Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UPS: A love/hate relationship

I'm working from home today for the sole purpose of receiving my signature-required parcel that contains my Christmas/Birthday gift, i.e. this.

I know, right? Who wouldn't mind waiting for that beautiful piece of equipment.

Only, the UPS delivery guy pulled a major fubar: He didn't come to my front door.

He came to my side door. No doorbell. Just one of those little brown and yellow notes. No camera, but gee, a motherfucking note.

This would be OK in most instances. I'd get it tomorrow, right? Not today. I paid for 2 day air delivery and it won't be here until Friday you say? But the delivery man didn't come to my door. Doesn't matter, you say? I'll be God Damned if it doesn't!

I've gotten pretty used to getting a new one torn when I'm at work: I'm pretty much the sounding board for angry people where I work. I don't think I've ever really yelled at someone over the phone who was in a position to serve me. I was so close to it today. I could taste the rage on the tip of my tongue, but I swallowed hard before I could really let loose on the guy.

He said he appreciated it, and that a lot of people were calling with the same problem. I guess many delivery guys were cutting corners today so that they could hurry and get their drink on. Bastards.

So, the guy that was on the receiving end with UPS really hustled to make things right. I was certain that it was all for naught, but then he said that he got in touch with someone at the distribution center and that the truck would be coming around again. Thank you, Jeebus!

Now, if he leaves another yellow and brown motherfucking note, my opinion of UPS may change, but until then, the delivery men are douches, but the guys on the phone are seriously good people.

P.S. I have a chicken in my bathroom.

P.P.S. It's 4:18 and still no camera. Are they going to leae me high and dry?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Bangs Debate

I've worn bangs for quite some time, but as I started to grow my hair out and take a less-maintenence-is-more approach, I also gave no-bangs a shot. Now that I have glasses that I wear on a regular basis and I still have an enormous forehead, I'm rethinking the no-bangs.

The Bangs Debate seems to be a popular one, as of late. The Metallurgist has already thought and rethought cutting her bangs again. Kyla Bea has also trimmed her bangs, and got new glasses, which are totally bangin'!

I have had bangs of many lengths, and I'm unsure which is my favorite...

new haircut

vampy jo


Angel food batter


I'll be getting a trim this weekend. Y'all tell me which looks best.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Simple. Luxury.

Often when Dave and I are in the middle of a home renovation crisis that is taking much longer than estimated, we find ourselves at wits end. We look around and feel defeated, like nothing will go right. It's sad, really, because this frustration is a true luxury. There are people who will not eat today. Others didn't eat yesterday, either. And yet my husband and I are frustrated that the wood putty is not a perfect match to the color of the paneling, and we will have to touch-up paint again. And don't even start about the baseboards...

It's a good thing that the chickens are very down to earth (literally, I mean, they do eat dirt, yanno).


They teach us to live and be modest ...


And Gloria wants us to be especially grateful for the fact that we live inside, and that we have central heat.


And yet...


For all of these lessons ...



They still give us so much.


And then we can appreciate the simple joys, the modest luxuries of fresh eggs, fresh bread, warm toast and delicious coffee.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

To the fine folks that made my birthday one to remember...

I love y'all!


Yarn from The Shabby Sheep (two skeins of Noro Kureyon Sock, S188 and S184, and five skeins of louet Riverstone in Island Moss).



A little bit of spooning ...


Serious QT with one of my favorite people ...


And the return of candy cigarettes!

That wasn't everything, but it these are some of the highlights!

Thanks for all of the text messages, the calls, the comments and the facebook notes! Y'all sure do know how to make a gal feel special!

Friday, December 26, 2008

As if I hadn't made it quite clear...

... today is my birthday.

I am at work.

Dave will soon pick me up for lunch and yarn shopping.

And I will soon have one of these in my hot little hands.

Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A milestone

I got to work this morning and had two moments of clarity: There is no way I'm going to finish this pair of socks by Christmas. Impossible. It's mostly my fault, and partly the calendar's fault for really hustling after Thanksgiving.

Last night, though, I had my first post-midnight knitting delusion; a veritable knitting milestone for newbie knitters. I was up until after 1 a.m. trying to finish my first ever short row heel on simple cabled sock no. 1. It was OK, nothing exciting for non-knitters, but for those with unhealthy fascinations with needles and yarn, well, it was a big milestone watching that little heel cup materialize, and with no holes!

