A Good Yarn

Friday, July 29, 2005

It's All About the Stitch Markers

I got another set of stitch markers from Marker Mania:

These are from Minnie. Aren't they charming? I love ladybugs!! The little word charms are so cute too.

Since I've loved Marker Mania, I decided to join the Stitch Marker Swap. Here's my stitch marker questionnaire:

Do you prefer shorter or more dangling type of markers?

I think I like the shorter ones better, but the dangly ones are ok too.

Is there any kind of markers that you would absolutely NOT want to recieve?

I wouldn't say absolutely not, but I do prefer markers that are attached to a split ring instead of the ones that are all one big piece of wire. I think they hang better.

Colors you like most?

Purple, fuscia, lime green. Those are the favorites, but I really like pretty much anything.

Colors you like least?

I used to say brown, but I'm totally into chocolate brown right now. So, I don't know that there is a color I like least. Maybe pastels? But pastel beads are cute, so probably not even that.

Would you prefer markers for smaller or larger sized needles?

I use smaller needles more than big needles, but I can use them all.

Do you want your sender to reveil themselves when there shipped or at a later date?
and How would you like to find out if at all?

I guess Michelle has something fun planned for reveals, so this question probably doesn't matter any more. I'm up for whatever, though.

Wednesday night was knitting night at Nina's. We were looking at an old needlework magazine from 1972. So funny! Some of the stuff of course looks pretty current, like the ponchos. Some of that stuff was just crazy though! I wonder what people will think of our projects 30 years from now.

Last night Greg, Michael and I had our yearly outing at Ribfest. This guy was the musical act last night:

When I was 14 years old, I was absolutely in love with Rick Springfield. I used to listen to "Living in Oz" over and over again. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed in him last night. His voice hasn't really held up over the years and his "schtick" was pretty cheesey. He came out for the encore with no shirt - he still looks pretty good even after all this time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Knitting Weather

Yesterday was the perfect day for knitting. It was nice and cool and so comfortable! I suppose this is what it's like in places like San Francisco all the time. We'll be back up in the high 80s again soon - just in time to be helping my brother move. Goody!

Sunday was a hot one, but I met up with Kerry at the very air-conditioned Minnehaha Coffee and knit for a bit. We also went to Needlework Unlimited to check out the Scarf Style trunk show. I already really liked that book a lot but I really loved seeing some of the scarves in person. The one I was most drawn to was "Turkish Treasure", which I hadn't really even noticed in the book. Maybe because it's crocheted, which I don't really do. Maybe this fall I'll take a crochet class.

I was able to finish up the right front of Lucky on Sunday, too.

Once I started decreasing for the surplice front AND the sleeve hole, it went really fast. Maybe I'll actually get this done in time to wear this fall.

I received another set of stitch markers from Marker Mania:

These cuties are from Suzie and I love them! I love how she matched the funky big beads with the cute little beads. Very cool! Thanks Suzie!!

Monday we had a huge storm - kind of a flash flood. My brother's car broke down in the midst of it, so I went to give him a ride home and we decided to get some dinner too. Just a local watering hole, Tailgate Sports Cafe. I've been trying to eat healthier and hadn't had a hamburger in about a month. It was so yummy! I also had a couple of Buffalo wings, which I hadn't had in just as long and quite enjoyed those as well! Absence does make the heart grow fonder :-)

Yesterday we took the car in to a garage to be fixed. They didn't have anyone to pick up the part needed from the dealer, so we did that too, to move things along a bit. We had lunch at Khan's Mongolian Barbeque. Believe it or not, I'd never been there. You go through a buffet type line and pick out what meats, veggies, noodles and sauces you want and then bring it up to be stir fried. I liked it! I love the fact that you can pick exactly the veggies you like since I'm so picky about that stuff. I HATE green peppers. Last time my sister Kerry and her mom, Kim, visited we went to Benihana and they really enjoyed it. I think they'd like this too. It's not as much of a show, but still very cool.

