Monthly Archives: December 2013

Less than a week

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In less than a week, I will be “home” again for Christmas. Seeing my aunts and uncles, and cousins, eating way too much food, playing board games and laughing till my sides hurt. It always reminds me of Christmases spent similarly growing up, and if feel extremely grateful that the tradition carries forward, including new generations of children (those of my cousins)

What do you look forward to this time of year?

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Dates & storms (of the snow kind and knitting kind!)

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Last night my husband and I went on a date to the movies. We went to see the hunger games: catching fire. It was great. I won’t be revealing any big plot moments here, so no worries. The movies, the books are all great. Often, I am disappointed by movie adaptations of books, as well, the images on the silver screen pale in comparison to the way the story plays out in my head. I am partial to books that discuss dystopian societies, but the hunger games trilogy is special. The stories transcend time, in my opinion. All great books do. In the movie adaptations of the first two books, the actors have a definitive way of pulling at the heart strings. Jennifer Lawrence was beautifully cast as Katniss, the heroine of the stories. I love that she is a role model for young girls. Thrust into the spotlight after the success of the first film, she has shown herself time and time again in interviews as being a girl with a strong personality, a great sense of humor, who is also humble – not at all afraid to talk about having a positive self-image in spite of being flawed ( because really, we all are) and allowing people to poke fun at her. She seems to be incredibly real,down-to-earth. I’m no longer a young girl, but I do consider her a role model. I am proud to have her as one.

We thought going to the movies would be quiet as it was calling for a winter storm warning for our area. We were surprised to see that the theater we were in was mostly full. In many of our recent movie experiences, someone ends up talking through the movie, and it is a pet peeve of ours, especially when the person talking is of an age to know better (not a child). The crowd was actually pretty well behaved, and it’s always fun when the audience is engaged in the movie. We ate all too much candy and iced coffee, and walked home in the beginning of the storm that was being called for. It usually isn’t as cold as it was last night, with the windchill it felt like -32degrees Celsius. Crazy. The kind of cold that freezes the little hairs inside your nose. It didn’t actually feel terribly cold until the wind blew. And then each of the snow flurries felt a bit more like tiny shards of ice, but it still looked pretty. Like fields of white glittering sand.

When we got home, I resumed knitting and then forgot all about blogging. Oops. I am closer to being done my Christmas knitting, but not finished yet. I need to get back at it, though, although I am having a hard time moving at the moment because on of my cats is using the outside of my thigh as a pillow, and he doesn’t do this very often. Till tomorrow!

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Reminiscing about old favorites

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Tonight, we watched big top pee wee, which was a childhood favorite movie of mine. The other day I was telling someone about childhood holiday gatherings that included me and a bunch of my cousins piling onto a couch meant for three and watching Rudolph, Charlie Brown’s Christmas and home alone. Another of my favorite movies I enjoyed during my childhood was Pete’s dragon. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and as I finish up my holiday knitting this weekend, I will be having a movie marathon, and that is top on my list.

I spent a good portion of my day today in our local shopping mall looking for Christmas gifts for my husband and dad. I find shopping for both of them difficult, as they will both tell you they have everything they need. Part of the magic of Christmas to me, is having something fun to open on Christmas and transports you back to feeling like a kid again. I went with a list of not-so-boring gift ideas for each of them, went into store after store and came up empty. I finally found a few things for my dad, and the gift I settled on for my hubby was not on my list at all for him, because I was having no luck on any of the items on my list. I think he will Iike what I found.

Alright, time to get my knit on!

Swants and sweggings.

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http://westknits.com/index.php/2013/11/swants-tutorial

You should have a look at this. It’s a tutorial on how to turn a sweater into not only leg Warmers, but the whole bum covering aka, sweggings or swants. I’m not sure how I feel about wearing sweater leggings, but ask me again during the coldest days of a Canadian winter. Also, the photos are awesome, the dudes in them have a good sense of humor. And, last, but certainly not least, I celebrate the ingenuity of the person who came up with the idea. Brownie points for originality. And brownie points to the person who came up with the tutorial. Win, win, win. And even if you don’t make your own, sweggings or swants, hopefully the photos will make you smile, just a lil’!

