Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Quilt Is Born

This weekend I essentially locked myself in the house. The aim? To finish a project I've been procrastinating on for a while now: a quilt for Baby Khy! Since we're expecting Khy Christopher to arrive on or around February 15th, I suddenly realized I'd better get cracking!

There's a neat story behind this material... I found this remnant somewhere while on vacation and completely fell in love with it. As you might have guessed, I'm completely obsessed with stars and the night sky, and I loved this whimsical pattern. I paired it up with some gender-friendly purple and blue to match the color of the moons, and stuck the material away on a shelf, waiting. When I found out that Robin was expecting Khy, I immediately thought of this project. She is one of the few people I know who would appreciate the material as much as I do!

My sister Anna graciously cut out my material for me, since 1) rotary blades scare me (not in a "I'm going to cut my hands off" way, but in a "I'm going to slip and - whoops! - there goes my fabric!" kind of way. This was especially stressful since I had such a limited amount of material to work with) and 2) I am not a precise person. I'm not detail oriented, a perfectionist, etc, and cutting out squares kind of requires that. Anna, however, is fearless and perfectionistic. A perfect combination. :)

I sort of took over the kitchen for awhile, lol... here are all my cut-out blocks spread out on the kitchen table. Seeing it all laid out was great. I had imagined it in my mind but it's always nice to see the reality!

Time to start sewing!

Squares become rectangles...

And end up as strips...

And then, just because Robin is my bestest friend, I actually pause to iron the seams out flat instead of just finger-pressing them. :) Finally, it was all pieced together!

I had struggled over the question of whether to hand-quilt it or tie the blocks... on the one hand, I love the time investment that hand-quilting represents... each stitch is literally made with love and thoughts of the loved ones the quilt will warm and cover. On the other hand, I remember watching all my siblings twirl the ties on our favorite baby blanket while they nursed, creating a very tactile memory. I was torn right up until we tied the blocks, and then I stepped back and just loved the effect. So perfect.

I did do the binding by hand, however!

Several hours and many sore and pricked fingers later, my labor of love was all done.

Khy's stunt double...

Trying out the quilt. :) We are a crazy family of girls... we wrapped the baby doll in the blanket to get pictures and everyone wanted their chance to hold it, even though only one of us is anywhere near the doll-playing age! :)

Making this quilt was a very healing act for me... I collected all the CD's that Robin and I used to listen to together and talk about playing for our babies someday and played them all day. Making something tangible was also nice since I so often feel like there's nothing I can do to help except offer support and love. That old saying about how a baby changes everything? Totally true. I love Robin and I am excited for her, but there is also a certain amount of fear there that I am losing my best friend. Fear and guilt (over not being able to do more) make a lonely combination, and there isn't really anyone I can share these feelings with. Being able to relive some of my most precious memories of times we spent together while creating something that will hopefully contribute to our times together in the future, granted in a roundabout way, helped "stitch up" some of the hurting places in my heart. :)

Baby Khy, I can't wait to meet you! I love your mommy so much and I know she will be a terrific mom! Please come soon - there's a lot of love waiting out here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Sorry I've waited so late to pick and announce a winner... to be fair, I didn't say what time today I'd share the news, and this is the first time I've sat down in front of the computer all day.

Anyway... Drumroll, please... :) and the winner (selected by Random.org) is...

FashionAddict of Fashion For The Econonically Challenged!

I have to admit, I am sooo excited that she won. I love reading her blog and I love her mix of fashion, life, and intelligence (for instance...
check out her post on Barbie doll and its effect on women's self-esteem). Although we don't agree on all the issues of life, we do agree on many of them, and I have a great respect for the work that she does! I also have an incredible respect for all the great outfits she puts together... and I hope this scarf will find a place in her wardrobe!