Last night was bowling night with Bill's family again. I didn't bowl my highest score, but I was incredibly consistent. I didn't get lower than an 8 on any frame. I really wanted to buy that ball so I'd have it every time I bowl from now on!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Summer Storms

We had some storms this weekend and the power went out at my office, so my file server has been unavailble to show pictures - or save new pictures. What's a blog post without pictures?

Friday was another scorcher, so I decided to end my workday early and find relief in the theaters again. I saw this one:

I liked it, but I like the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn/Will Ferrell/Ben Stiller movies. They're not all in this one, but I think of them as sort of a comedian rat pack for our generation. It's a bit racy, but nothing too over the top. Perfect way to enjoy a hot summer afternoon/early evening.

Saturday I had a chance to spend a little time with Red and we decided to go to Como Zoo and check out the new Como Town. It's a really nice ride area - I think his favorite was the chance to drive a little car and earn a driver's license. We also had a water balloon fight and got soaking wet. We walked through the conservatory and some of the zoo, then played mini golf. It was a pretty fun day!

Here's a picture of Florentine Flattery as finished:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Still Beading

The heat came back again. We had a picnic at Hyland Lake Park Reserve on Tuesday night and it wasn't too bad. I did a little hiking on the nature trails before everyone else got there, and it was pretty hot when I wasn't under the tree cover. The kids had a blast at the rec area - especially the water sprayer.

Yesterday I had to file a motion in Washington County and on the way back I saw a store called "The Bead Alley" right off the highway. Of course I had to check it out. Turns out, it's a combo platter - beading and yarn store. It's pretty much split evenly between beads and yarn. Which means they don't have a huge selection of either. But it is a nice selection. I picked up a few beads and one knitting pattern. They had a mix of basics like Cascade and Brown Sheep and novelty yarns. They also had the Malabrigo yarn that it's so nice.

It was so hot when I got home that I decided to do some more beading instead of knitting. I got some more turquoise chips from the Trendsetter club and was able to finish that necklace:

I have enough chips that I could have probably made a 4 or 5 string necklace, but since I already bought the 3 to 1 connector, I decided to just make it 3 strings. They didn't have any more of the turquoise nuggets to go with the other Trendsetters selection and they don't sell it in the store. I did find some that are close on eBay, so I could buy some there. But I also tried putting something together with red coral and I sort of like that. I need more coral, too, though. I'll keep thinking about that one. I did get some more glow in the dark beads and made a bracelet:

It does look pretty cool when you walk into a dark room. I still have 2 more beads left, so I have to decide whether to make earrings or some stitch markers for myself, since I sent all of the others away.

Monday, July 18, 2005


The heat has broken and it's now a beautiful, perfect day! Surviving living on the sun does make you appreciate the normal summer days much more, though. Yesterday was a different story. It was 97 degrees and really humid. My window air conditioner only does so much, so I finally gave up and decided to go see a movie. Apparently everyone had the same good idea, because there was a line around the block outside the theater. Luckily, I was trying to decide between 2 documentaries and the second one started 20 minutes later, so I got there in plenty of time. This is what I saw:

When I was in high school, I absolutely adored penguins and collected penguin "stuff". Plus, I figured watching the long cold winter in Antarctica was a sure fire way to cool down. I was right about that.

I really liked this movie. The penguins are adorable - I can't decide which is cuter, seeing them waddle around or seeing them belly flop down and scoot around on their bellies. The movie tells the story of how the penguins leave their homes in the water in the fall and march to the breeding grounds where they'll be safe to mate and lay an egg. Then the film shows that process and what happens after the egg is laid, after the chicks are hatched, and when spring returns. Those chicks are so adorable!! This is not a Disney movie, however, and while nature is amazing, it is also harsh.

