Wednesday, December 3, 2014

busy as a bee

no really.  i've been a busy little bee lately.   since my last post, i've finished more than one project, and i'm on task to finish another one tonight.  i think it's a combination of a few life components.

1- i finished the cross stitch
2- i chose projects as a follow up that were relatively simple and quick
3-it got cold out and all i want to do when it's cold is sit inside and craft
4-i've had some stress lately and i stress-craft

let's start with that last one.  i have been stressed out for a while because my sweet sweet bear was recently diagnosed with diabetes.  he'd been drinking an insane amount of water and going outside every 2 hours to pee and leaving lakes on the floor while i was at work.  so i took him in, and his blood sugar was over 500.  that's a lot.  so we started him on insulin, and it's been stressful, not because of the shot (he's super chill about the shot - i actually think he likes it cause he gets a treat after) but because i can't tell if it's working, and he's still drinking and peeing a lot, which means i'm not sleeping a lot.  when your dog goes out every two hours, it doesn't stop overnight.  so it's kind of like having a newborn, but without all the happy hormones that make you not hate the small helpless creature that wakes you up every two hours.  i love my dog, but i'm tired, and stressed, and now with the insulin schedule i don't even get to sleep in on my days off... so stress.


hes awfully cute though.  he slept all morning on j's slippers the other day.  love this bear.

plus, on top of that stress, mom had a scare with one of her numbers at her latest checkup, so we are in the middle of finding out what that might be.  she's gonna be fine, says me, but the doctors want more tests to be sure... i don't know why they don't just take my word for it, but i guess science and stuff... whatever.  super stress.  and what does stress lead to for me?  
starting and finishing an afghan in the span of 10 days.



well, it's not quite finished, but by the end of tonight it should be.  just two sides of the last round of border to go.


borders, by the way, can suck it.  but they are pretty.  also, i had forgotten how much faster i can crochet than knit.  i flew through the body of the blanket, and really the border is taking much longer than i thought it would. it's really pretty though, and it'll be a great wedding present for some friends who got married last month...

on to happier things though, it's been cold here (not happy in itself) and it now gets dark early (also not happy) which means that all i want to do is sit on my couch and craft when i get home from work.  we've also had our first snow day of the year already, which is crazy, but all of this combined to allow me to make darling baby gifts in record time. 




 the blanket is for my cousin, who is having their second baby in the spring.  all my cousins' kids have gotten baby blankets... one for each baby, so that they each get their own to hold on to as a keepsake if they want to. the pattern is super simple, but i think the cabling around the edges is so pretty!







 the cutest sweater is for a friend who is also having her second.  i love making tiny things!
eyelets and picot and ribbon, oh my!



and the best part is that both projects used the same yarn, so i actually was able to make multiple projects without fifteen trips to the craft store, and using up mostly all of the yarn in the process!!











i've also nearly finished all christmas stuff that i'm going to make.  i have a last minute stump cover that i'm making for my uncle in christmas colors, but other than that, i think the rest of my christmas list is all about purchases and not about production.  small pat on the back for me!  these mittens were the last little gift for a friend at work that i wanted to get done, and they worked up super duper quickly:

it's also been pointed out to me that i use a ton of blue in my work.  well yeah.  cause blue is one of the best colors.  so there. 

but the number one reason i've been so productive lately?  i finished the cross stitch!! it came out so beautifully, i nearly wept when i saw it:

i gave it a quick wash and a pressing and then j and i spent about an hour with the guy at michaels trying to find the perfect framing set up.  ps, if you need framing done, go to michaels.  they are super nice and helpful (at least the one in newport is) and the work comes back in about two weeks.  it's really well done, and i'm very very happy with the finished result:

the photos don't really do it justice, but it is gorgeous. 

i just can't wait to see it on the wall at my sister's house.  
i really hope they like it as much as i do.  i did remember that i was going to sign the back of it before giving it to them, but i forgot to do that.  now they just have to remember that i made it for them, and tell their kids when they pass it down.  but then again, maybe the'll just hide it in the attic or something and then it won't matter at all.  anyway, i love it, and finishing this one allows me to start my next one, which is a super top secret that i really hope i can keep.  i probably can't, but we'll see... 

and because i've been doing all this crafting, i've been getting a little loopy sometimes.  here is a photo i took the other day, because i was so very amused by the way the yarn was pulling out from the skein, and the skein was still keeping its shape:

have a great rest of the week everyone!!