So FashionAddict... when you read this, drop me an email at taleia_and_company@yahoo.com and I will get your scarf in the mail and on its way!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Update

No long, intricate update today... Just a quick note to explain why I haven't quite gotten around to blogging, texting, Facebook, or much of anything else! This little darling has taken over all my time <and I couldn't be more happy about it>! This is my adorable cousin Abigail, aged 18 months. As of wednesday, I have become her nanny. My Uncle Chris has always been one of the most incredible cool people I know, and when he married Aunt Natalie it was as if the world's most awesome people had decided to join forces. It stands to reason their baby would be the smartest cutest child in history. :> At any rate, everything else has pretty much gotten pushed to the back burner this week as I've gotten a handle on my new schedule <early morning hours, again, for instance>, and concentrated on learning Abby's schedule and likes/dislikes. I hope to be back to regular posting on Monday <have you entered the giveaway?> but please bear with me as I adjust. Hope you have an incredible weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Treasure Hunting at WalMart!

Don't forget... the giveaway ends on Monday!

So yesterday Anna and I ducked into WalMart after homeschool co-op... we (ok, I) came in looking for fabric to make a new duvet cover/pillow shams, and we ended up finding lots of good stuff, mostly on clearance!



I've been looking for a gym-type bag that I can stash my yucky workout clothes in (we don't have a dryer, so things can take a few days to dry, and I don't have enough clothes to wear a new outfit each day... and I figure I'm showering after working out anyway, so whatever. Gross, I know). I saw this bag at WalMart, it called to me, I looked at the label, and it was on clearance for $5. I slipped the super-wide strap over my shoulder and fell in love. Gym bag, yeah right. I have a soft spot in my heart for mind-blowingly big bags. Today I shoved my computer, Bible, camera, etc in it and added the contents of my purse. I'm in love!


Anna, the incurable tomboy, was walking through the aisles and suddenly exclaimed "OH! I LOVE this purse!" I was expecting some camouflage monstrocity, but instead I like it. Sporty but adorable. It was full price but only $10 so I bought it for her just to be able to say I found a purse we both liked.


Lastly, my sister Maggie bought 10,000 bees and two hives last year and has been a little bee crazy ever since (we were outside enjoying the nice weather yesterday when a bee buzzed up... the rest of us backed away; Maggie crooned sweetly, "Well, hel-LO there!"). For Christmas this year, the kids and I found her a little silver bee pendant on a chain; naturally when I found this wallet (by No Boundaries, $5) I had to pick it up for her birthday!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Mondays

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Threads of Compassion Scarf! Only a week left!
I am generally ok with Mondays - they mark the start of a new week that holds infinite possibilities! However, today I am just... bleh. I don't know if it's that everyone in the family is in some stage of sickness (with me being on the "so far resisting actual sickness but feeling pretty wiped out" side of the spectrum), the fact that I've been on the Fit like a fiend lately and am kind of constantly tired/sore, or... that I'm stressed out.

I don't know why I'm stressed out, except that there have been a lot of changes in my life lately, and even though I'm happy about them and have instigated a lot of them, change is hard, you know? All I know is, everything is funny. Everything. Maggie and I went to dinner on Thursday - I cracked up in the restaurant and risked serious embarrassment. We watched "Scooby Doo" over the weekend... I laughed until I cried. I'm suddenly seeing jokes in everything, finding the humorous slant to the most non-humorous situations. I suppose this is a good way to deal with stress, but I feel kind of giddy all the time, and I can't wait for all these changes to become "normal" so I can feel less like snoring. :)

Anywho...

Not much going on around here, except that the kids and I are back to school. For those of you who have always wondered what homeschooling looks like... well, this is it! Not very glam but tons of fun (usually)!





Although I teach Anna (my second-youngest sister) at the homeschool co-op where I teach on Tuesdays, she's mostly a self-learner at 16. This fall she'll start taking math classes at the college I attended - I'm so excited for her!