I bring this up because while I enjoyed the movie, I didn't enjoy the movie-going experience. Behind me was a family with a 5 year old and a 7 year old and the children talked through the whole movie - mostly whining about the penguins who died during this long and arduous process. It's funny how I'm much more tolerant of Red's chatter in a movie than some strange kids behind me. It didn't help that the film broke 2/3 of the way through, so we had to sit for about 10-15 minutes while they repaired the film. And since it was such a popular movie, I was smushed in next to a stranger and way up in the front. I'm happy to see so much interest in a documentary, but I do love it when there's only about 5 - 6 other people in the theater with me.

After I had dinner with my brother, I went home to watch "Into the West" and my favorite HBO shows. I have liked "Into the West", but I do find it confusing keeping track of all of the characters. Everything takes place over decades, so different actors play the same character as he or she ages. I think it would be better to just enjoy each episode as an individual episode for the historical events shown and the points being made, rather than keep trying to follow the inidividual characters over time. On HBO I watch "Six Feet Under" and "Entourage". I've always had a love/hate relationship with SFU. It's really interesting and the acting is really good, but the characters are so frustrating. I don't want to stop watching it, but I won't be too sad when it's over after this season. I got the first season of "Entourage" on Netflix and started watching the second season this year. I love this show. The first episode I wasn't so sure about - it seemed a little too macho, a little too inside Hollywood. But as I watched more, I realized that this really is just about a bunch of guys, hanging out, trying to live life. It's really funny and I enjoy it a lot. The writing is really good and the acting is great. I've always been a huge Jeremy Piven fan and he's fantastic in this show - I'm excited he was nominated for an Emmy! I've watched a little of "The Comeback" and just don't enjoy that show. I find Lisa Kudrow really mannered and annoying and I don't think it's very funny.

This seems like as good a time as any to review the other summer shows I've been watching. I'm once again watching Big Brother. Every year I say I'm not going to watch this show and every year I do anyway, because there's not that much else on in the summer. In my opinion, this show isn't as well done as Amazing Race and Survivor. They really play on the sexuality of the contestants - this year every single person is young and beautiful. I'm also watching Rock Star: INXS. So far I like it. The music is definitely better than on American Idol. They didn't do all the silly stuff with the tryouts and every contestant is actually quite talented, unlike AI this year. It does crack me up how much they oversell INXS though. They were a nice little band with a great couple of songs, but they're not rock superstars.

I watched a little of Hell's Kitchen and didn't enjoy it. It seemed like the chef was just yelling and throwing a tantrum to be a hardass. It seemed pretty pointless and not enjoyable. I watched a number of episodes of "The Inside", but I'm going to stop watching that. I like those type of crime dramas, but I don't like the writing on this one. The head of the unit (played well I'll admit by Peter Coyote) is just an abusive jerk who is brilliant but uses his people without regard for their well-being or the law. It's gotten more extreme and unrealistic as the show has gone on. I also don't enjoy the performances by the two women on the show. The main character is an odd mix of innocence and wisdom and sexuality and just doesn't seem very realistic. The other woman's acting is off the wall and she seems like she's in a 40s comedy or something and seems out of place.

I'll sheepishly admit I sort of watched "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and enjoyed it. I was always cooking or going through email or something while it was on, so I didn't pay close attention, but I did enjoy seeing some old bands and seeing how they interpreted current hits. I also liked that they just had one winner for each show and there wasn't some big competition for the winner of the whole show.

On cable, Monk has been good so far this season again. I'm getting used to the new woman, though I still miss Sherona. I like "The Closer". Kyra Sedgwick is very interesting and I like the interaction with her boss and her subordinates. I've only seen one episode of "30 Days", but I really liked it. Since I'm such a huge documentary lover, this is sort of right up my ally. It's like reality television without the competition angle and less cheesy. I hope they replay the older episodes again. I loved this season of The Shield - Glenn Close was awesome and I liked the softer side of Vic Mackey. I'm waiting breathlessly for Nip/Tuck to start again. Bullshit! is the only thing I watch on Showtime and that's brilliant as usual. I'm a HUGE Penn & Teller fan. As this series goes on, they take on more and more controversial issues - I don't always agree with them about what is bullshit and what isn't, but I'm always interested and always entertained.

