Thursday, March 31, 2011

March is Over

It's the end of another month and March was a month of changes. Good and bad. Some things that have made me happy this month

Keeping up with my attempt to drink more water than pop

Fun Close Up


Laughing so hard I cry. Some of these moments I can't share because they are "you had to be there" moments. The one I can share is from the movie Due Date. It's the coffee scene. You can find it online, it is funny, but it's even funnier if you watch it in the context of the movie.

Moving out of my cubicle, into a new company and space. The last things I will remove from my current cube are my mug (for cocoa or tea), my glass (for water) and my silverware. This was a small change I made for the environment about a year ago. I no longer use disposable silverware or cups/bottles while at work. Something very small but so easy to do, I encourage everyone to do it especially if you get take out for lunch on a regular basis.


What has made you happy this month?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hats

Since the budget has been more limited my ability to afford any luxurious yak yarn for a sweater I decided to instead purchase a yummy yarn for a hat. The hat is out of my new knitting book and I bought the yarn it called for Malabrigo Worsted.

I bought a slightly variegated Navy Blue color. The hat was a super fast knit that starts by knitting the band, then picking up and knitting the top of the hat. The first one I made was TOO BIG!



The pattern calls for 3 repeats before decreasing, but that makes a hat much too big. Yes, I could have avoided this by knitting a swatch, but since that part of the hat is barely bigger than a swatch, it seemed a bit useless. So I knit it up and it is squishy and soft and warm. It will be a great hat for next year's winter hand-knit set. I'm planning on undoing the top and re-knitting it to a better fit



I used Malabrigo Worsted for some hats that I made this Christmas. My youngest sister and my mom both got hats and it only took 1 ball of the yarn plus about 6" of the second skein. The yarn was bright pink and I received it in a yarn swap last october. Since I have about a full skein I'm going to use it for my next hat. The changes I'm making it this time around are the following


  • For the band, bind off LOOSELY and undo it later in the pattern instead of binding off and then going back and picking up stitches on the bound off end. 
  • Knit the top of the hat on a slightly smaller needle
  • Only do 2 repeats (instead of 3) before decreasing
Of course these hats need buttons to finish them off. I searched JoAnn's this weekend and did not find anything that I loved but I will try a little harder and hopefully have something soon so it can be a finished item, just in time for spring!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ToT - Library Edition

10 reasons to use your local library

1) Free  Books - if you can get the books back to the library on time you don't have to pay a dime for an unlimited number of books
2) Free Movies - Many libraries (mine included) have a good collection of tv shows and movies that can be checked out just like books
3) Free Music - some music is available for free downloads through the library, also you can check out compact discs as well
4) Meeting space - Both of my quilt guilds have used the library conference rooms for meetings, but it was cheap/free and quiet space.
5) Museum Passes - I can get discount and free passes to local museums which helps offset the high cost of driving and parking in the city
6) Community Events - This should really be my entire list. My library hosts events for teens, children and adults. There is information available about local, community events and ours even hosts a fun scavenger hunt for anyone that wants to participate
7) Town History - you can find more information about your own town at the library than you can just about anywhere outside of your local history organization
8) Book Club - One Book, One (town) is a program that my town participates in. The library selects one book per year and it is available for free at the library. You can pick up a copy and then pass it to a friend. It is a great way to create common ground for the whole community
9) Lectures - more than just authors give lectures at the library, you might not be interested in every single one, but I'm sure you can find something to attend
10) Study - whether you are studying for a test or planning a presentation the quiet, low distraction nature of libraries makes them perfect study locations

You should read all of the other reasons to visit your local library by visiting the links at the bottom of Carole's ToT Post

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

A couple of weeks ago I joined local knitters on a yarn crawl to yarn stores in north of Boston. I was able, over two days, to make it to ten out of the twelve shops. I had so much fun, but didn’t have much money to spend. Since I had a gift card at one of my favorite yarn stores I spent $50 on some malabrigo worsted in a dark blue and a book full of amazing patterns, New England Knits along with a package of lace stitch markers. I also bought a few other small things at some shops, but in the end I stayed under $20 of non-gift card money. I also had an amazing time driving around New England with my friends Amy and Jillian. So much laughing cannot be a bad thing

I do not buy many knitting books because they are usually over $20 and I typically only want to knit one of the patterns in the book. New England Knits is the exception. This book is so full of gorgeous sweaters. There are a couple of details that make me wonder, but they are easy enough to leave off. I hope that I can make one of these sweaters sometime soon. The cost of a sweater in my size is pretty high so I’m saving pennies and staying active in hopes that eventually the saved money curve going up will meet the cost of yarn curve going down. This book has so many wonderful sweaters so it was hard to make first choice, but I think right now my top 5 are

Augusta Cardigan

Providence Hoodie

Old Port Pullover

Greenfield Cardigan

Hampton Cardigan


If I was handed enough yarn to make any one of those I would be in love with it. Until that miracle occurs I have made one Brattleboro Hat and I have one on the needles. More on those in a later post

