a cozy sweater for cold days

During one of this winter’s extra-cold days, I decided it was time to crochet something warm. I poked around Ravelry for a while, and decided this tunic was the one. It wasn’t terribly difficult, although I did have to start over after having made a lot of progress because I realized it wasn’t going to fit. I also lost inexplicably lost count of my stitches while working on the front, so it’s a little narrower than the back… fortunately you can’t tell.

I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out. I took a risk with the sleeves, not knowing how the style would look on me, but at the end of the day I was just looking for something cozy that I could wear in my cold, cold apartment (when it’s -30 outside, nothing keeps this place truly warm), and that’s what I achieved.

This post is late-coming. I finished the sweater over a month ago, but I have yet to take any pictures. I’ll edit this post to add them once they exist.

The Baxter California Adventure

I never thought it would happen, but Darren and I just got back from a sunny, warm trip to California. It is unusual for us to do something so extravagant, but a good-sized tax return and some friends willing to house us – savings us a few hundred bucks, which we did end up accidentally spending but I’ll get to that later – provided us with the perfect opportunity.

This idea was actually born the night before Christmas Eve, when some of Darren’s internet pals came over for drinks. Paul and Aleecia are from Eagan, but moved to Orange County last year after Paul got a sweeeet new job. Come out and visit us and we’ll go to Disneyland, they said. And so we did.

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don’t be fooled: this post is not about television.

There are a handful of shows on TV these days that I watch regularly. Most of the time I do that on the weekends via Hulu. Tonight I watched the most recent episodes of Parenthood on NBC (the second-to-last episode of the series!), and Mom on CBS. I also watched the final episode of the unfortunately canceled NBC show A to Z, but this post is happening because of the previous two.

On Parenthood, the family patriarch, Zeek, is  – to make a long story short – dying. He has a heart condition and although they don’t know how much time he has left, it is what it is. Meanwhile, his eldest daughter just got engaged. She’s in her early 40s and has adult children and she’s finally found love. But her dad is sick. She and her fiance Hank have been talking about fancy wedding plans, but with everything going on with her dad Sarah sits down with Hank and explains that she wants to get married locally, and soon, like next week (aka the last episode of the series), because “I just want to make sure that my dad is there.”

And suddenly almost 23 years of FEELINGS came pouring out of my face. There haven’t been many instances in the past couple decades where I’m anything other than matter-of-fact about my father being gone, but apparently I have a trigger. The last time I was overwhelmed with this particular emotion was sometime in the fall probably, when I thought about Kyle and Jenna’s baby-to-be and how dad won’t be here to meet his first/likely only grandchild. So I guess my trigger is Important Life Events That Dads Should Be There For, like weddings and babies.

Anyway, later in the evening I watched CBS’s Mom, and Christy’s dad Alvin, who only recently came back into her and her mom Bonnie’s life, dies suddenly (in the middle of bangin’ Bonnie). Christy spends the episode trying to keep it together for the sake of her kids and Bonnie, but at the very end she’s crying alone in her bedroom. Bonnie comes in to comfort her and at one point Christy says something about how she had so little time with him. Well I was still all fragile after Parenthood so I went ahead and lost it again.

Listen, my brother and I have an awesome stepfather (he and mom will be celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary this summer) who we both have been calling our dad for so long that I don’t remember ever calling him anything else. We’re not lacking in the father department. But shit, man, it sure would be nice to have both of them, y’know?

50 things that made my year

I got this idea from Tim, who was inspired by another blogger. They both went to 100, but I found 50 to be… well, easier.

In no particular order, fifty things that made my year in 2014:

