Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Video test 1

Video from my phone via youtube.

Behold my mad kitchn skillz.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

More Testing

Dear followers of Insert Title Here, please disregard this post as I do a few technical experiments.  Thank you.

Video:

Photo:




 Photo with caption:
Crocuses in the Snow




Easy to add photos and captions, but I can't get between the last two to enter regular text.  Argh.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3.

I'm trying out a new blogging app. So if you happen to see this post, just disregard this picture of an awkwardly-shaped butter dish.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Finishing Things and Thing Twenty-Five: another elephant

Where did the month go?  I can't believe it's over already.  As far as the main goal of doing something creative every day, I did pretty well.  There was only one day that I didn't bother.  My personal goal was to finish something each and every day, and at the end of the month, I did 25 Things in 28 days.  Not bad!  If only I could keep up this pace.  Alas, March is about to arrive and I must clean my house, file my taxes, eat a square meal, and do all the other things I didn't bother with during February.

Today I'm posting pictures of two quilt tops I was working on over the weekend, to demonstrate that I did, in fact, complete them.  The first is for Charlotte, the one with the bikes is for the new baby. 
Thing Twenty-Five is another elephant from the same pattern I used for Thing Nineteen, only this time it turned out much better.  I managed not to repeat the mistakes I made with my first attempt.  And I didn't like my french knot eyes, so I drew them on with a sharpie instead.  Last project of the month, complete success.  (We won't count the one I gave up on today because I didn't have the energy to re-do all the stitching I had to rip out, okay?)


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thing I've-lost-track-of-my-numbers: experimental cookies


Today I made cinnamon golden raisin cookies.  I didn't have a recipe.  They taste weird.

Thing Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three: baby quilts in progress


This is exactly everything I accomplished today.  I had the cutting almost completely done last night, so today was all about the actual sewing.  Now I have to stitch the rows together (six horizontal seams on each quilt) and add the borders, and the quilt tops will be done.  There are more rows than you can see -- I had to crop the picture.
The top quilt is for Charlotte, who picked out the feature fabric herself.  She did a surprisingly good job -- the fabric lends itself to this pattern quite nicely.  The bottom quilt is for baby number two.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thing Twenty-One: Hot Fudge!


Brownies from a mix.  Ice cream from the market.  Hot fudge from SCRATCH!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thing 20: sock in progress


I wasn't feeling great today, so for my Thing I sat on the couch and knitted.  This is a sock I started over my Thanksgiving vacation and haven't touched since.  I could have finished it, but I have lots of yarn and decided to make a longer sock.  Going to bed early in hopes of a more productive day tomorrow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thing Nineteen: Pink Elephant


I visited a new quilt shop a few weeks ago, and Charlotte fell in love with some sample elephants on display.  So we bought the pattern, and this is my first attempt.  I fully expect the eyes to unravel any second now, because I am a total loser at french knots.  This was a fun way to use one of the miscellaneous fat quarters I bought when I found out I was having a girl -- back when I thought I'd get a baby quilt done before she arrived.  Silly me!
Also, when I cut the pieces for this elephant, I cut out another one at the same time.  There were four on display at the store, and they just looked so cute as a herd!  I may not get that far, but at least this little baby will have a friend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thing Eighteen: Handwarmers FINISHED!


The right handwarmer was Thing Thirteen.  Today was the left.  These were kind of a pain and I don't plan on making another pair like this.  Sock yarn with a size C crochet hook.  Tedious.  But they are cozy, and the utterly bizarre color combination means I can wear them with just about anything in my wardrobe.  And I probably will.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thing Sixteen: Cradle bumper pads


Finished!  This cradle has been passed down through my husband's family, and is rocking a third generation of babies.  It's now ready for our summer arrival.  Big sister can't wait!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thing Fifteen: Bumper Pads, Part I


Today I worked on bumper pads for the upcoming baby.  These are custom sized for a cradle that's been passed down in my husband's family.  I finished the two longer sides -- they're identical, the picture just shows opposite sides.  The shorter pads require more math and will have to wait until morning.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thing Thirteen: Crocheted Fingerless Glove