PS: the patterns are (starting from the top)
Summer Sky by Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss
Little Sprout Baby Blanket by Rosie's Yarn Cellar
Dirghagama baby cardigan by Henriette Roued-Cunliffe 
Cafe au Lait Mitts by Paula McKeever
and the cross stitch is 

Monday, November 10, 2014

reds fan

i have a friend who is a cincinnati reds fanatic.  she's seriously all about them redlegs.  so, for christmas i wanted to make her something that really reflected her love of the team.  but when i looked, there was NOTHING out there (just kidding, there was one thing - but it was way to big to fit on a hat).  so, i went over to tricksy knitter and tried to replicate the cincinnati "c" on my own.

disclaimer:  the pattern below is neither produced nor endorsed by the cincinnati reds, and is not licensed by the team.  any attempt to sell items with this logo will likely constitute copyright infringement, and i have no desire to be part of that.  don't do it.  seriously.  the pattern is intended as an homage with the hopes of making a friend happy.  so please, don't send me to court, because i'll come find you and make you pay my fees for me.

with that being said, here's the finished product:


turned out pretty spiffy, if i may say so.  the hat pattern is heather kinne's lined beanie, which is quickly becoming my favorite hat to give as gifts.  it has that lining inside that makes it super duper warm, and has a nice finished look about it that i love.

the chart that i came up with on my own, without any intent to sell it is below.  (see what i did there?)  anyway, i hope it makes her happy, and anyone who wants to make a reds hat or scarf or anything and not sell it for any kind of money or other form of payment whatsoever, can go ahead and use it:


the black line was to help me see where the pattern needed to stop to fit on the hat.  pay no attention to it.  anyway, go and knit in good faith, friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

my oh my, how time does fly

so it's now the end of october.  halloween is tomorrow and then it's november.  so, what have i been up to besides work?  well i've been a busy little bee in the crafting department... less to show for it than i want to have, but i've made better progress than i anticipated.  so win!

first, let's take a look back at that mid-september to-do list, shall we?

goal 1:  figure out who is getting handmade gifts.  ugh.  this is hard. i have to be practical about how many gifts i commit myself to finishing, and how big those gifts are, and how much time i will have and all that.  haven't even started on this goal yet. 
i haven't made the greatest progress on this one.  so far i've written a list of about 8 people, and crossed off the ones whose gifts are already done (5) but i have no idea what to do for the other ones.  this means that i can't calculate how long it will take to complete them because i seriously don't know what they are.

goal 2: finish my sister's wedding present in time to give it to her for christmas.  for those of you playing along with previous posts, you know that this is a giant cross-stitch monster that has taken me well over a year to this point.  but, the end is in sight.  if i finish one page per month starting this month, i'll have the whole thing complete by the end of november.  this should give me time to clean it, press it, and get it to the framer in time to get it back by christmas.  in my head, this plan works.  finishing page one should happen in the next couple weeks, so i'll let you know how that goes.
this one is going super well!  i finished the september page on the 23rd,

the october page on the 18th,


and i'm two columns away from finishing the november page, which is the last page, and therefore the end of the project!  i think i will be ahead of schedule on the stitching portion.  the washing and ironing and framing portion may be a different story... does anyone know if michael's will frame needlework?

