Saturday, December 27, 2014

This, That, and The Other Thing...

Barber & Oberwartmann Greenhouse
My, my, my.... So sorry, kids. It got crazy. And a little "down the rabbit hole." And then Christmas happened. 



I'm officially out of a job. BossLady and I tried. We really did. And I even spoke to the president of the school. That's where the "rabbit hole" happened (more in a bit). Anyway, we got everything wrapped up and BossLady said that we could just stop working the day classes ended - and she was right.

In spite of my better thoughts, when I went in the Sunday before the movers came, it really wasn't cool. Facilities had already been in and popped out all the door locks, IT had been in to remove all the computers, phones and projectors, and it looked pretty desolate. 

I now have the majority of my office in my office. And basement. Yikes. Eight years piles up. My mom will be getting some of the wreaths that I had for the doors, and the church will be getting some of the decorative things for the Rummage Sale. Heaven knows I don't need them!

Down the Rabbit Hole...

So. The Assistant and I get a note from BossLady on December 1 saying we are effectively gone and there will be no transfer to the new site. 

I e-mail the president's office and ask if I can have a meeting with him before we leave, and to my surprise, they say, "sure." So I did. 

I explained that I wasn't there to plead for our jobs, but to tell him that we think there could have been a better way to handle things. I tell him that BossLady and I submitted a proposal back in August for us to move to the new site. I tell him that we were notified that he, 2 VPs and the provost had said "no."

He says, "I didn't know anything about it." 

I tell him that one of the VPs, who wouldn't use the president's name unless he was 100% sure, said differently. We batted that ball back and forth a few times and ultimately, I said, "Either way, you knew or someone's using your name without your knowledge, which would bother me."

He says, "Well, about 10 days ago, I had this conversation..." and he proceeds to relate - almost verbatim -- the proposal that BossLady and I had submitted. As I sat there wondering when I'd been swallowed by the Jabberwocki, I tried to control my spinning brain. Finally, after he was done, I said, "You know that that's almost 100% what we proposed back in August." He says he can't speak to that, but that THIS was the conversation he had with the provost and HR about 10 days ago. 

Do the math... the date we were told we were out of jobs. So, he says, "Here's what I want you to do. Write a letter, and tell the head of HR that we just had this conversation and I related the parameters of the job to you and you would be my preferred candidate for it, given your familiarity with the operations, the 8 years you've put in, etc."

And I told him I would. And as I'm leaving, he's shaking my hand and saying, "Now, go WRITE the letter."

When I related this to BossLady, she had nothing to say for a full 10 seconds. Then she laughed. The Assistant says it's a power grab and that nothing will come of it. 

I say, "I've got nothing to lose either way, right?" I had planned to take January off, and then start the job hunt in earnest, while working on the freelance stuff. 

Oy. Rabbit hole. Big one. 

Christmas Baking...

Here's the baking - or some of it. It was Potica Central at our house, along with the usual cookies. And Kid #2 did his share of baking as well. 

I had honestly documented each one, but since I have been a Lazy Blogger, I'll spare you the infinite stages of Baking 2014. 

Cranberry Cake
The Cranberry Cake was adapted by Leah Eskin for the Chicago Tribune. I brought that to a party. We all loved it. 

It's a from-scratch "upside down" cake with the cake being a very dense sour cream base. The cranberries are tossed with brown sugar, ginger and orange juice. It's a great coffee cake, and really good with whipped cream. 

It's a keeper, and I will likely make it for the holiday season. 

This is a portion of the poticas we made. In all, we did 6 of the small ones (in the aluminum pans) for my mom and 7 of the long ones. Plus one in a Bundt pan, plus one in a Pyrex loaf pan that was our "tester." 

They came out very nicely, and my sister said that "this year, you beat Dad's" for taste and quality. 

Wow. That's even better than the standard, "It's almost as good as my Grandma's" which is the normal compliment you give if you get a decent slice that's not your own. 

The Potica Wars are serious business, you know. Pronounced po-TEETZ-ah, it's basically Slovenian (which is NOT Slovak), but my Croatian Great-Grandma gave her recipe to my Slovak-Russian father. Who was a fantastic pastry chef, though he couldn't make a pie crust to save his life. 

Hey, we all have issues...

Anyway, it's truly "a family recipe" which is not given out lightly. Everyone has tweaks. Mr. K next door got some of ours, and said he was looking forward to the golden raisins. 

