Various and Sundry Updates

I keep meaning to be better about updating here, and I keep failing. To the point where last year’s October banner is almost appropriate again! So I’m putting a reminder on my Google calendar to see if that reminds me to post more often. I have to admit I’ve been pretty bad about reading blogs lately, too.

I did get a betta, and I named him Finnick Odair. He’s living happily in an Aqueon MiniBow 2.5 gallon tank. I took the filter out because last week, he jumped up onto it. Fortunately I heard the jumping sound and retrieved him, but until I can figure out how to block it off, he’s filterless and getting more frequent, larger water changes. Here he is, flaring at his reflection in a mirror (which is not there all the time; never fear):

The house had really gotten out of hand. I’ve been struggling with my OCD, which I’m not sure I’ve mentioned here. Anyway, I has it, and it’s been pretty bad lately. Sometimes I get to feeling like most of the house is “contaminated” and I can’t touch things, and then get focused on cleaning one particular little area to the detriment of everything else. I’ve been slowly bringing it back around and doing more general detailed cleaning. It’s still really difficult, though. If I could afford to hire someone to come in and do a rescue clean, I would, so I could just keep it up from there. One of the major issues is my lack of furniture and closet space, so I’m trying to keep control of the clutter by getting rid of things that don’t have a home and that I don’t really need, anyway.

This weekend, I got a couple of new things: A Swiffer WetJet (on sale, with coupons, for $8ish), and a full size sheet set. For $6.24. Thanks, Target! I rearranged the bedroom furniture so it’s a little more open and it feels a lot nicer, too.

I haven’t been cooking much at all due to the aforementioned OCD issues. Most everything I eat has to be in a “safe” package. So, while it wasn’t originally my intention to talk very openly about these struggles, it’s about all I’ve got right now. Finances are super tight while I look for another job, and stress increases my anxiety.

I wonder if setting a project every other day and blogging about it would help?

Feesh

I’ve wanted an aquarium for a long time, and I’m finally starting to do actual, serious research into it. I think, for cost and trying-it-out reasons, that I’m going to first get a betta and a 2.5 gallon tank, and some live plants, and go really overboard on learning about bettas and taking care of them. This should be good practice for starting small with a marine (saltwater) tank sometime in the future. I’d really like to try a nano reef, with corals, but I also want anemones. As I read and learn, I’m finding out that some anemones don’t get along with corals very well, so it will take a lot of planning.

Anyway, I think I’m going to get a 2.5 gallon Mini Bow aquarium, like so:

It has a blue lid. I like that. I think possibly the filter that comes with it will do well enough, but I need to learn a bit more. I know it has an incandescent light source, which may be adequate to heat such a small amount of water, but I still want to look into that more. Would a betta do betta (ha ha) with a CFL and a separate heater? Should the lights be off at night (which would basically require a heater)? Etc.

It has a lid, too, which I understand is important so the fish don’t leap to their deaths. Even if they weren’t jumpy, I do have three cats, for whom I anticipate this will be a pleasant form of Kitty TV. I’ve been told they shouldn’t traumatize the fish much. I hope that’s true.

I’m also looking into which type of betta to get. There are so many, and I’d rather not just grab one at Petco, you know? I’ve found out there are online fish auctions. Online fish auctions. No, really.

I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m planning to buy the tank and cycle it before I get my fish. Plenty of time. Meanwhile, I’ve got about 900 links to look through and a few books on the way to reserve at the library….

Here Kitty Kitty

As you may know, we have three (3) cats: Audrey, Isabella (hereafter and always in real life referred to as “Kitten,” which confuses everyone), and Noodle. One of the parts of moving that stressed me out the most was wondering how the cats would do.

I figured Noodle would be fine; we just adopted her in February, and within half an hour of getting home she was romping all over the house like she owned the place. Audrey is generally not a big fan of change, but is attached to me at the ankle, so I thought she might hide for a day or two and come out. Kitten is the one we worried about. She’s extremely shy; on a good day we only see her for a half an hour or so, because she’s usually off doing her own thing. Usually this involves exploring air ducts. When she was a baby, she got lost in the walls in my apartment for a few days, and also used to just hide under the dresser, occasionally climbing up into the drawers through the back. That always made for fun surprises.

