Saturday, December 29, 2007

Astounding Myself With My Own Cleverness

Well, Christmas has come and gone and Andy did receive half of his pajamas:
(Amazingly, he considers posing in them for a picture for the blog to be WELL outside of our marital vows--he mentioned something about "human Ken doll" before fleeing the room....)

The missing material is for the sleeves for the shirt, and now I am not only unable to find the material in any stores, it turns out I am unable to locate where I hid the shirt in progress.

Because I made them in November, I wanted to hide them somewhere Andy would never find them. Well, it worked. Even after a rather exhaustive search of the house, we can't find the shirt. Luckily, for some reason known only to myself at the time, I did not hide the pants in the same location, so we have those. We're hoping to find the shirt sometime before NEXT winter at least.

Some days I amaze even myself, but not often in a good way.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Call For Help!!!!!

ONE YARD!!!!

All I need to complete Andy's Christmas gift is one yard of this fabric. I found it at a Joann's store in Ontario, Oregon. It is a 45" wide flannel. Between my friends and I, we have been to 9 stores (Idaho, Oregon, New Jersey, and California) looking for one more yard and have not found it! Uranium is easier to find.



If anyone can find it, I need one yard and I will send you the money and a knitted hat or scarf as a Thank You. I just need sleeves!!!!

Thanks!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Attention Mice, Birds, and Voles of the World, and more specifically, Boise:

Many of your brethren have disappeared in the last year. They have not relocated, nor will they be returning. Thanks to our two cats, they have ended up in our bedroom, and I can assure you that they experienced decent--if not a little odd--burials courtesy of our local trash contractor.

In order to prevent more of your kind experiencing a similar fate, we have put bells on both cats. Since they have continued to remove members of your community fairly regularly, it has occurred to me that perhaps you have not yet realized the significance of said bells. So, henceforth, if you hear a jingling bell, it is not the arrival of Santa. It means probable death. Please pass the word along, and take appropriate evasive action, especially amongst the bird community. The feathers never go away, no matter how often I vacuum.

Sincerely,

Toni

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Question for the Universe:

WHEN DID PHONE SYSTEMS AND CABLING BECOME CHRISTMAS PURCHASES???? And what exactly was wrong with any of the other 11 months??????

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Aftermath

And what have we been doing with ourselves since the spending ban lifted? Have we been left laying on the floor, panting and exhausted, after a frenzy of retail activity?

OK, there has been a bit more spending. We needed a few items to finish Christmas gifts--most notably google-eyes and fabric paints for the puppet kits. Then the mad wrapping binge, which I am proud to say was done without tempting purchases like gift boxes, gift tags, and gift bags. Four hours later and:
At least we are doing our part for the economy via the United States Postal Service.

I thought there would be a huge temptation to buy lots of "impulse items," and though it has been fun to look knowing we could buy things, when you look at something and have to ask yourself, "Is this worth waiting a month for?" the answer is invariably "no." So our spending has still been quite moderate--with one exception:

New tires for Andy's truck.

We are wild, I tell you--just wild.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We Rejoin Capitalism!

The spending ban is over!!!! We are capitalists again!!!

I started the day with these two gentlemen:


First thing on our agenda:
They're even knitting stamps--it just doesn't get better.

Then I went hunting for the missing material for Andy's Christmas present:



Nada. Nothing. Zip.

Not just one store--I checked all the local stores. At the last one, a clerk asked if he could help, so I described what I was looking for, that I'd been to several stores looking for this particular material, and that this was the very store the material originally came from, hoping for something.

"Yeah, that happens."

OK, I should have been more specific--I was hoping for something HELPFUL!

My next call was to "America's Best" Eyeglasses--heavy stress on the quotation marks--asking if they could order another set of frames for my glasses, as the lenses are still fine. Not only did they not still carry them, they do not fix, take special orders, or in any way do anything helpful except sell new glasses. Long live the capitalistic spirit.

The next call located a lovely gent, who for only one of my Mr. Hamiltons, restored me to a working, somewhat less attractive, set of glasses:


The picture is a bit blurry, but my last few days have been pretty blurry, so it seems fitting.

The next purchases are surprise Christmas gifts for Andy, and cannot be pictured here....

but after a soda, I ended my evening with


$1.09.


How Andy spent his $40:

The gloves are for me (how sweet is that?!), THE EPOXY, headphones for his iPod (his last ones stopped working a few days ago), hinges, a switch box, a light switch, superglue, a plug in, and a switch plate. As he was positively gleeful tonight, these things are apparently of high interest to the male population--go figure.

