November 26, 2011


Just like last year, DS and I took a trip up to Bloomsburg to spend Thanksgiving with our friends David and Juliana and their family.  A lot of the foods were the same, but there were a few new things, including my brandied cranberries.  All foods were delicious.  They even made Alton Brown's mac and cheese in both the onion and no onion varieties, just for me.  The drive up was not as pleasant this year.  We left too close to rush hour, and I think perhaps we ran afoul of a wreck.  The normally ~2.5 hr trip was five hours.  There was one particularly bad section where DS took a nap, and 45 min later he woke up and we'd moved about 1 mile.

As a bonus, we got to see The Muppets.  I laughed.  I cried.  I had the joy of knowing that we helped introduce David's sister to the joy of the Muppets.  Apparently they did not watch any of that goodness growing up.  I know... It's mind boggling.

We got back on Friday this year, and after a quick clean of the house, we popped in Christmas Vacation and put up the decorations.  It's my favorite tradition with DS.  I'll put up photos of some of that soon.

BTW, left over turkey and ham on a homemade pizza is amazing.

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November 21, 2011

Busy Day

This morning I was awoken by a screaming neighbor.  I don't think that quite gets across what I experienced.  It was a S C R E A M I N G neighbor.  Well, the neighbor part might be a lie.  It was either the neighbor's babysitter (which would be really weird), or the person who lives under them.  At any rate, apparently this young lady was very irate with her (now) ex-boyfriend for waking her up during her very limited sleeping time.  Also, he was a selfish in the way he loved her.  And he didn't get rid of his cat.  Mark, how many times does she have to tell you, this is all your fault?*

So there was that.  At least I woke up in a decent mood and found it more amusing than annoying.  It was early for me, so I read Shades of Grey until I fell back asleep and had a little nap.

On to the busy part.  After waking for real, I made my way to the post office to mail an SGC order to the Netherlands.  I did a lot of laundry.  Okay, that's not very exciting.  I made brandied cranberries, which are delicious and made from our CSA cranberry batch.  Then I made butternut squash soup**, also from our CSA stuff.  I've really been into making soups lately.  I worked out, including 4.5 for real pull ups.***  Currently, the dining room table is set up as a mini photo studio, and I'm wading through 144 new product photos.  (Not 144 new products...)

Copper and Crystal Hoop Earrings by Sleep Goblin Crafts

I'm trying to spice up my product photos.  My stuff never gets picked to be in Treasuries or the Etsy Finds e-mails, and I just don't see where the items themselves aren't good enough.  That leaves the photography.  I'm happier with this new set, but it's still not amazing.  I have photo lights on my wish list, and that should help.  What do you think?  Give me some feedback!

Button Pearl and Garnet Earrings by Sleep Goblin Crafts


*I lost count around 15.

**I just realized I forgot the butter in that soup.  Eh, I added a bunch of spices, and I really like how it turned out anyway.

***Not all at once.  Though the first round was two, which is a new record for me!

November 20, 2011

New Painting and Table Runner

Little Nova, by Kaitlin Deering - 2009

This is mine and DS's first real art purchase.  The painting is titled Little Nova, and is by our friend Kaitlin Deering.  I adore it.  The rainbow colors, the little flecks of white in the black background.  It's magical and wondrous and makes me feel like I'm witnessing some miracle of space or the northern lights or something.

Felt Leaf Table Runner by Sleep Goblin Crafts - 2011
Also new, this table runner.  I finished it last night.  It's just felt cut in leaf shapes with some running stitches for veins, all connected together.  I wanted something that was very fall, and cheap and easy to make.

Felt Leaf Table Runner by Sleep Goblin Crafts - 2011
Now we just need a few more chairs, and this table will be ready for a dinner party.

