30 December 2009

The Obligitory New Years Post

The New Years Resolution is an odd creature. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing else that can, simultaneously, generate such attraction and such repulsion from me. Nothing else that I start out so excited and exuberant about only to regret it later.

Well, I guess tequila fits that bill pretty well too.

... And bathing suit shopping. And starting a new exercise routine. And watching anything Adam Sandler has recently been in. And... well, okay, I guess there are a lot of things that meet such qualifications. However, resolutions are the subject of this post, so lets stay on topic.

Last year, just like the year before, my resolutions never came to fruition. They were ridiculously unattainable, and I was in denial of that fact (I mean, really. Learn to figure skate? What was I thinking?).

So, this year, I'm not making resolutions. None. Zip. Zero. Nadda. No resolutions. Instead, I am merely using the second of the year as the start date for some short term goals. Not year long, nebulous and all encompassing goals. Short term, very specific goals with an equally specific end date. Also, a very specific reward will be included at the completion of each goal.

So let's run down the first goal set, shall we?

Lunaticraft's Short Term Goals/Rewards

  • Run the Scranton Pre-St. Paddys Day parade race. (Not quite a 5k) Reward: Post-Race Parade Day Debauchery.

  • Send out resumes for adjunct teaching positions by the end of February. Reward: Ebay purchase of season 4 of CSI: NY.

  • Purge stash of erroneous, purposeless skeins of acrylic by the end of January with charity knitting, and afghan finishing. Donate what's left to the Salvi. Reward: $50-$100 LYS shopping day (amount depends on finance situation, which in turn depends on frequency of substitute calls).

  • Purge fabric stash as well by end of January. Donate what I will not use. Reward: Season 1 of CSI: NY (If can be found on Ebay for less than $20)

  • Do not sleep past 9:45 am from January 3rd to January 31. Even on weekends. Reward: spend a weekend reading a non-school related, total guilty pleasure chicklit book.

  • Finish still open research project by Jan. 12th. Reward: CSI/Knitting marathon.

  • And for now, that's all. When one goal is complete, I will then insert another goal in its place, and hopefully 2010 will be a much more productive year than 2009!

    Hope everyone had a Happy New Year, and here's to an even better 2010!


    29 December 2009

    Well, THAT holiday flew by!

    Where did the last two weeks go?

    Christmas totally snuck up on me, bringing both the highs and lows for me this year, as is the case with every year since reaching quasi-adulthood. But the lows are mainly just the normal pressures that women face at holiday times: the baking, the shopping, the "Holiday Joy Creating." A little more fell on my shoulders this year since my mom is having some mobility issues (broken foot), and my grandmother is having back issues (which makes the kolachi making, the хрін (khrin - red beets and horseradish, a traditional Ukrainian dish that is often eaten with ham) making, and the fruitcake making difficult without some help).

    Funny how that all seems to fall on the shoulders of women. I just thank heavens that I'm not dating anyone and don't have that added holiday pressure of a bf and the family that ends up included in such a deal. I love being single right now. Seriously. I've just got way too much on my plate. Plus, lets face it, I refuse to settle for someone I'm not attracted to because they happen to be available and willing. In fact, I refuse to settle at all, ever again. When I decide to date again, it's going to be someone I'm really attracted to, and that just doesn't exist at the moment, nor would I particularly want it to.

    Anyway, the holidays came and went, and were overall a success. I received a lot of amazing gifts, including the repair of my baby (my cello) from my parents, which has been a year and a half in the works. I also received a lot of other great great gifts, which I'll brag about in a later post.

    The main reason behind this post is to show off my big gift giving project of the year: Matryoshki. My two grandmothers and my godmother all got one. Full, five piece dolls, hand painted by me. (Although I only managed to photograph two of the three. I'll get photos of the third next time I'm up my grandmother's.)

    I'm not totally happy with any of them, but I do like the end result of all of them, even if they aren't perfect.

    They started out as blank, wooden dolls, bought from the amazing Ukrainian Gift Shop. Great place, super fast shipping, also our source for pysanki supplies.

    Two weeks, and about a season and a half of both CSI and CSI: NY later, they gradually began to develop.

    I learned some lessons in the process, the biggest one being that I should always leave space for white trim in the first place instead of trying to paint it over a block color.

    The other big lesson was something that I'm sure is simply common sense to most people: Don't spray acrylic sealer in your basement, unfinished though it may be. Just don't.

    I did gain some control over fine details that I did not have back when I was using toothpicks on my mini-canvases thanks to my investment in actual detail paint brushes.

    And overall, they were a big hit with their recipients, so whatever imperfections I still see in them don't really matter then, do they? My grandmothers and my godmother loved them, so... Mission accomplished!


    12 December 2009

    So close I can almost taste it...

