Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Get a haircut and get a new job

Day 1 of official unemployment was lovely. Peanut and I went for a walk, I got him his hotspot spray, went to Target to buy essentials, cleaned off the table in our bedroom that was piled high with my garbage, and started my Mother's Day shopping.

Oh and puppies and I watched American Idol. We all *love* Neil Diamond, and David Cook was pretty awesome, even though I didn't recognize either song he sang.

And though David Archuleta has a great voice, he doesn't have the gritty yumminess Neil does when singing 'America'. So it didn't really work for me.

And dude, what is *up* with Law and Order lately? Their newer episodes have been pretty *amazing*. On all 3 versions, come to think of it. The one where Ed Green leaves was great, though very sad. I like the new guy, though, so I guess it could be worse. And then I watched an episode of SVU tonight where Olivia goes undercover in a women's prison. Scary, scary episode. And I saw a rerun of a Criminal Intent episode that was "ripped from the headlines" - about the college kids killed on a playground. That one must have had a different writer or director, or something, because the way it was shot and the way the scenes were set up, seemed different, and again it was really moving and well-done (in addition to having the usual great plot, etc.).

And Grey's Anatomy came back last week! Yay! So TV-wise, I'm a happy, happy girl.

Tomorrow night is my last sewing class. I'm debating signing up for Sewing 2 which starts in a few weeks. I'm concerned about signing up for that and starting my new job, though the class only starts at 6:30 and is in Kirkland.

I should be able to manage. If it's the same instructor, I totally will take it. She's great. In fact, had to miss class last week because I stayed at work too late and got stuck in horrible traffic on the way home, and by the time I got home and fed the puppies and got my supplies together for class, it was too late and I was feeling so frazzled I just bailed on it.

I emailed my teacher (yay for a sewing teacher who shares her email!) and she said if I showed up early tomorrow she'd get me started on the placemats that were last week's project. This week is potholders, so I should have my hands full. (And apparently my kitchen will be well-outfitted.) So I am super-excited about class tomorrow night.

Ooh, and our major landscaping work to clean up our swampy, ugly backyard is starting tomorrow. So woo hoo! Maybe this year we can play with the dogs in the back instead of feeling guilty all the time about how overgrown and swampy it is. And have that dog party I've been meaning to have for months now!

Hoofin it wit da puppy

Peanut and I took a 35 minute walk around Redmond this morning, which was good for both of us. Peanut is about 15 lbs overweight, and as he gets older I worry more about that affecting his health.

We started out at the vet's office, where I had to pick up some more spray for his hotspots - allergy season is in full force around here for both people and dogs. Then we walked around the Bella Bottega shopping center a couple of times. It was just before 9am so it was nice and empty.

We tried out the new Flexi-leash today and it wasn't bad. Took some getting used to on both our parts, but it really does absorb a lot of the shock when he pulls forward. (And when a 115-lb strong dog is pulling, it's a lot of impact!)

I have eaten a great breakfast and lunch today, very simple. It's always hard to get back into writing down what I eat and trying to stay within the number of WW points I'm allotted. I'm trying not to focus too much on the exact number right now - just focusing this week on the habit of tracking everything first. Oh, and trying not to eat junk.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with diabetes a little while ago and he's the same age as me, so it's starting to worry me a bit more, especially since I'm carrying around about 25 extra pounds since my wedding nearly 3 years ago (!). He did mention something very interesting - that if he takes a walk right after he eats, it really helps his blood sugar numbers.

So I might try it, just to be able to squeeze more walking in, especially while I'm off these next couple of weeks. I may draft The Peanut into this plan as well...

Monday, April 28, 2008

You never bring me flowers

Wow, even after one day in water and with some sun, my tulips look better. There's something so luxurious about having fresh flowers in the house, especially when it's a simple arrangement, because I can pretend like I live like this every day.

I am officially unemployed for the next two weeks now - yay! But I will be busy. There are many calls to make, home projects to undertake, spring cleaning/organizing to do, jewelry and magnets to create, and naps to take. It's important not to forget about the naps. Napping with puppies is the most relaxing thing EVER. They are soothing and they emit sleep vibes.

