Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Late Bloomer

I was always the 'early one' for everything. First girl to have a growth spurt, first to get boobs, first for all the accompanying misery that is adolescence. But, in terms of financial planning and saving? Totally late to the game.

I'm an instant gratification girl in some ways. I like buying something. Now. I can wait for vacations and plan for them, financially, no problem. So, I had to start thinking of my retirement as one big vacation. And save for it. I *never* look at my 401k. I put money there (7%....I know, I know... put 15%, but it's not going to happen) and my company puts money there (100% of up to 6% after 4 years) and there it sits. Someone somewhere does something with it. If I really wanted to know, I'd ask Al. (Al is Mari's hubby and a smart finance-y person. He also works where my 401k is sitting.) I could ask my brother (another finance-y person) but he's a know-it-all and well, that makes me itchy.

All this market rollercoastering had me wondering... what would this do to my 401k??

I logged in (after several password attempts-- yup, been that long) and voila! DOWN 6.8% since January. So, who's money are they losing? I am going with the one my company puts in... yeah, it's their half that is going down.

Just recently, I was able to go from paycheck-to-paycheck to a real savings account and 401k. Before then, it was "oh crap, not enough for bills." A healthy work bonus helped, but it also kicked my ass into gear. I'm budgeting better (minus yarn purchases) and getting ready for the future. Last week, I had a conversation with a banker about CDs and how to "ladder" them to compound my interest.

Who am I?

Certainly not the girl who used to dig for change to turn in at coinstar. For gas money.

We're off to Disney in a few weeks (like 12 days) and I'm going on a budget. Tickets have been purchased and I am taking one pre-paid Visa with me. (and my emergency card in case I need to re-book a flight or something)

Friday, September 26, 2008

My new pet

Doesn't it look like she took blue wool and left it underneath a tree... and the sunlight's dancing just the right way over the blue? The resulting yarn from PumpkinMama....
my new pet. I'm gonna call him Mr. SunnySkies. :) (The colorway is SummerSky and the yardage is ~275yds. Pattern suggestions accepted. It's merino, so head covering is what I am thinking!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WIPs and yarn!

I have had exactly 6 hours in the lab this week. The other 34? Meetings. Good lord, the meetings.

I am super super excited. I said i would wait until it arrived, but I am too excited.

Do you know Pumpkin Mama? She has an Etsy shop where I like to drool and pretend I can spin. I can't spin. You all should know that. I can't do it. I am spinning deficient. PumpkinMama spins though. We worked something out and some of her hand-dyed fluff-o-rific wool has been magically changed into yarn (!!) for me. Like 300yds of it. Oh.my.god. She said it's done, it's been wetted (is this when you soak the yarn and whack the daisy out of it to somehow make the twistie part stay put?) and will be here soon.

I need to speed knit PC's sweater so I can play with my new handspun when it arrives. I might just keep it in my purse and pet it for a few days.

Don't look at me like that. You know you would do it too.

Photos when it arrives.

PC-sweater photo (in progress) soon too... I am almost done with the back. I am hoping 2 days of rain and football result in a front too!

Friday, September 19, 2008


I spent my first hours of the morning at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Yes, it's that time again: new drivers' license. The photo is horrible and is HUGE motivation to lose some weight. ha ha ha.

An odd occurrance at the Registry this morning, though. I'd like to share it b/c it perplexed me so much.

A gentleman (*cough* I am being very generous here) was in the back of the "wait in line before they open" line and was NOT happy. He huffed and puffed and tried to move to the front of the line. (Now, in the U.S. line jumping is not a way to make friends. ) He got nowhere fast. And he lost his original place in line. Next, he went through the line to the 'greeter' (once again, being very generous--- walmart has happier employees than this Registry) and got his number to wait (again) for his turn. He was not happy. He paced. He waited for each window to open up and then would rush the window (even though it was not his turn, indicated by the number they give you) and try to push (physically) the person who's turn it WAS. Anywho... this happens once. Twice. Three times....oh and it's the charm. He jumps in front of ME to get to the window. *sigh* Not really in the mood for crazies today and feeling somewhat "you aren't better than me buddy-- get back in line!", I don't move. I go about my business... trying to keep the man from knocking me down and then... the skies opened and the angels sung.