    I'm so close to being entirely on break that I can almost taste it. Sadly, however, close is a far cry from having arrived, so there are still note cards, books, and first, second, third, and fourth drafts of things strewn across our table at home. Grad school can be so silly with the whole, "even if the semester is over for everyone else, it marches on for you" thing.

    I'm also currently trapped in a battle with myself over whether or not I should complete a thesis. I had wanted to, and still sort of do, just to have the experience of writing a paper that large under my belt. However, by the same token, I really want to get out on time (this May), because this whole not having a regular, steady job is a huge pain in the ass. However, that's a topic for another entry entirely.

    Today, I want to talk about decorating. Christmas decorating, to be precise.

    The day after Thanksgiving has been, for the past five or so years (since I left for college) our annual "decorate the house" day. It was moved from December first so that it would be done while I was home on break, and now that my baby brother is away at school, the tradition continues. We roll ourselves out of our Turkey-comas, throw on sweats (draw string, of course) and spend all day putting up the lights, the tree, the assorted nick-knacks and stuffed animals, and anything else Holiday related we can find.

    First things always come first, though. So, the morning starts out with our puppy baby:

    She gets her fancy jingly Christmas collar on. We have Christmas bandannas too, but the elf collar jingles, so it's perfect as she follows us around helping us decorate all day. The neighbors think its adorable. My mom and I love it. Rusalka even likes having it on. However, my father hates it. OR, at least he claims he does. In fact, the neighbors get to hear the same conversation about it every year:

    "Stop emasculating the dog!" He'll shout from on the ladder when we let the dog out into the yard.

    "But, she's a girl dog! You can't emasculate a girl!"

    "I don't care."

    "Dad, her eyelashes are longer and fuller than mine. She's a girly dog. Face it."

    "I don't care, take that thing off of her. She was bred for duck hunting, not fashion modeling."

    "Have you ever taken her duck hunting? Come to think of it, have you ever been hunting at all?"

    "It doesn't matter. It's the principle of the thing."

    "Well, if you ever decide to take her duck hunting, I'll take the collar off, but until then..." And that's where I stick my tongue out and return to the house.

    He puts up a blustery fight, but I think he secretly thinks its cute, because the collar never comes off until me or my mom takes it off. His lack of action betrays his true feelings. Kind of like how he claims to hate the cats, but hasn't yet thrown them out of the house. I've even caught him petting Chakka once or twice when he thinks we're not looking. Not Genghis though. Even I'll admit, Genghis can be kind of a dick. And he smells, so I understand why. But, even so, the mutant tabby is my cuddle buddy anyway.

    And so, anyway, the day of decorating begins. The reindeer come out, there are suddenly little tiny old men with big bellies and white beards everywhere. And the tree... oh, the tree! It is a sight welcome to sore eyes, a stunning focal point for our holiday season, the most amazing looking thing in the entire house... (can you tell what my job was? haha. But for real, it's beautiful.)

    However, every year I focus so much on the tree, that often some of our other charming little decorations fly under my radar. So this year, I'll be sharing some of my favorite decorations with you guys photographically, a little with every post. As you'll see, we take our holiday decorating really quite seriously.

    In addition, this might help my mom keep tabs on what she'll need to keep an eye on when I move out. I have every intention of taking some of this stuff with me, which I'm sure she won't like one bit.

    A quick digression before I sign off (although lets face it, digressions are my forte): In knitting news, I do have some FOs. I have only managed to get one photographed, but in addition I have two hats, a scarf, and half a crocheted scarf complete as well. Pictured below are my first successful pair of mitts, that were not knit flat, and that are more than just k1p1 ribbing. They are the Cafe au Lait Mitts (Ravelry Link). This photo was taken before I wove in all the ends (I tried my best to hide them in the picture). The ends have since been buried, so I'll go into more detail on the project when I get around to rephotographing them on my hands!


    07 December 2009

    Second Musical Monday of Advent!

    I just got back from a concert I had to play, and lo and behold, I realized I almost forgot Musical Monday!

    I do have some FO's to show off (a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a hat) as soon as I get a free moment to weave in the ends and get a decent photograph of them, but for now, let's just get to the music!

    Today's selection is one you'll almost all recognize once you hear it. What you may not know, however, is that the Troika from Prokofiev's Lt. Kije Suite was not originally meant as Christmas music. It has become synonymous with sleigh bells, snow, travel and the holidays thanks to movies, but in reality, though it was originally movie music, it had nothing to do with Christmas.

    Prokofiev was commissioned to write a soundtrack for the film adaptation of the Russian novella Lt. Kije (in Russian Поручик Киже... had to dig back into my high school Russian notes to remember how to spell that one. Three notebooks later I found the Cyrillic... and then I remembered that Wikipedia exists. D'oh.). The novella is really a governmental satire more than anything else. However, this particular movement from the suite that Prokofiev wrote for the movie has a lot of sleigh bells in it, so of course modern Hollywood has made it into a Holiday song.