Side note: I got home tonight to find this from Joann's Fabrics:

I have news for them--I tried REALLY hard to buy something from them today. If their sales are down, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Day 31 - HALLELUJAH!!!!! It's the last day!!

Today is the last day of the self-imposed spending ban! Tomorrow morning we will each receive our $40 allowance and can go as wild as anyone can with only $40.

I AM BUYING STAMPS!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Day 30 - In Which I Am A Child

After the mad rush to finish projects this weekend, and with an upcoming trip to Disneyland involving a plane trip & standing in some long lines, I decided to cast on the Elizabeth Zimmermann Pi shawl as a good portable project. It's a circular shawl based on the geometric principle of pi, and can be as simple or as complicated as one wishes to make it--the shawl I mean. Pi can get pretty complicated when you get right down to it..

I have been thinking about this for several days, and decided it would be a great chance to use a variegated lace yarn. Variegated yarns are sort of like summer hats--they look great at the time, but one never knows exactly what to do with them later. If you use them for shawls and scarves, the changes in color can detract from the lace pattern you may be using. But, like hats, they look fabulous in the store and I am convinced to buy them, only to have them take up permanent residence in the back of my closet.

Probably a year ago, I bought a colorful yarn that I absolutely loved from Knitpicks. It's bright purples & pinks & turquoise and I even had a shawl in mind when ordering--which doesn't happen very often. Of course, as the shawl I picked out involves a very detailed pattern, the yarn didn't look good and I frogged (ripped) it out. So, last night I dug out the yarn--marveling again at how much I love the color--and then it hit me.

If I use this yarn for a project, I won't have it in the stash any more.


A very sobering thought, for even though I haven't done anything with it, and rarely even see it, I know I have it. Even if the shawl doesn't use all I have, I won't have as much as I have now.

This was a problem.

Part of what leads to SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) is the knitter's secret belief that while there may always be yarn, there may not always be THIS PARTICULAR yarn, and there is, of course, no guarantee that there will always be yarn AS GOOD AS this yarn--hence the knitterly compulsion to hoard. Knitted objects we are willing to share, but yarn itself....that's a bit of a different story.

Then I remembered--THE SPENDING BAN IS ALMOST OVER!!! I can order more of the same yarn!!! This was such a relief that I actually went on line to see if the yarn was still in stock and to move some to my shopping cart in preparation for Thursday....and then that little voice of reason piped up,

"Are you out of your mind?!!" (my little voice of reason is often quite loud)

As my little voice was perhaps trying to remind me, I already have FAR more yarn than I am willing to admit to on this blog, and this is one of the few projects that might look good with this yarn. Not to mention, there was the thought of standing in front of Andy Thursday night, with my broken glasses dangling off my nose, that after a month of no spending, explaining that the thing I really needed most was yarn. Pride may goeth before a fall, but it does sometimes keep you from making a colossal fool of yourself in front of your spouse.

And the Pi shawl is begun.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Day 29 - The Christmas Letter!

Happy Holidays

Greetings! As December approaches, it’s a time for reflection—what did we do, what did we learn, and what are we willing to admit to in the Christmas letter?

Christmas letters are traditionally the time to brag about one’s 3-year-old son who just won the Nobel Prize for physics, how wonderful a 2-week stay at a private Caribbean Island was, and how one was made CEO after only 4 months at work. Here in the real world, Andy has been informed that Micron is outsourcing his job, though he can work until July if he helps work himself out of a job, David is doing well in second grade, though the Nobel Prize committee has not contacted us as of yet, and work has kept me so busy that I have barely managed any time off all year. But we’re all healthy and happy, and as we didn’t move, sell any houses, or plan any weddings, it was a relatively calm year.

The Yearly Update:

Toni’s employment: selling business telephone systems for DataTel

Andy’s employment: let's just say “pending”

Finally, a sequel: For years people have asked me about doing a mid-year Christmas letter update, and while recoiling at the thought of the constant envelope-licking that would involve, I did finally join the technologically “with it” and created a “blog” (web log), http://catanova.blogspot.com/. There you can find the Vermin Adventures, examine some lovely d├ęcor options we’re considering, view our wedding photos, and read about our latest experiment: NPR has been running stories about a family who decided to spend no money for an entire year, which inspired us (with the threat of impending job loss) to adopt a “can’t buy anything new” program for one month, beginning November 12 and ending on December 12. We are currently about halfway through the month, and have discovered that while the “true necessities” of life aren’t things at all, there are a lot of things that would really be nice to have right now—like epoxy, address labels, and postage stamps. We have not yet decided what our next “for a month” adventure will be, but we would be willing to try “living on a private yacht while cruising the Mediterranean” or “living on a Tuscan villa” if we could just find someone willing to swap with us.

