Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

Hey everyone! It's the biggest travel day of the year. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I'm doing what everyone else is doing - packing up and getting ready to hit the road.

I'm headed to Mom and Pop Marvelous' house - I'm staying over tonight so that tomorrow, all I have to do is relax. I'll be bringing along some knitting and a book to read. I suppose I'll be helping out in the kitchen some, but I think it'll be something simple. I've got my faux-Vera Bradley bag, and my two stuffed dogs, so I'm ready!

I know some people are off for big adventures on Black Friday. I'll be spending the day helping decorate Mom and Dad's house for Christmas. Once I'm back at my apartment, I'll be decorating the Marvelous Apartment myself. I'll be back next week with some more good stuff!

Monday, November 25, 2013


I know many of you might have read last week about my adventures at Charming Charlie - where I spent money on stuff I really didn't need, especially in the jewelry-and-scarves category. Well, I had some more shopping adventures, and I just can't wait to show this stuff off! 

I acquired my first infinity scarf to add to my collection. They also had it in black and teal, either of which probably would have matched more of my wardrobe, but I really wanted to add something in the red family. 

And I also snagged this one - I think it's so traditional and classic, but the bright blue color makes it feel a little less granny. 

I also nabbed these earrings. While they have a fishhook back, which means it will be very unusual for me to wear them to work, they're so neutral I think they'll match just about anything. 

These guys, lever-backed, are definitely going into the work rotation. I know you can tell from this super close-up that they aren't perfectly made. I'm hoping it will be less noticeable from a more normal distance. 

Then I came upon this pair of chandelier earrings. I don't have many chandelier-type earrings, though I was excited to give these a try partly because of their lever-back. 

And finally, I decided to add these to my collection. I know they look just like the pink ones, and for a moment, I was tempted to go with the pink ones and skip these. And then I reminded myself that they match all my blue clothes (this means most of my closet) and they're silver, which has long been my preferred metal. I had to do it! 

Here's the best part: I scored all this stuff on a late night run to JoAnn's and Walmart with Ginny. Total: $17.87 plus tax of about $1.30. The jewelry was all on super duper clearance. Ginny and I were browsing as usual when we had to take a restroom break. Right near the restroom, there were a couple of bins full of clearance including all of these earrings! The first two pairs of (smaller) earrings were $.97 each, while the second two were $1.97 each. The nice cashier lady reminded me that, as clearance items, these dirt-cheap earrings couldn't be returned. I considered reminding her that it wouldn't be worth the gas to drive back to JoAnn to rid myself of these earrings if, for some reason, I eventually decided that I hated them. And then I remembered that I'll be going back to JoAnn again soon enough to get something. So, instead, I just smiled. And with that, Ginny and I closed down JoAnn. Seriously. The manager was waiting and locked the door as we walked out. Nice. 

We then headed across the street to what Ginny's son, Mr. O, refers to as "The Walnut." The scarves were "full price" at Walmart - $6.99 for the red one and $5 for the blue. The blue one actually smells a little bit odd, but so far I've loved wearing the red one. Somehow, it's especially comfortable. In fact, I've been tempted to return to snag one of the other colors. Our trip to Walmart was also exciting because Ginny made a very special purchase. She has wanted a sewing machine for a long time and finally, she was ready to buy one - and we picked it up that evening at Walmart. Yay! It was an evening full of discount-shopping fun! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Won it!

So, I know those of you who are blog-reading fools like myself know this, but maybe some of you don't: most blogs that are in the same genre as mine host giveaways. Like, all the time. Okay, maybe not all the time, but seriously - I feel like there are at least two giveaways in my feed at any one time. (You likely won't ever see a giveaway here because usually, the prize is contributed by a sponsor. Marv Minnie is sponsor-free!) Despite their popularity, it was only very recently that I entered my first giveaway. And, I WON!

Back in October, I noticed a giveaway of some really neat state art over at Home Coming*. I decided to enter the contest, and I was lucky enough to get to pick out some State Art from WordLust! A few weeks later, I discovered the mailman had left a special box for me in the lobby at my apartment building...
Open up the box!

And here it is! Yay!!! When I won the giveaway, I had the chance to select which color combo I wanted from the WordLust Etsy shop. It took me some time to decide, actually. You guys are probably aware that I already have some other state art in my place - some that I made, and some that I didn't. I didn't want to overwhelm my living room, so I had to think outside the box about where I might want to display this piece.

I went with the hallway!
This is the view coming out of the bedroom, the study and the hall bathroom. The doorway opening to the left is into the living room, and directly to the left (out of view) is the front door.

