Thursday, January 20, 2011

Curtains finished and other projects

I finished the bedroom curtains last night.  It took me three days for the complete project but keep in mind that I'm not working right now so I have the time to devote.  I think they turned out pretty well but I'm waiting to see how the light of a sunset look streaming through them.  It's been dreary and cold here for the last couple of weeks and I haven't seen a pretty orange/pink sunset in a while. 

It's my hope that the sun will glint on the beads and will filter through the pattern of the crochet to shadow dance on the walls. 

My cousin Cheryl is a photographer and has a beautiful cat.  She has asked that I make her some berets for the cat to wear so she can do a photo shoot.  I whipped out four little hats and will mail these out to her, probably tomorrow.  I used the dogs sock monkies and faithful old kermit to model three of the hats. 

Today I have to stick around the house.  They are delivering the new tv.  When the tv decided to crap out on us a couple of weeks ago Bob started researching the best prices and found a 47" for $599.00 through Tiger Direct and there was no shipping and handling.  Now that is going to be some serious tv watching with that big of a screen.  I know some people have larger but this will be the largest yet for me and I'm loving it. 

I got a call last night from Borders and although I was supposed to work 4 hours in the store on Friday night I'm now being told that there is new management coming in and they want to interview all of the people that were intended as new hires (leftovers from the seasonal help) so will be setting up an appointment. 

It's okay with me that they are taking their time.  I was only working there part-time awaiting word from the federal government as to whether they are going to fund my training as a medical assistant through TRA.  School starts February 1st and I should be hearing something official at least a week before school starts. 

So...looking for more projects to keep me busy.  Lord knows I have enough yarn stash that I can work on!  There is always household cleaning to be done and I need to exercise.  At best I've worked out 4 times since the first of the year and it's already the 20th.  So much for New Years resolutions once again.  Just like those Monday morning diets that last until Tuesday. 

More snow on the way and the temperatures are still low teens and twenties.  This cold snap has dragged on for several weeks now and it's starting to wear on people's nerves.  We are all badly in need of a shot of spring. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creative moment!

For quite some time I've had a todo list of crocheting projects I've wanted to get to but had to put off until after the holidays. This week and last the time presented itself and my creative juices were flowing.

I had decided I wanted to crochet some curtains for our bedroom. All that was up at the windows was generic cranberry colored valances and the windows themself are really nice as the ivy growing on the house grows up around those bedroom windows, and the other back bedroom, and it's really pretty. I didn't want to put full curtains up and cover the view of the ivy so decided to make valances but I wanted to see some texture too so that when the evening sun comes in the window it would cast some pretty shadows around the room.

I basically made the design up myself by looking at several crochet patterns and winging it. I've been wanting to try some crocheting with beads too so my first attempt is the edging on these curtains. I just happened to have some cheap pony beads on hand so used them but it would have been really nice to invest in some more unique beads. Maybe another project.

I really only have one curtain completed...the one shown in the middle window of the picture posted below. You can see the contrast of the valances that were up at the window and also the one curtain, on the left, for which I haven't completed the edging (the edging was an afterthought while working on the second panel.)

This picture is just to show some of the beaded crochet edging detail.  I'm hoping after the curtains have hung for a while the cotton will begin to stretch and will hang a little more loosely. 

I doubt if I will pursue any addtional curtain crochet for a while but I sure do enjoy working with the beads and I have scarf designs playing around in my head now and can't wait to get started.  I'm seeing some nice ladies Steelers black and gold beads on some scarves and shrugs for next season and some other fancy things.  Oh if my body could just keep up with all of the thoughts whirling through my head.  It's like a whirling durvish of ideas.  (Thanks for the editing touch Kathy) 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shivering under the blankets

Along with several more inches of snow our tempertures have been in the teens and low 20's for several days and I just can't get warm. I'm so thankful that I've had the opportunity to be a winter bear and curl up in the easy chair with the dogs and some warm fleece blankets.

