Tag Archives: crafting

Time to refocus

1 Jan

Happy new year!

Here we are again. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of resolutions. But I know I’m not perfect, by any means, unlike Calvin:

calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

(I love that cartoon.)

So looking back at what I wanted to focus on in 2013 and setting the focus for 2014…

Physical health
I did get back to the gym on a regular basis. I certainly ran more. But then I broke my foot. I was in such great shape prior to that, and it’s been hard to get back into a regular routine with any sort of endurance. But this week has been good. So for 2014 I’ll keep working on going to the gym regularly, building endurance, and running more.

Food
My eating didn’t change much this year, although I somehow got a little sugar addiction lately. Boo on holiday food. So let’s refocus on that for 2014: more veggies!

Writing
My writing was definitely done in waves. I had stretches of lots of blog posts, and then nothing. (See: lack of posts in December.) So there’s the focus for 2014: more consistent blogging.

Dancing
Breaking my foot really made me appreciate dancing. Prior to that, I was going to more groups and practicing on my own. After I broke my foot, I practiced a lot because I was working on checking out. But since then, I’ve struggled to get into a routine. So after the holidays, it’s more group classes, more practicing on my own, and still appreciating it.

Creative hobbies
I stopped baking for a while in the last few months for various reason. I packed my grandma’s recipes, so I can’t go through those until after July. But I’ve baked more this week and will continue to do so. I did learn to crochet but didn’t practice, so now I need a refresher. I certainly knitted more this year and will continue to do so for 2014!

Relationships
No movement there. Meaning no action taken on my part to have anything happen. Stupid Mr Big still in my brain. But steps have been taken this week…more on that soon.

Money
I’ve made some progress towards my financial goals, although Christmas was not planned for as well as it should have been. Oops. So I’m going to take the first six months of 2014 and refocus on money.

Mental health
This year, I realized that my issues are like a chronic condition. I will always have them; I can only cope with the flare-ups. And I’ve done a better job of that lately. This will always be a focus for me though.

At the end of the day, I still strive for this:

peace

And hope to remember this:

light of your being

I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be. Happy new year!

Weekly roundup: staycation edition

19 Aug

Last week, I had a staycation. I took the week off from BOTH jobs – haven’t done that in the four years I’ve been working two jobs. My goal was to not be a sloth and just sit on the couch all day every day. I wanted to be deliberate in what I did each day. I also wanted to try to break my TV habit.

I set out a plan of things I would do every day: Run, yoga, read, knit, and dance practice. Then I figured out the other things I wanted to do. Because I’m nerdy, I made a list.

staycation-list

So what did I do?

*I ran four out of five days. Including my first two-mile run without walking since I broke my foot!

*I did yoga four out of five days.

*I read. A lot. All I have left on my reading to-do list is finish “A Passage to India” and reread “Anna Karenina”.

*I purged. Took a bag of books and bag of CDs and DVDs to Half Price Books and made $30 on it all!

*I packed. My parents and nephew came over on Wednesday morning and helped. My mom packed my kitchen, because she ROCKS at that. My nephew (with some help from my dad) hauled everything out of the basement for me. I was afraid to do that because hauling my bike out of the basement is how I broke my foot.

half-packed

*I finished packing everything I own except my clothes, my bathroom stuff, and my furniture. This is everything:

all-packed

I’m trying to decide if that’s still a lot of crap or if it’s a minimal amount of stuff to own.

*I practice my school figures for dance. A LOT. Sometimes I went to the studio, sometimes I did them at home. But I practiced. Four dances down, six to go! (Six? Seven? I can’t remember. That’s my teacher’s job.)

*I listened to podcasts. I was so far behind on mine. I added it up (again, because I’m a nerd), and it was about 20 hours of podcasts. I still have 3 hours left. But I used the podcasts instead of the TV all week – yay!

*I caught up on Game of Thrones. I had watched season one on Netflix. A very kind friend gave me her HBO log on so I could watch the rest. And I did. OK, so I did watch some TV.

*I knitted. Again, I’m up against a deadline, so I’m frantically trying to finish this. I’ll show you it when it’s done. But I made great progress on it!

*I did some strength training on two days.

*I biked. Twice for fun, but four or five times as a mode of transportation around the neighborhood. I biked to meet friends, I biked to the studio, I biked to the co-op.

*I had breakfast with LS, lunch with NA, dinner with MK.

*I purge my closet and took a garbage bag full clothes and shoes to Goodwill.