I think that's about it for the summer viewing season for me. Of course, I try to get a lot of knitting done while I'm watching all that tv, but sometimes I do the laundry or pay my bills or go through the mail. Yesterday it was just too hot to knit, so I did some more beading. I made a necklace for a friend's birthday present:

The picture isn't so great, but it does look nice. It's a variety of different stones. I also made another batch of stitch markers.

They look like just normal markers, but those green beads actually glow in the dark. You know, for when you're knitting in bed with the lights off or in a movie theater. I tried to take a picture of them in the dark to show you, but I couldn't get it to work.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

AK Get Together

I forgot to post the other stitch markers I made Friday night after I got home from dinner:

I really liked those flowery blue beads, so I decided to make some markers with them. I still have more left, so I may also make a bracelet for myself.

Yesterday was our Ample Knitters Knit Together. Thank heavens, because it was hotter than Hades, so it was nice to hang out in the nice air conditioning at Yarn Cafe. We had a great time knitting and chatting. The owner, Michelle, also stopped by to chat with us awhile and told us about some of the future plans - they're going to have some fun stuff going on! She also brought us a plate of truffles to savor. That's pretty much ideal - sitting on a comfortable couch, knitting and chatting with friends while someone brings you chocolate. I managed to only buy some yarn for my secret pal, but afterwards we headed over to Amazing Threads. I hadn't seen their new space, but I mostly wanted to see the Interweave Knits Trunk Show. Unfortunately, it was gone :-( I did buy some yarn, though. Maureen had some socks from Bearfoot with her, so I decided I absolutely had to buy a skein for myself:

I also latched on to this skein of yarn:

It's Great Adirondack Ultra Fluff. I just loved this color and I've wanted to knit myself a new Fluff scarf. I knit one for myself back in 1998 and it's gotten a bit matted looking over the years.

I also stopped by Insomniac Beads and picked up a bunch of goodies, including a nice red coral pendant for that necklace I made earlier in the week. So, I think I'll be beading some more today.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Beads, Beads, Beads

Thursday I got another set of stitch markers from a marker mania buddy, Stephanie:

Aren't they gorgeous? It's hard to tell in the picture, but they have wonderful, sparkly copper on them. I just love them! I need to cast on some new projects for my new markers!!

I had lunch with my brother at Key's so that I could review his new lease - he's moving into a different duplex at the end of the month. I hope, hope, hope that it is much cooler by then. I DO NOT want to help him move in this type of weather.

Thursday night I was signed up for a pearl knotting class at The Bead Monkey with a friend, but she had to go out of town for work. Since I already bought all the supplies, I decided to go ahead with the class and made this pearl necklace:

That stone and bail for the pendant was another selection from Trendsetters. I really liked the knotting technique. It's easy to pick up and set down and is really easy. I'll definitely be doing more of this.

After I got home, I decided to make some stitch markers for my marker mania buddies:

On Friday night I went to Mel's Beauty Bar with a friend. We got a manicure and a martini for just $15 - a great deal! It's a pretty dark, kind of run down place, though. They weren't ready for us when we got there, so we ordered the Tapas Plate, which was just ok. It included a small salad, some olives and nuts, a few slices of cheese and meat. Everything was pretty tasty, but it's not really what I usually consider tapas. The martinis were great and strong. The manicure was a nice, quick one, not a spa type manicure. She shaped the nails, pushed down the cuticles, gave a short massage with an Aveda lotion and then did one base coat, one color coat with OPI polish and then one top coat. Unfortunately, I think some of the lotion was still on my nails, because it chipped later that night and started peeling the next day. It'd be a fun thing to do right after work before going out, though. Afterwards we went out for dinner at Carmelo's, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in St. Paul.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Dog Days...