When I am home, most of my attention is focused on the twins, Allen and Elizabeth (13). We've been doing tons of math lately, which is a stressful subject for me (hey, I'm an English major - YOU do the math! :)), but the kids have really plowed through it with me, Allen especially. Now that we're back in the swing of things post-holidays, we'll be adding our science, history, health, and literature back into the mix. I was super-productive today and wrote out the next three weeks' lesson plans so I wouldn't have to scramble to keep up with them while also getting the hang of my a job.

Today we also spent some time cleaning out the "school closet"... we have textbooks and reproducibles from when I started kindergarden 20 years ago, so we threw out a trashcan and a half of outdated books. Another big bin is going to homeschool co-op with me tomorrow for the "free books" bin.

Today was pretty low-key for me... About the most exciting thing I did was to pack my lunch for tomorrow's day at co-op... steamed cauliflower, hummus & cheese with Triscuits, and some yogurt with kiwi and granola. Not very exciting. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Official...

My bangs want to be trimmed! :>

Friday Update

First, business: Don't forget to enter the giveaway! I would love for YOU to be the winner! :)

Two weeks into the new year! How exciting! And this week was, if possible, easier than the first week, so I think this is a good sign. :)

How I'm doing on all my resolutions:

~ Still no live music... I was supposed to go Irish contra dancing last Saturday but it turned into a girl's night in with Becka since I was feeling lazy and all ice-cream-and-chick-flick-y. :) I do have a lead on a local concert coming up, though!

~ I'm still being good about blogging... I generally post to Taleia & Company on Mondays, Wednedays, and Fridays, and occasionally over the weekend. I also got my first giveaway up and running! Check it out! So far I've also kept my resolution to blog once a week on Girl in Skirt... but just barely! I need to figure out a better, easier way to take picts. *sigh* And I still haven't done a thing with EdResource except think about it - although I did start an "EdResource" folder in my favorites tab and start collecting resources! Good thing I didn't put a time limit on this goal!

~ No progress yet on a road trip, although since everybody is heading back to school that brings "weekend trips to see college buddies" back into play.

~ The hair is not getting done this week... I'm thinking the week after next is going to be the week, since I'll have more money then. I need to find a good conditioning treatment in the meantime, cuz it's pretty unpretty right now.

~ No progress on the money-saving front... I need a paycheck to save! :)

~ I still haven't written any poetry... I need to get with it, since I'm already two weeks behind!

~ I have bought magazines, but they're all mags that I've read before, so not really fulfilling the world-expanding mind-stretching role I had hoped for. It's ok- I've still got a few weeks left...

~ As you can see in my giveaway post, I did crochet a new pattern this month! Isn't it pretty?

~ I'm enjoying my "self date" right now! I'm holed up at one of my favorite places, Panera Bread, just my computer and I... just had an incredibly salmon sandwhich, found and ordered a movie I've been hunting for all week (and got a used copy for under $3! Does it GET any better than this?!?), and am seriously contemplating coffee... or driving a little further downtown and picking up my fav green tea. :)

~ D.C... *sigh* I swear I love you, and I am coming. You'll just have to take it on faith.

~ Maybe I'll combine a trip to D.C. with a kids-night-out... fulfil two resolutions with one effort? Lol... I'm really not stressing over this resolution, as I've been home all month and we're all spending tons of time together. That is the point, right?

~ I haven't started reading the 100 Greatest Novels yet, but I did print off the list and highlight the ones I've already read.

~ Ditto the resolution to watch the 100 Greatest Movies! And I've watched 15 percent of them already! Isn't that cool?

~ I'm determined to start writing again... I think I'll be better at this when I start my new job, since I'll have blocks of free time I can "devote" (right now I keep getting distracted).

~ I was doing well on my resolution to wash and cleanse my face each night, but I've sort of slacked off the last few nights, and I can feel it. Again, I think I'll be better at this once the new job starts since I'll be going to bed earlier and be less tired.

~ I've kind of sort of come up with a short-story premise that I'd like to turn into a short story for Connections... I'll try to keep you posted.

