I Finally Found A Hobby!

After thirty years, I feel like I FINALLY found a hobby (besides reading)! I had off from work yesterday, and I can’t even remember exactly what inspired me, but I decided I wanted to try knitting again. I had bought knitting needles and a skein of yarn a couple of years ago, but I was having trouble figuring out how to even get started. I’m lefty, and everyone in my family who knits is righty. I tried YouTube a couple years ago but whatever video I watched wasn’t helpful to me.

Yesterday when I searched YouTube again, I found a GREAT tutorial to get me started! It took be a little while – and a lot of patience – but I finally got the hang of it! I only know how to do a basic knit stitch (is that what it’s even called?), but I’m excited to learn more! I am very hopeful that I can make a little something for each of my family members for Christmas this year, but those may be high hopes!

Are you a knitter? Any suggestions for helpful tutorials or resources? What do you suggest for a good beginning project? I would LOVE some advice!

Obviously I was somewhat obsessed yesterday, and needed to keep practicing before bed! img_7081

Guess How Much, 2nd Edition

Back in September, I decided I wanted to try boots because I knew they were going to be THE fashion item for the fall, and why not get with the times? So I went to BonTon, which always has a great shoe department, and tried on several pairs of boots. One pair that I tried on, I absolutely loved. They were Ralph Lauren, a beautiful shade of brown/cognac, nice “hardware” on the sides…and $270. I really wanted them but there was no way I could justify spending that much on shoes I wouldn’t be wearing every minute of every day. I settled on two different pairs that were on sale, with a coupon on top of the sale price, so I got a good deal on those. But I still wished I had the Ralph Lauren pair.

On Sunday, my sister needed to stop at BonTon to look at a foundation, and she had a coupon to use, so she told me to look around. I went back to the shoe department and found the Ralph Lauren’s on sale! 30% off! I asked for a pair in my size…they didn’t have it. I was a little heartbroken, but moved on. Yesterday, I made an excuse to go to the mall where another BonTon is, and of course, I checked to see if they had my size…they did! I tried them on, and the sales woman told me she would give me a 20% coupon on top of the sale!

SO…$270 shoes, guess how much?

$135!!!! I have been walking on air, in my boots, since last night!

Spontaneity

I’ve already written about a perfect day, but I have to say that yesterday was even better.

For whatever reason, almost every morning when I wake up I check my phone and scan Facebook. When I saw that one of my good friends had a beach day with her close friends planned, it immediately popped into my head that I should go to the beach. If you know me, you obviously know that I don’t need much to talk me into a beach trip. I hopped out of bed and did my usual morning routine before calling my mom; we had originally planned on going for a walk in the morning. Since the weather was not walk-worthy, we decided against it and when my mom asked what I was going to do instead, I blurted out, “I think I’m gonna go to the beach!” I have a hard time keeping things in when I’m excited, and this cost me a couple hours of beach time!

My mom thought it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to drive “all the way” to LBI for the day, and of course my dad had to put his two cents in as well – they thought it would be better for me to start getting things ready for the beginning of school next week. Needless to say, they got their way while I fumed for an hour, rushing around as I went through my school things that I’m storing in my grandfather’s basement. When I returned my dad’s car to my parents’ house, I told my mom I was going to the beach anyway; the weather was supposed to be great, and why not take advantage of having the summer off? I grabbed a beach chair and towel, headed back home to put my suit on and pack my beach bag and cooler, and I was on my way!

I can’t explain how it feels to drive myself to the beach – to go by myself. I did it for the first time in June, and it was one of the best experiences. It’s so freeing to know that I am relying on myself and I am doing everything for myself, and that I can make it on my own. Of course, I know all these things about a single day trip to the beach, but I wouldn’t have felt so confident yesterday if I hadn’t taken a weekend at the beach by myself. Luckily, I was leaving late enough in the morning yesterday that there was hardly any traffic and I got to the beach by 1:00. I have a feeling it would have been sooner, but because I’m an idiot and forgot to bring my license, I made sure to follow the speed limit. As happy as I was to be there, I couldn’t help but feel sad that it was only for the day. The worst part was parking on the same street where our rental house is (not OUR rental house, but the house that we rent), and not being able to walk into the house because there were other people there. And they were sitting on the porch! I know it sounds silly, but it breaks my heart a little bit to see someone else at the house we stay in, because even though we only rent it, I  always think of it as “our house”. If only…

The beach was surprisingly less crowded than I expected, and I got a spot up front, plopped myself down and opened up my book…yes, I’ve read it 5 times already, but I had to throw The Bronze Horseman into my bag, and I’m so glad I brought it; it made the day even better! The weather was perfect…sunny and a good ocean breeze which kept me from getting too hot. Every so often I took a break from reading and just enjoyed the view, or took a short walk to find some shells and sea glass. By the time 6:30 rolled around, I figured it was time I start heading home. I packed up, took one last look at the ocean (it’s going to have to last me till next year), and held back my tears as I walked off the beach, down the street that feels like home, and packed up my car. A trip to Beach Haven is not complete without cream-filled doughnuts, so I stopped and bought a half dozen for my sister and I, plus one for the road. I’m good at procrastinating, so I took my extra doughnut to the park on the bay, sat at a picnic table and enjoyed the best dinner I’ve had in awhile. 🙂

