Goal Trackers

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's from Cleveland!

I will be bringing in the new year in Cleveland this year! Just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year before I started the process of intoxicating myself toward numbness!

Catch you guys in 2008!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I did not get the chance to blog right before Christmas to wish you all a Merry Christmas, so I hope that you have all had a great holiday! I hope you all were able to spend time with your loved ones and got all the things that you wished for.

Wow, what Christmas this has been.

First off, I got the shocker of my life just before the holidays..... My electric bill! FUCK! Now, you need to understand, I live in a tiny house and it's just me and the kitty! The electric company raised its rates 72% last year *FUCK!!* It was raised that much because apparently there was some sort of rate cap on the electric company for several years and last year that cap was lifted and of course the CEOs of BGE were is such dire straights *that statements is dripping with sarcasm in case you missed it* that they had to add all the hikes that were missed while under that cap. As if that hike wasn't a killer on it's own! The electric company raised it rates 50% this year! *talked about a double fuck!*

OK, so in anticipation of this unbelieve act of piracy! I unpacked all my sweaters and set my thermostat to 68 when I'm home and 63 when I'm not. A few extra layers inside will help me keep my heating bills down. So, when my bill came I was expecting the bill to be slightly higher, but when the bill was almost triple what I normally pay I freaked! I mean FREAKED! *FUCK! FUCK!! FUCK!!! FUCK!!!! FUCK!!!!!* After sounding like a nasty sailor whose mouth just went on a swearing rampage, I took a closer look at the bill.

Do you see what I see??

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A huge glaring difference in the amount of electricity usage last month. Nomally I use between 400-650 kWh. Last month they say I used 1573 kWh! That's almost TRIPLE the electrical usage!! After freaking out and calling my older sister to see if she could tell me what the hell was going on with my electricity. (My older sister is an architectual engineer, so naturally I think she knows everything and anything when it comes to house things, and when I'm freaking out that badly, I truely believe she SHOULD know it all!) So, after my sister calmed me down I called the electric company to tell them there is something VERY wrong. Of course, the customer service person was not really interested in what I was saying becuase she kept reiterating the fact that there was a rate increase and this was probably the first time I've had my heat turned on since the rate hike. This is where my temper and sanity was after being on the phone with this woman for 5 minutes...

me: I understand that the rates went up, but I'm not talking price! I'm talking usage.

her: Ma'am, it was much colder last month and you probably weren't using your heat as much as the month be-

me: Listen to me very carefully! I am NOT talking about the COST of my bill! I am talking about the amount of kilowatts per hour that are used. My amount of electical USAGE nearly tripled! I want someone to take a look at my meter to see if it is working properly becuase I have NEVER used that much energy in a month! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING NOW!!

Finally, she said she would put in a request to check to usage history and pass this along. Needless to say, the company did NOT come out and check the meter, they just sent me a letter saying the reading was accurate and that it was an actual reading. Then the letter proceeded to tell me again about the rate increase. UGGH!!!

I called again today and firmly requested that someone come out to my house and do a thurough check on my meter and that I wanted to be there when the person came to my house so they can explain what the heck they are doing and what the check verifies. At the same time, I contacted my home warrenty company to come out and check my heat pump because the electric company seems to think that might be the culpret of my energy usage increase. So I have a service tech coming to the house Friday morning to check the heat pump, and then I have the electric company coming out the following Friday to check the meter.

That was my holiday freak-out session.

On to more pleasant things . . .

My holiday break started when I received this great book from KozyKitty on the last day of work. I had seen the book in Border's and been debating on purchasing it, but I knew it would have to wait till after the holidays. I just couldn't afford to spend anything on myself for right now. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long! I've already got about 20 of the projects in this book marked!! This should certainly help in my stash-busting efforts! Thanks KK!!

A gift

Then my holiday break really got started at Happy Hour - Friday night! KK and another friend of ours, Tracey, and KK family all met up at Ram's Head for laughs , drinks and food. In that order :)

Happy Hour!