But, like I said, this morning I had two moments of clarity. The second one involved the realization that I will likely have to rip sock no. 1 back to the 8th cable repeat because there is no way I'm going to have enough yarn to do one 50g ball per sock. And I doubt I'll find another ball of the same dye lot. Rip, rip, rip...

Someone else in the House of England had a milestone today: Our lovely Jane Gallagher laid her first egg!


If the photo doesn't show it, the egg is actually a lovely color of blue. It's really beautiful!

I'm thinking of taking the eggshell to the paint studio to see if they can match it. I've been wanting to tone down our blue walls in our living room and I think this is just the shade!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not a creature was stirring...

Nap time for the Furs of the House of England ...




The kids are finding sunny spots to warm up and take naps.

Take note, chickens!


It's cold out there, better find a sunny spot! Quick!


Knitting the knight away

It appears that everything else has taken a backseat to the needles and yarn. Yesterday there was some progress, but not so much that I'm jumping for joy or anything. At least the weather decided to come around yesterday. It dropped to 27 last night and we're stuck at about 30 today, no snow but it is windy and sunny.

Yesterday I started on the first of a pair of simple cabled socks:


And I finished up the pair of Maine Morning Mitts for my chicken-sitter, which I will deliver today:


And I'm almost finished with a pair of gauntlet-length mitts for another person on my list. Sadly, these won't be delivered until after Christmas....


And since I have a few knits that won't be delivered until after the holiday, well, I'm trying to speed up the ones that are due sooner than I would prefer... eep!

Dave's Christmas socks, however, have reached a glorious state of completion!


Hope you guys are keeping up, too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cause for celebration

Birthdays, for most people, are awesome. Mine just kinda sucks. I've never had a real birthday party on my birthday, which happens to be Boxing Day to Canadians, or Jesus' birthday hangover. My mom tried one of those "Christmas in July" birthday parties, and most of the parents really didn't get it so only a few of my friend showed up. One of them was one of my closer friends who always ate those orangey peanut-butter cracker things and constantly had their residue all over her gums. I didn't look at her while she talked.


Because my birthday is the day after the Messiah's, I am constantly doing non-fun things on my birthday, like last year we drove back to Dallas on my birthday. The year before I worked. This year, I'm working. On the day after Christmas. Which happens to be my birthday.

I try not to bitch about it, because really, I've already set a precedent for ridiculously crappy and banal birthdays. I just stopped caring.

But, this year Dave said that we'd do something special, and I got really excited. I wanted to go to a nice restaurant. There's this cool little souffle restaurant in Dallas called Rise No. 1 and I've been wanting to go for a while, but haven't talked myself into spending that much. It's my birthday, after all. Hopefully this one's not crappy.

Tragedy strikes when you least expect

I was patching up dear Hornsby's dog bed this weekend with some old quilting calicos when the tension on my sewing machine went wonky. I've never had a problem before with my Brother ES2000. In fact, it's probably been the most reliable tool I've ever owned. And now, just a week until I must finish all of the eye pillows I planned to make for homemade spa gift baskets, my machine decides its had enough of being reliable.

But that's not all.

This past week we've been frantically looking for a house sitter so we could spend this weekend with my family and have a sort of early Christmas with them. No one is available to watch the house! No one! I can't believe that they wouldn't want to, because we pay in warm knitted things and giftcards and free dinners! Add to that an opportunity to lounge in our living room, watching our DVD collection and hanging out with all the animals? It's like taking a vacation, and yet no one can watch the house!!!

Perhaps, though, this is a blessing in disguise: I now have a couple more weeks to finish gifts for the folks I would have seen this weekend. Fire up the coffee pot!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Swinging wildly in either direction

I wish the weather in Texas would make up its F@#$ING MIND! On Friday, we had lovely, chilly weather. Really felt like we were on the verge of settling in to frosty, wintery goodness. I love winter because it gives me a reason to wear handknit accessories. You know, you can pull out the wool socks, the hats, the scarves and the fingerless mitts without looking like a total tool. You're trying to keep warm, right? Last week we had 32-degree mornings and by midday it would warm up to maybe 60, but by the time I was off work it was back down to the 40s. For me, it was bliss.

Except, when you least expect it, the weather in Texas will change on a dime. Like on Sunday. Seventy-six degrees. It's winter here, folks, and it was Seventy-friggin'-six degrees outside.

On that lovely summer -- I mean winter day, I finished this basic earflap hat for a dear family memeber that doesn't read this blog:


The main color portion of the hat is Patons Rumor, an acrylic/alpaca blend in the colorway Duberry Heather and the crochet trim is Darice Dessert in Vanilla.

