so there I was, hip deep in jars of jam, thinking I had seen the worst of it, when suddenly…

I spent some time this weekend straightening up and cleaning out both refrigerators, their attached freezers, the big deep freeze, and the pantry. There were some things that were, unfortunately, well past their primed and needed to be escorted off the premises. Not many things, but still. I also discovered some “lost treasures.” If Lancelot were here he would tell you that I am not allowed to buy any more butter, frozen vegetables, sausages, or jams/jellies. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t mention pickles.

But it needed to be done and I’m glad I did it. I feel very fortunate to have the problem of too much food in the house as opposed to not enough. We make a monthly donation to the local food bank as well as random donations throughout the year to other non-profit organizations that focus on food insecurity. It’s something I feel passionate about.

goals update

I feel like I’m doing quite well with my goals right now. My spending has been limited to food and some online course work, we’ve been trying to incorporate more fruits/veggies/whole grains into our diets, and I’ve completed 16 creative projects so far this month. I’m also about half-way through the book I’m reading. I’ve been taking it with me on the days I work on campus and reading while I eat my lunch.

Some of these tie in with my list of “23 things” as well, like finding healthier ways to eat and paying it forward. I’ve also really been trying to get creative with using the stuff I have on hand. We recycle glass, but have to do that separately because the city won’t collect it, so I’ve been trying to think about how I could use some of the various jars and bottles currently in the bin.

And I’m actively working on finishing another professional certificate, I’m almost done with the first one for this year. I’ve talked to my boss about buying a subscription to this service as my “professional development expense” for the year instead of sending me to a conference. I get a lot more out of this kind of experience.

Top Left: Eric has taken to settling down on my chest in the evening while I watch TV. He purrs so loud that Lancelot can hear him from his chair.
Top Right: It’s cold enough here that I’m breaking out the knit shawls
Middle Right: Blackberry Hoisin Pork Tenderloin, Stir Fry Noodles with Cabbage and Carrots, and a Blackberry, Pineapple, and Elderflower Mocktail
Lower Left: Cable it Up scarf I’m making for my friend W
Lower Center: Pippy has been singing to her ducky a lot lately
Lower Right: Pippy and Eric playing under the end of the bed. Pip was nibbling Eric’s tummy.

please, just don’t ask for that

Top Left: Garth, mid yawn
Top Right: Amazing Shrimp Pad Thai that Lancelot made us for dinner last night
Middle Right: The completed Granny Vest
Bottom Left: Completed crocodile stitch flower
Bottom Center: I’ve got paperwhites blooming again
Bottom Right: Home made dryer sheets

It’s been another busy week around here, but a good week. The boys had their annual vet visit and everything was good. Garth did his usual trick of trying to hide inside the trash compartment. They both got a clean bill of health.

Lancelot has continued to amaze me in the kitchen. The pad thai last night was absolutely to die for, better than I’ve had at a restaurant. He continues to amaze me, and himself I think. I’m truly a lucky girl.

The home made dryer sheets are an experiment, and I’m almost excited enough about them to want to do a load of laundry. Almost. This is born out of my desire to create less waste and not spend so damn much money on something I can make myself. I had all of the components already on hand and the setup was minimal, basically just the time it took to cut one of L’s old t-shirts into square-ish chunks and then measure my few ingredients. I’ll be sure to let y’all know next week how it goes.

I’m really rather excited about the paperwhites. Mom had gotten me a kit before Christmas so I had little flowers over the holiday. I went to one of the garden centers right after Christmas and got another set and those are what is blooming now. I have even higher hopes for this batch. And the fragrance in the sunroom right now is heavenly. We’ve had some nasty, gloomy weather lately and the flowers are definitely helping with that.

I’m also extremely pleased with how the vest turned out, so pleased that I posted pictures of it on Facebook. (which I should know by now is a mistake) Within an hour I received a message from a “friend” that contained a pattern and the message, “I need you to make two of these for my great-granddaughters. I’ll buy the yarn and pay you for your time. I’d be forever grateful!”

