You are currently browsing the archives for March 2010.

The Redhead

  • Posted on March 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Yep, I did it. Actually, Terry did most of it, but we took some time out Sunday and dyed my hair red. I like it, but I’m not exactly used to it yet. I’m not expecting the color when I look in the mirror (which is fairly infrequently anyway), so it still takes me by surprise when I see it.

Not many people have commented on it, but then I worked with mostly men, so that’s not a shocker. The coworkers who have commented so far were both women. 😆

As I’ve found with other level 2 colorants, my hair felt better after the coloring than it did before. Which makes me want to laugh. I just bought some extra conditioner on the way home today, too, so it will feel even nicer after a couple of days.

Now, if only I could get my face to soften up. I started using a new acne treatment regimen about a week ago and it’s starting to catch up with my skin. I noticed the other day that my skin was drying out, but I’ve been using moisturizer every morning, as much for the SPF as for the hydration. Last night my face was a little sore when I laid down for bed and then this morning, it felt like it was sunburned. So, I guess I need to lay off of the cleansing a little bit until my skin gets used it to it. That and I think I need to order some moisturizer from the same company, as well. They have one called a “skin soother.” It’s just a shame that I have to back off when I’m starting to see some results. Of course, things are also bubbling to the surface as the bacteria is being cleared out, so it’s almost getting worse at the same time. All to be expected, but I need the sensitivity to come under control before sailing season starts.

Enough about all of that, though. Here are a couple of photos of me with my new hair. I don’t like having my picture taken, if I can avoid it, so don’t expect too many more. 😛 You don’t notice the color change as much with my hair curly as with it straight. Part of it is lighting and background color, but still. I think it looks half-decently plausible as a natural hair color for me. Considering my Irish heritage and that I probably would have been born a redhead if the genes didn’t skip a generation, it actually could have been possible, under different circumstances. Now, if only the dye had taken properly at the roots on both sides of my head, it might actually look natural, as well… Next time.

Disney Vacation Club

  • Posted on March 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Terry and I made the decision last summer to buy into the Disney Vacation Club. I love Disney. And while I thought I could go down there every year, I’m starting to think that the attractions don’t change often enough to be able to do that. Fortunately, there are a lot of other options open through this timeshare, including staying at non-Disney properties all over the world. Plus, there’s the cruise line. We did a 4 night cruise as part of our honeymoon (then 10 days in the parks) and we weren’t terribly enamored, frankly. We didn’t realize that room service is free, which would have made a pretty significant difference, we’re not keen on the group dining concept and we’re not into night life, which pretty much kills a good bit of the activities for adults. We’re starting to come back around to it, though. They have added a lot of different destinations since our honeymoon more than a decade ago, including Mediterranean cruises, multiple island regions, longer cruises, etc. I assumed, though, that they would require a lot more points than we have bought into and would pretty much not be feasible without begging, borrowing and stealing points (otherwise known as banking one year’s points into the next year and then borrowing the points from the year after that to accumulate three year’s worth of points into 1 year; it’s a handy concept). We were wrong.

We signed up to attend a webcast last night which showed the latest offerings at the parks and elsewhere. Of course, it was one big sales pitch to get members to buy additional points, but we actually found it informative. They will be doing a significant add-on to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom down at WDW in Orlando, which is slated for completion in 2012. In addition, they are launching a new cruise ship soon, which will put a 3rd ship into their fleet and allow them to increase their destination options. So, we started looking at the cruises running in 2011. They have northern European cruises, Alaskan cruises, a cruise that passes through the Panama canal (Terry really wants to go through the canal someday) and two transatlantic cruises. LONG transatlantic cruises. 14 nights. At first, Terry and I blew off that idea as having way too many days at sea, but then we actually looked at the ports of call and additional information. I was floored. The westbound cruise goes from Barcelona to Gibraltar, then to Madeira in Portugal. Don’t underestimate the number of days at sea for the actual trip across the Atlantic. There’s a whopping 5 concurrent days at sea. There are a total of 8 days at sea, so if you’re in it for the ports of call, you need to do one of the cruises through the Caribbean, along the Mexican Riveria, or something else. There are a couple of island ports after the crossing, but you need to be seriously into looking out at vast expanses of water for several days to do this cruise. I have to admit to being more into the cruising part than the beaches, since I’m not exactly a lay around on the beach kind of girl.

