Saturday, June 30, 2012

Queen Penelope

A recent purchase has made me quite happy, and Scott is happy that I'm happy, and therefore my house is full of happy.

Meet Queen Penelope, a.k.a. Penny:

She's a Lendrum :) And her name comes from The Big Bang Theory, of course.

Penny came to me used, from a friend of a friend, for $575. Now, of course you're thinking, "Anna, that's not a very good deal. You could have gotten a new one for close to the same price." Well, the woman from whom I bought it has four babies, and had no time for spinning like she thought she would, so she had bought a whole lot of indie-dyed fiber and then never spun much at all, so really, the wheel is pretty much new, and it came with ALL the fiber the woman had bought. There was at least $100 of fiber there, all in colors I like and would have picked out myself. So really, it was a fantastic deal.

Now, I've spun a bit on it, and let me tell you: it's different than spinning on a spindle. Much different. I feel like I have to learn from the beginning, because the hand motions are completely different, and you're controlling like five things at once instead of just two. It's a good thing I love this so much, because it's going to take a lot of hard work to get as good on Penny as I am on the spindles.

So here's what I've spun on the wheel so far:

The first bit is on the left, and the bit I just finished is on the right. They're all still better than my first handspun on the spindle, but still leave something to be desired compared to, say, Barbie.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It Stunk Up The Kitchen

A few weeks ago one of the women in my knitting group got a hold of about 50 pounds of raw wool (as in, straight off the sheep). I suck at telling stories that aren't mine, so I'll spare you the details, but her husband thought she had somehow bought 50 pounds of pot...the cops came over and everything. She had to show them the giant bag of wool in her SUV for them to believe her.

ANYWAY. So she wanted to get everyone together to learn how to process raw wool. Now, this isn't something I'm really interested in per se, but I would like to be able to say I've done everything except shear the sheep (maybe someday I'll shear a sheep. Who knows.). So here's my portion of raw wool, inside the old pillowcase it came in:

Yeah, that's dirt and grass and a little poo in there. It smelled awful. Scott was especially disgusted, but to be fair, I had warned him that at some point there would be raw fleece in the house...

Anyway, so you put small bits into a lingerie bag and put it through a series of soaks with soapy water, plain water, and vinegar. Each soak takes about ten minutes, so we're talking about a full hour of soaking total.

After it's "clean" (I say "clean" because the dirt and poo all comes out, but the bits of grass don't), you can either let it dry or go on straight to dyeing it. I decided to dye it:

 I just had to spread it out in a casserole dish with plenty of water, a bit of vinegar, and then food coloring spread out and mashed in with a fork. You can do this with other types of dyes, but on short notice food coloring is all I had.

I then baked it at 200 degrees to set the dye, and then drained and rinsed it all. I didn't let the dye set long enough (I got tired and wanted to get to bed), so the blue didn't take all the way and came out a grayish blue. I like it, though, so even though it wasn't what I intended it's fine with me.

Then all I needed was to lay it out on a towel and let it air-dry for a few days. It would have dried faster, but we keep our house pretty well air-conditioned.

I had my indie-dyer friend "flick" (brush out all the veg, a.k.a. grass and such) and card it into little batts for me to spin. I could have done that myself, but she has the proper tools and it only took her a fraction of the time it would have taken me.

I'm thinking I need to spin this into one long color changing yarn, then make myself (or someone very special) a scarf from it.

Now I've done everything except shear the sheep. And I'm in no rush for that.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diameter Vs. Radius

One of the things we did when we were working on the house recently was to order new blinds for the entire house. The girl at Home Depot that ordered them for us did a few of them wrong (apparently the difference between diameter and radius was completely lost on her)...but fortunately, Home Depot is always totally willing to fix any mistakes, so aside from a little inconvenience, it was a pretty easy process.

Since for the most part they look the same as the old ones (but not chewed on, thanks BUSTER), I won't post pictures, but the one that I love the most we didn't have before, and that's the one for the semicircular window in our bedroom.

Scott, of course, installed it himself:

Here's a picture of the whole window:

It's a little difficult to see, since it was backlit, but trust me, it's gorgeous. Here's how it looks closed:

So that's my favorite new blind. Now, with it closed, I'll actually be able to sleep in without the light waking me up!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Less Soda, More CALM

So, do you remember how I was planning on giving up soda?

Yeah. It's easier said than done, apparently.

It's a worthy goal and I'll report my progress: I've only had soda three times since the beginning of June. Including right now. Right now I'm drinking a deliciously forbidden Dr. Pepper (full octane, not even diet...I'm a badass). Anyway...not perfect, but I went from drinking soda every day, sometimes twice or three times a day, to thrice in one month. That's an amazing improvement, yes?

