Thursday, May 8, 2014

Changing my internet habits

Oh internet. You evil, wonderful, time suck, wealth of inspiration and knowledge, creative haven and mean girl. I want to change the way I interface with it, both with the content out there, and with the gadgets that get me there. I've lamented about this before. I started drafting this post back in December. So it's been on my mind for a while. I've made some strides, but I've still got a way to go. At work they describe this as "continuous improvement." I kind of like that - if you continuously improve, you're never really done. You never really fail, because you can always improve. You can always change your outlook, because you can continuously improve. So here I am again, pontificating.

image source

I want to change the way I internet. (Yes, I just verb-ed that.) I just waste too much time on stuff I skim past, which gets me in a skimming habit, which means I'm totally missing both beautiful inspiration as well as the interactive community of other bloggers. Back in January (I guess I wrote a version of this post already!) I told myself that I should be a little more mindful about the blogs I read, and actually take the time to savor them. I've done a somewhat decent job! I've actually followed up on some blogs I've read on my phone to leave a comment or a thought when I'm back at a computer. I've pinned things that I'd love to reference in the future. I just keep trying not to let all the cool stuff just slip through my fingers! I've just been using that little "save for later" flag in feedly, and then I can flip right past all the news headlines or coupon deals or whatever and only click on the ones I'm interested in. (One other thing that helps me is that I'll create calendar events for myself for time sensitive things like those coupon deals. I email them to myself from feedly, and then I use gmail to create an event. Is that as roundabout as it sounds? I guess I like it because it tracks back to the source that has all the info, rather than me re-typing it all.)

Facebook. Eh. I have a history of waffling there. I want to connect, I want to bury my head in the sand, I want more friends, I want to hide 2/3 of them from my newsfeed, I want to connect, I want to be anonymous, I want to be offline...I want to see what's going on. I guess my latest attitude toward it is that I DO want to connect with people, but I don't want to share too much. Same as on the blog, I suppose. I also think it may be a good business move to have a presence there (I have a business page, but I still haven't figured out how to use it!). Plus I find out about some pretty cool stuff there, like the Grateful Hearts Giving Network, and I was able to attend their kick-off event. So, for now, facebook stays. My current attitude toward it is that I should at least try to be funny or interesting if I post, and I can only flip through headlines after I post something. Because I'm not a huge poster, this automatically limits the time I spend there! I can stay somewhat in the loop, without losing my whole day. And....well, I'm likely to change this attitude at will. Have before, will again!

Mean girls....that's one I might be completely over. Now, I will say that, like with most discussion boards I've participated in, I'm not a huge contributor. I pipe up if I feel like I have something constructive to say, or a question to ask, but mostly I just read. There's a particular snarky website that I loooove. It's like celebrity gossip, but about bloggers. I don't know, I guess I think it's interesting to read a blog, and then read the commentary? I guess I need a life? ha. During a period of unemployment, I paid it a lot more attention. When I would run out of commentary to read about blogs I already read, I started reading the most frequented threads about blogs I didn't read....but you'd sort of have to read the source material to get the jokes. So that devolved into a pretty big time suck. I've quit reading those threads and blogs that were just....something to read. Now I pop in from time to time on a very limited number of threads just to see if anyone else thought the same thing I did, but I'm not wasting my time on 25 pages of pointless snarking. Nope. No time for that.

Finally. The phone. I've improved maybe.....20% in my zoning out to this, that and the other app when I should be doing something else. Better. Not great. I think I need to come up with a code word for "get the h*ll off your phone," but something that sounds nicer. Less likely for the other person to get mad if I say it, and less likely for me to be mean when it's directed at me. Maybe if I let my husband in on my thought process, we can just say "phone" to each other, and we'll get the message. It probably makes more sense than saying "octopus" or something, and it's faster than "if you don't put that thing down right now I'm going to scream!" Check the weather, sure, fine. But the room, and the land of the living. (So after I discussed this post with my husband, he immediately latched onto "Bueller" as the official code word. Why? I have no idea. But he said it with enthusiasm! So! Bueller it is.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014


My office does this annual thing called "Employee Appreciation Week." It's a pretty cool perk, with daily food or booze related events and social gatherings, and free chair massages, which are totally my favorite part. We also get forms to fill out to tell coworkers we appreciate them and what they do. It's one of those things that for whatever reason just makes me groan when I see them, because I always feel totally blocked about what to write. Doesn't help if you've had a particularly stressful day of work! However, when I DO get in the right headspace and take the time to think about things, it feels good to get it down. It helps bring me out of the day to day and think about the bigger picture, which is pretty darn good! I suppose that's the goal of having a week like this. Of course not every part of work, or life, or even hobbies is awesome and fun, but in a larger sense things are actually pretty good.

