Oh the things I will make!

October 28, 2009

A few years ago I made the mistake of making things for DH’s family for Christmas.  I compounded that mistake by doing it again the next year and the next.  For the most part they are pretty enthusiastic about what they get and I always try to make something that they will find useful.  Plus, since there are so many of them, I also have to pick things that are small and fast.

However, because there are so many of them, they also have to have the same thing or else noses will be out of joint.  I pick the colours to suit the recipient but the girls get the same thing and the boys, if I have time, get the same thing too.

I think though, this year will be the last year of handmade Christmas.  I find I am getting resentful of having to spend my time knitting for them, despite the fact that most of them really do like (and wear) what I give them.  Plus, I have a bunch of things I want to make for me.  Which is unusual since I rarely knit or sew for myself.

Anyway.  It’s two months and three days until Christmas.  I have a lot of knitting to do.


Golden Fingers

October 23, 2009

When we were little, my grandmother made us beautiful smocked dresses.  Without a pattern.  And they always fit.  Granted the hems were waaaaaay too long, but she came from the “old country” and clothes were meant to last and last and last.  My poor sister often wore the same style dress for years as she got mine and my cousin’s hand-me-downs.

My grandmother could also knit and crochet.  We all have several “wave” afgans in various colours kicking around our respective houses and while they aren’t always pretty, they are always warm.  If the DH and I go through on our cottage purchase, you can bet a few of those afgans will be making the trip up there to keep us toasty during the winter months.

My aunt is a trained seamstress and also makes beautiful clothes.  She knits, crochets and quilts.  I have been the lucky recipient of a black cat lap quilt for a milestone birthday and a Steps to the Altar quilt as a wedding shower gift.  (Note: this isn’t my quilt which is blue, but another beautiful example of someone else’s talent.)

My mom also sews.  She made me and my sister countless outfits while we were growing up and even after we were grown up.  She’s made  toys, doll clothes, curtains and all manner of Hallowe’en costumes and formal dresses too.   I taught her to knit a few years back, but I don’t think it really “stuck” with her. 

I sew and knit too amongst other “crafty” hobbies like needlepoint, cross stitch and scrapbooking.  Knitting is my passion though and it takes up most of my free time and my stash takes up most of my available square footage in the Money Pit.  I wouldn’t say I’m an expert knitter (or seamstress) but I get by.  My output isn’t all that great either and would probably increase considerably if I stuck with one project until it was done, but I suffer greatly from start-itis and have several knitting, sewing and other crafty projects of varying degrees of difficulty and in varying degrees of completion scattered around my house.

My aunt (the seamstress) says we have “golden fingers” but my grandmother says we can’t sit still.  I’m inclined to believe it’s a little of both.  I certainly can sit and do nothing while I watch tv or a movie, but I feel I’ve been more productive if I’ve worked on a blanket or a sweater or something while I’ve watched that trashy tv show or [not-so-great] movie.  I knit in movie theatres and while knitting has certainly increased it’s profile over the last few years, I still get a lot of odd looks and stage whisper comments that yes, I am knitting in public.

This morning I came across this article in the Globe and Mail and it really hit home, especially the last few paragraphs.  I don’t recall hiding my homemade clothes from my friends (I never really fit in at my swish private school anyway and it’s doubtful the right clothes would have helped).  But I do remember being very proud of wearing things my mom made.  Especially formal dresses.  I never had to worry about anyone else wearing the same outfit as me since mine were all custom.

I don’t sew that much anymore but a trip on Saturday to the Greenwood Quiltery  in Guelph led me to rethink that.  I bought a few metres of fabric that caught my eye and am now thinking maybe I would like to learn how to quilt.  There is also a room at the back of the store that is stocked with some delicious yarn and I managed to score a sale price ball of Kidsilk Haze in colour 642 Ghost (very appropriate for the season!) and a few other things that I didn’t really need but really wanted.

I don’t ever forsee knitting taking a backseat to the other crafts that I do but maybe, just maybe it will be moving into the passenger seat for the next while so I can give my golden fingers a break and use up some of that fabric stash I have accumulated.  While DH isn’t super-thrilled at the thought of another “crack” hobby I will take up, he can’t help but be pleased with that news that the piles of fabric in my “office” will get smaller, one quilt at a time.

