Friday, March 27, 2009

How do you pronounce her name?

I'll be back to knitting things next week, but for now:

The lecture given by Dr. Zahi Hawass last night was an absolute hoot. The man may be the most renowned archaeologist on the face of the planet, but he could easily ditch that job to become a traveling comedian. He kept us in stitches for the entire night.

There was only one problem. The man wouldn't frickin' keep still, so I got a lot of pics like this one:

I did get a less blurry (but not by much) pic of him standing at the podium:

This was the clearest of the night and it was a pic of the slide projection screen he used during the lecture:

I was kinda disappointed to see him in a suit. I wanted him in the blue shirt and fedora. oh well.

He is a fantastic public speaker and his job may be the most fascinating job ever. He was so cute, absolutely passionate about his career and the history that he is literally uncovering.

He seems very sweet as well. He had been corresponding with a 10 year old little girl and her parents and he called the girl up on stage with him. Then he astonished her and her folks by giving her an all expense paid 10 day trip to Egypt with him as their guide. It was all I could do not to stand up in my seat and scream "Me too! Take me too!" :)

We did not stay for the book signing. I wish we could have, but it was around 10pm when we left and there is no way we would have gotten home before 1am. The Fox theater was packed, and I do mean packed (between 1500 and 2000 people -way more than I expected would be there), and everyone of them grabbed the book they had either brought or purchased while there and ran to the room where the signing would be. Practically a stampede.

But wow, was this guy fun. I would like to have met him. Maybe one day.

He spoke on all the excavations he has going currently all over Egypt. He spoke only briefly about Tut, most of it was about other mummies and pyramids. So cool.

By the way, some geeky trivia for you via Dr. Hawass: If you ever need to remember how to pronounce Queen Hatshepsut's name, just think "HotChickenSoup" and you'll have it. Told ya it was geeky.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Productivity for a History Geek

Today is looking fairly productive, just not knitting and craft wise. I haven't had time to pick up the knitting in almost a week. I'm starting to get the shakes.

But despite the shakes, I managed to have a Venison stew in the crockpot by 9:30 this morning, the house picked up of toys and vacuumed by 10:00. Technically, the second part should have been quicker, but the Youngest was "helping". By 10:30 I had a batch of refrigerated bread dough put together from scratch and rising. Damn, that's not half bad is it? Especially from a lazy couch potato like me.

Tonight, my inner history geek will be in fine form. I'm going to see Dr. Zahi Hawass speak at the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. If you aren't familiar with him, he's the top dude in Egypt dealing with antiquities. He has a prettier title than that, but you get the point. Nothing, but nothing, happens within Egypt's tombs/pyramids/museums that isn't approved by his say so. He also wears a cool hat. If you have ever watched an archeology program on Discovery or the History Channel, you have seen him. He manages to make it into just about all of them. He will speaking on Tutankhamun and other subjects. This is all due to the King Tut museum being here in the ATL right now. I've already seen it and it's awesome. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dress complete!

Okay, I know that I've teased you for two days about my new little black dress, but now, now you get to see it in all it's little glory. I'm so tickled with how this little number turned out. I've been prancing around in it for the last fifteen minutes or so, squealing (quietly - the kid's down for his nap) for joy.


It fits me better than Endora here. Evidently Endora is well endowed with broad shoulders. In this shot, I couldn't get the dress zipped up all the way, but you can't tell it from the photo.

I had a devil of a time trying to get a photo of it to show you, which is why I put it on Endora. My official photographer is not home from school yet, but I did get a shot of it on me. Behold the ubiquitous bathroom shot. Notice my fingers balancing me on the countertop as I stand on tip toes in order to show the flowers at the bottom of the dress:

We're doing a sixties number for the upcoming show that I'm in and I'll be wearing this and a pair of white go-go boots for it. Otherwise, I'll be wearing it every chance I get this summer and I've got several sets of sandals that will go with it nicely.

I love the A-line dresses! They are incredible flattering on us pear shapes - smaller on top than on bottom. ahem. When the pattern was cut I opted for one size larger on bottom and the dress absolutely could not fit me better.

I think without the flowers, this would be the perfect little black dress for going out in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finances and The Hobbies

I've mentioned that I'm saving up to get a Fancy Kitten Drum Carder. The one that I want is the Fine cloth 90/120 carder without the brush attachment. I just can't see paying $50 extra dollars for the brush attachment when I can run to Home Depot and get a wallpaper brush for way less. And just maybe, I can figure out a hack that will hold it in place for a couple of bucks too.