~ I have done nothing with my website. Again, I'm glad I didn't put a time limit on this one!

~ I'm actually a day behind on my reading plan to read through the Bible in a year, but I will get caught up tonight, I swear! And if you're one of the folks doing this with me... keep on me!

So... yup! That's my life in a nutshell lately!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review - Wii Fit Plus

Before I begin this post... don't forget to enter my giveaway and support Threads of Compassion! If you've already entered, thanks for the support! You rock! :)

So last week I had a mind-numbingly boring, agonizing exercise session on the treadmill where I seriously considered dying to avoid having to finish the session. Realizing that any ideas I'd cherished about making this the year of a healthier me were going to die unless I came up with a new strategy, I posted a Facebook status update asking if I could borrow someone's Wii Fit for a week; a few seconds later, my incredible friend Krista wrote back saying that she'd lend me hers. She brought it on Sunday and I brought it home and plugged it in... and I've been hooked ever since. Not that self-discipline isn't great, but making an otherwise dreaded task fun is never a bad idea!


I had never used a Fit before, but I found the interface pretty consistent with the rest of the Wii games - nice for a non-gamer like me. I did think the "set up process" was a little ridiculously long - I mean, does anyone actually read those little info blurbs all the way through? I know I was skimming and pressing "A" the whole time. I also wish there was a "privacy mode" where you could take the balance test without having your weight or BMI displayed, since I often play with others around (or watching).

Let me just take a moment to review the actual balance board, the hardware which makes the whole Wii Fit concept possible. I have always wondered how well a plastic balance board would work for someone curvy and heavy (like me!) and I can now say I feel completely confident in it. Yes, it's rated for over 300 pounds, so no worries really, but it feels sturdy and doesn't warp under your feet. Nice. I have been thinking that if I were going to design a system like the Fit, I'd have made it a neoprene-type mat that lay flat on the floor, since that would allow for different stances (and make tripping over it less of an issue). Also, you could roll up a mat, making it more mobile, and dropping it wouldn't be a problem (since I'm told people like to travel with their boards... I can't see this, personally, but ok).

I have a wider stance, and the balance board sometimes feels unnatural to me since it requires my feet to be placed closer together than I prefer, thus throwing off my center of balance. I also notice that the board is much less sensitive towards the outside than it is in the center, which can create issues when playing games like Step, where you really need to pound on the board to get it to register your footstep. However, it does remarkably well overall - it recognized "jumps" in the Obstacle Course, subtle shifts in skiing and skateboarding games, etc, and my sibs and I were impressed.

The Fit features a nice little "toaster" (I'm sure it's a screen or counter of some sort, but for the life of me it reminds me of nothing so much as a toaster over) which keeps track of your actual workout time (in other words, time spent moving, not time spent perusing the menus, switching between games, etc) and calories burned (based on your actual height/weight). When you read 30 minutes of exercise, it does a little happy dance and dings gratifyingly. :) The Fit will also prompt you periodically to stop, catch your breath, and drink some water.

One of the things I wondered about was if the Wii Fit was actually capable of providing a good workout. I can't speak for the avid fitness expert, but for the beginner/recreational person like me, the answer is definitely yes. I am sweating, my heart rate is up, I can feel a satisfying soreness in my muscles. My younger sister, who is slim and athletic, said after one session on the Fit that it had worked muscles she didn't know she had. However, unlike other workout videos, the Fit seems to find the perfect balance of challenge and achievability. Is it just my imagination, or do the yoga poses last exactly as long as I can handle? Nice!

Speaking of yoga... this is the feature I was most excited about when I heard about the Fit, and It's totally lived up to my expectations (or rather, it has well exceded my dubiousness). When you select a pose, the trainer will demonstrate the pose at a slower pace, allowing you to try it out in slow-motion, then take you through it at a normal pace. If you're struggling, the trainer will offer you tips; if you're doing well, the trainer can tell this too and offers praise! Best of all, you can string together yoga moves in the My Workout mode and create your own routine.