*I refinished some toddler chairs I had.

refinished-chairs

*I did NOT look at my work email. Not once. I kept the notifications on, so I could see if anything came through that needed my attention. But nothing looked like it did, so I didn’t open it ONCE. Proof:

emails

Yep, 88 unread messages. Sweet. Only about 30 of those are ones I had to deal with when I got back today. Thank you, awesome boss man, for dealing with the rest! I know it’ll be payback when he’s gone for two weeks next month.

*I lost three pounds!

*I got a cold. After all that, a summer cold showed up Wednesday night. Luckily it’s a minor one, so I feel OK. Just a little coughy.

All in all, it was a great week. I feel refreshed and rested and ready to resume my crazy schedule!

Blogging challenge, day 16

17 Aug

August blogging challenge, day 16: A first – do something that you’ve never done before and share

When my parents downsized, my siblings and I went through some stuff they were going throw if we didn’t want it. I found two chairs that I had as a kid. I have vague memories of sitting in them and reading as a little kid. So I grabbed them with the intent of refinishing them. I stored them in the basement and promptly forgot about them.

This week, I was moving everything from the basement up to the apartment in preparation of moving. And I found the chairs. So I decided to refinish them before I moved. And I’ve never refinished furniture before, but how hard could it be?

I went to my local hardware store. They never make you feel stupid for asking dumb questions. They set me up with the right paint and gave me some tips on doing it. I went home and went to work.

Before…

chair-before
Of course, I forgot to take a before picture until one chair was all sanded.

I sat outside and sanded and sanded and sanded. An hour and a half later with two different grits, they were sanded down. Then I went inside and painted them with two coats. And I’m really happy with them!

chair-after

refinished-chairs

Now to decide who to give them to…

Crafting for Christmas

24 Jan

Well, look at that. I never told you all about the crafting I did for Christmas. Meaning the stuff I made to give as presents, not stuff I did for decorations in a Martha Stewart way. Because we all know that’s not me.

Because I knew I was making things for presents, I started early. Like July early. And even then, it was a bit of a scramble to get it all done in time to give as presents. Maybe I was a bit ambitious. Maybe I was just slow. Who knows. And really who cares…it got done!

Remember those friends of mine who had a baby? Well, I decided to make a little sweater for said baby. I have an awesome knit-down, no-finishing pattern that’s super easy. And it looks adorable.

baby sweater

It’s really a purple color with grey trim. For some reason, the colors on my iPhone get screwed up. I should really look into that…anyway, I was happy with how it turned out. I think the parents of said baby were too.

Next up…a scarf for a friend of mine. Most patterns are kinda girly and this was for a guy. So I went to my local yarn store and asked them. They had a great pattern (I think they called it a “rugby scarf” but I call it a “manly scarf”. Tomato, tomahto.) Got the pattern, got the yarn, and started knitting. And knitting. And knitting some more. AND KNITTING. I forget how long scarves are, especially when the recipient is over six feet tall.

manly-scarf

But it turned out and I’m happy. I didn’t quite block it enough; the edges curl a bit. But meh, close enough, it was fine.

Scarves for the ladies! I found a great cowl pattern on Ravelry upon recommendation of the fine sales people at the yarn store. And it was free – even better! I got some great wool blend yarn that’s quite soft. That pattern was just K1 P1 in the round, so it went fast.

finished-cowl

I should do the pen in the photo for reference, like in science films. Anyway, I made three – gave two and kept one for myself. But I’m not sure I’m stylish enough to know how to wear a giant cowl. Luckily my friend SP has one and will guide me.

Last up, for my dear friend and roommate SR, hot cocoa mix! She LOVES her hot cocoa and who can blame her? Especially with the winter we’re having. I was a bit nervous about it, because she usually adds sugar to hot cocoa because it’s not sweet enough for her. But I found this recipe on Brown-Eyed Baker that I thought might just do it. And psst…it’s so easy! Sugar, chocolate, powdered milk in a food processor and blend. Done. While I was at it, I made some for other gifts too. One batch filled about 8 of these jars.

hot-cocoa-mix

And you know what? SR loves it and says it’s sweet enough. No need to add sugar. Yes! Success!!

2012 roundup

31 Dec

2012 was a good year for me.

*I moved out of my parents’ house and back to my beloved city.

*I went to my first Dance-O-Rama. It was a great experience, although difficult at the time, and I can’t wait until I can do another one.

*I had a rhythm dance dress made for me.

*When 2012 started, I was 3 weeks into a new job, which I really liked. And I still like it a lot, and I’m still learning a ton.

*I started knitting much more. And have made some nice things.

finished-cowl

baby-blanket

*I started running, and ran two 5Ks, including this one.

*I found an old cocktail book and have been making great old cocktails from it.

burkes-cocktail-guide

I did the same with some recipes from my grandmother my dad found.

