Friday, November 28, 2008

Counting Down

Thanksgiving update... Thanksgiving did not turn out too bad after all. John's parents, sister, my niece, John and I went to my dad's house around 11:30 and hung out until about 3:00. After that we went back to our house to prepare for John's other sister and her spouse, as well as all of my brothers and sisters. I know, I'm crazy... We hosted Thanksgiving for 20 only 48 hours before our wedding. It was a long day. But in the end, I think it was worth it. Everyone brought something, so that was good... And John's mom was a tremendous help peeling potatoes, clean-up, etc.

Our neighbor's car alarm went off last night around 11 PM and he was not home. Guess what happens to car alarms when they are not manually turned off? They continuously reset! Sometimes until 3 AM. I'm hoping this means that after a long day of running around and handling last minute wedding preparations I am so exhausted tonight, that even through my own anxiousness, I crash.

I've decided to only take one knitting project on the plane. This means I may actually finish it. It's the Bono Kimono pattern from Loops, and it is for my mom's Christmas present. I can finish the hats for everyone else when we return.

Tomorrow I will be someone's wife - yikes! Keep us in your prayers, and I'll post pics when return!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Uniquely Yours

Today I am sitting in my own form of anxiety. Thanksgiving is 2 days away, the wedding is 4 days away. I'm sure I'm forgetting something... And a comment made way back when still plagues me today! I'm worried that people who said they were coming aren't going to come. It's horrible. All natural, though, so I'm told.

To make myself feel better - no, I didn't buy anything :-) But, thanks to ravelry, I did scope out any local yarn shops close to where we are staying in Maui. I sent them to John with a secret in the subject line, "Things To Do in Maui..." I'm sure if it had said "Yarn in Maui" or anything related, he would not have given it a glimpse!

Yes, I found a local yarn store to visit while on my honeymoon. And for a minute today, it made everything else better.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wedding Week Stress

John and I will be married in 6 days. I remember when I started counting down and we were in triple digits - now we are in single digits that qualify as less than one week! When people ask when we are getting married, I will now say --- this week --- rather than next week, next month, etc. In addition to the regular wedding week stress, I get a dose of that coupled with holiday stress :-)

When discussions of Thanksgiving began, I was very adamant that Thanksgiving was not at our house. Who wants Thanksgiving 48 hours before a wedding? Not I. Somehow, Friday night, I declared myself a 'sucker' as we are now having Thanksgiving here. Ugh!

Yesterday I kind of decided I should just make the best of it and get happy about it because denying that it was going to happen or being pissy wasn't going to get me very far! So, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully everyone is very forgiving since it is so close to the wedding...

Other news... I'm ecstatic that Wally Lamb's new book is out! The title is The Hour I First Believed. I cannot wait to start reading it - and think I will be dragging it onto the plane as well as some holiday knitting! I'm hoping to finish Bono Kimono for my mom's gift and maybe push out a hat or two for my dad and step-mom! I'm not sure what everyone else will end up with, but almost sure that it will be handmade. Lucky family :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wedding on a Budget

When I was growing up or even as an adult, I do not think that cultural / geographical differences in wedding traditions had ever occurred to me. Or maybe I’ve just never known anyone so grand as to have a ‘grand’ wedding. I think I assumed weddings took place in a church and then everyone would head over to a reception hall, eat heavy appetizers, drink and be merry.

After all, a wedding is a celebration, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve never thought it approproiate to sit and dissect every detail to determine whether or not the family or couple would be filing bankrupty the following week or maxing out a credit card to pay for it. You are focused on the bride and groom and their happiness, right?

Wrong. I guess. When John and I started planning our wedding, or when I started trying to force my southern views of what a wedding was on him, I think initially he thought it a bit under scale. And I think deep down he was concerned of what his family and friends would think when they came from their area only to discover that ours is much different.

So after much debate and haggling, I convinced him that heavy appetizers are ok, and beer and wine will suit anyone fine. Who needs a full, open bar?

