Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stamping Christmas

Last night, I finally got out to another stamping event. It's been a long time since I didn't have a conflict with one of the dates, so I thought I'd better go before the holiday chaos takes over.

Almost immediately, I felt like I was back in elementary school. The ladies sat around, chatting and leisurely putting cards together. I attacked my tasks and worked furiously, only vaguely listening to the uninteresting conversation, which was, incidentally, very elementary.....talk of people I've never met.

Just like in school, I finished my Christmas cards before everyone, just a little over an hour into the evening. I killed another thirty minutes, trying to be sociable, and then I was the first to leave. It's become very apparent that I have nothing in common with these ladies, though they are very nice. I'll continue to go to events, though, and pretend to be interested in the ladies who are not interested in me.

Yes, I'm cynical today. A screaming cat woke me up at 2am and kept me awake for thirty minutes. I'm entitled to a bit of cynicism, methinks.

But the stamping was fun last night! Very pretty cards!

Monday, November 29, 2010

TN Dishcloth

Yarn: Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme
Color: Spring Green - 518
Needles: US 7
Pattern: Tennessee Knitted Square by Rhonda White

I finished a Christmas present! Right before Thanksgiving, too! This is for Mr. Higgins' mother - one of two dishcloths I'll give her. I've already started the second one, amazingly! Since she does needlework herself - cross-stitch - I know she'll appreciate something handmade. And perhaps next year I'll make her a scarf!

At some point I really need to finish something other than a dishcloth. Life has been so busy, though.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The day before Turkey Day. The anticipation is high; mouths are watering.

I'm heading to my parents' for a few days, along with Mr. Higgins, to partake of turkey, dressing, rolls, fruit salad, pumpkin pie, and possibly some vegetables.

Happy pre-Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dreaded Car Service Visit

I absolutely hate taking my car in for service. Actually, is there anyone who enjoys this painful experience? Spending money, long waits, weird service techs.... When you're a woman, the experience can be even more painful. We're patronized and sometimes taken advantage of. Thankfully, I've found a good dealership with a great service department.....but the experience is never one I enjoy.

My car has always had road noise but it's gotten much worse over the past year. Then, something changed about a month ago and it's been terrible - frighteningly bad. I've actually dreaded getting on the highway. Not only that, but I've been really worried. The sound could not be good. And the sound got worse on curves, meaning the shifting weight of the car exacerbated the noise. This meant something was wrong with the wheels or tires.

Considering I already had to replace my tires at an absurdly early mileage (due to a manufacturer defect), I feared needing a new set of tires. But I did my online research before going in and found another possible, more probable cause of the noise: the wheel bearings.

Sure enough, when the service manager got in the car with me, we hadn't even pulled out of the lot before he diagnosed a bad rear wheel bearing. It was worse than he'd ever seen and about to come apart. Great.

They replaced it (quicker than they estimated) and even gave me a discount. This was after I told the tech that there were multiple reports filed with the NHTSB about premature wheel bearing failures. He looked down his nose and said "you can't believe everything you read in the blogs." Instead of arguing, I cited my sources and thanked him for the discount. To be frank (I didn't tell him this), this wheel bearing has been bad for a very long time and I've had my car in there at least twice since then - and they never caught it. Nor did the place that rotates my tires.

I feel quite lucky to have not gotten into an accident. That wheel bearing could have disintegrated on the highway, leaving me without a wheel at a very high speed. While the money is painful to spend so near to Christmas, my car hasn't sounded so good since I first drove it. Amazing! It's the best $280 I've ever spent (would have been $350 without the discount).

So, while my nice service tech knows me on sight, says my first name when I tell him my last on the phone (which makes me uncomfortable), perhaps that did me good. That and my charm - ha! It's still not a good feeling to be patronized because of my sex, but I was able to talk very knowledgeably about wheel bearings, thanks to my research.

And, just a warning... Most wheel bearings are now made in China, my dad tells me. He restores and rebuilds antique cars and most of his car buddies are complaining about these China-made bearings and how they don't hold up. So, if you hear a howling noise coming from you tires on exit ramps, beware. And, for reference, the NHTSB has all the complaints and service bulletins available for every car on the highway. You can find out what recalls have been issued and what others are saying about your car! A great resource!

Monday, November 22, 2010


I survived my opening night Harry Potter experience. Barely. Mr. Higgins and I ranted about this for along time after the movie, so I thought I'd share.