*I made some crafty things, and they turned out OK.

jewelry-holders

wall-quotes

hair-dryer-storage

*My dancing has improved A LOT this year, especially in the last three months.

***
In terms of the goals I made at the beginning of the year:

*Better physical health? Yep. I lost more weight, getting within 10 pounds of my goal. (I have gained 5 in the last month, but we won’t talk about that yet.) I was eating a lot better (until the last month, but we’ll ignore that for now.)

*Better mental health and a most positive outlook? I think so. I’ve tried to be more positive and to not go thinky. A few people have commented that they’ve noticed a difference in my attitude.

*I went to a Dance-O-Rama, I’ve not been as thinky about dance, I’ve done more creative things like baking and knitting, and I’ve continued with my blogging.

***
Speaking of my blog, here are some interesting stats.

*In the past year, most of my views came from the US with England, Canada (Hi DG!), and Australia (Hi KP!) next.

*My most viewed post is one I did on Quicken vs Mint.com, followed by infusing vodka, and pear chocolate cake. Money, alcohol and food.

*The most common search term used that drives people to my blog is “mint.com vs quicken” (or some variation of that) followed by “pear chocolate cake”, and “handle of Svedka”. Money, food, and alcohol. Sense a pattern yet?

***
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what my goals for 2013 are. Til then, be safe tonight!

Weekly roundup

3 Dec

Last week, I…

*Got back to doing yoga in the mornings. OK, so it was only 3 mornings. But still, that was more than the few weeks prior to that. And it felt good, so I’m going to try to do it more this week.

*Realized that for me, dancing is so much more than just dance.

*Started getting excited for the holiday season.

*Watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

it's-a-wonderful-life

And cried. Again. Don’t judge.

*Started working on a new header for my blog. Stay tuned!

*Got stood up by two friends on two days. Both for good reasons, but still. Oh well, at least it was a cheaper weekend as a result.

*Made an egg bake for dinners this week with an ingredient I haven’t used much before…chorizo!

egg-bake

It’s fantastic.

*Made great progress on knitting for Christmas presents. But I can’t show you those til after Christmas. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!

*Finally saw the Gangnam style video. Yes, I’m way behind the times. Just call me old and out of touch, thanks.

*Made those chocolate-covered pretzels again. And haven’t eaten TOO many of them…yet.

*Read. I finished “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for book club and “The Lost World” just because. Now I’m on to “Jane Eyre” and “The Alchemist”. I love reading.

*Went to my first dog agility trial. A friend of mine and his wife run their two dogs – miniature poodles – so cute! Their dogs are really good.

That’s a random shot of the course. Sorry, IPhones aren’t real great for taking action shots. Or close-up shots.

dog-agility2

The black blurry ball in front of the tunnel? That’s one of their dogs. It was a very interesting experience and tons of fun. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a dog event. And how can that be bad?

*Had two great dance lessons. Huge progress being made here, people!

*Received what might be the best text message ever.

If you don't watch TBBT, you don't get this.

If you don’t watch TBBT, you don’t get this.

Made me laugh out load and almost spit out my coffee. Thanks, AD!

Weekly roundup

26 Nov

Last week, I…

*Tried a kale smoothie.

And LOVED it.

*Went to the Thanksgiving potluck at the dance studio. So much good food! Oof. It’s like having a whole second Thanksgiving dinner.

*Put on my cranky pants and felt like I was failing at everything. Which meant emotional eating.

*Ran the Turkey Day 5K. And ran it in 36 minutes! My goal was to do it in under 40 and to not walk any part of it. Met both goals!

*Had a fantastically relaxing long weekend. Got lots of stuff done around the house (including putting plastic wrap on the windows) and made huge progress on my knitting projects. And read a lot.

*Ate Thanksgiving dinner with the family. And made the traditional tea-ring.

*Finally remembered to tell you about my jewelry holders.

*Watched “Paranormal Activity 3”. If you haven’t seen these movies, go watch them. They’re totally psychological – no blood and gore – but really good. Can’t wait to see 4 and see how the story continues.

*Thought about what happy people do differently. Well, the universe put that thought in front of me. Still, I paid attention.

My attempt at jewelry holders

24 Nov

I’m sure you’ve all seen the items on Pinterest about making jewelry holders from picture frames. Seems straightforward enough, right?

I make a lot of my jewelry, and my earrings were getting bent by being jumbled in a dish. I thought this might be an easy way to organize them, get the clutter off my dresser, and protect them a bit. So I thought I’d give it a go.

Step one: Buy black picture frames at Goodwill. That way you don’t have to paint them black.

