Hobby Hustler

The journey of rediscovering myself since February 2012 has been a long one, and a part of that was discovering and rediscovering the things that I truly love and enjoy. Over time I have picked up and dropped hobbies, but the three main things that I list when people ask me what I do for fun are knitting, yoga, and baking, and as with any hobby, once you get really into it, it can start eating away at your wallet.

Knitting 

At anywhere from $3-$15/skein plus needles, knitting (and crocheting) isn’t the most expensive hobby in the world, but it can certainly get expensive fast, especially if you’re working on a huge project. But for me, I really just make things at random for people, or find patterns I like and then gift them after I’m finished and don’t know what to do with it (or I make things for people who are having babies – like the blanket below!). If you don’t mind, you can also sell the things you make (I’ve sold hats before) or offer to make something in exchange for them purchasing the supplies. For me, because what I made actually didn’t matter as much as the process of doing it, I started looking around for charities. Spoiler: there aren’t a lot of places looking for knit goods in Louisiana. Enter bf’s mom. Her church sponsors an organization that knits afghans and shawls for charity…and the best part? People are constantly donating yarn, so I can go, pick out a few skeins, and then give it all back after it’s been knit into something! So without buying $30 worth of yarn, I’m able to create something that will actually mean something to someone else.

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Yoga

Yoga is one of those things that everyone wants to try at least once, has read about in Eat, Pray, Love and has been around for a billion years. You can practice with work-out DVDs, Youtube, Netflix, with your friends, on the Wii Fit, or, as I prefer, at a yoga studio. But at $17/class, it gets really expensive really quickly. So I did their entry 10 classes for $20 in 30 days and was hooked. Unfortunately, there was no way I could sustainably afford the prices after that, so I started using my Wii Fit and eventually tapered off. Then as I was browsing Facebook, I saw that the studio was advertising what they call an “Energy Exchange,” which are apparently common. You work for the studio in exchange for practicing there, an hour of work for an hour of yoga. I immediately emailed them and interviewed about a week ago and got it! I had my first day yesterday and it was fantastic! The energy in that place is so positive and embracing, but also the work is very straightforward and it flew by. So instead of wishing I could spend $1200/year to practice, I can be scheduled to work the studio and then take classes whenever they fit my schedule. This can apply to a yoga studio near you, or even a gym…just seeing if your favorite place to hang out or exercise or even just be will let you work in exchange for services. It saves them the money of paying someone and you get to practice something you truly enjoy!

kitteh-yogaBaking

This one is trickier. I have found that it takes a large-scale initial investment and then the rest is just replenishing as you go along. But if you don’t have several  hundred dollars to drop on baking supplies, the really simple solution is to bake with friends. You would be surprised at what baking pans people have pilfered off of their families and what they have lying around the house. Plus what, you’re going to eat three dozen cookies by yourself? Puh-lease I do that. And to build up your collection of pans and cookie cutters (why yes, I do have pans shaped like a jack-o-lantern and a heart), you can wait until after the holidays because they go on sale like crazy. They’re also great things to ask for as Christmas presents. Then there are those people who love baked goods but do not have the ability to touch the kitchen without setting the house on fire, so you can always offer to hang out and cook for them in exchange for them providing the baking or cooking supplies.

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Good luck in your endeavors to find a way to do what you love without breaking the bank!

Weekly $ Checkup 6.4

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $50 – two dresses from Charlotte Russe. I really love them and don’t regret purchasing them. One is navy and lace (and perfect for church and work, & I’ve worn it to both) and the other is a cream lace dress that I am wearing right now! 
  2. Today I am thankful that I found a way to practice yoga at a studio regularly! (post coming tomorrow)
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was playing (and winning) Cranium with bf and his family!
  4. I will consider this week a success if I can get him to attend a Basics yoga class with me Thursday >:)
  5. If I had today off I would probably hang out at the studio or do laundry (story of my life), or maybe crochet more for bf’s blanket (projected completion date: October-November – Yikes!).

