sang backup, a digital moon rising behind her as she purred The Moon Song from Her. I love this ditty (it’s almost too simple and elegant to call a song). The Moon Song is a tune Samantha, an operating system, writes for Theodore, who sings and accompanies her on a ukulele. I was a touch disappointed they switched to guitar, I think the uke was really intimate and lovely. The song is a perfect snapshot of a new couple, and the first flush of romance.

Next best was Let It Go, by Idina Mendel. Unfortunate about her name, she seemed kind of upset and I don’t think she performed as well as she could have. I didn’t see Frozen, not really my kind of movie, but I’ve heard her sing before and she is amazing! The Jimmy Fallon version was ten times better!

Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Idina Menzel

Look at her! So relaxed, and having fun, and she sounded more like herself. Also, I thought it sounded really short, Sunday night. They cut a whole verse, so she only sang for a few minutes. But the other acts seemed longer. U2 had to have been on for five minutes! I wonder if they were getting to the end of the program and had to cut something.

Pharrell Williams’ Happy was so-so. The dancers were fun (and very multicultural, which was a refreshing change! All colors and sizes!) I wasn’t a big fan of the song, but you have to have at least one big dance number, right?

Words cannot express how indifferent I was to that U2 song and performance. Remember the musical performances from years past? When there were actual musicals nominated? Like the year Once and Dream Girls were nominated? Sigh.

4) Acceptance speeches!

Nobody got played off, well, I think somebody was, but he actually jumped in and started talking after the music had already started playing. Don’t know who that was, foreign movie, maybe? Still, they didn’t turn off his mic, they just didn’t stop playing. Fair enough, that would be awkward.

I was a teensy but disappointed in Cate Blanchett. Although I loved what she had to say about female narratives in movies, and the female experience not being a “niche market”, she also specifically thanked Woody Allen, and that made me uncomfortable. I don’t want to lead a witch hunt, regarding Woody Allen and the sexual abuse accusations. The evidence is incriminating, but people do get wrongly accused, though not as much as people claim. Looking at the “evidence” I smell something fishy. It doesn’t add up, especially the question of what she would have to gain by lying and persisting in lying twenty years later. His public response made me very uncomfortable, and while I can’t say anything he says is untrue, it still does not sound like the defense of an innocent man. I always loved his movies, and I’m dismayed. I have to wonder now if one of my favorite movies was directed by a pedophile.

Wow, that was a really long explanation! To come to the point, Cate Blanchett has never, so far as I know, addressed these issues. So her speech sounded like she supports him, and could lead to lots of conclusions being drawn. Or, she could be thanking her director out of courtesy. In that case, she’s just being professional. I don’t know. I really like Cate, and I don’t want to think bad things of her or Allen. I don’t know.

On a lighter note, Matthew McConaughey didn’t sound nearly as drunk as he did at The Golden Globes!

5) Class acts

When 12 Years a Slave won for Best Picture, all the cast went on stage, and Brad Pitt took the mic… to introduce Steve McQueen, director of the film. I thought that was really awesome, that he would make sure McQueen got recognized for his work, especially since he didn’t win for directing.

The guy delivering the pizzas was an actual delivery person. He had no idea he was going to be onstage. He got a $600 tip, so, not a bad night!

The selfie. I won’t repost, wouldn’t want to break the internet! I love watching people be friends and have fun with each other, whether that’s the characters on The Office, or local news anchors or Hollywood stars on Oscar night. There’s so much cat fighting and bitterness in the world, there should be more selfies, more people wanting to just remember this moment when they were together and happy. Squee!

6) Speaking of class acts, Lupita Nyong’o!

She is such a treat, isn’t she? She was so good, it never crossed my mind she wouldn’t get the award. And that speech?! “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to do much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.” Also, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

I’m not much for quoting, but I might have to stitch that on a pillow. Your dreams are valid. Things like that definitely don’t happen every Oscars!

7) Montage: In memoriam

It seemed like we had a lot of people to remember this year. Peter O’Toole (my favorite actor) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Almost Famous was the first thing I ever saw him in, but he made lots of other great movies too), James Gandolfini, Shirley Temple Black and Harold Ramis, among others. I wish they had skipped the song and done sound bites or movie clips instead, like they used to do. I used to live that part, it kind of felt like we got to say goodbye to them.

