Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lots of Hats!

I enjoyed reading all of your comments about dressing vs. stuffing, LOL! I see I still can't find anyone to come to a consensus about what the difference is, if any!

It's been a depressing past week since I last posted. The three days off from work for Thanksgiving were nice, except that I won't get paid for any of them. I didn't take them off by choice - the BOE decided to close all three days, and they don't give temps holiday pay. If I had a choice between taking Wednesday and Friday off without pay, or working, I would have gone to work, because I need the money so badly.

I've been working a 9:30-5:30 schedule at the BOE since I started in September -not my choice - that was just the shift they had open. Well, the day before Thanksgiving, the supervisor in my area who's usually there until 5:30 decided she wanted to leave at 4:30, so she sent me and the one other temp who stays until 5:30, home early (without pay for the last hour, of course). At 4:00 this past Thursday, she informed us she couldn't stay until 5:30, because the BOE put a freeze on overtime. We had to leave at 4:30 again, leaving us another hour short. Friday morning, me and my coworker come in at our regular 9:30, and are informed that we would be leaving at 4:30 again. Naturally, we were upset. We're already going to be short 23 hours on our paycheck next week between Thanksgiving and the two hours we had to leave early, not to mention have to leave early on Friday.

My coworker and I asked the supervisor if we could just skip our lunch (we get an hour) but she said it would have to be approved by the head of the department, who wasn't in on Friday. After that, we decided to go to HR, and the head of HR approved us skipping lunch so we wouldn't be short an hour on Friday. He also told us that now that election season is over, everyone at the BOE would be going back to an 8:30-4:30 schedule. How nice of them to notify us at the last minute. Neither of us has a problem with coming in at 8:30; it just made us mad that they didn't give us any kind of advance notice, so that we ended up short those hours. Being short two or three hours might not seem like much to a supervisor who probably makes $50,000+ a year, but to an employee who makes a measly $10 an hour, it does matter.

I get paid next week, and I've just been feeling sick with worry over how I'm going to manage with my check being so short. I normally get about $600 after taxes (and that damn mandatory 10% Ohio Public Employees Retirement System deduction) every two weeks, but with all the hours I'm short, I'll be getting about $380 on my next check. My husband and I haven't been able to buy a single Christmas present for the kids yet. My husband also gets paid next week (our last checks before Christmas), so we were planning on going Christmas shopping next Saturday but with my check being short, by the time we pay a few bills and buy groceries, we'll be lucky if we even have $150-200 left to spend on both kids. I know that's better than nothing, but even at Walmart, that doesn't go far.

To make matters worse, it feels like everything around my house is falling apart or needs to be replaced all at once. My 6 year old washing machine is nearly completely shot. It won't spin at all (and it's beyond repairable), which means my clothes all come out sopping wet, and take multiple cycles in the dryer to dry. I put a load of jeans in the dryer today, and no, I'm not exaggerating, they're were still damp after 3 hours of drying. And then remember I mentioned that the picture tube blew on my TV back in August? When I started working for the BOE, we got a used 32 inch TV from a TV repair shop for $200. It worked fine until last week when the picture tube starting going on it, too. It shuts off and won't come back on for 10-15 minutes at a time. Even my artificial Christmas tree barely made it up this year - my husband had to tie the top together - how ironic is that?? My daughter and I are also both desperately in need of hair cuts (I got mine cut last in March, and hers in June). On top of that, I really need to get my cat to the vet, since it looks like she's developed some kind of skin infection, plus she's due for her shots. I can't even afford to take her, and I feel terrible about it.

Oh, and I almost forgot - remember last January I posted about a minor accident my husband had on the freeway coming home from work one morning (slid on some ice and hit a fence)? Well, the other day, he got a bill in the mail from ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), billing him $175 for the fence! How crazy is that??? First of all, he only had the accident because the roads were icy and NOT salted (he wasn't speeding or driving recklessly), and secondly, the fence was barely damaged (my husband pointed it out to me one day when we drove past)! And, they haven't even fixed the fence yet! Both of us have been paying taxes to the state of Ohio to years. Don't part of our tax dollars go towards road repair??? ODOT will just have to get in line behind all of the other places I owe money to.