Being good

October 23, 2009

Ok, first, I am not a little woman.  Second, I like to eat.  A lot.  Which not co-incidentally has led me to become less little than I used to be.  Third, I don’t get the whole “I’m being good” comment when women are confronted with food that is less than healthy for them.

I like to bake and find it relaxing.  DH isn’t much of a dessert eater and is away much of the week now so anything I bake usually makes its way to my office.  I’ve even been known to bring in a chocolate bar or 10.  Other pod dwellers bring in candy and fruit and vegetable platters.  It’s been remarked that it’s always good eating in my part of the office.  Things are left there because where I sit is a fairly heavily trafficked area.  And we have a big table.  Which is useful for setting out cake. 

We also don’t (often) advertise that there is food in our pod, it’s just there and people are welcome to eat it or not.  Unlike my MIL, I don’t force pe0ple to eat what I bring nor do I guilt them into eating it.  It’s there, eat it, don’t eat it.  I really don’t care.

And while I don’t mind answering questions about what the food is or who brought it or made it, what really burns my ass is are the ladies who look longingly at the pie/cookies/cake/candy EVERY FREAKING TIME THEY WALK PAST ALL DAY LONG and make  a point of saying “oh, I can’t, I’m being good”.  Or, when their willpower finally gives way, they take a tiny sliver or half of a half of a piece and say the same thing….”oh, I’m being good”. 

Well, yes, yes you are being good.  Good at annoying the crap out of me.  Please.  Either eat the food or don’t.  I personally have no willpower so I know all about the siren call of open potato chip bags, containers of whip cream and cakes and cookies of all sorts.  There’s a reason my Christmas swap cookies go immediately into the freezer upon entering into my house. 

But like I said, I don’t force people to eat.  I also don’t precut the food into giant pieces either.  You can take as much, or as little as you want.  And as far as I know none of my podmates have health problems (ie diabetes)  that would inhibit them eating treates.  If they did I’d be much more sensitive and either stop bringing food in or make it diabetic friendly.  Besides, if you don’t like chocolate cake or almond cookies or Christmas cake or whatever I have made I don’t expect you to eat it.  Really.  I get enough of that business at the MIL’s and don’t feel the need to pass on that kind behaviour.  I bake, because as I said earlier, I find it relaxing.  It’s not about ego, I just like to give things to others and make people happy.  Sometimes a piece of cake really does have the ability to make a bad day better.

So please ladies in my office.  Eat the food with gusto or pass it up entirely.  Stop taking tiny portions and please stop justifying it to everyone within earshot that you’re  ”being good” by only eating a teeny tiny piece.  All you’re being is annoying and if you keep it up I will cut you off  and there’ll be no more cake for you.  Ever.  Which will suck because I just bought several new cookbooks and I’m dying to try them all out.

It’s always something

October 23, 2009

So last weekend was DH and my anniversary.  Three years and we’re both still alive.  Some days that’s nothing short of a miracle.

Anyway, three years and one week ago we got married on what happened to be Thanksgiving weekend.  We chose it for several reasons….we had to have a long weekend as we were inviting pretty much everyone his mother had ever spoken to in her whole life.  No really.  We sent out over 600 invitations.  Honestly I think his mom invited the people who bag her groceries.

But I digress.

Another reason we had to get married on Thanksgiving was because the Orthodox Church “blacks out” days.  I don’t know the reason why (and to be honest I don’t much care) but think of it kind of like trying to fly on points and a lot of the good dates are no-fly times.  The one summer weekend that was left unbooked was during my parents’ European cruise.  They offered to cancel their trip but we said no (good thing since the weather that weekend was horrific…cold and torrential rains), Thanksgiving was fine.  And fine it was.  We had a lovely, warm, sunny day.  In my opinion, it was the best day of the whole year to wear a big puffy white dress with two crinolines.

A side benefit of getting married on a holiday (that I’m pretty sure the DH never thought of) is that that holiday is forever “yours” and if you choose to go away for your anniversary during that time, no one can ever complain.  I mean really, how can you bitch out your kid for wanting to spend time with his wife on the anniversary of the best day of your life so far MIL instead of coming to your house and eating turkey.  Win-win indeed.

And so we spent the next two Thanksgiving weekends away.  On our first anniversary we decided to take in some local theatre and went to Drayton and saw The Man of La Mancha.  Which was really, really good.  What was not really, really good was the weather.  It was hot, humid and sticky beyond belief.  And given that it was October the B&B where we were staying had taken out their window AC units and sleep (and all other indoor sports) were uncomfortable in the extreme.  It’s hard to be all romantic when you’re dripping with sweat and sticking to the sheets.  Not the B&B host’s fault for sure and she was thoughtful enough to leave a bottle of champagne in our room for when we got back.  Good play, nice B&B, bad weather.