In Massachusetts, the Registries have State Police Troopers instead of security guards.

Imagine, being physically removed and (maybe?) arrested at the Registry of Motor Vehicles for impatience.

I'm impatient by nature. God, I got your message. I will play nicer and practice my patience from now on!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Hooker

Now, now... it's not knitting, but it is a fiber art. Crochet. Love it or hate it. I used to ONLY crochet and for fast projects (Ahem: Red Scarf Project Scarves??) it's a no brainer. It does hurt my wrist a little, but I think it was b/c I had been away from it so long.

Pattern is the Acorn Bag (see on Ravelry)
Yarn: Acorn is Ella Rae; "cap" is Cascade220 and Rustic tweed held together.
Buttons: JoAnns
Speed: done in a day.

Conclusion: great little sock yarn bag --- needs a nubbin on top and a ribbon for a 'handle'. I blocked it b/c 1) it needed it and 2) the cap needed some reinforcement of it's shape.

I will be making another one of these soon.....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trader Joes

Here's a few of my favorite point-friendly foods from TJ's.

Trader Joes


Light string cheese

Fat free feta cheese

Low fat “shredded” mix of cheese

Soy milk (chocolate)


Individual tilapia pieces

Breaded halibut pieces

Breaded cod filets

Orange chicken (good with broccoli—just like take out!)

Spicy green beans (serve with plain chicken--- yummmm)

Ginger carrots


Green beans



* a note about the veggies- I find TJ’s frozen veggies far superior to any canned/frozen alternative

Dry goods

Whole wheat pasta (cheaper and healthier!)

Pizza sauce

Soups! (sweet potato bisque and butternut squash are household faves—add curry to the squash soup—delish!)

Chicken broth

Relish (cranberry)

Grapeseed oil

Balsamic vinegar

Better’N’Butter Peanut Butter (tastes less like peanut butter, more like squished peanuts)


Granola bars (all kinds)

Beef jerky

Almonds—the 4 point packs are good portion control!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oprah moment

Navy. The color I chose for PC’s sweater is Cascade 220 in Navy. He looks very handsome in all tones of blue and I think a navy sweater on a man is 1) very versatile and 2) casual when necessary. This sweater is for the cold months coming up – dinners out that require more than a sweatshirt, less than a ties; days when the air feels so good and crisp but it’s still got quite a nip to it; and an effort to keep our heating bill in the lower digits.

Thanks for the support on my WW “journey”… jeez, doesn’t that sound hokey? “journey.” Like I am getting in a boat and finding a new world. No. I am not. I am not re-discovering myself. I am trying to lose weight so that I look like what I feel like. That’s not so bad, is it? I really don’t need to have an Oprah moment about this. Have you ever noticed that? Women in my demographic or slightly older (30+) have this need to have what I call “oprah moments.” These moments of intense meaning and self worth and clarity in their lives. I am all for some navel-gazing: it’s good for the soul, but too much navel gazing means you miss what’s going on around you. And, I think it sets us up for disappointment. A cousin once told me that she thought motherhood was this instantaneous bond with her child that would fill her soul and finally give her life direction. She prepared for this inner light to shine through her and into her child’s life. She finally admitted that while she felt responsible for her child and was happy to be a mom… there was little immediate satisfaction in a screaming infant. Those moments of peace where when the little one finally fell asleep and she could do so also. The inner light in her faded very fast due to limited sleep and a very demanding child. She felt isolated even with her family surrounding her. In this conversation, I got the feeling that she felt like she had done something wrong. That, in some way, not having this “clouds parting, finally seeing the mystery of life” moment was somehow her fault. No Oprah moment = failure.

