Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good weekend

As I mentioned in a previous post, I got Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Christmas. Since then, I've been playing around with it and using it to make my blog posts. So if you've noticed a few more typos or strange grammar, that's why. Overall, I quite like it. As I use the program more, it learns how I speak and gets more accurate. However it still makes some mistakes. Many of the mistakes are homophones, words that sound the same but are spelled differently. So below are two paragraphs. The first one is a corrected paragraph. The second one is going to be the mistakes that dragon NaturallySpeaking makes.

On Friday, Yvonne texted me to see if I was going to the knitting group on Saturday. I wasn't planning on it but she finished her sweater and was going to bring it. I really want to see it and she wanted me to take pictures of it for her. So I had to go right? After the group, we went to do a little bit of shopping and running errands. We went to Debenhams to see if I could find a dress to wear to a ball I am going to in April. First we went to the old Roches building, or the store I like to call RochHams. They didn't have any dresses that would work so we went to the other Debenhams store. Upon arriving at the store, there were signs all over the windows that the store must close the 23rd of January! We had a look inside, but it was far too chaotic for us to stay. Therefore, we went and got smoothies and I took pictures of Yvonne in her beautiful sweater.

On Saturday night, we had some friends over for dinner. I made Mexican food for them, and it was good to see them and check back and catch up on things. I'll allow it was a good night. Today, I decided that we needed to go venture out into the end of the sales. On Friday, I had seen that clear he's had her point glass on sale. Therefore, we went and bought me of Oz. We also got a picture frame and a vocal blanket from the company shop. When we were done shopping. We went to the whiskey shop and got some wine.

Here's a corrected version of the above paragraph. On Saturday night, we had some friends over for dinner. I made Mexican food for them, and it was good to see them and chat and catch up on things. All in all it was a good night. Today, I decided that we needed to venture out into the sales. On Friday, I had seen that Clery's had Jerpoint glass on sale. Therefore, we went and bought me a vase. We also got a picture frame and an Avoca blanket from the Kilkenny shop. When we were done shopping, we went to the Whiskey Shop and got some wine.

The Ring

John and I have been engaged since May. When he proposed near the Eiffel Tower, he didn't have a ring; mostly because he didn't know what I wanted and I didn't know what I wanted. Just before we moved to Dublin in 2005, I bought myself a ring that I've been eyeing for a long time. After getting engaged, I wore this ring until we decided if I wanted a more official ring. We knew that we do not want a diamond because of the whole blood diamond issue. Also, when I tried on diamonds I just didn't like the way they looked on my finger. Therefore, we decided just to stick with the ring that I had.

Then, in August, I decided that I wanted a “proper” engagement ring for my birthday. So John humored me and we went and looked a bunch of rings. Again, we really didn't see much that we liked. Then we went into this little out-of-the-way store and saw rubies and sapphires. We really liked the way the Sapphire looked on my finger. However, most of the rings still had diamonds in them. Then one of my friends suggested I check out Design Yard because she's gotten jewelry there. One day after work I went and looked at their jewelry selection, and found this diamond ring that had an amazing setting. While looking at it, one of the sales clerks said that we could get a different stone put into the setting and that it was a Dublin designer who made the ring. After bit of a hassle and negotiation (the person we worked with was concerned that we couldn't pick our exact stone and wanted to make sure that we would love the ring before ordering it), we decided to order the ring with a sapphire. Then we waited and waited what seemed like forever (but was really only about 6 weeks), but the ring arrived to the beginning of November and I absolutely love it!