I purposefully don't talk about it much here, but I definitely do appreciate my job. My career really. While sometimes the day to day can be hard, and I definitely wish that I could somehow do it AND sleep all day, it's pretty good. I've been here almost 3 years after a brief period (relatively, especially considering how it could have been) of unemployment. I don't know if that makes me extra appreciative, but I really do think this is the best job I've had. I feel lucky that I found a niche in my field that comprises most of the things I really like, and few of the things I don't enjoy so much. I know there is drama and office politics out there, like everywhere, but I tend to just tune it out. If it's nothing that affects me directly, it's just not worth my energy, you know? It makes me happier anyway. Yes, I do have to travel and that's not always fun, but I don't see a way to keep doing what I'm doing without that face to face time, so it's necessary. I've been lucky recently with a manageable travel schedule that has me gone only about once a month. It helps that I've been with a pretty fun group of people though, and I feel like I'm developing good friendships. While so many of my coworkers are so nice, I hadn't really "clicked" with anyone the way I had at my last job, but I'm in a place now where the work friends are turning into real friends, and that's awesome.

My family has a lot to do with making that travel for work run smoothly. I also purposefully don't talk about that much here, but I have a wonderful partner who keeps things running when I'm away, and does so much when I'm home too. We've been married 7 years this year, and together nearly a decade, which is getting to be a pretty sizable fraction of our lives! The past few years have been ones of upheaval, easy and hard and wonderful. There have been immense joys and struggles and rough times but we're in it for the long haul, and I would say that we're in a solid, happy, honest place. I so appreciate him, and could definitely do more to show him! I should borrow some of those appreciation forms! I've also very sneakily managed to collect my immediate family members to within a 3ish mile radius of my little cozy cape cottage, which has been immeasurably awesome. I love getting to see them so frequently and share our lives and meals and time without the stress of long trips to make that happen. Yes, there is still far-flung extended family, and I've got one more sister to bring back home into the family compound, but I definitely appreciate the closeness we have.

I appreciate the friendships I have, old ones we've managed to maintain and ones more recently made. This is certainly a changeable stage of life, and it takes more effort to keep relationships going when you no longer see each other daily in school, and there are kids and jobs and boys that distract us. I've spoken for my love for my book club and my knitting group before, and I feel so lucky to have them on TOP of neighborhood play dates and one on one coffees, dinners, shopping, lounging get togethers. I'm introverted by nature, and definitely a homebody. I'm not a social butterfly, but I feel like I've got a pretty good balance of time alone and time with people I really enjoy. A long while ago, I just decided to stop concentrating on any relationships that stressed me out. I make conscious efforts not to get into frenemy territory any more, and the improvement in my life and relationships has been so great. Since then, it seems that friction in relationships doesn't even have much to do with other people. I'm not going to make sweeping judgements and cut people out of my life. It all seems to be a matter of MY attitude. If a relationship is stressing me out or I'm getting into comparison territory or jealousy or whatever, I've just been giving it distance and space. Sometimes we come back together, and that's wonderful. Sometimes we don't, and that's ok too. I think the ideal place to be is when you enjoy the people you see, and you can feel genuinely happy to bump into those who have fallen away from your day to day. Life is too short for grudges, you know?

I've certainly gone into a very zen place, huh? I guess it's fair to say that I appreciate my yoga class? Another pretty sweet perk of my job is an opportunity to attend a weekly class nearby, and I totally love it. I'm not the most motivated person when it comes to fitness, so the fact that this class is both relaxing AND hard core? Awesome. I'm learning to appreciate my body for the things it can do, and even the things it can't do (confession - I can't touch my toes without bending my knees! Expert yogi I am NOT!) I can see improving. It helps clear my mind, and really does relieve a good deal of stress. It frees up my head space for other endeavors. The past several years have been a slowly building wave of creativity for me, and I love it. I originally opened my Etsy shop in November 2012, and I've been pleasantly surprised at the response I've gotten. I admittedly haven't yet had the time to devote to developing and nurturing it the way I really want to, but I've had a fairly steady stream of people noticing it and what I'm doing, and it's just awesome to hear that they think good things. It's a really personal thing to make something with your own hands for someone else, and to put it out into the world. I don't get reviews for every sale, and that's ok, but I so value and appreciate when someone comes back and drops me a little note to let me know that they like (or even if they didn't, as that's a chance for me to revise) something I made for them. I feel that way about this blog too. It's just random nattering (that sometimes really does go ON AND ON, as illustrated by this very post), and it floors me when people tell me they actually read and maybe even liked something I wrote! Like the shop, I don't know if I have a specific goal here. But I appreciate the outlet and I'm happy to let things grow and develop organically for now.

The internet really does offer up a whole creative world. I'm putting this tiny bit out there myself, and I feel totally inspired by the things I find in return. Blogs, tutorials,'s so cool to see (or hear I suppose!) people doing what they do. The "crafty" or "inspirational" sections of my feedly are positively bursting right now. New favorites include Cozy Things, Film in the Fridge, Stitched in Color, Attic24, crab+fish, enJOY it (I just discovered her podcast yesterday on Down Cellar Studio's recommendation and I LOVE it), Posie Gets Cozy, Knitmore Girls, Susan B Anderson, Ysolda....and that doesn't even touch favorites I've been reading a while. (Especially favorites there are DIYdiva, Newlywoodwards, Russet Street Reno, Yellow Brick Home, Manhattan Nest, and a few daily reads that may or may not be creatives, just blogs I enjoy, like My Life in Transition, Peanut Butter Sandwich, In Her Shoes and Through Her Lens, Living Well on the Cheap, it's a dog lick baby world, Young House Love, and the defunct but lovely Chez Larsson and Aurajoon.)