My husband and I have cut back drastically on every expense we could since I lost my last job in April, and even after I started working for the BOE. Our satellite TV service is off (not a huge deal, since I wasn't a big TV watcher, but I miss watching "Medium" on Lifetime on Saturday nights). Our cell phones are off (which is a big deal, because I have no way to reach my husband at work at night, and it's extremely hard to reach me at the BOE, since although the temps have phones, we don't have direct numbers, or even extensions where we can be reached). We rarely go anywhere on weekends anymore, except for grocery shopping or the occasional relative's house. We rarely eat out anymore, and I pack lunches 99% of the time. But even so, we're just still scraping by.

I am thankful to have a job at all, but it's depressing going to work every day, and barely bringing home enough even for the essentials, let alone anything extra. I get totally depressed every winter, between the snow and cold, the early nightfall and missing my dad who died during the winter, and worrying about money on top of it just makes worse.

My Bethany went to Girl Scout camp this weekend though, so at least she had a fun weekend. Her troop went to a camp in Richfield, Ohio, a rural town about 45 minutes from Cleveland. We drove out there Friday evening to drop her off. They went camping there last winter, too, but we're not really familiar with the area, so between that, and it being dark, we totally missed the camp entrance, drove way out of our way. She had to be there at 6:45, so we left the house at 5:45, but with getting lost, we ended up not getting there until a little after 7. Luckily a few other parents were also late, and the troop leaders were still waiting for stragglers, so she didn't miss out on camping.

I was up until 2:30 in the morning on Thursday night, packing Bethany's stuff for camp (everytime I'd think I was done I realized I forgot something), cleaning up the house, taking care of paperwork for the kids for school (it seems there's always something to complete), etc, and ended up getting 4 hours of sleep before I had to get up for work on Friday. Me, my husband and Dominic all fell asleep about 8:30, after we got back from dropping off Bethany. I can't remember the last time I went to sleep that early. Bethany and Dominic usually drive me crazy on weekends with their squabbling and pestering each other, but when Bethany's at camp, the house feels lonely. I kind of missed it though when we picked her up at camp this morning, and she and Dominic started bickering in the car, LOL!

At least one good thing has happened lately. I got a call on Friday about a benefits assistant (HR) job I applied for with an iron ore mining company that has their headquarters in downtown Cleveland. I didn't get the message until I got home from work, so I'm going to call her tomorrow. Please wish me luck that a better job turns up for me soon.

Well, since I've probably bored you with all the non-crochet related stuff, I have some crochet projects to show. I've been on a hat making spree lately. I think hats are probably my favorite thing to crochet. They're quick, but have enough shaping to keep me from getting bored, and it's easy to adjust the sizing. The first two are a couple of hats I crocheted for The Ships Project - a group that sends hand knitted or crocheted hats to U.S. troops stationed overseas.
I used some Caron Simply Soft Shadows yarn from my stash for both. The pattern for the first was from Interweave Crochet. The hat was worked with front post double crochet stitches in the round. I really like the texture, but the bottom of the hat keeps curling up. I added a few rounds of single crochet at the end, but it still keeps curling. The second hat is just a basic beanie done in extended single crochet. I really love how that one came out!

Next are some chemo caps I crocheted for ladies who visit a local cancer support center here in the Cleveland area. My husband's mother died of breast cancer when he was a teenager (many years before I met him), so this was something meaningful for me. I used some Caron Simply Soft Brites from my stash, and a free pattern I found online. I've been working on these for a few months, but just now got around to taking a picture.
My youngest sister asked me to crochet her a hat to wear around her house, since she's freezing all the time, so I came up with this. It's a rolled-brim hat with a motif at the top. I used some green (her favorite color) TLC Cara Mia yarn from my stash. I love that yarn! I bought a ton of it on Ebay last year. The pattern is from a British crochet book, "Beautiful Crochet for Heads, Hands and Toes". Yes, I know the pictures are crappy, but I was trying to hurry up and take them on Thanksgiving, before I left for my brother's house, because I wanted to give the hat to my sister when I saw her there.