The heat doesn't seem to be breaking, so I finally dragged out the air conditioner and threw it in the window. I was able to make it through the whole summer last year, but this stuff is brutal!

Last Friday I beat the heat with a movie with a friend:

I loved it!!! It's such a sweet, uplifting movie. I don't understand why it hasn't done better box office. As usual, Russell Crowe does an amazing job. He's so sweet and decent and expresses so many emotions with just a look. I'm not a huge Ron Howard fan because he's usually a little sappy for me and this one is definitely a tearjerker, but I didn't think it was over the top. After the movie we went out for dinner at India Palace. I love Indian food!!

Saturday I went on a bit of a roadtrip to northern Minnesota. I attended a horse show that one of my clients was participating in. I got a little lost trying to find the ranch, but I eventually found it and was able to see my girl win a ribbon. It was so incredibly hot - thank goodness my car has a really good air conditioner! On the way home, I stopped at the Albertville Outlet and did a little shopping. Ok, a lot of shopping. I've been wanting some kitten heel slides to go with all the new skirts I've bought this summer and just haven't found something that looks good. At the Liz Claiborne outlet, I found several that I liked. Everything at the mall was on sale, so at least I got some good deals!

Sunday was the TC SnB picnic, but I just couldn't go. I haven't been home much at all since the 4th and I really needed to spend some time with the dogs, get some housework done and do a little laundry. I also had book club on Sunday. I was worried about the conversation level with the graphic novel, but we actually had a really good discussion. Everyone really liked "Epileptic", so I think I can recommend it. One thing we talked about what how much longer it took to read than we thought it would. You have a lot fewer words, but you really study the drawings.

Sunday night I did a bit of beading. I belong to a bead of the month type club called Trendsetters. Once a month you get a little package of beads, findings, etc. that are new and hot. This month's selections were all turquoise. Turquoise is really hot right now, so I was very inspired by this package. I started two turquoise necklaces, but I didn't have enough to finish either. These packages are not beads that are offered in the store, so I'm trying to buy another package so I can hopefully finish these up. If I can't, then I guess I'll re-work some things and try something else. I'm not going to post pictures until I finish those projects. Since I was in a beading mode, I decided to finally make the coral necklace I've had the supplies for for a while. I got a really cool bracelet and earrings with coral, wood and citrine. I had a hard time finding the right wood beads, but I found something close and made a coordinating necklace:

I'd like to put a coral pendant on this, but I haven't found anything I like yet. I'll check at Insomniac Beads on Saturday.

On Wednesday night I attended the knitting group at Nina's and once again had such a good time. I am so glad I found this group! I FINALLY got all the pieces of Mariah finished and joined them together and started working on the yoke. As everyone has commented, those rows are so long when you join all the pieces together. Here's the obligatory shot of the pieces joined together:

Yes, that's my unmade bed. You all already know I'm a bad housekeeper!

I'm taking part in Marker Mania and received my first markers on Wednesday. Aren't they pretty?

These were from Erin, but she didn't leave an email or blog address, so I can't send a thank you. Maybe she's reading this blog - if so, THANK YOU ERIN!!! They're lovely!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I drove back to the Cities on Tuesday and met up with Bill and his family for bowling night. I bowled the best I've ever bowled, with a 136 score. Yeah, I know, I suck at bowling. Here are the boys:

I returned to work on Wednesday, not really in the mood to return to real life, and found this incredibly cute package on my desk:

How cute is that package? LOVE lady bugs!! It was a fun package from my friend, Renee. Inside I found these goodies:

Starting from the left are some Wallace & Gromit stitch markers, a fun assortment of Canadian candies, some yummy smelling bars of soap made in Canada, one of my favorite candles and a cute package of cards with beading on the front. Isn't that awesome? It's funny, those candy bars really do taste different than American candy. I think our chocolate has more fat and/or sugar. I think my Secret Pal and Renee are two peas in a pod, because Renee had the same idea to make some W&G stitch markers from fimo clay. Here's a close up - I apologize for it being so fuzzy:

Aren't they amazing? So detailed!!! I'm just tickled pink about these and can't decide whether to use them (as I so want to do) or keep them so as not to lose one or break one or something equally stupid, but typical of me. She also included a note on this incredibly cute stationary:

Renee, thanks so much for everything! I LOVE it all and appreciate your friendship most of all!!