I will not set myself up to fail. I am going to Disney World (the happiest place on earth…) in a few weeks for a vacation with PC’s family. There will be food and being on vacation with someone else’s family can always be stressful, but I will be walking everyday and enjoying healthy choices. Disney’s mysterious happiness doesn’t include a zero calorie factor in their food. Right? Christmas is coming soon and I love cookies. I don’t need to have 3 of every kind. One is good. Being choosy and saying “what’s your favorite?” and trying only one is better. Enjoying the people and not the food is the best.

PC and I were invited to France for the New Year and while we still don’t know if we are going, it’s an opportunity. Being overweight is not a reason to not participate or not take advantage of an opportunity.

No Oprah moments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

cho is me.....

I am sure that as like most American women (according to the media and some recent studies), I am somewhat weight-obsessed. As an obese person who has struggled with her weight for almost 25 years (yes, it began at age 6), I will say this: food is life. My body requires me to eat a certain number of calories per day to survive. How I choose to eat those calories is the stuff that fad diets are made of.

I have been a Weight-Watcher for 8 years now. I have gained, lost, committed, recommitted and it’s been a real roller coaster. Living your life while constantly analyzing the minutia of what you are eating is taxing, degrading and fuel for a psychotic breakdown. So, I don’t. I do WW. Of course, right now, I am doing WW “offline” as I have given enough money to the company at this point…. And I really need to work some stuff out, like my carb to protein ratio. And that will involve some scale “wiggle” (+/- depending on the ratio) for a few weeks.

PC is right behind me, fully supporting my goals and gently (okay, sometimes NOT SO GENTLY) pushing me to exercise more. He’s really into adding fitness to the weight loss equation. He doesn’t care what size I am as long as I am fit. By the by, PC lost almost 75-80lbs last year doing WW. He looks and feels (to both of us!) great!

An effort to make this WW thing a “full time” adventure and not something I do occasionally--- I am tracking using an Excel sheet someone gave me awhile back. I can track my points at all times. I am considering switching from my Blackberry to a Palm Treo (or iPhone) so that I can keep my points with me and have a point calculator at all times. Our house is currently filled with healthy foods that consist of very few snacks and very few “trigger” foods. (trigger food: ice pops. Diet soda. Chips.)

The food thing has always boggled me b/c I LOVE food. I truly do. I like cooking, I like spices, I like to savor my food. So, from now until whenever- PC, we are back to eating at the dining room table (we eat in the living room in the summer- it has AC). The Weight Watcher recipes will be back in the oven, on the stove and in the crockpot. I have never really liked microwave meals or super greasy dinners.

In an effort to make sure that what I am eating is GOOD to me (good in the sense that I WANT to eat it), I have been test-driving yogurts. Yogurt is a good food for weight maintenance. It has a good combination of calcium and protein and fat (you need a little fat) and the right kind can be low in sugar. I am not loving WW 1pt yogurt—too sweet, too splenda-y and the texture is off. I love greek yogurt. I found Chobani 0% and am in love. 140 calories of oh-my-god-this-could-be-ice-cream deliciousness. Their website… go ahead, click. I’ll wait.


Are you back? Good. Did you see the recipes section? HOW COOL IS THAT? Over the next week, look here for recipes, my favorite foods list (trader joes--- oh, how I love thee!) and of course, knitting.

PC was looking through an LL Bean catalog for a sweater on Friday. LL Bean! What kind of knitter am I? I picked a nice sweater pattern, went to Black Sheep for yarn and two separate cast ons later (I cast on for a 44 inch and got 38 inch. So, I cast on for the 52 inch and hopefully I’ll have a 44-46 inch.)

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You can't pick your family... or can you?

I've always heard "you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your family." Lately, I've been wondering if that is true. I have a family (a large one, in fact, full of cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles...) that I love and I would do so much for each and every one of them. But, I have a second family. No, I'm not counting in-laws (or in my case, hope-to-be-future-in-laws.... PC's family) and such. No... I'm talking about my friends who are my family.