My quotes would have been (yes, I came prepared): Peter O’Toole: The best of them won’t come for money, they’ll come for me.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.
Harold Ramis: Sorry, Venkman. I’m terrified being the capacity for rational thought.
Shirley Temple Black: Good ship lollipop, my favorite!

8) Montage: Heroes

So, the theme for this year’s Oscars was heroes (have they always had themes?) I read a bunch of blogs, and I don’t remember which one, but somebody commented that the theme was kind of ironic, considering most of the movie nominated were either survivor stories (12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity) or featured anti-heroes (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Great Gatsby). Of course, survivors can be heroes, . And even anti-heroes can serve as a mirror for society, reflecting our failings back to us so we can see what we really are, and perhaps motivate us to change. I would definitely say Ryan Stone from Gravity and Solomon Northrop from 12 YAS were heroes and probably others (I didn’t see them all). Still, the montages mostly featured characters from past movies, and mostly literal heroes who often happened to be male (so much Avengers!) I remember the Oscars used to do more than edit movie clips. They used to do really cool interpretive dance numbers for nominees (remember Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!? So cool!) They seem to have gotten away from that, which is unfortunate. I can watch movie montages on YouTube. I come to the Oscars because I want to be inspired!

9) The Wizard of Oz

Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this. First, I don’t really like Pink, and I don’t know why she of all people was chosen. Second, why now? 75 years? Ok, but it just kind of seemed to come out of left field. Lots of other movies were made seventy-five years ago. Why not commemorate them? And it’s not like anyone’s forgetting it anytime soon. We just had a remake/prequel, and the Broadway musical is still insanely popular, and the book series, lest we forget. It felt a little forced, and this time could have been put to better use (like more dance numbers!)

10) Jennifer Lawrence

I am definitely team J-Law. She’s so funny and cute and I just want to be besties. She didn’t do much this year, except trip on the red carpet, stare down laughing audience members, what are you laughing at? and lastly pretend to try to steal Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar. I don’t think she’s giving it up!

Manic Monday: A Whole Month!

So, yeah. It’s been a while. Wish I had a really good excuse, but it’s just life, you know! And I’m not here to make a full post, that will be tomorrow. Just checking in to make sure this thing is still here! I made a New Year’s intention to post three times a week. I think I’m going to scale that back to one post in Sunday, and then whenever I feel like it. Because expecting too much of myself seems to lead to me doing nothing at all. If I know anything about myself it’s that I need to take baby steps.

See you tomorrow, patient blog! Got my Ten on Tuesday all planned out.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Awesome!

FO: Monkey Socks

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My First Monkey

I loved this pattern! The repeats were simple and fairly easy to memorize, but varied enough to keep my interest. The pattern is so well written and well-visualized. Major props to the designer! I’m going to have to try more of her patterns.

I also learned a new technique for the toe. I usually knit my socks toe up, but when I do knit bottom down, I sew the toe shut. This time I tried grafting, which is still sewn, but in a way that makes it look knitted. It’s kind of hard to explain the difference. But I really like it. My other toes had the tendency to look clunky and fragile. I would finish and wonder when I was going to have to do some emergency patching. But these toes feel like they can stand up to some use.

The yarn is Deborah Norville’s Serenity in lavender topaz colorway. The second photo is truest to color. I bought this yarn at Joann’s on Black Friday for three dollars a skein, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of quality, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a wool, bamboo and nylon blend (50, 25 and 25%, respectively). It was soft, stretchy, and a gorgeous color. I have so much leftover, too. Probably about twenty-five grams. I might have to start a stash-busting blanket. Hmmm…

I knit these for the Ravelry group Sock it to Me 2014. Go check it out!