Let’s have a small chat about why I don’t do commission work, m’kay?

I’m pretty fucking picky about the things I make. I prefer to work with materials that I’ve selected, particularly when it comes to yarn-related projects. Projects for charity are an exception – those are made with yarn that I know is both soft and can withstand being thrown in a washer and dryer.

My time is extremely valuable to me so I prefer to spend it doing things that bring me joy. I have a full time job where I earn enough money to meet my financial needs, I’m fortunate enough to not need to supplement that income. So I don’t. I do not ever sell the things I make. I have done that in the past and found the entire process to be woefully soul sucking.

Let’s ignore the fact that knitting or crocheting an item requires TIME and loads of it. No, let’s not ignore that. It takes a considerable amount of time to create something with sticks and string and have it turn out well. It’s an art form. I don’t create art to sell it. I create gifts of love for the people closest to me, and I create gifts of love for people who need something soft and warm to help protect them from this cold world.

My time is precious to me, so if what I’m doing isn’t a creation of love, it’s a job and I expect to be compensated accordingly. Which is why I thoroughly expect her to change her mind when I tell her I charge $75 / hour, and the project she wants will likely take me four hours to make. And she wants two of them. Plus it uses seven different colors of yarn; you can estimate those at a minimum of $6 / skein. And the pattern isn’t free; that adds another $5.99. I can kind of see what the pattern will involve just by looking at the picture of the finished hat, but I have no idea how well it’s written or what a pain in the ass it might be, and it involves several pom-poms (which I loathe making, so I rarely do) which might even make them take longer.

So these two hats will cost her approximately $650, plus shipping since she lives a considerable distance from here.

Want to ask again why I don’t do commission work?

23 things

I can’t believe we’re already half way through January. Honestly, where have the last 17 days gone?!

Knitting and crafting, that’s where they’ve gone; at least at my house. And food. There’s been some seriously good food. I swear, Lancelot is becoming a MUCH BETTER cook than I am, and I love it. Last night he made us salmon filets in the air fryer and they were to die for. (recipe here) We’ve been making a real effort to eat healthier, more fruit and veg and all that, and I would say it’s going well.

Top left: Flower ornament with inside dangles made of recycled beads and enhanced with netting around the top
Top right: Back of the Flyaway Vest; I used Old Shale lace instead of stockinette and it’s really lovely seen vertical like that
Bottom left: Herringbone Lace Infinity Cowl using yarn that’s been in my stash since 2017
Bottom right: Simple marker drawing that I made and framed (using a frame I had on hand); this will go in my new office (whenever we get to move)

Not pictured, but also recently finished, are a crocodile stitch flower pin using the same yarn as the cowl and a Granny stitch crocheted vest. It was a busy week.

So you may be wondering, what the hell are these 23 Things the title of today’s post refers to, and I’m so glad you asked. I saw in an email newsletter I get the idea of trying to come up with 23 things you want to do more of in 2023. It wasn’t as easy as I first thought it would be, but I love the idea of putting such a positive spin on the whole “new year’s resolution” type thing.

23 things to do more of in 2023 🌺

  1. Draw
  2. Read
  3. Try new things
  4. Push the boundaries of my old comfort zone
  5. Hone my cooking skills
  6. Give myself some grace
  7. Find healthier ways to eat
  8. Walk
  9. Be mindful of how much packaging waste we bring in to the house
  10. Find ways to use the materials I have on hand
  11. Learn how to compost
  12. Get more creative with recycling / repurposing around the house
  13. Spend time with friends
  14. Grow my own food
  15. Certificates and badges
  16. Pay it forward
  17. Sing like no one is listening
  18. Just say NO
  19. Let go of the little things that really don’t matter
  20. Write
  21. Unplug from screens / social media
  22. Meditation
  23. Celebrate the little things

no news is good news, right?