So, after the excitement of all these goodies, I get back to work and shortly thereafter it's mail call and got a package from my Secret Pal. What an exciting day! Here's what my SP sent me:

Again starting from the left - Two packs of cards, some fun, fluffy purple yarn, some pretty purple beads and some very cute rubber stamps. More evidence that Renee and my SP are simpatico:

The same beading cards!! How funny and how cute! SP also included some knitting cards. I absolutely love any kind of cute stationary or cards or really any office products, so rest assured, I will be using these darling cards! THANKS SECRET PAL!! Once again, you're outstanding!!!

Wednesday night I was planning on dinner with my friend Alissa. I was absolutely miserable from my sun burn, though. By the end of the day, it was so painful and itchy, I just wanted to take off all my clothes and jump into a cold shower. However, Alissa is moving to Boston, so I wanted to see her one last time, so I went over anyway. Turns out she's not feeling well either, but she also didn't want to cancel. So, we just skipped dinner and sat outside and drank wine and chatted. I'm really going to miss her, but I'll definitely look forward to visiting her in Boston, my favorite city. And hopefully we'll be able to take a few more trips together again.

Since I made it an early evening, I had a chance to go home and sew the buttons on Florentine Flattery:

That's a pretty muddy picture. I'll post a picture of me wearing it once I find a photographer. I really, really like how this turned out, except for the fact that half of the back is a lighter color because I ran out of yarn. That totally sucks! I'll still wear it around the house and maybe if I'm going to a movie or somewhere with low light where it may not be so noticeable that the back is different colored. It's a bit too thick to wear with a jacket over the top. I'm also so very, very happy to have it finished! This took me the longest to finish of any project I've ever knit.

Thursday I met up with another knitter from TC SnB. She's writing a senior thesis about the knitting trend, so we sat and knit a bit and she interviewed me. It was really fun to leave work a little early and knit and chat!! Afterwards I took my brother out for his birthday. We went to my favorite sushi bar (he chose it, not me), Nami. I had my old favorite, the teriyaki chicken and sashimi combo. My nephew loves teriyaki chicken and ate about half of mine, but I still ended up being stuffed and unable to finish. They've got great food at Nami. Afterwards we went to Booksmart in Uptown because the kids were leaving for two weeks at my mom's house and wanted some stuff to read on the road. Sushi and bookstores - one of my top five ways to spend an evening.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sioux Falls

I spent the 4th of July weekend in Sioux Falls with my family. Well, part of my family. Sioux Falls is best known for this:

Yes, Sioux Falls is the home of XRX, Inc. and they have offices on Minnesota Avenue. I even went to high school with two of the Xenakis brothers. Seriously, I was so excited when I saw this sign when we were driving down Minnesota Ave. I've known that XRX was based in Sioux Falls for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen their offices. I don't know if they moved from somewhere else, just got the sign this year or I've been incredibly unobservant, but this is the first time I've seen it.

XRX may be what Sioux Falls is best known for in the knitting blog world, but for the rest of the world, this is what it's known for:

Yes, those are THE Sioux Falls. After spending a little time with my step-mom (Kim)'s family and a nice and healthy dinner, we went to the falls to see the light and sound show. When I lived in Sioux Falls, the falls were a pretty grungy, worn down area. In the last 20 years, they've really re-vitalized the area and it's really, really nice now. I'd love to go there to hang and knit. The sound and light show was about the history of Sioux Falls and was pretty interesting.