Step two: Go to hardware store and get screen mesh.

Step three: Remove crap from inside frame (glass, cardboard, etc) but keep the backing.

Step four: Cut the screen mesh to fit inside the frame. Note: it is apparently very hard to do this without cutting your hands on the wire! Well, maybe that’s just me.

Step five: Glue the mesh inside the frame. I used epoxy glue. Because why not? Seemed like it should hold.

Step six: When glue is dry, glue scrapbooking paper to the inside of the frame so there is a nice background for the jewelry. I used paper glue that my roommate had.

Step seven: When the glue is dry, put the backing back in the frame. Add a picture hanger hook on the top of the back. Add hooks to the bottom of the frame on the front.

Step eight: Hang. Realize that the paper doesn’t give enough room between it and the mesh to allow the earrings to hang. Take off paper and glue it to the back of the frame instead of inside the frame.

Step nine: Hang. Realize you missed some spots with the epoxy glue but you’re not quite sure how because it was pretty saturated. Hmm. Remove paper and reglue mesh with crazy glue because you’re out of epoxy and you don’t feel like running to the hardware store. Also add picture wire across the bottom of one of the frames for some necklaces and earrings that don’t fit through the mesh.

Step ten: Glue paper on the back of the frame – AGAIN.

Step eleven: Wonder if it will actually work this time.

Step twelve: Hang – AGAIN. Hope that third time’s a charm.

And it was.

Baby blankets!

15 Oct

Oh I’ve been remiss. I should have shared this with you a while ago. But you know. Stuff happens. (Read: I forgot I had started this.) Oops. My bad.

So anyway. My friends had a baby recently – a baby girl. I think she was about a week and a half overdue, so we’ve all been waiting anxiously for this! Although probably not as anxiously as them.

As I said to my friend, I can’t think of many more people than him (and her) that I think deserve the happy ending, total life happiness. And he is so happy with his wife – so in love! – and with the baby. Oh, it just makes my heart melt to see them so happy.

So I started knitting a baby blanket a while ago for them. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than I was anticipating – much more time than I had expected.

The pattern was from a book I bought at my favorite yarn store and I think it was actually written by the staff of that store. You start by knitting four triangles, starting with the tip and increasing as you go. Then you sew them together using the mattress stitch.

I had never done a mattress stitch before. So I looked on the Googles and found examples. Turns out, it’s pretty easy! Except if you don’t block the items beforehand. Which I didn’t do. My stitch holders weren’t long enough to be able to lay the triangle out flat and block it. (After it was all done, my coworker gave me a hint on how to do that. Where was she when I was trying to figure it out? But at least I’ll know for next time.)

Then you add the stitches back to the needles and knit the border. It ends up being about 30″ square.

I love how it turned out, and I’m super happy with the color palette. It doesn’t lay exactly square, which bothers me. So I asked a few friends if it was still giftable, or did it look TOO homemade? They all said it was totally giftable, plus how often will it be laying flat and square? It will either be folded in a drawer or around a baby. Good points. So I gave it to my friends.

I had a bit of yarn leftover, so I made a striped baby hat with that to match. Of course, I forgot to get a picture of that. But here’s the blanket:

Not square, but close enough, right?

Crafty wall hangings

11 Sep

So I saw this idea on Pinterest. And of course, I can’t find the original link now. But given my attitude lately (which is slowly being adjusted), I thought that I’d try to make some for myself to constantly have these as reminders.

I bought a pack of seven 9×12 canvases at Michaels for like $5. I painted the backgrounds of each. Then I found six quotes I really liked (thanks again, Pinterest!), and printed them out in big fonts. One per page.

Then the hard part. The original idea said to cut out the letters, attached them with spray adhesive, paint over the whole canvas, and then remove the letters. That seems really difficult with the amount of letters I had. And keeping them straight would have been a nightmare. If I were doing just a few letters, I’d totally do it that way. For this, I decided to use the printouts as stencils. So I cut each letter out, laid the paper on the canvas, and painted over the openings. In hindsight, I’d use cardstock or something thicker than printer paper – the paper didn’t give a clean enough edge.

When they were dry, I hung them over my bed.

Do they look homemade? Absolutely. Do I care? Nope, not at all. I just love seeing those quotes every day and being reminded of the new attitude I want to keep.

The quotes?
You can’t lead a positive life with a negative mood.
Be the type of person you want to meet.
At the end of the day, you can focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together.
I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I choose happiness.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for everything.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Awesome, right? Fantastic reminders that I need in front of me for a while. Because as my friend GS says, you can choose to be positive, even if you’re a negative person by nature. Plus, it felt good to make something and get back to the creative side of me.

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