KK and her DH in the first pic, then DH and her daughter in the 2nd.
KozyKitty

I had decided this year, since I was poorer than a church mouse, that I would put my stash to good use and knit or crochet everyone in my family and friends their gifts this year. *in October, what the hell was I thinking??.... apparently I wasn't!* So, I searched my stash, my project books, the Internet and Ravelry for ideas and projects and I made my list. As the days flew by, panic started to set in and that list was growing shorter and shorter. NOT because I was actually finishing projects. Oh no, I had apparently thought I was super knitting woman back in October when I first created the list. The list was getting shorter because I was crossing names off the list and buying gifts *with crumbs I found scurrying around* All-in-all, I am pleased with what I did accomplish!

Just a few Christmas photos to share with you all :)

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree! My sister puts so many lights on her tree that you can literally read a novel by the lights of her tree alone!

Oh Christmas Tree

Here is my niece Jules with the fairy blanket that has been started for her. The day before Christmas I had to frog all the crocheting that had been done on the blanket because it just wasn't looking right, so the blanket is back in my house to be worked on over winter break.

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Here's my other niece, Gabby. She just moved into her own room, so I told her that as soon as she figured out how she's going to decorate her new room I would make a blanket for her too!

Gabbi

I was working furiously on this Fisherman's Watchcap from Knitting with Balls. I was up till 3am on Christmas Eve knitting this baby for my brother-in-law! He opened that gift, put that hat on his head and wore it ALL morning!! He has requested a 2nd one in black and red (you'll see why a little further down). Now that made staying up till 3am worth it! He's a jogger and said the hat would be perfect for keeping his head and ears warm on his runs.

Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino in black & Red Heart Ltd. Soft Yarn in Guacamole for the strips.
Needles: size 8

Marc with hat

I finally finished Mom & Dad's afghan *the day before Christmas Eve, but hey it's finished!* and they love it. It's the perfect color that will match their decor in the family room. My father loves the fact that it's so heavy and warm!

Yarn: Red Heart TLC Amore in Garnet
Hook: size K

Mom & Dad's Blanket

I also completed an afghan for my sister and her hubby. This was the Soft Waves pattern from 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns book. My brother-in-law was tickled pink that I made the blanket wide enough for them to BOTH snuggle under. Apparently, my sister doesn't share the first one I made her with him because it's not big enough *giggle*

Yarn: Lion Suede in Waterlilies, Denim, Fushia, Eggplant and Olive.
Hook: Size H
Stefania's Soft Waves Ripple afghan

Last up was a joke between my older sister and me. She thought I was fuckin' crazy when I told her my Christmas plan. When time was running out she would joke that everyone would be getting a knitted dishcloth as a gift. Well, I did not get to finish her gift, but I had to have something for her to open on Christmas morning. So......

A joke

She laughed for a good five minutes :) I promised her she would be opening another gift for La Befana! She did love the colors of the dishcloth :)

Here is one of the best gifts I got this year from my little sister. She knows I am struggling with making ends meet and that I might have to sell my house in order for me to keep my sanity, but my house needs a little work. So she and my brother-in-law gave me a "Worker Bee" certificate! What is a Worker Bee certificate you ask?? It's a promose that they will both come down and help me out on any major house project (inside or outside) and all I would need to do is give them about a month's heads-up so they can take off work, and feed them while they are here! I was so touched! I just might be putting in that new kitchen after all! I just need to find myself a money tree to pay for the cabinets! *laugh*

Worker bees!!

Lastly, I received some great knitting books off my wishlist! I will certainly have no problem using up my stash in 2008 with these great books keeping me busy!!

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Now, I don't know about your family, but it seems that there is always someone in my family that just gets so excited about their gifts they just simply cannot wait to use them or try them on. Normally, that someone is usually one of my nieces, because lets face it, kids just can't wait. Well, this year was no different.