I haven't left the house since I returned on Monday night after working my last day of the seasonal job. Today I finally have to put on some makeup, a pair of boots and my warmest clothes and venture back out into the real world. I'm almost out of bread and with Bob gone I'm surviving mostly on "sammiches" so bread is of the utmost importance. I would have gotten the old bread maker out and opted for staying in a few more days but I have an eye exam scheduled and will be picking Amya up to stay the night.

In the meantime I've finished two knitted scarfs, watched Dr. Phil daily to see what is going on with Ted Williams, worked out on the WII a couple of days, gave two of the dogs a bath, read a little, started two movies but haven't finished either (I think I have ADD) and have done some additional housework and have started a third knitted scarf. I've also done quite a bit of internet research and have done a lot of soul searching and thinking. Mini-vacations are so therapeutic!

The blue scarf on the left is a mix of two different yarns, the pinkish one on the right is just a boucle type yarn I purchased at Big Lots for a dollar a ball. It works up very nice but I sure wouldn't want to crochet with it as it's nubby and it would be hard to see the stitches. Keeping the stitches separate on knitting needles is the way to go.

The third scarf will also be a mixture of two different yarns purchased at Big Lots. The colorful nubby yarn should only require one ball for the entire scarf but it will take at least two balls, maybe three of the other.

I've received my first molds for the cobblestones and am going to go purchase my mold release and concrete mix today. I think I'll wait until Bob is home to make my first mix though. He has had some experience at brick laying so I'll depend on his expertise for my first adventure in cobblestone making.

Well off to read an ebook and knit some more. Yes I can do both at once because I only have to look at the knitting when I turn the row.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Green Jobs Destroy Good Jobs

With Pennsylvania's unemployment rate at a 25-year high, Gov. Rendell is pushing "green jobs" at every turn. He has doled out nearly $1 billion to renewable energy projects and wants additional alternative energy mandates. In reality, these mandates and subsidies will result in a net loss of jobs and necessarily escalate electricity prices.
Creating jobs in industries that depend on government assistance is not a sustainable way to stimulate the economy. Alternative energy, such as solar power, might not exist if it wasn't being subsidized by taxpayers. Navigant Consulting estimated that if federal tax credits for solar power and wind energy were discontinued, these industries would lose 77 percent of their employees. According to the Energy Information Administration, solar and wind energy receive over 50 times more in subsidies per MWH than coal, and nearly 100 times more than natural gas.
On top of federal subsidies, Pennsylvania has "invested" nearly $1 billion in renewable energy projects. According to Gov. Rendell, this has put only 8,300 people to work while costing taxpayers over $120,000 per green job. Dan Kerr, a mechanical contractor specializing in alternative energy projects, admitted he doesn't see "tax/rate payer provider funds truly making renewable energy projects more affordable over the long haul. Unless we see dramatic improvements in solar and wind technologies, they will continue to need an artificial boost through government mandates and incentives."
Moreover, these subsidies aren't actually creating jobs, on the whole. A Spanish study concluded that subsidizing renewable energy leads to a loss of 2.2 jobs for every one green job created. The study also found Spain needs to increase the cost of electricity by 31 percent to pay for its deficit, largely caused by renewable energy subsidies. Spain's unemployment is 19 percent, indicating green job growth is not  an effective way to stimulate an economy. A similar study in Italy found each green job displaced 4.8 jobs in the overall economy.
Legislation in Pennsylvania, such as House Bill 80 and House Bill 2405, would dig the hole deeper by mandating that utility companies purchase even more electricity from alternative sources than they are already required.
Alternative energy mandates arbitrarily decide which energy sources are "green."  Clean energy such as nuclear power and natural gas-which have minimal carbon dioxide emissions-do not make the list, while expensive sources like wind and solar do. Such bills replace sustainable energy jobs with jobs that are entirely dependent on taxpayer-funded subsidies, based on who has the best lobbyists.
Additionally, mandates kill jobs by raising electricity prices. States with binding renewable portfolio standards, like Pennsylvania, have electricity rates that are nearly 40 percent higher than states with no mandate. While state electricity costs are affected by other factors, alternative energy mandates necessitate higher energy prices.  Pennsylvania's utility companies predict that HB 80 will add between $9 billion and $12 billion to electricity costs to meet proposed mandates by 2024.
Proponents for such mandates cite a study by Black and Veatch which claims HB 80 will boost the economy and create thousands of jobs. However, this study is based on faulty assumptions and fails to look at the other side of the ledger.  These include presuming passage of federal Cap and Trade legislation, which would make fossil energy more expensive (and alternative sources more competitive) and assuming federal and state subsidies for alternative fuels continue. 
If the government levies heavy taxes on traditional energy sources and provides subsidies and tax credits to renewable projects, it will create more jobs in such fields. However, job losses in the traditional sectors hit with new taxes will far exceed the number of new "green jobs." The Heritage Foundation estimated Pennsylvania, a state that gets nearly 50 percent of its energy from coal, will lose 46,762 jobs between 2012 and 2035 if Cap and Trade is passed.
A focus on green jobs discourages overall economic growth by redistributing private sector wealth to uncompetitive and unsustainable energy providers. Higher electricity prices hurt small businesses, resulting in fewer jobs. The plan to heavily subsidize "green" energy sources while simultaneously mandating their use is a prescription for economic decline rather than prosperity.
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Katrina Currie is a Research Associate for the Commonwealth Foundation (, a public policy education and research institute located in Harrisburg.