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things That Make Me Feel Like a Grown-up

There’s something about this ToT that I really love. Especially how it’s “grown-up” and not “adult”. The word grown-up evokes many memories of playing house or pretending to work in an office, or the time I pretended I had my own apartment. I was four, if you can believe that, and I played pretend in the bathroom. I don’t even know how I knew what an apartment was, but I knew that when you left your apartment you liked the door. The lock didn’t click open once you shut the door, so my parents discovered they were locked out. They weren’t happy :)

So, even though I’m an adult, I still feel like a grown-up when I:

1) Clean up my room (without being told!)

Last week I looked around my house and thought, what a mess! And I got up and cleaned it. I did laundry, I put things away, stored summer clothes in a tote in my closet. Cleaned the toilet. Nobody said I should, I just knew I should, and I did it, and felt so much better afterward.

2) Pay a bill (on time!)

Paying bills isn’t fun. But there’s something so grown-up about it! And satisfying about knowing it’s paid, and taken care of. When I used to pay rent by check, it was like extra grown-up points! Filing out the check in careful cursive and writing out the name and address on the envelope, putting on the stamp. I even had the printed return address stickers! I kind of miss paying bills with checks.

3) Getting to pick the radio station in the car (each and every time!)

This was a huge privilege when I was a kid. I had a brother and a sister (middle child) and everybody had an opinion about what we should listen to. There was a some compromise, but mostly we listened to what my parents wanted to listen to. If I was the only kid in the car, occasionally Mom or Dad would let me pick the station, but those occasions were kind of rare. And when I started driving, my parents had a strict no radio policy when driving. I ignored it sometimes, but generally I obeyed, because you don’t realize how distracting the radio can be!

Later, in my own car, I got to be the radio fascist. All the preset stations were my choice and, finally, they were in order from smallest to largest frequency (this OCD would come to serve me well when I discovered knitting). I could flip stations as much as I wanted, play it as loud as I wanted. Now, living with someone, you remember how to compromise. Every once in a while, though, I get the radio all to myself!

4) Doing my taxes (sometimes not at the last minute!)

Same thing as bills, I guess. I don’t mind doing them, the forms are still easy for me. It’s that feeling of civic duty, I guess, of doing my part. Which ties in nicely with

5) Voting (early and often!)

I’ve been voting since I was 18, but voting after college is kind of different. No one reminds you, outside of presidential elections. The elections that matter most to us on an everyday level are local elections, and those don’t get big splashy news coverage. It’s up to me to keep up on local races and initiatives, to get myself to the polling place, remember my voter card, stand in line. But doesn’t that little “I voted” sticker feel awesome? I vote early so I can wear my sticker around all day long!

6) Holding my tongue (when I just feeling like letting it fly!)

When I was a teenager, I had the nastiest tongue. Not necessarily foul, but sharp and without censor. That’s what being a teenager is, you run around saying the first thing that pops into your head, and if you’re halfway clever, if anyone chuckles at the things you say, it just adds fuel to the fire.

Adulthood has taught me to wait and think before I speak. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so cautious, but mostly I’m so glad I didn’t say whatever I was just thinking! See, I still get to think them, and I can always wait a minute and think it over, then decide if it’s appropriate. When it’s completely inappropriate, that’s even better! I save it up for Facebook, or tell it to my best friend days later and we laugh about how wicked my thoughts were. But I don’t insult anyone, get fired, or get beat up! It’s better this way.

7) Laugh at myself (a lot!)

I hated being the butt of a joke when I was a kid. I was incredibly lacking in grace when it came to that sort of thing. The classic example of can dish it out, but can’t take it. Now, I still get flustered and my cheeks get red, but I try to be a good sport, if only a little smile or a forced laugh. “Haha. I dropped something again. You guys are hilarious!”

8) Go to bed at a reasonable time (because sleep is awesome!)

I used to be a crazy night owl. Even just a year ago, I would stay up until small hours of the morning, and often still had to get up at nine out ten in the morning. I was always tired, but it never seemed to bother me.

After I got a new job, where I had to be at work at six in the morning, all that changed. I’ll still stay up later on weekends, but generally I’m in bed by ten. I get seven hours of sleep, and I don’t feel tired. After several months in my new job, I don’t even depend on coffee anymore to get me going in the morning. I never would have guessed that something like this would make me happy, but it does! Getting enough sleep, not feeling cranky, being a morning person! I feel so grown up!

