Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Avoid Studying

The above picture encapsulates my day.  On the table are about fifteen nursing journal articles, the Baktus from my unfinished knits pile, and a mug of tea.  (Yes, the tea is in a Christmas mug.  I have four similar mugs and those mugs are out every day of the year.  I bought them at Michael's craft store about six or seven years ago for a buck a piece, and I have yet to find a better tea mug.  And trust me, I've looked.  These mugs are the right size-- the perfect combination of height, volume, and heft.  They hold a lot of tea, and I like that.  [Who said "I can never find a book long enough or a mug of tea big enough."?  Must look that up.]  I can drink coffee from any ol' mug [and do; our mug stash is extensive], but tea.  Tea needs--deserves--the right mug.)
I've spent the day reading about Traumatic Brain Injury for a paper I have to write.  I should have gone to the library, though, because the distractions around the house are just overwhelming.  In addition to reading, I also:

  • stared at the dust on the ceiling fan for about ten minutes, wondering if I should dust it.  I didn't.
  • spent about a half hour debating if I should go for a run.  I did.  I did about three miles, which takes me about a half hour.  This is why running takes me twice as long as other people.  It takes me just as long as the actual run to talk myself into running.  
  • took a nap.  This actually happened before the run, which gave me energy for the run.
  • knit.  Obviously.
  • made banana bread.  Cuz those black bananas ain't gonna walk themselves over to the mixer.
  • cleaned the kitchen, the bathroom, and did a load of laundry.
  • and did some online shopping for groceries that I can't get locally (chia seeds.  Sometimes I truly miss living in a bigger metropolitan area.  Or somewhere with more health conscious types.)
Anyway, after spending most of the day reading about TBI, I have only one word of advice:  Wear a helmet.  Everywhere.  Even to the shower.  Man, this stuff is awful.  Wow.  Also, I really hope that I can get a clinical rotation in the Critical Care Unit so I can apply some of this/see some of this in action.  It is truly amazing what we know about the human brain and how nursing care really affects how people with TBI recover.
Whew.  What a day.  I'm exhausted and off to watch Nashville.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Misstep with a Slipper

There is one less thing in my pile of unfinished objects today.  The Packers Slippers.  And really, I shouldn't have bothered finishing them because they ended up in the trash bin.  I'll let the pictures tell the story.
These are from the free pattern that is available all over the internet.  In fact, when I was first teaching myself to knit (in 1996), my boss gave me a half skein of yarn she had left from making these slippers.  She made one pair of these every year.  It was the only thing she knit, but she made a new pair every year to match her pajamas.  She found out I was trying to learn to knit and I came in one day to a half skein of green Red Heart in a zipper bag taped to my locker.

Anyway, these are knit flat with a ribbed toe.  Once one gets to the toe, the yarn is threaded through the live stitches and pulled taut.  The ribbed portion is then sewn up.  That is where the slipper above are at--sewn through the toe.
I left the slippers at this part for a few days because I couldn't quite figure out the heel.  As you can see from the above picture, the heel isn't really very heel shaped.  All the directions I could find said merely to "sew up the heel seem" but gave very little indication of how to do that.  I finally found one site (and I didn't book mark it) that said to pinch the heel into a sort of T shape, with the top of the T at the bottom, and sew the heel like that.

So I did that to one slipper.  It didn't look right.  In fact, it looked downright silly and wrong.  So I sewed the other heel by just sewing it up.  I folded that bad boy in half and whip-stitched it into submission.  And you know what?  That worked.
See how the one on the right looks all squishy, especially in the second picture?  I wish I had a picture of those on my feet, because the heel had wings.  Little bat ear flaps on the sides of my heel.  It was crazy.  I would never have worn them, and I will wear some crazy stuff if it is comfortable.  (I still have sweaters from the first time I went to college.  I'm talking mohair cardigans bought at thrift stores like something Kurt Cobain would have been proud to wear.  The fuzziness of the mohair is gone, but that makes them even more wearable in my view.)

The whip stitched heel on the left looked rather crazy before trying it on (top picture) but flattened out once it was on my foot.  However, even if I didn't completely ruin the right slipper when I tried to tink the heel, I wouldn't be able to wear them anyway.  They are cute from the top:
But from the side, they have a little something extra:
An extra inch and a half at least.

Well, at least I finished them, even if they didn't work out.  And I think I might make these again.  But just in a better yarn and with a bit more attention to the size.