Terry and I are actually seriously considering booking for 2012 when we’re able. We’ll have to gather up 3 years worth of points, so no vacations for us in 2011 or 2013, but we were wondering how we were going to spend all of those points anyway. I think we may have found our answer. I’ll have to put some serious thought into what to do during those days at sea, but there’s always stitching. 🙂 They only run two cruises per year – one eastbound and one westbound. It’s a good way for them to make money on the fact that they need to get one of the ships over to Europe for the several different European cruises they offer, so it only makes sense. I’m wondering how quickly they book up and how far in advance we’ll be able to book.

Who knows, we have plenty of time to abandon this crazy plan of ours. Maybe we’ll do the 15-night cruise that heads through the Panama Canal? Or we’ll skip cruising altogether and decide to go somewhere else? Only time will tell.

I Wanna Be a Redhead

  • Posted on March 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

It’s true. I would dearly love to be a redhead. And it’s not because my dogs have red fur, though I have to admit that I found myself comparing hair color options to the shades of both of the girls’ fur the other night. But, for years now, I have been longing to be a redhead. I’m not sure whether I want a rich, medium-toned auburn or the lighter golden red, but I lean towards the golden red every time I look at hair color, so I guess that’s what I would prefer. However, Terry thinks the medium auburn is better and it is closer to my natural medium brown, so it would look more natural. So, I went with Terry’s thoughts this time.

I’m irritated because Natural Instincts no longer has the color I used to use. Or maybe my CVS didn’t have it, which wouldn’t be the first time they didn’t carry something. So, I’m trying a new semi-permanent this time (I prefer to have it wash out a little more naturally). L’oreal has a new line called Healthy Look that appears to be direct competition for Natural Instincts. Someone else had a new line in the same genre – was it Garnier? Might have been. I’m pretty sure there was green involved in the packaging, so it was probably Garnier. I’m going with shade 6R Spiced Praline. It’s supposed to be a light reddish brown and the swatch makes it look like it should produce a decent medium red on my hair.

Of course, there is one wrinkle. I had my hair highlighted in December 2008. It’s still growing out. Like more than 2/3 of my hair still have highlights growing out. While I like the look of the highlights (even though the stylist went a little nuts), I hate the damage that it did to my hair. My hair is dry and feels like straw. Still. Bottom line is that I have no way of predicting exactly what the new color is going to look like on two different colors of hair on my head. I’m hoping that it kind-of blends between the two… hopefully. I wish I could convince my hair to grow a little more quickly so that I could get those blasted highlights cut out! Do I need more protein? If so, I’ve already arrived at the conclusion that I am not getting enough protein. I’m not the biggest fan of red meat, so I’m pretty sure I’m deficient. In the protein category, that is. Although I’m sure I’m deficient in other areas, as well. Either way, I picked up some protein water powder last night at the grocery store, so more protein is coming my way.

But, I digress. As usual (how many times have I typed that phrase recently?). The next time you see me (Anna), I should be a redhead. Hopefully, not of the mutant variety. I’m still a little nervous.

I Stitch With Dog Hair

  • Posted on March 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Of course, I’ve been stitching with dog hair for many years, but when I had my beautiful little blondie, Phoebe, it was less obvious. Well, it was much less obvious to me, I guess. I think that Barbara noticed, though, when she picked dog hairs out of a few of my projects. I was mortified. 😆 Anyway, for me, unless it was a particularly long fur of Phoebe’s, I often couldn’t distinguish it from the usual fiber fluffing off of the fabric and threads.

However, I have now been blessed with a redhead (Abby) and a dark orange gal (Lily). And I’ve been stitching with white perle silk most recently. Which now has a slight tinge to it in some spots of my stitching, due to a stray red Abby hair having wrapped itself around it. I’m going to have to start being a lot more careful about doglet fur getting near my stitching corner. Which is difficult, especially right now, when both girls are shedding. Hmmm…

Whatever. It’s not like it’s going to keep me from stitching; I do that all by myself. 🙂 That said, here is a quick shot of my current project:
Photo removed. See the finished piece here.

This is a panel from the main project, a Lady’s Reticule, taught in Savannah. This particular panel was designed and taught by Patricia Bage of Patricia Ann Designs. The colors are a little washed out from the flash, but they are close enough. For the record, all of the white stitches that look like crosses are not simple cross stitches, but full Smyrna crosses. Each and every one. And there are plenty more to be stitched. BTW, that’s a line of basting down the vertical center, in case you were wondering.

I managed about 2 hours of stitching or so on this yesterday. I ripped out the border below the multicolored Rhodes diamond stitches below the wording because I didn’t care for the spacing and wanted to tweak the design slightly. I’m much happier with it now, but having to frog Smyrna crosses is worse than stitching them in the first place. And I actually don’t mind the stitch, in normal doses. I’m going to be completely overdosed after this panel, though!