Noodle, who did not, in fact, have catnip

Noodle, who did not, in fact, have catnip

In a turn of events which surprised nobody, Noodle sort of sniffed around for maybe fifteen minutes and then commenced galloping through the house. (Aside: I love cat-galloping, because they manage to look really elegant from the side and like total goofuses from behind.) She lives to be snuggled, kissed, and petted, and is being completely and totally spoiled. When my mother-in-law gets home from work, Noodle is there at the door, and MIL obligingly picks her up, holds her, talks to her, and pets her, all the while cooing about how freaking CUTE she is. And it’s true. She’s very cute. So cute I’m not sure it’s actually physically possible. A little later, my father-in-law gets home and we repeat the process, and then Zack. Lather, rinse, repeat. She isn’t supposed to be allowed in my MIL’s office/study area, but it seems last night she cuted her way in and hung out for a couple of hours. She also charmed the electrician with her general nutso antics.

Noodle Transition Report: A+

Audrey, queen of all she surveys

Audrey, queen of all she surveys

(I have no idea why WordPress wants the caption there to be bolded, but I’ve removed and reinserted the image like five times now, so I think it must Mean Something.) Next up, we have Audrey. When I adopted Audrey, she was already two years old, and surly. She’s still surly; it’s sort of her raison d’etre. Anyway, after I brought HER home from the shelter, she alternately lounged on my lap and hid in the upright piano. After a week or so she was willing to follow me around but never got more than four or five feet away, and four years later it’s pretty much the same. She does actually spend a good third of her day out of line of sight of me, though. When we got here, she did the cat-slink, found her way under the couch, and stuck there for a few hours. Late at night she started exploring the various chair options before finding that the blue wing chair, above, suited her needs. This house has many more chairs than our old place, so during the day she tests other locations but generally comes back to Blue Wing Chair. She also digs the fact that the bed is rightnextto the computer, so she can lounge by my elbow while I work. MIL wants to know why Audrey talks so much, and I just kind of make a gesture that says “I’ve been telling you for three years this is the cat that never shuts up.”

Audrey Transition Report: A

Kitten, wearer of stripey pajamas

Kitten, wearer of stripey pajamas

That brings us to Kitten. We worried pretty much from the moment we knew we were moving about how she would react, and tried to talk to her about how fabulous the new place would be, what with all the extra windows and furniture under which she could hide. Which is exactly what she did: We got her here, opened the carrier, and whoosh, under the buffet she went. She stayed there for a few hours until she judged it safe to move elsewhere, and then vanished. Apparently she’s found a way into the ceilings via the laundry room — we’ve seen her exiting said hiding place. But here’s the sort of awesome part. Late at night, she comes upstairs and roams around freely, even going so far as to jump on the couch with me (this is not a thing that happens in Kitten-land) and demand pets. Last night she ran around meowing and trilling at everything for a good hour and a half, which was hilarious. She also spends a good deal of time rolling vigorously on the floor. I am totally surprised that she’s adjusted so very well, and while she still plays hidey-cat most of the time, she’s been more interactive than ever. Really, that’s the entire reason for this post, because it makes me smile to see her being so bold… and so silly.

Kitten Transition Report: A++ would buy again

Noodle and Otte

Noodle and Otter

Kitty Kangaroo

By now, everyone probably knows about baby slings, and how people carry cute small humans around in little pieces of fabric, right?  It’s hands-free, it’s convenient, and it keeps the small human in contact with a large human. Well, I have two cats who very much like to snuggle, one of whom — Noodle — is um, rather insistent about it. Usually when I’m trying to work at the computer, she claws her way up onto my leg and then up towards the shoulder, where she tries to cling and sleep, gradually sliding down. This is inconvenient at best and slightly painful at worst, so for months I’ve been saying I’m just going to put her in a baby sling and carry her around. I said it before about Audrey, too, but she’s not nearly as annoying, being happy to sleep on my foot so long as I don’t move said foot.

