Is it still a blog if you update it 3x a year?

I prefer to think of it as an EVENT, actually. TA-DAH!!

Updates

THE SPLEEN is still with me. I had the cyst aspirated (benign) then underwent a CT Scan two months later to see if it was growing back (it wasn’t). I am done thinking about my spleen for the foreseeable future!

ICLOUD PHOTO STREAM is still crap, and I got tired of the frustration, so I am using a different solution. I upgraded my Dropbox account, and I am using their new feature that allows you to sync your camera photos across devices. It works GREAT. If you would like to try a paid Dropbox account (the basic account is free and awesome, but extra space is also awesome), please use this referral link (Dropbox goodness) and you’ll get an extra 500mb free! They have a cool new photo organizing/viewing/sharing app too (Carousel) and it’s pretty awesome. That’s a whole lot of awesome in one paragraph!

MY OLD IPAD has moved on to my daughter’s custody. I think she has installed approximately 637 free games on it now. I bought myself a new iPad Mini 3, and if you ask why, I’ll say “because I deserve it!” As far as I know, the “other” storage issue is still a problem, but since my new iPad has like 128gb of storage, it will be a long, long time before I ever notice it. I also got an iPhone 6, even though I said I wasn’t going to, and I don’t regret it at all. It’s too big, in my opinion, but it’s not uncomfortably big and I actually like that it’s much thinner than the previous models. I sort of miss the square edges but not a lot. Having TouchID is life-changing – seriously.

I DYED MY HAIR PURPLE and I really liked it. Then I got a serious undercut pixie. It’s a little less purple now than it was, but it’s still purple. Am I too old for these shenanigans? HELL TO THE NO.

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Projects

After the stress of the holidays, I had lots of time to start new projects and make things just for me.

Wreath I made myself a wreath using a bunch of leftover yarn. I got this idea from Attic24, which is a fantastic blog where an English lady covers her life in crochet and designs beautiful patterns and then posts gorgeous photos of everything. Seriously, she’s like a one-woman Pinterest. Here’s the wreath, which I hung on my office door:

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It makes me so happy every time I see it.

Slouch Hat I made myself this hat from the first pattern I’ve ever paid for. It’s really nice, although it came out a little big, so I’m going to make another one and size it down a bit. Still a really pretty hat, and it wasn’t difficult at all.

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(And I also bought that creepy mannequin head to model my hats from now on!)

CAL #1 I joined a “mystery” crochet-along, and let me tell you that this was a mistake. If you’re going to commit to a project, make damn sure it’s going to be something you like. If you don’t know what the end product is going to look like, make sure the designer does things that match your taste. Lesson learned! This CAL was sponsored by Yarnspirations (Caron’s website) and The Crochet Crowd. I hated the end result. SOOOO ugly. And too small to really be used as a blanket. I mean, here’s just a corner of this thing:

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Puke, am I right? And that’s after I toned it down (it had these obscene puffy centerpieces that looked like vulva, which I ripped off and replaced with something simpler). I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with this thing. I was so disgusted, I didn’t even do the last week’s clue (two more rows on the border). I just couldn’t stand it. The whole thing was mired in controversy – I was far from the only participant who was disappointed in the project.

But I found someone who loves it:

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It’s soft and it smells like me, and it’s the perfect size to line his dog bed. WIN.

CAL #2 As I was reaching the end of the Fugly CAL, I heard about another one called Sophie’s Universe. It was more than halfway finished, so I could see how the project looked, and I fell in love. So I started one for myself:

2015-04-17 21.51.10-1It’s much bigger now and only about halfway done; the official CAL has ended but I’m continuing. In fact, I loved it so much I stopped my own and made another for my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day:

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It’s lapghan-sized, perfect for her to take with her to dialysis.

And that’s what I’ve been up to!

 

Projects…but first, annoyances

Whew, that took a while, didn’t it?

Is there anything more annoying than the way that the iCloud photo stream works (or in this case, doesn’t work) with Windows 7? OK, yeah, there are probably things that are more annoying but at this particular moment, that’s on the top of my list. It just stops updating…photos show up in my photo stream on my iPhone, my iPad, but they sync perfectly to my Photo Stream folder on my Windows PC for a while, and then they just…stop. Usually, I have to reboot, or turn off Photo Stream and then turn it back on, and sometimes one of those things works, although there are some photos that just won’t EVER synch to the PC. Stupidly annoying. There are tons of posts about it on the Apple support boards.