I was going to treat myself to a bit of shopping downtown after I left work early today, but oddly, I wasn't in the mood for it. Is that the new responsible me talking? There's nothing I actually *need* right now. OMG, did I just say that? Don't let my dad hear that. Or TJ, for that matter.

Anyway, I hope you all are well. I think we're starting to see the beginning of Spring here in Seattle. Finally. But as I write, the clouds are rolling in again. Can't have everything, I guess...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Baggy sweatpants and the Reeboks with the straps

Um, so I'm a dork. I noticed that my From Zaftig to Svelte get-in-shape blog was not actually open to other people viewing it. I think I did that in the Great Job Search of 2007 (not to be confused with the Great Job Search of 2008, mind you.)

So it's fixed now, and I have a poll on it that I'd love for people to take, because I'm just curious.

I bought tulips today at Trader Joes, two bunches - one a peachy orange and one a deep purple. They were kind of fragile - I remember tulips being pretty hardy flowers, but these would fall apart if I wasn't careful. So I had to sacrifice two to the trash, but they still look great. I'll try to get a picture when they've bloomed more.

I always forget how much I like fresh flowers, just a simple arrangement of one or two kinds, with no fluffy greenery stuff. So I might buy some from time to time for my new office at Microsoft.

I am making great progress on my 'projects' list - I started a list of all the things I want to accomplish before I start working again. They're almost all around the house, and a few dr/dentist appts I've been putting off as well. Yesterday I changed the lightbulb in the living room that has been burned out for (I kid you not) about a month. It bothered both TJ and me, but not enough to do anything about it.

But I was tired of it occupying space in my brain, so I changed it. Fortunately we already had the bulb so it was just a matter of dragging the stepstool downstairs and changing the darn thing. Not as hard as running a marathon, but not as easy as sitting on the couch watching TV and commenting about the light bulb being out...

I also cleaned out the fridge, and as an extra bonus, got rid of the 2+-year old Costco box of microwave popcorn. Ick. I hated staring at it every day in the pantry but was never motivated to do anything about it. Until yesterday, when it just HAD to go. Now it's GONE.

And now, it's time to NAP WITH PUPPIES.

Just walk away

Oh no, now I'm going to need to come up with twice the number of song lyric post titles!

Today has been a great one for me so far, as far as healthy living goes.

Aimee and I walked more than 5 miles this morning (5.4 to be exact, if you believe Google Maps, and I do.) We have something very strange going on with our pedometers where they're grossly under-reporting how far we walked, so we need to look @ that at some point. But for now mapping our route on Google seems to be a good plan. Today we walked from the Safeway at 140th to Bellevue Square Mall and back. Not too shabby! My feet are a little sore, but I feel great.

Plus Aimee gets bored walking the same route over and over again, and she also likes to take detours and side streets. Which is hard for non-adventurous me.

But yay for the 5 miles, which earned me 5 WW Activity Points today. (Which I promptly used up at our mid-walk Starbucks trip.) I also stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home for groceries and finally got some bananas, yogurt, milk and cheese. And some ham, because the product of the pig is so damn yummy.

And OMG, I tracked everything in my Weight Watchers online tracker thingy. Woo hoo!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today is where your book begins

Hmm, so after some searching I can't figure out how to trackback to another blog post.

Anyway, this post at ZenHabits got me thinking, specifically point #8 about accountability and a training log.

I've reopened From Zaftig to Svelte. It'll be horribly boring to anyone who's not me, but I need it to keep myself on track.

I'll try to keep all self-indulgent, weight-related posts over there.

Time and time again

Hah - never say never. I need a journal-y place to record my very boring thoughts on exercise and Weight Watchers, and the blog thing seems to be working well for me so I'm resurrecting this one for that purpose.

I am an enthusiastic starter of weight loss programs, and also a quitter. I do well for about 3 weeks then fall off the wagon because I get busy, and let's face it, journaling every bite is just not that fun. Especially when the thing you're going to eat is gonna blow the entire day's allowance, and you want to eat it anyway.