There’s really just not a whole lot going on around here right now, and I’m kind of enjoying it. I’ve mostly just been working on trying to get instructors at work to wrap up projects that should have been done before we left on break and then trying to finish a few vests that are in progress. Beyond that there just hasn’t been a whole lot lately.

The good thing is that I’ve been doing pretty good with the goals so far.

welcome to 2023

Eric did not enjoy his brief time wearing the dog’s holiday bandana…

We’ve been having a laid back holiday break. The guaranteed time off between Christmas and New Year’s is one of the best perks of working in higher ed as far as I’m concerned. I take time to stay up late, sleep in, and work on projects. We also got to spend some time with family and friends. We made our first full-on proper Christmas dinner. It’s been good.

Today I’m starting to return to a few of my “normal” things because work starts back up tomorrow. I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the year that was 2022, briefly.

We welcomed a niece to the family. We celebrated more birthdays and our second anniversary. We took two lovely road trips. I made a total of 179 projects. And we still (to the best of our knowledge) have not had COVID. It’s been a good year.

In terms of the goals I set for myself last year, I did really well. I was not able to lose weight and I bought a single skein of yarn, but I aced everything else. That makes me really proud.

My goals for next year:

  1. No new craft supplies
  2. Finish all of my kits
  3. Read at least 4 books
  4. Establish and maintain habits/routines for exercising
  5. Complete at least 5 creative projects each month
  6. No new clothes unless I need new underwear or bras
  7. No new shoes
  8. Lose 50lbs
  9. Post on my blog at least once per week
  10. Learn how to bake bread from scratch
  11. Earn at least one professional certificate
  12. Learn at least one new craft skill

Part of the weekly blog post will be an update on goals, to help keep me accountable. In the spirit of full transparency, I did stack the deck just a bit. Prior to the end of the year I purchased a few more craft supplies and some clothes. I also spent some time yesterday disassembling some old jewelry that I don’t wear anymore and salvaged most of it to reuse.

The “word” for next year is going to be FRUGAL.

We have plenty, we want for nothing really. Not saying that we’re wealthy by the financial standards set by many in this country, but we have enough to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, the lights on, and extra to do fun things periodically. By the standards of many places we are wealthy as kings, and that’s not lost on us.

Every month we make a donation to the local food bank. Throughout the year we make donations to other charities. I share my cookies whenever it makes sense, and we’ll continue to do that. Not spending money on things we really don’t need means we’ll be able to help others.

Top Left: Us on Christmas Day
Top Right: Eric the Red, the Most Interesting Cat in the World
Middle Right: Improv dinner – baked pork chops with onions, cranberries, and acorn squash in a whiskey mustard butter sauce
Lower Left: Beaded ornament I made for my friend, Dr. K
Lower Middle: Tiny star earrings I made myself
Lower Right: The finished Celtic Neck Warmer

setting the stage for success

I firmly believe in the mantra “work smarter, not harder.” It’s quite possibly the secret to any success I have in life. I would much rather spend time planning, and working, ahead so that I spend less time scrambling at the last minute.

I make menus for the week so I know what I need at the store so that I only make one trip. I get my outfits put together for the entire work week on Saturday morning so that I don’t have to think about it when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. I use a medication management system that allows me to fill an entire 30 mornings and nights worth of medicine at once and comes apart so that I can take my container of meds for a day with me if necessary. I cold brew my coffee at home 32oz at a time so that I have inexpensive, healthier, coffee at home any time I want.

Basically, if it can be done in a batch I do it that way. I had the epiphany yesterday during my massage that “efficiency is Lazy but with a purpose.”