And now, a few gratuitous picture of cute fluffs.  With a cute guy.
Frosty isn't our cuddliest dog.  He's almost always in the same room with us, but almost never on the sofa with us.  And if he is on the sofa, he really prefers his own cushion.  If we start petting him, he often gets down and finds a dog bed on the floor.  So when he decides to not only be on the couch, but cuddle with a Peep, it is picture-worthy.

Love those guys.  The dogs and the man.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Spice of Life, or at least my cooking

Joining Jules at Pancakes and French Fries for The William Morris Project.

Continuing with the kitchen, I give you the two cabinets I worked through this week.  The first is the cupboard above the microwave.  Doesn't this one become the stash cupboard in everyone's kitchen?  Even in my childhood kitchen, that cupboard was where my mother stuffed things that didn't really have another place.  (Only that cupboard, of course, wasn't above the microwave--since we didn't have one--but above the stove.  The Harvest Gold stove.)
As you can probably guess, my mother also kept medication above the stove.  I guess that was so it was out of reach of little people.  Those fluffy white things above the magazines?  Those are mosquito tents.  And behind the boxes of zipper bags are some cookbooks.

I cleaned out the medicines, sorted what was expired and what was worth keeping.  I got the expired medications ready to take to the sheriff.  No flushing meds here!  (Is there anyone who still does that?  Don't.  Just don't.  It ends up in the water supply.  The local police department can tell you where to bring your expired and unwanted medicines.)
I moved the stack of Vegetarian Times from the last cupboard into this cupboard.  I'm trying to corral all the cooking magazines to one area.  After that, I need to find some way to manage them.  But that's a project for another day.  I left the headache medicine and the burn cream, but moved all the other medicines to the bedroom closet.
The other cupboard is the spice cupboard.  I try to organize this one about once a year, but I can't figure out a way to keep it looking nice and neat.
It actually isn't too bad.  It really just needed some straightening.  I also try to keep a list of what spices I have taped to the door, and I know that it wasn't accurate (as evidenced by finding three jars of pumpkin pie spice).  
The three clementine boxes on the middle shelf are labeled Spice Mixes, Baking Supplies, and Misc.  They hold all the stuff that gets pushed around, like birthday candles, onion soup mix, and cheesecloth.  It won't stay this neat.  At least the lower shelf won't.  But at least I know what I have now.

And since The William Morris Project is about beauty and not just utility, I give you the big reveal of my holiday present.
I just got it back from the framer's.  I love it so much.  That wall has been empty for four years, and now that we are moving I have finally put something up there.  I was just waiting for the right something.  I found it at this shop on Etsy.  
The tree represented here is the white pine, which is Michigan's state tree.  Amy Ruppel, the artist, has a series of states depicted with native foliage.  Her interpretation of California uses redwoods, Wisconsin is sugar maples.  They are lovely.  We actually thought about getting one for every state we've lived in together, but decided we like the simplicity of this one print.  It really makes a statement on that wall. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Gathering of Aliens

Can you tell what that blob of color is?  Aliens.  Well, maybe not aliens in the traditional sense of the word.
Maybe this picture clears it up.  These are what I call "The Aliens."  UFOs.  Unfinished Objects.  I've gathered all the knitting projects I have sitting in various places around the house so I could get a handle on what I've got going on.  It looks like a lot, and I suppose it is, but it is nothing compared to what it could be. The owner of my LYS has told me that she had eleven socks on the needles at once.  Only socks.  Eleven.  And she doesn't knit only socks.
The knitting bags in the top right of the picture are empty and the pile of knitting in the front right is knitting that needs finishing.  There are four sock projects up there, one of which is on the second sock.  One sock I had to stop because I snapped the needle as I was knitting with it and had to order another one.  Size zero bamboo.  Fragile as a cheese straw.  The red and white thing on the left isn't going any further, but it does need some knitting to finish it up.  The oldest thing on that table is in the basket at the top.  It's a Clapotis, and I'm probably the last person on earth to make one.  (By the way, has anyone seen the new Les Miz movie?  I swear Hugh Jackman/Jean Valjean was wearing a version of Clapotis in his death scene.  He was wearing a lovely cream shawl and I swear it was the same dropped stitch pattern.)  There are also two scarves, a pair of slippers, a pair of mittens, and a pair of fingerless mitts.  So all told, eleven things, plus the finishing.  Not bad.
So today I finished something.
The fish hats! Yay!  A few fins and four buttons for eyes, and these little guys are ready for my nephews.  Yes, they were supposed to be for Christmas, but who doesn't like a present when you least expect it?  They are so cute.  I can't wait to see pictures of the hats on those sweet little heads!