The aerobics games are great! The Basic Step can be a little strange at first (tip: it's easier to watch your fellow Mii's then the floor at first) but once you master a few moves it's a blast! Coincidentally, this is possibly the most group-friendly activity... My sibs and I will do this activity in groups, with one person using the board and the rest using the floor. Advanced step is possibly even more fun!

Basic Run has taken my treadmill on and won. Essentially performing the same function as a treadmill (you run in place all over a scenic island), but with the encouragement of a fellow runner and some beautiful scenery. The chance to "race" other runners in itself is motivational.

There are many more games included, but I'll leave you something to discover yourself!

We have enjoyed our time on the Fit so much that the kids and I have decided to chip in together and get ourselves our own Fit when we return this one!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fiftieth Post - And A Giveaway!

I can't believe that this is my fiftieth post! Although I have been blogging for years, I've had a few "stops and starts!" I look forward to blogging for another few years now that I've found my "voice!"

Anyway, I have chosen to celebrate my fiftieth post in a very special way: with my first giveaway! :)

As you may recall, one of my New Year's vows was to crochet a new pattern or project each month. Well, the project I chose for January was two beautiful scarves; one to be donated to Threads of Compassion, and one for a lucky reader! For those of you who are unfamiliar with this great organization,

"Threads of Compassion is a loosely connected group of survivors of sexual violence who desire to offer comfort and support to recent victims. The idea is simple. Anyone whose life has been affected by sexual assault or abuse is welcome to knit or crochet a scarf which in turn will be given to a victim of sexual violence when they enter the hospital for emergency treatment. Having been through similar experiences ourselves, our hope is to offer support at a time when a person is feeling forsaken, fearful, and extremely vulnerable, and in a simple way let them know they are not alone. So many people are lost in how to respond to friends and family members that have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, so they opt to do nothing. Their fear of adding more pain by saying or doing the wrong thing results in
silence. This silence is heartbreaking to the victim...a silence that offers no validation to the pain they are going through and that adds to their feeling of isolation. The silence produces shame.

One of the main goals behind Threads of Compassion is to break through this silence by acknowledging the pain. The gift of a scarf not only shows the knitters/crocheters concern for the victim, but also expresses their sorrow for what has happened. Each scarf is made by someone who wishes to provide a small amount of comfort against the pain being faced, and by doing so, lets the victim know they are not alone. The scarves are tangible objects that can be held, wrapped around the neck or shoulders, with the deeper meaning known only by the wearer. As each victim touches the threads of the scarves they receive, they are connecting with someone who cares about what has happened to them."
I am doing this giveaway to raise awareness for Threads of Compassion, in honor of my best friend, who in 2009 was the victim of rape. While I am constantly amazed at the strength that she has displayed in these incredibly tough circumstances, and at how God has chosen to work even in a horrific situation, I have also been affected by the grief surrounding this act of violence.

This topic is often ignored because it is awkward or uncomfortable to discuss; however, consider these statistics.

One in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime; every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States; 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police; and only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.



The scarf was crocheted by me, Taleia, using this pattern, in a beautiful soft multi-toned lavender color. The pattern featured many interweaved loops, signifying the unique bond shared by all those affected by sexual violence. The lucky winner of the second scarf may choose to donate it to Threads of Compassion, or she may choose to wear the scarf and tell others about Threads of Compassion whenever she receives a compliment on it. :)

To enter the giveaway:

1) Blog, tweet, or post a Facebook status update about Threads of Compassion for one entry each. Mentioning this giveaway is appreciated but not required (the goal of this giveaway is to raise awareness for Threads of Compassion, not Taleia & Company).

2) Drop me a comment and tell me how you shared (if you blogged or tweeted, make sure to give me the address).