I've gotten many compliments on the ring, especially how unique it is. I think it's interesting that a lot of people think that it has a very modern design. However, I just think that it is clean and simple. Maybe that is part of why people think it's modern. Even though I've had the ring a couple months, I still get distracted by how pretty it is on my finger. One day, this led to a discussion between John and myself about why my ring is so great and this is what we came up with:

  1. The ring changes color in different lighting and based on what I wear.
  2. A Sapphire cost less than a diamond.
  3. My sapphire is bigger than any diamond I remotely liked and looks good in a larger stone.
  4. The sapphire's more dramatic.
  5. My ring is unique, so no one else should have one like it,at least not in a sapphire.
  6. We didn't buy into the marketing of the diamond trade. Traditionally, sapphires have been engagement rings stones longer than diamonds anyway.
  7. In bright light, I can see all the cuts of the stone. This is what distracts me some times. :)
  8. This ring was made just for me!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The little things

For a while now, I've been trying to notice the small good things in life. I try to notice the random acts of kindness. I've also been trying to overlook the things that aren't as nice about life. OK, I haven't been doing very well at that. I have been getting better at noticing the little things, though.

Last week I was riding the bus home, and a guy picked up a Brown Thomas bag that was lying on the bus seat. He folded it up and tried to throw it in the bin. By moving the bag, he cleared off the seat so more people could sit. The same guy later moved and gave up his seat so someone else can have it. I thought that was very nice.

Today, one of my mates made a point to find me and asked me if I was OK. Apparently she had noticed that I looked sad a few days ago, and just wanted to make sure I was alright. I told her that I was OK and was just going through a few personal things. She asked again and I assured her that I was OK. She didn't seem all that convinced, but I think she realized I wasn't going to tell her what was up, so she got up and gave me a big hug. This really made my day and is exactly what I needed. Sometimes it is those little gestures that make all the difference.

Reflecting again

As long as I can remember, I've wanted to learn about how people communicate and why things go wrong. I've also always been interested in family dynamics and how relationships are formed. When I was in high school, I took as many speech classes as I could. During college, I majored in Speech and Hearing Sciences and minored in Speech Communication with an emphasis on interpersonal conflict. The classes in my major taught me what could go wrong with communication, but it was the mechanics of, it not the nuances per se. During college and graduate school, I learned how to help people who have decreased speech clarity, motor speech disorders, autism, or language based disorders. I also learned a bit about how to help people who have pragmatic language disorders. That is, difficulty with social skills. Therefore, I've spent the last 15 years learning about how communication breaks down, and the effects that it has on people.

During my undergraduate work, I took as many classes as I could in speech communication. I tried to learn as much as I could about how people communicate. I learned how relationships develop and the different styles of argument. I also learned how people communicate in groups and how group dynamics form. However, I still didn't learn why conflicts develop. I learned the theoretical and practical day-to-day of why conflicts develop, but I did not learn about the underlying psychological reasons for the conflicts. After graduate school, I took quite a few continuing education courses, mostly to help me get a raise in my last job. :) Most of these courses were on things like dealing with difficult people and learning about families. During these courses, I learned a bit more about some of the underlying reasons for conflict. I also learned more about how much the environment really affects your life and even the life of your children or who you are likely to choose a spouse.

I think through the courses that I've taken and because of my work as a Speech and Language Therapist, I can understand my own life a little bit better. I think most people make the best choices that they can given the circumstances and information that they have. However, knowing the right choices to make can be very difficult. What we think is the right choice one day; we may realize the next day is not. Sometimes, when you are in a situation, it can be difficult to judge it objectively. When you take a step back, you're able to see what factors in your life, past and present, affected the choices you made.

I think everyone has choices or decisions that they would change if they could go back in time. However, I think the real learning comes when you can look at the past, the present, and then make the changes for your future. Even though it can be quite difficult, examining past and truly learning from it can be an amazing growth experience. It's probably easier to say, “I did the best I could.” I think it's better to say, “I did the best I could, I learned from this experience, and next time I'll do better.” Well, that is if you actually do better next time. After all the saying is those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy Birthday

Back in October, Redbird Knits offered free shipping internationally. Never one to turn down free shipping, I had a look on their website and found this scrumptious orange llama yarn from Peru. One I saw a picture of the yarn, I immediately thought of my future mother-in-law. I ordered enough to make a scarf for her and then put it aside. OK, every now and then I took it out to pet it. It was really soft!