His initial thoughts came full circle for me today when I was corresponding with someone whose Detroit wedding he participated in oh, about a month ago. I had complimented her and told her that everything was ‘stunning’ I think I said… We were discussing budgets, differences, etc. when she commented, As for food, a sit down dinner here is a must and a buffet is a sign of a “wedding on a budget”.

When I read this I thought, yikes, is there something shameful about being on a budget? I don’t think any of us fall into the Donald Trump category where money is no object. Given everything going on, we should all be on a budget. So if you are one who is sitting and dissecting the details of my wedding, please also include in your evaluation that John and I will not be standing in line at bankruptcy as a newly married couple because we refused to stick to a budget 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Professional Student

Ever since I graduated with my master’s degree I have been contemplating returning to school, yet again, to pursue a doctoral degree. This urge comes and goes, and sometimes it is a bit stronger than others.

My Uncle, who fuels this urge by calling me to report the latest stats of hiring and placemat at his university, has not called for awhile. The last time he did call (and I think I was having a bad day at work) I rushed out to purchase GRE study books because I had decided at the very least I would take the test, make application, and let the chips fall where they may.

My friend, Andra, said the words again the other day – doctoral degree… Even though she said the words for her own benefit, I quickly latched on! I thought, maybe I will find a renewed enthusiasm for education of the book kind after finishing up with the wedding. After all, I will need something else to do to fill up my free time!

Who knows, maybe this time the GRE book has a chance of finding its way off of the shelf and into my tote bag to be lugged around side-by-side with the continuous knitting projects. I may take the test, make application, be accepted and become a student, again.

Even if I ultimately decide not to go, something inside tells me that I should make application. I would not want to spend life wondering whether or not I would have been accepted…

Monday, November 17, 2008

Open Enrollment is Finally Over!

Each year, for a human resources person, open enrollment is definitely a 'qualifying event.' We spend months preparing for the deployment of such a task and we hold our breath and wait anxiously as we help that first person to see if it really works.

I work at a steel mill, so I think our employee population in itself provides interesting challenges when completing ONLINE open enrollment. Our average age of employee is probably somewhere in the 40's, and seeing as though they are definite blue collar workers, I don't presume that many of them go home after 8 plus hours here to fidgit with a computer. Not to mention, I held 6 open enrollment meetings to explain the changes, and for those who chose to come, I don't think they listened to me - and all others are working off of here say.

Initially I thought it a novel idea to 'empower' our employees and talk them through the computer enrollment process. Joke. I think after the 15th person told me they had not touched a computer since last year's open enrollment I cried uncle and sat in for each person needing to make changes. So my process has been 1) send login and password to local IT to have it reset - check (it would make too much sense for these to be reset in the initial stages and a master list provided to HR. We'd rather go 1 by 1), 2) log employee onto benefit system - check, 3) Talk employee through current benefits and explain all of the differences that were explained in the open enrollment meeting - double check, 4) Then provide a final review of their enrollment as well as a print out that I offered for them to take home to their spouses to ensure the benefits were selected correctly - check, again!

Needless to say, I am thrilled that this period is coming to a close. This one man open enrollment team (with the help of local IT and sparse help from my boss) is packing up her bags until 2010 where I will pray that we make no changes. I promise the changes that we make are not cost efficient with all of the work that goes into explaining them and selecting them in the system.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wedding Shrug Completed!

As promised here are photos of the shrug for the wedding, completed!

Pattern: DIC Shrug
Yarn used: Tilli Tomas Rockstar
Needles: KnitPicks Interchangeable / size 8 for lace and size 7 for ribbing

I think that this turned out beautifully and am very excited to see how it goes with the dress at the wedding! I think silk will be nice for temperature / warmth purposes... I'm not sure where I'll ever wear this again, but I guess worst case I could store away with the wedding dress!

