Monday, March 22, 2010

Last Place Finish

Okay, so this bear (which looks like a cat) was one of my Ravelympics projects, but I just finished it now. It's ready for the journey to an orphan in Africa. It was fun to knit, but I was painfully slow at this project and I definitely need help sewing faces. Yay! It's done!

Cutie Pies

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Focusing on one thing at a time

I know it isn't groundbreaking or anything, but I've discovered focusing on one thing at a time. For so long, I've been a crazy multi-tasker, but recently I've felt worn down by doing too much at the same time and not really seeing the results of such frantic activity. It's been truly difficult to slow down and concentrate on one thing and I'm still struggling, but oh, the results are not what I expected! It's difficult transitioning to doing only one thing at a time because there's this little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I need to shift my focus and do something else or it won't get done. I've had to work really hard to ignore that voice.

On Monday, I spent a couple of hours cleaning the fridge. It had to be done. Things were gettting bad in there and that's not normal for me. I took everything out. I looked at expiration dates on everything. I took out every single drawer and shelf and washed them in soapy water. I hand dried every shelf and put them back. I had to throw out a few things- some moldy cheese and a couple of liquefied veggies. I made a list of things I needed to replace. The whole time though, I felt this nudge to get a move onto something else or this would be the only thing I got done today. I knew that wasn't true. I'd get more accomplished, but at the time, it felt true. I didn't listen and I stayed focused. It turned out that I ended up being much happier that I stuck with the unpleasant task rather than breaking it up into bits because I thought I could get more done if I worked on a few things at the same time. I was much happier to have the whole fridge cleaned and I was free to move onto something else. I always joke that I have some form of adult ADD or something, but I believe it's just lack of discipline. I need to re-learn the discipline of staying focused long enough to see something through despite all the chatter to the contrary. I thought about this past weekend where I was determined to cut and sew the topper to The Hungry Caterpillar quilt. I didn't read and I didn't knit. I sewed and I was amazed. I had completed the topper! I didn't have a half-sewn project, a half-read book or a half-knit object!

It shouldn't amaze me at the results, but it does. Multi-tasking has left me feeling bereft, unaccomplished and unfinished. I've seen projects pile up some only barely started.

I've always had several books going at once as well and I only realized recently that this has made me a much slower reader. Although there will always be several books on my nightstand, it's been a real eye-opener to re-discover reading only one book at a time. It's another thing that's been very difficult for me. I'm too interested in so many different things, but it's not calming to pursue them all at once I've discovered. If I concentrate on only one thing at a time, it doesn't mean that I'm no longer interested in all those other things.

Take knitting, for example. I'm so over-inspired to knit that I've bought way too much yarn and I'm left feeling like I've more than I can manage. I yearn for a more simple life (less is more), but the way I live doesn't really reflect that at all. It takes serious discipline to work on only one thing at a time.

Thank you Sarah and MaryG for helping me manage my yarn. I'll be boxing up your new-to-you yarn today and shipping tomorrow. I'll post a new picture of my now not-overflowing yarn basket later today!

In this post, I mentioned this abandoned quilt project. Any quilter out there who would like to take on re-inventing this quilt? Like I mentioned in that previous post, I have plenty of extra fabric to send along with the topper. It's very bright and Spring-like. Can't you see that I'm practically begging someone to take this?

Less is more. Less is more. Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.

In today's world, it's a challenge to focus on those things that give us pure joy. It shouldn't be, but it is. Life is full of distractions and that's normal, but when it comes to doing anything worthwhile (yes, even cleaning the fridge), it's important to give it all we've got.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stash management

Any takers? A lot of these are full skeins, but I can't help rolling everything into balls. I've got a lot of random worsted. Most of this would be ideal for fun hats with bright colors. There are some sock yarns. Sometimes, I double strand a worsted with a sock yarn for a hat and it creates a fun effect. I'm not comfortable with so much yarn just sitting here. So, if you didn't get some yarn from Jenn, you're in luck here. Please leave me a comment. If there's more than one person interested, I'll just draw a winner. I really hope one of you readers out there can use this. I hate wasted yarn. I've bought a lot of yarn and I really only want to have yarn for a couple of WIPs at a time. It's just too much (at least for me)!
Next up: reducing the fabric stash!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What I accomplished last weekend

