Home / 2011 / January

I Am a Gigantic Idiot

Oh, yes. I really am a gigantic idiot*. Let me tell you why.

Yesterday. Went to the Y and did weight machines, two different types of bicep-training ones. Put on the most weight that I though I could handle so that I’d work my muscles to exhaustion like you’re supposed to.  Then I went swimming. Did 800 meters. Worked on my breaststroke (first time!) and the crawl.

Did all that the day before Starting Block‘s Urban Orienteering Race.

And I crocheted a bunch yesterday and pretty much all day today. Not typically heavy arm work-out, but I could feel it in my arms today for sure.

And tonight we ran 6.5 miles in the race. And I carried a water bottle, flashlight, and sometimes a clip board during the 2-hour downtown-Springfield scavenger hunt of a race.

I can’t bend my arms past 90 degrees without sharp, cuss-word inducing pain in the part of my bicep just before the crook of my elbow. But this is not the end of my attempt to convince you I am idiot. Lots of people over-train or occasionally forget to plain their workouts around races.

So when I got home, I took some NSAIDs (under supervision of the best doc in the world**), showered, inspected some chafing in sensitive places and applied the requisite Body Glide, and then went downstairs to heat up my rice heating pad thingy. Which had some safety pins on it from the last time I used it. I did not notice these before I put it in the microwave. I believe the relevant equation here is

metal + microwave = BAD

Yep, that’s it. Here’s the picture evidence. Look for the nasty black lines around the edge of the rotating tray. (Click for a larger view.)

Heard crackling. Remembered seeing those pesky pins and stopped the microwave. Reached to unhook the pins so I could throw the heating pad back in the microwave.

Well, guess what. Even when metal has only been in the microwave for 17 seconds, it is hot enough to burn you. Now I have a little white line on the side of my index finger exactly the width of a safety pin.

So, here I sit. Rice heating pad thingy balancing on my biceps, holding an ice cube between my index and middle finger. Typing with one hand.

See. Gigantic Idiot. I told you.

Notes

* Totally channeling from Sarah’s Brilliantly Creative blog.
** My daddy!

Baby Bobble Afghan [crochet pattern]

[ download this pattern sans story in PDF here or see all my crochet patterns listed on one page here ]

When I found out that one of my best friends was having a baby, I knew that I wanted to make an afghan for Mini Austin. At her Springfield baby shower, she showed some paint chips that she and Chris had selected. I got the colors (thanks, Vicky!), then headed to the yarn shop. I flipped through my books and found a nice, raised pattern in one of my favorite books, 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton—I wanted something that little fingers would find exciting, and the bobbles on this pattern would be just right. With a little tweaking, I was able to convert it from a square to afghan size.

Next, I had to choose the color progression, which is always a tough job for me. I don’t really trust my color eye because I’m know for selecting “clown pants” color combos. I wanted something that flowed smoothly but didn’t follow the rainbow too closely. Plus, the pattern I had chosen was based on four colors, and I had five to work with.

I played around with trying to fit my five colors into the 11 rows of the pattern, alternating but not repeating the pattern at all. Finally, I tried a pattern that just repeated the same 5-row pattern through the 11-row bigger progression provided by my original pattern. In this end, this was an excellent choice, as it the bobble rows alternated through the colors and made the 5-row pattern less discernible. Check it out:

Next, the trim. I wavered between something with bobbles (to complement the pattern in the afghan) and something soft and long (for little fingers to play with). In the end, I settled with a crocheted fringe (because I hate traditional fringes). It’s from another of my favorite pattern books, Crochet Edgings & Trims by Kate Haxell.

Okay, that’s enough chitter-chatter. Let’s dive into the pattern!

[ download this pattern sans story in PDF here or see all my crochet patterns listed on one page here ]

Creative Commons License
Baby Bobble Afghan by Linden A. Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at lindenamueller.com.

Skill Level

I’d estimate that this is an intermediate pattern.

Materials Needed

I’m sorry, but I did not keep track of how much yarn I used. I think that I used 5 balls of each of the Sugar ‘n Cream and Bouquet and 4 balls of the Baby Bee. I can tell you for sure what I used and the order I used it in.