goal 3: prioritize other projects (for babies and such) by when i will logically need to have them completed.  try and make a list that reflects that logical prioritization.  stop thinking that everything needs to happen today.  if a baby isn't due until march, i've probably got some time after christmas during which i can make the gift.  if i know i'm making a gift that is designed for when the baby is a little older, i can also take my time, even if the baby is born tomorrow.
this one threw the first two off a bit.  i had seriously miscalculated the due date for one of the babies on the list, and was unpleasantly surprised when i found out the shower is going to be on november 16.  this resulted in a week of furious knitting that produced an amazingly adorable dress:
which will fit the baby around her first christmas... how clever am i?  i love the way the top worked out... kinda looks like snowfall.  not to bad for a completely improvised color change, huh?
however, knitting this piece of super cuteness took me away from the aforementioned christmas gifts so now i'm ahead in one place and behind in others.

goal 4: remember that no one is expecting handmade gifts.  if i don't get them all done, it's ok.  they can wait until next year.  i'll just have to find something non-handmade to give them this year.
this is an ongoing struggle.  but i shall have to keep reminding myself daily.

hey the best part has been the incredible fall weather we've been having lately.  i've been able to sit outside on my backporch, listen to my audiobooks and work on my projects...

this is truly the life.  can't wait to get home and do some more!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

In Praise of Crock Pot Liners!

so a couple weeks ago, i decided that it would be spiffy to start using my crock pot for the purpose for which it was designed, creating nutritious dinners that would be ready when i got home, rather than as a decorative object on a low kitchen shelf. 

i had seen numerous pins and blog posts about ways that you can prep ahead for several meals and then just throw one in the crock pot in the morning and voila!  dinner for a week!  so i consulted the pinterest until i found this gem:

the link to the page is here if you want to check it out! 

it seemed idiot proof... it even came with a shopping list so that i didn't have to do that either!  

i went to the store and got all the ingredients and was ready to go, when i remembered seeing an ad for the crock pot liners.  i had always kind of shrugged them off before, but when i thought about the curry in the one recipe and the maple syrup in another one and orange juice in the third, i envisioned my crock pot slowly devolving into a sticky, crusty mess that forever smelled like curry powder... 

so i dropped down the right aisle and found them: 


  now folks, they aren't cheap.  four to a box will cost you $4-5 in the grocery store... so they are about a dollar per liner.  and, at least in my kroger, there were no generic brand liners, so you have to go for the brand name. this usually makes me balk and put them back and say "screw it, i'll scrub"... but this time i didn't.  maybe it was the maple syrup.  maybe it was the threat of forever curry smell... who knows but i bought them anyway.

TOTALLY WORTH IT!
i made the curry dish the other night, and i actually remembered to use the liner.  it made a huge amount, so after i had my one serving, there was still an entire crock full: 

you can see that it was soupy and curry-colored and overall just kind of messy... i was smart enough to pour it into the dishes over the sink, thank goodness... maybe my common sense is growing...

but here is what my crock pot looked like after i lifted out the bag... i want to emphasize that i did not rinse, soak, or otherwise touch the interior of the crock.  i just lifted the bag out and threw it away:
AMAZING!  i expected some seepage or for the bag to stick to the pot or for there to be a place where the seam let the food get through or something. but nothing!  all i had to do was lightly wash with some dish soap and it was good to go.  

i cannot speak highly enough of these liners.  the curry dish was ok... about a C/C- in terms of flavor, but i wonder if i missed an ingredient or something.  the real winner in this situation was the liner.  i will definitely be using them forever.  certainly worth budgeting an extra dollar per meal when going to the store.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

it's good to have goals...

ok kiddos... it's the middle of september.  literally.  it's september 15.  exactly half of september is gone, which means that only half of the month is left before october.  this means that there are only 2 1/2 months left until christmas.

this doesn't seem like a big deal, except that i need to know this timeline so that any handmade christmas gifts can get made in time for that december deadline.  so i have to set goals, starting in august really, but since i'm too late for that, starting now, halfway through september:

goal 1:  figure out who is getting handmade gifts.  ugh.  this is hard. i have to be practical about how many gifts i commit myself to finishing, and how big those gifts are, and how much time i will have and all that.  haven't even started on this goal yet.