Now I'm off to watch Survivor.  After a day of studying (and a bit of knitting) I'm looking forward to a glass of wine and some game theory.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tackling Kitchen Clutter

Today I'm joining Jules over at Pancakes and French Fries and participating in The William Morris Project.  This is my first link-up of any kind, and (obviously) my first foray into The William Morris Project.  Starting in the kitchen...

Mike and I are going to be moving this spring.  He has received orders to go to Beaufort, SC.  We think (and I stress only think, not know) he will be headed down there sometime in May.  School will not be finished for me yet, so I will be sticking around here for a bit.  However, we would like to put our house on the rental market in time for the summer renters.  What this means is that we will schedule our pack up with TMO for sometime in early May, which means it will get to where ever it is we land sometime in early June.

Since in June I will be in an entirely new clinical rotation and not anywhere near Beaufort, Mike will be tasked with the unpacking.  In an effort to move only what we love, and also to make unpacking an entire house a manageable task for one, I am making a serious effort to, for lack of a better expression, separate the wheat from the chaff, stuff-wise.  Last time we moved, they packed catalogs.  Well, they pack everything, truly.  A full service move is a wonderful thing, but it means that when you unpack you really are faced with the fact that you had two years of Eddie Bauer catalogs in the living room end table (which you know because you removed them from a box marked "living room end table.")

So I started in the most formidable room (to me).  The kitchen.
The Canned Goods Cupboard, Before.  Who would mistake this for an "after" though, really?
This cupboard has sort of become the "if we aren't sure where it goes, let's put it in here" cupboard.  We have: tea lights, a dead candle, actual tea, vitamins, dog medicine, a recipe tin (further examination here revealed an empty recipe tin), Vegetarian Times magazines, Everyday Food magazines, a calendar, owner's manuals for kitchen appliances, and a few spiral bound cookbooks (I don't like displaying the spiral bound cookbooks; they aren't "pretty" to me).

The highly organized After
So I removed the medicines and vitamins (which will make a reappearance on this blog, because they just went into the next cupboard, but that is where a third of our medicines are, so there you go), put the tea with the other tea, moved the Vegetarian Times out, organized the Everyday Food (is anyone else going to miss this magazine?), and put the like goods with their family (i.e. tomatoes with other tomato products, soup with soup).  If you have a keen eye, you might notice that the Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips are open in the second picture, and they were not in the first.  Hmmmm......

The pockets on the cupboard doors stay, and despite the fact that they don't look organized, they really are. The right hand side holds recipes for things I am going to make in the next couple of weeks, according to what we have on hand or in the freezer.  The two pockets on the left hold receipts.  Last year we started using Mint to track our expenses and needed somewhere to corral all the receipts.  The bottom pocket is the current month.  The top pocket is last month, which I will hopefully get through this weekend.

I also cleaned the candle.  I love the candles from Bath and Body Works and the jars make such nice Stuff Holders once the candle is gone.  I used to just chip away at the wax with a knife and hope that I wouldn't end up in the ED.  Not anymore.  The best way I've found to remove all that wax from the bottom of the candle jar is with boiling water.
Pour boiling water to the top of the candle jar.
You can see the layer of melted wax on top of the candle on the right.
Then you let that cool.  And by let cool, I mean get cold.  You have to let it sit for a couple of hours. But while you wait, you can enjoy the scent one last time.  (The boiling water re-heats the wax, throwing the scent.)  The wax will harden into a disk.
Wax now on top of the jar, floating on the water.
Pop the wax off the water.  It will come off really easily.  I was surprised at this. I thought the wax would cling to the sides of the jar, but nope.  I just sort of floats there.
Then clean your candle jars, which aren't really candle jars anymore.  They can be whatever you want them to be.
Clean and ready for their new job!
The bottle on the left is an old fashioned milk bottle, so that one will go in the cupboard (not the new clean one!) to await the next time I have someone over for coffee and need something more classy than a plastic two gallon jug to bring milk to the table.  (Which, honestly, has never happened.  My coffee-swilling friends go right to the fridge and grab their own milk.)  The BBW jar will probably hold buttons.