A: Sugar ‘n Cream Country Green 01222
B: Sugar ‘n Cream Chocolate Ombre 02014
C: Bouquet Catalina color 5615 (this is from an old stash, so it might not be around anymore) [light aqua]
D: Sugar ‘n Cream Country Yellow 01612
E: Orange: Baby Bee Cheeky #93 [orange]

Guage

Use hook size indicated on skein wrapper. Adjust as needed. The Baby Bee and Bouquet Catalina are much finer than the rest, so I used a larger hook to make them match guage of the Suger ‘n Cream.

Special Abbreviations

MB: make bobble (work 4 open dc in same st, leaving 5 loops on hook, draw yarn through all five loops at once)

Afghan Instructions

Adapted from Candy Stripe Bobbles (153) in 200 Crochet Blocks

Row 1: Using color A, ch 101, turn

Row 2: Working first sc into 2nd ch from hook, work 1 sc into each ch, turn (100 sc)

Row 3: ch 1, sc in second ch from hook. sc 4,  *mb, sc 2, mb, sc 2, mb, sc 5* and repeat between * 8 times. Turn.

From here, you’ll work the following four row patterns (called sets), progressing through the colors in order from A, B, C, D, and E. (This is will give you the nice progression through bobble rows and colors that makes the pattern stand out less.) You’ve already done a modified Set 1 with color A, so start now with Set 2 using color B.

Set 1: Repeat row 2 twice, then repeat row 3. Turn, join next color.

Set 2: Repeat row 2 three times. Turn, join next color.

Set 3: Repeat row 3, then repeat row 2 twice. Turn, join next color.

Set 4: Repeat row 2, then repeat row 3, then repeat row 2. Turn, join next color.

Repeat through sets and colors until you have crocheted 46 rows. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Border Instructions

Two-tone Braid from Crochet Edgings & Trims

Work with right side facing.

Row 1: Using color C, join in any corner, sc around. Turn

Row 2: Ch 2, 1 hdc into each st to end, turn. Fasten off yarn C, join in yarn B.

Row 3: Ch 1, 1 sc into first st, *skip 1 hdc from row 2, 1 dc into equivalent sc on 1st row, 1 sc into next st in row 2; rep from * to end. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Fringe Instructions

Undulating Fringe from Crochet Edgings & Trims

Work with right side facing. Note: I didn’t pick this pattern until after the afghan was started, so the multiple of stitches required for this pattern (multiple of 3 sts, plus one for base ch) doesn’t quite fit the afghan. I added one stich at the end of the row, once I knew how far off I was.

Row 1: Using color E, join in corner on narrow side. Skip 2 ch (count as 1 hdc), 1 hdc into next ch, 1 hdc into each ch to end, turn.

Row 2: ch 2 (count as 1 tr), 1 tr into each st to end, turn.

Row 3: ch 2 (count as 1 hdc), 1 hdc into each st to end, turn.

Row 4: *ch 16, sl st into back bump of 2nd ch from hook, 1 sl st into back bump of each ch, 1 sl st into next hdc, ch 12, sl st into back bump of 2nd ch from hook, 1 sl st into back bump of each ch, 1 sl st into next hdc, ch 8, sl st into back bump of 2nd ch from hook, 1 sl st into back bump of each ch, 1 sl st into next hdc; rep from * to end. Fasten off and weave in ends.

[ download this pattern sans story in PDF here or see all my crochet patterns listed on one page here ]

Creative Commons License
Baby Bobble Afghan by Linden A. Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at lindenamueller.com.

Food for Fines 2011: Give Back and Be Thankful

Earlier, I was hungry. I went to the kitchen, consulted with my husband, checked the pantry, and we made dinner. Barbecue chicken on homemade artisan bread. Now, I’m not hungry anymore.

But, as we so often ignore or forget, there are people in our very city who work hard, sometimes harder than you and I, and their cabinets are bare. They can’t choose from chips and salsa, Cheez-its, or fresh apples and bananas when they need a snack. When they are hungry, their bellies ache. Man. I am lucky.