Sometime last year, I bought this pack of fat quarters based on one of Sammy's favorite books, The Hungry Caterpillar. I had thought that making this quilt would be great reminder of the book. Well, all the fabric stayed organized and put away. I just didn't have time to sew with the baby around. We don't read The Hungry Caterpillar as often anymore because I think Sammy's outgrowing it just a little. I really wanted him to have this quilt while he was very young. So, I took out the fabric. I had decided where I wanted to place the big panels and everything else would be simple strips, but my spatially gifted friend Stephanie (who also bought this same collection of fabrics) designed a much more visually interesting pattern (which, of course, I decided to use as well. Why re-invent the wheel?)

On Saturday, I spent between two and three hours ironing and cutting fabrics.

In the evening, I managed to sew 2/3 of the topper and I finished the topper on Sunday! Stephanie and I had to order more fabric for the backing. So, while we wait for that, we'll cut and piece the binding. I think I have batting big enought for this 45" x 60" size quilt. I want to have this done in time for Sammy's 5th birthday in April.

Here's another project that had been stalled for months. I had the squares done for a while, but I knew I wanted to add at least one border. So, after finishing The Hungry Caterpillar quilt topper, I worked on adding the border here. I determined I have enough of the border fabric left for the backing and some coordinating fabric for the binding.

Here's a close-up of the basic square pattern.

While watching the Oscars last night (Didn't Sandra Bullock look stunning?), I knit more of my bear for the Mother Bear Project. Yes, I can see that one arm is definitely more pumped than the other! I'll have to add some more stuffing to the weak arm. I still have to embroider the face, pick up stitches around the middle to knit a skirt and graft the top closed.
After looking at my fabric stash, I've come to the conclusion that I have too much fabric for my comfort levels. Does anyone remember this quilt topper? I came across this project last weekend and I discovered that I've lost all interest in completing this quilt. I love the colors and everything. It's Spring-y and bright, but since it didn't turn out the way I envisioned, I'm less inclined to finish it. Any other quilters out there who might want to take on this project? I have lots of extra strips and scraps of this Kaffe Fasset fabric that I will include with the topper. I think there is someone out there who can re-invent this quilt and make it beautiful. I would love to send this to someone who loves to quilt. Leave me a comment here or at Facebook and if there's more than one person interested, I'll just draw a winner! I hope it will inspire someone to new levels of creativity.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In which Luke tries to live like Sam Gribley

Here's the shelter Luke's been building in the yard with Uncle Markie and his cousins. He just needs the Deer Skin door and he can live like Sam Gribley. Now we'll see if he'll eat the acorn pancakes!

Happiness- 2010 Reading Goals Book #9

Yesterday, I plowed through the last 75 pages or so of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. It was extremely overdue and I can't stand even the smallest library fine. I knew I was approaching almost $2 in fines. So, since I had a clingy baby with a high fever, I mostly sat on the couch and read.

When I first picked up Rubin's book back in December or January (I can't remember now), I was attracted to yet another "one-year" experiment book. I admit that I'm sucker for what Rubin termed (although she didn't coin the expression) "stunt journalism". I didn't even realize there was a term to describe these kinds of books. I had read lots of books wherein the authors challenge themselves on something for one year. I had read Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less and A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy (where the author complains for most of the book that her children will not appreciate little hand-carved wooden toys from Germany because they prefer flashy plastic) or Julie and Julia where Julie Powell cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year (a book I just couldn't finish because I found the real Julie Powell just plain awful). I have not read Living Oprah: My One Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk (not interested in this title) or The Year of Living Biblically. You see the trend though.

I'm completely intrigued with the idea of a year-long challenge. So, that's why I read Gretchen Rubin's book. I consider myself a pretty happy person and I know I've stumbled onto some Rubin's findings on my own, but it's nice to read about someone else's journey of growth.

After listening to Dennis Prager's Happiness Hour for years, I was intrigued by Rubin's project. I had learned a lot about happiness over the years from Prager and had even read his book, Happiness is a Serious Problem. (I have to admit that I was a bit dismayed that his book didn't even show up in her bibliography. He's such an advocate for happiness.) He contends that we have an obligation to be happy and that happy people make a better world. Yup. It sounds so easy, but why do so many people find it so difficult to be happy? Is it because happiness, isn't always the easy path?