On Sunday I headed back to Minnesota and spent some time with my grandma. She's having surgery tomorrow, so I'm glad I got a chance to see her and visit a bit. Sunday afternoon I went over to my mom's and hung with her a bit. Later, my sister brought my neice, Alexis, over since she was having a party at her boyfriend's house. I saw my sister, Laura, for a grand total of about 6 minutes the entire weekend. Oh well. My mom, Alexis and I went out for dinner and Alexis is apparently addicted to the crane game:

You may notice my mother's Vikings shirt in that picture. Yes, I come by my love of the Vikings naturally. To my amazement, Alexis actually won a teddy bear:

I shouldn't be surprised because Florence has won me stuff in the crane also, but I can't shake my belief that it's just a rip off. That teddy bear is pretty cute, though.

On the 4th, I got a chance to see my other sister, Kerry. She, Kim (her mom, who I made the bracelet for and who I call my step-mom even though she and my dad aren't married anymore) and I went out for a very unhealthy by absolutely delicious brunch.

After brunch I headed back to my mom's and Alexis and I decided to spend the day at the pool, since it was incredibly hot. Alexis had a ball in the small pool and the big pool. The small pool had fun stuff like this butterfly slide:

She also practiced her floating:

We also had tea parties on the bottom of the pool, played karate chop and karate kick and I "rescued" her. She saw some boys from school there and played with them some and I swam some laps too. When I was growing up in Sioux Falls, I went to this pool sometimes and more often the other pool, which she also goes to more often. So odd to think of Alexis living the same life as me, in some ways. They still have the patch you can sew on to your swimsuit as a season pass and they still have the mandatory 10 minute rest every hour:

I wish I had wrapped myself in a towel, because I ended up getting very sunburned. Actually, it was mostly on the area above the water - my shoulders, my cleavage and my back. It was incredibly painful and then itchy. Now it's at least tolerable after a week and a half. I wish by my advanced age I had become more wise about re-applying sunscreen often.

My sister came back and picked up Alexis, so I decided to stay home with my Mom so she wasn't alone. Her husband was out of town, working. We just hung out, watching a Monk marathon. I sewed together my Florentine Flattery and the dogs enjoyed the air conditioning, which we don't have at home. Fiona found a baby to cuddle with:

I like to call her "little mama", and I thought this was a cute picture. Finbar decided to use Alexis' lapdesk as a pillow. I wonder what he was dreaming about.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Vacation's Over

My actual vacation has been over for a few days, but my blog vacation is over now, too. I have a TON of blog fodder - my birthday, my trip, some great mail - but it takes time to edit those pictures, put them up on the web and then try to add words. I'll be breaking this up into a number of posts.

Birthday Fun

I really enjoyed my birthday. As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to take the day off, so I had off from Friday to Wednesday - so nice! It was hard to come back to work, but having a short week makes it a little easier.

I had a number of grand plans for my birthday, but I ended up frittering the day away. The Bead Gallery was having a sale on crystals, so after I got up and around, I headed over there to pick up some pieces for a mother's bracelet for my step-mom and since the sale was so good, I decided to make one for my mother too. I did stop by the office for just a short time to drop off some stuff and check the mail. After I ran a few more errands, I went back home and made the bracelet for Kim:

It looks kind of Christmasy, but it's my brother, my sister and my birthstones.

I included our initials on one end and a "made with love" charm on the other end. I think it ended up being pretty.

Friday evening I went over to Bill's for a little birthday barbeque:

We ended up eating pretty late, thanks to Bill's somewhat-to-be-desired organizational skills, but it was nice to celebrate the day and the food was delicious when it was finished! I received some very nice gifts, but the most spectactular was from my very dear and talented friend, Kerry:

Isn't it beautiful?! I absolutely love those colors and the mohair is amazingly soft. I don't have any stoles, only triangular shawls, and I've been meaning to make one. I love it! Unfortunately, it's incredibly hot so I haven't had any opportunity to wear it yet. I brought it with me to a movie in the hope that the theater would be cold, but no luck. I guess I'll have to make plans to go to Minnehaha Coffee for knitting - I can depend on that to be nice and chilly! Now to just find the time...