Interestingly, I haven't lost a damn pound.

The reason I've gotten soda three times is this: I switched to a new medication. You'll see the connection in a few minutes.

Now, I really hate to mess around with my psych meds, since I'm more or less stable and new ones could possibly throw me off balance, and really, who has time for that? Not me.

But the Risperdal was really bad for me. In fact, I'd tried to go off of it once before, without replacing it with anything else. That was a disaster.

But even though that happened, I still really wanted to get away from this particular medication.

Enter Abilify.

Abililfy is supposedly more weight neutral (I gained 50 pounds in two months when I started the Risperdal), has a lower impact on blood sugar and cholesterol, and Mim had tried it for a little while and LOVED it (she went off it because it's not generic and she doesn't have insurance, and she couldn't afford it. It's something like $700 a month. If that's not something blatantly wrong with the healthcare system here, then I don't know what is...). So, I wanted to give it a try, as a replacement for the Risperdal.

The insurance company, of course, wanted me to jump through hoops to get it covered. They wanted me to try a different atypical antipsychotic, which is what Risperdal and Abilify both are, one that is generic and would cost them less. I was fine with that; I mean, for all I knew the Seroquel they wanted me to try would be even better for me. Everyone's brain chemistry is different, so with psych meds you really never know if something is going to make you better or worse. It sucks, sure, but what can you do about it? At least we have psychotropic medication. A hundred years ago I would have been lobotomized or something equally heinous.

So I tried the Seroquel. For only one day. Because I felt drunk. DUH-RUNK. And I went to work that way. It was BAD. I called the doctor and left a semi-rambling message about how I felt funny and I can't work or drive like this, blah blah blah. I probably sounded like a total lush, all slurring and whatnot.

Fortunately, that's all it took for them to approve the Abilify.

So how's it working out for me?

Well, my anxiety level is the lowest it's ever been in my life. No joke. Just that is the reason I will keep taking this as long as I need to, which might be forever.

Side effects so far: I feel a little bit more tired than I did on the Risperdal. I can deal with this. As soon as the new carpet gets installed (a post for another day) I plan on moving my treadmill back in from the garage and getting my ass on there for at least a few minutes every day. I think that'll help me feel more awake overall. That's the reason for the soda, by the way: I'm soooooo groggy some mornings. I really needed caffeine a few times, and coffee doesn't always sound good to me. There's a little bit of dry mouth, but I'm trying to drink more water anyway. Intestines don't seem happy with it, but since I live with IBS this is really something I'm used to dealing with. Appetite is down a bit, and motivation to get things done is down a bit, which is probably why I can't motivate myself to get on here and write about what's happening (and there ARE happenings, I assure you), and both of these things are probably related to being more tired all the time.

I'm hoping that the combination of the new medication, less soda, and getting some exercise will help me lose some of this weight that I gained when I started the Risperdal. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nyah's 2!

Nyah is two years old now, so logically, I made her a dinosaur. It's not very nice...but she won't care. It's soft and snuggly. It didn't take very long overall, but next time I'd make some changes to the instructions to make it easier, faster, and more visually pleasing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's ALL Been On Sale

I'm sure you've been wondering what in the hell we spent $5,500 on the other day. $20 was, of course, the blinds for the back door. So good!

So what else did we do? We ordered new blinds for every window in the house (except those in the basement, since that won't be finished for quite a while). They're similar to what we have now, white faux wood slats, but they're a little nicer, and there's a beautiful semicircular one for the window in our master bedroom (which will make sleeping in on the weekends in our east-facing room a LOT easier). Awesome for us: custom window treatments were all 15% off this week. We win again!

Next we ordered carpet and installation for the two upstairs bedrooms and the blue room (the den). They're coming to take measurements this coming Saturday, and then it'll be supposedly seven to ten days before we can get it installed. We're crossing our fingers it can happen on the fast side of that estimate.

Last, but definitely not least, we ordered the rest of the appliances for the kitchen! We got the refrigerator, microwave, and stove/oven. They're all stainless steel, the same models that go with our dishwasher. They'll be delivered on Saturday. The best part? They were on sale, too, so we got $350 off our entire appliance order. They're all going to match!

With these two bits on sale, almost everything we've ever gotten from Home Depot has been on sale right when we were ready to order it. We LOVE Home Depot. Seriously. When we ordered the materials for the deck, the Trex was on sale. When we ordered the kitchen cabinets, they were on sale. Countertops, same thing. And now, appliances and blinds! The only thing we've paid full price for was the carpet.

