Saturday, December 31, 2011

On to 2012

A new year, time for new traditions

My opinion of resolutions and goals has not changed in the past year, so once again I’m going to work on building traditions.  I haven’t solidified my list, but I have settled on a theme for the year: More and Less.
More good food, less rushed dinners
More internalization, less socialization
More creating home, less living in a house
More projects, less lifetime achievements
More acceptance, less confrontation
More saving, less spending
More responsibility, less ignorance
More planning, less making do with the unsatisfactory
More engaging, less passive watching

You get the idea. I will have to really focus my traditions this year, but I think the theme is a fantastic one for me, right now. What is 2012 about for you?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Finishing the Caterpillar for 2011

I had tons of free time at work at the end of the year so I poured through a couple more books. This means I met my goal of 30 books for the year.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - No idea how this has been such a major part of popular culture and I still didn't know it was about a real event. For some reason I thought it was just a normal, fictional novel. I was wrong. I enjoyed it a ton, sort of reminded me of books by Ann Rule that I liked as a teenager
Tinkers by Paul Harding -  Weird book. It was fragmented, bouncing between different generations of the same family. I really liked it by the end, but found some of the chapters a bit confusing and out there.
The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg - I enjoyed this book, though it was frustrating and annoying at times. It got me thinking of a speech given by one of my favorite chefs awhile ago.
Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor - This is by the author of Mama Day and is a completely different novel, with some of the same things I loved about Mama Day, but with more dark stuff of life. This novel did completely surprise me on the last two pages with a small detail that alludes to another book. It was sort of a prize for reading books and I loved it.

What books did you read to finish out the year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last Tradition for 2011

The last tradition that I worked on in 2011 was Religion expanded. I will not call this a success I will say I attended more meetings, felt slightly more included and realized (as usual) that religion works for me in a doctrinal way, but not in a social way and that is ok with me. I'm not sure this tradition will continue in the "expansion" that I worked on in 2011, but religion will always be part of my life.

What did you learn in your resolutions or traditions in 2011? What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite part of the year or your traditions?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Caterpillar and Time Out

This set of traditions really suffered this year. Between January and April (when I changed jobs and lost my commute) I read about 15 books in the other 8 months I have read only 10. My reading has definitely tapered but I am allowing myself to stay motivated through bookclub and perusing my local used book shop. I even got to go back and read Mama Day which I didn't read last year, even though I try to read it every year.

My latest additions to the Caterpillar

60. Unbroken - for book club. read like an encyclopedia, not in love
61. Mama Day - still love this book, find something new to focus on, this time it is the description of the marriages throughout the book.

Time Out really fell off. I love the theory of this and there were many days when I did not watch TV or work on the computer after work, but those were usually the days that I did not get home before bedtime. We did take time to do other things, but it was definitely not what I wanted when trying to imagine this new tradition. I don't think I'm going to keep investing energy into this tradition, it didn't work and I need to figure out a better way to get what I wanted from this.

Was there anything (goal, tradition, or god forbid a resolution) that you are going to give up on in 2012?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Garden and Time based on RoI

 Super picture heavy post, I love my garden what can I say?


Zinnia from my garden, photo edited in instagram. I want this on a pendant


The garden served us well this year. We are still using up the pasta sauce and salsa and we still have beans in the freezer. We had a long temperate fall so we still had lettuce growing until a couple of days ago. 

Garlic scapes, radishes, carrots and sugar snap peas
Cucumber (which was eventually made into a pickle
Summer squash - will not grow next year, zucchini instead
I had amazing nasturtiums that I just can't describe. I could see the color from my house and every time I walked out to the garden there were more and more of them. There was one that was a coral color, and it opened so wide it looked like a hibiscus. Unfortunately I can't find that picture


Planted in with the tomatoes

Such vibrant colors

Wide variety of colors too
Reminds me of a viola
They bloomed all summer
We had a plethora of sunflowers and that made me so happy!

Volunteers
sun setting behind a super tall one
Sunflower bud, I'm in love with this picture

Red sunflower with a bumblebee
Happy, traditional, sunny sunflowers
Awesome sunflower about 4' tall, but the "petals" are little tubes. SO COOL!
Funky one I tried this year, it stands almost 4' tall but the flower itself looks like a giant dandelion
GIANT leaves oh man they were huge!
Better look at the tubular "petals"
Next year I want to plant even more flowers, even though we had a ton this year.