goal 2: finish my sister's wedding present in time to give it to her for christmas.  for those of you playing along with previous posts, you know that this is a giant cross-stitch monster that has taken me well over a year to this point.  but, the end is in sight.  if i finish one page per month starting this month, i'll have the whole thing complete by the end of november.  this should give me time to clean it, press it, and get it to the framer in time to get it back by christmas.  in my head, this plan works.  finishing page one should happen in the next couple weeks, so i'll let you know how that goes.

goal 3: prioritize other projects (for babies and such) by when i will logically need to have them completed.  try and make a list that reflects that logical prioritization.  stop thinking that everything needs to happen today.  if a baby isn't due until march, i've probably got some time after christmas during which i can make the gift.  if i know i'm making a gift that is designed for when the baby is a little older, i can also take my time, even if the baby is born tomorrow.

goal 4: remember that no one is expecting handmade gifts.  if i don't get them all done, it's ok.  they can wait until next year.  i'll just have to find something non-handmade to give them this year.

the overarching goal, though, the one for which these four are really sub-goals, is to not let the deadline get in the way of the joy of the crafting itself.  once it stops being a joyful experience, it stops having the meaning that i want handmade gifts to have.

i have made some progress already, though.  two of my bigger projects are done, and put away for christmas gifts already.  i made really good progress on the cross stitch, which is what inspired this post.  and it's only halfway through september.  right now, life is looking good.

talk to me when we are halfway through october...

Friday, August 29, 2014

itchy fingers

do you ever have one of those weeks?
the weeks when you wonder if you are ever going to have time for yourself?
ever?
seriously... ever?

that's been this week for me.  and last week. and the week before.

school started on monday, but i've been back at work for three weeks now, and between being back to work full time and doing the show, let's just say my house  wouldn't necessarily recognize me right now.  

and the bear is a little stressed out:
this is how he has been sleeping lately.  see that little spot on the far side of the bed?  yeah that's where i go.  he hasn't slept like this for months.  i think it's because he doesn't like that i'm never home. 

now don't get me wrong.  i'm having a great time doing the show.  it's been so nice to be back on stage and flexing my toes in tap shoes.  my cast is amazing.  i couldn't have picked a better group of people to spend my evenings with.  we are having so much fun, and the show is super cute, and seriously, i can't express how great an atmosphere it is.  

but, i'm kinda looking forward to having my time back as my own once it's over.
i haven't had time to myself since well... almost a month now? just the last two weeks have been crazy.  last week was hell week for the show, so we were in rehearsal from sunday to wednesday, opened thursday, and had shows through sunday.  also, i helped my cousin move on saturday morning.  also my family came to the show sunday and we all had a big dinner at mom's after.  tuesday was a dinner recognizing j's mom as a volunteer - she won this big awesome award from the league of women voters and it was great.  wednesday was dinner with a friend i hadn't spent time with in weeks and really a few months.  then thursday was back to the show. these are all amazing and incredible things and i loved participating in all of them. 

but i miss being home.  my house is in dire need of cleaning.  the grass is almost as tall as the bear again.  (the plan is to cut it this afternoon if it doesn't rain, but it's the first chance i've had in two weeks) and mostly, i miss my crafts.

i have seriously itchy fingers right now.  i'm in the middle of three good sized projects, and i've made very little progress since life got all crazy.  




i don't have a picture of the third one...

and today was a little slow at work (students stood me up).  i got through my to-do list and so over my lunch, i started looking at ravelry.  that's never a good plan.  because my itchy fingers are even itchier.  i have a number of projects that are waiting in line to be started, but i want to finish the ones i'm working on first.  that means that i want time.  i want the time to myself to sit and do my crafts and make lovely things and finish something (seriously.  i have to finish something or my brain might explode) and start something new.  

i think today i'm just tired and cranky and i have so many things that i have to do and i don't want to do any of them.  i want to do crafting.  my fingers are itching to get back to my needles and it's getting worse the longer i'm away from them.  does this make me a crafting addict?  