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The biggest kid in the family! See the black and red jogging top. Understand why he now wants a black and red Fisherman's Watchcap *laugh*

Poster person for "What Not to Wear!"

Marc

This is was we all wanted to do by the end of the night....

Down for the count

When I came home and shared all my Christams goodies with Frisco, he apparently objected to the knitting books. I think he fears that I will spend more time with yarn then with him *giggle*

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mad Russian Christmas

Wizards of Winter!

Sooo cool!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fairies and Cookies and knitting and fun and.....

The fairy squares are complete and sewn together!! *cheer* I had really wanted to line all the squares in black, but I made the mistake of talking to my mom before I made the decision and she talked me out of it. She has this thing with little girls and the color black. Much to her dismay, when I was young my favorite color was black... oh you should have heard the fights we would get into at the stores!

Now I just need to finish the rest... and before Christmas?!?! Anyone have on of those special stop watches that actually stops time that I could borrow for a few days?? :)
Fairy squares attached

Wednesday night our S 'n B group had its first Cookie Swap! There were about 24 women there and we each made 6 dozen cookies! That's a 1728 cookies in one kitchen that isn't a bakery!
Talk about a sugar high!

Stacey (the cute blonde on the top right corner picture) organized the whole event and openned up her beautiful house to all us crazy women! Not only did Stacey do the above she also played the role of the Cookie Nazi and collected everyone's recipes for the cookies they were planning on bringing beforehand and made a cookie cookbook with all the recipes for each of us! How great was that!

And of course, no S 'n B would be complete without Denise, a swift, a ball winder and a few skeins of yarn!
S 'n B Cookie Swap 2007

We all had a blast and hopefully this will be the first of many more :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

WWCS package!

Lookie at the wonderful package I received from Nichole in the Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap!!
WWCS package

Can you see all those de-lish goodies she sent! See those adorable recipe cards in the back with the heart shaped tags?? Those are so perfect for me because I love to prepack mason jars with ingredients for soups, brownies, or cookies and give them as gifts and those cards are just perfect for that!! Look, Look at that adorable reindeer ornament! It's holding a basket of yarn balls! TOO CUTE!! And, and, and look at that yarn! I *HEART* that colorway! I really love chocolate brown and purple together! There's a bit of blue and forest green in there too! Now to figure out what to make with it!! Anyone have a suggestion for 200 yards of beautiful 100% wool?? Please make suggestions or leave links to patterns :)

WWCS mug
And look at this great mug she send me! Winter Wonderland for the Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap! How perfect! See, I'm using it already!!

Thank you so much Nicole!!

A Few More Christmas Questions

A few more Christmas meme questions that I found off of Shelley's blog, who found them off of Click... Click... Click... BANG!!!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa wraps his gifts!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Yup, too bad my cat is the only who's ever under it....*jumping up and down like a dam fool trying to knock it off the ceiling*

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Hmmm... which one to choose from... OK, I'm going to share the ones that makes me laugh the most. It was the year I was 3 and my parents Santa brought me a panda bear that had a radio inside of it. I love teddy bears and I love music, so Santa must have thought two-in-one was great. Not to a 3 year-old! I cuddled the bear for a bit when my mom wanted to show me what the bear could do. I might have only been three, but I understood that a stuffed animal, was just that, a stuffed animal. Mom turned on the bear and music started coming out of the bear. I screamed. Mom tried to hand the bear back to me and I knocked it out of her hands and across the room. I wanted to have nothing to do with a talking stuffed animal!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What are you saying?!?!

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
Usually it was chocolate chip cookies and beer.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it when we have a school closing :)

12. Can you ice skate?
Does sliding across ice on your ass count?

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Cookie baking. It's the only time of the year that I bake them :)

18. What do you prefer... giving or receiving?
If we are strictly talking Christmas gifts then it's definitely giving. If we're talking "other" things.... well then... *giggle*

20. Candy canes... yuck or yum?
Yum in small doses.

Wubba Wubba!! What a package!