Zinnias, color was so bright I couldn't get my phone to not make them so crazy looking

These remind me of a toy I had as a kid

Hosta flowers are so short lived I can't usually catch them during daylight when they are all open
Our hostas doubled in size this year, we'll split them in 2012
Balloon flowers are so fun! Looking like little square balloons before they bloom
Lilies at night. These were awesome I wish I had a daylight picture
More perennials
Salvia at the edge of the perennial bed
These bloom like cuh-ra-zee

weeds, a turtle stepping stone, groundcover and some first year plants
overexposed, but one of my favorite views of the perennial bed. Such a fun section of my backyard

I haven't decided if we will do a whole other raised bed garden dedicated to flowers, but I did plant even more bulbs this year, including Queen of the Night tulips, my favorite flower of all time.

Time Based on RoI
This one is going to be a long one. As I explained at the beginning of the year I spent a ton of time on work and work related (read commute) stuff. This was completely dissatisfying. My job was not going to get better and the commute was not going to change. I had two choices, work harder to make the job what I wanted or find a better job. I started looking and interviewing almost immediately, while at the same time attempting to figure out what opportunity I could make at my company. Then I had a meeting that made clear how little opportunity was going to be available to me. Thankfully my applications and interviews finally panned out and I was able to leave and cut my commute by 2 hours per day.

This singular change has had a huge impact. First, I get to sleep enough, I can get up early and accomplish something whether that be chores or attending bootcamp. I get home about the same time, but I have so much mental energy left it is amazing. My mood is better because I don't hate 1/2 of my day and my commute is amazing. I drive by a wall of lilacs and then a perfectly New England field with an adorable farmhouse at the other side. I'm hoping that next spring I can take a weekend and drive my commute, stopping to take pictures along the windy hilly road.

I also crossed something off of my life list. I made the epic shawl in less than one year and even though I was sick of it by the time I finishsed, I am so glad I did it. In every stitch there is the progression of this year. The year when I built my life as my own. There have been no regrets this year and that's because I focused my time on what I knew to be the best investment. Absolutely going to continue using this mentality as I go forward

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Running and Moment of Happy

We are still running, though in the month of December I felt the need to mix it up a bit. I have started going to a bootcamp workout class ever Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. I love it. Even in just the first two weeks I have made major improvements in strength and tone throughout my entire body so I'm pretty psyched. I am not sure that the monthly cost going forward will be feasible, but the amazon local deal made it worth trying. We'll see come January if I keep going for a month or two.

The new tradition I wanted to build in 2011 was a Moment of Happy. I think the general idea was a huge success. The little things became even more enjoyable, I laughed with friends and family. I noticed the small things that were worth a smile. I also found some silly jewelry and accessories that make me smile!
This one is courtesy of my friend Christina
 Since this was such a success I've decided that I am going to keep this tradition going, but next year I think I will focus on documenting a little bit better. I haven't figured out how I want to document, but hopefully I'll figure it out come January

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winding up 2011

At the beginning of the year I set out to incorporate some new traditions into my life. Over the next month I’m going to review them, determine how I think they are working out and whether or not I think the tradition should be continued going forward.

I’ll start with the theme of the year: Get To It I have a self-sufficient opinion on happiness and the pursuit thereof. I think that most people know the things they need to do and most people find excuses not to do those things. I am most assuredly one of those people. I re-recognized this at the beginning of 2011. So much had happened in 2010 that made me sad, angry, etc. So back in January when I wrote the theme Get To It, I knew what I needed to get done to be a happier more complete version of me. I also knew I was the only one who could make these changes. 2011 was not perfect, it has had happy things, sad things, fun things, hard things, but it is ending with the Britt I have lived my whole life for. It is cliché to say that I have been waiting for a year like this my whole life, but I have. It was a year that was full of me dictating actions, plans and filling my days with the things I needed to be doing. There will be more long winded explanations as I go through each tradition in the next week or two.

Old: Running
New in '11: Moment of Happy

Old: Garden
New in '11: time based on ROI

Old: Caterpillar
New in '11: Time Out!

Old and New: Religion expanded


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nine Months

9 months. Some people use 9 months to make a human being. I would not do such a life changing thing, but I did use 9 months to create this

The Whole Kit and Kaboodle
This would be the epic shawl. Let me give you a closer look
Center Celtic Knot


Edging 1
Edging 2, the Second Celtic Knot

Gratuitous Close-up Shot
The shawl called for 3800 yards, I bought 4125 yards, but still ran out and had to buy a partial skein off of someone from ravelry. I ended up using an extra 5 grams. The dye lot doesn't match so the color is more of a true grey than the rest of the shawl (which is a brownish grey). You can see the color difference in the first picture (upper rightish)

The blocking was tough. I pinned out just the center, sprayed it with water and let it dry. Then I folded the shawl in half and pinned out just the edging. I could have done a better job with that, but It still worked out. The biggest problem is that I could have stretched it a bit bigger if I had tried and maybe I should have, it would made it even bigger, but believe me when I say it is big enough. i would guess that mine is about 6.5 ft across.