But yesterday today, my dear readers, we got the ultimate in weird weather. Last nignt it iced over and this morning... well, see for yourself:


I know! It friggin' snowed? WTF? It's 27 degrees in Dallas right now. Man, this place is weird!

So, I'm also almost done with a gauntlet lenght pair of the Maine Morning Mitts in Moda Dea Tweedley Dee, colorway Surf and Turf (can't show a picture because this person may read the blog!).

I've also cast on a feather-and-fan scarf for another family member. All in all, I've got to complete the following in a near-impossible deadline:

1 earflap hat
1 1/4 pairs of socks (I'm 3/4 of the way finished on one pair, meaning I have 1 1/2 socks
1 cabled hat
1 basic ribbed watchcap
2 pairs of fingerless mitts
1 scarf

I am so screwed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm amazed I'm not mostly beer

At one sorry, ridiculous phase in my life, I didn't like beer (gasp!). Now, it's pretty much my beverage of choice. I like a lot of different beers, and I like to drink them often. (Side note: I have this pet peeve about the word "often." Most linguists agree that the "t" is silent, but cultural anthropologists believe that language itself is an evolving organism, and that as cultures change and adapt to saying things or using words in different ways, that the "old" way of saying or using words becomes irrelevant. This annoys me greatly because I ascribe to the notion that "THE 'T' IN 'OFTEN' IS FUCKING SILENT!" /rant)

So, lately I've been imbibing off-in. (see what I did there?) I wanted to make a list of some really awesome beers and some very, shall we say, different, ones lately. Here are a few notable drinkables:

Blue Moon's "Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale" from their Seasonal Collection is a winner on all fronts. It's not filling and has a great balance on the palate and leaves no stale aftertaste, which is a problem for most ales. It's full bodied, though, with a citrus-y tinge and a real satisfying finish. This is in a tie for No. 1 with...

Samuel Adams "Octoberfest." It's no secret that I love Sam Adams beers. They are superb on many fronts, but the octoberfest was so interesting with spicy notes and a lot of character that I'd drink it again in a heartbeat.

The dark horse, though (and I'm not always a fan of their beers, but I'll drink them in a pinch) was Shiner "Bohemian Black Lager." I was amazed at the smooth finish and malty taste, and it has totally made me a convert. If you think Guinness is a good, dark brew, you need to try Shiner Black. With my standard pour in a pint glass, there really wasn't as much head as I would expect from a dark, malty beer, but it's still delicious.

I've sampled others, more boutique-styled Belgian brews, but that's another post entirely.

And here is the miss:

Shiner "Holiday Cheer" is so... odd. I see what they were going for, but they overdid it. It's supposed to be smooth and even, but the moment you take a sip the peach is overpowering. It was like drinking Shiner Bock mixed with peach Boones Farm. It was beer, but it's not something I'd recommend for your average swiller.

My standby: Samuel Adams Light is a beer that fits all occaisions. It's not filling but hits the spot when you're looking for a balanced, mildly hoppy brew. I love it. Hell, I'm in love with it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I dare you to not get a lump in your throat

Two things that are really making my holiday:

All Buttoned Up

and this video I picked up from the Tex-pat.

And of course, nothing spells holidays like gratuitous pictures of ridiculously cute babies...


This time, just like I promised

OK, so I've been dying for a DSLR for a long time. Being a Canon gal, I've been pining for a Canon 40D with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM lens. It's fast, it's durable, it's awesome. The only catch is that it's only 10.1 MP, and the next step up is 15.1 MP and it would cost the same amount for just the camera body as I'd get for camera body AND lens with the 40D.

But, I don't have that kind of cash to throw around, and I hate debt, so I don't have a DSLR. But my sister has one of the newer Canon Rebel DSLRs, and I got to play around with it and her ultra-wide angle lens on Thanksgiving.

And here are a couple that my sister took of me:

Doesn't my family look like fun?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

In Dallas, a bluster frosty goodness

It's a knitters dream: Warm fire, needles churning, cup of hot tea topped off with cream and sugar and snow slowly making its journey from heaven to earth.

I don't have a fireplace, but I've got knitting coming off the needles and I've got plenty of tea...


Maine Morning Mitts (first of a pair) in di.Ve' Teseo, colorway is Rust and Pink, from "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" from Clara Parkes.

... and guess what else I've got ...


It's snowing in Dallas!!!

Y'all stay toasty!