The next year we took an extra long weekend and went to New York City.  I had been only briefly prior to that trip but DH went all the time as the SIL used to live there.  We weighed the options…drive or fly and knowing my penchant for buying yarn and, well, pretty much everything else, we elected to drive.  Good call.

The hotel was ok (cheap and cheerful but an awesome location in the Upper West Side super close to Central Park) but DH just about killed me with his “death marches”.  By now I should be used to the fact that he goes from walking 0 kms in everyday life to 10+ a day on vacation.  My feet had swollen so badly  I could wear only one of the four pairs of the shoes I brought and forget about even trying on new ones.  The yarn shopping eased the pain though.  We continued on with the anniversary tradition of seeing a musical, this time Hairspray.  Which was also surprisingly good.

And we also continued the tradition of avoiding a big turkey dinner at the outlaws house.  My family rarely cooks turkey, instead preferring to eat the lesser known homemade Thanksgiving pizza or Thanksgiving BBQ’d steak.

This year however, our luck ran out.  We had planned to spend the weekend at Stratford Festival enjoying yet another anniversary musical, this time A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  The MIL blindsided us by telling us we’d be coming over to her house that weekend for dinner.  DH didn’t exactly say no, buuuuut he didn’t exactly say yes either.  We told her we’d be away that weekend and we’d try to make it to her house the next day by 4pm.  She was less than impressed and I’m sure you’ll not be at all surprised when I tell you I didn’t care.

But the play was sold out.  And DH spends much of the week on-site and wasn’t interested in sleeping anywhere but his own bed.  So we decided to go to The Shaw Festival as I’d heard good things about Born Yesterday.   Since we weren’t staying overnight we could splurge on a nice dinner at Strewn (which came highly recommended) and be home by midnight.  Or earlier.  We’re an old married couple now you know.

And so began the comedy of errors.  I always buy tickets on the internet and select the option of picking them up  at the box office.  I have never had issues.  Ever.  Except last Saturday.  We got up later than we wanted to, left much later than we thought we would, didn’t stop at any wineries on the way, drove around Niagara-on-the-Lake aimlessly looking for free parking (DH is cheap that way) and, when it came time to pick up the tickets, the lady at the box office  couldn’t find them.  Because I had mistakenly bought them for the show THE WEEK EARLIER.  Yep.  $220 worth of tickets for the previous Saturday.  Which we had spent lying around the house all day.

To my credit there was no swearing, no yelling and no tears.  I calmly purchased two more tickets, albeit at a lesser price despite the fact that they were better seats, and the very nice ticket lady who felt really badly for me after I told her it was our anniversary, released my tickets and converted that $220 into a donation which I suspect is borderline illegal and definitely unethical but really nice.  Especially as I get a tax break.

The show, which I spent $360 on was sadly not that great.  It was amusing but not nearly as funny as I was lead to believe and even now the lead actress’ grating voice still echos in my ears.  It’s my own fault but I totally overpaid for that show.

We made our way to Strewn, which came highly recommended and left much to be desired.  The service was very slow, the food was meh and the actual restaurant itself was nothing to write home about.  DH paid for dinner and it cost nearly as much as the second set of tickets.  And took longer to get through than the play!

But best of all we had to go to dinner at the outlaws the next day.  DH wanted to see his relatives, which was fine with me, but I held firm to leaving our house late.  And we agreed to continue to let his mother believe we had spent the night away.  I was fully expecting dinner to be well underway by 2:30 when we got there but sadly, they had yet to start.

I was feverish and coughing up a lung and had very little sense of taste so the food was actually reasonably pleasant.  What little I ate of it that is.  And to give her her due, the MIL nearly always does a good job with the turkey.  The gravy not so much but her turkey is decent.  The FIL and I, by unspoken agreement, ignored each other, and I spent much of the dinner coughing in the MIL’s direction and talking to DH’s cousins.  I’ve spent worse afternoons at the outlaw’s that’s for sure.

Next year, I told DH on the way home, will be different, no Thanksgiving dinner anywhere but our house and no guests but him and I.  Unless we once again go away for the weekend, in which case this will all be moot and I can start figuring out what musical we’ll see next October and get on that work up training for the inevitable death marches we’ll go on.