Just a few things

  • 30 hours in, skyrim is still amazing, and i've only scratched the service
  • in the last month i've had visitors from 14 different countries to my etsy shop
  • most must of have been accidents, because they counted towards my bounce rate
  • looking at the keywords that bring people to my shop makes me scratch my head.  like, why did you get to me by searching for "rohan horse banner" when i'm fairly certain none of those words appear in my shop anywhere?  and you stuck around, so... i guess you found something that satisfied you.
  • there are a lot of things floating around my craft room that belong on etsy but aren't there.
  • they've probably been in there for close to 2 years.
  • the scarves all finally went up today
  • bought my first piece of for real artwork, a giant canvas title "little nova".
  • i swoon every time i look at it
  • dusted off my "acting skills" for this music video (i'm in there, i swear)
  • went rock climbing today with the husband and actually enjoyed it for the first time in 3 years, if not more
  • my hands did not enjoy it
  • need some calluses
  • reading "shades of grey" and am entirely engrossed in this strange strange world
  • i have 9 books to go until i reach my goal of reading 80 for the year

November 16, 2011

2011 Sleep Goblin Ornament

I have been quietly re-opening my Etsy shop for business over the last few weeks.  You might have noticed some activity on the store's Facebook page if you follow that.  I also started a Google+ page, just to cover all my bases.  So if any of you want some custom stuff made by Christmas, now is a great time to let me know so it can be done in time!

But the more important thing I have to tell you is that the 2011 ornament is done!  Well, designed.  I still need to "mass produce" them.  They're themed after the carol 12 Days of Christmas, specifically a partridge in a pear tree.  It took a long time to figure this one out.  I had originally planned on doing it last year, but it just didn't come together.  This year I had a brilliant idea for layered paintings, but I couldn't figure out how to incorporate the partridge in a way that made me happy.  I still love the layer idea, but it will have to wait for something else.

A pear tree painting inside an ornament.
After debating between sculpted paper, cross stitch, and felt, I finally settled on felt.  I had to figure out how make a 3d bird plush, which I'd never done before.  Normally I just sew two flat pieces together and put some stuffing inside.  I did some research and found out the partridge referred to was most likely a red-legged partridge, so I tried to make it look like that.  They have a lot of color changes in their feathers, so it's not perfect, but I'm cool with it.  Then I threw in some real twigs with some felt leaves and pears, and done!

If you like it, you can pre-order it for $10 through the end of November, and then the prices go up to more accurately reflect the time and effort put into them.  Also, if you're missing any previous year's designs, I found a bunch of half finished things that I'm going to try to finish up and put in the shop so I can be rid of them.  Keep an eye out for those as well!

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November 08, 2011

A Cautionary Tale of Switching Banks

DS and I recently decided that we wanted to go back to using a Credit Union.  We used one in Madison, and were very sad to say goodbye when we moved to CA.  There weren't a lot of options in Santa Barbara, it's a small place, so we went with Wells Fargo because it was easy to access.  We didn't love it.  They charged us fees for everything that the UWCU used to do for free, and this was before the crash that made banks decide to create a bunch of new fees.

When we moved to PA, we talked early on about finding a new CU now that we're someplace bigger (and, we're assuming, with more selection).  But we are apparently lazy at heart, because Wells Fargo was everywhere (they existed here alongside Wachovia before the merger, and so after the merger, well.. ) and it was easier to stay.  Then we get a notice that their policies are changing, and we should login to our account online to read them.  It's a good thing I did, because they were major changes.  The most notable being that basic checking accounts were going to cost $15/mo.  Yes, you read that right.  Per month.  That's $180 a year just to have a computer manage my money.  Money that the bank uses to make more money while it sits there.

We decided this was reason enough to finally make the move.  A word of warning if you decide to do this.  Switching banks takes time.  I wish we had started sooner, because we ended up with a deadline based on when we would get charged for having the checking account.  It made things more stressful than they needed to be.  I'm not sure what's standard, but the new credit union holds check deposits on new accounts for 7 business days, and accounts are apparently "new" for a full month.  There is also a further hold on checks over $5000, and specials holds for personal checks.  This meant that the way we did it, closing the old checking account, getting a cashier's check, and depositing it into our new CU, with weekends and holidays included, kept us from having any access to our money for 14 days.  Kind of ridiculous.  I sort of wish we'd just paid the Wells Fargo fee to electronically transfer the money to the new account.  But at the time, I was very turned off by the $20 fee.

Of course, had we started earlier, we could have gotten DS's direct deposit set up in time to go through the CU for November, which would have prevented all of these issues.  It didn't help that we did most of this on the first of the month, which gave us maybe 2 days to play with before we needed all that money to pay the monthly bills.  Thank goodness for parents and excellent CU customer service...