The pictures don't really do it justice ~ nor does my ensemble or hair :-(

Hope you enjoy the pics :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Plantwide Emails

Often before I send out a plantwide e-mail I read it several times myself, and then pass on to my boss for review. I have a constant paranoia that I will misuse a word, forget a punctuation mark, or type something that could be misinterpreted by the reader on the other end.

Let's face it, I'm afraid people will find out that I am not really as smart as they may think I am, or I may just reconfirm to them how imcompetent I am. Either way, I loathe sending plantwide e-mails. And would like to keep my brains or lack thereof as private as possible.

Today was different. My boss was not there to reread my e-mail. And I had to deadline. Uggh! I confidently typed up my plantwide e-mail. Triple checked that what was communicated in the attachment was the same as what was communicated in the e-mail. I held my breath and pressed the send button.

Tonight when I checked my work e-mail I had already received two responses to my plantwide e-mail. The title of my attachment was "SOB Meeting" - short for State of the Business meeting... Well, it clearly was not interpreted this way! Ohwell, hopefully I gave people something to look forward to at the meeting, or something to say afterwards after they are provided a full on explanation of how the economy is impacting our business.

Son of a b*tch! Oh - and have a great weekend!

A Monumental Week

Monumental, yes, I am not over exaggerating! If you read my blog the other day than you know that I am the proud new owner of an independently operated light switch!

Well, temperature, I forfeit no more. I jokingly whined, yes whined, that now that I have a light switch, maintenance could move the thermostat for me. Yesterday morning I arrived at work around 7:15 a.m. and what do I find? Two maintenance men waiting to move the thermostat from the nurse’s office to a common area that we can all have access to! Yippee!

Who would have thought that my whining 72 hours ago would have turned into actual production with results!

I might add that the nurse was not overly excited about this move, as expressed to my boss.

Knitting news… 28Thirty is progressing rather nicely since I taken off the sleeves. I cast on this morning for the Felicity hat using yarn that Sheknitigans sent as a contribution to the wedding  It is going to be beautiful! I am going to spend 4-5 hours getting my hair done tomorrow so I figured I should take something easy... I was planning to post pics, but someone stole my work camera…

I think tonight I will go celebrate all of this progress with a drink, dueling pianos, and some girlfriends!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picking Up Stitches - Not My Friend!

I went home last night on cloud 9 due to my newly installed light switch (which I didn’t even get to use this morning because the janitors left my lights on) and the anticipation of finishing, yes – I am finishing something, my wedding shrug! I finished the last few rows of K2P2 and trudged through a grueling sewn-off bind off (which terrifies me in itself - thanks for the instruction Coley :-)) --- I went to put on my shrug, and damn it if I didn’t pick up enough stitches! The shrug would probably fit my 12 year old niece... Uggh!

The yarn I’m using has beads in it, ugh, and the sewn-off bind off is a bitch to undo. I was ready to cut through the ribbing and start over with new yarn. To this John says, “what are you going to do if you don’t have enough left on the skein,” Well, duh, I’m going to buy more! At $40 / skein John is thinking NOT SO MUCH so he sat on the couch and took out the entire ribbed edge of the shrug and even pulled out my ball winder to make it into a cute little mini ball for me to start over with.

I sat and happily worked on 28Thirty, which was a far less messy task than my wedding shrug.

I will finish this shrug this weekend… Even if it means staying up late! You will have FO pictures Sunday evening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And the Lights Come On... Finally!

I have worked with my current employer for almost two years now. It’s funny because when I took this job my boss told me, “Now keep in mind, the offices are scheduled to be remodeled soon…” Well, I bet you guys can guess when the offices were remodeled?! How about, they weren’t. It was supposedly on the plans for 2010, but given our current business state, I will not hold my breath for fear that I would pass out or suffocate!