My other acquisition this week was a skein of yarn from someone I would never have been exposed to. Anzula Luxury Fibers was featured in a post on the Yarn On The House blog a couple weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be a runner up and received a free skein of yarn. I am having trouble describing the color but I can tell you that the feel is awesome. Stiff enough to feel substantial, but soft and drapey. I do not know what I’m going to do with it. It is fingering, but I don’t think I want to make socks. I might try a scarf or cowl, but that seems predictable. What would you make from a charcoal blackish/grayish/brownish fingering weight yarn?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flowers

Winter here is living with death out your window for months at a time so by the time march rolls around I need some color, and some life. I start buying myself flowers at the end of February/beginning of March. Daffodils, dyed daisies, tulips, anything I can find at the grocery store without going over my grocery budget. Sometimes Jim even catches on and buys me a bouquet to tide me over until my tulips and lilacs bloom


I’m in a zone where no flowers have bloomed except maybe a crocus here or there. Mine are just starting to shoot up.

Shortly after the crocuses my early tulips also poke out from the earth



Soon enough my lilacs will bloom and I can bring them into my kitchen and fill my house with nature's natural perfume. After a long day in the city I love walking in the door where  I am welcomed with the scent of lilacs in every room of the house. No need for air freshener when lilacs are blooming





Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Every spring and fall I like to do a big clean of the house. Take out all of the bags of clothes and shoes that don’t fit and donate them to a local charity. Do a deep clean - dust, wash walls, wash base boards, vacuum and clean the carpets - of the whole house. This is not a small feat and thankfully my mom taught how to do a real job of cleaning the house. The difference between my mother and me is that my mom is good at controlling clutter, keeping things generally picked up and clean throughout the weeks and months between deep cleans. I keep things clean but the clutter and organization slips quickly at my house.

Since I’m a BzzAgent I received a perfectly timed package of cleaning products to try out, review. I got some scrubbing bubbles super foaming cleaner and some pledge and some candles and one item I was super excited about. You’ve probably seen the last item in commercials and I have been tempted to buy it, but I’m cheap, think it’s a wasteful product and the difficulty of cleaning 2 toilets doesn't really justify it. The last item? Scrubbing bubbles toilet cleaning gel.

Do I love it? Yes! Will I ever purchase it? Maybe with one the coupons that came with the products (if you want a coupon let me know), but I will probably go back to my cheap ajax that takes only 60 seconds more effort.

Cleaning in general is one of those things that I connect to my tradition of Time based on ROI. I don’t find the ROI is very high when doing short/normal/maintenance cleaning. I can’t find satisfaction in a clean bedroom if I know the dresser drawers are a cluttered disaster or the shelves are dusty. So the ROI for a deep clean is probably low, but it at least beats the deficit I feel with normal cleaning chores

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life - Animals

I’m not a mom, and won’t be a mom, but if I were to plan a pregnancy I would try to have the baby in spring to coincide with the new life that shows up in nature. Spring is inspirational as bulbs send shoots up out of the barely unfrozen earth into the barely warm air.

The groundhog with whom I have a bi-polar relationship crawls out from wherever he hunkered down this winter. He stretches, nibbles and starts the next year in my backyard. Dennis is such a welcome site and we saw him for the first time this season last week!



Bunnies (baby bunnies) are all over tucked in, almost unnoticeable little holes around our yard. I’m getting better at noticing their burrows. The small caves are typically where grass grows a bit long (at the edge or right next to the building). The grass is sort of bent into a small cave and inside are tiny babies with gorgeous eyes breathing quickly and the entrance of the cave is stuffed with loose fur. I know bunnies recreate quickly, but I enjoy watching the tiny babies get big enough to run around on their own.

The bunnies and Dennis welcome other wildlife like owls and foxes. We don’t see the foxes often but we hear them making awful noises at night. I haven’t heard them yet this spring, but I can’t imagine it will be much longer before they cross through our backyard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Running

Running
Last year we started running outside in February. That was not going to happen this year since we still had 4 feet of snow on the ground in mid-February. We basically took the entire winter off. Not on purpose, but I couldn’t run on ice and we were both so stressed about work and making ends meet and everything so running got lost in the pool of life.


In February Pandora would play some of my running songs (the music that I think has motivating beats and use for running). When the songs came on I felt the need to get moving again. This year we started in March and have been doing better than expected, but I’m not sure I am ready to run a race in less than a month. Even if I’m not ready I’m glad that we are back on the roads because that means we will be back on trails soon!



I will never be fast and my husband basically laps me each time, but I’m enjoying the time with him more this year than last. I’m hoping that by the end of the summer I will be ready to try a bit longer of a run or at least a race-length trail run. Seems the plan to continue my tradition of running will be a success.