9) Making compromises (even when I don’t want to!)

This isn’t something I can find an exact example for. It’s more of a feeling, of being part of a family, or a friendship, or a living situation, or even just acknowledging that you are not the only human on the planet. Saying excuse me at the grocery store and letting someone else go ahead (even if you were there first). Holding doors open, letting someone else have your seat. Coming to a consensus about what temperature to keep the thermostat. You know, giant concessions like these!

It’s nice to realize you can live in harmony with other people, after all the drama of teenage and early twenties. I’ve even cut way back on my curse words when people don’t use turn signals! Seriously, though, what the f$#! is wrong with you people! Use your turn signal!

1) Quitting smoking (and meaning it!)

I started smoking for the dumbest reason imaginable. A boyfriend I had in college hated smokers, so I started smoking when he broke up with me. Yeah, that makes so much sense! And I struggled for a long time with feeling that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t smoke that much, I could quit anytime, all that nonsense. And this went on for years.

When I met my boyfriend, he hated smokers too. It was a deal breaker for him. But we both figured out how to make it work. I didn’t smoke around him, and we both just kind of adapted to it. After we’d been dating about nine months, I decided it was time to quit. And not counting a few minor relapses, I haven’t smoked in a year. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made, not for him, but for me and us.

It’s when you realize you should take better care of yourself, stop smoking, eat healthier, take your vitamins, get more sleep, exercise more, get a checkup, floss. And you don’t do them because you have to. Nobody’s making you brush your teeth anymore. You do it because you should. Because you want to. Because you’re a grown-up.

When you’re a kid, you think being a grown-up will mean you can and will eat cake for breakfast, and whatever else you want. The reality is you can eat cake for breakfast, every day of you want to. You just don’t. You don’t eat cake every day. You don’t want to eat cake every day. You want to change. You want to be a better person.

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Pic is unrelated.

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Worst Christmas Songs

Ten on Tuesday this week is ten housekeeping shortcuts. I don’t have two housekeeping shortcuts, let alone ten, so I’m subbing.

Let me just say, I didn’t go searching for these. They play these at my work (retail chain). Just keep that in mind.

10) Merry Christmas Baby by The Four Topps.

Couldn’t find video of this one. It’s not the song itself, really, but the porn bass that starts the song out. It’s kind of scary.

9) Christmas Wish by 98 Degrees.

gross

Again, is this song the worst song ever, of course not! It’s just so poppy and wholesome. And they actually play it at my work! But it’s nothing compared to

8) Purple Snowflakes by Marvin Gay

drugs

All the drugs! Seriously, how many drugs do you think it takes to make you see purple snowflakes? It’s not a bad song, I just don’t know why I can’t see the pretty purple snowflakes!

7) Christmas List by Simple Plan

me

Me. Me, me, me. I want. Me, me, me, I want, me, me, me. ME, ME, ME. ME. ME! ME. MMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

6) This Christmas by Macy Gray

meh

Rasp. Has Macy quite smoking yet? Somebody buy that girl some Nicorette.

5) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Eddie Dunstedter

woah

Does this song belong on this list? I’m kind of in turmoil. It’s actually so bad it’s good! Well, it’s staying because I already went through all the work to get the link, but this is actually kind of awesome. See? It’s a fine line.

4) Santa Can You Hear Me by Britney Spears

SOS

There’s a whole category of these “all I want for Christmas” “I’m nothing without a man in my life” kinds of songs. Also, Britney, what do you want Santa to do exactly? Kidnap some dude (“does this smell like chloroform to you?”) stick a bow on him and leave him under your tree, tied up in all likelihood? What exactly do you expect Santa to do about your love life? Cause he’s not busy enough on Christmas? And why are you praying to him? He’s not Jesus, for f@#+s sake!

And speaking of date rape…

3) It’s Cold Outside by Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton

it’s rape-y in here (do not watch unless you are comfortable perceiving Louis Armstrong in a new, very pervy way).