Optional 3) If you happen to be crafty and you decide to crochet a scarf of your own to donate, be sure to snap a picture! I will be hosting another Threads of Compassion giveaway later on this year and I will definitely give extra entries to anyone who donates! (If you're a particularly speedy crocheter and you finish a scarf for donation before the giveaway ends, drop me a comment and let me know).

On January 25th I will randomly draw a winner and post the exciting news! The winner will have until January 29th to contact me at taleia_and_company@yahoo.com and claim their prize; if I am not contacted within that time, I will redraw.

Good luck! If you haven't embraced the scarf fad yet, check out these picts for some inspiration, featuring the giveaway scarf as graciously modeled by my sister, Elizabeth!< /div>














Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Very Good Day

It was a very good day today, a day where things went right without any pushing; it was like the universe bent over backwards to smooth out my path. :)

I woke up to a text from a friend reminding me that she'd be joining me for the service at church that day. Anything is more fun with a friend along! I jumped out of bed to get dressed, feeling just a little bit hesitant, since I'd tried to pick out an outfit last night and was feeling totally uninspired. Lo and behold, I open my closet door and all the pieces of an outfit just jumped off their hangars and into my waiting hands! (Ok, ok, maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but it sure felt like it!) The service was great, lots of old hymns and a good message, and plenty of friendly folks clustered around to meet my visitors.

After the service I went over to my Uncle Chris and Aunt Natalie's house to go over the details for later this month, when I will be watching my cousin Abigail full-time. I am sooo excited about this opportunity... Uncle Chris has always been the "favored uncle" in our family since he is so close in age to all the cousins (and has always had incredible taste in toys, lol). When he married Natalie it was as if the two most amazing people in the world had joined forces! :)

At church this morning, a friend handed me her Wii Fit for me to borrow, so once I came home from Chris's, I plugged it in and gave it a whirl. I'm in love. I've been sortakinda wanting one for awhile, but wondered how effective/fun it would really be, but I'm now totally sold. Even the "Run" game I find more engaging that just walking on the treadmill alone (I guess it's the scenery?). This may find itself on my list of things to get - someday. We'll see how faithful I am to the treadmill/stationary bike/yoga routine in the meantime. Anyway, I ended up spending almost an hour and a half doing various routines, games, etc... such a nice feeling!

Dinner was olive hummus - mmm! - and Triscuits, and now I'm perusing my blogroll before going off to do my daily reading.

That is all. Nothing exciting - just a great day. :)

P.S. And I go back to teaching this week!!! So excited!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Quick Update

So we're officially through the first week of the new year, and I thought I'd give you a quick update on how I'm doing with those resolutions!

~ I haven't heard any live music this month, but I am meeting my friends tonight to go contra dancing with a terrific band, so in my eyes that totally qualifies as live music. :)



~ I've been so good about blogging! I'm posting regularly to Taleia & Company, and I'm keeping my resolution to blog at least once a week to Girl in Skirt (though this one is going to be the resolution-breaker, I can tell!). I haven't done a thing to work on my Ed Resource blog... *sigh* I really need to buckle down and get with it!

~ No progress yet on a road trip! :)

~ I need to schedule an appointment with Tanya to get my hair done in the next week in order to keep my hair resolution. I may push this off for one week more and wait for life to get a bit more settled.

~ No progress either on the money saving front, since I temporarily have no income. As soon as I start getting regular paychecks again I will be working on this resolution in a big way!

~ I had forgotten all about my resolution to write a piece of poetry once a week, but now that I remember it I am really excited about it! Check back later!

~ I made it so far as to go magazine shopping, but I came home empty-handed. Any suggestions on non-fashion-related magazines?

~ I did crochet a new pattern this month! I will be posting more information (and a giveaway!) later next week.

~ I haven't gone anywhere by myself in the last few weeks... I am looking forward to taking myself on a date in the coming week, though!

~ I haven't set foot in D.C. but it hasn't been for lack of trying to set up a trip! In fact, the kids and I wanted to go this friday but the forecast was calling for snow. Oh, well.