I really want this now! I could run out and put it on the ol' credit card, but in the long run I would pay a lot more for it due to interest since right now, we can't pay the cards off in full.

Money has been pretty tight around here for the past several years. I could put the blame all on my husband (left a big buck job to work as a mortgage broker at the dumbest time ever resulting in $0 income for 2 years. He's since gotten a new job, but it still pays a lot less than in the big buck days.), but morally I can't do that. I know that my spending has contributed to the problem. While I cut back my spending in some areas, in others I was still living like he was still pulling in the big bucks. Very dumb. We plowed through all of our savings (which was fairly good sized) in no time flat and now have nothing to show for all the work that we put in before having kids.

In the past two months I've been on a saving money and budgeting kick. I'm trying to get us out of debt by using the Dave Ramsey Snowball Method.

I've also been tackling my grocery and Walmart spending. Do you know that we were spending between $600 - $800 a month in groceries? Mostly processed junk. The family had a conniption when I cut those out. At Walmart alone I was spending about $400 a month on crap I didn't need. We were also eating out at McDonald's once a week and that was costing us about $800 a year.

So. Out went the McDonald's and Walmart spending. That's $5600 a year saved right there. Ouch. In one month I've already gotten the grocery budget down to $300 a month for a family of four and I know I can do better there, but it's a good start. So that makes for $9200.00 saved a year so far. I've been tired of living with little to no money but, Wow. What were we thinking by spending so much on junk? Maybe there's a reason we're poor. What else are we doing that's dumb?

Now, back to the frugal drum carding point. My hobbies are fairly expensive. Knitting and Spinning and the required equipment and supplies for those ain't cheap. When I decided to buy my drum carder, I started selling stuff on Craigslist and EBay to finance it. It's going well. I only need $30.00 more in sales to get my new toy.

If I can ever get my act together (which is difficult to do with a precoscious three year old running around the house "helping" me), once I get the carder I would like to begin selling some of the bats that I card. I won't get rich doing this, but maybe I can finance some of my hobbies in a way that won't take a big chunk out of the family budget. I have an Etsy shop, but I've never stocked and used it. Why? I don't know. Maybe I haven't had the confidence in my abilities to make and sell things.

I'm sure I'm not the only person out there to realize this stuff, even if it did take me so long. I've put together some more links for those in my situation that are financially challenged and I've done it by category:

Personal finances (general) - these blogs offer some sound financial advice:

Get Rich Slowly
The Simple Dollar

Sites that help stretch a dollar:

The Dollar Stretcher - I get a real kick out of digging around in the archives of this site. Some people take frugality to an artform, but I'm not planning on going to that extreme.

Hobby Related (spinning/knitting): I'm planning on using the two spinning links extensively soon, or at least $30 dollars from now.

R.H. Lindsay - wool wholeseller that sells to anyone at wholesale prices. Great prices!
Sheep Shed Studio - Mom and Pop style business with Wonderful service and quality fiber. I'm planning on using them quite a bit when I get my carder. The grab bags and big bags are particular fun and cool. Especially if you enjoy dyeing fiber and carding it all together. Can't say enough about this wonderful company!
KnitPicks - for yarn and their fantastic Options needles. Good quality, inexpensive yarns.

Anyone have any links similar to these, but for jewelry making supplies? I'd like to get some jewelry made and start selling it as well, but I desperately need cheaper supplies than what Hobby Lobby and Michael's charge in order to be more profitable.

I'm sure there's tons of other wonderful links out there. These are just a few to get you started.

I know, I promised pics of the dress that I'm sewing, but this article was just begging to be written today. I still have to hem it and add appliques. I'll have something for you in tomorrow's episode.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Jewelry!

Blogger and I don't seem to be on good terms today. For some reason, it kept not taking my email and password and I spent about twenty minutes just trying to log in so that I could post. Jeez.

I went out of town this weekend and did a tiny bit of knitting, but not enough to show off. I did, however, make some more jewelry while I was there.

The necklace that I've worn all day:

And two others:

I also made a dragon necklace for the Eldest, but he won't take it off long enough for me to get a good pic of it.

I would like to begin selling some jewelry as a side business, but the only problem is that I keep becoming quite attached to what I've made. The teardrop shaped pendant necklace will probably go in the sell box, but I really like the other two. How do people that sell their wares detach themselves from their products enough to sell them?

I've also not finished my dress. I completed most of it and the lining. Now I just have to get these two to a bar for a nightcap so that they can hookup. Once the kids get to bed and the margaritas do their magic, hopefully things will start to happen and I'll have some progress to show you tomorrow.