Christmas in the Magic Kingdom: Since we have David for Christmas this year, we will be spending the holiday in California with Andy’s parents, who conveniently live just a few miles from Disneyland. David is almost 8, so we think he’s old enough to cope with standing in lines but young enough that we can still convince him that the rides without long lines are really the coolest ones. Those who do not occasionally lie to children do not live with them.

This year we have learned:

  • If presented with the alternative often enough, you will greet gifts of dead rodents and birds with sheer joy.
  • Men do not consider comparing 37 slightly-varied paint chips as a “togetherness” activity.
  • Some people would find being treated as a surrogate parent by a cat cute and touching. I am not one of them—especially not at 4:00 AM.
  • As adults, it is not socially acceptable to say, “Go away and take your flying monkeys with you.” That’s what attorneys are for.
  • The 15-year-employment anniversary gift with Micron is a stereo. The 18-year anniversary gift is a lay-off.
  • A lot of marital stress can be avoided by having his & her tubes of toothpaste.
  • Hearing flapping near your head an instant before a cat leaps onto your chest may actually be the worst way to wake up ever.
  • If you hate white walls enough, an evening of painting can be a good date.
  • If you join a group called the “Mystery Stole,” you may or may not like the result. Hence the “mystery” part.
  • Every couple has things which challenge the concept of “share and share alike.” Ours are blankets and pea pods
  • Our national security is a tad lax at the Canadian borders, as Andy was able to travel in & out of our country with his driver’s license and my passport, or perhaps he crossed at a spot that gets a lot of female impersonators.
  • When you send a child through a social graces class, it is advisable to ask about the curriculum beforehand so you will be prepared when the child refers to the correct way to eat a parfait.
  • Anything can be fun if approached in the right state of mind. Sometimes that state of mind requires alcohol.
  • Cat doors were invented by people who never owned cats.
  • Do not ask your spouse to always explain his or her behavior.
  • Voles are neckless mice and here in Idaho they are unlikely to carry rabies.
  • No matter how many times one is proved wrong, one always approaches a garden with optimism.
  • Always be flexible when baking—it might be a rotten cake, but it could make decent brownies.
  • If you’re putting things away “for safe keeping,” it should probably be done by the one with the better memory.
  • A blog may take up some of your best Christmas letter material.
  • Life is an adventure.

We hope this finds you healthy, happy, and enjoying a wonderful holiday season!

Best wishes, Toni & Andy

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Day 28 - We're "Pending"

Just a few days left, and 14 gifts are done except for the few key things we need to purchase to finish them. The Christmas letter is written, but now has to wait until we can buy more stamps. I have tracked down the name & model number of the frames of my glasses and will be stopping at the optical shop first thing on the 13th.

Maybe I'll start addressing our Christmas cards as having been sent from "Limbo Land."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 27 - The Temptation

With only a few days left, the temptation has certainly increased. Wednesday we can buy things. That is SOOOO close. Counting the HOURS close. Do you have any idea how tempting it is to take the day off on Wednesday? Luckily, we have set a $40 limit for each of us. Otherwise, Visa would probably flag our account for unusual activity on the 13th & suspend our account. Maybe we should warn them anyway?

The first thing I'm buying is the yard of material for Andy's Christmas gift. I almost stopped by the store today to see if I could put it on some sort of layaway, since fabric stores tend to change their inventory, and if I can't find the same material I have not yet conceived a back-up plan. I'm going to be stressing over this until I whip out the Visa on December 13. I'd like to say that I will have learned my lesson about double-checking after this little episode, but while hope springs eternal, it doesn't winter very long.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day 26 - How Sad Are We?

I thought David might enjoy making some paper chains to help decorate the house for Christmas, but before mentioning it, we had to inventory his art supplies to make sure we had enough construction paper ON HAND. As he's only here one night a week, we're not sure if David is actually a participant in the "buy nothing new" program, but since he's not quite 8 he has no real money of his own, so it's sort of a moot point.

It gets worse--I was going to suggest making Christmas cookies--which in my world means decorated sugar cookies--but that will be postponed until we can purchase the metal decorating tips I had promised last year.

An adventure--an obsession. It's such a fine line........