So anyway, last night Noodle was doing her usual claw-sleep-slide, so I grabbed a sheet I got at the thrift store to cut up for fabric and tied it like a sling and stuck her in it. She slept in there for almost an hour and a half. Today I waited until kitty naptime and tossed her in the sling again, where she has now been sitting for about half an hour already, snoring and purring. I could die of (a) hilarity and (b) teh cute. I had Zack take some pictures; unfortunately these were all taken prior to my tightening the sling up so that she’s located more on my chest and less on my hip. Still, I think this is the best idea evar. Baby sling makers, take note. Catwearing: It’s the new hotness. (I posted about it in guild chat on WoW last night and I know at least one other person has already tried and loved it.)

Please excuse my dishelved appearance

Please excuse my dishelved appearance

Cuddle-exploring

Cuddle-exploring

Cats + Yarn = Bad

Yarn, with culprit in background

Yarn, with culprit in background

Normally Audrey assists with my knitting by staring at the yarn from a respectful distance. For some reason I didn’t think about the fact that Noodle would be likely to want a more involved level of involvement, and so my precious and beautiful Casbah sock yarn from Handmaiden is a tangled ball of snaggly snags. Next time I shall wind yarn while Noodle naps. I’ve now spent upwards of six hours unraveling the mess made by one small kitten who got part of the skein in her mouth and ran; my husband’s put in a few hours, too, bless him. I’ve got enough picked back out to at least start my socks tomorrow, and this pleases me. At least it’s a very soft and luxurious yarn to have to untangle. I am trying to view this as an opportunity to spend more time with it; though, really, I’d rather spend the time with it on my feet in the form of socks. Alas.

Various Ramblings to Welcome Spring

I woke up in a great mood today, which is pretty unusual for me. Of course, I also slept in until 10:30. Daylight savings time and I do not get along, and I fear a return to my nocturnal schedule if I don’t straighten this out soon. Normally I wouldn’t care, but I see so much more of Zack when we keep similar hours.

I will (one can hope) be doing a nicer update later, with more pictures, but I feel like rambling, and so here we are. This week I’ve received lots and lots of stuff in the mail. As I may have said about 19 times already, I felt I deserved a few nice things for my 30th birthday, and since nobody else is likely to provide them for me I bought them myself, with tax refund money. We are trying to be frugal and sensible, but sometimes I just feel like I have to get over my guilt and allow myself to have some stuff. I am pleased to report that I made excellent stuff selections, and the guilt I felt between their ordering and their arrival is almost wholly assuaged. Except I still need a birthday/Easter/cousin’s wedding outfit, and I don’t want to spend any more money.

Catnap in the bag

Catnap in the bag

I promised El many photos and much discussion of my Namaste knitting bag, and so that presumably will come later. I will mention just now, though, that it rather neatly holds one Noodle-sized cat, for napping purposes. If the photo to the left is not the cutest photo ever, I am not sure what is. I shriek with cuteness overload every time I look at it, and then I run and swoop Noodle up and give her lots of kisses because she is just. so. cute. Sadly, when there is yarn in the bag, I find it’s a bad idea to also put Noodle in the bag. Maybe I need another one.

I’ve also got a lovely cherry wood tea chest for storing my Black Phoenix and other perfumes, which is also serving as a temporary Home for Jewelry. An iPod Touch, which is just so neat (and of course, which went up on Woot! the day mine arrived, for $10 less than I paid). Some yarn, which I’m still unraveling, some soap, some perfume… all, I think, things which sort of say “I am a Taurus who likes luxurious material goods, and these represent the sorts of luxurious material goods a thirty year old ought to have.”

Knitterly Alert: Interweave and Knitting Daily are having a contest wherein you can win the yarn to make the Blooming Scarf, which is on my to-be-knit list for the spring. You can enter here; just vote for your favorite colorway. Mine is definitely the Mango and Murex, the original from the magazine. The pattern is also available as a free download at present, so nab it if you like it. I’ve discovered lately that I adore wearing scarves and I feel it makes me look artsy and like I have style, and anyone who says otherwise can… I don’t know, probably be right, but it makes me happy so TOO BAD!