At any rate, I’m gearing up for the year ahead and starting to make some plans. Here’s my officially official list of Goals for 2023:

  1. No new craft supplies (unless I manage to completely deplete my stashes of stuff)
  2. Finish all of my kits (beading, knitting, etc. including the ones I’ve put together for knitting projects)
  3. Read at least 4 books
  4. Establish and maintain habits/routines for exercising
  5. Complete at least 5 creative projects each month (anything creative counts – drawing, knitting, jewelry, LEGO, etc)
  6. No new clothes unless I need new underwear or bras
  7. No new shoes
  8. Lose 50lbs
  9. Post on my blog at least once per week
  10. Learn how to bake bread from scratch
  11. Earn at least one professional certificate
  12. Learn at least one new craft skill

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve stacked the deck in my favor here. I’ve stocked up just a tiny bit on craft supplies, bought 2 pair of shoes, an assortment of clothes (all of which will help rebuild my now lacking work wardrobe), and a new winter coat. In my defense, the coat is lilac colored, was 40% off, and was something I had been looking for.

Part of my plan to maintain my state of lazy efficiency will be to post an update on my goals as part of my weekly blog post. I’m currently toying with the idea of trying to figure out how to create a template for myself in WordPress just to maintain some consistency for myself be lazy and not have to recreate the wheel every damn time. And so as to help keep myself accountable, I’ve not only told you fine people about my goals but I’ve also shared them with several of my good friends and I’ve printed a pretty copy of them to hang on the bulletin board next to my desk. Accountability and reminders, yo.

I do have some pretty things to show you. I’ve been working on projects, trying to finish a few things before the year ends but also adding in some new fun bits.

Top left – the Leaf Scarf, now complete with beads. It will need to be blocked slightly.
Top right – a Celtic Cables Neck Warmer, free pattern and using yarn I already had. Should be done soon, it’s farther along than it was there.
Bottom left – that is Vanessa the Plesiosaur. She was a crochet kit from Toft yarn and I would HIGHLY recommend their kits. I made that for the husband.
Bottom right – I’m making the Flyaway Vest using a beautiful laceweight yarn that ombres from a beautiful rich ruby to a vibrant fuchsia and back again. The entire thing was originally written to be stockinette stitch but I’ve modified the back to use Old Shale lace which I think will be particularly interesting seen vertically.

The neck warmer will definitely be finished before the end of the year, the vest may be as well. I do also have a few other projects still in progress, as you may recall, and I’m not sure about their status. I do seem to like having a variety of things going at once to stave off the boredom.

psych update

There isn’t actually much to report right now. I haven’t had any medication changes or symptom changes in quite some time now. I have gotten into the habit of using my full spectrum light in the mornings when I work at home and I know that helps with the Seasonal Affective Disorder. I also make a point of taking care of my physical health as best I can, better now than I ever have really, because at 46 years old I have finally realized that it’s easier for my brain to feel good when my body feels good. Remarkable, eh?

it’s the end of the year as we know it (almost)

After I finished the Saroyan shawl I felt drawn to do something else quick, and for some reason I was also drawn to green. I’ve actually enjoyed my self-imposed yarn diet this year because it has forced me to get more creative with what I have on hand. This lovely combination was one of those results.

The pattern actually called for bulky yarn, which I did not have, but I did have one skein of Noro “Kiri” in this lovely green. The pattern is almost, ALMOST, identical to the leaf border on Saroyan. I knit about half of the skein and that resulted in a very long, very skinny scarf. It will need to be blocked slightly to open up the leaves, but not until I sew on some beads. You can just barely see them in the photo, they’re subtle. I’m adding 5 beads to every other leaf, and on every 5th leaf in the pattern I’m using a brighter, slightly larger, bead. I’m loving it.

And, apparently because I hate myself, I’ve started working on a vest using lace weight yarn. Why not.