You're in a packed theater. Half of the people around you are under the age of twelve. One of those little brats is kicking your chair. As you wait for the movie to begin, you dread who is going to sit next to you. A family with two kids and a baby walks in. They sit on your row. The baby cries intermittently throughout the entire movie. You hear the mom trying to soothe the baby. In a movie that is, overall, pretty quiet, you hear every squeal, whimper, and sniffle of that baby.

This was our experience on Friday. What kind of mother takes a baby to a movie with sound so loud that it can damage young eardrums? What kind of mother decides to ruin the movie-going experience of hundreds of people by bringing her mewling, drooling, squealing baby to a packed theater?

And this is why I'm a snob. I do not understand what, if anything, goes on in someone's head who would do such a thing. Are they completely unable of understanding the repercussions of their actions? Are they so incapable of connecting the dots, of "getting" cause and effect? I'm thinking they are. And that says a lot about our society as a whole.

I refuse to be one of these people. I will be above this behavior, even if it's interpreted as snobbery. Being a courteous, considerate, conscious member of society is apparently very difficult.

Oh, but I liked the movie!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wintry Excitement

I broke out the space heater yesterday so I guess it's officially winter now. Ha!

That means hot tea, hot chocolate, knitting, Christmas music, and warm clothes. (I'm really hoping for some quality knitting time soon as I have Christmas presents to finish!)

Ah, I so love winter. I love the holidays and all they entail. This season will be extra special as Mr. Higgins and I go to Tennessee on Christmas Day to spend a week with his parents. I can't wait! There's so much to look forward to - and so much to do! - that I can't help but be excited.

Now I must watch WHITE CHRISTMAS to officially put me in the holiday mood!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A few years ago, at the height of a writing frenzy, I set a goal for myself: to get published by age thirty. I didn't specify what I would publish but I thought of writing a short story or two until I got the - endless - novels finished.

Last month, I turned twenty-nine. Looking ahead to the next year, there's very little writing time that can be squeezed in between the holidays, a move, a wedding, a honeymoon and all the planning those things require.

I'm not sad about these obstacles; I'm overjoyed to have them! But I get a lot of satisfaction from writing. Work doesn't exactly make me feel fulfilled so my crafts and writing have to fill that void. Perhaps I should re-do my goal. I will be published by the time I'm thirty-five. Sounds good, eh?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jewel of St. Petersburg

Kate Furnivall has quickly become one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. With The Jewel of St. Petersburg, she's written yet another novel full of history, suspense, action, and love.

This is a prelude of sorts. It tells the story of Lydia's (of The Russian Concubine, The Girl from Junchow) mother, Valentina. All I knew of Lydia's mother was that she was sad, usually drunk, and dependent upon the men who came and went from her life. But with The Jewel, we see another Valentina - one filled with Lydia's stubbornness and vivaciousness. They truly are mother and daughter.

The story begins in St. Petersburg. Valentina is the daughter of a rich government official who serves the Romanovs. Civil unrest is causing tension to build throughout the city. The Bolsheviks target wealthy families, including Valentina's, and tragedy strikes early on. Meanwhile, a Dutch engineer, Jens Friis, is working to make St. Petersburg a more habitable place by building sewers and working to improve the drinking water. Jens and Valentina meet at a society function and are immediately enraptured with each other.

Romance is never that easy, though. Valentina's father arranges a different marriage for her. And, despite the love affair, Valentina and Jens cannot ignore the worsening conditions in Russia. Soon, revolution begins and they are thrown into the center of it.

Preludes are always strange. You know how they're going to end; the journey is the unknown. This journey is filled with socialists, bombs, mobs, tunnels, and cholera. It's an enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mr. Potter

I can't believe I'm going to do this but apparently I am... I, along with Mr. Higgins and friends, will see the new HARRY POTTER movie on opening night. I am officially one of the masses. Sigh.

Despite vehement protests on my part, to start, at least, Mr. Higgins made me get through all the movies. I'd seen bits and pieces of some and all of one, but I was now required to see them all, in chronological order. I'll admit to liking them, though I think they're way too mature for many youngsters who read the books.