On top of all that, when I went into the bank to close my account, the person that helped me (who was, admittedly, very nice) did not ask which account I meant, and took it upon herself to only close the checking account.  So the savings account sat untouched, with a zero balance, which is a $5 monthly fee when under $200...  I didn't even know it was still open until told me I had a low balance of $.14.  I guess I got an interest payment?  I contacted the bank again and told them of the mistake and that the savings should have been closed.  I was informed I'd have to do it in person, because the balance on the account was not zero, or I could mail them a notarized letter and they could send me a certified check.  For 14 cents.  Which I shouldn't even have had if they'd closed the account when I asked.

So what I'm telling you is this.  If you decide to switch banks, find out what sort of waiting periods your new place has, and plan accordingly.  If necessary, get your old bank to give you enough cash to get by, instead of a lump sum cashier's check.  And remember that direct deposit changes and potentially take 3 weeks to go into effect.

November 05, 2011

In Search of Climbing

Today DS and I decided to explore.  We haven't really done this enough since moving here.  He had read that there was some decent climbing in Ralph Stover State Park, which is about an hour from here.  Today turned out to be crystal clear skies and a high of nearly 60, which is perfect hiking weather in my opinion.  We layered up just in case, grabbed the camera, and went off in search of adventure.

The climbing guide we were following took us to the picnicking and white water section.  This part was home to a late 18th century water-powered grist mill, and the park takes its name from its owner1.  However, the climbing section is in the "High Rocks" section.  While there is technically a road that connects the two, there is a pedestrian only bridge in the way.  So we bundled back into the car and tried again.

The High Rocks area is, as you might have imagined, high.  It overlooks a horseshoe bend in the creek, and there are 200-ft drops down to the river.  The rocks were often a bit purple, and reminded me a lot of Devil's Lake because of that.  They didn't seem nearly so slick though, so they are probably not quartzite. There were quite a few climbers there, though not as many as we would have expected for such a nice day.  That looks good for us being able to find places to set up once we start going there to climb.  There were a lot of bolted routes too, which isn't something I've personally encountered much.  It will be nice to use their built in anchors and not have to spend 45 minutes setting up the rope just to get started.

The day was lovely, both because of the weather and because the leaves were still hanging on and beautiful.  I tried to get a good feel of the place for you in these photos.

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1Ralph Stover State Park Recreational Guide

November 01, 2011

Some Feelings About Google Reader

When I discovered Google Reader, it was quickly considered a godsend.  Here, in one place, I could see all the things posts on the websites I frequented.  ALL THE POSTS.  IN ONE PLACE!  I would never miss another update.  It was amazing.

And then it quickly became immensely overwhelming.  I would log into Reader, and there would be 2000+ new things to read.  Reader became a chore.  A sad thing.  Something that filled me with anxiety and caused me to "Mark all as Read", completely destroying the very thing that made it awesome for me.

Then I started noticing the social features.  I realized that several of my friends had similar tastes as me, and that they subscribed to the same feeds.  These friends would share the posts they found interesting.  I realized that I didn't have to subscribe to every site I liked, I could just check my friends' shared items for some of them.  Suddenly, my daily reading list was something I could knock out in an hour.  That's quite a thing really.  The idea that in one hour I could ingest the entire contents of 79 different websites, plus those things my friends found worthwhile, is an amazing thing for me.  I felt connected and informed with the world around me in ways I never have before.  And if something on the internet was worth sharing and saving but not the whole site?  Well, there's was the "Note in Reader" button on my browser tool bar.

The best thing about Reader was that all of these things was in one single place.  I didn't have to go anywhere to read anything, because the entire article was there.  I even made new friends by enjoying the comments friends of friends left and realizing that their shared items would also be things I found interesting.  Many of those friends are people that aren't even on any other social networking site, and they are not effectively gone from my life.

Now I must say, I feel like Google Reader is a ghost town.  Can I still read the full contents of those 79 subscriptions?  Yes.  But who will I talk to about them?  Share them with?  The idea that I have to go to another site to see +1 items, which are snippets, and then click those to go to yet another site to read all of those items.. well, that's not going to happen.  I don't have time to do that.  If something that was shared wasn't something I was interested in, I could easily type N and be done with it.  Now I need to scroll through everything all of my friends have done on G+?  I mean, that's a lot of stuff.  I don't really care about most of that stuff.   Every picture they post, every time they're happy there was ice cream in the fridge, every time they go somewhere and check in...  This is not part of my "one hour to know what's happening in the world" routine, and it shouldn't be.  The option to have that data show up in G+ is not the issue.  It's that my Google Reader experience has been neutered into something far less useful in the process.