Now we just need to sell the old appliances. They all work, so we should be able to get a bit of cash out of them and put it toward this rather large purchase.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Instead Of Old Bedsheets...

One of the things we did the other day when we were at Home Depot was to pick up a set of vertical blinds for the back door...that we put in two years ago. Oops. This was the least expensive thing, ringing it at a whopping $20!

We've been putting old sheets over it when it gets too bright and at night. I think you'll agree that this is a vast improvement.


Scott closing them:

And closed:

Ahhhhh. So nice. Now we just need to put actual trim around the door...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When We Spend Money, Scott Gets Upset

In a lovely turn of events, we received in the mail the other day a letter letting us know that our mortgage company is going under.


What does this mean? Well, if we were to do nothing, they would just sell our mortgage to someone else as a part of the bankruptcy process. Essentially, we would just keep sending payments and nothing would change, money-wise.

But this is a good opportunity. We decided to see if we could get our loan transferred to Chase, which would be great since we have almost all of our other accounts with them. We thought of transferring the truck loan there, too, but apparently they only take loans on cars year 2007 or newer. Ours is 8 years older than that, so no cigar. Oh well. It's a small loan, so really it isn't a big deal.

So we gathered documents. TONS of documents. Social security cards, passports, insurance statements, mortgage paperwork, tax information, pay stubs, etc. It's a good thing Scott keeps things incredibly organized, filed away in a very specific system. We took our giant stack of papers and went over to Chase to meet with their mortgage specialist. Her name is Sarah. I like her. She seems super nice, very knowledgeable, and helpful.

So, to make that bit of the long story short, we got approved pretty much instantly for a home loan (it turns out my credit isn't whack any more), and the only hoop we actually need to jump through is to get a new appraisal in order to make sure the home in still worth what we owe. We've made improvements to the home, for sure, but the market is still unstable, so we honestly have no idea whether this will work out in our favor or not. I'm optimistic. The worst-case-scenario is that it doesn't work out, and we just let GMAC sell our loan, which, once again, wouldn't really change things for us.

Anyway, we can set the date for the appraisal whenever we want it to be. Since this is the case, we figured that the best way for us to ensure that the house appraises where it needs to is to finish up projects around the house that aren't quite finished. So, of course, we went to Home Depot!

And spent $5,500.

Scott's pouting.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Converting Dr. Pepper To Green Smoothies!

Scott loves Netflix. It's some of the best couple of bucks we spend each month, in my opinion. Scott goes to sleep much later than I do, but he doesn't want to wake me when he comes up to bed, so he gets in bed at the same time I do, and while I sleep he watches videos for a while every night until he gets tired. He learns a lot from videos; it's how he learned how to build our deck, paint his Mustang, install the water softener...seriously. You name it, he can learn it from videos.

Recently, he watched a documentary on Netflix about a dude who went on a juice fast and lost like 60 pounds and got really healthy. Now, we aren't nuts (well, I am, technically, but I digress...), so we're not going to go on an entire juice fast, but we thought we'd try to replace a meal almost every day with a fruit and vegetable smoothie.

So we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, and got a Ninja. I like it because Ninjas are badass, and therefore our smoothies will be badass.

We've been trying different combinations of fruits and vegetables to put into these smoothies, and they only take about five minutes to make, so I've been making one for breakfast and drinking it on the commute to work. The Ninja (heh, the name just kinda makes me giggle) came with three small smoothie cups that just fit right onto the blending unit, and also a really big one for food processing and such. It's supposedly strong enough to make cookie dough, but that hasn't been tested yet. Anyway, the smoothie cups have to-go lids, which is really nice, and it's all dishwasher-able, and since I am the laziest housekeeper alive, that's totally awesome.

So, since I was especially unhealthy for breakfast and lunch (oops), I made myself a smoothie for dinner. Mandarin oranges, grapes, spinach, vanilla yogurt, and a bit of ice made a delicious smoothie!

It looks pretty unappetizing, since the spinach makes it all green, and the texture is weird-looking...

But it tastes great! The legends are true; you can't taste the spinach!

We've had fun shopping for smoothie ingredients, too. We're dorky in that we like grocery shopping together...but we like doing most things together anyway. 

I'm considering taking some of my iced coffee and making a coffee-banana smoothie. We also picked up some peaches and kiwi today, so we'll see how that goes.

Also, I'm giving up soda. I've been Dr. Pepper-free for five days. Wish me luck!