~ The kids and I haven't been anywhere together for the last few weeks, but we've enjoyed hanging around the house, doing schoolwork together, playing cards, playing Wii, and generally being together for life. :)

~ I really need to start reading...

~ I really need to start watching...

~ I've been rereading some of my older writings lately and I really feel like I've gotten my own "voice" back lately. I need to find some time here where I can block out some distractions and work.

~ I'm doing really well on my resolution to wash my face each night! This is a great resolution for me since I can see the results almost immediately! And I enjoy not having to put on much makeup.

~ I also need to work on finding a moment to finish a short story and submit it to Connections.

~ I have a template for my new website... now I just need to get all the pages up and running.

~ I am right on track with my plan to read through the Bible in a year! Actually, I'm a day ahead! Anyone else doing this plan?

So, basically, that's what my time is being tied up in lately. What about you? How are your resolutions coming?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Adventures in Yarn

I learned to crochet when I was little - maybe eight or nine? - and my mother taught me to chain red, green, and white yarn to make "ribbon" for wrapping gifts one Christmas. A few years later, I was at a homeschool meeting and an older friend taught me how to single crochet a square. I went home and tried to do one on my own, and I ended up with a triangle (I didn't know you counted stitches). Eventually I figured out the basics by trail and error. Yet a few years later, Robin and I were signed up for free crochet lessons offered at the local WalMart where we learned to granny square and double crochet and generally become decently adept at the art.

Fast forward to 2008: I am stressed beyond all belief, working almost full time and carrying an eighteen credit courseload. I need something to do that lets me turn my brain off; my little sister was learning to crochet in a class offered through out church's homeschool co-op; I pick up some yarn to demonstrate a stitch and - viola! - I am literally "hooked." I buy some yarn, reteach myself the granny square, and I create a giant orange loose-weave throw for my bed. This leads to a camouflage throw for Allen's bed. I am running out of yarn so my next project is smaller - an orange and cappuchino-colored scarf which I wear happily.

I pick up a simple doily pattern and stitch one up in pink wool. When we set the teapot on it for the first time, the heat and moisture knits the fibers together, and I have discovered felting. I buy more yarn, this time in wool, and proceed to felt everything. A friend receives a crocheted camera case with a crocheted-and-felted flower decoration.

For Christmas of 2009, I receive a
beautiful set of handmade bamboo hooks. I spend one particularly stressed-out afternoon figuring out how to do a modified granny square wool cap.

I attempt to make a baby cap for soon-to-arrive Khy and fail miserably, even though I have the correct gauge, hook size, and yarn weight. My first attempt is huge, my second too small. I give up and unravel my yarn and use it to edge a fleece blanket.

I teach myself to read patterns using
this pattern from Crochet Magazine. The first time I misread the pattern and I end up with a long skinny scarf instead; the second time around, it turns out beautifully. The third time around I eliminate the weird (read: UGLY!) fringe. Then I modify the pattern so the rows are worked side-to-side instead of end-to-end.

Then I run out of yarn... :)

I was doing some wishful shopping yesterday and I discovered this website:
BrainsBarn Handcrafted Wooden Crochet Hooks.

I was looking for another set of wooden hooks in a hard wood (oak, maybe) and instead wandered onto this page.


These are not handcrafted in the same sense of the word, folks! These are museum-worthy works of art. They run upwards of $50 (and are worth every penny!) so they're not my idea of an everyday use needle, but wouldn't one of these beauties make a great addition to a set of hooks that could then be passed down from mother to daughter and possibly even longer?

Speaking of heirloom-worthy crochet accessories... won't you need a beautiful case to keep your hooks in? :) What about this beautiful handmade one from Etsy ($18)? I love the sturdiness and simplicity of this design... my only concern is that it only holds ten hooks!


You gotta love the roominess and fun factor of this design ($20)!