I adore handwarmers.  This is my first crocheted one.  I finished the right hand today, except for weaving in the ends, which will have to wait until I can find a yarn needle.  I still declare today's Thing a success.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thing Twelve: Puzzle Ball


Hooray for another finished project!  I saw one of these in a quilt shop and thought it looked fun.  Charlotte picked the colors out of a bin of fat quarters.  I took my time with the cutting (and had to cut very carefully, since I didn't technically buy enough fabric) but got the sewing done yesterday and today.  Took me longer than I expected -- I always forget that the easy parts can be the most time consuming.  I'm definitely happy with the finished project, and now that I've done it once, I know I could whip one up in a day or two as a baby shower gift. 
Here's hoping my kiddo likes the finished project as much as she liked stealing the pieces while I was working on it!  It's nice to think that she gets to have fun with a new toy because I got to have fun making it.  I've actually got a few more toys on my list this month, and I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Thing Eight: Fabric Book


Today, I stitched up this fabric book for Charlotte, shown here reading it to Alan.  It has the alphabet illustrated with Beatrix Potter characters.  She mostly just likes to hug it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Thing Six: Sushi


This was my first attempt. The proportions were off, but it was still
yummy! Charlotte helped me eat it, so we ended up making lots more.
See, there I go again, feeding my kid people food!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Update: Sour Cream Success!


Okay, so I should have stirred it up.  It was super thick on top, and runny on the bottom.  But it was yummy on my baked potato!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Thing Three: Crocheted Market Bag


I haven't done much crocheting in a long time, either.  But crochet is like English to me.  I learned it young enough that it just comes naturally.  With knitting, I still have to learn something new with every project, or re-remind myself how to ssk or M1R or kitchener.  The language isn't imprinted in my brain.  Today, it was nice to pick up a project and know how to do it.  Overall, anyway.  I haven't actually made one of these before. 


I made this bag out of enough sock yarn to make a pair of socks.  About halfway through, I realized mine wasn't turning out like the one in the picture, so I stopped following the directions.  I tried to get a close up to show the detail.  It has strong vertical ribbing on the outside, and horizontal ribbing on the inside.  It's lot thicker and cuddlier than the string bag I was expecting (based on the picture and poor instructions).  As you can see, it's easily sturdy enough to carry my produce home from the farmers' market, or whatever else I need to carry.  Maybe not a bowling ball, but anything else.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Thing Two: Fail Gloriously.


My calligraphy supplies have been gathering dust for a few years, so it was time to shake them out and wonder why my favorites were missing and what I was ever doing with a hot pink calligraphy marker.  It was fun, and challenging to remind my brain and my fingers how to make pretty letters after so many years of typing more than writing.
Today's Thing was inspired by a quote from Jon Acuff: “If you’re going to risk and maybe fail, fail at something that matters. Fail gloriously so that even in failure, lives change.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Thing One: Sour Cream


I made sour cream today.  That is, I did my part of the sour-cream-making.  Now the microbes take over, and in 24-36 hours, I have sour cream. 
I hope.  I have never done this before. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Thing-a-Day 2011: what in the world I'm doing