There is so much more to write, everything else that happened in my life as I was knitting, but I'll save that for my traditions posts to wrap up the year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being hip and cool

We are trying to do some lower cost home improvements in our house. The kitchen is first, we are slowly sanding and re-staining our kitchen cabinets a gunstock color from Cabot. We did a couple of coats so it's darker than the sample appears


Once that is done we will get a new FLOOR! The floor is something we have needed since we moved in and due to some crazy normal life stuff we haven’t gotten around to it. This is the flooring I want, it's a laminate flooring that looks like slate rather than wood floor.


As the improvements are made I’ve been spending an excessive amount of time on pinterest looking at all of the great ideas that float around the internet.

In my kitchen I want to paint a chalkboard wall (like the one I pinned here), but Jim is not a fan so we’ll have to compromise on that one.

In the hallway between my front door and my kitchen I am totally hopping on the bandwagon of all those people with a wall of photos.  We don’t have tons of family photos so I was thinking we would put 1 picture of Jim and me, then we would fill some with pictures of my family and a couple pictures of the tortoises. I also want to scatter a few fun/funny/sweet phrases in a couple frames as well. I will even write/modgepodge a couple on the matting of some of the pictures.

Here are some of the quotes I’m going to use
-I like who we are when we are around us (on the matting around the picture of us)
-The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things
-Life isn’t about finding yourself life is about creating yourself
-Carpe the Hell out of this Diem
-Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful (thinking of knitting a piece of lace and pinning it under some matting that has this quote)

The only thing I haven’t figured out for this wall is the color. I definitely want to paint, but I have no idea what color. Purple is out because as much as I try to convince Jim that purple would be awesome, he keeps vetoing that idea.

What little changes have you been making around your house?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second Best Day of the Year

I love my birthday. It’s my second favorite day in the year. I don’t need presents, I don’t need cake, I don’t need much other than some birthday phone calls and the permission to do whatever I feel like that day. This year my birthday was fantastic. I got flowers from my husband and awesome presents that made it abundantly clear how well Jim knows me.


 Note the Big Cheez-its which I think are 120% better than normal cheez-its. See the “as seen on tv” item? Jim always gets me an as seen on tv item and this year I had a very specific request. It’s a windshield cleaner. I love the packaging it has a Wonder Handle! What would I do without a wonder handle? Then there are dumbbells which I need for bootcamp next month. Finally a turtle with gem eyes that my dad got me in Malaysia. It’s so sweet!

After work I went to trivia where they surprised me with a cake and candles. Jillian even gave me a bag of awesome goodies. A flower slap bracelet, some matte nail polish and manicure/pedicure kit. She even drew a turtle Zentangle for me. It’s so awesome! I even got a balloon. I can’t remember the last time I got a balloon for my birthday! It’s awesome in so many ways.

After trivia (where we placed third!) I made oreo cheesecakes in my muffin pan. They were cute, yummy/tangy and awesome. I stole the recipe from some other blog, but I think they mentioned it came from elsewhere

2 blocks cream cheese
1/2 Cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 Cup sugar (I would add a bit more next time, this was still tangy)

All ingredients should be at room temperature before you start. Beat atogether until it can be beat no more Line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers. Place 1 oreo at the bottom of each one (I ended up with enough filling for 16) Crush up 6 oreos and fold them into the filling. Fill cupcake holders with filling. Bakeat 275 for 22 minutes. I think a little extra time is fine. What you end up with is a philidelphia (rather than a new york) style cheesecake with an oreo as the crust. They were delicious and people at my office gobbled them up!

I did have to work on my birthday, but I didn't have to do any chores or clean up after turtles, so it was fantastic. This week, I went out to dinner with my BFF Amy who shares a birthday with me. It was sooo much fun and she gave me a couple of adorable things. I hope everyone has as much fun on their birthday as I did on mine!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quilt-y fun

You may or may not know that I am part of a quilt guild near where I live. It's a non-profit and we host a Quilt Show every other year in May. This year it is on May 11 and 12. We show off quilts from people in the guild, there is a little boutique and all sorts of amazing talent to see. One other thing we do is a Raffle Quilt.


It's made by the guild, raffled during the year culminating at the quilt show


The money goes to the guild AND to another non-profit organization.This year the quilt is slightly more modern and I love it.



 The raffle tickets are $1 or 6 for $5


Even if you aren't interested in buying a raffle ticket I encourage you to attend the show. It's so fun to see the talent that these guild members have. It's a great inspiration for color and patterns even in knitting.

If you aren't in the area, but want a raffle ticket shoot me an email pigbook1 at gmail and I'm sure I can get you some.