Since my future mother-in-law's birthday is in the beginning of January, I had a few days after Christmas to work on the scarf without having to mail it. I decided to make it the faster way of knitting it lengthwise in garter stitch. I cast on 250 stitches on needles 2 sizes larger than the yarn called for and away I went. I knit in the car on the way to John's mom's house. I knit at her house. When his mom saw me working on the scarf, she commented on the color and that it is her favorite color to wear! I was quite happy. A lot of people asked me who it was for and I did tell a couple. The others, I just said it was for someone I know.

Anyway, I just happily knit away on the scarf and felt the fabric every now and then. I was quite impressed with how "squishy" it was, how warm it felt, and how nice it looked with the bigger needles. The day before we going to leave John's mom's house, I started the last ball of yarn. By the evening, I was almost done with the last ball. Midway through what I decided to be my last row, I looked down at the ball of yarn and noticed that it was quite small. I looked at where I was in the row. I looked at the ball of yarn. I got a measuring tape. I counted my gauge and figured out long the scarf should be. I then measured my yarn. By my rough measurements, I had enough.

After finishing the row, I got larger needles and started to cast off. I knit two stitches together every now and then, just to be safe and take less yarn. Then I measured again. I started knitting two stitches together more often. The edge wasn't quite as stretchy but then I might have enough. The yarn was disappearing. I looked at the tails from where I joined yarn. I trimmed one of them since it was quite long. I decided to see if the yarn would felt to itself. Yep, it did. This would have been good try earlier because then I wouldn't have had to weave in any ends (but wouldn't have had yarn to spare). I then knit it this bit of yarn. Still not enough. I tied a couple knots in another spot that I joined yarn and trimmed it to add to the cast off. I also started knitting two stitches together each stitch. I ended up trimming all the other ends to add to the cast off row. I then had a tiny bit to weave in. :)

Anyway, I think that the end product turned out well and my future mother-in-law seems very happy with it. Even though one end pulls in a bit, I think it still drapes well overall and should be quite warm. (Look carefully at the artwork that the scarf is hanging on, it is my future-mother-in-law's work)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy Dragon Day

This year we got to spend Christmas with my family. The day after Christmas, we drove down to John's mother's house to spend a few days with his family. Since we were at John's mom's house on the 28th, we were able to see his sister Dragon for her birthday. This year, we decided that we wanted to make dinner and birthday cake for her. This can be quite a task since there were about 25 people for dinner! During dinner the previous night (when there were only 15 people), we decided that we would have chili, cornbread and salad. We then decided to go grocery shopping because it was supposed to be quite snowy on the day of her birthday.

After dinner, John's mom, one of his sisters and myself went out to the grocery store. We had the menu for dinner and ideas about cake, but we didn't really know what ingredients we needed for the cake or what ingredients his mom had at home for either the chili or the cake. Therefore, we wandered up and down the aisles and got everything we thought we might need for the next day. On her birthday, I was glad that we went to the grocery store when we did, because it was quite snowy but pretty.

About two in the afternoon, I started making chili (people were supposed to come about 6:00). By this time John had looked up recipes online for the cake had chosen one to make. It was a raspberry chocolate cake. It was supposed to have white chocolate filling, but we didn't have any white chocolate so we just used milk chocolate instead. So while I worked on the chili, John worked on the cake and made the cornbread.

Since we had so many people, we had to double the cake recipe. While this didn't seem like a problem to begin with, when it came time to assemble the cake, it was quite interesting. When we took the first layer out of the pan, it came out alright. However when it came time to take the second layer out of its pan, it just wanted to crumble. While this may not have been a problem if the cake had actual frosting, because it didn't, it made putting the top layer on difficult. We tried a few different things, and ended up just piecing it together. However, because the cake had to chill and the chocolate set, it turned out pretty well. But most importantly, Dragon said that it was the best best birthday cake that she has ever had. All of the guests said it was tasty as well. And if I do say so myself, it was delicious. Chocolate and raspberry go very well together.