One of the choices I was allowed to make was whether the art would appear on a "dark" stained background or a "light" one. I saw some images on the WordLust site that showed a background that was nearly black - I thought that was going to be way too dark. Nevertheless, I was a little surprised by just how light the background was on the one I received!

I was skeptical, but I tried it out in the hallway. And then I realized it worked! When I was making my selections, I was thinking that I wanted something that matched the frame on the little basket chest below. That surely would have been striking. But what I got instead was something that matched the baskets - and which offers some nice contrast with the black mirror, the bronze basket, and the brown wooden awards on the right. It worked out better than I'd planned!

So here's the money shot - this hallway is such a gigantic pain to photograph. There isn't all that much natural light in the rooms that open onto it - especially in November, grrr! And given this hallway's size and shape, none really makes it through. But, I hope in this last one you can get a little sense of what it's really like in the hall - including the reflection in the black mirror! My place is updated -- and I won it!

* Please note, these links are not sponsored in any way. It was not a condition of winning the prize that I blog about it. I decided to share these links with you because I enjoy Kayla's blog and think the product from WordLust is pretty darn cool! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Charming Charlie

About a week ago, I made an excursion to Charming Charlie. I had last Monday off work in observance of Veterans' Day. I had heard of Charming Charlie, but it wasn't a place I'd ever been before. The nearest one to me is at the West End in St. Louis Park. It's a little complicated to get there, and the whole mall is a bit overwhelming because it seems to be trying so hard to be fancy. I was a little intimidated, but I decided to go for it - a Monday afternoon that just happens to be a government-only holiday? Sure thing. 

Here it is! There were a few other patrons in the shop, and the staff were helpful but not pushy, so I had a really nice experience. I wandered around - for like an hour! I think I saw everything, but there was plenty of clearance, which suggests to me that there's plenty of turnover. I'll definitely be back. 

 But, before I go back, I've got to show off the fun stuff I decided to buy while I was there! Total, I spent about $35, which is kind of a lot in my opinion. But, a few of the things I chose were on clearance, so I think I actually got a pretty good deal.

 All the jewelry was wrapped in Charming Charlie tissue paper. I think this is a nice touch - obviously, its another little bit of marketing. More importantly, though, it prevents stuff from getting tangled together.
 I found this scarf! You guys know I have a problem with scarves, turquoise and red are my favorite colors, and I wear black to work almost every day. The moment I saw this, I shoved it directly into my basket!
 I also found this sweet little necklace, buried on the clearance rack. Since I wear glasses on my face already, I'm not sure whether I'll have a ton of use for it. But I've regretted for a long time not buying the Kate Spade-reminiscent glasses necklace at Forever 21 two years ago... this was my chance to redeem myself!

 These earrings were also in the Kate-inspired category, and they were a total must! In my budget, paying $8 for three pairs of stud earrings is a bit of a stretch, but I had to go for it. Are those little blue ones actually from Tiffany? I'll never tell (in person, apparently).

 I also stumbled upon this long, doubled tortoiseshell number. It was seriously hard to photograph. All I can really add is that the gold is nice and light in tone, not brassy at all. I don't have anything else tortoiseshell, and its quite unusual that I wear brown. I'm a little curious about whether I'll find much occasion to wear it, but I decided it was worth a try.

And the grand finale: this multi-strand silver toned number. It seems like nearly every morning, when I'm getting ready to go to work, I'm thinking that I want to wear a more dramatic necklace. I guess I could try to get one in every color of the rainbow to match whatever I've got on, but that dream is a looong way off. The closest thing I've had has been a set of pearls and my white bead necklace. I was looking to branch out, and I think I'm found! While I wasn't that excited about the earrings, and I don't think I would wear the set all at the same time, they're a nice little bonus. 

Alright, that's the treasure trove from this outing. I joined the mailing list and got a $10 off $50 purchase coupon by email. Anyone want to go with me? 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The vertical pile

Hmmm... what does this sound like? It sounds weird. Of course when stuff is piled, it's piled vertically. But the bottom thing rests on a horizontal surface. Right? For 99% of my piles, that's true. Until very recently, however, I was operating one vertical pile. And it was about as successful as it sounds...

Okay, so what is this?

It's actually this, covered with junk. In the picture above, this hook was holding a pair of pants and a t-shirt, each on a hanger, as well as my book club sweatshirt, which was not on a hanger. In addition, it was holding about 6 scarves. It was a disaster! Every time I got too close, one of the scarves was falling to the floor. Moreover, the scarves were hard to see behind the other stuff and when it was time to remove one of the ones from the back, heaven help you. Plus, since I could tell all along that this scarf storage solution was such a wreck, I was storing the scarves basically wherever. Like wadded up on the hall table. Or thrown casually on the floor. To be totally honest, I know that some scarves are going to end up discarded in a ball from time to time during the week. But when it comes time to pick up on the weekend, it's not working for me that there isn't an appropriate place to put them "away."

