Sunday, June 29, 2008

(Un)rainy Days

The skies threatened rain today but did not deliver. I was all set: Matthew was napping, my tea was ready, the sofa was beckoning, and I needed to catch up on some reading. There's nothing like a rainy afternoon to prompt you to open a good book and relax a I just had to pretend. I'm currently half-way through Barbara Kinglsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I believe that I'm fairly educated about what I eat and feed my family, but this book has really opened my eyes even further. I highly recommend it. It's very eduational, but also humorous (like why you shouldn't name your livestock), and it's point is not to make the reader feel guilty. Some of the statistics are rather gloomy, but there's also optimism. The great thing about what you eat is that the more you eat of it, the more popular it becomes!
While being in the midst of two big projects that I fear will never get finished, I felt like I needed a little pick-me-up. I hadn't done any felting (really, fulling) for a while, had some bulky yarn lying around, and had been dreaming up this project for a while. I used the "Squashy Bag" pattern from One Skein Wonders for the base, but did my own thing in terms of decreases, the top of the bag, and the straps. I'm really happy with the outcome, except that next time I'd like to make a 3-stitch i-cord instead of 4-stitch.

Hmmm, what else have I been up to? I've been watching Sex and the City episodes rented from Netflix, this morning I made some homemade bread, yesterday I made granola, I started knitting a new sweater for Matthew, and I'm continuing to work on my garden. Oh, yes, I also started a little part-time job as a tour guide at the local science museum. It's only 4-8 hours a week, pays well, and is pretty interesting. Another bonus: I don't have to feel guilty about adding to my yarn stash. Yay! In closing, here is a great family picture taken by a good friend a couple of weeks ago. It definitely captures the mischievious stage Matthew's in...

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We have been home for a week now after another trip to Colorado. This time we went to the beautiful town of Loveland for a wedding. I enjoyed seeing my college friends and roomies, if only for one day. I have to admit, however, that I'm looking forward to spending the rest of the summer at home.

Starting about a month ago I started getting the urge to clean out my house and try to simplify. "Simple living" is a common theme among many of the blogs I read, especially of the crafting category. A part of me feels a bit like I'm joining a bandwagon, but the other part feels like saying, "so what?! This is a worth-while bandwagon to join!" So, I'm hopping on.

For me, this all started when I'd walk into a room in my home, or have some time to do something, but I had so many choices I didn't know where to begin: I'd walk into the kitchen and be so overwhelmed by cluttered counters and dishes piling up that I wouldn't bother cleaning; when I tried to pack for our trip to Durango I felt like I had "nothing to wear," yet brought ten outfits for a five-day trip (and six pairs of shoes!); I wouldn't know what I should work on for my crafting time--Pat's sweater, Pat's cross-stitch, finish Matt's cloth diapers, perhaps start a new project that wouldn't get finished and would end up hanging over my head? Choices are good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming and make life unproductive and stressful.

I logged onto Ravelry, went to the Simple Living group, and perused their references. I checked out Plain and Simple by Sue Bender and Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin at the library, and read them both before and during my Durango trip. Plain and Simple is a short read about one woman's journey to the Amish. I've studied the Amish before, and as with any society, I understand that no one group lives an ideal and perfect life. I found much value in the author's comments regarding choice. To summarize, sometimes having fewer choices brings clearer answers and more confidence in the choices that are made. This made me think, "what in my life can I decrease or eliminate so that I may be free to make valuable choices of careful choosing instead of in the midst of being overwhelmed and flustered?"

Voluntary Simplicity was first written in the mid-1980s with a second edition published about ten years later. I liked how Elgin highlighted the theme of simplicity in every major (and many minor) religions/philosophies in the world. I also liked the stress placed on voluntary: if simplicity isn't voluntary, it can often be viewed as poverty. Again, choice is so important. Would you rather ride a bicycle to work because you like the exercise and not adding to the pollution in the environment, or would you rather ride a bicycle because your car was reposessed and you have no other choice?

This discussion will most likely be ongoing for me. I have already had setbacks, like frivolously adding to my son's toy pile that is almost always passed up for a ball of yarn lying on the floor, but that happens. I also hope to have a few finished projects up shortly!

By the way, for you knitters/crocheters out there, Knit Picks is having a 40% off sale on ALL of their in-stock books.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Today we celebrated Matthew's first birthday with family, a picnic, and strawberry shortcake. We are blessed to have both sets of grandparents in town, as well as a great aunt and uncle and second cousin, and a great-grandfather 45 minutes away. This year has gone by so quickly. Everyone told me it would, but I think it's one of those things that you're not ever really prepared for. As I think about the challenges and blessings of the past year, I really believe that they are one and the same. The challenges have been the blessings--they've made me stronger, more patient, and more appreciative. My husband gave me a wonderful compliment when he said, "I think that a child's birthday should be a celebration of the mother--after all, she did all the work on the birth day." Pat's definitely not in the dog house tonight! :)
Durango was wonderful. It is so beautiful and peaceful there. We were about a mile from a lake (really a dammed-up river), and our cabin was surrounded by pine trees and mountain views. I especially enjoyed watching Matthew interact with my parents and brother. When we came back home he was really upset--he kept walking around the house looking for everyone and crying. Poor little guy. Sometimes it's hard to come home from vacation.

I was able to make it to Yarn-Durango, and didn't walk away empty-handed. The store is moving, so there were great sales. I added some kidsilk haze, Berroco alpaca, Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton and alpaca silk to my stash. Now, I just need to find some projects...just one more reason why I love Ravelry--I can search a particular yarn and see the projects others have made with it. I already have some good ideas!

Update: I am almost done with Pat's cross-stitch, but there is no way Cobblestone will be done before Father's Day. Hey, at least I'm trying. :)