And then of course are the "special occasions" which are really just code for "I don't want to keep track today, it's too hard". I mean a genuine special occasion like my birthday or wedding is fine. But "we have friends in town" or "it's the first nice dinner out we've had all week" just doesn't cut it.

I've been feeling pretty crap-tastic lately. I am a prisoner to the number on the scale and it's so awfully horrendous that I want to be like an ostrich and put my head back in the sand. But more than the number, how I feel just plain sucks. I am sluggish and tired. My body is bigger than I am used to, so my cute clothes no longer fit. I also can't curl up as effectively on the couch because I'm all blobby.

I started Weight Watchers in February determined to change this, for the last time. And as work got busy, I stopped going. And stopped tracking. *But* they have this new 'Monthly Pass' deal, so I kept paying. Which made me realize I could go back at any time. (And every time I got the new card in the mail, it made me feel just a bit guiltier.)

So this morning, at 8:30am, I found a center near my house and went back. I was very pleased to find that I had lost weight since my last weigh in. I now weigh 174.8. Still shudder-ific, but I need to stop being owned by that number. I want to lose about 40-45 pounds, but more importantly, I want to avoid diabetes and wear a size 8-10 again.

Today, Aimee and I walked for 30 min, the first time in weeks. And later in the day, I took the pups to the park and got in another 20 min (at least) of walking.

And I ate all my meals at home today, and tracked POINTS for the first time in weeks. A good start.

So close you can almost taste it

So I only have one day of work left. I've written up my transition document, informed my customers, sent the obligatory 'goodbye' email to my teammates, brought my minifridge and framed art home, and mostly cleaned out my desk. It's weird how attached you can get to a place after less than a year. I guess when you spend 40+ hours a week somewhere, and with work as important as it is in our culture, it's bound to happen.

So I'm a little sad about it. Especially since I was there for less than a year. But I really believe that if something isn't working, then I need to take responsibility for it and change it. I could have waited a year, but that would have been artificial, because at that point I still would have been (even more?) frustrated with the commute, and definitely would have craved new challenges.

I think going to Caltech really changed me and the way I approach work (or school). I thrive when I'm in an environment where I feel like I need to be "on" all the time, or where I have to WORK HARD to do well. Where I feel slightly behind all the time. So if I take a class that's easy, or a job that's manageable, I somehow feel like it's not "enough" for me. My little brain is used to working overtime just to keep up, so I need to keep it constantly running.

And yeah, I realize this sounds like me bragging about how smart I am. But you know what? I'm proud of what I can do.

I'm tired of seeing women keep their mad skillz, intelligence and their competence at work quiet, hoping that their managers "will just notice" the great job they're doing.

Many of the men I've worked with, *regardless of how competent they are*, will take any opportunity to toot their own horn and let people know about the projects they've finished, the deals they've closed, or customer accounts they saved from cancellation. I've seen far too many less-than-competent guys brag about their (dubious) accomplishments, and not nearly enough of my amazing female co-workers telling people about the great things they did.

Sometimes saving up all those accomplishments for that annual review form that only your manager sees is just too late.

I know this goes against everything women are taught growing up: "be nice, don't brag, be quiet and do what the teacher tells you, follow the directions". But the longer I work, the more I realize that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the raises, and the promotions.

I'm not advocating a full-scale spam assault of every single accomplishment, but in my new job, I'm going to try to speak up a little more, *even when I'm surrounded by higher level folks*, increase my visibility and not just be a good girl and do what my manager tells me. So far my experiments with asking for what I want have worked (flexible work arrangements, more responsibility, promotion, etc.)

I'll let you know how it goes.

And by the way, I'm not "calling out" anyone in my current job. It's just an observation I've made now that I've had some introspective time to figure out what I want from my career.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's so easy, so damn easy

So I promised Wendi that I'd post pictures of my sewing class projects. Now that it's almost time for my 3rd class, I had better post what I made last week!