I've been getting pumped up for Thing-a-Day for a few weeks now, and I'm ready for it to start already! 
What is Thing-a-Day?  It's a creative sprint.  The idea is to create something, every day, for the month of February.  Just the thing we all need to shake us out of the February slump, when lack of sunshine and fresh air is really starting to take its toll.  Winter activities have become boring, snow is no longer pretty, bad weather feels more like a jail sentence than a good excuse to play hooky.  Blah.  I'm tired and I'm bored.  So I'm doing something different.
I have two particular goals for Thing-a-Day this year.  The first is finishing things.  I'm terrible about this.  I have two pairs of pants that I've sewn from scratch, and just need to be hemmed.  I have quilts in every possible stage of completion that haven't been touched in over a year.  I meant to knit some socks for Grandpa for Christmas, and only got as far as the cuffs.  Yeah, I also have socks in every possible stage of completion.  So for a month, I'm finishing things.  Daily.  I might allow myself to finish my old projects, but the main idea is to start from scratch, which I'm pretty good at.  For February, I'm doing something I'm bad at, in the hopes that I'll improve with practice.
My second goal is to think small.  I'm forever thinking about big projects that I don't have the time, money, or energy for.  Remodel the bathroom.  Landscape the backyard.  Knit my husband a sweater.  Re-organize the junk room -- all 400 square feet of it.  Sew all my own clothes for a year.  When was the last time I set out to make a potholder?  Or a suncatcher?  How long has it been since I painted a picture for the refrigerator?  I love making bed-size quilts and knitting complicated cables and learning difficult new skills, but it's good to remind myself that there is still value in simple, easy things.  Like a cup to hold my pencils, or a frame for a special photograph.  Kid stuff, sure.  But where else am I supposed to put my pencils?
For the month of February, I resolve to tackle small Things.  And to finish Things.  There are lots of other goals I'd like to talk about, but let's not tackle all my bad habits at once.
What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photo test


Caution: This box contains Wine, Batteries, and Fire.
Have you ever found it impossible to decipher the icons on something you've purchased?

Testing . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .

I suspect this won't post.  So I'm trying it.  If you actually see this message, please disregard.

That is all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dear Hannah

I'm too broke to buy you a present -- even something cheap, like denture glue -- which, by the way, you should never put on your tongue -- and I couldn't find a card that befitted our wonderful friendship in the five minutes I had to spare between . . . whatever it was I was doing. I can't remember. See previous post. Anyway, in honor of your birthday, I'm blogging at you. Congratulations on accomplishing new feats of oldness! You might need a cane pretty soon, but don't worry. Just decorate it for your favorite holidays, and people will start thinking of it as a fashion accessory.

In honor of your birthday, I'm eating frozen cookie dough, like we made last time you visited, only this time I remembered the chocolate chips. I thought about sending you some, but by the time it gets there, it would be sticky and rancid, so I'll just have to eat your share. I'm also digging through old photos, remembering how much fun we used to have. I wanted to post one of the two of us, but the only one I can find has us wearing purple glitter paint all over our faces. You look adorable, but I ended up with a mustache and a sole patch. And in so many of my photos of you, you're making a weird face, or wearing clown makeup, or sporting a very fashionable set of hot-pink play-doh sunglasses, that I just decided to forget the photo. Especially since I can't get glossy prints into a digital format with any sort of quality.

Not much of a birthday celebration, is it? Try to remember that fabulous birthday where I made cupcakes and invited all your friends and spent your birthday money from that creepy stalker guy on gas, so it could burn up on the way to Wal-Mart and not be a part of your life any more. Remember how much fun that was? Next birthday, come visit, and we'll do it again. Without the creepy stalker part, unless you've acquired a new one. (The old one IS gone, right?)

I wish I could be with you on your birthday, but I know you are surrounded by loved ones, and knowing your mother, there's no shortage of cake and ice cream. Unless you asked for peanut brittle and gummi bears instead, which wouldn't surprise me too much. May you be wonderfully blessed this birthday with joyful new memories and not a platypus in sight. May your next year be filled with love, peace, happiness, and good friends who will speak wisdom into your life the way you have into mine. I hope you have a happy birthday, but more than that, I hope today is the beginning of something wonderful for you.

Love,
Julie

My brains are oozing out my ear.

The details are making me crazy. I've been buried in details at work lately, and they've consumed so much of my mental energy that I almost forgot it was payroll day today. Yikes! This is one of my major responsibilities at my job, where I look at everyone's time sheets and figure out how much they all get paid and send the numbers away to a magical land where strange little gremlins make the actual paychecks. Sometimes the gremlins are slow, and people start wandering into my office on payday and asking, "Aren't we getting paid today?" And I say, "I don't know, should you be?" because really, I can't keep track. And they start to get upset, but it's not my fault! It's the gremlins!