My running play list:
Country Grammar - Nelly
Numb/Encore - Jay-Z & Linkin Park
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem featuring Rihanna
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Still D.R.E - Dr. Dre
What's the Difference - Dr. Dre
Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
Brick House - The Commodores
California Gurls - Katie Perry featuring Snoop Dogg
Mission Impossible Theme Song
C'mon C'mon - The Vond Bondies

Monday, March 21, 2011

Balance

Spring means so many things to so many people. Spring is when Passover occurs, it’s when Christians celebrate Easter and when flowers bloom. Spring is a great time to clean up and clean out. The equinox is a time to reflect on our life balance as we balance light and dark in the day. As the earth tilts to gain more light in the northern hemisphere can we rededicate to finding more moments of happy in our life? How are your traditions for 2011 working out? Do you need adjustments? Take note of the things in life that are out of balance and find a way to make them balance

What is something that you have noticed slip out of balance lately? Are you making plans to fix that or are you adjusting to an unbalanced life?

I've noticed in the past couple of weeks that my tears and laughter are completely out of balance, desperately out of balance. So, I have been working on being a little more silly a little more fun and I am trying to stop taking everyone so seriously. I haven’t really decreased the tears (I’m a crier, I’m doomed in that department) but I have increased the laughter. I find nothing quite as wonderful as my kitchen full of the harmonizing laughter of my husband and me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring is Coming

Spring starts at the equinox which occurs on Sunday the 20th of March this year. I don't usually do anything special to recognize the beginning of spring, but this year is different. So each weekday next week I am going to post a special traditions of spring post.

I encourage all of you to think of your traditions of spring and why you do them, how you celebrate them and how you can enhance them in 2011.

Can't wait for this little exercise!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hacked

Since my email (connected to this blog) was hacked you probably got an awesomely hacker-ish email from me. I'm sorry. Please don't click the link included

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Booking it right along

It’s been a couple weeks since the last caterpillar update, plus while I was perusing GoodReads the other day I realized that I forgot to include a couple of books I read awhile ago.

32 ) The Reader – I read this months ago, but it somehow missed the caterpillar posting at the time. Odd book, I’m still unsure what I was supposed to get from it. I might watch the movie, but I might skip it since I can’t imagine I will get more from it than I did from the book

33) Seriously by Lucia Nevai – Also read this ages ago, and it’s forgettable. Honestly I forgot the entire story in the time between reading it and finally adding it to the caterpillar.

34) Midwives by Chris Bohjalian – I really enjoyed this book. I found it predictable in that much of the plot was told to you from the beginning, but the result of the trial was sort of kept secret. I loved the explanations of the impact that her parents decisions had on the main character’s life

35) The Memoir Club by Laura Kalpakian – Another book that takes place in Oregon so it had an air of familiarity. This is the kind of book that rides the line between fluffy and serious and I enjoyed it

36) Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I honestly have no idea what people like in this book. It was boring, long, too long and extra boring. That is what I felt through the entire book

37) Loser by Jerry Spinelli – First book in the Cross Country Sisters Book Club. Interesting, I’m not sure I felt the book resolved anything, but the writing is a wonderful description of what it could be like to grow up on the outside of the cliques in school

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ToT-Delicious Scents

The prompt today is about my favorite smells. I haven't listed them in any sort of order other than to put my very favorite one at the very top.


My mom’s cooking – bread, soup, cookies, brownies, etc

Cotton - most bath and body works/body shop/other places that sell yummy smelling things have a scent that is fresh wash linen or cotton or Egyptian cotton. I Love it, currently I have an “Egyptian Cotton” linen spray from Kohls that I spray on my bed every day

Lime – real limes or lime flavored soap/body spray/body wash. Coconut lime verbena is one of my favorite bath and body works scents

Purex 3 in 1 – the most wasteful laundry product ever made and I would never purchase it, but I got a sample in the mail awhile back and I could have sniffed those clothes all day

Clean hair – most shampoos are scented but no matter the scent as long as my hair smells clean I like it

The beach – not the tide out rotting fish smell but the fresh, wet sand and salty ocean smell

Wet dirt – as I child I ate dirt, it was a weird habit/craving and while I don’t have any desire to eat dirt at this time I do love the smell of healthy soil. I think it’s the most hopeful smell on this planet

Tomatoes and basil – cooking, raw, fresh picked from the garden, any way

Baby – especially baby hair/head so fresh and soft (yes a smell can be soft)

Tulips – really any especially fragrant flower

Friday, March 4, 2011

Skirted!

I made my sister sew on her own buttons because I didn’t want to make the skirt too big or too small, but first she had to get the skirt.

I stuck the skirt in a box and went to mail it and in my hurry forgot to put the apartment number on the box. Silly me. Thankfully this only delayed the delivery by a day or two. Once she received the skirt she put it on (no buttons or anything) and took some pictures.



Then she put on the buttons and sent me more pictures! I think if I made it again for her, which I won’t, but if I did, I would not have added the additional length. She is not exactly blessed with height so it’s a hits lower on her leg than I really wanted it to, but it still looks good.






Don't you wish you had her shoes?

My Favorite Picture she is so cute!