The side effects of Effexor seem to be chilling out. I’m also noticing that I’ve been in a lot better mood lately…so I don’t know if that’s just me or what. I’ve asked bf and his mom to kind of pay attention to how I’m acting so that when I go back on the first I can report any changes as accurately as possible. I also attended a combination pole dancing-belly dancing workshop with one of my friends at her gym, and it was awesome! Definitely a new experience I’m glad I had, and I was able to get lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen since October, so an okay weekend all around. I only say okay because Saturday was the anniversary of my little brother’s death, which I don’t really ever talk about on here, but bf and his family and mine and my friends worked to make sure it was as good of a weekend as it could have been, and I am so thankful for that.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-04/yoga-gets-off-the-mat-to-fight-new-yorks-tax-man

Weekly $ Checkup 6.3

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $65 – Electric bill (I feel like I need to also admit I spent $43 on a bra at VS during their sale…it was pretty and I’ve gone down 4” in bandsize and needed at least one new bra).
  2. Today I am thankful that I’m getting a new stove tomorrow! Now I can bake!
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was making ice-cream snowmen with my friend I hadn’t seen in a few months.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I don’t cry when my friend leaves for Korea tomorrow and if I get to spend happy times with bf.
  5. If I had today off I would crochet more of bf’s present and sleep. And probably mow.

The new medication I started on Friday is really wearing me down with its side-effects. It makes me pretty exhausted, so I’ve been trying to figure out a time to take it that works with my work schedule.  I felt a little rude, but I definitely had to take an evening nap at bf’s house on Sunday before dinner. It also makes me not want to eat, and since I almost passed out in church…I’ve been making an effort to eat three times a day. So now I feel gorged all the time. Hopefully the side effects will steady once it stabilizes. It’s a new anti-depressant (an SNRI that affects different molecules at different doses), so it will probably take 2-3 more weeks before everything is where it should be. Then I’ll get to see if it’s working and if that will make up for the side effects (probably).

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Savory Sunday 6.3

“All of the world is a birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” – George Harrison

Prepare yourself. This will be the most delicious and cavity-inducing thing in the world…

And it takes about a million years to make. It’s a great first endeavor into a more complicated recipe, especially if you’ve never worked with yeast before. I mean…it’s one way to…make your dough rise (get it? dough? money? rising? more? hardy harr harr!).

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients:
1 quart of whole milk
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of sugar
2 packages of active yeast
8 cups of all-purpose flour + 1 cup flour
1 heaping tsp of baking powder
1 scant tsp of baking soda
1 heaping tbs of salt
1.5-2 cups flour (Plus flour to spread out on the table)
1 cup of sugar
ground cinnamon
7-8 pie tins

Icing Ingredients: 
1 bag of confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp maple flavoring
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of brewed coffee
1/8 tsp of salt

Directions for cinnamon rolls:
1. Mix 1 quart of whole milk, 1 cup of vegetable oil, and one cup of sugar in a pan. “scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool for 45 min.-1 hour.

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2. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm (NOT HOT), sprinkle in 2 packets of active dry yeast. Let sit for a minute and then add 8 cups of all purpose flour.
3. Stir the mixture together. Cover and let sit for at least an hour. After an hour the dough will have risen. Add 1 cup of flour.
4. Add 1 heaping tsp of baking powder, 1 scant tsp of baking soda, and 1 heaping tbs of salt. Stir the mixture together (adding more flour may make the next step easier).

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5. Sprinkle surface (a counter, preferably) generously with flour. Also, preheat the oven to 400C.
6. Form half of the dough into a rough rectangle, then roll it thin, trying to maintain a general rectangular shape. Increase both its length and width as you roll.
7. Drizzle on the 1.5-2 cups of butter over the dough, and sprinkle over it with 1 cup of sugar. Now generously cover it with cinnamon (remember, they’re “cinnamon” rolls!).
8. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Some of the butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture is going to ooze out the end, but it will be okay. be careful because this gets messy! Pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
9. Take the roll and cut them into pieces 3/4″-1″ thick. Put around seven per pie tin.