Only, not today. I would have forgotten all about payroll this week, except that one of you mistakenly turned in your time sheet in the wrong place, so I found it when I was looking for something else. Thank you, whoever you were. I've forgotten, because the rest of you confused me so much today. The one person I can count on to turn in a time sheet ON TIME, EVERY TIME, forgot to turn one in, and the people I usually have to chase down with threats of not getting paid, actually turned them in. You're knocking me off balance, people. But you can rest assured, I got the numbers to the gremlins on time, so as far as I know, you'll all get paid this week. On time. I hope.

In the meantime, the roof is leaking and our (male) guinea pig has mastitis. I've been spending lots of time working on my garden, and so far all the useless plants are thriving, and about half the vegetable plants have died. Maybe the details killed them, too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thing-a-Day: I totally fail.

The germs ate February. I'm starting to feel like I've been sick so long that I can't remember what it's like to be healthy. When people try to make plans with me, I'm very hesitant, because I never know if I'll be too sick to do whatever. It's pitiful.

And the really sad thing about being sick for so long is that whenever I'm reading the paper and I come across an article about a disease, I can't help but notice how many of the symptoms I have. After a while, it becomes very obvious that I have Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome, and hypoglycemia, and maybe scurvy.

So I didn't do my daily Things, and I didn't finish writing my fabulous short story, and my house looks like a tornado swept through. Here's hoping the germs will stay confined to February and I can have a much happier, healthier March.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thing-a-Day 1 (and 2 and 3)

First, a big THANK YOU to Jennifer, who showed me how to get my blog on Facebook. If you're reading this at my actual blog, or my RSS feed, (Does anybody actually subscribe to my blog? I don't know how to tell) don't bother reading on Facebook, because there won't be any new content there. I'm way too lazy for that. For all my Facebook friends who didn't know I had a blog . . . hope you enjoy my pearls of crazy brilliance.

Friday's Thing was a lot of fun, but not very exciting for the rest of you, because I can't share it here. I wrote a first chapter of a new story, which is something I haven't done in a long time. It's for a contest, and if I post it online, there will be copyright issues, so you don't get to read it. But I just wanted to say, for the record, that I met the challenge on the first day of February, on a miserable rainy day where I had to spend several hours in a car and several more hours being monitored by a large, cranky woman with a badge.

Saturday, the most creative thing I did was inventory the food in the house and make it last until payday. The foster puppies moved out that day, and various other things had to get done, and I didn't have any time or energy left. Such is February.

Yesterday, I had to watch the Super Bowl. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so. Boring. I'll admit that I'm not a football fan, and I don't have TV, so I never know who's doing well or badly in any particular year. I don't have a favorite team or favorite players. I'd never even heard of Michael Vick before the whole dogfighting scandal. But I understand football well enough to watch a game in person. It makes sense, when you can clearly see who's who and which direction they're running. But TV football drives me crazy. They insist on showing at least two instant replays of every play, even when the replay doesn't show anything interesting. By the time they get back to the actual game, the ball is in play again and I can't figure out who has it. Then it's on the ground and they're showing another instant replay. Then they show the next play from the opposite camera angle so the offense is facing right instead of left. Then they show you the people in the stands, because those people paid exorbitant amounts of money to be there and get their face on TV. Then they show you some pretty plastic people with microphones talking about the game. Then there's the coaches and random people yelling on the sidelines -- we wouldn't want to forget about them. And to top it off, this year's Super Bowl teams were wearing the same colors, so I kept getting the Blue Shirt guys confused with the Blue Helmet guys. I seriously don't understand why four hours of this ridiculousness is the most-watched thing on television.