The first project last Wednesday was this little tissue pack holder. For this project, we learned to measure and cut 4 4x6 inch rectangles from scrap fabric using the rotary cutter and quilting ruler.

Now, I'm not a fan of fabric cozies for things that don't really need a cover, so I'm trying to think of a good use for this. In the right size and with a smaller opening it would make a decent iPod holder or phone cozy.

But the really cool thing for me was learning how this was put together. You iron two of the rectangles in half lengthwise, and place them on top of the other two rectangles, and then sew around the perimeter of the whole thing. So when you're making it, it looks like this:

Then you cut out the corner bits to reduce the bulk, and flip the whole thing inside out so that it looks all neat and clean. You don't even need to trim all the wooly threads from the end of the fabric because it's all hidden. I had no idea that's how things were made!

And on another note, my total lack of spatial visualization and relationship ability is haunting me in a major way with the sewing.

In order to cut the fabric with the rotary (pizza) cutter, I need to use my right hand, and you need to put the ruler on the left, on top of the fabric. But you have to orient/flip everything so you can measure it properly and cut the length you want. It takes me a couple of tries to really figure out where I need to put everything (fabric, ruler, hand, cutter). I just can't see it in my head, without actually trying it out to see if that's where I need to cut/position. I honestly think that part of my brain is just missing.

When I was in high school, I took an "engineering aptitude test" that consisted of a ton of visual questions like this. They'd show you a diagram of a 3-D box, and ask you what it would look like if you cut along certain lines and flattened it out.

Or they'd show you the flattened version of a shape and asked what it would look like if you folded it along the bold lines. I remember just sitting there in shock, having NO EARTHLY IDEA what to answer, because I just couldn't see it. It was crazy, especially since I have mad standardized test-taking skillz. But apparently not *any* spatial relationship skills at all.

So that's going to be rough with the sewing, but I'm hoping I'll get better with practice. As long as I don't have to sew a 3-D pyramid, I should be fine!

Tomorrow night is placemats and potholders. Yippeee!

Monday, April 21, 2008

They don't make em like this anymore

Woo hoo! I just sold a set of my Elements of Bling magnets. I'm so totally stoked about it, since they are an original design that just came to me in that place between awake and asleep. And because they're geeky, I love them even more.

Oh, and today I held hands in the car with a cute boy who wasn't my husband. (Shocking!)

So I must confess. The cute boy was Pierce, my friend Aimee's adorable 18-month-old son. He likes to hold hands while he watches his Baby Einstein video in the PimpMobile (oops, I mean the Escalade). And of course, I can't resist a boy in a cute hat. Don't tell TJ, because he might get jealous!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bend me break me anyway you need me

Note to self: do not post after having 3 glasses of wine... Last night's post has been unceremoniously removed. Though I did get to play Rock Band on the XBOX last night (omg, was I really singing in front of a room full of people?!) and I have to say I LOVED it.

Lazy Sunday here, and finally the sun came out after a couple of days of snow, sleet and crazy hail interludes. Since the dogs were getting stir-crazy we went to the park in the hail. It was surprisingly fun, maybe because I actually put on all my woolies and managed to stay pretty warm and dry despite the horrendously craptastic weather that passes for spring in these parts.

Now Peanut and I are relaxing in front of the fireplace, because TJ so nicely made a fire for us. I love these quiet afternoons.

I started advertising my Etsy shop last week on Project Wonderful, which is a site that lets you place bids on ad space for just a few cents. You can put a cap on your daily spending, or spending for the whole campaign, so you don't go overboard. I've now seen my ads on various blogs all over the world, and definitely have gotten some clicks, which is cool. (No sales yet, though, since I started advertising.)

I put a couple of PW ad spaces on my own blog here (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them). So in a few days, I should be able to see other people "bidding" for the space on my ad boxes. Hopefully I can get to a nice steady-state where the few cents I make from my ad space can be reinvested into advertising my Etsy shop on this network. That would be too cool.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's so hard to say goodbye

So one of the disadvantages of blogging is that I can't talk about certain things, given that this is ON THE INTERNET. You all know about people being "dooced", ie fired for things they wrote on their blog. Of course, now Dooce is probably one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, so it's probably just as well that she was fired because now she actually supports her family with her blog. It's a crazy world out there, kids.