All by myself

October 23, 2009

Cue the cheesy music.

So it’s official, DH is now on-site at his project three hours away.  He’s been holed up at a not-as-bad-as-the-name implied hotel and comes home tomorrow.  He’ll have been gone three nights and four days. Thus far, he’s been reading binders of procedures.  Woooo those engineers sure know how to have fun!  But really, binders of procedures?  Couldn’t he do that at home and spare the company several hundreds of dollars instead of staying in hotel, eating out and charging for mileage?  Apparently not.

I have two  more years of this to look forward to.  Being a work week widow that is.  The plan is that he’ll leave early Monday morning to be on-site at 8am.  He’ll work four 10 hour days and then drive home Thursday night, spend some (or all…this is the DH who am I kidding) of Friday in the local office and spend the weekend trying to fit seven days of stuff into two days.  At some point during the week we’ll meet up at a half-way point for dinner so that the both of us are beat for work the next day.  Good times.

Aside from the obvious cons, that I miss him , that nothing gets done around here and I am so very, very tempted to eat potato chips for dinner (so far I’ve resisted) there are several pros to this situation.  It is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I’ll be a lot happier to see him on Friday than I normally am.  Also, the regular every-other-Monday-night dinners at the outlaws have been put on hiatus.  I am hoping they never return but I know the MIL’s power of “the guilt”.  They’ll be back in some shape or form but for now I’m just going to enjoy NOT EATING  CRAPTASTIC FOOD EVERY OTHER MONDAY.  Ahem.  I’m a little excited about that prospect.

Also, and I never would have expected this given the rotten time I had of it last time DH was away , I am loving sleeping by myself.  And the cat loves that she gets her side of the bed back.  I don’t think I’ve slept this well since I got married.

I also love not having to wrestle with the shower head every morning so that the spray doesn’t blind me as soon as I step into the shower.  I love leaving the dishes in the sink.  I love that the fridge is always full.  I especially love that I don’t need to cook fancy dinner unless I want to.  And I am TOTALLY loving all the knitting time.

But will I love all of this in a few weeks?  Probably some of it…the no outlaw dinners for sure.  But I know I’ll still miss the DH. It’s awfully quiet in the house without him.  It’s no fun talking to myself and the cat won’t answer back.  I don’t like having to kill the icky creepy crawly bugs that seem to come up the drain every year at this time.  Nor do I like emptying the stinky green bin.  I do not look forward to shoveling the driveway when it snows either.  And despite getting a great sleep it really is nice to have him next to me at night.  Thus far the monsters-under-the-stairs have remained firmly under the stairs but you never know…under-the-stair-monsters are unpredictable that way.  They never come out when he’s home.

Anyway, he comes home tomorrow and after that there are only 103 weeks of this left.  I can handle anything for 1o3 weeks.  I hope.

Change is good. Maybe.

October 23, 2009

The blog has been very quiet of late as I’ve spent a lot of time thinking.  I know, you can probably smell the smoke.  Anyway, some big changes are going to be coming to Cleverly Disguised land soon and  I’m trying to figure out how to deal with them.

For starters, it looks like DH will be posted to a site location that is a three hour drive from The Money Pit.  Each way.  This is bad.  As a result he will be living onsite for four days and three nights.  He has promised to leave very early on Monday mornings despite having to work much longer days and do the three hour commute a day earlier because he knows how scared I am of the monsters under the stairs.  He also has not mocked me for this.  Big props to DH.

He will however be making significantly more money while he is onsite.  This is good.  Obviously more money is nice.  We can pay off the Money Pit faster and do more fun things with more money.  When DH isn’t sleeping off his long days and ridiculous commute that is.

However, because this is a two year commitment, some of that “more money” will be going to buy a cottage since it’s pointless to spend half his per diem on rent when we can have a cottage for not a heck of a lot more per month.  And, once DH is done onsite we can either use it, rent it or sell it.  I suspect DH will remain on this project (but back at the home office) for several years.  We have often talked about buying a cottage but never put our money where our mouth was.  Life has a funny way of changing your plans when you’re not looking though.