Potica slices
Ummmmmmmm. Not in MY potica recipe, thank you. But some Germans use dark raisins; some Italians put chocolate in theirs. Some are pale; some are darker. 

This is ours. And no, you can't have the recipe. Unless you marry-in. 

Yes, it's THAT serious. 

Anyway, on to cookies. I finally put a spreadsheet together of what works and what we'll not be repeating next year. We eliminated some old favorites (bye-bye White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies - at least for this year) and added some new ones (hello date balls). And in that process found some duds (bye-bye saltine English Toffee recipe)...

So, in no particular order, this is what we have been giving out.  A mixed plate of potica and almond cake went to my friend J's party. We had to bring a snack. Her brother loved it. 

The plate with the green ribbon went to Jeff, my guitar teacher. It's a tradition. He brings me back the empty plate and gets a refill for the next year. He's the one who adored the white chocolate cranberry cookies, but he relented when he saw some of the other goodies on the plate. I had to laugh, because I asked him, "so how many of your OTHER students bring you home-made goodies??? Don't kvetch." 

The plate below (the big one) was what went to the family Christmas Eve gathering. Along with a tray from Kid #2, so it was certain that we had enough (too many) cookies. On that tray, in no particular order, we have Kolachy (the square ones), date balls (rolled in nuts and coconut), chocolate coconut cherry balls, pineapple crescents (which disappeared as I was lowering the plate to the table -- VULTURES!!), M & M cookies, Santa's whiskers (the ones under the Kolachy that are pale with red and green), spice cookies, chocolate crinkles and oatmeal cookies (which recipe I won't use next year, but I'll keep oatmeal on the spreadsheet). I also sprinkled on some peppermint bark I got as a gift. I can't eat it (GERD) and I didn't want to pitch it. So it's been distributed among the gift bags and plates. 

I do have a couple of egg-less recipes and those didn't make it onto the plate. Lord knows it weighed enough already. 

Snow. No...

This is all we got for snow. And that was in November. 

As we came out of church, it was a sprinkle. Today, it's grey and dismal. 

We have the December of No Sun happening. Yesterday was sunny and in the 50s. Which is wrong, people.

I'm southwest of Chicago. We're supposed to be having WINTER. Either it'll be totally mild, or January and February will be misery. 

Either way, it would have been nice to have a few flakes on Christmas. 

I'm including pics of some new ornaments. This is the 2014 batch of ornaments I make each year. The kids all get them till they're 18 ... unless you're MY kids, in which case, I keep making them. I usually do the Santa for Kid #2 in the school colors where he's teaching. Kid #1 gets whatever I reach into the box to grab, and he's cool with that. 

I used to be able to do a theme. Nephew #1 got ALL Santa Claus. #2 got all kittens and cats. But the plaster ornaments are harder to find, so I have to take what I can get. 

The porcelain ones are from Amy Bolin and I really like them. One day, when I have enough money, I may have her do an interpretation of one of the red huskies. 

So those are on the tree. And the tree is on the table. Because of Raisa the Rambunctious. 

In the picture below, she doesn't LOOK rambunctious but it's there, believe me. 

I can't even see how that's comfortable, but between Raisa and Quinn - I've lost the ability to recline in my reclining knitting chair. 

What we do for our dogs... 


So. Drumroll... The Baby Blanket is DONE. 

D-O-N-E. Finito. Finally. And I cheated. 

Ummmmmmmmm - I "adapted." I made it car-seat sized, and I crocheted a 3-row edging. I love mixing knitting and crochet. It looks cool, and for this, it enabled me to have somewhat of a ruffle AND it took the crinkles out of the basketweave edges. 

You can see in this picture the slight ruffle. It's not as deep as the original, but then again, the blanket is also about 22" instead of the 28" called for. 

I just couldn't face it. I needed it off my needles. You understand. Don't you? I was so sick of looking at it, knitting on it, seeming to never have it move an inch... So I fixed it. 

We mailed it off the day after Christmas and I'm totally cool with it. 

One thing that I'm NOT totally cool with is the St. Charles Sock. This is what happened at my last iron infusion, while I was waiting. And for the life of me, the more I tried to pick up the dropped stitch (and how the HECK did it drop anyway???), the worse it got. 

So I frogged it. 