I spent some time thinking about the best way to deal with the errant scarves that seemed to be taking me over. I know part of the issue is that I've been adding to my scarf collection recently, in a bit of a frenzy. I considered buying (or making) one of those special hangers that is intended for scarves, which are laced through the holes. While that's a good space-saving solution, I knew I wouldn't really take advantage of it - because I'd be too lazy to lace and unlace the scarves. I also considered installing a hook rack on the wall in the hallway. There was room and everything, but I was reluctant to take on that project, especially since I've begun to think more seriously about moving out of this apartment.

And then, while I was at Wal-Mart not long ago, I found the perfect thing!

Yay! Easily space for 12 scarves before the vertical piling resumes!

I'll leave you with a close-up of the eight scarves on the rack. I know they don't match, but when you put them all together, they're sort of wonderful. Good luck removing vertical piles at your place!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mother's Thumb

I've got a bunch of stuff I'd love to share... but I'm not able to write you a nice post to read today. Apparently, I went crazy with some knitting on Saturday afternoon. And on Sunday, I was definitely feeling it. Every time I moved my left hand, it hurt like crazy! On Monday, while I was observing Veterans' Day by not going to work, I was wearing a wrist brace. And going crazy with Dr. Google. To me it sounds like the kind of pain I'm continuing to have in my left hand is De Quervain's tendinitis, also known as Mother's Thumb, Washerwoman's Sprain and Gamer's Thumb. While I'm not a mother, a washerwoman or a gamer, something isn't right. It hurts when I grasp things, like while unbuttoning my coat. I also noticed it when I was drying my hands off with a towel after washing. Apparently, I'm accustomed to doing some kind of grasp-and-twist that has now become quite painful. Yeesh.

So, as much as I love the thought of telling some stories by writing here, I need to spend my free time icing my wrist. Woof. Hopefully this clears up in the next few days and I can get back to business!

Meanwhile, here's a pic of my left hand in its better days, ie, immediately following a manicure in a color called Miami Beet. Sweet! (This picture probably helps you see that I'm right handed, which is why the most obvious subject for my photo is my left hand.) Get well soon, hand... I've got some typing to do!

Friday, November 8, 2013


Do you think this post might be about something else? NOPE. It's about me, taking care of plants! Those of you who don't know me in real life might think, especially because I describe my friends as a garden and call them all by plant nicknames here on the blog, that I'm a gardener. Not even close! Today, Daisy is leaving Minnesota for a trip-of-a-lifetime to Japan in honor of her upcoming 30th birthday. Daisy asked me to take care of her herbs while she's away, and I said sure!

On Tuesday night, I dropped by Daisy's and picked up this box of 5 herbal plants. I then went to my polling place - yay voting! I cast my ballot in the historic Minneapolis mayor's race, our first chance to do ranked choice voting. Once these 5 plants were in my apartment, I had a total of 5 plants in my apartment. Back in April, I received a really pretty emerald green orchid for my birthday. I called it the Dorkid - I planned to tell you guys about it, and about how I took good care of it. And then it died. And then I tossed it down the trash chute, pot and all.

I got the plants all settled in when we got home. In the living room, the two basil plants are on the right. I'm pretty sure the little one on the left is sage. I'm a little nervous about these plants not making it to Daisy's return. Daisy pointed out that, if I didn't take care of them, they wouldn't have any chance at all. I appreciate that she set the bar kind of low! I'll try to keep all of them alive, even the mysterious little one, no matter what!

And here we have thyme and the teeny one is lavender.

Once the plants were all settled, we had a normal evening watching TV on HuluPlus! The other excitement was that the early evening's mist turned into snow!

The plants had a particularly nice view of the season's first snow fall!

Snowfall like this is my very favorite - it doesn't stick to pavement, so no plowing or shoveling is necessary!

So here they are on Thursday morning. Despite what was probably some over-watering on Wednesday, the plants were still alive after having been in my care for 36 hours.

I hope the plants can hang in there for another 3 weeks!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The $2 spot

We all know Target's Dollar Spot. Those of you who have been reading around here know that, as much as I love the Dollar Spot, I love the $2 spot at Michaels even more. I guess that's not actually what it's called, but whatever. Cute stuff, interesting patterns, low prices... how could that add up to something bad?
Like, check out these graphic coffee mugs. I'm sorry the pictures is terrible - they're monogrammed. Which one is better - the flowers or the polka dots? How about both! 

It's not just mugs, though... it's the whole collection! 

I think this ceramic mug might be even better, because the font is so charming. 

But, I have to admit, the pink one is even more adorable! 