Winter vacation and getting knitty with it

This post is mostly for Julie to explain a process I'm using to make scarves.

I'm frugal to a fault and although I love the more expensive yarns I do my best to make my own specialty yarns by mixing two, or more, skeins of unique yarns together.

Big Lots has been one of my favorite shopping stores and especially since they started carrying the Gala brands for $1.00 a ball. I find that for about $4 - $5 dollars I can create a one of a kind scarf that works up really quickly.

I knit to relax while watching tv so most of the time I will knit a straight garter stitch, knit every row, which means I don't have to count stitches or pay much attention to the work in progress.

I like soft yarns but I also like to contrast them with something colorful and different.

For this project I'm using a soft tweed like yarn that is a mixture of blue and brown along with a more colorful ladder yarn. I'm working with circular needles because they are easier for my little hands to manage and I can pull up the ends when I'm not working on it and keep the stitches from falling off more easily.

For this scarf I cast on 20 stitches of the blue tweed yarn. On the second row I mixed the tweed and the ladder yarn together and knit across the row.

On the next row I drop the ladder yarn and work two rows with only the tweed. The ladder yarn just lays on the side and on the third row I pick it up, along with the tweed (working a double strand) and knit across.

Repeat the process until the scarf is the length desired.

When it comes to the fringe I will probably just use the tweed yarn as the ladder yarn isn't quite as pliable. It all depends though...I might decide to not fringe at all.

I woke up at about 4:30 this morning and started the scarf but I will probably have it completed by lunch today. I'm on a mini-winter vacation so have time between blogging, checking my email and checking my Facebook updates to knit!

I have a box in the basement where I'm keeping my completed projects that will either be used for gifts throughout the year, at Christmas, or sold at the craft bazaars next fall / winter. Until I start making rocks I should get quite a few scarves completed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gerald Celente: Internet nuke bomb waiting to go off

Making rocks

So...I've been tossing this idea around for a while...making my own cobblestones and/or river rocks. I did some pricing research today and bought three molds on ebay.

One is for making inspirational stones. I figured it would make nice gifts.

The other is for making cobblestones which I'll use in the area between the breezeway and the pool.

And the other is for the river rocks that I plan on putting in front of the window box.

For some reason blogger won't let me put another photo in place to show the river rocks. I'll have to post those in a separate message.

Tonight was my last night working the kiosk selling calendars. I'm going to be working for the bookstore part-time though. So far they are planning on scheduling me on Friday nights and then some weekends. As long as I can still get to the track one day a weekend to watch Jen race it still should work out.

It looks like we have another bout of snow headed our way but I don't need anything from the store and I don't have to go to work for the rest of the week so it's me, the dogs, some organizing around the house and knitting. Can't complain.

Good morning

Bob is in Florida for a race right now and I'm taking it easy for a couple of days, kind of like a mini-vacation. I miss him terribly when he is gone and I don't do "alone" too well but I'm finding that the time I do spend alone becomes time for reinventing myself and inner reflection.