Anyway, I'm going to do better today. Even though I lost my list of things I was going to make this month. I think the Bear Sloth ate it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I'm camping out at library today. Which means I'm very thirsty. I tried to bring in a bottle of water with me, but the security guard sent me out. There weren't any signs or anything saying NO DRINKS! NOT EVEN WATER! but I wasn't too surprised, because libraries are always weird. The security guard is weird, too. When I walked in the door, she pointed at me and made a bunch of weird, incoherent noises. I just stared at her until she got around to telling me, "You can't bring that in here." For a second I thought she was talking about my laptop. That would have been preferable, because I have lots of stuff to do without a computer. I could be sitting here, well hydrated, researching my next novel, and instead I'm thirsty and wasting time.

I wish I'd been smart enough to bring a smaller water bottle, so I could stuff in it my bag, along with the apple, can of cashews, and two cans of soda I brought for lunch. Oh, no! Do you suppose the security lady will grunt and throw me out the window? Seriously, I can do way more damage around here with the stuff in my bag than with my water bottle.

The lady across from me is eating a snack. I bet she wouldn't tattle on me if I drank a soda. Then again, she might, because she knows the security guard.

I'm afraid to get up and leave my stuff sitting here. I haven't frequented a library since I was in college, and I can't tell if things are different now. Is it still okay to get up from your table and leave your books and papers and jacket and laptop lying around? Will other library patrons respect that this is my table, and they should camp elsewhere? Will they steal my stuff? It used to be okay to do that, but today I'm just not sure. This library is a little rougher than I'm used to.

Now the guy across from me is reading Seventeen magazine. Is that weird? Do guys read Seventeen? I can understand if there was a cute girl sitting there, saying, hey, read this, it's great. But he's all by himself. He looks like the kind of guy who'd tattle on me for eating an apple.

Anyway, the reason I'm camping at the library today is that the foster puppies are getting fixed. The SPCA does it for free, but it's an hour from my house. Rather than waste the time and money of two round trips, I'm staying here. I was going to do my taxes today, but my husband's employer couldn't be bothered to give him his W-2 yet, so I can't. I'm ready, though. Once that W-2 is in my hot little hand, I'll have my return mailed out the very next business day. I want my refund, darn it. I can't convince the powers-that-be to take less money out of our paychecks in the first place, so I have the pleasure of giving the government an interest free loan every year. While I'm waiting for my W-2s, my money is being used to provide the services we all rely on every day. Like roads. And national parks. And beefy security women to make sure nobody sneaks contraband into the library.

It's very dry in here. Think they'd kick me out if I went outside, stood in the rain long enough to get soaked, and came back in, dripping all over the place?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Try something new.

It's January. It's cold and gray and the days are not nearly long enough. You'd think we'd be used to it by now, right? It comes once every year. Well, not to worry. It's almost over. Just look at your calendar.

Oh, wait. See what's coming up? February. It just doesn't get any worse than that. In the interests of surviving February and breaking out of my creative rut (anybody notice the lack of blog posts this month?), I've joined thing-a-day.

The idea is to create something new every day for the month of February. You can sketch, cook, crochet, build, whatever works for you. But the goal is for one thing each and every day, not a big project that takes all month. Try some new recipes. Make homemade Valentines. Experiment with photography, or painting, or composing music, or whatever strikes your fancy. Draw up plans for your new deck. Write a short story. Build those shelves you've been meaning to install in that room where all the books are stacked up in piles.

Basically, get your brain moving. Don't let the slothful pace of February catch you, or you may not recover until May.

Thursday Thirteen: Highlights of 2007

Now that it's a whole month into 2008, I found this list that I started in December and forgot to finish. Maybe 2007 wasn't so bad, after all.