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10. Repeat for other half of the dough.
11. Let the rolls sit for 20-30 minutes to rise, and then bake them at 400 degrees until light golden brown. This takes about 15-18 minutes. Our stove, which has an electric oven, baked them in about 16 minutes.
12. Take them out.

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Directions for Icing:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 bag of powdered sugar. Then add 2 tsp of maple flavoring, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/4 cup of brewed coffee, and the salt.
2. Mix well. It will be thick and pourable. Pour over the cooked cinnamon rolls and enjoy!!!

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Makes about 4 dozen cinnamon rolls.

I hope you enjoy! And feel free to give suggestions of what I should try! 

Weekly $ Checkup 6.2

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $25 – Copay! Mental health stuff. That’s another post in itself…
  2. Today I am thankful that my neighbors lent me their gas powered mower…I can’t imagine the blisters that would have formed had I finished mowing with our pushmower…
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was cooking gumbo and seeing bf more than usual.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I make it until I get paid transportation-wise (E came on as I pulled into work and I officially have $1.88 to spare right now)
  5. If I had today off I would find more knitting projects and sleep.

Last week I took care of a bit of business regarding academics and mental health (at least setting up the required appointments), so it looks like I should be okay to return to school in the fall as well as pay for it. A big thorn in my and bf’s relationship has been the amount of time we get to see each other, but I’ve noticed that lately I’ve been a lot grumpier about it…so I’ve started using the calendars in my red notebook to keep track this month…and as I suspected, we see each other a lot more than we used to and a lot more than I was giving us credit for. I guess being in that mentality of “I never get to see you and it’s amplified by you not responding well to texts” means sometimes not acknowledging that things aren’t actually the way I’m perceiving them. Can’t argue with that there’s only been one day this month I haven’t spoken to him (yesterday) and so far I’ve seen him 7/10 days. Probably doesn’t help that nearly all of my friends that I actually hang out with are moving states away…the latest one informing me yesterday that she’s headed to Korea (so excited for her, and jealous), so I’m probably feeling a little needy. I also did this thing where I called a potential employer and left the wrong phone number. I tried to delete the voicemail and maybe that worked? I don’t know. I’m going to call back today.

But I’m getting marathoning Netflix while eating ice cream out of a Disney Princess Castle tupperware with a soup spoon pitiful. And I’m more than a little frustrated because I’m kind of at a standstill with life (and I’m sure the ‘untreated for the last year or so’ depression and anxiety disorders aren’t helping that either). But hopefully once that’s taken care of, things will perk up. Patience is the name of the game…

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Savory Sunday 6.2

“I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself ‘Well, that’s not going to happen.'” – Rita Rudner

I am a terrible person.

And by that I mean it’s actually Monday. And I made gumbo but didn’t take any pictures…but it was really delicious? So I’ll just have to make it again. Until then…how about the wonders of pepper jelly? Never heard of it? Probably not surprising; I think it might be more of a regional thing. It’s really fantastic to eat on crackers, but ESPECIALLY if you pour it over cream cheese and eat THAT with crackers. The resulting deliciousness might make you keel over and die. Figuratively. Literally. Also jelly was something I never thought I would be capable of making…but then I did it!

Pepper Jelly

Ingredients: 
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (approximately 1 small pepper and 1 large pepper)
1.5 c. apple cider vinegar (which can later be repurposed for mosquito bites a la my Nana)
6 c. sugar
4 oz. pectin (aka Certo)
6 – 1/2 pt. canning jars with lids. I just used one big jar and refrigerated it. If you plan on storing these or handing them out as gifts, you’ll need to use sterilized canning jars.

Steps to Deliciousness:
1. Finely mince bell pepper and hot pepper. I watched a wikihow on how to mince things. I have a chopper, but I didn’t want to use it. Apparently you just cut the top off, cut it in half, scrape out the inside (unless you want the spice), and slice it into strips. After that, turn the strips perpendicular to yourself and chop them into tiny pieces. Voilà!!!

chopped peppers

2. Combine pepper, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. MAKE sure the sugar is dissolved, or it won’t set right.