It’s like that mysterious “OTHER” storage usage on my iPad. Turns out, it’s caused by renting movies or shows from iTunes. The Apple video app will download the whole shebang while you’re streaming a movie, and it takes up a ton of storage on the device, which is listed as “Other” when you’re syncing and looking at usage. The problem is, when you’re done, it doesn’t release that storage. It just sits there. The workaround is to install a new app or something like that, then it suddenly frees it up. Tellingly, you can stream from Netflix and Amazon Prime and this problem does not happen, it’s just in Apple’s shitty video app. Here’s an excellent, detailed blog post that explains the whole problem quite clearly.

I don’t consider myself a fanboy fangirl of either Windows or Apple, I mean everything has its place and I’m a consumer of multiple Windows and Apple devices (as well as at least one Android thingamabob). But Apple’s native apps are just such a nightmare lately. Don’t even get me started on the bloated obscenity that iTunes has become. And then there’s that whole thing where the new “Health” app lets you can track your intake or blood content of various obscure chemicals, but doesn’t offer a single option for tracking menstrual cycles, fertility, etc. LAME, APPLE.

So there’s the rant out of the way, let’s get on to the fun stuff: projects! I’m going to try to go back and show you everything I made for Christmas gifts this year. If I can remember them all. I was a busy little bee!

I bought some cotton yarn last summer and made my Dad some coasters, which he really liked. He requested placemats that matched, so I made him four:

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I was trying for six, but it was getting close to Christmas. I did promise him I’d make two more and send them on this month or next. It was an easy pattern but it did get boring making the same thing over and over!

I made my sister a “lapghan” to use when she’s watching TV. Since she lost so much weight, she’s always cold!

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I used fuzzy yarn (Lion Brand Homespun) in her favorite shades. It came out nice, and it’s quite warm!

I had some funky Red Heart yarn called Stellar, which I thought would make pretty gifts for my nieces. It’s chunky and soft with a little bit of glittery thread woven through it. I made them some hats, here I am modeling one of them:

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And I also made Rob a hat, specifically a camo hat for hunting:

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This is made out of the absolute most el-cheapo yarn in the world, aka Red Heart Super Saver. Gotta love that it actually comes in a camo pattern! He loved it! Then he asked me to make him a scarf, but he requested OSU colors. I used some chunky yarn I had lying around to make a color-block look. Here he is modeling the result:

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Look at that beard. Lordy. One of his friends says Rob is now “lumbersexual.” I just call him Grizzly Adams. HA! I asked him to grow it long enough to braid, then get an undercut so he’ll look just like that guy on Vikings. Double-HA!! (Also, rar!)

I also made a scarf for Veronica’s third-grade teacher, in this case an infinity scarf. The picture doesn’t do it justice, I thought it was gorgeous if I do say so:

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For my best friend, The Kimster, I made an afghan that SHE can use while watching TV:

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This was also made with chunky yarn in one of my favorite afghan patterns. It’s super easy, basically just a gigantic granny square. You keep going in rounds until it’s as big as you want. I have made two of them previously; one or my niece and one for Veronica, in rainbow shades. On this one I stuck two four colors I knew she’d like and did one or two rows of each until it was the right size, then added a border of 1 row double crochet, then 1 row single crochet.

My manager at work is an old friend of mine. I made her a basket, which I filled with chocolate, lip balm, and a pretty cowl and hat (which I also made):

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That basket was kind of a bitch. You use super bulky yarn with only a 10mm hook AND you hold two strands together, in order to get a nice, tight weave so that the basket will stand up on its own. It worked, but it was tough on my hands. I was planning to make another one, maybe bigger, for holding yarn and stuff but my knuckles started crying so I decided eh, maybe not.

And FINALLY, I had to make something for myself, so I made a new afghan for napping. Here’s Chandler modeling it for us:

IMG_1651This is the fantastic Granny Stripe pattern by Lucy at Attic24, one of my favorite crafty blogs. In this case, I made it in bulky yarn so it worked up very quickly. I also have a version in many colors of standard worsted weight that I’ve been working on off and on for months now. Who knows if I’ll ever finish? It’s a nice project to work on while watching TV or having a conversation with someone because it’s so straightforward. At first the edges used to trip me up a bit but I’ve done so many now that I could probably do it in my sleep.