I am very pleased to report that I spent some time this weekend combing through my collection of printed patterns looking for ideas of what else I can make in the coming year using the yarn I have. I’ve also ordered some beading supplies and lined up some projects for that. I don’t want to end up bored. 😉

Admittedly it would be exceedingly difficult to ever be bored with this ginger imp around.

ways you know you’re an Adult

A list, in no particular order…

  • You pay off all your credit cards because you realize you’re paying out more in interest than you’re earning in savings, and you can do this
  • You’re excited when the car is paid off because you can now save up for a bigger down payment when you eventually need to buy a new car
  • You shop around for the “good deals” on groceries, and that doesn’t mean seeing who has ramen on sale for 19 cents per package
  • You save “good” boxes, just because you might need one (this actually just came in handy because we had a good friend move this last weekend)
  • You appreciate the value of a day spent at home in lounge clothes doing very little
  • You get the subtle jokes in kid movies

Things around here have been a little hectic lately. My best friend’s mom has been in the hospital since Thanksgiving with necrotizing fasciitis and is not doing well. J and I have both been fighting with the cold bug that’s going around. Garth continues to have sporadic asthma attacks and still doesn’t like taking the inhaler treatments. And I’m in the process of trying to cut down on the amount of caffeine I drink while also increasing the amount of other stuff I do drink.

The good news is that we are all still alive and kicking.

That’s Eric “helping” me take a picture of the Saroyan Shawl. The yarn is Cloudborn Highland Worsted Semi-solid in Burano; it’s a green tonal color that doesn’t photograph very well. The pattern was easy to make and has the prettiest leaf border along the edge. It took four days to knit and I am super pleased with how it turned out.

overdue update

I took last week off work and that meant most of my regular routines got put on hold, including posting an update here. I spent a good amount of my time being productive, but a similar amount of time doing very little at all. It was glorious. And I finished some stuff. Above is a pic of the now finished, and also now blocked, Ennis Lotus Lace cowl. It’s beautiful. It’s huge. The size ended up more like a poncho, but that’s fine. Did I mention it’s beautiful?

I finally sat down over the weekend to get this gift for our niece made. This little angel is made primarily of size 11 Delicas and is accented with crystals, silver spacers, and genuine garnet heishi beads – her birthstone. It took me a total of two days and it was 100% worth it. Total size is just about 3″ tall.

psych update

I had my psych appointment this morning and it was good. The doc said that the physical issues I seem to be having now that I’m not taking Lithium are almost certainly related to drinking less fluids, and that makes sense. She wants me to aim for at least 64oz of “stuff” and she wants me to start tracking my food again. Otherwise she said everything looks good and I don’t have to go back until March. No med changes this time and I’m totally fine with that.

ISO – replacement parts

*for those of you who are not internet hipsters, ISO = in search of

That is the Caterpillar Shawlette from KnitPicks and I purchased it long enough ago that I did get the yarn shown in the sample. It’s gorgeous and it is in desperate need of blocking. It’s also the largest all-lace project I’ve made using only charts. There were a few bits that I fought with, but overall I would say it was a wonderful experience. And since the pattern is free, why not give it a shot.

I find myself at a familiar place right now, the place where I want to try to finish all of the projects I have started so that I start the new year with a clean crafting slate. I’m fairly certain that is a total pipe dream at this point. Currently in the works we have:

  • Sugar Stick, a two color scarf using sock yarn
  • Kitty B, a lace scarf using lace weight yarn (this is my travelling project and will for sure not get done)
  • A baby blanket that will go for charity
  • A small-ish cross stitch of a cat
  • Ennis Lotus Cowl – this is lace, and beads, and it WILL be done before Thanksgiving if it kills me

I started it on August 15, 2021, but clearly I didn’t work on it consistently. It’s slow because of the beading and it took me making the Caterpillar to truly get comfortable with charted patterns. I’m now just about half done with it and it keeps getting quicker. The end result should be very subtle elegance, at least that’s my hope.

At any rate, all of this fast and furious lace knitting has me wishing I could shop for a new arm. Biofreeze to the rescue! If you aren’t familiar, it’s like most other topical muscle pain relief treatments, it just happens to be the one I prefer.