My name is Jo and I am an addict

Crowd: Hi Jo.

Jo: I've been addicted to yarn for a few days now, surfing Webs, KnitPicks and even Joann to get a virtual fiber fix. The problem is, I want so much yarn right now that I know it would take me forever to start and finish all of the projects I want to knit. Like, I've had 7 skeins of KnitPicks Cadena in Saffron (gorgeous color, isn't it?) in a my shopping basket for weeks, but I haven't bought it. Yarn is pricey (albeit cheaper than buying a custom sweater out of the fiber) and I'm a tightwad. I keep thinking that it doesn't hurt to look, but I'm beginning to get a serious case of wool envy.

But that's not my only problem. I'm also up to my ears in holiday knitting. Right now I'm working on or about to start knitting:

1 pair of fingerless mittens
2 pairs of socks
4 hats
1 scarf

All of these projects for other people are keeping me from knitting something pretty for myself. I think I felt this way last year after knitting one to many damn hats. I now have to knit four more F@#$ING HATS! Two of which are supposed to be earflap hats for siblings.

But all I want to do is buy some nice, cushy yarn and knit something for me.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

End all, be all

It's really awesome to visit my family, and I'm glad they don't live super far away. It's about three hours and some change to Houston From Dallas via auto. During the holidays, though, you're lucky if you make it in five hours. Not kidding.

Here's a map of the trip we made (no stops!):

If it looks like we damn near crossed the entire state, it's because WE DID. Try doing that, again, with NO STOPS and with a neurotic chihuahua mix whining and panting THE ENTIRE TIME. No fun.

So, of course, we were ridiculously glad to get to my sister's house. The moment we got there we started drinking. I don't think we stopped until Sunday night because Dave and I had to pack it up and head out early Monday morning to dodge the veritable bullet of traffic shittiness. In between horrific car journeys was the best Thanksgiving I've had in, like, forever and such.

My baby neice, Little T, has gotten like, so big. She's only 3 and a half months old and she's mostly head right now. Even though she has just as many teeth as the crack whores on Industrial Boulevard, she smiles like she doesn't give a damn. My sister said that she was sorry that Little T wasn't up to her usual self since she had a cold. I was like, "Are you giving this baby drugs? Because if she's only half as happy as she usually is, you guys need to switch to the good shit!"

Never in my life had I seen such a good little baby. She was usually so quiet, and when she wasn't she was screaming with joy, trying to get her point across through gurgles and smiles. We filled in the blanks for her most often, having our own one-sided dialogue with her, which she seemed to absolutely relish.

So, a lot of my weekend was spent playing with my sweet neice, but it was also good to hang out with my mom and dad. My mom has almost made a full recovery. She's still a little sore from the surgery and being in the hospital, but she's definitely glad to be out of there. We always have Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house, and this one was definitely one to remember.

My mom and big sister Jess had set the table with the Bavarian china, good silver and a beautiful crochet table cloth that my great grandmother made ages ago. It was so decadent, even without the delicious food. The spread is always admirable, and my mother pulled no punches this weekend. A huge turkey and an enormous ham with sides as far as the eye could see. Tons of pies and cakes. And beer. And wine. And scotch. Oy.

As the evening goes on, games are played and watched on TV, we go on walks and we sit around outside shooting the shit. It's just relaxed and fun being around my family. No pretenses, no airs. You could practically walk around with your pants unbuttoned and no one would care.

So, we had a fantastic time. The whole weekend is a bit of a blur, but on Friday night I made a shrimp curry and a sweet potato curry for my sister and brother-in-law. I went on a run around their neighborhood, did some yoga and got my hair cut by my sister K.

The haircut was one of the highlights, for sure. She's amazing with scissors. And amazing with the shampoo bowl. She blew my hair out and flat ironed it before she even touched it with the scissors. We talked about what I wanted my hair to do (little-to-no-maintenance curls) and then she started dividing it into sections and cutting with a razor. Even though it was straight as a board when she was done, it was really cute. But the awesome part was when I washed my hair Monday evening. I use Aveda's be curly shampoo and conditioner, and I bought some be curly styling balm to use on my hair when damp before bed. I woke up Tuesday morning with the most awesome hair! All I did was straighten my bangs a little! My coworkers were all amazed that I didn't spend an hour curling my hair that morning!

So I'll spell it out for you guys: A great haircut + effective styling products = AWESOME HAIR!!!

Back to work, folks!

(sorry about the dearth of pictures! I played around with my sisters' camera and she said she will send me the photos I took.)