I’ve got plenty of other things on the way. I’m just finishing up a corner to corner throw that I decided to make for my car. Do you have this weird issue in the car with the heating? The foot blowers do a good job keeping my feet warm, and the upper blowers can warm my hands, face, etc. It’s the part in between, my lap actually, like my legs from my knees to my hips, that doesn’t get a blower and is always COLD COLD COLD. So I’m making a lap throw to put on my lap (duh!) in the car. Pictures when I finish.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Wanted: Christmas spirit (sorely lacking)

WTF. This is what happens when I start blogging again – I cook along at a good pace, and then a month (or more!) goes by and I don’t update, then I feel guilty. Well at least it feeds my neuroses.

I’ve been hella busy. I got put on a new project at work for a few months, plus I’ve been trying to finish all the Christmas crochet and shopping. I finally shipped off presents to my side of the family this week. Gave the present I made for my manager to her. Almost finished with what I’m making for my bestie. Once that’s done, I just need to wrap the stuff for Hubby and Bean.

I made an executive decision this year not to send any Christmas cards. I think it’s a tradition that’s just about run its course. I kept at it for soooo long but I think I’ve finally tired of it. So sue me!

We haven’t put up the Christmas tree or any decorations at all and I just can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for it. Maybe we’ll put the tree up this weekend. Bean has informed me that she “knows the truth” about Santa Claus, which is kind of a relief. But I promised her we’d still surprise her on Christmas morning. She’s growing up so fast it makes me feel older than old.

Speaking of feeling old, the plans to have my spleen removed are off. Instead I’m going to see an interventional radiologist, I just don’t know when or exactly what they’re going to do. But anything is better than surgery and giving up my spleen I suppose.

Full post about completed projects coming soon – I have a ton of them! Until then, happy holidays!

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Completed projects and works in progress (including me)

Completed Projects and Work in Progress: Crochet

I started making myself a corner-to-corner blanket recently. I wanted another afghan to put on the bed in the winter. But I had to put that sucker into hibernation because I just realized two stark realities: 1. It’s November already. 2. I have tons of Christmas gifts to crochet. So even though the blanket was starting to look pretty good, into the hibernate corner it went.

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But I’ve had some recent progress too. I finished a scarf I was making for my facialist, Karla:

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It was really simple, since it’s basically two rows of alternating granny squares, worked up in Lion Unique, which is one of my all-time favorite yarns. I was really  happy to tuck it away in its gift bag, all ready to give to her in December.

Next, I started work on a scarf I decided to make for my primary healthcare provider because I LOVE HER (more on that later). But then I realized I work with this lady who’s pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon. We all know what a pregnant lady means — an excuse to make a baby blanket! And what do you know, I had skeins of baby yarn just sitting around waiting. So I started on a pattern I’d been waiting to try. It’s taking a bit more time than I planned, but it’s working up nicely:

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Hope I can finish it before her last day.

Completed Projects and Work in Progress: Non-Crochet Version

So I completed a project near the end of October when I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, i.e. I had my gallbladder removed. It was outpatient surgery and, to my surprise, it was the most positive healthcare experience I’ve ever had (even though it was expensive*). The surgery center I went to was SO NICE. It felt more like a spa than a hospital, but not extravagantly so. Recovery was easy-peasy. Seriously, I felt fine like two days later, once the grogginess from general anesthesia wore off.

My only complaint is numbness in my lower lip, which I discovered via Google is an uncommon-but-not-unheard-of side effect of general anesthesia, caused by nerve damage from the mask or the intubation, and usually wearing off in a few weeks. I hope so! Because right now my lower lip has the feeling you get when the novocaine is starting to wear off – somewhere between numb, tingly, and just a tiny bit painful. It’s irritating, more than anything else.