This song has always been a little weird. Adding canned audience laughter and a dance beat doesn’t help. There’s also an ad libbed part where Velma protests, “but I didn’t tell Momma and Daddy where I was going!” And Louis Armstrong proceeds to laugh maniacally, repeatedly. “At least I’m gonna say that I tried! Momma, get the rape kit ready!”

2) Santa Baby by Jhene

terrible (worst version of this song ever)

I seriously considered giving this the top slot. What I did for all the rest of these songs, besides suffer through them for the last month, was after I got the idea to do this post, I would use Shazam to find out who sang it. Well, it couldn’t find it for this song. I almost left it out, but it’s so awful! So I just spent twenty minutes on youtube, clicking through different versions. I can, without a doubt asy this is the worst version of this song.

Why? Well, there’s the dance beat. The whiny pop star version of vocals. And the awful essence of the song that taints the soul of anyone who attempts to cover it. (Except Eartha Kitt. I don’t like her version either, but she is the only one whose soul is unblemished by this pestilence of a song.)

The only person who can sing this song without coming off sounding like a money-grubbing whore is (brace yourselves) Taylor Swift. I hate her so much, but I have to admit she makes it sound perky and virginal. What an actress.

1) Christmas Past, Present and Future by Ashlee Simpson

somebody has a loose understanding of Dickens

This is it. The big enchilada. This song has zero redeeming features. It’s not a cover, so you can’t even remember how well that one guy sang it. It’s got whiny vocals and emo lyrics. “By your side I’ll be”? Who talks like that?

Shitty punk girl affectations plus terrible lyrics plus shameless ripoff of Christmas Carol. Then there’s that ineligible little bit at the end that just goes right up my spine every time I hear it. Skip to the end If you can stomach it. If you did, you have the fortitude of a hulk.

When I found out this was Ashlee Simpson, it was like I’d reached enlightenment. Of course. It could only be her. She’s like the Neo of shitty music. The One. Where other mewling preteens can only attempt to be terrible, she is utter, talentless mucous.

Hope that wasn’t too harsh! It’s been on my mind for a while, obviously! Now that that’s off my chest, I can focus on all the things I like about the season! Here’s my favorite Christmas song, to end.

Wiffenpoofs

I love this arrangement, and the way the song fit into the episode. If you never watched The West Wing, start the video at a minute in and ignore the dialogue. And then go watch The West Wing. Great Christmas episodes!

Finished Object Friday: Two-day Hat

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Temperatures are doing in Kansas City, and I couldn’t find any of my hats! Then I remembered they’re all store-bought. I’ve always found hats to be very challenging, so I decided it was time to give it another shot. To the yarn store!!!

I’ve known my next hat project (if I ever got around to another hat project, that is) would be Topographie by Alexandra Tinsly ever since I saw her charming pattern on Knitty. Admittedly, it took me about half an hour to pick out the yarn, Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in a colorway called Welsh Coast, an awesome variegated yarn, with splashes of green, brown, purple and blue. I spent most of the time looking longingly at the worsted wool, contemplating future sweater projects, trying to remind myself that I’d already spent my yarn budget for the month. I finally left with one ball of yarn (it looks so lonely! Maybe I should just get one ball of stock yarn to keep it company…) Anyway, I resisted temptation, which is a coup in and of itself.

The pattern was very easy to follow, and I had a FO before I knew it! I believe the hat curse is finally broken! Now I can look forward to knitting a hat with ear flaps! I’ve always wanted to try one of those…

Click here for my Ravelry project page!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Scrap Yarn Scarf

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After last week’s project, I decided I didn’t want any ends to weave in! I also had a ton of scrap yarn lying around. This scarf uses a new color every row. Fringed ends mean no end to weave in! I’ve never done a fringe before, and more I have no idea why I waited so long. They’re easy to do, and are a great way to add a little variety to the same old scarf pattern.

I’m using about four different kinds of yarn, all medium weight. Most are cotton yarns, but there’s also some acrylic, about twelve different colors. I’m knitting on size 10 circular needles. Here’s my Ravelry project page.

Sorry about the photos. No natural light today. Should have taken more pictures last week. Now our beautiful autumn light has gone, replaced by winter dreary grey-ness. :(