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Day 25 - New Ways to Not Buy Anything

1. Start working really long hours.

2. Stay away from Amazon.com.

3. Fall behind on writing the annual Christmas letter. Start stressing about it.

4. Take a really time-involved quilting class that makes you want some serious time apart from your sewing machine & all things fabric-related.

5. Start overbooking social engagements.

6. Remember what retail areas are like during the holiday shopping season.

7. Regularly visit the respective yarn & wood "stashes" and mentally inventory the number of "potential projects" you already own.

8. Commit to daily blog updates.

9. Tell other people about your experiment. Fear the thought of the public shame of giving up 5 days early.

10. Run out the door forgetting your wallet anyway.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day 24 - Signs This Might Have Been a Really Bad Idea

1. I'm wandering around the house in the mornings with one-armed glasses hanging partially off my face like some bizarre form of pince-nez.

2. Andy is having dreams about shopping, which may get his testosterone revoked.

3. Our mail carrier is developing hernias from delivering 4 pounds of catalogs every day for absolutely no reason.

4. I wouldn't go to the Indian spice store to pick up ingredients for a new recipe because it "felt like cheating."

5. Joann Fabric's is sending me twice as many sale fliers as normal--their sales are obviously down.

6. Grocery shopping has become exciting.

7. We can't send Christmas cards until AFTER December 12.

9. Andy is looking forward to being allowed to buy a $3 tube of epoxy.

10. I'm starting to look longingly at stores--even Walmart.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day 23 - I Was Smug Again

The universe really seems to hate smugness. Last night, I was feeling a bit too sure of myself. We only have a few days left in our no-spending experiment, and while I didn't actually say it, the term "piece of cake" did run through my mind.

And that's when the universe gets you.

This morning I discovered that my glasses had fallen off the nightstand & sometime in the middle of the night, I must have stepped on them, or something that was on top of them, because they are broken today. Most of the day I wear contacts, but I am now reduced to being blind as a bat first thing in the morning and at night--or at least until the stupid little experiment I dreamed up is over. Repairs might have been allowed, but we're at the "new frames" stage, and that qualifies as a "thing" and can't happen until December 13. Rats.

"Piece of cake." What was I thinking?????

Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 22 - We've Reached "Perspective"

After 22 days of the no-spending rule, we have adjusted. The 4 catalogs in today's mail were deposited in the recycling bin immediately. I generally don't even open the sales-oriented emails anymore, in spite of the offers of free shipping & huge discounts if I will once again participate in the capitalistic process. We have books we haven't read, movies we haven't watched, cooking utensils we haven't used...we aren't even going to discuss the respective wood & fabric stashes...there are just very few things we actually "need" that we don't have. And we realize that.

Today's winner in the useless-items-we-will-never-buy category: sock yarn that has to be washed by hand. For the nonknitting public: socks are, for some insane reason, fun to knit. Yes, I realize you can buy 6 pairs for $6 at any store in the country, but there is something about turning a heel that makes a knitter feel brilliant. (This is inherently satisfying since much of knitting involves getting the knitter's tail kicked by the brilliant physicist who designed a sweater that would only come out correctly if the exact gauge were achieved at the precise moment in the lunar orbit....knitters will understand this.) So, socks are lovely, lovely projects. They are portable, generally require no seams, and are faster than sweaters. HOWEVER--I don't think I am a lazy person, nor am I unwilling to lovingly handwash the lovely alpaca sweater I made my husband to celebrate our honeymoon. But socks?????? Pure wool socks--which will shrink to the size of baby booties if one were to accidentally wash them with the normal socks--this I am supposed to invest $20 and many hours of my life??

I think not.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Day 21 - Things you can do without spending money

1. Drive your mate crazy by tracking down every version of "A Christmas Carol" you can find at the local library and playing one every night until Christmas.

2. Decorate your house with mismatched decorations.

3. Finish projects that you've long since lost interest in, just because you can't buy new ones.

4. Try a new bread machine recipe--provided you already have the ingredients & the bread machine.

5. Fantasize about what you will buy when the spending ban is over.

6. Do laundry.

7. Play board games, even if "Payday" and "Monopoly" feel like cheating on the "No Spending" rule.

8. Put up outdoor lights that look like you hired a color-blind decorator.

9. Ridicule the 37 catalogs you receive in the mail each day.

10. Discuss what other strange "experiments" one can do for a month.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Day 20 - Problem Solved!

Secret Santa gift number two is due next week and...


Mr. Flurry was finished this afternoon. Total cost: hard to say, though well under $5 as I already had the yarn & he doesn't take much.

Being done ahead of schedule......Priceless, and frankly shocking.

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...