Most importantly, I think everyone had fun. It was another good food, interesting conversation, family gathering. Note, unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of Dragon!

Catching Up

About a month and a half ago, our friend J moved. While we were home for Christmas, we got to have lunch with her. Since she moved to a new area of the country (which happens to be where John and I grew up), we decided to get her a few things that represented the state that she now lives in. We got her a cheese head, some cheese, and a few things to pamper herself. When it was time to go because John and I needed to drive to our next meal, we gave J the rest of her present which was a wide variety of local beers. As you can see, we went a little overboard because the box was a bit difficult for her to carry since there was so much beer in it! The other day she called to tell me that we did an excellent job choosing the beer because all the ones she tried are excellent. She's quite happy about this because she hasn't had much good beer since she left Ireland.

Awhile back someone suggested that I get written permission to post people's pictures on my blog. Therefore J wrote out a permission slip on the back of a receipt (without me asking). :) So, at her request, here are some pictures from our afternoon of good food and good friends and good beer. It was great to see J at look forward to seeing her again soon.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christmas knitting

This summer, I decided to make a couple Christmas presents for some family members. I made scarves for my sister-in-law and her daughter. I also made my niece K a hat and scarf set to go with the poncho that I made for her this spring for her birthday.

In October, I made a very energetic list of things I wanted to knit for my friends and family. In November, I started seriously knitting. And I knit and knit and knits until Christmas and even a bit after. I think I managed to get about half of my original goal done. All in all, I think I did pretty well since the list was quite unrealistic.

In October I made two scarves I think (only took pictures of the red and white one). In November, I knit my niece a small blanket. In December, I finished three hats (only took a picture of one since I gave them away a day or two after finishing them), a pair of socks for John, started a pair of socks for my dad, made a scarf (it will get a post of it's own since it isn't Christmas knitting), and a pair of fingerless gloves. On the plane ride back to Dublin, I started a new scarf for a friend of mine. I think I'll have the scarf done either this weekend or early next week. Then I need to finish the socks for my dad, a pair of socks for John's niece, and I can get started on new projects for myself. John got me some very pretty yarn the day after Christmas, and I'm hoping to make a cardigan out of it. However, I'm not sure if we got enough yarn while we were home so I had my sister go back to the yarn shop and get more. After I get the yarn from her, I should definitely have enough for a sweater.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


This year for Christmas I got some great presents. However I can't decide between two which is my favorite. John got me a new camera tripod. It is really cool because the legs are flexible so you can use it on uneven surfaces. After unpacking today I tried it out a bit, and it even holds onto our elliptical arms! I think it will be be very helpful when traveling and will help us take really cool night shots. It also works with both of our cameras.

I'm using the other Christmas present right now! John got me Dragon Naturally Speaking. It is a speech recognition computer program. So now I can dictate my reports in instead having to type them. I can also now dictate my blog posts instead of having to type them. Much to my surprise, this actually works in Blogger. John is also pretty happy with his Christmas presents. He got a new MP3 player and the Packers jersey. We got other stuff, but those are the favorites.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Today John and I returned from a trip home for Christmas. I had a solid 2 weeks home so I got to catch up with many friends and spend some quality time with both of our families. John's trip was a bit busier since he only had a couple days before the mad traveling to see family began.

While home, it snowed many times and was nice and cold. I quite enjoyed the weather since we don't get cold or snow here and I miss it. Granted, it is nice to return to warmer winter weather but there is something about wearing big, bulky sweaters, a long coat, scarf, hat and gloves. It is nice to get all bundled up to go outside. Well, when you don't have to do it every day for 2-3 months. :)

2007 was a good year. I learned a new hobby (Christmas knitting pictures will follow) and it helped me meet some wonderful people. I had new challenges at work. We traveled some interesting places. We started planning a wedding. 2008 will certainly be an adventure as well. Changes are coming...