What has inspired you lately? What events do you attend for inspiration whether it's knitting, quilting or house decorating or something else?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spectator Fun


Tradition: Spectation

Story: I have learned to love watching sports. Some of this comes with being a part of my family where you cheer each other on during races, games, performances, etc. The result of all of this cheering is that I get just as emotionally involved watching a close championship hockey game or triathlon. Over the years I have found athletes and famous people that I refer to as my boyfriend. Boyfriend really just means a good looking fellow who is pretty good at his job as a famous person or athlete.

There is the movie boyfriend



He really has the best smile ever
Ryan (left) running Boston 2011 I took this pic

pic from wikipedia
My baseball boyfriend

I couldn't find a better pic, but this one's decnt


I have dubbed a boyfriend in all the sports I enjoy watching except Triathlons, where I have dubbed a triathlon girlfriend instead.


 Over the weekend there were two big sporting events going on. Neither of them were available on TV (at least not my tv) so I watched part of them online.

The first was the Chicago Marathon where my marathon boyfriend was running and placed 5th. Then there was the Kona ironman championships where my triathlon girlfriend worried me a bit with her swim, but made up time on the bike and then passed people like they were walking on the run. She is amazing!

What sporting events have you watched and who have you cheered for lately?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A great deal

This past weekend we went leaf peeping. When we drive around new England jim is the driver. We do that for a bunch of reasons, but most importantly I want to knit while we drive. I finished Jim’s hat while I was ogling leaves.

The first version of this hat was too short, too pointy and generally not what I wanted. Then I realized that what I really wanted was a stripeless turn a square. The yarn I used is some Peruvian alpaca that I got at NHS&W this year. I have two skeins and it’s relatively thin.

What I ended up doing was cast on with one strand, knit the ribbing (120 stitches 3x2 rib) on the last row of the rib I decreased every 10 stitches. 10 being the magic number because that means every other 3 (of the 3x2 rib) had a decrease. Then I knit a row and then I did decreases again (offset to match up with the other 3 of the 3x2 rib below). I ended up with 96 stitches. Then I knit another two rows. At that point I added a second strand of yarn and knit four rows, dropped to one strand knit four rows. I repeat that stripeless stripe for the whole hat.

The original pattern calls for about 5 inches before starting the decreases. I have a couple fewer stitches for the main section and I wanted the hat to fully cover Jim’s ears so I ended up knitting almost 7” before I started the decreases. The reason I did the stripeless stripes is because I felt the hat was a bit thin so I wanted to add some bulk, plus stripes were not going to happen, Jim would never wear those.

In the end I had to knit the thing a few times. First there was the pointy failure, then there were a couple of turn a squares that were too short, and finally SUCCESS

Perfect ear warming alpaca goodness

More pictures of the leaf peeping later, but first, are you in the market for a spinning wheel? Have you ogled a journey wheel from the Bosworths? Do you hate that the waiting list is multi-year at this point? I have the solution for you! My friend (first online then in real life, she is pretty awesome) is selling her journey wheel so you can skip the long wait! Take a look at her blog

Monday, October 10, 2011

Caterpillar

It's been a long while since I have added to the caterpillar. I haven't read that many books because I read a book for my bookclub that was AWFUL. It was long, drawn out, pointless, painful and I really had to work to read it. Oh man I hated it. Then I read a couple of fluff books and now I'm looking for a good sink-your-teeth-into-but-don't-get-bored-or sick of book. I'll probably end up reading Mama Day again

57. East of Eden by John Steinbeck - awful, pointless, hated
58. Have a Little Faith By Mitch Albom - fits the formula of all of his books. Not a huge fan, felt this one was missing a focused point, but it was fine, fast and an easy read
59. Deadlock - by Iris Johansen - the Doritos of literature. trashy, suspenseful and fun to read

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finally Hitting the Wall

Tradition: Hitting a wall – a term used to describe breaking down at some point in a marathon.

Story: I think I have hit the wall with my epic shawl. How do I know?

1) I cast on something else
2) I finished that something else before I did much on the epic shawl
3) I started re-knitting that something else before making progress on the shawl
4) I start the list of things I want to knit next
5) I plan what to make next (match yarn to pattern, determine how long it will take)
6) I Repeat items 3&4 for multiple projects

This behavior probably seems rather normal to many knitters, but I only knit one thing at a time. I don’t like knitting more than one project unless something isn’t portable (my definition of portable is pretty wide) so when I start adding more than one project I am clearly annoyed/bored/done with whatever I'm working on.

Item 3
The solution of course, is to convince myself to work on the shawl. I’m on the outer edging, but after the first quarter the edging is sort of boring.

Can you sort of see the trees and then the last celtic knot section?

The other problem I’m having is this fear that I will run out of yarn. Every time I look at the amount I have left I have a flutter of fear in my heart. How not knitting will save me from running out of yarn for the shawl is a mystery.I bought WAY more than the pattern called for, but I'm not confident at all. We'll see if I get through it before I'm done.
Will this be enough?