My office is situated next door to the nurse’s office. Guess what we share besides a common wall and door linking our offices? A light switch! Our nurse has very private information in his office – supposedly – therefore no one can have access but him. This leaves me without thermostat control or a light switch! If he does not come to work, to gain access to either of these novelties, I have to call the guard to come unlock his door. I cannot tell you how many times I have come to work early (well, I probably could tell you because it isn’t that often) BUT to come into a dark office and have to call a guard and wait until you can have light – it’s a pain in the arse and can completely put a damper on your day – especially when you are in a hurry! I mean have you ever been sitting in your office – mid optimum productivity – and have your light turned off~! I have, every time someone gets a piece of dust in their eye and the nurse has to take a looksee. And then when you tell people that your light is connected to the nurse’s switch and they all feel the need to ‘test’ it. Like my bitching isn’t enough to know this is a fact. The friggin’ lights are connected.

My compromise. Climate control – I can do without. I just have a space heater that I usually run twelve months of the year. I have been begging and pleading for months with our maintenance supervisors to please, please, please install a light switch in my office. Isn’t this something that we should be entitled to – dare I say – to be productive employees? So today, my begging and pleading has paid off. I’m having a light switch installed.

So as I sit in my dark office while the maintenance men do their duties, I’m pleased to know that persistence does pay off and I am spending my last few hours in dark state that I am unable to control. In a few hours, folks, I will have light! That I can turn on and off at my own leisure.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Monday, Here We Come!

This was a nice weekend, and productive - but, tomorrow is Monday! Monday's always come way too quickly for me, as I am sure they do for other's that get to return to work each and every Monday :-)

John and I did turn over some of the wedding reception decorations to my god-mother, rake the lawn, and almost finish the wedding program all this weekend! Productive, right? I also stitched up two nursing cover-up's for my good friend, Sarah! She was my first 'customer.'

I received the graphic for my Etsy shop ( although I only have 3 items listed to sell. I hope to post a few more between now and the wedding and get rolling full steam come January. My hope is to support my craft habits through Etsy. We'll see how that goes.

My breaking news for the weekend... We had a "Girls Night In" at Qianna's on Saturday and Nikki and I beat Qianna and Tonya at Taboo! A small feat for some, but seeing as though I've never been great at Taboo, this was a big win for me! Thanks, Nikki, for the constant encouragement throughout the entire game! And thanks to baby Kaelin for sucking all of mommy Tonya's brains out at the time of your birth (Tonya, I really don't know what this means for your hospital patients).

I believe I will now retire to the couch to work on the wedding shrug... The wedding is in 20 days - and, no, for the record, I cannot believe it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Economic Woes Increase Time in Kitchen

I’ve spoken with a few of my friends over the past few days, and I now realize the effects of the economy on 20-something married or soon-to-be married women. Instead of eating out whenever we’d like, we cook!

For a moment, let us set aside the fact that cooking at home is often more nutritious… Let us forget about all of the kitchen items that we load onto our wedding registries, but never really intend to use… Or the fact that some of our spouses may find some comfort in our inner desire to be domestic… Cooking, folks, saves money.

And when your 401k plummets and your bonuses come to a screeching halt – admit it or not, we look for ways to save money. Funny thing, we do not sacrifice things such as clothes, yarn, fabric, or the all important regular maintenance trips to the salon, but we will fore go eating out and the convenience of picking up dinner…

Instead we go home after 10 hour days, 2 hours of errands and make dinner. All in name of savings! Woo ~ ! The thought just made me tired.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've Got the Blues

I've been feeling rather glum lately and I think that I have identified the cause... As I was sitting at work today contemplating when exactly I wanted to strap on the old hardhat and head into the mill, it occurred to me that we still are not running. While John and I have managed to stay protected in our little bubble and avoid any direct effects of the current economic state(with the exception of our 401k's ~ which we luckily will not need anytime soon), if I look at my work environment our economic state is hitting me smack dab in the middle of my face --- everyday.

For an environment that typically produces 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be reduced to nil, it is very scary. The outlook is bleak as well. The projection is that we will not be running for the remainder of the month. Yikes. While we have avoided layoffs thus far no one can deny the worsening state of the economy, and without improvements, what we have avoided has to be inevitable, right?