Piles of wool before I sleep!

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There is a small mountain of yarn I need to knit through. I won’t be able to do it all tonight, but I’m hoping to have most of it done by Friday. I’m feeling kind of lazy right now, plus there isn’t really that much to show, but I will post a picture when I am closer to getting through my project stack. What (if any) handmade projects are you working on?

Good read and a cuppa chai

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Today is the first day In a few months that I was out of bed before 7am. I went to teach a weaving workshop to that group of homeschoolers. Had a great day with them, palling around in the snow and laughing. Feels good to be home now, relaxing. Unwinding. About to read more of my book and drink my chai latte, fresh from my French press.

9 ways (I like) to Take time to relax

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In my adult life, I was surprised to find that of the people who participate in the holiday season (Christmas & New Years, namely) people tend to fall into one of two groups – those who love the holidays and those who don’t. I am, and always have been a fan of christmas time. it is very much a part of my personality to deeply value time spent with family and friends, cozy sweaters, the smell of evergreens, and the smiles, hugs and kisses exchanged in gratitude for wishes fulfilled. I love it all. Rosy cheeks, the smell of wood fires, the stacks of presents wrapped up and pushed under the tree, hanging ornaments, drinking eggnog and spiked coffee. It reminds me of being a part of something bigger. That love is complicated, but atleast for a short while each year, we push our differences aside, and embrace joy and the positive side of love.

There are a myriad of reasons as to why people may not like the holidays. I can understand when this time of year brings up mixed emotions when if you feel like you are obliged to spend time with people you’d rather not, or you find yourself deeply missing someone who is no longer walking among us, or just when you bog yourself down with the stress of over committing to parties and entertaining, getting dressed up or being worried about over indulging in food or alcohol, not to mention woes about finances or where you will find the time to go gift shopping. I wish I had answers to solve all of these problems. That everyone could experience the magic of Christmas. The solutions are not always black and white and what works for some people, may not work for others.

Even though I love Christmas, I am not immune to feeling stressed this time of year. I find there is certain nervous energy in the air, especially as we count down the days to Christmas Eve and day. Stress does all kinds of terrible things to our bodies, including making us more prone to illness and disease, causing hormonal disruptions or imbalances and disturbances in our sleep patterns. My stress this time of year comes from this ” negative energy” I feel around me, and also because of rules I place upon myself. Since I live so far away from my family in New York City, Christmas time has come to mean either I travel, or need to get my home ready for guests to spend with us, which usually means a deep clean, and some shuffling of furniture/large items to better accomodate guests.

In between my list of things to do – shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning, laundry, packing, gift wrapping, etc, I try to make time for myself. Here is a list of ways that I try to reduce stress so I can better enjoy the holidays (or anytime of year, really)

1. Get the bulk of my gift shopping done before dec. 1st. Failing that, avoiding shopping in malls and big box stores on weekends. shopping later in the day (after 5pm, when people are likely eating dinner or putting small children to bed), the stores are usually less crowded.
2. Having a list for any type of shopping I need to do, organized according to store layout. I avoid spending extra time in the store that I’d rather spend at home, and avoid potentially over-spending because I am buying duplicates, or spending outside of my budget.
3. Taking atleast an hour for myself every day to do something special for myself or to do nothing at all.
4. Taking a hot bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts & 6 drops of lavender essential oil (almost) every night just before bed. I soak for a minimum of 20 minutes. It’s enough time to read for a while and get sleepy. I do the rest of my getting ready for bed routine before I get in the bath, so that I can go right to sleep when I’m done.
5. Having a cup of tea or other hot drink (no caffeine after 4 pm for me) and either knitting, or reading while enjoying the warm drink.
6. Doing a breathing exercise any time I feel stressed throughout the day, and right before I go to sleep. Inhale through my mouth for a count of 5, and exhale through my nose for a count of 7 or 8.
7. meditation or sun salutations for 10-15 minutes, ideally done first thing in the morning.
8. Take a nap ( no more than 1 hour)
9. Listen to some music.

What is your favorite way to relax or unwind after a stressful day?

Let the games begin!

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Today we had the first of five or possibly six christmas gatherings with friends/family. My belly is full of pot roast, veggies and pie and memories of a day well spent with family. All I can do now is sit on my couch in comfy clothes and watch a few things on netflix. I know my dog will be nearby, soon drifting off to sleep, barking and kicking his feet, dreaming of chasing squirrels or playing catch or whatever it is that dogs think of when they dream. I live for these moments. Simple. Peaceful. Surrounded by warmth and love. Have a great night!

belly laughs

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(Sourced from google.ca, no original credit given)

I am grateful for the weekends where my husband and I get to spend some good quality time together. Over the course of our relationship, that wasn’t always the case. We dated long distance for the first four years of our relationship. Time was precious in the days where the time we spent together was limited to a handful of days out of every few months that we were actually able to occupy the same space. We talked on the phone almost every day for most of those four years. As time passed, it became more and more difficult to spend an unknown amount of time apart. We knew that if we were to last, we’d have to move to the same country. the same city. the same home.

Statistically, most long term relationships don’t survive as long as ours did, or ever materialize into something else. I am happy ours did. I remember when I first moved here that it felt like I was living in a dream that we could actually call the same place home. There was a long adjustment period for both of us, because it does require a certain amount of trust, and independence to make long distance work. Coming together under the same roof had it’s challenges. I think we had an advantage – because so much of our relationship was already based in communication in order for us to have lasted for four years, we were alreay able to talk things through.

I love the photo above. I found it on the internet a few months ago. Laughter and a good nap can do wonders for one’s mood. I slept really well last night, and the night before, and that for me lately has been a rare treat. I was lounging on our bed in the early afternoon today reading a book and my husband came in, lay down on the bed, but in an awkward way, his head pressed into my soft belly. He had his neck bent at a weird angle that couldn’t possibly be comfortable. he was being a goof. I couldn’t help but laugh, a good whole-hearted belly laugh. this continued on for a while, with us making each other laugh. those moments don’t always seem to happen very often. we get busy. tired. cranky. when they do, I cherish them. it connects me back to why I fell in love with this great man.

just one more day a week? is that to much to ask?

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over the next two weeks I will be teaching a group of homeschooled children a weaving workshop as part of their teacher’s desire to add handwork to their waldorf inspired curriculum. I have plans to add some tutorials up here about how to create your own small loom, and then how to work with the loom, but that needs to wait until a0 after the kids have had their lessons, and b) after I get more of my Christmas knitting done. Most of my day today was spent building 8 picture frame weaving looms. the first, was the prototype, to make sure it was doable with the vision I had in my head for how it should work. there were supposed to be six others, one for each of the children in this homeschool group. I had made it through 4 with flying colors. the fifth, including the prototype, cracked, and the nails came loose. this was a problem because the nails need to be able to hold up under a little bit of pressure, to handle the warp threads. my heart sank, and I began to panic, thinking about the details of when and how I was going to get out to the store to pick up another frame, and how that was going to cut in to the time I wanted to spend this afternoon creating a sample so that the kids could see what I’d be showing them to make.

while digging through some boxes in my basement looking for a container filled with finishing nails I had bought for the sole purpose of building my own large scale looms, I came across some picture frames that were the right size for the looms I was building, but didn’t think twice about them because I bought more frames just for this project. when I remembered this, after spending a few minutes freaking out, I realized I had averted a crisis. My hands are sore from hammering in well over 100 nails to create 7 pint-sized looms (8, if you count the one I broke and had to abandon), plus the sanding, and other prep work I did to get them warp-ready for Tuesday, and the sample I created. I’m not really complaining. I like when my hands or feet are a little sore – it’s a reminder of a day well spent. However, in this case, the day well spent with sore achy fingers means that knitting tonight will be slow-going, or a no-go.