But I hate buying into trends and pop culture. I guess that makes me a bit of a snob....and I don't care. I like finding the hidden treasures that no one else reads or knows about. Rarely do I read something on the bestseller lists - and if I do, it's years after the popularity of a book has died down. I don't follow what is commonly referred to as music these days (Lady what?). And I have no idea who most of the youngsters gracing magazine covers are. I hate reality television (except Project Runway, of course!) and most TV, in general, is ridiculous, in my opinion.

So....I'm a snob. Give me a book - historical fiction, please - and classical music any night!

Yet I'll be in line to see HARRY POTTER on Friday. I want to see it. But I'm not touching TWILIGHT with a mile-long pole. No way. Some part of my dignity must remain intact!

Monday, November 15, 2010


It was a busy week last week followed by a crazy, but good, weekend.

My parents and Mr. Higgins' parents had lots of bonding time and it was great to spend so much time with both families. They are all so happy about the engagement and all that it means.

I've made no secret of the pressure my dad used to put on me to get out there and actively search for my future husband. I resented it for a very long time, annoyed that my dad's happiness was so intertwined with my own. Why should I be responsible for his happiness?! It's more complicated than that, I know, but it was always frustrating.

The other day, as I found myself sitting between my dad and Mr. Higgins, I realized that, as much as Dad wanted me to find that special someone, it is also difficult to see another man become the center of my universe. There is something to the "daddy's little girl" thing, even if I was always closer to my mom.

So I'm grateful to have such a wonderful, loving family. They've done so much for me and now, for Mr. Higgins and me. I'm so glad we'll continue to have close relationships with our parents....and that Mr. Higgins' parents seem to like me! Ha!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Here's an uplifting (NOT!) story for you this fine, Friday morning.... National Greatness Agenda.

As if the current political climate wasn't messy enough, I'm still thoroughly engrossed in Kate Furnivall's novel...which revolves around the Bolshevik movement in early 20th century Russia. It's odd - and hints at deja vu - hearing the revolutionaries' slogan, "down with the elitist intellectuals!"

I'm not saying that America is at the kind of crossroads that Russia was at the time. We have no monarchy to topple, we have no underground Marxist movement....but things are not good, as the article above attests.

And this is why I love history! So many parallels and things to learn from! Er...I wonder if Sarah Palin has ever read her Russian history? Probably not...that would be so very intellectual!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shopping Day

It's a very exciting day today! I'm going wedding shopping with my mom and Mr. Higgins' mom! (Writing Mrs. Higgins looks too strange.)

There a lot on the agenda: wedding dress, moms' dresses, decorations... It's going to be a very busy day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Swept Away

After a very long day yesterday, I went home, prepared to mope the night away.

First, though, I had to work out....which left me somewhat, annoyingly energetic. I did more chores than I intended and then settled down to watch a few episodes of the last season of UGLY BETTY.

Then, I turned to my book....the one that has taken me months to get in to. I haven't had much time to read lately but all I needed was a few lunch breaks to get truly swept away by Kate Furnivall's superb writing. I read for an hour before going to bed. I didn't want to put the book down but it's so good that I want it to last for as long as possible! Such a conundrum, good books! You want to savor them but you can't wait to finish!

But it was good to get wrapped up in a book. There's nothing like a good escape from a bad work week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Intellectual Dilemma

Speaking of intellectualism....

Yesterday, I went to a departmental event where our professors talked about their upper-level class offerings. For some reason, it's very easy for me to forget that I'm surrounded by some very intelligent people! They may not know how to work a printer, but they know all about religion and violence, religion and the law, cults in America, African religions....and the Bible, of course.

I'm tempted to sit in on a class. I've been tempted for quite some time. But, then, I remember just how crazy next semester is going to be for me, personally, and for my boss, professionally. Perhaps I should wait.

Ack! But my boss is teaching a student Hebrew! I could listen in!

The problem is that I love learning. I could happily be a student my entire life! How can you ever learn enough about this world and it's peoples?

Monday, November 8, 2010


It's easy to overlook one's blessings. It's easy to go from day to day in a mindless, robotic routine. It's easy to forget just how easy we have it.

And then I read something like this. Any of us could easily have been born across the ocean, in another world. No one asked for such a harsh life yet very few can escape it. This makes me unbelievably sad.

I'm lucky to such a blessed life. It's not a perfect existence but it's mine and mine alone. I'm free to make my own decisions. And I'm so lucky to have found such a wonderful man to share my life with.