Thirteen Things Really Cool Things That Happened to Me in 2007



1. Two people told me my cherry jam was the best they'd ever tasted.
2. I got to see my brother and sister-in-law for the first (and second!) time in over three years.
3. I cut off my hair for Locks of Love. I went to the same stylist that did my last haircut, and she didn't remember me! But she pretended, and she cut off two-and-a-half year's worth of hair growth and left me with a style that wasn't at all what she gave me last time, but still looked great. That woman is the best hair stylist I've ever had. I will be her customer for life. Which would be better for her if I got my hair cut more often.
4. My younger cousins got confused and thought my sister-in-law was my sister. Which wouldn't be so great if she wasn't one of the coolest people I know.
5. I learned to make gluten-free biscuits. Baked goods are the hardest thing to make decent gluten-free substitutes for, so this is a big victory. Now if only I could accomplish a yummy chocolate-chip cookie. I once got the texture right, but they tasted like garbanzo beans.
6. I learned how to knit. I mean really learned. People have shown me how to knit and purl before, but I'd always forget, and I never had much concept of how the stitches went together to make something worth wearing. Now I've made hats and scarves galore, plus a blanket, and I'm eyeing sweater patterns. With really cool fisherman cables. Yeah.
7. I got a free piano. People have told me for years that I didn't want a free piano, but they were wrong. Sure, it's out of tune and in need of repairs, but it beats not having a piano! I love it so much I have trouble seeing how I survived so many years without one.
8. My friend Emily got engaged and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I knew girls in college who were bridesmaids twice every summer, and I can understand how that would get old. But the first wedding I ever appeared in was my own, so I never burned out on the whole wedding thing. I love weddings!
9. I got a job at a place that is so cool I would work there for free. Actually, I used to work for music lessons, but now they pay me real money.
10. I introduced my husband to my mother's side of the family, and they loved him. He never feels like he fits in with my family, so it was really great to see him having fun at our family reunion.
11. I learned to play the guitar. A little bit, anyway. Okay, I started learning. And I got a guitar for my birthday, so I'd better get to practicing!
12. I visited Grandma for a week of quilting. This was my second solo trip to visit my grandparents. The first was the summer before I got married. That time, Grandma taught me how to make a quilt. This time, we worked on applique. My quilt pattern was way harder than the last one and we didn't get very far, but it was a wonderful trip!
13. I got rid of my nasty old kitchen. The cabinet doors hung crooked, the drawers fell off the tracks all the time, and it turns out there was a giant colony of something black growing under the tile countertop. Good riddance!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!





Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My head hurts.

Yesterday was one of those days when everybody I talked to asked if I was all right. I suppose that's better than those days when everybody says, "You should go home. You look awful." Still, it was no picnic. I had a migraine the day before (I'm afraid migraine headaches are becoming my annual January tradition) and it just left me totally wiped out.

I went to work anyway, just to do the things that were supposed to get done. After an hour, I started noticing funny halos around objects in my peripheral vision. Is that bad? After two hours, I called my boss at home (he comes in later than me) and asked if there was anything else I needed to do. He said no, and not to bother with the stuff I'd already done. Guess I could have stayed home.

No, I couldn't have. I had a guitar lesson. I think it went well, and I'm supposed to practice something new, but I've forgotten what it was in this funny headachey fog. I'll probably remember when I go shuffling through my papers later.

Migraines are definitely miserable, but I have to admit I'm amused by the random numbness that comes with them. One minute my entire arm is all tingly, then, poof, it's fine. During last year's migraine, my lips kept going numb. That was just plain bizarre.

Anyway, my husband, a.k.a. The Bear Sloth, was the real hero of the day. He left the lights dim and kept the dogs quiet and reheated chili for lunch.
http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
Him (quietly, so I won't have to cover my ears in pain): There's no beans in this chili.

Me: What?

Him: There are no beans in this chili.

Knowing that I have never once made chili without beans, I grab a spoon and taste it. Did I mention migraines can interfere with your sense of smell? I knew it smelled good, but I couldn't identify it.

Me: That's because it's spaghetti sauce.

Him: Woman!

Me: We have spaghetti.

Him: I know. And we have pagodas.

Me: Whatever. (I'm hungry. And cranky. And staring at you through a pain-induced fog. Just feed me.)