  1. ringing in 2014 in Fort Kickass
  2. yoga
  3. headstands and the other cool stuff I’m learning to do with my body. That sounds dirty.
  4. construction of the Green Line finally finished and now I get to take the train to work
  5. my resolutions for the year: eat more cheese and eat more burritos. Massive successes.
  6. that time the White House had a real-life Big Block of Cheese Day
  7. that genius burrito Kickstarter campaign
  8. the even more amazing Reading Rainbow campaign
  9. we got rid of our janky old car
  10. I learned to knit
  11. PuppyCam happened again
  12. that time Enli and I encountered a squirrel in the yard carrying an entire egg roll in its mouth.
  13. RiffTrax Live was perhaps a life-changing experience.
  14. Clay Aiken ran for Congress, his opponent died, and he still lost.
  15. Finally took Darren to the original motherland of Bagley, WI. It was kind of sad, but I’m glad we made it there anyway.
  16. So many office happy hours.
  17. Peanut Butter Oreos
  18. I started making my own BBQ sauce and life may never be the same.
  19. The horrible upstairs neighbors broke up and moved out.
  20. that time I saw Derek Jeter in real life and spent the rest of the day singing Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole.
  21. Sharknado 2 and the existence of the Sharknado theme song
  22. the day of my oldest brother’s wedding, I learned that my Twinkle is gonna be a dad (in like 2 1/2 months, whaaaat!)
  23. So, yeah: Cody got married, Tyler got engaged, Kyle and Jenna are having a baby. I’m piggybacking off my brothers and their Big Life Events.
  24. that time a bunch of us only worked until noon and then went to a baseball game
  25. playing Goldeneye for the first time in probably 15 years
  26. midterm elections happened and I got to experience the joy of not voting for Mike McFadden.
  27. we went to a hunting-themed wedding where the groom wore a camouflage tuxedo jacket and it made my life.
  28. I watched so much good TV, thanks in large part to Netflix. Psych, Twin Peaks, all of Gilmore Girls, yet another West Wing rewatch… to name a few.
  29. the OMG Literally Dead Instagram account
  30. spending a day swimming and bar-hopping with Brenna, and more friends joining in
  31. lunch on the “patio” at the Blue Door with Kate, in the rain
  32. so many birthday cupcakes!
  33. I finally read The Princess Bride
  34. Other “made my year” books I read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Hyperbole and a Half, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  35. mom gave us copies of her pregnancy notes so I scanned ‘em.
  36. watching Enli and Winston wrestle
  37. I saw a very impressive Beatles tribute show
  38. I made cheese
  39. yet another excellent day at the State Fair
  40. we put in new seats at the Orpheum and it was crazytown.
  41. I crocheted several adorable things for Fetus Johnston.
  42. these ladies
  43. this guy
  44. these little monsters
  45. air plants and my ability to actually keep them alive
  46. when Kelsey’s question for Nick Offerman ended up on the Tonight Show.
  47. this picture of me and my dad
  48. all the things that made (and continue to make) me laugh really hard, like this gif.
  49. meeting a bunch of new friends
  50. many, many excellent cups of coffee.

we like, we like to party

I’m all sick and stuff, which happens every friggin’ year during my holiday break, and Darren very well may be headed down the same street. So thanks mostly to that but also in part to laziness and the bitter cold, we’re staying in for New Year’s Eve. He had to work, but while he was gone I put together an epic holiday feast. A few little milestones happen in 2015 (we both turn 30, plus our 5th wedding anniversary), so we might as well go into it well-fed. Bonus: cooking a multi-course meal is on my 30-by-30 list.

So! Our New Year’s Eve dinner:

  • bread (I used this recipe) with seasoned olive oil for dipping
  • salad
  • potato soup
  • steak seasoned with kona rub from the Capital Grille, and roasted potatoes – we had a bag of potatoes that needed to be used, okay?
  • peach pie – Darren’s favorite. Not homemade, but constructed using refrigerated crusts and canned filling with some extra seasoning.


I was hoping to go to a New Year’s Day yoga class in the morning, but the state of my sinuses seems to be working against me there.

Tonight when the clock hits 12, I’ll be watching Roseanne on Netflix, working on one more 2014-centric blog  post, and eating a slice of pie. And possibly also sneezing. Happy New Year!

2014, as she happened.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made two resolutions: 1) eat more cheese. 2) eat more burritos. Yes I did keep them, thank you very much. I might even make the same resolutions for 2015.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Someone people I’m FB friends with, but not real-life friends. SOON THOUGH. Soooooooon.

Did anyone close to you die?

Not as of today, and it better stay that way.

What countries did you visit?

Alas, I only got as far as Wisconsin.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Okay, I always say more money, but that will be true until I win the lottery (which will be never because I don’t play the lottery). More travel, too.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Another year has passed without a fetus. Win.
OH AND I learned to do a headstand.

What was your biggest failure?

I didn’t get around to paying off my Macy’s card. So close! Fuck you, Macy’s.