I also plan to make the Maude sweater for myself and had the idea that I might get a nice and luxurious yarn with which to knit it, but will probably end up with some KnitPicks or something (it could be done in Palette for less than $30 worth of yarn). And I just got distracted for a good half hour looking at yarn that might suit. Oops.

Stitching alert: The Papillon stitch along I mentioned earlier is now available. At current exchange rates it’s US$1.50 via PayPal for the first part; I got the US letter size specialty stitch chart and oh my word. The instructions are quite complete, and it looks gorgeous. The first part is the Formal Garden, and I’ve got two months to decide what color ground I’d like to stitch on, and to sort out my floral colors. And beads. And get it stitched. It’s really strikingly lovely though and I’m excited to stitch along with others. I get really overly enthusiastic about that.

It’s the first day of spring, and I am woefully underprepared for this year’s garden, though we have about 2 months remaining until the last frost date here so I can still redeem myself if I start a lot of seedlings this weekend.

And now, enough talking about what I will do, and time to start doing some of it. More anon, I promise.

Stitching: Papillon’s 2009 SAL

I missed out, of course, on the 2008 stitch along from Papillon Creations, since I was not doing any counted thread embroidery. Fortunately, I caught on before it came down and have downloaded the gorgeous project to work on some other time. I also signed up for the designer’s newsletter, and this week we all got notice that the 2009 stitch along is about to begin — and it’s a big one. It will actually be a two year project, 311 stitches square, with 21 colors. There will be a nominal participation fee, and two versions of the project: One with specialty stitches, and one that is solely cross-stitch and suitable for Aida cloth.

Based on what I have seen of the designs from Papillon Creations, and my sort of endless desire to participate in stitch alongs (it makes me feel like I’m at a SnB, only, you know, at home!), I plan to sign up. I’ve converted the listed DMC colors to HDF colors (see below) so that I can stitch with silks; I admit that I am now spoiled. DMC cottons are so… tangly (and speaking of tangly, watch this space for some fun with kittens and yarn tomorrow). There are only 10 set colors, and 11 are up to your choice. The preparatory PDF is up, complete with printable floss cards with symbol and color number and name listed. Handy, right?

Go over to Papillon’s Newsletter Corner and sign up if you’re interested. If you do participate, I would love to hear about it. I like having stitching buddies.

Here are the conversions from DMC colors to HDF colors (and may I point out that, if you take advantage of detritus bags and forum participation, HDF silks are almost as cheap as icky DMC cottons):

DMC / HDF
807 / 2423 Nile Blue
3765 / 2425 Nile Blue
3766 / 2421 Nile Blue
610 / 4107 Bird Feathers (Kookaburra)
3046 / 4113 Oil of Amber (Dragon Oil)
3045 / 4111 Oil of Amber
310 / 5300 Basic Black
3072 / 5301 NightSmoke (Wisp)
white / 5201 White
317 / 5329
Nisse Grey

Vikki, dyemistress at HDF, suggested ordering a detritus bag and requesting it in “floral colors” — I may do that since, at $8 for 25 skeins of floss, it’s pretty hard to beat. I do think I’ll wait to see what the first part of the design looks like, so I can decide if I want to work it on the Bunny Brown linen or a different ground fabric.

Paws and Claws start

Paws and Claws start

Meanwhile, I’ve got Long Dog’s Paws and Claws sampler in progress. I’m stitching it one over one (that means one strand of floss over one thread of warp or weft), in HDF silks on a Charles Craft cotton ground I got on the cheap at JoAnn. It’s fairly slow going, especially since I did the part depicted here all in hand, but today I got my Q-Snaps and really, all I can think to say is wow. Tensioning the fabric is much easier and it doesn’t leave nasty creases like a hoop. Not to mention that working in a square area is preferable to working in a round one, since I don’t run into the frame as often. I got mine for $13 at the local needlework store. Two thumbs up. Of course, I miscounted some stitches and have to frog out half of what I got done this evening, but that’s OK.

Tomorrow I shall detail my new Namaste knitting bag, because I know you are jealous — I am almost jealous of myself, here — and tell you the story of how Noodle the Kitten tried to ruin my skein of Casbah cashmere hand painted sock yarn.