Anyway, one of the things I couldn't write about because it wasn't public knowledge at work yet, is that in a few weeks I'm leaving my tiny downtown startup company to go back to Microsoft.

I gave notice earlier this week, and oh my gosh, it was like that horrible bad breakup conversation you have when you're just not that into the relationship. It was a complete surprise to my manager, who by the way is FREAKIN' AWESOME, and that made it so much worse. I've had horrible, awful managers, and ok managers, and a handful of really really good ones, and Alan is one of the best. Which made this whole process even more gut-wrenching.

So what's the deal? It's not my boss, or the company itself. It's the damn commute. I should have listened to EVERYONE (including my always-right husband) when they told me I'd hate it after a while. But no, I'm one of those people who has to make and experience her own mistakes. I guess you could say I'm an experimentalist rather than a theoretician :)

Besides the stupid commute, I'm kind of having one of those internal arguments about ambition, wanting it all, etc. I am one of those Type A people. I'm not competitive, but I expect to do my best, and to put my all into whatever I do. So as much as I should just focus on OTHER THINGS now and keep the job on the back burner, I just can't do it. Apparently that's the mark of a nerd, to get all obsessive about whatever project is in front of your nose at any given time. Grrr.

So the opportunity at Microsoft is going to be pretty challenging, and probably somewhat stressful, but as far as my career goes, it's a really good move for me. I'll be working on a team with folks I used to work with back in 2003-4 so it's a known quantity, but the work itself is cross-company, which has all that "visibility" and other stuff.

Oh, and I get my Pro Club membership back. For that I CANNOT wait.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Strike a deal with her

Sweet Child O' Mine Necklace by Anandi's LaboratorySo this weekend has been a good one for my Etsy shop. I added two new necklaces and worked on some of my older pictures to get them a little better and brighter.
I really feel like my photography is improving, but it's not perfect yet. Thanks to Lisa, and some folks on the Etsy forums, I've picked up a lot of tips that seem to help.Red Tide Necklace by Anandis Laboratory

To share just a few: I now have two halogen lights specifically for pictures, and they are those tiny adjustable desk lamps so I can position them just where I need them. I stopped using incandescent bulbs because they gave me a yellowish glow over everything. And Lord knows we can't wait around for a sunny day here in Seattle to photograph items!

The other thing that's really helped is adjusting my camera settings correctly. I now use the Macro setting, which allows me to get sharp close-ups, and I've adjusted the white balance slightly so that it looks like more of a natural light (even when I am photographing under just the lamps and it's dark out). I'm using a Canon PowerShot SD20 from 2005, so it's not exactly cutting-edge, but I'm very pleased with the pictures. (Any need for improvement is due to the user, not the equipment!)

This morning I also reviewed the older items in my shop to figure out what I'm going to do with them. There are two pairs of earrings and a necklace that I've had for sale since I started, and they just haven't sold. I think the time is up for these guys, so when those listings expire, if they haven't sold, I'm going to take them apart and create something new.

So I created a last chance SALE section in my shop. Check it out, and save those guys from dissassembly!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Send me on my way

So I've had a Facebook account for a couple of years now. I signed up for it when it was only supposed to be for college students, by using my Caltech alumni email address, and telling them I had graduated in 2000, which was the earliest year you could select (!). I didn't do much with it - used it to leave a note for my brother, who was in college at the time, and maybe my cousin, too, but at that time I didn't have a lot of friends still in college or with Facebook accounts.

Of course, now that they've opened up their platform to the world, I got sucked into that whole business and have gussied up my profile and added everyone I could possibly think of, just like with my LinkedIn account.

These sites are becoming my television. And by that, I mean that this is how I waste my free time. I barely watch TV anymore - just a few hours a week, but time in front of the LCD monitor? Probably more than I want to think about.