This whole display just made me smile. Pink and green? A whole set? Count me in!!! Yay for Michaels $2 spot! 

Post script: for those wondering, my pocketbook and I made it out of Michaels unscathed. Especially since I didn't see anything cute bearing my monogram, I was able to resist... for now! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mason Jar Cozy

Every time I turn around - or peruse the submissions on a Link Party - I seem to encounter another project involving Mason jars. I get it, they're in. I like retro-chic as much as everybody else, but Mason jars just haven't grabbed hold of me the way they seem to have grabbed hold of everyone else. I told myself I wouldn't do any Mason jar projects... and then this happened!

In mid-September, one of my officemates asked me if it would be possible to knit a cozy for a Mason jar. I knew it would be possible, and I told her so. Then it came out that she was actually wondering if it would be possible for me to knit one. And then it came out that this was actually something she hoped I might be able to do in advance of a baby shower at which she was going to be the guest of honor. She explained that she had recently come across a recipe to make pumpkin spice coffee creamer in a Mason jar. She thought about doing this for her own benefit to use at home, since pumpkin spiced coffee is a favorite of hers, but she didn't think it was a good idea for her and baby-to-be (expected mid November) to drink that much coffee or that much sugar on their own. Good point.

The baby shower was about 2 weeks away when we were having this conversation. EEK! My gut reaction was: I don't have a pattern, I don't have any yarn, I don't have time - NO! But then, I remembered that another of our co-workers had a baby this summer. Just before that baby's arrival, we had a shower that involved my officemate making that guest-of-honor crazy cool craft project in the days just before that shower. Since I knew that first guest-of-honor wouldn't be able to reciprocate, since she's now a new mom, I figured it would just be effort paid forward. I said yes.

I did some research and found lots of interesting patterns for decorative Mason jar cozies. I found several that fit like a sock, covering the sides as well as the bottom of the jar. I also discovered many patterns that were knit in the round. While I know this would save the time of having to do a seam, I also know that I'm less adept on my double pointed needles. Whatever the gain might have been, it paled in comparison to the simplicity of using simple straight needles.

I decided to use all cotton yarn for this project, since I knew there was a risk that acrylic yarn would melt if it got too hot. I found this cute Sugar and Cream skein, in a color called "Hippi." I'm still laughing about it - it's too cool to be hippy with a y! I knew that it would knit up more quickly if I used a bulkier yarn and bigger needles, but that took a backseat to the benefit of cotton yarn. But, I decided I could get some benefit if I used a doubled strand. First step: dividing up my little skein of hippi into two balls. It probably sounds monotonous, but it was actually fun to do this winding. Not recommended around children or pets!

When I was at JoAnn's shopping for the yarn, I also picked up this Mason jar so I'd be able to make sure it was just the right size. I definitely measured against the jar, and with my trusty little purple tape measure, several times to make sure I was doing it right. You can see above that I was using my tried-and-true method of working with a double strand of yarn. I had two quart-sized ziploc bags, each of which had one corner removed. This kept the skeins from getting mixed together, and also from bouncing around when I tugged at them, which made the project a bit easier.

I actually wound up making two "drafts" of this cozy. The first one was a little taller than the second. The biggest problem with the first one, though, was that it just wasn't tight enough on the jar. I've done cozies before for paper coffee cups. I realized while I was working on this one just how much more drag there is on the surface of a paper coffee cup as compared to a glass jar. When I lifted up the jar wearing the first draft cozy, there was a little bit of give. It occurred to me that, if the jar was filled with super hot liquid, the person holding it just might get burned.

The stitch pattern I used was:
cast on 13
Row 1: knit 3, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl, knit 3
repeat for all rows
I continued this for every row until I had a little scarf that was just barely long enough to reach all the way around the Mason jar, then cast off and seamed it up. It was able to squeeze around the jar with no extra give. With a cozy this tight, it would have to be put on the jar before the jar was filled with hot liquid - I know that might be a little inconvenient, but I figured it would work.

Hooray! It's done!

I had some extra yarn left, and a little bit of guilt since my cozy wasn't going to cover the bottom of the jar. I also knew that, theoretically, the jar could get so hot it could burn whatever surface it was going to sit upon. So, I decided to make a little coaster that would be just the right size. I just did a straightforward seed stitch, which is the main body stitch in the cozy pattern spelled out above.

So, here it is: the jar with the cozy and the coaster, ready for the hottest coffee creamer around!

Even though this blog post has been delayed, the cozy and coaster were ready a few days before the shower. I was proud, and I know the mom-to-be was excited to receive it when I brought it to the office to give it to her. After all, it's not a real baby shower if somebody isn't tearing there hair out to make an over-ambitious craft, right?