And to sum up this long and wondering stream of consciousness, I can't leave out the place I'm eternally making into home, and the furballs that help fill it up and send me off to work with hair on my pants. :)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mattress seaming is magical

About a month ago, I started making this dress. I thought about trying to knit it in the round so that I wouldn't have to do any seaming. In hindsight I probably could have figured it out, but I haven't made a ton of garments, so it made me nervous and I just knit it in pieces as it had been written. When it came to putting together the front to the back, I tried a couple of different things (while at knitting group so I didn't take pictures because that would make me look ridiculous). 

First I tried crocheting the edges together. This was nice and sturdy, but I'd run out of the turquoise yarn, and I didn't like that you could see peeks of gray coming through on the right side. I tried a bunch of non-specific ways of sewing , but again, I could still see the gray coming through the turquoise, so I just put it in my bag and gave up.

The next day, I looked up tutorials for mattress seaming because they always say it's invisible. If you do it right. Which I'm usually too lazy to do, but I would just turn a blind eye to the imperfections of my made up mattress seaming because it's in the same solid color as the rest of the work. So if it popped through to the front, no big deal as it wasn't super noticeable. This time though, I turned to youtube. Nothing specific, I just did a search and watched the first couple that came up. I followed along with my gray cotton yarn, and it was working! It was magical! I'd pull it taught and it disappeared! And then it snapped!


Swear words. I had a vague memory of hearing about sock yarn being really strong on a podcast, which makes sense given it's intended home. I had some in my bag, so I thought, well, if this is REALLY invisible, it shouldn't matter what color I use, right? And it was! Magical! Here it is from the wrong side:

And the right side.

Give it a tug to tighten it up.....

And it's gone! Ta dah!

Oh you old basics. I don't know why I bother trying to reinvent the wheel when we already have a perfectly good one.

I'm all finished now, but I haven't gotten around to taking a fully assembled picture. I've been mostly busy working on the basement - it will be SO nice someday to think, ok, I've got a finished object I'd like to document, and a nicely set up space to do that! Right now if I want anything more than an iPhone snap, it would involve clearing off a space, trying to do it in daylight, hanging it up or something. Surely it's much easier to build an entire room than clear off a surface....

Friday, April 4, 2014

Crazy bag lady

So on Fridays, I go to yoga at lunch. I love the class, but there really isn't a great place to change before and after, so the goal for my outfit on Fridays is to somehow dress both for yoga and for casual Friday. This was easy in the winter, because it was so cold I would just wear leggings under my jeans, and I was both warm and ready for class. Yay!

Now that it's warming up eeeever so slightly, I have to get more creative. Today I decided that I would wear leggings under a maxi dress, theorizing that might be a good combo of layers and breeziness for a spring day. I paired the short sleeved maxi dress with a long sweater that could skew either boho or granny, but maybe works ok, and flats. Only to get fully dressed and downstairs and's raining. I hate when the bottom of my pants, or in this case dress, get wet. There was no time to change, so I tossed my shoes in my purse and opted for rainboots. They were adorable a few years ago, black with white polka dots. Over the years, these target boots have aged to black with....I don't know, tan? polka dots and are slightly less adorable, but still serve the purpose. I haphazardly tucked my dress into the top of the boots, which I'm sure looked quite fetching.

As for jacket, I grabbed my raincoat because, duh, raining. It's navy blue, a trench style, quite cute actually. There was a green scarf on its hanger, so without thinking about how it didn't match, I put that on. It's still a little chilly, so I grabbed this headband earwarmer thing.

I got outside. Long black dress tucked into somewhat discolored rainboots. Long multicolored striped (let's face it) granny sweater peeking out from too lazy to button up blue raincoat. Green scarf. Oatmeal earwarmer.

And then I realized that I must look completely insane.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making and unmaking

We had some free time this weekend, so we were able to start the basement remodel in earnest! I'd taken down the drop ceiling tiles a few weeks back, but this was way more fun!

It took me a while to switch gears from gentle touches to tearing a wall down with my bare (gloved) hands, but I got there! I took this one down with a few kicks! I won for biggest single chunk of drywall. :) 

This is the dividing wall that is now gone!

This one ended up gone as well. Sigh. This is NOT how you build a wall! Studs so far apart, wires going every which way. Oh well. We'll put them back up right. 

I don't know when we'll get to the reconstruction phase, though I've got a material list going on the Home Depot app. It's pretty handy! I ran a rough calc for drywall quantity, and it saved to my account. Even gave me screw and tape quantity!

Until then, there will be crochet. I'll keep dreaming of the future home of all the yarn!