Friday, August 15, 2014

whew! where did the summer go?

hey there kiddos... it's been a while, and i don't know where to begin.

show: happening.  me: hurting.  feeling old. bad.  so that's that.

work: back to it. tired.  almost, but not quite ready for the school year to start for real.

crafting:  hit a major goal, but nothing's finished.  i have literally no finished products to share.

this sounds like life sucks, but this summer has been wonderful.  the perfect blend of mini vacations and alone time and reading and work (yes, even work was welcome) and time with j and the bear... i don't want it to end.  but life does go on and the next adventure starts soon.

i do have some small victories to share though!

one: i grew something!  and it didn't die!  and i may actually be able to eat it! behold - my very first peppers:



two: i bought a lawn mower!  i was so terrified of the big yellow monster (no offense roni!) that i  wouldn't get on it.  so... i bought myself a lovely little push mower, and have taken quite a fancy to it.

three: reading so very many books this summer!  because life is too short not to read as many books as possible. here's a little sampler of some of the books i've read since school let out in april:

can i tell you how good it felt to read again?  like, really sit and read, and not feel guilty about it?  it has been a long time since i allowed myself multiple days of having a lie about with a good book in my hands.  it felt good.  i know we live in a society that values work and being busy, but i will always always extoll the value of sitting for hours and immersing yourself in a good book.  i happen to like fiction, but really, whatever makes you happy, you should allow yourself time to read.  i feel like a brand new person.

four: crafting.  i know i said i didn't have any finished projects to share, but i did hit a major milestone with that giant cross stitch project i've been working on (spoiler alert - i am about to include a photo of a gift - sister, sister in law, if you don't want to see, avert your eyes!)  i got to the end of the bottom row of pages! so now i just have the three pages of the top row to do and i'll be done. well... that's a slight lie.  there is a tiny little strip of cobblestones left to do (4 stitches deep across the width of the bottom) but it won't take long at all... and the top has no cobblestones, so hopefully they'll go faster - blocks of color are much easier to stitch!


and finally:  vacations!  i went loads of places this summer!  i already told you about our family  trip to the gorge... and after that, my bff and i went to hocking hills:



we rented a charming little cottage and basically just disconnected from the world for a few days.  we sat and read on our back deck...



and grilled and ate delicious food...
and spent a lot of time in craft central, working on projects, and watching ALL the harry potter movies!  

leaving this place was very sad. 

but i had to come back to the real world... but only long enough to get ready for my next adventure: boston!

my friends moved there about six months ago, so i took advantage of the time off to go visit them :)


they actually live in salem, so we took the ferry into boston proper:

and then we acted all touristy and took one of those trolley tours, seeing, among other things: 

a bridge that was yarn bombed, the old firehouse, fenway park, a pretty church, the boston tea party museum, MIT, the frog pond in boston common, and the boston public library!!!
we had a really great weekend together.  the weather was perfect, and it was awesome seeing my friends again.  my life really hasn't been the same since they moved far away.  i miss them bunches.  both the humans, and these awesome boys:
these danes are two of my favorite dogs in the world, and i was so happy to just snuggle with them for a minute!

then i came home, and before i knew it i was on my way to cedar point for the annual girls' day out riding roller coasters.  it is one of my favorite days every summer, and this year was no exception.  the weather held out for us until the very end, we got to ride almost everything we wanted to, and most of the lines were manageable.  the best part happened about midway through the day.  the gemini had been closed, which made us very sad.  
but then later, it reopened, and we were super duper happy!!!  
and we went on to ride it back to back to back 4 times!!
great day!  

overall i guess the summer was pretty awesome, and life is really good, and the new school year starts a week from monday, and i feel like i may actually be ready for it.  maybe.  i wouldn't mind another week or two of course...  

happy friday everyone!