No, that's not a flash back to the 80's. I was saying "Wubba" long before Downtown Julie Brown used it as her little saying on Club MTV!

When I arrived home from Satan's lair work, I found these little loverlies hiding behind the snow shovel at my front door. I squealed in delight *and those of you that know me, that's can be loud* Loud enough that my next door neightbor (I live in a duplex) actual came to the door to see if everything was OK! *giggle*

I just love it when my mail lady or the UPS man bring goodies to my door! And to come home and find not one but TWO! Double the pleasure!!

Lookie! Goodies!

My final package from SP11! My pal was Manda and she spoiled me rotten and I loved EVERY minute of it!! Just look at this package she sent me! Bamboo sock needs in size 2, darning needles and holder *now maybe I won't keep losing those needles*, a heart shaped tape measurer, a really neat sock pattern, and dreamy sock yarn!! *pun intended* Just look at that yarn!! It's Dream in Color - Smooshy, and it lives up to its smooshy name!! DE-lish!! Do you get the feeling she's trying to convert me to a sock knitter *wink*

SP11 - final package

Manda, Thank you so much for all my goodies!! And believe it or not, I do have one sock completed and its partner started, but it's hibernating till I get these Chrsitmas gifts and this baby blanket done!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both

2. Real tree or artificial? I prefer a real tree, but alas my cat would always be in it, so artificial.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the week before Christmas.

4. When do you take the tree down? After La Befana.

5. Do you like eggnog? Give me Wassili punch with some rum please!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Wait, who said I wasn't a child anymore??? I'm a child at heart till I'm dead :)

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, several

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Dad

9. Easiest person to buy for? My kitty

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail...shit I know what I'm doing this weekend!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Year Without a Santa Claus... (Heatmiezer!!)

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? September

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope, unwanted things usually get donated.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cauchinettes - it's an Italian cookie that my mom makes.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? white & red

17. Favorite Christmas song? All of them!!

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Home this year

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph!

20. Angel on the tree top? Nope, a Santa

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning!!!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Shopping crazyiness - I hate the malls and try not to go!

23. What I love most about Christmas? Being with loved ones

Your turn!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Will it be complete before the baby arrives???

I have finished the main section of the baby blanket this morning and cast it off!!! Now I just need to knit up the four sides of the border and then I can block and mail it off! I have a feeling Mr. X's baby will be here before I finish. Oh well, I guess lucky for me baby's don't remember late gifts ;)

Baby Blanket

And this little good was in my mailbox yesterday!! I need another afghan on my "To Make" list like I need another hole in my head!! What the hell was I thinking?.... But it's sooooooooooo pretty!!

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas lights, Snowfalls, and Fairies

Finally put my Christmas lights out earlier this week. Just took me a little bit to post the pictures. As you can see on the normal camera setting you can't see a whole lot.
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So, I put the camera on "Night" setting and realized that my hands shake like crazy! *laugh* But hey, you can see the lights a little better!

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We had our first snowfall of the season on Wednesday. What a day that was! It snowed on and off all day long and of course the county that I worked for did NOT call in for a delay, or a closing, and even after everyone understood how slick the roads were, they didn't close school early! What normally takes me about 25 minutes to get to work took me 1 hour and 45 minutes that morning!! And my poor little Honda was all over the road!

Look how pretty it looks!!
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I have finally finished knitting all the squares the my nieces blanket!! Now I'm just trying to lay out the squares so that no row has double the color or double the fairy pattern. It's not working out so well. It seems that I can either do one of the other, but now both.

I'm thinking of framing each square in black with single crochet and then sewing the squares together. Once the squares are sewn together I will either knit or crochet the rest until it's sized for a twin bed. Would it look funny if black was used to frame the squares and no where else in the blanket?? Or should I just frame them all in the royal purple and forget about the black completely?? I really would like suggestions!!
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