Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finished Deck PIctures

As I sit here staring out at the white snowy mess behind my house, I'm reminded again that I never posted my FINISHED deck pics. Oh how I wish it was warm and pretty out like in these pics!

Deck - Ugly Red Solid Stain



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 In Review and a Look ahead to 2010.

What a year I faced this year...

March 6 is when I found out I was going on layoff.

March 20 was my last day before burning my three weeks of vacation.

March 26 I headed to Nashville where my BFF Mandy and her husband took good care of a super depressed me.

April 9 is when I found out I was going back in temporarily to cover someone's maternity leave.

April 13 is when I started temp assignment.

May 19 was when I finished my MBA.

May 29 was my official last day before layoff.

June 1 I filed for unemployment.

The month of June saw me refinish the deck, clean out the garage, painting the kitchen, knitting furiously on Decimal for The Alpaca Yarn Co (wonder what ever happened to that....... )

June 24 I headed off to Pennsylvania for a reunion with all my dear friends there.

July 9 I started teaching the first of what has now become several knitting classes.

July 20 I found out that I was being brought in to interview for a couple of jobs I applied for at my company that were in the local area.

July 28 I found out that my old counterpart in Hartford, CT had quit the company. And my old boss called to see if I was interested in coming back to work for him to fill that spot.

August 12 I interviewed for the local jobs, and got a call to post for the Hartford job.

August 14 I headed off to California for the first time since moving away, for BFF Michelle's bachelorette/bridal shower weekend.

August 20 I interviewed for Hartford job, and got offers for both the Hartford job, and two of the local jobs. After much deliberation that day, I accepted the Hartford job.

August 31 I went back to work!

September 1 I was on a plane out to Hartford to start the new job.

September 15 I was on a plane to Seattle for BFF Michelle's wedding. This was also my first trip back to Seattle since leaving the West Coast.

The rest of September thru year end has pretty much been a blur since I spend every other week in Hartford doing the new job.

December 23 I received the first notification from the relocation company to start working on my relocation from Illinois to Connecticut.

Things I learned this year:
-Be prepared for anything, no job is safe, do everything you can to make yourself indespensible
-SAVE SAVE SAVE money! I can live without the finer things in life if it means being able to feed myself and my animals.
-Who my real friends are, the ones that stood by me and supported me thru a very difficult time in my life. Many people were uncomfortable at how to deal with me upon finding out I was out of work. The ones who were just there to listen and not tell me how this was a sign that I was meant to do something else.
-Did I mention save save save?
-Knit from stash, don't add to it! I'm only buying yarn that has a specific project need (for someone else) that I can't fulfill from my stash. Any other knitting I do will need to be from stash. Sadly this probably also means not visiting many yarn shops this year aside from stitch night. Fortunately, many of the local stitch and bitch groups around Hartford meet at local coffee spots rather than LYS's so I won't be tempted!

Going into 2010 will be a strange year. I'm still super worried about money. I burned through my savings JUST in time for me to go back to work. Because of things I'd put off spending money on while unemployed I haven't built them back up. I must also admit my debt level is far too high for my preference. The good thing is, it didn't go up much this year, just didn't go down. As I head into my relocation I know I won't be making much money on my house, and buying a much more expensive one. But its critical I work at spending less and getting out of debt.

Contrary to what it might sound like based on the last paragraph, 2010 will also show some travel for me. Mom and I are talking about taking a trip on the Disney Wonder sometime to use up her DVC points, and say we've been on the Wonder before since we've been on the Magic 3 times, and will be on the Dream in 2011 (got a FANTASTIC deal on a 4 night cruise with the WDW Radio Show group). More exciting than that, in November 2010 the whole family is heading down to Mexico for my baby brothers wedding. Originally mom and I had hoped to get to Walt Disney World to see the 2010 Christmas decorations, but between my concerns about money, and the cost of the trips planned in 2010 and 2011 this probably just won't happen this year. Perhaps in December of 2011.

Oh..and maybe I'll try to stay a little better at this blogging thing in 2010.... :)

How would you sum up 2009?

And Happy New Year to you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Goodies

Before this goes into a indulgent post where I gloat over all my goodies...I must say...for me a big part of Christmas is the fun of getting other people JUST the right gift.

My brother, sister and I all went in together on a Kindle for mom this year. Mom knew..and after MONTHS of research and debate finally decided on the Kindle versus the Nook. I've NEVER seen her so excited about a gift we got her...and we've gotten her some pretty awesome stuff in recent years. Not only did she play with it for 2 hours after present opening on Christmas Eve, but she got up early when I did on Christmas morning to ask me more questions (I already have a Kindle) before I left for my dad's house.

I also think I did really well with my dad and stepmom this year. I made a hat for my stepmom this year, the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, using less than a full skein of Berroco Lustra. She put it on right away when she opened it and kept it on for the next hour or so til she was too hot.


For dad I made a simple scarf. I cast on a multiple of 4 stitches and do a Knit 3, Purl 1 repeat across every row. Creates kind of a garter rib stitch pattern. I used Mission Falls superwash wool, in the worsted weight. I double stranded black with dark grey. I figured it would be warm, but washable, in case he wanted to use it up in Eagle River, WI when he's up there. But figured the colors were also dressy enough to go with his nice black overcoat.