Rubin identified something she wanted to focus on each month for a year. One month she cleared the clutter from her home and that energized her (No surprise here for me. Less is more. It's my mantra!) and another she focused on going out of her comfort zone and challenging herself. She took an intense drawing class. She decided to write a novel in a months' time. (She discovered that happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.) Interesting! Happiness is sometimes is hard work. It isn't the easy path. Isn't that ironic? She found St Therese of Lisieux so fascinating that she bought seventeen books about her and studied her happiness and discovered it wasn't always easy, but she continued to choose happiness despite her situation. Simply, St Therese acted the way she wanted to feel.

Although slightly gimmicky, this book ultimately made me think more about happiness and hopefully by incorporating a few of things I hadn't really thought of before, I can boost not only my happiness, but the happiness of my family.

(By the way, my 2010 Reading Goals list is currently on my sidebar. I won't review every book I read, but happiness is an important topic and something we should consider every day.)

Welcome to March

Usually I head into March a little apprehensive. It's seems the signs of Spring are everywhere but here. March typically brings the most snow and well, April too. I remember we brought Sam home from the hospital on April 29th and it was snowing! Today, though, is beautiful! It's actually March 3rd despite the date on the post. I intended to post on the first of the month, but you know how it goes! Anyway, today is sunny and warm. The boys were outside in the their windbreakers. Now, I know there is most likely a lot of snow coming this month, but I'm going to look closer for those signs of Spring.

Plans for March:

I borrowed a few from By Sun and Candlelight. Dawn always inspires me!
- Keep Reading Swallows and Amazons and learn the major parts of a sailboat. I'm finding this is important so that Luke can picture what the crew of the Swallow are doing more clearly. I discovered that the 2nd book in the series appears to be out of print. I'm going to have to order a used copy so that we can continue on with the adventure!

- Pull out Alice in Wonderland and read this aloud to Luke as well. A year or so ago, he listened to the unabridged book on CD, but since the new 3D film is coming out soon, it'll be good to re-visit this novel. I admit to not finishing this one as a child.

- March 17th is St. Patrick's Day. Luke and I say a short version of St. Patrick's Breastplate prayer every night. St. Patrick is special to Luke. So, I bought a special baking pan with an Irish Soda Bread recipe printed in the bottom of the pan (I ordered mine at Chinaberry). We're going to bake Irish Soda Bread and I'll make the beef stew I've wanted to try all Winter. Soon, it will be time to move away from the heavy soups and stews and move to Spring fare. I also plan to make green vanilla shakes! Luke isn't keen on the green idea, but the rest of the family will be!

- March is Maple month. We use a fair amount of maple syrup around here. On Christmas Eve, I baked a batch of scones sweetened only with maple syrup and glazed with equal parts maple syrup and melted butter. They were outstanding! I was drawn to the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine only because of Ina Garten's recipe for Maple scones. I'm going to have to try these too!!
- Look for Robins. We haven't seen any lately. We've seen plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos, Stellar's Jays and Red-breasted Nuthatches, but I look forward to seeing robins.
- Watch for the Full Sap Moon 3/30
- Read the March Walks in Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book.
- Fish taco Fridays. (I know I can make my husband love these! Anybody have a good recipe to recommend? I'm going to go check out All Recipes for ideas.)
- Easter baskets
-Knitting- You didn't think I wouldn't mention knitting did you? I need to finish the little jumper I started for Tessie in the Fall. I hope it will still fit. I'm really close to finishing my bear for the Mother Bear Project and I'm working on another pair of these socks. I do have to block a couple of projects as well. (Oh, the mail just came while I was typing this post and I just got some beautiful yarn ifrom Pulling At Strings. It's Yarn Love Charlotte Bronte Worsted in Strawberry Smoothie! How can you not love yarn that combines knitting and great literature??
- Start thinking about our garden! I'm thinking about strawberries (probably because of the yarn), carrots, lettuce, and sunflowers!
- Ice skating- Take Luke to Evergreen Lake for a little more ice skating before the big melt! I get to sit and knit while he skates!

Happy March friends!