This week, the Springfield-Greene County Library is partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest in a program called Food for Fines to help fill those hungry tummies and alleviate patrons’ library fines.

Until Saturday, every can you take to the check-out desk at any library branch will be worth $0.50 in library fines.

In our library district, you can no longer check out materials if your fines are $10 or more, and in our own district, there are nearly 6,500 kids and teens who can no longer take advantage of the libraries because of that. They can’t check out books, listen to new music, watch free movies, or listen to audiobooks. If you know a kid (or even a friend) who can’t check out books, grab some canned goods and your buddy and get them reading, listening, or watching again.

We take so many things for granted: the food on our table every day, and the thousands of free books, movies, CDs, and audiobooks that we can check out for free, just for living here.

Even if you don’t have fines (go you!), this is the perfect opportunity to give back to your community and show support for our active, innovative library district. You’ve got until Saturday, when Food for Fines 2011 ends. Don’t let it pass you by!

Where to Buy Mattresses in Springfield

We hosted Christmas this year, but before we could fill our family members’ dreaming heads with visions of sugar plums, we needed to make sure we had enough beds for each of those heads!

A tricky purchase, right? You don’t want to get the bottom of the line coily beds; you want your guests to be comfortable. But there’s no reason to get top-of-the-line, either; why pay a pretty penny for something that will get used infrequently? So we went shopping. Our goal was to spend no more than $800 and find quality, mid-line mattresses that will serve us (and our guests!) well for years to come.

Here’s where we went and what we found at each place.

Mattress Outlet

1706 E. Sunshine St.
Springfield, MO 65804-1323
(417) 866-5579

Small place, small selection, but covers your basics: low-end model starting at $200 for a queen. The best mattress was $600, I think (didn’t really look at those). Bonus: you can choose either free delivery (a $25 value) or free frame ($59, I think). You had to buy the frame separately everywhere else. The lady who was working was friendly and didn’t hover. No hard sell, and we liked that. We really liked both of the two $360 queen models, but decided to keep shopping. The mattresses were in stock, so we wouldn’t have to waitifor delivery.

The Furniture Broker

3530 E. Sunshine St.
Springfield, MO 65809-2813
(417) 881-0229

Big place, but surprisingly small big mattress selection. Lots of couches, recliners, tables, and decor. Here we focused on two different mattresses and a sofa sleeper (about $1,000, but on sale for $750). It would have been a nice addition to my office–I need a place for afternoon naps, after all! The two mattresses were $300 and $350, plus $50 for the frame. Delivery was $55 or you can pick it up yourself. These felt better than the ones available at Mattress Outlet, better quality, more cushion while still firm. Hard sell here. Almost to the point of annoying.

We almost bought here, but decided that sleeper couches are usually on par with the bottom-of-the-line mattresses, but for a premium. Of course, you do get to use the couch part year-round, but would it be worth it? The more expensive mattress was available in-stock, and the cheaper one would arrive at the store in 1 to 2 weeks if we ordered it. The sofa sleeper was in stock too. In the end, we weren’t convinced that we had found the best deal, so we kept shopping.

Sleep Mart

3021 E. Sunshine St.
Springfield, MO 65804
(417) 886-5555

Fairly small, but deceptively so… there is an upstairs with mattresses and a few bunk beds, but they’ll be converting one room into a Lay-Z-Boy display room. Here, the gems were a close-out Paula Deen Sealy—fluffy pillow top, high value, close-out price of $350—and Posturepedic memory foam mattresses that he’s trying to move, on sale for $378. I think the frames were $40.

Here, I almost fell asleep while testing that memory foam mattress, something I’ve had my eyes on since I tried one a long time ago. It was a nice place: cozy, lots of choices, and–best of all–no hard sell. Just a straight-shooter nice guy. Always wins points in our book. But, we still couldn’t pull the trigger.

Furniture Factory Outlet

1434 E. Independence St.
Springfield, MO 65804-3708
(417) 883-7744

Pretty big place, and lots of options all along the price spectrum, plus a lot of other furniture. Here, we looked at a regular mattress (sorry, can’t remember the price!) that was on par with the other mid-range mattresses we looked at, and two memory foam mattresses, one 8 inches thick and the other 10 inches.