Obviously there are some really awesome perks to DH being away.  What first springs to mind is way, way, WAY less contact with the outlaws beginning with the complete cessation of our twice a month dinners.  Oh, I know I’ll still have to see them but now it will be mostly at family functions and the occasional weekend dinner/lunch/drop in.  The MIL has no clue about the imminent move and while I feel a bit sorry for her, I feel not-at-all sorry for me for having to give up those craptastic dinners.  I have told DH I will call her on a weekly basis.  I’m giving like that.  Actually, she’s not so bad to talk to on the phone.  Mostly she just complains about the family and I make the occasional “uh huh”, “you don’t say” and “I know” at the appropriate time.

Another awesome perk is that my food bills will decrease significantly.  Of course I will have to have a lot of willpower to not eat potato chips for dinner four nights a week but I’m pretty sure that would get old quickly.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

And think about all my knitting/reading/baking/cooking/yoga time.  I am hoping to get a lot of that stuff done while DH is onsite too.  Afterall, since I don’t like to come home to a dark house when I’m alone and we’re heading into the shorter, darker days of fall, I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be staying away from the malls during the week.  I will have the computer all to myself too.  No more nagging to “stop messing around on the internet!”.  Any mess will be my mess.  Which should make life easier as I (usually) contain my mess to small areas of the house instead of leaving a trail of “stuff” behind me like DH does.  Also, I am thinking this will be an ideal time to purge all that crappy furniture he brought with him and frame and hang the pictures and masks (I collect them) where I think they’ll look best.

Of course I will be home alone for three nights.  They say that often the best way to overcome what you are scared of is to do it and I really have no choice in this instance, but I’m going to try very hard to disregard the zombies in the basement and the monsters under the stairs.  If it comes down to it, I’ll get a dog.  The cat will be less than amused and that will no doubt jack up my food bill again (I prefer big dogs) but it’d be a pretty effective monster/zombie buster.

And yes, I’ll miss DH.  But he’ll be home every weekend.  While we were dating we used to talk for hours on the phone.  I suspect that will resume and while it won’t be the same as seeing him every day, absence does make the hear grow fonder.  I’ll get back to you on that.

What’s been running through my mind this week

October 23, 2009

Vacation posts to come later.  For now, here, in no particular order, is what I’ve been thinking about this week.

  • Why is it that when I’m at work I’m exhausted but then at home, around 10pm, I suddenly have more energy than the Energizer Bunny?
  • How on earth am I going to function in any capacity once the DH starts spending four days a week on-site where the site is three hours away?  The Monsters-under-the-stairs will keep me up all night.
  • Two week vacation weight loss completely annihilated in three days.  One word….Doritos.
  • Looks like DH and I are going to have to go the medically assisted route for children.  I am so not happy about this.
  • Is it at all possible to only have Thanksgiving Dinner at my parents’ house and not the outlaws this year?
  • It really was pretty cool to be taken for a local in Iceland.
  • RIP Wray.
  • It’s not good when my fat pants are getting tight.  F’ing hormonal water retention.  And speaking of water retention why start now at the advanced age of 37?
  • Please, please, please, PLEASE co-worker’s wife get a full time job ASAP.  Your five+ calls a day to work are very annoying.
  • DH hasn’t even left for the on-site and I am already stressed out about it and miss him.
  • Are we really thinking about buying a cottage?  Really?
  • I hate all my summer clothes and shoes but it’s too early to take out my winter stuff.
  • Doritos for dinner is not a good thing.  Well, it is, but not from an optimal health perspective.
  • I really have to get my fat ass down to the pool.  The camera doesn’t lie.
  • Christmas will be here in just over three months.  I am not ready.
  • None of my yarn excites me.
  • I really need a house keeper.
  • Is it wrong that I am hoping for a strike so that I can have  time off to sleep in and organize The Money Pit?  Of course that would seriously impact my finances and I’m pretty sure VISA will take the cat.
  • Do I really want to stay at my job past April?  Do I really want to look for a new one?
  • I am addicted to Zuma?  I could play that game for hours.
  • I have not vacuumed my house in over a month.  I live in a pig stye.
  • I am considering tossing a bunch of DH’s crap while he is on-site.  I would kill him if he did it to me.  He probably won’t even notice it’s gone though.
  • I don’t “get” arty films.
  • I am pretty sure I was obnoxious as an undergrad but I couldn’t have been as obnoxious as the window lickers who live in my neighbourhood.  Back to university is NOT the most wonderful time of year.  However, if they keep up this ridiculous behaviour there will be a lot of Christmas grads and more importantly, empty houses.
  • My tomatoes have blight.