I haven't taken down the Christmas decorations yet so that's one thing on my to do list. The dogs need baths and there is always cleaning and organizing to be done. I also haven't really started on my New Years resolution of dieting and exercising but today will be the start of that journey also.

Oh believe me, I've cut way back on the goodies! I made sure that the last of the chocolate covered peanuts were all packed in Bob's things to take. I've even frozen the cookies, but even frozen they are good for dunking in hot coffee so they just need to go!

It's really cold outside and I only go out when I absolutely have to. I love the change in seasons but I've had enough of this wintery crap. I'm already planning my outdoor gardens and can't wait to be able to walk and work on some outdoor projects.

We have a large window box on the front of the house that gets partial sun. It needs to be scraped and repainted but once that task is completed this picture depicts what my plans for planting are for that window box.

I'm also planning on making a rock garden under the window box. This is a small area that is hard to mow and just grows big ugly weeds that you nearly have to hand pull.

I just want to plant some low lying plants and a few succulents in that area.

There is an area between the breezeway and pool/deck too that I want to pour full of cement and use a mold to make a cobble stone appearance.

I've been scouring over projects at the Mold Store.

I'm planning to put herbs and flowers in pots all around the house and deck and am going to plant tomatoes, onions, a salad garden, cucumbers, green peppers, green beans and hot peppers. I want enough for our own personal use for salads through the summer but I also want to be able to make some home made salsa and tomato juice/sauce to can.

The mudroom needs to be retiled and painted. There is tiling to be done on the landing in the basement. All of the trim on the house needs scraped and repainted.

I've started a bunch of plant cuttings and will be nursing these along to give as Christmas gifts next year. I'm working on knitting scarves, dish towels and other things for gift giving or even sales next Christmas season at craft bazaars.

I'm just so excited about all of my upcoming plans that this cold weather is really seeming to hinder me and my spirit. I know that I have to focus on what is at hand right now and to keep smiling. So today it's walking at least 2 miles with Leslie Sansone, using my Shake weight in hopes of toning my arms and I think I'll do some step aerobics using the WII.

Today is my last day of work at the Day-By-Day Calendar store in the mall. I'm taking the rest of the week off. Woot woot! Hopefully I'll get word within the next couple of days whether I get my funding from TRA/TAA to start school.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Checking in

I had started this blog quite a while ago and then let it fall into disrepair but have decided to open it back up and start blogging again.

Here is a little catch up information. I was laid off of my job of over 20 years in September of 2009. After the lay off I decided to use some of the severance money to move back to my home state of Pennsylvania. My son, who wasn't working either, decided to make the journey with me. He was born in Pennsylvania but was five when we moved to Indianapolis.

We moved to the beautiful town on Franklin, PA in October of 2009. Franklin is a Victorian town where many of the houses have been well maintained and are listed in the National registry.

One example of a home there is shown below:

It was my dream before moving there to purchase a pink kayak and enjoy the river that was close to my new home. I did realize that dream and was hooked on kayaking from my first trip on the water. As a matter of fact my first trip was featured on the front page of the local newspaper!

We got to enjoy many of the festivities in Franklin throughout the year, such as Franklin on ice.

Bob and I also went bike riding on some of the trails.

I worked briefly for Joy Manufacturing as a parts chaser, or inventory control. My job consisted of tracking parts for some of the huge mining equipment they manufacture at the Franklin facility.

Later in the summer I found out I was eligible for TRA/TAA funding for school and have been attempting to get started on classes for Medical Assistant which are scheduled to start February 1st. It has been a grueling process of paperwork and testing and as of today's date I'm still waiting on official word from Harrisburg, PA.

Fast forward to the present...

John-Michael moved in with his fiance, Angie, and is living in Butler, PA. I moved in with Bob and am living in Pulaski, PA.

I've been working a part-time seasonal job selling calendars for Day By Day Calendars, a subsidary of Borders Express bookstore. That job will end in two more days.

If I don't start attending school I will be looking for full-time work. Wish me luck because there isn't much out there that pays more than minimum wage.

Have to get ready for work now. We'll chat more later. Have a great day.