Leftover spaghetti sauce on pagoda pasta in the dark. Life doesn't get any better. Bear cooked me dinner, too, from scratch with an actual recipe. And we sat on the couch and read books and I did some knitting. At the end of the day, he said, "This was really nice," and I didn't know whether to hug him or smack him with a book. Since my head was pounding, I just squeezed my eyes shut and ignored him.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I needed the hammer to give the puppy a bath.

So I'm running water for a bath, and the dogs have been outside a while so I figure I should let them in. Only I forget to close the bathroom door, and when I come back to the bathroom, there's a puppy in there with his head in the litterbox.

It's morning. I'm only half-awake. And in dire need of a bath. So instead of handling the situation like the calm, rational person that I pretend to be after ten AM, I just scream.

The puppy is startled, and instead of backing out of the litter box like he's supposed to, like he usually does, like ANY PUPPY WITH A BRAIN WOULD KNOW HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO, he just jumps in.

That's right. He's now IN the litterbox.

So I have to calm down just a little bit, just long enough to talk nicely and coax him to come out. Then I scoop him up and drop him directly in the bathtub. In MY bath. Well, the first two inches of it, anyway. There's nasty catbox mud swirling around his ankles.

I flip the shower valve so I can use the handheld spray, track down the dog shampoo, and scrub the puppy – who is a little freaked out by now – until I'm satisfied he's clean. Then I realize that I don't have a towel handy, because it's not like I was prepared for a doggy bath today, and no way am I using MY bath towel on this little guy. Uh-uh. So I go to look for a towel in the hall closet, and the puppy takes a flying leap out of the bathtub. I didn't know he could do that!

I'm actually a little proud. This is a rescue puppy with malnourishment issues, and when he got here, he couldn't even pull himself up the stairs. Now he can jump out of a bathtub! Good puppy! My job is done. (Right?)

The puppy's running all over the house, leaving wet puppy footprints everywhere. I decide not to care, because the house is warm and he will dry quickly, and also the house is dry, so those wet puppy footprints will be gone in the time it takes to locate a mop. Besides, I still haven't gotten my bath.

I track down cleaning supplies and scrub the tub. I don't really mind doing this, because it was about time to clean the tub anyway, I just wasn't planning on doing it before work today. Speaking of work, I'm running late.

Thinking of the nasty catbox mud, I scrub the bathtub twice, and rinse it extra well with the handheld sprayer. Now it's MY turn.

But the shower valve is stuck, and I don't want to use the handheld on myself. I need a hammer to fix it.

That is why the hammer is in the bathroom. If you have a problem with that, TAKE IT UP WITH THE PUPPY.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 In Review

I wrote the annual Christmas letter last month, but for some reason we never got it printed and mailed. It's been busy around here. So, if you thought you were on our Christmas card list and wondered why you didn't hear from us, here's your copy:

2007: The Year We were Too Busy to have Any Milestones.

In a year in which everyone we know has bought/sold a house, had a family member get engaged/married/divorced/pregnant/born/religion, adopted a puppy/human/gerbil, graduated, started school, learned to walk/talk/drive, or at least had some sort of adventure outside the country, we have done none of the above. We haven't had the time.

In February, Alan learned that his company's government contract was coming to an end and he had to start job hunting again. They were great about keeping him on salary while trying to find him another position with the company, but none of the openings matched his skills and he had to move on. He ended up in a job that is too complicated for me to understand, but he kept saying it was mostly data entry and extremely boring. After applying for various transfers within the company, he is starting at a new position in December and really looking forward to it. He'll be doing computer help desk work again, which he enjoys.

I opted not to return to her job at the Governor's School after the school year was over. I am now working at Grace Center for the Arts, lining up music lessons and dance classes and other fun stuff. It's mostly accounting and recordkeeping, but it's a pleasant work environment and comes with fun perks. I took up guitar in January, and while I'm not very good, nobody throws rotten vegetables at me. So far. I just finished the winter recitals, where I was in charge of encouraging shy young singers, corralling wayward teenage guitar players, and keeping the drama students quiet whenever they weren't on stage.