We’ll see how much stitching I can manage this week. I have a work deadline in two weeks looming and I’m starting to get a little more stressed out about it as time goes on. While that means I should probably be taking the time to stitch to help me relax, right now it’s translating to poor eating choices and not enough quality sleep. But, this, too, shall pass.

Serenity Now!

  • Posted on March 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

What a classic Seinfeld reference and oh-so-appropriate. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me know and I’ll try to find a clip on YouTube or something.

I’ve been noticing for a while now that my fuse is getting shorter… and shorter… and shorter. I’m to the point now where I’m like a ticking time bomb that only has 5 seconds left. My mood has been sucky. All winter. Suck, suck, sucky, suck-suck. I know that my depression has a strong seasonal component to it, but I think that I tend to forget during those months in-between how bad it really gets for me during the winter time. And yet, I’m gradually starting to come up out of it now as I start to see more sunlight on a daily basis.

But I’m still fairly ill-tempered at the moment. Anything and everything makes me angry. I have a short fuse, but the bomb itself is really long-lasting. It just keeps going and going. Or maybe it’s just that the fuse extends through the bomb and out the other side. In which case, it’s a really, really long fuse on the other side that burns very slowly. I find that the embers of anger and irritation just seem to smolder deep inside of me for quite a while.

I need to learn some coping techniques. Deep breathing, exercise, meditation, whatever. The stupid thing is that I’ve had a biofeedback game (okay, one biofeedback unit and two actual games or sets of meditation exercises that plug into it) for years. The biofeedback unit’s USB cord hasn’t even brushed the lips of the USB hub on my new computer. Nor has the software been installed. I did actually make an attempt to install it when I first tried Vista on the new machine, only to find out that it didn’t stand a chance of running on Vista. On a side note, don’t install Vista, for any rhyme or reason – EVER! It is a horrible piece of crap. I managed to forget that Microsnot seems to only be able to put out a good operating system every other try. My cardinal rule of thumb is to skip every other major version release. I just failed to do that this time. But, no matter; I just had to buy a new copy of Windows 7 as soon as it came out, reformat my hard drives and install everything from scratch – again.

But I digress. The software didn’t work on Vista when I tried to install it. Which is truly not that shocking, now that I know more about Vista. Of course, I am running the 64-bit of Windows 7, which, in some respects, buys me a whole other boatload of trouble as far as software support goes. So, I have gone without for quite some time. Not like I was actually using it when I did have it installed (and I still have that machine hooked up and running…).

No matter how you slice it, I obviously need some help. I find stitching relaxing, but I have managed to attach some sort of guilt factor to it recently, so that if I contemplate stitching for a while, I find a million other things that I really should be doing instead. I’m a master at not taking proper care of myself, what can I say? But, something has to give, and soon. And I would greatly prefer that it not be my sanity. I almost wrote “here’s to hoping that I am able to regain control soon,” but hoping isn’t going to get it done, now is it? It’s time to actually take myself by the hand (or maybe the hair?) and do better for myself. This is the year, I can just feel it. Change is on the wind.

Accounting is Not My Forte

  • Posted on March 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm

There are several parts to owning an online needlework shop of which I’m not so fond.

One is maintaining inventory. There’s the physical inventory, the inventory in the accounting software and then the inventory in the web storefront. Of course, life would be much simpler if the latter two were actually linked, but alas they are not. I actually reconciled the physical and accounting inventories this year for the first time. I know, I know, I should have been doing it at least once a year, but what can I say? I’m not the most fastidious shopowner. But that was the easy part. Print out the inventory worksheet from the accounting software, go through the physical inventory and compare quantities. I was off on a few quantities, but in most instances, I knew exactly why. One set was an error in a shipment from a distributor that I missed, one bunch from from forgetting to account for inventory depletions for contest that I ran a while back and one was an order that I think got entered wrong. Pretty minor stuff, all things considered. The painful part is when I receive new inventory. If it’s just a reorder, entering the accounting information isn’t horrible, but more complex than it needs to be. And half the time I forget to increase the quantities in the web storefront. 🙁 However, when they are items that are completely new to the store, I have a lot of background work to do, with entering all of the details for each item into the accounting software, then adding the items into the web storefront. That part is much, much worse. I have to pull images, detailed descriptions, take measurements and weights for the shipping calculators, etc. And if I’m working with an entirely new vendor, forget about it.