Yes. I know. I was all the way on the foot, about 3" in... 

But sometimes, it's just not gonna behave and no matter what you do, it's not gonna be fixed. 

So it's frogged, back in the Dr. Who bag, and in time-out for now. 

I will knit the yarn into socks. I loved it. I just didn't love that obstinate dropped stitch. 

As far as the Sock-a-Month KAL, I'm anxiously awaiting January 1 so that I can get started. Here's my 12-month stash. And if I can do a pair a month, I'm cool. If not, I'm also cool. It's a personal challenge for me. I set aside the yarn. Hubby bagged and tagged. So I have this ready and I don't know what yarn is in what bag. 

I don't. Seriously, I haven't even picked up the January bag to feel it. 

What I can tell you is that there's Opal in there somewhere, some Cascade 220, some Fluromania and some Lorna's Laces. 

Oh, oh, oh... speaking of Fluromania, I got a replacement of sorts for the stuff that bled. The company sent me TWO skeins (of the same color, which is fine) and it was a total surprise. A good one. I didn't expect anything. 

To add to the spirit of "goody-ness" - on my Facebook group, Purple Goddess Design held a drawing, and I actually WON... She has these mugs in either tea or coffee. 

It's a nice-sized mug. Though I do have to send her something to tell her that the printing isn't sturdy. Not that I'm using a steel wool pad on it, but it did flake a bit. 

Anyway, go check her out. The yarns are yummy. They're on my "eventually" list. 

Right now, I'm doing a quickie hat for the "almost" DIL. Kid #1 asked me to do one and all I could say is, "Please, NOT for Christmas!" 

It's in a Lion chunky tweed, and it's acrylic. Which is fine for her. First off, she's not a "fancy yarn" person (we're working on that). Second, it's a quick ribbed hat. If she loses it (and Lord knows the Kids have lost their share of hats), it won't be a $45 hat. It's all of about $8 or so. 

I was actually going to give her my teal Kiwi hat, but I thought that it was probably better to just knit her one for herself. I did buy a couple extra skeins, so I can whip out a scarf or mitts to match. At some point, it's going to be a good trade-off project because it's on size 10 needles. Good to switch it up for the sock project. 

In Sickness and In Health...

I was feeling crappy. I still am. It's bronchitis (hit me the first part of December...) and now it's more in the sinuses. 

Didn't care if I had 2 solos this year. Didn't care that I felt like every time I blew my nose, I was losing brain cells. So this was often my supper. 

Not exactly "clean" eating, but hang it all -- sometimes you just want a grilled cheese with tomato soup. 

And on the "sickness and health" topic -- a few things. 

Hubby and I have been sharing a Crud. He started it. And we're both still at it. My great-granny's theory that freezing cold cures colds? I'm a believer. I haven't had bronchitis this early since the LAST mild winter. Give me cold. Kill the bugs...

Kid #2 had to have an ablation similar to my own. He came home for a few days and it was weird having him here, but nice. He's better, thanks, and back in his own home. 

And Kid #1 was talking "rings." Hubby and I talked a bit, and I'm going to offer him one of mine. This was one of the first rings Hubby gave me, so I wanted to make sure it was ok. He said, "It's yours..." but then he also said, "You're going to give them the rings anyway, so they may as well get them early to use them." 

I like family jewelry. And I'm a believer that you don't need to wait till I'm dead. The fact is, I'm going to be leaving a lot of rings - and why shouldn't they have them to enjoy them? 

I'm not being foolish. I mean, it's gotta be SERIOUS. And the kids have been dating for a little over 5 years. And she's not a "bling" kind of girl. Hopefully she'll like it. 

I don't want him to think he has to rush into anything, but I would be really honored if they'd use one of mine. I showed him some of them, kind of to give him ideas about structure, what fits well with a band, etc. And gemstones are coming back as engagement rings. She doesn't particularly like diamonds. But he liked this one. 

Random Picture...

I'm feeling a hankering to raid the cookies in the freezer... So here's your random picture. 

Kid #2 came in for the surgery and Raisa went nuts... So he scooped her up and said, "Take that, rowdy hound!" 

She wasn't quite sure what to do; you can't see it, but her tail was flying pretty good. 

After that, she was pretty good about jumping on him. 

Yes, I know. She has her CGC. But apparently, this is HER boy and she was going to jump on him regardless!