I mentioned my 'niece' Noodle in the last post. She's not my brother's child. She has none of my genetic material in her. No, she's our friends' daughter and she is my niece. My friend Mari (see sidebar for her site!) and my friend S (who's giving me a nephew- RemDog (nickname-- she's not naming her kid RemDog after Jerry Remy) are as close as sisters to me. I call them when I need support, need to laugh, need to cry. We share secrets and stories. We talk about everything-- nothing's off limits. I never had sisters and I finally do.

Now, my brother's wife is expecting their first child (we are very excited!) and this will just add to my "brood" of nieces and nephews.

We had a lengthy discussion at work once about what constitutes "family"--- we have a company policy that if you or dependent parent, spouse or child is sick, you can take sick time (it's unlimited... to a point) freely without question. PC and I live together. He's my family. He cares for me when I am sick; I care for him when he is sick. An incident landed us in the ER one night and into the following morning... PC was sick. He needed me. I stayed. I called into work (waiting until someone was there to answer the phone... I hate leaving "I'm sick" messages on voicemail) and when I went in the following day, was informed I needed to take a vacation day b/c "he's not your family." This decision has since been changed ( I think once they heard themselves say that OUT LOUD they realized how asinine it sounded) and we have had discussions about how the American family is changing: two mommys, two daddys, unmarried parents, living with grandparents or uncles/aunts, single parent families, siblings raising younger siblings... all of these constituting a family.

Where on earth am I going with this?

The Red Scarf Project (Norma's got way more details) for the Orphan Foundation. Kids who have "aged out" of the foster system and are headed off to college. Alone. No one to move them in, make their bed, and beg them to call every night. No one to rush home to for Thanksgiving break. And more importantly, no one to send those oh-so-important care packages to college. My care packages usually arrived with my parents on a weekend visit. Cookies from my mom. A banana bread from my Nana. My dad brought me a wee rose bush one visit for Valentine's Day.

So, I knit a red scarf...did you?? I'm knitting another one, I hope.... are you??

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

in need of an update!

Remember the Abby-Cadabby sweater? Well, here she is (unblocked)--- ready for her party! The real Abby Cadabby was very pleased with her sweater and her thank-you note photo was her in her sweater !!! (thanks, Stef... she is adorable!) The back "wings" gave me fits... I think I knit and crocheted 8 separate wings. In the end, some off-the-cuff crochet (a combo of single, double and 1/2 double crochet stitches) works well.

PC's contribution to the gift? Well, he was my "does this look cute or creepy" sounding board. You all know how cartoon-y things can go really well or HORRIBLY wrong, right? I think this went right. Oh, and PC was the source of one very blonde, very fairy, princess wand to complete the outfit. Abby-Cadabby herself loved it.

Can't forget about my niece, hereafter referred to as "Noodle" or "Her Noodleness." This Classic Elite Cotton Bamboo was picked up last night at Island Yarn in Waltham. Oh, you didn't know Vicki was open LATE on Mondays? LATE as in 8:30pm!!! She hosts a knit-night there for whoever wants to sit and knit from 6-ish to 8:30pm every Monday (check on holidays). Now, my Noodle is a girl with class and distinction. And, well... as an Eastern European beauty (like her mom), pale pink is a "notsomuch" color on her. Her one and only Auntie-knit sweater is a rich buttery coral color. Looks fab on her! So, a dark raspberry-merlot color will really make her skin shine!

I am casting on for this at lunch: HoneyPie (see Ravelry for info). A few things about this pattern- there is no yardage provided. At all. I have 3 balls of Bamboo (130yds per ball) and one "held" at Island Yarn. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Vicki? No "buy 4 now... return it later"--- no, no, no... "take 3, I'll hold one behind the counter if you need it." Oh my god... totally crushing on my yarn shop!)

Tomorrow: charity starts at home. Or, what I did for the The Orphan Foundation (a red "Plus" some colors scarf--- wear sunglasses to view tomorrow's photos. you've been warned.) and for a friend at the Metro West Knitting Guild. I hate knitting chemo caps, but when it's the only help you can offer, you put every ounce of love and prayer into each and every stitch. With my dad on the road to cancer-remission, knitting chemo caps still makes me cry... reminds me of how much I almost lost.

More tomorrow.