Now I'm off to make dinner, which will involve some soup that I didn't know we had and a sandwich.  Easy, cheap, and gets one more thing out of the cupboard.  Score for me!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Week Two, Check

Week two of clinicals is finished!  Whoo hoo!  And it went so much smoother than than the first week.  I'm not dreading next week, like I was this week.  Part of it is familiarity with the unit we are on, I'm sure, but some of it is learning the ropes.  There are still a lot of things to learn, but at this point there are certain things our professor can tell us to do that we can perform without questions.

We also got a bit of a reprieve this week when our cardiac test was bumped to next week.  In order to celebrate, I've been working on some cross stitch this evening.
I'm making a  biscornu for a friend as a Valentine's Day gift.  This particular pattern is from a French blog, but one need not be able to read to embroider.  Especially cross stitch.  Crosses are crosses.

Friday, February 1, 2013

On my nightstand

Last semester, I was so terrified of nursing school that I didn't think I would be able to concentrate on anything but nursing for sixteen weeks, and that all day, every day would be consumed by nursing.  While I spent quite a lot of time reading and studying nursing, I had enough free time that I managed to watch a considerable amount of bad television.

You see, because I was convinced I couldn't read anything but nursing texts, I didn't have a book on hand.  (Not quite true.  I'm a reader; I have shelves of books.  I just didn't have a book at the ready.  I need a plan.)  This semester I plan to manage my downtime a little differently.  I need to have a book to read.  I just do.  If I don't have something focused to do when I'm not studying, I end up randomly channel surfing and watching old episodes of Cold Case.

Just before Christmas, I shared the books on my nightstand.  While I didn't finish everything on it, I did read a lot, including some "extra" books not on the table.  So now I give you my nightstand today, with an updated list of then to now.

What's gone?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  (My GoodReads review.)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Turns out, when you only have a couple of chapters to read, it goes pretty quickly.
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.  Same reason as above.
Consider the Oyster.  I'm not sure why this disappeared.  I must have put it away with something else because I didn't read it.  Now I'm going to have trouble finding it, because it surely isn't where it is supposed to be.
The Best American Essays 2012.  I read a little bit of this, but it has moved to back on the shelf.  It isn't shelved, though.  It is sitting on top of its brothers.  This makes it really easy to just grab if I want a finite amount of reading, say, for the bath.  (This happens often, actually.  I will need something to fill twenty minutes and only twenty minutes.)
In the Woods.  Three stars out of five.
The Passage by Justin Cronin.  This has been moved over until spring break.  It is a doorstop of a book, and it has a sequel (which is currently available at the library-- I had to stop myself from checking it out and giving myself over to both of them).  I think it needs some undivided time, so this one will be back.

Still around:
Cloud Atlas.  Haven't started.
The Night Circus.  Haven't started.
World War Z.  I'm about 2/3 through.  I love it, but it doesn't need to be read in one sitting.  It is a series of vignettes about the Zombie War, so I can read one and put it down.  Makes me curious about the movie.
The Knitter's Almanac.  Always there.
An Everlasting Meal.  Ditto.

A Big Truck Went By by Jonathan M. Katz.  About the earthquake in Haiti and the aftermath of all the "support".
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.  This is Book 3 in her Wolves of Mercy Hill trilogy.  (Book 2, Linger, is out in the living room right now.  That's what I'm currently reading.)  It is Young Adult, but well-written yet quick.  So far I'm about halfway through Linger.  The first book, Shiver, was a bit better, but Linger is keeping me going.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  It sounded good at the library but I can't remember what it is about now.  It won an award of some sort.  (Clearly my criteria for checking books out of the library is nonexistent.)
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon.  I find Chabon to be hit or miss.  I loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys, but I've found some of his new stuff hard to get into.  I'm hoping that I love this; it is a big sink-into book with lots of drama (or so I hope).
Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs.  I like this kind of "schtick lit."  A.J. Jacobs was one of the first to do it, with his The Know-It-All, which I've read, and I've read all the rest of his stuff.  Why stop now?  And, I figure, this kind of has a little bit to do with health so I can trick myself into thinking I'm not completely ignoring school.  Hah!

And because no photo shoot in this house is complete without some interference by the Fluffy Gang: