Balance And Putting Myself To The Test

October 29, 2010

you cannot leave me to go to the gym

One of the things I struggle with the most is finding balance in my life.  I find it interesting that I am still struggling with it, because I’m not working.  In theory, I should have time to do all the things I want to do.  Maybe it’s because I have too much time on my hands.  I used to think in college that the more I had to do, the better job I did budgeting my time to get it all done. When I think about my Focus on Finishing in September, I got a lot done. But in the process, I got off my gym schedule so I sacrificed one thing for the other.  That really doesn’t make any sense to me because I should have time to do both.  Of course, I’m always looking for a reason to skip my workout so I likely used my FOF as a reason.  Gracie playing with my shoelaces almost kept me from going to the gym one day this week.

I’m putting myself to the test this November.  I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I enjoy writing, and I’ve wanted to do NaNoWriMo since 2007, but I haven’t.  If I can’t do it now, I don’t think I’d ever be able to do it.  But I can’t let it be the only thing I accomplish in November.  I’ve also to go keep up with my etsy store which I recently “reopened”.  I’ve got Christmas presents to make.  I have to maintain my exercise schedule. We’re having family visit for Thanksgiving.  Oh, and I’ve got jury duty too.

I think it can be done.  People do NaNoWriMo and balance full time jobs and families.  It’s going to be all about time management, and hopefully, finding balance.  It would also help if I spent less time goofing off on facebook, ravelry and flickr, at least for November.


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I’m Feeling Blue

October 23, 2010

I'm feeling blue

But not in a bad way.  I treated myself to a mani/pedi on Friday. There’s something about blue nail polish that really appeals to me.  For a few years, I wouldn’t have been able to do blue nail polish.  In my old work environment it would have been highly frowned upon.  But in my current non-working environment, it is perfectly acceptable.  I love how my fingers look while I’m knitting or typing, or writing up a shopping list.  Yup, I’m enjoying my blue nails.  They even make cleaning up the house more fun.

I’m looking forward to a relaxing Sunday, watching football and knitting.  Maybe my blue nails will bring the Bears some good luck!


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Do You Have A Favorite Sandwich?

October 21, 2010

BLT

My all-time favorite sandwich is a BLT.  I have memories, snippets really, of my mom making me BLTs when I was growing up.  We didn’t have them often, but it was such a treat! I still don’t have them often.  In fact, I think there have been some years where I didn’t have a single one  But I do love them still. These days, my BLTs are more of a TBST.  That would be a Turkey Bacon, Spinach & Tomato sandwich.  I use spinach instead of lettuce on everything and I’m trying not to eat piggies.

Anyway, my neighbor gave me some heirloom tomatoes from her garden and I had been trying to figure out what to do with them.  I must have seen a picture of one either in a magazine or on a blog and I had a sudden craving for a TBST.  I texted Bill to pick up bacon on his way home from work and that’s what we had for dinner last night.  It was sooooo delicious.  The spinach was from our CSA, the bread from the farmers’ market, the tomatoes from the neighbor, the turkey bacon organic from the Safeway, and the mayo from Hellman’s.  The tomatoes were so big we only needed one fat slice per sandwich; it covered the whole slice of bread except for the corners.  I do believe that there is a proper way to construct a BLT.  It’s bread, mayo (optional), lettuce, tomato on top of the lettuce so that the lettuce catches any tomato juices so that the bread doesn’t get mushy, bacon, bread.  Bill cooked up extra bacon which I heated up easily in the toaster oven so that I could enjoy another TBST for lunch today.  It looked so good I just had to take a picture of it.


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Would You Like To See My Craft Room?

October 19, 2010

Because it is finally in a state suitable for visitors.  It has taken about about 18.5 months to get it set up the way I want it.  All my fabric is put away, for the first time ever.  Well, I do have some fabric on my table, but I plan on working with it over the next few days.  The key was finally having enough storage.  I am at the point now where everything has a place where it is considered put away. Some might think an option was to purge, and I have done a fair amount of that.  But really, I just kept adding shelving solutions until I had enough.

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This is my favorite corner.  It’s got my wall of favorite framed things and the comfy chair.  But my absolute favorite part of the corner is the light.  I bought it at Target about three years ago.  It was in January when they hold their Bazaar.  (Target has some pretty cool stuff in that display/promotion.)  This is the first time the light has actually hung and been plugged in, and I love it!

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See, isn’t it pretty?!  But getting back to the rest of the corner, I have a tall Billy Bookcase to take advantage of verticle space.  I use it to store empty frames, photo albums, embroidery threads and projects, some books, and there’s one shelf for display.  The shelves behind the chair store things I hardly ever need access to so that I don’t have to move the chair often.  Not that it’s hard, but it would be obnoxious if I needed to get in there every day.  I have a Besta shelving unit in front of the fire place.  There’s a couple of bins to store fabric scraps and fabric for projects, yarn for a granny square quilt, and holiday fabrics. There’s also more embroidery thread in the white boxes and a shelf for displaying some boxes that I also use for storage.  You can’t really see it, but on the far left side of the picture is our microwave.  It’s sorta weird having it in my craft room, but it’s right by the door that leads to the kitchen.  We have hardly any counter space and the other places we’ve tried it have been in the way, so this is really the best spot for it.  We’re renters so we’re looking for the best option as opposed to the perfect solution.  We got the table for less than $20 at Target and under it is a crate on it’s side so that we can store the cookbooks.  The added benefit is that the microwave is now on a different fuse so we don’t accidentally blow the fuse when we accidentally have the toaster and microwave going at the same time.  You don’t do that more than twice.

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This is the view of my room from the kitchen looking towards Gracie’s bathroom.  She’s now extended her living space to my craft room so we have her scratching post and some toys out for her.  This isn’t a very exciting part of the room, but it gets a lot of use.  That’s the dresser that I redid (as blogged about here).  It holds TONS of fabric and most of my sewing notions. On top, I have my collection of vases, two that Bill brought back from Copenhagen, two were wedding gifts, one was my first gift from Bill’s grandmother…  Special stuff.

Then there’s my cutting table.  It’s up on bed risers to make it a bit more comfortable for cutting fabric.  The added height also lets me store more stuff under it.  I have my laundry sorting baskets/hampers and our new second comfy chair of the room, newly purchased from Ikea.  Occasionally both Bill and I like to sit in here and watch tv or a movie, but there was only one comfy chair.  But now there’s two, with one that can easily be stored to not take up extra floor space.  When I’ve got the ironing board out and I’m working on a project and the laundry is sorted into piles all over the floor rather than using the handy baskets I have, it gets a little tight in here.  There’s also a lot of doors in this room (6 including the sliding glass door) which makes furniture layout tricky.

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Here’s the view from the garage door.  Why do you care?  I only show this view because I want to point out how I try and use every bit of space I can.  For example, I hung my dustbuster out of sight but easy to access.  It was either there or the garage and this is definitely more convenient for me.  Can you see it?  It’s to the right, next to my can of tubey things.

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This wall is my pi¨ce de r©sistance.  This is my worktable.  The shelving is Elfa’s freestanding shelving.  As I mentioned, we are renting so this is a great option for us.  It’s not attached to the wall so we can pack it up and take it with us when we move.  Because it’s Elfa, it is incredibly flexible and will work in any kind of room.  It gives me tons of storage and lets me take advantage of the vertical space which is often underutilized.  I’d say that we had about half of the shelves and brackets from our previous house.  We had Elfa in every closet and room and before we put our house on the market, we packed up a lot of stuff leaving out the bare minimum and taking the rest with us. In addition to half the shelves, we already owned three drawer units and one of the desktops.  Buying the rest of the components was an investment, but I love all the storage it provides.  I have lots of my plushies on the top shelf.  They keep me company while I work.  Then I have a bunch of boxes, from Ikea, storing (more) fabric scraps, speciality fabrics and materials, and WIPs.  I really like the size of the Ikea boxes which are slightly larger than shoe boxes.  The next shelf is mainly books and patterns.  There’s sections.  From left to right we have sewing, knitting, decorating, beading, general crafting, decorating, and other misc. stuff.  The bottom shelf is part display part storage.  I have scrapbooking stuff, my owl collection, beads and buttons, and then my ribbons and electronics.

Then there’s my work table.  One side is for sewing, the other is for beading or working on my computer, or a spot for Bill to sit and work at his computer.  I like having a second flexible station. For about 8 months, I didn’t have the second desk but it has gotten a lot of use and I like having one side dedicated to sewing. With my three drawer units, I use the left one for art and scrapbooking, the middle one is for sewing and stores more fabric.  This is fabric for apparel as opposed to quilting/crafting fabric stored in the dresser.  And the left most drawer unit is for my much neglected etsy store.  One of my little tricks for the work area was to put a power strip up on one of the brackets, above the work table.  If you look to the right of my sewing machine, you can see it.  When I started taking sewing classes, I spent a lot of time on the floor plugging in and unplugging my machine.  It was a pain.  Plus, I move my laptop around the house and sometimes I need my charger.  This is out of the way and easier to get to.  I used Command Strips to hang it.

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Last but not least is my closet.  It holds copious amounts of yarn, general craft supplies, batting and stuffing, pillow forms, and more fabric.  Plus, it gives my Tom Cruise poster, which I have owned since 1986, a home.

So that’s my craft room.  Some might say “holy crap there’s a lot of stuff in that room.”  To me, I see things that I love that bring back special memories.  They inspire me instead of overwhelm me.  This type of room wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.  It’s finally the way I want it to be and will probably be a complete disaster this time next week.


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Meet Gracie

October 15, 2010

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We finally decided on a name.  Our sweet kitty is named after one of my favorite Cub players, Mark Grace.  Can you see the resemblance?  Bill and I have always named our pets after some pop culture character.  We tried out a bunch of different names, but Gracie fit the best.

playing in the sink

Gracie’s personality is starting to emerge.  We broke our cardinal rule of animal picking when we got Gracie.  We’ve always gone with the animal who chose us, the animal that paid us the most attention.  Bill chose Harrison because he kept sticking his paw out of the cage, reaching for Bill.  We loved CJ, but it wasn’t until she rested her head on Bill’s leg that we knew she was ours. Gracie was very shy at the Humane Society and we took her home because we liked her story.  She was very shy for the first couple of days and I was worried she was going to be an aloof member of the family.

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After 10 days with us, she’s definitely more comfortable and relaxed.  She’s starting to come out of her bathroom and explore. When something spooks her, she runs into the bathroom and hops in the sink.  She feels safe because she’s up high, but it also gives her a great view of my craft room.  Sometimes you can just see two little ears peeking out of the sink.  Gracie loves full body pets.  Start at her head, move all the way down her back, her motor will be going before you hit her tail.

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It’s been a difficult adjustment for CJ who doesn’t understand why we won’t let her meet her new sister, but Gracie isn’t ready yet.  We’re trying to make sure CJ gets extra love.  All in all, things are going really well and it’s a big relief to have finally named the cat!


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I Am Suffering From CADD

October 14, 2010

That would be Crafting Attention Deficit Disorder.  I’m torn between wanting the remaining projects I have left from my FOF, but I’m hearing other patterns and yarn calling my name. Shhhh…  Don’t you hear them too?

Billington Bag IP

Of course I have zero willpower so on Sunday, I casted on for the Billington Bag.  It’s going pretty well.  There’s a lot of cabling so it’s not going to terribly fast.  I’m about 1/3 of the way through it.

Burberry Inspired Cowl IP

But then yesterday, I heard the Malabrigo Twist asking for me. “Make me into a Burberry Inspired Cowl.  And start today.”  So I did.  And now I’m 1/3 of the way through that one.  I’m really enjoying this knit.  Working with size 10 needles is easy on the hands and a nice break from the bag.  Plus, it’s moving quickly! Not that I’m going to need this cowl anytime soon.  It broke 90 for the third day in a row.

I’m hoping that I can get my CADD under control.  The only new projects I should be starting should be Christmas gifts. Halloween is just over two weeks away. Thanksgiving six. Christmas ten.  Yikes!


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What Noises Do Ghosts Make?

October 10, 2010

Is it boo?

Ghosts

Thankfully, my ghosts have been quiet.  Bill and I did some Halloween crafting last weekend.  I saw the project in Country Living and loved it because I was looking for something to hang from my ornament tree.  It wasn’t quite as easy as they described (is it ever?).  Bill did the messy part, dipping the cheese cloth in the Stiffy and I helped him by putting the balloons and cups in front of him, creating space, handing him dry cheese cloth, cleaning up drips, etc.  Once dried, which took overnight, I added the eyes and hanging thread.  I am really happy with how they turned out!

Contemplating bravery

Things are going well with the new kitters.  We’re getting close to a name.  She’s getting more comfortable and playful.  She’s a little more comfortable around me than Bill, but he’s such a big guy I think he’s overwhelming for a little kitty.  They are bonding so we just have to give her time.  Plus, I’ve been able to spend a bit more time with her.  I was able to trim the kitty’s front nails.  It didn’t start out so well, but it ended well.  I think back paws will be a two person operation until she’s more used to it.  She’s getting brave.  I had the door to my craft room open and she contemplated coming out of the bathroom.  CJ was outside  and the kitty heard her and reconsidered the exploration.  Kitters is more active in the evening, so perhaps we’ll try it again later. The dog and cat know the other exists.  They’ve made eye contact, but haven’t met yet.