By far my least favorite part of owning a shop, though, is the accounting. I covered part of that when I talked about dealing with inventory. I’m hoping that some of the complexity is due to the piece of crud accounting software (Microsoft) I’m using. For example, just to record a vendor order, I have to create a purchase order, receive the items into inventory, create the vendor bill and finally issue a payment towards the bill, assuming, of course, that the items have already been created; otherwise, I have to start by creating an item and recording all of the details for each item before I can even create a purchase order. Unfortunately, when I was starting out a couple of years ago, though, Microsoft were the only ones that had a package that could handle multiple currencies. Believe it or not, none of the other major accounting software manufacturers (including Intuit and Peachtree) could handle international currencies at that time. And I started off with a UK vendor in my beginning set of suppliers, so I knew it would be a problem right off the bat. Now, of course, Microsoft decided to stop manufacturing the product and is no longer supporting it, either. So, I’m being forced to make a switch. Fortunately for me, Intuit has since gotten their act together and QuickBooks now handles multiple currencies. Hooray! And they even have some conversion software to go from Microsoft Accounting to QuickBooks. Hip hip hooray! While I’m not exactly looking forward to having to convert everything (and I was kind-of hoping to limp my way through this fiscal year), I have finally hit the wall with the Microsoft product. I spent several hours the other night reconciling the accounts for 2009 when it really should have taken less than half an hour. I knew exactly which transactions I had missed recording and I then found the reason why the accounts still didn’t balance afterwards, which ironically had to do with a problem in how the software dealt with the exchange rates between currencies.

I was quite the unhappy camper by the time I got all of the numbers right and was able to hand them over to Terry to finish the taxes. I suppose that it’s actually a good thing, in a way, that I hit the wall in such a profound way with my current accounting package. It makes the decision to invest in QuickBooks that much easier to make, and one that I think I’m willing to make a lot sooner, as well.

Now that the accounting is all squared away, I need to get all of the new inventory I’ve acquired into the web storefront. Oh, and have I mentioned that I need to upgrade that software, as well? 😆

The Great Cleanup

  • Posted on March 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I don’t keep a clean house. Truly. Not even close. Of all of my associates who read this blog, I believe Anna is the only one who has only been subjected to the full mess because, honestly, I didn’t clean before she came (sorry Anna).

I don’t clean. I don’t dust, pretty much ever. I don’t vacuum, unless until it becomes unbearable. I’m a working professional who works full time for a corporation and has two home businesses on the side, plus two dogs and a husband to take care of contend with. And don’t underestimate the neediness factor of two tiny dogs. They may be cute and sweet, but they are also spoiled and demanding. In fact, they are probably the only reason that certain areas of carpet get cleaned on any sort of regular basis. Oh, and of course, there’s sailing season. During which nearly every weekend that it’s not raining and we don’t have to work is occupied. Which means that spring, summer and half of the fall weekends are booked up.

Bottom line: I have no time to take care of myself. I certainly don’t have time for my house.

I only make time to clean before company arrives. Which happens about once a quarter. And then, it’s astounding how much cleaning one can accomplish in two days. Of course, all personal needs (and a certain amount of sleep) fall by the wayside during those two days, but still. It’s the only time that my house becomes even reasonably presentable. And it’s a stretch to call it that. And that’s only the rooms that visitors see. I keep my craft room pretty neat, actually, because it’s a very small room that is packed with craft supplies and musical instruments. I pretty much have to pick up in there or I can’t walk. And it has gotten to that point before. But our bedroom and even our bathroom? Neglected. There’s room to walk in the bedroom, but there’s baskets of unattended clean laundry in the bedroom and the closet floor is littered with, usually large, piles of dirty clothes. My bathtub hasn’t been used in probably a year, which is a sin because it’s a Jacuzzi tub. The countertops could really use a scrub down. And other assorted cleaning issues that I won’t bother to list. And the computer room pretty much looks like a bomb of technology has gone off in it.

But ho, when company comes, the carpets get vacuumed, the floors get mopped, some of the clutter gets picked up, the kitchen island gets cleared off, the stovetop gets scrubbed, including burners, drip pans and everything underneath, as does the inside of the microwave, the main bathroom gets scrubbed spotless, the spare bedroom becomes magically organized and usable (except for my desk area), etc. The Christmas decorations that are still boxed up and sitting in my little library are taken up to the attic, finally. The Christmas cookie tins are wiped out and put away. Obviously, the last great cleanup occurred right before Christmas.

There’s still dust. And a good bit of clutter. Because, let’s face it, we have far too much crap and not even close to enough storage spaces for it all. My ONS takes up part of my dining room and we have a room full of servers and networking equipment in the basement for the web business. It’s ridiculous.