Unfortunately, I have yet to the find the crystal ball that will define or shed light upon our future state. So, the question, how do we stay positive in negative times?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can! We Did, and We Will!

The outcome of the presidential election was not shocking, only given the fact that this has been the projected outcome for so many weeks... As I watched McCain concede to Obama last night I don't know that it really occurred to me the enormity of what had just happened. I think it was when Obama gave his speech that it started to settle in, because I still don't completely think I am there. I don't know that I've ever given much thought to race ~ only because my own unique situation. We all think we're unique, right? :-)

I am half white and half black. I was adopted by a white family. I have been raised by white people, and fortunate for me, they never focused on race. In our home, it was not an issue. I think it became evident to me when I went to Roosevelt Elementary. I did not fit in with the white kids - and I did not fit in with the black kids. I was too poor, too proper, my skin too light, my hair to nappy - then my hair too straight and long. In high school I attended a predominately white school (only fitting since I had for the majority of my education) so by default most of my friends were white. Still not fitting in - too poor. Not that I ever did without anything, but I by no means had everything. In college, I joined a black sorority. Lucky for me, these women had a reputation for having long hair and light skin. Looks - I fit right in, personality - still accused of 'acting white'. As I think about all of these things, it is funny how my life has evolved - and that I am marrying a white man. Italian, if you ask him :-)

I don't know if I ever given any thought to whether or not we would have a black president during my existence; I guess I felt it only inevitable sooner or later. I cannot deny the pride that I felt last night as Obama made his acceptance speech - more than being African-American I am proud to live in a country where this is not only a possibility, but a reality! We've made great strides in this country and I am sure that the best has yet to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presidential Elections and Marriage

John and I probably fall in the majority as we sit in front of our television and anxiously await the outcome of the presidential election. We woke early this morning so that we could make it to the polls early enough so not to disturb our busy work schedules... I guess this is what married life is? We're not married yet, but we have been living together for a year and a half.

As our wedding day nears (25 days to go), I don't think the reality of what is going to happen has really settled in. I know that we are getting married, and aside from John being unwilling to help with thank you's, he really is a wonderful man! I feel fortunate that he's going to be my husband and that I get to spend the rest of my life with him, I guess it just seems further away than a mere 25 days.

It probably will not fully hit me until I am walking down the aisle minutes away from accepting a sacrament - with someone else. Scary! My reality probably isn't helped by the fact that I refer to our 'honeymoon' as a 'vacation' and John as my 'boyfriend.' Ah, well! All minor details...

Baby Sling - Sample Completed!

Ok, so I went to a baby shower on Sunday and Kendra received a gorgeous baby sling! At the suggestion of her MIL I borrowed the sling to make a sample pattern. Last night, because I couldn't resist, I ran to JoAnn's - purchased some sale fabric and made this sling! I love it! Wish I had a baby to go with it... But until then, I think I'll start making them for our friends. There are a lot of babies around us right now :-) Oh, and I'm actually pretty proud of my first go-round --- and I've identified some enhancements to be made!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Productive Weekend at the LaffySalts House

I'm exhausted... But I at least wanted to post some photos! On Friday John purchased wine and pickles for our wedding reception - check! I also finished the goodie bags for the bridesmaids - check!

I went to a baby shower today for the adorable Kendra Sims and baby Marley! I brought some store bought items but also made them a handful of burp cloths, baby shoes, and baby blankie!!

Hmm, finished up a patchwork bag sewing class project, and made the first two items for sale in my Etsy shop (Coming after the wedding... I'll work on building inventory and getting a graphic for now!) The coasters can be made with as many as 6 coordinating fabrics!

I managed to bind off and sew up the arms of my wedding shrug. I will start picking up stitches around the neckline tomorrow... We also went to our nephew, Colin's 8th birthday party today! Talk about busy... But all very fulfilling and fun :-) So I would count this weekend as a more productive one! Hope yours was, too!