I usually crochet during my breaks at work, and so I've had a few coworkers offer to pay me to make them things (although only two actual orders so far). I made this hat, leg warmers, and fingerless gloves set by request from a coworker. The pattern is from the book "Easy as 1-2-3 Crochet". I used Bernat Softee Chunky (one of my favorite cheap yarns) in hot pink and white.
Are you tired of seeing hats yet? I promise I only have one more! The final hat is another one made from Caron Simply Soft Brites. It was a free pattern from the Caron website. I just made it to use up some of my stash yarn. I didn't have anyone in particular in mind for it.
For the past few months I've been thinking about opening an Etsy shop to try to make some extra money. I don't usually have much confidence in my crochet projects (I always feel like everyone else's projects look so much better than mine), so I didn't know if I could actually sell anything I make. After getting lots of compliments at work for things I've crocheted, and now starting to get requests to make people things, I've been thinking more seriously about opening the Etsy shop. I've been making a list of ideas of things to sell (I decided to save the black/bright hat for it), and looking at my stash (I don't want to spend a lot of money upfront in case I can't sell anything) to see what I can make from it. If any of my blog readers who are Etsy sellers have any tips on getting started, what sells well, etc., I'd really appreciate hearing them (I know I need a better way of displaying hats!).

My husband has been DJ'ing (don't know if that's how it's supposed to be spelled, and too tired to care!) parties for the past decade - not regularly, just here and there, but he decided he wants to start pursuing it more actively, since we really need some extra money. My plumber brother set up a website for his business through Yahoo Small Business, and their websites are free to set up, and only $8.95 a month to run, so I've been working on making one for my husband's DJ services. Even if he only did a few parties or weddings a year, that would still be a huge help to us financially.

Well, off to clean up the house and finish laundry and go to bed...


Bezzie said...

I love the rainbow of chemo caps!!!

You rent right? Is that crappy washer and dryer part provided or did you have to provide that yourself? If yourself--start scouring Freecycle. And in the meantime, I know it's annoying but scout around laundromats. And shop around--many of them will charge more than others. I found one I like that I pay $6 a week for the three loads of laundry I do. I line dry inside the apartment the towels and jeans (sometimes you gotta sacrafice fluffy towels in the name of frivolity!) and that saves me $1 a week. So I spend $312 a year in laundry. That's a lot less than someone who has to buy and maintain their machines and pay for the water and pay to heat the water and electricity to run the machines.

Christina said...

I agree with Bezzie about the laundromat. We spend abour $8 a week on laundry, but its alot less than spending for water, electric, and maintenance of a machine. Though on snowy days, I wish I had one, LOL.

The caps are great and I think your work is definitely good enough for an Etsy store. Go for it. It can't hurt anything!

Lesalicious said...

WOW you went hats crazy I see lol. Love the hats. WOW so colorful lol. Yeah I agree with Christina it wont hurt to try to put them on Etsy and see how it does. I totally need to add more to mines myself.:)

Meilynne said...

Wow - you've been doing lots of crocheting. What beautiful hats!

Crochet Goddess said...

Very pretty hats and scarves. I hope you have a great weekend and Christmas. Very nice blog.

freshpursuit said...

Hi laura...
this is vidya here.,..
i happened to search for a crochet dedicated blog and bumped into yours...
very nice blog ur maintaining..
i am a crochet crazy person and surfing around for gud patterns..
n i must say u have a hell lot of excellent ones...:)
I liked the caps..ESPECIALLY the rainbow colurs..i wanted to get one done for my i wud want ur expert advice too :) :)
anyways nice meeting you....