Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Yes, it is an exciting life.
Our Christmas trip to Arkansas went well, considering that my sister is still living with my parents and is self-medicating with Klonopin. There is some tension there. And, while I want to help all parties involved, I also don't want to touch that situation with a 300-mile-long pole.
Present-wise, it was a great Christmas. My mom limited my sister to just a few new, purchased gifts for everyone. If you remember last year's presents, you know this is a Good Thing.
Porkchop surprised me with all of my presents, but particularly this set of new cookware:
The full set is from Porkchop, and the bonus soup pot is from my parents (which I had asked for). You know what this means? We get to retire our set of pots, which Porkchop's mom received on her wedding day 30+ years ago. Those pots still have a lot of life left in them, but I am happy to have our own adult pots. I've already used some pieces of the new set, and they are fabulous.
However, when we were gathering up the old ones out of the cabinet, we became a little sad. Retrieving the small one-quart pot, Porkchop said, "Oh, little pot, I'm going to miss you!" And I said, "I'm going to miss it, too!"
It is hard times when you get teary-eyed about a little one-quart pot. Oh, but that pot has cooked many a Ramen noodle for Porkchop, and we made many a simple syrup in it for sweet iced tea.
My other super-surprise gift from Porkchop was this little tea-brewing cup:
Under the cat's chapeau is a strainer for loose tea. It is perfect! I first saw it in an art museum gift shop in Minneapolis, but didn't want to buy it there. Sadly, when we came home, we couldn't find it online. Porkchop persevered, though, and it was eventually posted on a Japanese market site. I love my little tea cup and can't wait to brew some tea in it.
On my end, I surprised Porkchop with this hat (the shoes are from my parents):
The hat is loose because Porkchop doesn't like tight hats. It is lined with baby alpaca so that the Cascade doesn't scratch her ears. I used this pattern.
The past couple of weeks were a hat marathon. I made Porkchop's hat, and then hats for her older brother, sister-in-law, and niece.
The brother's was a basic watchman cap using this pattern:
The sister-in-law's was a star-crossed slouchy beret (Ravelry link):
The niece's hat is my favorite, and I really want to make another for myself. I used the basic Kim's Hat pattern (Ravelry link) in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It's a great pattern because you can make all sorts of variations and add your own touches.
I made the garter brim variation with earflaps, I-cords, and tassels. I added some purl rows for ridges on the hat, and I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out.
Here I am modeling it:
It's a little small on me, but it fits the niece well. It's a bit loose, so hopefully she can use it for 2 or 3 winters.
All for now! I should probably go "work" some before I pick up lunch at Pappy's for Porkchop and me.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The other day, I was looking through my posts from three years ago for a recipe, and I noticed that at this time in December 2006, we were baking orange-almond shortbread, orange-chocolate biscotti, chocolate crinkle cookies, and pretzel rods.
Guess what we baked last night? Orange-almond shortbread, orange-chocolate biscotti, and chocolate crinkle cookies. We're taking the pretzel rod supplies to my parents' house and will make them there.
Last night's baking extravangza was exhausting, and I burnt half of the shortbread. Sadness.
This evening we leave for Arkansas, and I'm sure good times will ensue.
I've been knitting things, but they're secrets for now. All I can say is that I'm not finished yet!! Knitting stress!
Friday, December 18, 2009
After a few years of working, feeling like I wasn't doing anything to improve myself, I found an online Master's degree program via Mizzou that sounded interesting. It has real-world applications, won't take too long to complete even as I work full-time, and won't put me too much in debt.
I never would have thought that this online program would be so much more difficult than the PhD program that I was in, but it is!
As a PhD student, I could read some books and articles and then piece shit together and call it a paper. And I generally received As. For, um, theorizing and making arguments that had no impact on the real world.
In my first class in my online program, I've done more real world work than I did in all my other classes combined. I've designed and conducted interviews, observations, and surveys. And since I built most of my assignments around my neighborhood association, I've talked to many area residents about what they want out of the association and their concerns about our neighborhood. I feel like I'm actually doing something!
With my final project done and graded, I just need to package my report in a more user-friendly format and present it to our association members. (The final project I submitted for class had to be in a very specific format, and I think I can improve upon it for public distribution.) I think my findings can help the association board (which includes me) to improve our membership numbers, as well as participation and volunteer rates.
Yes, I'm much prouder of my final grade of a 98 in my online class than I am of any of the As I received in my PhD seminar classes.
I see myself completing the degree in a few years. And then maybe when I'm 50 I'll start working on a PhD again. At the rate I work, I might be able to finish it before I'm 70.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This Foam thing might be dangerous. It is only a block away and open until 10 on weeknights. Soooo easy to take the short walk and spend money on yummy drinks.