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I’ve been doing some knitting.  I’ve had this pattern for Berry Bags (rav link) for awhile, and I finally ordered some yarn to try it out.  I’m trying out KnitPicks Wool of the Andes.  I’m making two of the bags.  I have this compulsion for making multiples of things instead of just one.  Anyway, I also bought some yarn to make the Billington Bag (rav link) which caught my eye and the pattern was a bargain ($2)!  Then I figured, why not buy even more yarn to make this Granny Square Afghan (rav link)?!  I love snuggling under a blanket on the couch and I need to practice my crochet skills.  Or maybe I’ll do it as a pillow, like this one which I love!

I hope you all are enjoying 10/10/10!  Do you know what that is in binary?  42.  Bill told me.  And he thinks I don’t listen. Cheers!!


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Hello, Kitty!

October 8, 2010

We were finally ready to take the plunge.  That’s right.  On Tuesday Bill and I went to the Humane Society of Silicon Valley to pick out a kitty.  Not a replacement for our sweet Bri Bri, but an addition to our family.  It sounds like fun, and it is in a way, but to me, it’s difficult to look at all the kitties needing homes and knowing you can just bring one home.  But we did find our new kitty.

The Newest Napier

She still doesn’t have a name.  We’re still getting to know each other.  She’ll tell us her name when she’s ready.  She is a sweetie. Shy, but not skittish.  A pur machine.  Jet black, but has a couple of white hairs on her chest.  She had been at the Humane Society for awhile and had trouble adjusting at first.  She’s only nine months old and has already had a litter of kitties.  Poor little girl has been through a lot in her young life so we decided it was time she get settled in her permanent home.

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For now, she’s getting acclimated in the bathroom off my craft room.  We go in and visit a lot so she can get to know us. We’re taking it slowly, letting her get used to our noises and smells before we introduce her to the dog, and give her more of the house to explore.  I spent today making her two cat beds.  I really liked the look of the Better-Than-A-Box pet bed in One Yard Wonders.  It was easy to make and I like how she can nestle into the bed.  I made one out of Amy Butler cotton fabric I had in my stash, and another out of fleece I bought from Joann.

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Then I decided she needed a toy so I knit her this little heart, pattern care of Martha Stewart.  It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I happened to have the yarn and catnip on my desk, needles within reach, so I made it.  Kitters hasn’t played with it yet, but I’m optimistic.  I also like this feather toy and this cat scratcher.

We’re excited to have another kitty in the house.  Not sure if CJ agrees, but she was always so good with our other cats.  Now all we need to do is decide on a name!


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FOF: The Wrap-up

October 6, 2010

My Focus on Finishing has ended, and I would call it a big success!  I started with 34 projects in various states of completion, and I was able to completely finish 26 of them!  I also made progress on two other projects.  I am thrilled with what I was able to accomplish this month, especially given the yucky events of the month.

FOF 2010 done

1. halloweensocksnotdone, 2. Whippoorwill, done!, 3. curtains, done!, 4. booties, done!, 5. cabled capelet, done!,

6. my design tote, done!, 7. IMG_0010, 8. IMG_0009, 9. bill’s fun pj’s, done!, 10. billsglovesnotdone,

11. nappy bag, done!, 12. amysquiltnotdone, 13. Lizard Ridge Afghan, done!, 14. Feather & Fan, again, 15. voile top, done!,

16. blue cotton top, done!, 17. IMG_0023, 18. focusonfinishing2 092010, 19. satin top, done!, 20. gatheredscarf notdone,

21. coasters, done!, 22. bill’s green pjs, done!, 23. BB Chevron Love Mitts, done!, 24. fabric boxes, done!, 25. IMG_0014,

26. bwafghan notdone, 27. Reindeer PJs, done!, 28. dog bed, done!, 29. B&W Tunic, done!, 30. concettacardi not done,

31. table not done, 32. jersey top, done!, 33. tawashi, done!, 34. green cotton top, done!, 35. sweetheartsocksnotdone

Here’s my mosaic, showing my completed projects.  The whited out squares are the projects that I wasn’t able to finish.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish everything.  I do need to sleep, after all.

Aside from everything I’ve finished, this process really helped me clean up my craft room.  It looks better than it has in months!  All these unfinished projects were taking up valuable space.  I spent time this month reorganizing and cleaning up.  I’m starting October with a clean slate!

The only downside to my month of FOF was I didn’t always allow myself to enjoy the process of whatever it was I was making.  In some cases I forced myself to power through and get it done, whereas I normally would have put it aside and taken a break.  On the other hand, I can’t complain about the results.

I’m still motivated to finish the unfinished projects I have left.  I do need to start on Christmas crafting soon, but for now I’m still focusing on these last few projects I have going.


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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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