I remember while I was planning my wedding, it seemed like for every thing I accomplished and was able to check off my list, there were 5 more things I had forgotten about, or just learned I had to do – and my list grew exponentially (or atleast that was how it seemed). the night before my wedding I was busy doing some project, which in hindsight was entirely inconsequential, and it would’ve been better if I had gone to sleep instead, but I just had to finish this one last thing. and then it was another one last thing. and then another. well, you get the picture. I think that night I got three hours of sleep, and my husband got 2, because he too was working on a project that just had to get finished. (I don’t think 5 years later either of us remembers what those projects are)

for the last few years, a majority of the Christmas gifts I have given have been handmade. I find gift-giving for my loved ones increasingly challenging year after year when they tell me that they have everything they need, or I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a clever, personalized gift that I hope they will enjoy and my mind is as blank as the snow is white on Christmas morning. I can’t help but feel like I die a little inside when family members just ask me to gift to charity in their name. Giving to charities is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like there is a little kid in all of us that delights in opening a real present over the holidays. (assuming of course, that you celebrate such holidays). this is how I came to give handmade Christmas gifts to most of the people on my list. I know it will be something they enjoy, because I get to watch them unwrap it and see their face light up as they realize I’ve made something just for them. no one else has exactly the same thing. I know they enjoy the gifts, because I can see the signs of wear on the object as the months, or years go by. It doesn’t really seem to matter how early in the year I start, about two weeks before Christmas, I am in crunch mode, knitting/weaving/and felting like a mad woman trying to get everything done for get-togethers with different friends and family. it doesn’t help that in those last two weeks of hard-core crafting, I also always seem to add a few more projects to the list, for people who I had absent-mindedly left out of my handmade Christmas gift list. it’s not even like it’s the same people I leave out every year. I just need more time to get it all done!

I would love to have an extra day a week. In those extra 52 days a year, I would be able to use them to do all of the long laundry list of craft projects I have, but can never seem to find all of the time, energy, money, space & proper weather to be able to complete. I get a lot of projects accomplished every year, and I’m not complaining about what I do get accomplished. there is a part of me however, that always wishes I could do more. Like the lamps in our bedroom that I bought from a local sally ann a few years ago and are a shiny shade of gold. I’d much prefer they were silver. I have the spray paint to complete the project, I just need a sunny day that isn’t too cold, or too hot, with no threats of wind or rain or snow. in Ottawa, where the winter seems to last a good solid 6 months, and then add in rainy days and windy days, that leaves very few optimal days for an outdoor spray painting project, or as I like to call it, because it sounds awesome – a lamp revamp!

I say we stage a revolt. or sign petitions. ask a higher power to add in an extra day a week (and if they just won’t budge, what about an extra hour a day?) there is a miniature muffin pan that has been calling my name, sitting on my kitchen counter asking for me to christen it with it’s first batch of miniature cupcakes. I don’t even want to tell you how long it’s been sitting on the counter. you might laugh. or cry? in an extra hour a day, think of all the baking I could get done? and some extra art projects too! surely, that’s not too much to ask for. right?

we all tend to make time for the things in our lives that are important to us. sometimes things are important, but we make excuses for a variety of reasons. Moving in to 2014, I’d like to make a more conscious effort to make more time for my art. it makes me happy. brings me joy. and could very likely turn a profit. but I have to start. having more time to make art means spending less time doing things that maybe don’t matter so much, or prioritize how I spend the hours in my day. I’m sure we can all relate, right? atleast once a week, I think most people ask themselves, “where did today go?” or “where did the last hour go?” or some variation.

the prompt for today over on blogher.com was “what do you wish you had more time to do each day? in a few word, the answer for me is: make stuff.