But somehow they really appeal to me, because they allow me to easily find and keep (loosely) in touch with old friends, classmates and work colleagues. I've got a ton of contact information in a few places in case I need to find someone in my circle who's been to law school, or might know a guy who knows the hiring manager of a job I'm interested in, or can remember the restaurant we ate at in Philadelphia when we were there for work training 5 years ago.

My Outlook (now Entourage) address book might not be that extensive, but with an easy search and a click, I can add someone to Facebook or LinkedIn. And of course, there are the random surprise 'adds' I get from other people. Like the girl I went to high school with, who shared an unnatural love of Def Leppard. Turns out she still lives in Pittsburgh but is now married to a member of a fairly popular rock band, *who I've actually seen live*. (And no, it's not Def Leppard. Quite a different style of music.) That's just so interesting to me - both hearing from her after 17 years, and the fact that her husband is actually a rock star. Craziness.

Since I didn't grow up in the generation (Y?) that had the Internet all through their childhood, or at least as teenagers, and regularly use IM and text messages without thinking about it, some of this stuff is still slightly unnatural to me. But wow, when you figure out what it can do for your relationships, it really is kind of cool. Staying in touch no longer means digging up an outdated address or old phone number. It's as easy as clicking a link and sending a quick message, nearly whenever you feel like it. Pretty awesome, huh?

So feel free to add me as a contact or a friend, or both. I'd love to hear from you and maybe in 3 years you can remind me about that fabulous sushi place we tried once in Bellevue. And maybe I can get you an interview for that job you've been drooling over.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The doubting one by heart

I was so excited about my bracelet sale yesterday, I forgot to mention the TRULY EXCITING thing that happened to me this week.

I finally learned how to use a sewing machine!! My sewing class at the local community college started this week, and true to its Sewing I title, we started at the VERY beginning. As in, here are all the parts of the machine.

We learned how to thread it, and that you have to keep the presser foot down to sew anything, and that you have to "complete the stitch" by turning the wheel towards you, before changing the stitch or removing the piece from the machine. SO COOL.

The woman who teaches the class is all about us finishing projects, so we made a cute little sewing kit bag out of Ziploc baggies and a potholder. We also did a little "bonus project", and made a ring pincushion out of a soda bottlecap, a scrap of fabric and some stuffing.

Next week is a pillowcase, so I've got to buy some nice fabric. I'd post pics of my projects, but the first two aren't that pretty. Just suffice it to say, I am THRILLED that I can work a sewing machine now. Woot!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You and I should get along so awfully

I got a nice surprise in my email inbox today - I sold my "People Are People" bracelet, one of my all-time favorite pieces in my Etsy shop! And I'm thrilled about it, but sometimes I have mixed feelings about selling my pieces. Each piece I make is special, and I get a lot of the color combinations or concepts just coming to me intuitively while I walk or drive to work, or when I'm in the shower, or in that magical place between awake and asleep. So a tiny part of my brain was hoping this wouldn't sell before the listing period had expired on Etsy and I'd get to keep it. (And really, it's ridiculous because I could have just made the decision to keep it and never listed it on Etsy, and clearly I chose not to do that.)

It's one of the first pieces I listed in my shop, so I'm thrilled that someone bought it, and business has been really slow lately, so getting a sale at all is still really exciting for me. So yay to my bracelet and its new owner. I hope she loves it as much as I do!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

For ten long years he'll count the days

Today is Peanut's 6th birthday, and last week was Spike's 8th birthday. Well, we actually know Spike's real birthday since his previous family got him from a breeder. Peanut's is just a guess, but given his personality, April 1 is a good choice.

I love our puppies more than I ever thought possible. I never imagined dogs could become part of my family, could communicate with me without using *any* words, and make me so happy just with their presence.

I also *cannot* believe how much patience and tolerance for grossness they have also taught me. Beagle puked on the carpet? Ok, I can clean that up, no prob. Peanut swatting at the couch for the 100th time asking if he can get up there? Whatever, I'll just tell him 'no' again. And again. And again.

So here's to my sweet puppies and many more years with them. I leave you with my favorite picture of the two of them, taken just a few weeks after we got Spike.

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