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3. Remove from heat and add Certo. The packages are 3 oz., and it calls for 4 oz., so you’ll need to premeasure or eyeball it (not a good idea when canning).

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4. Pour into jars. Be careful not to spill the hot liquid on yourself. It will HURT! Leave it alone and let it set. This can vary. I read that it can take anywhere from an hour to a day. You can tell by consistency. It may not set, in which case something might be a little off texture-wise. I didn’t have a problem with that.

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Makes a bunch of little jars or one big jar of pepper jelly

I hope you enjoy! And feel free to give suggestions of what I should try! 

Probable, Possible Promotion, & a Poll

I’ve had a few work-related posts since the beginning of the year, primarily here, here, and here. Note that they’re not all exactly…positive? Throughout other posts I’ve mentioned that I relatively like the actual work I do, but that I am also low-key job-searching. So far there hasn’t been too much luck, although I haven’t gotten a resounding “No!” from the position I applied for recently…

6623495649_ce745b96a1_zBut I digress. I have mentioned this before, but I work on a “Work as Needed” contract. The position I have right now doesn’t technically…exist? I originally found this position by using my university’s site. It was advertised as a student worker position, and I was a student! I applied, interviewed, and got it! Then as they were processing my paperwork, my supervisor discovered that I wasn’t eligible to hold a student worker position because I wasn’t a full-time student. But because I had the qualifications, had already been working there for two weeks, and she thought I was a good fit, she found a “Work as Needed” position that wasn’t being filled (those aren’t actively filled) that was “floating” in the HR department and appointed me through that. My official job title on paper is “Clerk,” and although everyone in our department has a different title (student worker, administrative assistant, etc) we all call ourselves “Instructional Designers,” because that’s what we do.

I have been growing frustrated with my job for a variety of reasons. Primarily that my boss is sometimes inappropriately interested in my personal life (a la “You look tired, did you see bf last night? 😉 ” variety), her deadlines are often unreasonable, and I am often doing things that are completely outside of my actual job description. I have also had this experience where she offered me (unofficially) a promotion last October and throughout March, then again at the end of April. And retracted all of them. Well here we are with promotion: June edAlthough this one looks like the real deal. So I’m having a bit of a dilemma and thought maybe y’all can help, because there are definite pros and cons to these choices. Enough that I can’t tell if I’m just being a scaredy cat or if I’m being reasonable.

Current Clerk Position:

Pros: 

  • There is no limit to the job appointment. I could work under this position for literally forever (which I see as security)
  • The hours are very flexible (I can leave if I have a doctor’s appointment or have any other obligation and it doesn’t count against me as long as I get my work done)

Cons:

  • I am not eligible to receive a raise (I found this out yesterday, you know, 10 months into working here) so I would stay at $9.50/hr
  • I do not receive any benefits (retirement, dental, health, sick leave, paid holidays)
  • Because I’m work-as-needed, I could not be needed and told to not come back at any time
  • No visible job development

Training Specialist Position:

Pros:

  • Benefits! Accumulated sick leave, paid holidays, dental, and health (no retirement)
  • A raise – I believe my pay would increase to $12.75/hr (not small pennies compared to above)
  • Job development is possible (it can increase from levels 1 up to level 3)
  • It shows that I have been promoted in my job within a year of being there and gives more rapport with other members of the agency

Cons:

  • It is an 11 month appointment – my supervisor would have to appeal its extension in 11 months or I will be out of a job
  • The hours are not as flexible and it would primarily start when school also starts

I know there’s definitely more pros in the promotion vs. my current position; however, what I am really concerned with is the limited amount of time the appointment has. I do not plan to work here forever – I don’t. And the plan is have graduated by December, so when this appointment is up in June, I should be eligible for many other positions that require a BA/BS (pretty much all of them). I just don’t want to lock myself out of a job that is building my portfolio…but I also don’t want to be 26 and working an altered and glorified student worker position making $1500 above the poverty level either.

So what do you think?