Sometimes it's nice to get a little perspective.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hateful Rhetoric

I recently had a Facebook conversation with a girl who, for all intents and purposes, is a Palin Tea Party-er. She is completely entitled to her opinion but when she started personally criticizing me, I deleted her thread from my page and blocked her as a friend. Harsh, yes. Personal attacks, however, are really not the answer, especially among "friends."

I've heard one of her attacks before, mostly from those I'm closest to: "you're too close to those academics and have bought into their rhetoric." If being educated and seeking to better myself through a lifetime of reading and personal growth is a bad thing....well, then, this country has more problems than we thought. If more people were "educated" then perhaps more than 10% would be able to do the math on their paycheck and figure out that Obama has given us a tax break.

But I'm getting distracted. I grew up in a conservative household. Heck, I grew up in Texas! I understand both sides and generally respect (though I have none for Palin) both. I understand being vehemently opposed to abortion; I understand states rights (historian, here); I like capitalism (I've read Ayn Rand, which is more than my FB "friend" - and perhaps Palin - has done!); I believe that hard work should be rewarded... But I also thought that four more years of Republican politics would do more harm than good. And I'm entitled to that opinion.

A blond comment by FB "friend" made... "I don't understand why people are so harsh on Palin." Well, honey, she's not too bright. She uses faith and allegiance to incite division and hatred. She talks more about grizzly bears than the issues. She lacks gravitas.

I've never blocked someone from FB before. It felt good. Again, everyone's entitled to their opinion... But not when they post hateful, ignorant things on my Wall.

Oh, and, haven't you heard? Obama saved capitalism...and we repaid him with scorn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Too much to do!

My dad had some pretty major surgery a week ago and, though he's doing well, he can't do any work around the house and property. Since my parents have quite a bit of acreage, this presents problems for my mom.

So, tomorrow night, I will rush out to the country to help her get things done. I can already tell you that I'm sick of driving, sick of my car, and really sick of spending money on gas. But I'll do it. The reason the house needs to look good is for an engagement party my parents are throwing for me and Mr. Higgins.

The good news is that I won't need to do any mowing. (Yay, fall temperatures!) The bad news is that some kind of yard work will most definitely need to be done. And, because of my work there, I'll be less motivated to work on my own yard. Ack, vicious cycle!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Stitchin' Den

In all the talk of Colorado, I forgot to mention that I got to a LYS in Estes Park - The Stitchin' Den. It was an adorable shop - filled with charm! - in an older building just off the main street of downtown. I wandered around for quite some time before I found some sock yarn that I bought. The lady who helped me was super nice. All in all, I'd highly recommend the shop to anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood.

Despite my good intentions, I was completely unproductive with my knitting over the course of the trip. The good news, however, is that I'm almost done with my first Christmas present! (College football Saturdays with Mr. Higgins are truly turning out to be a blessing!) One more to go for this particular person! Two months in which to finish it! Surely, that's possible, even for me!

I don't think I should contemplate any more knitted presents. November is going to be a busy month and then Christmas shopping begins! Oh and there's the little detail of a wedding to figure out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Texas Rangers

I have never had an ounce of interest in baseball. What I know of the sport comes from several viewings of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, back in the day. Thanks that Tom Hanks, I know that "there's no crying in baseball!"

Despite my ignorance, it was still cool to see my hometown team in the World Series. The Metroplex was humming with support for the Rangers. At a time when the Cowboys are so woefully incompetent, the Rangers gave everyone a bright spot. I saw more red, white, and blue being worn than ever before!

It was a great run and I'm proud of our Texas Rangers! There's always next year, after all!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Random Colorado

We're nearing the end of my exciting Colorado pictures. Here are a few, in conclusion, that I like. Above is a Catholic church about fifteen minutes outside of Estes Park. It is, without a doubt, the most picturesque church I have ever seen in the United States. It has a view of Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.

We drove across Trail Ridge Road, the highest road in the U.S. and this was one of the scenes that greeted us at high altitude.... A gorgeous lake nestled amidst snow-covered peaks.

While walking around the hotel grounds on our last full day in Colorado, we ran - almost literally - into an elk, resting by the river. Just hilarious! He looked to be waiting for a cookout to begin!

It was a great trip. Colorado is such a beautiful state! I hope to go back soon to do more hiking and exploring! And to see more chipmunks!