Now onto ME! Here's some of my Christmas haul this year...

From Dad and Stepmom I received a Tiffany Somerset bracelet and matching earrings. I'm told Dad went shopping and picked these out himself, I'm highly impressed! They are quite lovely.

Mom got several Disney related things off my list, including Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, a Mickey Mouse hoodie, The Little Mermaid - Oceans of Love for You Precious Moment, and the book about bringing the Little Mermaid to broadway.

I also got...a SECOND Disney cross stitch from my mom's best friend and her husband. For my birthday they gave me "Past, Present, Forever". Now for Christmas I got "Puppy Love". I'm soooooo excited..not only for more Disney stitching..but because Puppy Love is a little SMALLER than Past, Present, Forever...which is HUMONGEOUS! I had no idea how big either of them were when I first saw them..but wow...they are BIG projects. I've been working on Past, Present, Forever off and on for a month (when I'm actually HOME since its too bit to travel with) and have about 3 by 4 inches done so far. The suggested frame size is 18 by 24 inches. So you get the magnitude of the project I'm working on!

Anyway, that was a sampling of my Christmas goodies...what about everyone else?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Does GPS go bad????? all my readers probably know...I drive a lot for a LOT. I think back to my early years as a rep (pre-GPS) and wonder how I'm still alive today sometimes. I mean...the number of times I was looking at printed directions or a map while driving.... I get chills when I think about it now!

3 or 4 years ago I decided I wanted GPS finally. I asked for Christmas, but Santa didn't grant my wish that year. Someone in my office mentioned that for about $100 I could buy a software program for my laptop, that came with a little USB GPS adapter. When working, it would allow my laptop to give me turn by turn directions. I liked how affordable this option was and jumped at it. And it worked okay most of the time. But occasionally the GPS would lose signal, or the computer would lose it, and it would take a while and some rebooting to get it working. Not exactly convenient or safe while driving. I'd had a few incidents that were frustrating but not critical. Then one day when driving between Philly and Baltimore it cut out at a critical part of my drive..and got me seriously seriously lost. I decided that was it. I got home that night and promptly logged onto and ordered my beloved Garmin c340. It was the same model the others in the office had been getting in recent months, and the cheapest Garmin you could buy that would actually tell you the name of the street rather than just saying to turn in so many feet.

Thus began my LOVE of the GPS. If you've been in my car you've probably noticed its on most of the time. Not only does it help me find my way to locations I've not been to before, but I also like it when going places I have been - as it predicts arrival time. This means I know if I have time for that extra bathroom break or starbucks stop. And allows me to let the person I'm meeting know if I'm going to be late due to traffic issues.

Now...for around the past 12 months or so I'd been getting the friendly reminder from my Garmin periodically that my maps needed to be updated. At the time I wasn't doing my driving job, and didn't feel like I really needed to fork over the $$ for the map updates. But when I went back to work, and to a job that was going to require LOTS of driving to new places, I got my update and applied it the Garmin. I decided the Garmin would live in the car in Hartford permanently since its not like I really need it in the car in Ilinois, and if I did, we could just take mom's care that now has GPS. Plus I've got the iPhone when in a pinch.

So now to my question....Does GPS go bad??? I've noticed since applying my map update ... some funny things happening on my Garmin. For instance, its stopped showing me bodies of water or parks for the most part. There used to be blue spots for water and green spots for parks. Pretty much don't see those anymore, even when driving across rather large rivers. It did pick up the water between CT and Long Island the day I took the ferry down to the island..but that was the first time its shown me a body of water since my update.

Its also giving me odd directions. For instance, yesterday I stopped at starbucks in Farmington, CT. I knew that I typically pulled out of the parking lot and turned left to easily get back on I-84 - I've done it several times. Yesterday my trusty Garmin was telling me to turn right. I didn't look at the follow up directions and just assumed for my ultimate destination garmin was taking me on a more direct route. Turns out, it was taking me 1 mile down the road to turn around and go back, passing starbucks, and get on the interstate where I normally did. Basically taking me out of my way by 2 miles altogether for no reason. I've seen several instances like this over the past few months.

Another I'm heading to a new place. I'm going to get on I-84, and I know I am going to want CT 9 eventually. As I'm approaching the I-84 exit, I see a sign on the sign of the road that says "To CT 9" and has an arrow, but my GPS is telling me to go straight onto I-84. I follow the GPS, and then it tells me to take the exit to CT 9. Problem is....the onramp doesn't actually end before the exit ramp to CT 9. And the on ramp is coming in on the left while the exit is on the right. There's no way to MAKE the exit its telling me to make. Again...I've had several instances like this of late.

So now I'm thinking...something has just gone terribly terribly wrong with my GPS. I'm wondering if they have a short lifespan and its just time for me to get a new one. I suppose thats not a horrible thing as prices have come down dramatically from when I first got my Garmin...but it still seems weird. I remember a news story a while ago about satellites starting to fail, with no places to replace them so directions might get slightly less accurate...but I don't see why that would make the GPS send me on the wrong roads or in the wrong directions on a road just to make me back track.....