This year’s challenge will be to take care of the yard. All of the bushes planted by the builder need to be ripped out and replaced, something needs to be done to inhibit the growth of the accursed thistle that is everywhere, my butterfly bushes in the front have taken heavy damage from all of the snow and wind, so they need to be replaced. The garden area that went completely unused last year and so is full of weeds and the area around it that didn’t get mowed at all last year all need to be cleared. We have ruts to fill, drainage to reroute, grass seed to be planted and my clematis trellis to be ripped down the rest of the way (Mother Nature took care of half of it and a good chunk of the other half) and replaced so that I can replant my beloved clematis. Oh, and we have to dig up the yard right in front of the house until we find the tank covers for the two septic tanks so that they can be pumped out. We’re way overdue. And there’s the gazebo that we’ve been wanting to put in the natural clearing in the woods in the back (HAH!). I’m seriously thinking of using a good portion of the tax refund money to bring in a landscaper to at least take care of the bushes. I can’t handle the inside of my house; I can barely even think about touching the outside.

So, there it is. My homemaking skills (or severe lack thereof) laid bare. Judge me as you please, but at least the house is at an acceptable state today!

I Hate Citi!

  • Posted on March 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Warning: Rant ahead; possible probable minor cursing deluge of profanity.

So, I have a couple of credit cards. My Citi card I’ve had forever and never use it, but don’t want to close the account because my credit score will take a hit for closing such a long-held account. My Discover card never gets used; I actually cut it up, I’m pretty sure (I should actually go and double-check that fact when I’m done ranting). My Chase Disney card is the only one I actually use, other than using my checking card’s credit card functionality. My Citi card used to be the primary one I used, until they decided to be asinine and set my interest rate to 29.99%. Yes, that was the maximum allowed by law. Yes, they did it right before the new laws went into effect (ba$tards). No, I had done absolutely nothing to warrant a rate hike. Yes, they seem to have actually done the rate increase across the board, as Terry got a notification in the mail a day after I did that his was going up to the maximum, as well. So, that was the split second that I decided to dump Citi.

I have tried my best to switch all recurring payments from the Citi card to the Chase card. And I was 99.9% sure that I had gotten everything. I discovered a few months ago that my Amazon account was still pointing to the card, so I switched that over. And that was the last of it. Or so I thought. Terry happened to log into his Citi account online today to see what his balance was, just to find out that they had totally screwed up his auto-payment and his balance was now negative. Not a horrendous thing, but, of course, they aren’t going to pay him 29.99% interest on the amount that they overcharged him. So, I decided to log into mine, just for kicks. Only to find out that I was past due, in bright, bold red letters splashed on every page of the account. What the $&#!? Apparently, I missed one lonely little recurring payment (my annual auto-renewal of my McAfee subscription). I’m supposed to get electronic statements. The charge occurred in January. I got nothing in January, nothing in February and nothing so far this month. No statements, no notification of the account going past due, no phone call, nothing. I had to jump through hoops just to make the payment to pay the balance off. They ask all of these stupid questions about why you let the account go past due, when you expect to be able to make payments again, how you expect to make payments in the future, etc. A whole bunch of total bull$hit all because they didn’t notify me that a charge had hit my obviously dormant account. Oh, and did I mention that they won’t let me setup auto-payments against the account, just in case something like this happens again (and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t let me before it went past due, either)? A$$holes. Seriously. It’s such a racket. All designed to screw you as much as possible and make more money for them.

As you can plainly tell, I’m quite pi$$ed off. I think that this is the final straw. Once I can confirm that the account is paid off, I’m closing it. Damn the consequences to my credit score. It will recover. But I’m tired of putting up with this $hit.

Seriously, Citi, you ****ing suck. Go to he**.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (Part Two)

  • Posted on March 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I just thought I’d toss up two St. Patrick’s Day themed photos for good measure. These finishes are from back in 2007, but they are still just as lovely today, and the WhimZi is hanging at the entrance to my cubicle at work. The design is courtesy of Belinda at Tor Rhuann Designs. If you’ve never checked out her designs (or haven’t been to her site in a while), it’s worth a look. She has such lovely Assisi designs, many of which are a wonderfully quick stitch!

This is her Assisi-style shamrock design:

Done a second time without the border so it would fit in a WhimZi frame:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • Posted on March 17, 2010 at 8:00 am

I just had to give a quick shout-out to all of my Irish friends and family today. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t actually own anything green, but I’m wearing it on the inside. 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

My Stick Family from