Sometime in the spring, we inherited an old piano that was being given away by a local private school. We'd just rearranged our living room and left a space for a love seat so we could have people visit and not sit on the couch where the dogs sleep, but the free piano went there instead. (Who are we kidding? Nobody visits us!) I've been having a blast learning to play again, even though it's painfully out of tune. I took piano lessons for a few months, then decided to save money for a while and get the darn thing repaired.

For my birthday in July, we visited my parents, while my brother and sister-in-law happened to be there. It was the first time we'd all been together since our wedding, so it was a big treat for everybody.

In August, I indulged in a week of quilting with Grandma. (No, Dad, the quilt isn't done yet.) We had a wonderful time, and I made more little half-square triangles than I ever want to see again. I also helped Grandpa set up their new copy machine. Seeing as this year's Christmas letter from Grandma and Grandpa has yet to arrive, it seems possible that something went horribly wrong after I left. Oops.

Our new wood stove was installed in September. The old one did a fine job of heating the house, but it was made of steel, so that last February when Alan built a nice hot fire in it (some of you may remember that we had a giant ice storm in February, which resulted in the electricity being out for most of a day, and the phones being out for over three days), one of the sides warped and a weld cracked. The new one is cast iron, and smaller and prettier than the old one, and heats up a kettle on the top so I can make tea. Not that I've managed that yet, because the firebox is so much smaller and you have to pay a lot more attention to it. I can't seem to get a decent fire going, so defer to my husband, the self-proclaimed and acclaimed pyromaniac.

In October, we decided to quit talking about it and remodel our kitchen already. So we did. And when I say we, I mean the two of us, Alan and Julie. We've learned lots of great lessons, like how water and electricity don't mix, and how they say to use dark primer under red paint, but it doesn't matter, you're still going to need three coats anyway. It was a miserable process, which of course took twice as long as we expected. Many thanks to the friends who took us to dinner during the two weeks we were without a kitchen sink! Now that the dust has settled, we have a working dishwasher for the first time. There are no words to express our excitement. We still haven't installed the toekicks or wiped the plaster dust off the rafters, but our new kitchen is much nicer than our old one. I can't seem to stop myself from cooking in it, and Alan can't seem to stop himself from eating in it, so everybody's happy.

One day while we were eating lunch off paper plates and there was a big plastic curtain dividing our dusty kitchen from the rest of the house, my mom called and invited us to an impromptu family reunion in Nebraska. It seemed my mom's entire family was going to be there, and we were the only ones not going. Since it was the weekend of our fifth anniversary and Alan still hadn't met most of these relatives, and since it's only about once a decade that they're all in the same place, we went to Nebraska, where a good time was had by all. I fixed my aunt and uncle's computer, my sister-in-law fixed my guitar, my mom and aunts made a fabulous pre-Thanksgiving dinner, and my uncle taught Alan how to field dress a buck, shot by my cousin. What more can you ask for?

This Christmas, we're looking forward to some quality time with family in Illinois, Tennesse, and maybe somewhere else. We'll know when we get there. Then maybe in January, we'll catch our breath.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Type of Writer I Should Be

So I took a silly quiz, and here are the results:

You Should Be a Joke Writer

You're totally hilarious, and you can find the humor in any situation.
Whether you're spouting off zingers, comebacks, or jokes about life...
You usually can keep a crowd laughing, and you have plenty of material.
You have the makings of a great comedian - or comedic writer.


Don't I wish! I was going to try to make fun of the terrible week I've had, but it just isn't funny. This was the week I was supposed to post pictures of all my Christmas knitting, but I didn't get it done. Because I was sitting in my office waiting for my computer to reboot (for hours and hours), wishing the whole time that I'd brought my knitting so I could at least get something done while I was on the clock. So the server upgrade, which probably wasn't necessary in the first place, spilled over and disrupted my entire life, and now people I love are not going to get their Christmas presents on time. I'm sure they won't love me any less, but I might love me a little less. Merry Christmas anyway.