So what about the work in progress? Well…when they did my ultrasound to visualize my gallstone they also noticed that I have cysts on my spleen. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. I’m not symptomatic, my blood work all looks normal, and it’s not causing any discomfort. However, the cystic growths are large enough that they represent a serious risk of bursting and causing internal bleeding if I ever have any serious abdominal trauma (like a car accident, bad fall, or superhero costume malfunction). After getting an MRI, and discussing it with my surgeon and my provider (the one I’m making the scarf for), I’m tentatively planning to have the surgery to remove my spleen. The whole spleen??? Yeah, I know. It’s drastic, but: 1. you can live without a spleen, it just puts your immune system at slightly higher risk; 2. they can do it laparoscopically like the gall bladder surgery (and I’m hoping and praying outpatient, though probably not); and most important, 3. there are treatments to try to reduce or remove the cysts themselves, but generally those types of efforts are not successful, and most cysts end up growing back.

So that’s where I am. Luckily my last surgery was an easy recovery and I didn’t miss much work at all (day off the day of surgery and the day after, then a weekend, then telecommuting the following Monday and back in the office by the end of the week). I’m hoping the splenectomy will be a similar experience.

And while I’m off my feet – more time for crochet projects! WINNING!!!

 

*I had to meet my individual deductible, then pay 20% coinsurance, which as you can imagine was quite pricy. But on the positive side, it’s put me near my out-of-pocket limit for the year, so if I have my other surgery before 12/31, it’s likely most of my expenses will be covered at 100% instead of 80%. I can’t believe that calculations like this now have to figure into my healthcare decisions – it’s a rude awakening after years of HMO-style “pay your premium and everything is covered” plans. But this, alas, is the world we live in.

Completed Project: Pillow Part 2: The REVENGE!

We have a strange quilt on our king-sized bed in the Master Bedroom. Oh, it doesn’t really look all that strange, to most people. I mean, it’s your standard-size, standard-weight quilt. But the colors…the colors are IMPOSSIBLE to match with sheets, throw pillows etc.

The quilt has several sections of different patterns in shades of blue and gray. I bought it at Macy’s, way back when I still shopped at Macy’s. I’ve never been able to find sheets, pillowcases, throw pillows, shams, etc. that really match it. It looks simple enough, but the colors are just a little “off,” such that every blue sheet or pillowcase I buy just doesn’t quite match. I find myself sticking to white, gray, and the occasional navy blue. Here’s a picture of three of the four patterns that make up the quilt:

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So anyway, let me assure you first of all that I don’t spend hours obsessing over this or anything. Sure, I’m writing a blog post about it, but that’s only as background to explain why I made not one, but TWO pillows to match this quilt. First, I made this square one:

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It’s a square throw pillow that I made with roughly two balls of Lion Brand Unique in “Moonshadows” and a 12″ pillow form. It’s basically two large granny squares made with an 8mm hook that I single-crocheted together over the pillow. Simple, but effective: it’s soft and it looks nice on the quilt. Since I had enough Unique to make both sides, the pillow looks really different on each side. Here’s the other side:

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Gosh I love that yarn.

I decided I needed another throw pillow, a bit larger this time, so I got a 12″x18″ form, and used a pattern on Ravelry for a rectangular granny square afghan. I simply made a smaller starting chain, and then did just enough rounds to cover one side of the pillow. And I think I switched to a 6.5mm hook.

I needed a lot of yarn! I used just over one ball to make the rectangle. Since I didn’t have more of the Moonshadows and I didn’t feel like buying any, I used Red Heart Super Saver Chunky in navy blue to make the back side, and basically used the whole skein! (It’s not a great yarn – not very soft. Would be nice for a rug, though – it’s very sturdy.) So then I had to find a ball of navy blue yarn to single crochet the two pieces together (and add a double-crochet border to the front, since it was just a bit too small). I didn’t have any bulky yarn in navy, so I used two strands of worsted weight. Holy cow, that got more complicated than I planned! But here’s how it turned out:

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And here they both are, hanging out:

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And finally, here’s a picture of my dog, who watched me the whole time I was taking these pictures with an expression on his face that said, “And you people think I’m crazy when I lick my own butt…”

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I’m happy with how both pillows look, and they definitely make the bed more cozy. But I think I’m done making pillows for a while. It’s time to move on to Christmas gifts – yes, it’s that time of year already! I’ve already got a scarf, afghan, and set of placemats to finish by the beginning of December.

Also, I’m having my gallbladder removed next week. It’s outpatient surgery, and while I recover at home I’ll be doing a lot of crocheting while I trip on percocet.