What was the best thing you bought?


Whose behavior merited celebration?

I’m drawing a blank here.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Uh, basically all the police at this point, and the whole justice system.

Where did most of your money go?

The shaggin’ wagon, which I love, but goddamn if we haven’t spent a lot of money on it.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?


What song will always remind you of 2014?

I don’t think there is one. I feel like there’s rarely a song that will always make me think of a specific year. One exception is Grand Theft Autumn, which takes me right back to 2004.
Although, “I Don’t Give A Shit About Anything” by The Drug Budget might get the job done.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or Sadder?


Thinner or fatter?

I think thinner? Maybe I’m the same, but with more abs.* Not fatter though, so that’s nice.
*My abs are only visible when I flex, and even then it’s only the top two. Don’t be too impressed.

Richer or poorer?

I got a raise a few months ago, so richer by default.

What do you wish you’d done more of?


What do you wish you’d done less of?

Drinking, although I’ve improved.

How will you be spending Christmas?

Christmas Eve with my family as always. Although we still don’t know whether or not Darren will be able to come. Stupid work.

Did you fall in love in 2014?

Only with things. Obviously I still love Darren and my friends and my pets, but I already fell in love with all of them.

How many one-night stands?

The likelihood of me having a one night stand is extremely slim.

What was your favorite TV program?

Hmm…  I’d have to say The Mindy Project.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


What was the best book you read?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Drug Budget has been around for a lot longer, but I first heard them play on NYE. Quite good. Quite.

What did you want and get?

A new car!

What did you want and not get?

A bigger apartment.

What were your favorite films of this year?

New films? Guardians of the Galaxy was the only movie I’ve in the theatre this year. I guess I still have two weeks to change that…

What did you do on your birthday?

We went to dinner at Flame (RIP) and I had a really amazing burger, but I also paid for a single trip through the salad bar just so I could get a shitload of those cheesy hashbrowns. I will miss you, cheesy hashbrowns. Then we went to the bar, which was not planned as a birthday thing but y’know. Wingin’ it.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

If I could live in leggings and tunics (or long, flowy cardigans) I’d be a happy camper.

What kept you sane?

Yoga and Netflix. Not at the same time.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Taran Killam. Or maybe Chris Pratt.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Bitches trying get all up in my uterus.

Who did you miss?

My mom.

Who was the best new person you met?

Probably Mat. Yay Mat!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:

Something boring about making sure your income tax withholding is correct. No shit.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Life is a playground, but it takes a lot of work.

this post is about coffee, not headstands

The summer before I went to college, I worked as a barista. Obviously not a long stint, but the importance of a good espresso was – and is – a big deal at that particular coffee shop, so I learned quickly. That was the summer my affinity for fancy espresso drinks truly blossomed.

In the eleven years since that summer (omg WUT), I’d been an off-and-on coffee fan. Sometime in the last couple years I settled firmly in the “on” camp, and I intend to stay here. My love of espresso-based beverages, however, never waned. But somewhat recently, I developed a latte obsession that just won’t quit. In the interest of not spending a dick-load of money at coffee shops, I promised myself I’d only purchase one latte a week.

Well, I don’t want to only drink one latte a week. Obviously the best way to solve this problem is to purchase an espresso maker, right? I say yes. I looked at little stove-top guys, but I kinda really wanted a milk steamer. I then set my sights on this guy, which is also available at Target. I figured it would be a great Christmas gift. I’d worry about the counter space when the time came.

But then, fortune smiled upon me. Every year, or almost every year, my office building hosts a sample sale. The companies that show up are always the same (I don’t remember if they’re building tenants or what), and they unload their wares at low, low prices. In the past I’ve picked up various baking items I needed, or replaced worn out kitchen equipment. This year’s sample sale happened yesterday, and I purchased just two things: new drip pans for my stove (yes, I rent, but they were $3 and there are some things that I’d rather just deal with myself), and this stove-top cappuccino/latte maker. It was only $15, guys! I’m pretty excited. It basically works on pure science, and possibly witchcraft. I tested it out once last night, but the manual says to make and discard three pots before you consume one, so I didn’t actually get to taste it. I can say for sure that it was super easy, really quick, and it looked delicious. I plan on running the other two discard-pots tonight, and then I’ll probably make myself a nice evening latte. Mmm, satisfying.