Again I made sure to drive the speed limit on the way home, and once I got near the New Jersey Turnpike, I kept thinking I was seeing lightning. The clouds didn’t look very stormy so I assumed it was just heat lightning. It became more and more frequent as I got closer to PA and Philadelphia, and I began to get scared. Some bolts left me with my mouth open in shock, and I was just glad they didn’t hit the road I was on. I know that a car is the safest place to be when there’s lightning, but I would rather not be anywhere near it, period. I kept thinking to myself, please don’t let this be a tornado. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes, and I wouldn’t have known what to do if I seemed to be driving into one. I didn’t notice any funnel clouds, but it’s hard to notice a funnel cloud when it’s dark out and the only light in the sky lasts half of a second while lightning flashes. Driving into a sudden wind blast so strong that my car, my little close-to-the-ground Jetta, blew sideways, didn’t help with my tornado fear. The wind died down, but now all of a sudden I found myself in a downpour, so bad that I had my wipers on full speed and still couldn’t see very well. I, with everyone around me, slowed down to 40 miles/hour and gripped the wheel, as if holding it tighter would really keep me safe. Luckily, the storm wasn’t huge and I was out of it within ten minutes. Those ten minutes were pretty nerve-wracking, and I found myself wondering if I was going to get into an accident when I don’t have my license. Because that would be something that would happen to me.

All in all, it was a good day. Spending the day at the beach just reaffirms for me, how much I need to live there at some point in my life. If it can’t be LBI, then somewhere like it. I just have to find a way of making it happen…

A Happy Surprise

Don’t you just love when you have an unexpected perfect day? Yesterday was definitely a pleasant surprise. It started with breakfast with my boyfriend at my long-time favorite breakfast joint, Darto’s (even better now that it’s in walking distance!). I’ve been going there since my dad took us when we were young, and I love that it’s stayed the same for the past twenty years. The food is perfect for breakfast – nothing fancy, just that great homemade feel. I got my usual – french toast with sausage patties and orange juice…yum!

After breakfast, we made our way to The Crossings Premium Outlets in the Poconos for back-to-school shopping! While at the beach last week, I received a phone call offering me a long-term-sub position teaching 7th grade English for the first semester at a different middle school in my district; the beach must be my lucky charm! The Crossings has a ton of stores, including Coach, J. Crew, Michael Kors, and my favorites, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. Of course, I started in Banana Republic. About 45 minutes (and 5 or 6 new pieces of clothing) later, I made my way next door to Ann Taylor, my second-favorite store; how convenient! Between the two stores, I spent way more than I should have but I luckily have a solid excuse: the school I’ll be teaching at is more strict with the dress code, so I need to be sure to have (stylish) professional outfits! I can’t wait until the first week of school to have fun putting new outfits together! Here’s my new loot:

New Tops and Dresses

New Bottoms

Maybe once the school year starts, I’ll share a few outfits a la J! She has been quite the inspiration to dress more fashionably, and I notice myself thinking of outfits I’ve seen on her blog as I get dressed in the morning or as I’m shopping. Thank goodness I found her blog and subscribed!

After paying at Ann Taylor, I found my boyfriend and told him I should be done for the day, since I had already spent enough. Two stores and my shopping was finished…kind of sad, but I got plenty! We walked around to a few more stores (almost bought a watch in Fossil, but I stopped myself) before leaving to come home for lunch. On our way home, we stopped at Switzerland Old World Gifts, one of my favorite gift shops. They have so much! There are tons of cuckoo clocks, steins, Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments, and DeBrekht figurines, which I’ve just started collecting. I got a few ideas for my Christmas list and then we were back on our way home.

For lunch, we walked to Confetti Cafe on Main Street since I was craving their garden salad and a slice of Kentucky Derby pie. I enjoyed the perfect lunch, made even better because we were able to sit at a window table! I always thought Confetti Cafe should be in a movie, it’s definitely a place I could see Meg Ryan eating at in You’ve Got Mail! Maybe just spruce the walls up with some neat pictures and knick knacks and it would be the perfect little movie cafe.

Fast forward a few hours to what topped off my perfect day: Instead of going for three meals out in one day, I took the time to relax, enjoy some music, and make myself a good dinner (I thought it was good, at least). I had the apartment to myself, and I didn’t hurry to get everything prepared. I turned on one of my Pandora stations, Glenn Miller Radio, and let the big band music fill the kitchen as I diced potatoes for mashed potatoes (in the microwave – more info later!), seasoned and breaded chicken breasts, and cooked my favorite – corn on the cob. Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin…all those old songs remind me so much of my Nana’s kitchen and make me feel so much more at home. I love the old-fashioned feel my kitchen has to begin with, and the music just makes me feel like I’m right back in the 1940’s and ’50’s. I should dig out my great grandmother’s old aprons next time, and I’ll be set! Once everything was ready (all at the same time – yay!), I topped off my perfect day with a glass of wine and dinner….maybe I can have a repeat next week.