However, these were not competitively priced. The salesman offered to cut us a deal if we bought three mattresses (we did not want to buy three mattresses!) but the “numbers” they gave us were much more expensive than any other place we’d been to. Add to that an über-annoying sales pitch, and we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be returning. I do have to add that we chatted with this salesman a little and he seems like a cool dude, but man, the hard sell does not work on us.

We had planned on going to Slumberland too, as we have purchased several pieces of furniture there in the past, but we. were. done. We did some Christmas shopping and let all that we’d seen simmer.

Conclusion

In the end, we went with Sleep Mart and those $378 memory foam mattresses. We enjoyed Gary’s individualized (what, he actually listened to us?!) genuine sales pitch and all the great choices he presented to us in our price range. We got our mattresses within a week and we even put our old (well, 1-year-old) mattress in one of the guest rooms and are now sleeping on one of these memory foam dreams!

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

I always bask in the feeling of a dawning year; it’s quite similar to the beginning of a new semester… a brand new notebook, each page waiting to be written on with brand new pens. A clean back-pack that will be a silent, dependable partner during classes and late-night study sessions. Books without scuffs or folds in the pages or highlighting, full of wondrous knowledge to struggle with, memorize, and conquer. And grades—or reflection—on all that I have learned.

This year in the school of life, I’m going to take two classes: Reaching a Healthy Lifestyle (once I’ve passed, I can take Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle) and Strengthening Self-control.

Course Objectives: Reaching Healthy Lifestyle

By the end of this course, the student will

  • run 3 to 4 times a week (and it makes me feel so good!)
  • really like to eat healthy food, and will only eat unhealthy food in moderate portions.
  • consistently sleep 8 hours a night, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a productive, focused day.

I am unhappy with my current weight or BMI, but don’t worry. This isn’t going to be another “Lose weight!” resolution. I don’t diet—never have—and I’m not starting this year. Instead, my goal is to take meaningful baby steps towards living a healthy lifestyle, instead of diving into a diet that no one could maintain forever. My focus is on being fit and making nutritional and exercise choices that put me on a track for the future I want to enjoy with my husband, my family, and my friends, and that future requires a healthy me! To spice things up a bit, Rob and I are having a little Mueller Household competition to see who can lose the most… I’ll keep you posted on my path to victory. ;)

Running regularly will be my biggest obstacle this year. I’m really good at finding reasons not to run: weather, work, exhaustion, “other.” But we’ve got a Y membership (cold/hot weather problem solved). I know that running in the morning is best for me. So if I can meet the sleeping objective, it will make meeting the regular running objective that much easier…

Course Objectives: Strengthening Self-Control

By the end of this course, the student will

  • spend money purposefully, so that we can travel and save.
  • use lists and project planning to manage responsibilities.
  • work during work time, so that I can truly enjoy off time.

As far as self-control goes, I struggle daily with keeping myself on task, as well as with spending. Unfortunately, the former makes me, by definition, a lazy procrastinator and the latter a spendaholic. I can say that I am now a recovering spendaholic, but that means that the urge is still there every time I see something shiny that I simply need to have. I’ve set some specific goals that will help me say no to meaningless crap that I want to buy, but I’m not posting them here, and I’m sure you understand.

One of my biggest focus problems is that I often don’t know the next action I need to take, so I put off just starting to work; I can’t see those proverbial trees for that proverbial forest and get overwhelmed. Making lists and planning projects out will help me overcome that gridlock.

Finally, because I work from home, I am tempted to schedule appointments and lunch dates and errands and chores whenever, but this year, I am going to be intentional about my time. I will have work hours during which time I behave as if I am at the office. I’m going to be strict with myself about this, so hold me to it, dear readers. :) I’m expecting this to be my most difficult objective in this class, and I’ve got some strategies to best it, but if you’ve got any tips, be sure to share them in the comments!

So what are your goals for this year in the school of life? Do we have any in common? Which do you know that you will struggle with the most? And how are you planning to overcome those difficulties and pass the class with flying colors?