Road Trip

Saturday the dogs and I hit the road to visit my family in Sioux Falls. I'm glad we waited for Saturday because I heard the traffic was pretty nasty on Friday afternoon/evening. It wasn't bad on Saturday. Here's where we stopped for a potty break:

That's about the halfway point between the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls. It's a fun place to stop, but I wouldn't usually stop there. Usually I would stop at the Blue Earth Rest Stop because they have a nice little hiking trail which Finbar really enjoys exploring. Unfortunately, this is how all the rest areas looked in Minnesota:

Political Sidetrip

Thank you, Governor Pawlenty. As many of you may have heard, the government of the State of Minnesota has shut down since the legislature cannot come to an agreement on a budget. That means all the rest areas were shut down since providing bathroom facilities for travellers is not an essential government service - tell that to my bladder! Ok, I did stop at Dairy Queen to use the restroom (there was a big line, by the way, so apparently I wasn't the only one using alternative facilities) and felt obligated to buy a treat to pay for my use of said facilities.

Anyway, this budget thing is so irritating! Our governor pledged not to raise taxes when campaigning for office, and since we all learned from George Bush what happens when you say "No New Taxes" and then raise taxes, he's sticking to it, no matter what the consequences. Well, sort of. Raising "fees", like the cigarette "fee" he favors, is apparently vastly different. Whatever.

Last year in order to stick to his pledge, everything was slashed to the bone last year. Things have been pretty hard around these points if you aren't wealthy and in big business. So, there's really not much to cut THIS year, so you gotta bring in more money. But you can't raise taxes. So our governor proposes financing our essential government services with a cigarette tax and opening a casino. So, we're going to finance government on the backs of people who smoke and gamble. Wow, that sounds like sound public policy. IF YOU'RE ON CRACK!!! The democratic legislators propose raising income tax for the wealthiest Minnesotans, but that maybe makes too much sense. Oh, I forgot to mention the key point. Our governor is very, very interested in seeking the highest office in the land. And it's hard to get the Republic nomination if you're a governor who raised taxes after pledging not to (or even if you didn't pledge, I'd guess).

In the mean time, I have several friends who are out of work because their jobs aren't "essential" enough. And services aren't being provided. Like rest areas. Or driver's licensing.

In full disclosure, a good portion of my income is a result of gambling revenue, which makes me not completely objective about expanding gambling. I do not favor gambling. I feel uncomfortable that I am able to live comfortably thanks to gambling. But I'm not quitting my work, which I hope contributes more good to society than the revenue takes out. But even if I took a completely new job tomorrow, I would not favor financing government through gambling.

More on my trip and my fun mail in my next post!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent well wishes. That's so sweet and thoughtful! It's an absolutely perfect summer day for my birthday! Sunny, but not hot!

Yesterday I went to Needlework Unlimited to check out the Knit and Crochet with Beads trunk show. It's always amazing to me how much better things look in real life than in photographs. There weren't a ton of things from the book, but I really liked pretty much everything there. I love that cover stole and that was there - it's so pretty! I need to learn how to crochet so I can make it. I was pretty good and only bought yarn for my Secret Pal, none for myself. I did pick up Confessions of a Knitting Heretic and the new Interweave Knits. I really like this issue of IK. If you're in the Twin Cities, I recommend you go check out the beaded lovelies at NU, though.

I think I'm going to take the day off for the first time in many years. I just don't feel like working and I have a ton of things to do before heading to Sioux Falls for the weekend. If I don't get a chance to post before I leave town, everyone have a great long weekend (at least here in the U.S.) and enjoy the fireworks!