And considering my owl-obsessed-ness of late, you really can't blame me for falling in love with this sweet piece ($22), now can you?!





I am excited about this year partly because one of my resolutions is to crochet one new pattern a month. I have already completed this month's pattern (more to come of that later - just one word now: giveaway!) and I had a blast (and learned a lot). I can't wait to share my others projects with you... in the meantime, does anyone have any good patterns they'd like to recommend?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Monday Again!

I love it when I have Mondays off! It makes the week feel special. :)

This morning, my brother Allen and I went "back to school". One of my goals for this year is to help him get caught up to grade level in his math skills, something that he has been working very hard to do. I am not mathematically inclined, but I did take a lot of remedial math in college, so we pretty much struggle through together. Somehow our math lesson turned into an impromptu yoga session - Allen studies Tang So Do at a
local dojang - and many of the moves he learns or observes are related to yoga moves.

Two weeks after I got my drivers license at sixteen, I was driving home from work in the pouring rain and I rear-ended a poor guy driving a little Honda, completely totaling his brand new car. Even though I wasn't "injured" in the accident (we both walked away from it without needing any medical attention), I had some form of back pain ranging from mild (take an aspirin) to severe (go back to bed) for the next two years. One of the things I found that really helped ease those painful muscles and keep them from getting worse were simple yoga stretches. I brought home a book from the library and basically tried out every pose I could figure out. I enjoyed it, but I'd never seen the poses put into a "routine". After awhile, my back healed, and I got out of the habit.

I would love to get back into this form, so I downloaded
this workout from Exercise TV by Meaghan Townsend. It's a $1.99 download and lasts only 10 minutes, so it makes a nice mini-session. The speed is a little fast for me, and the poses move pretty quickly, so I usually follow along at my own pace, but it's a nice routine.

Another DVD that I like is
Megan Garcia's Just My Size Yoga. I'm a big curvy girl and I sometimes have issues figuring out if I'm doing a pose correctly and it just looks different because of my size, or if I'm actually doing something wrong. Megan Garcia is no bikini-babe but is beautiful, and it's wonderful to see yoga performed gracefully by a larger woman.

One of the routines I'd like to try as soon as I get my own computer back up and running is the
Beginner Yoga routine, also from Meaghan Townsend.

Anyway, Allen and I enjoyed doing some of my favorite poses together, like downward facing dog and warrior one and two. Allen is so flexible it's crazy! :) I'm ridiculously jealous, especially when I remember I used to be able to do a bridge pose. I would love to find a simple yoga video that Allen and I and maybe some of the rest of the clan could do together. Anyone out there practice the art? Any suggestions?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome To 2010!

Well, everybody, we made it through 2009. For some of us we made it all the way through the last decade. :-)

I have been reflecting for the last few days on how much I have grown over the last decade. I have experienced my absolute lowest lows, and I have reached my highest highs, and more importantly, I have found the middle ground where I can experience both happiness and grief but can handle both. This is such a huge thing for me - this is not to say that I am not influenced by physiological factors, but that I am learning every day new ways to cope and handle and generally deal with who I am.

I have learned who I am, and that is an amazing thing; I think I have discovered a little bit of that strength that I used to admire in others. I know that I am "strong enough / to accept both weakness and strength in others," and that it's okay if I fall flat on my face once in a while - it's even okay if I sit there and cry for a while - because I am strong enough to get up and keep going. I've learned that it'll be okay. What an amazing thing! It'll all be okay eventually!

I look forward to continuing to grow and learn in the next year and the next decade and for the rest of my life. I look forward to sharing those lessons and struggles with you through this blog! I hope that God blesses each of you in the coming year, and works in your life the way that he has worked in mine.

I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher - things that are nobler - these have allured my sight!
I am resolved to go to the Savior, leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One, He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior, faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom, leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me, still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me? Come, friends, without delay!
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit, we’ll walk the heav’nly way.
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus - greatest, highest - I will come to Thee!