Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sisters...

Hugs. Laughter. Good food. Coffee. Laughter. Fun. Books. Hugs. Beer. Shopping. Laughter. Gellato. Art. Wine. Gifts. Hugs. Laughter. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Comfortable silence.

And silly fleece socks...



That's what it's all about when the sisters get together.

(Side note: Yes, I did make these socks. And yes I have been dying to tell you about them blog land, but I had to keep the secret until they had been unwrapped. Aren't they cool? And warm. And they make me think of Muppet feet, or what I imagine Muppet feet look like, which makes me laugh. Kinda like time with the sisters. Happy. Just happy. Any who, I made up the pattern myself after consulting a few resources on the net. And I LOVE them. Sewing them is way fun...talk about an immediate gratification project! And since I'm a super slow sock knitter...thank goodness I can sew up a pair of these babies in about 30 minutes! Socks anyone?)


peace

Saturday, December 26, 2009

24 Hours of Holiday Fun in Photos...






























We hope your holidays have been blessed with food, fun, family, love, and laughter.


peace

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Wishes...

Last year instead of sending out holiday cards we decided to try something new...sending you our holiday greetings online through this here blog. It's economical, ecological, efficient...and honestly I share a lot more about our year than if we mailed a holiday card.

So without further ado, 2009 in review!


2009 continued to be a year about change and growth for our family. Brea, being 3, does nothing but grow! She's grown both in size and in knowledge so much this year. She can sing her ABCs, recognizes most letter and numbers by sight, and has developed quite the vocabulary. She is a ray of sunshine and brings a smile to every one's face with whom she interacts. While she enjoys accompanying me around to my various engagements during the day, she'll be the first one to tell you how much she is looking forward to starting pre-school next fall.


Lexi has matured so much through 2009 it often makes us stop and take a double take. She loves 2nd grade and even though she will tell you her favorite subject is math, it is a love of reading that often keeps her busy at home. She reads to herself. She reads to her little sister. She reads picture books. She reads chapter books. She reads! Lexi enjoys watching me craft and earlier this year talked me into teaching her how to knit. She is working away on a basic, blue (her new favorite color) garter stitch scarf and has made me promise to teach her how to sew during her winter break from school. She has very much enjoyed the camera she received for her birthday. Her current aspirations for What I want to be when I grow up: a veterinarian and wildlife photographer. Given her love for animals, her compassionate spirit, and her natural creative tendencies it all makes perfect sense to me.


The most exciting change for our family this year has been career growth for Scott. The unexpected challenges of the past 2 years have provided him with a chance to really evaluate where his professional interests lie and how best to use both his educational/experiential background and his personal strengths. At the beginning of November he moved into the position of Benefits Administrator in the Human Resources office at Titan Tire Corporation. He enjoys getting to dabble in all aspects of Human Resources (not just benefits administration) and working with the diverse employee population. A side note...in a small world kind of way...Titan Tire was formerly Armstrong Tire, the company from with Scott's Grandpa Mavin retired after many, many years of service.



As for me, well, you read the blog right? I stay busy with teaching yoga, working for the quilt shop, knitting, sewing, photo taking, and in general living a simple blessed life.

It looks as if Mother Nature is making sure we will have a white Christmas here in central Iowa. We are looking forward to spending a quite holiday weekend with family and friends celebrating good food, good fortune, and lots of love.

We wish you much love, peace, and happiness this holiday season and a healthy, prosperous New Year!


peace

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simplifying the Blog Life...

I'm simplifying my blogging life.

As a result I have imported some posts from Namaste & Knitting here so that they are not lost when I take down that blog. Forgive me if my reorganizing has filled your RSS reader. I'll try not to do it again.

I really like blogging, but when I sit down to write and can't decide which blog on which to post my thoughts, it's a sign of a problem. So to keep things easy and enjoyable...the main purpose of my blogging...I'm cutting back to simply TWO spaces.
  • Happy Daisy Yoga is back up and running and where I will once again be spewing about all things yoga.
  • All other thoughts, projects, photos, rants, whines, cheers, etc, will be shared here...my original place in cyber-space.


peace

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Upgrade...

My husband and I took advantage of the break in our wintry Iowa weather yesterday to drop this girls off with his Aunt so we could go Christmas shopping together. (It was like a date...only in the day...which meant neither of us were tired and cranky yet. We had a lovely time.) Our gift shopping took us a whooping 90 minutes at one store. (We really only buy gifts for our girls so shopping is usually pretty painless.) Which left us plenty of time for a nice lunch and to stop and shop for this...


Considering I've been sewing on a very basic machine I bought for $140 at a small chain discount store 15 years ago, this is a major upgrade. I feel as if I have just won the lottery! (OK, that might feel a wee bit different.) My new machine has needle down stop, 40 stitch options (my old one had 2...straight and zig-zag), and I splurged and bought the extension table because I'm gonna learn how to free motion quilt if it kills me! To be honest, I spent a little more than I had intended spending, but at the same time feel like spending that extra $100 now is going to help make sure I won't be wishing in a year or two for an upgrade...something I'm pretty sure would have happened with the other more basic model I was considering purchasing. The ladies at Cornerstone Quilts (sort of a sister shop to GFW) were so wonderful in helping me weigh my options and my husband was so patient as I sat and gave each model in consideration a few test spins. AND as part of my purchase I get to go to an all day class where I will get to learn the ins and outs of using and caring for my machine. FUN! I've never taken a sewing class before!!!

When we got home the girls insisted I show them how my new machine works. I let them choose some bright thread and stitches that they wanted to see and we tinkered away. I think we could have spent all night with them at my side as we tried out different stitches and techniques.


I'm looking forward to tackling the quilting of my two finished tops in the coming weeks. Not to mention all the packages of fabric I have from a "block of the month" club a friend and I joined a few years back. To date I think we have each managed to complete one month's worth of blocks. I'm thinking committing to making a block a week starting at the turn of the year might be a good way to both learn about my new machine AND turn all those packages into something a little more useful. (Not to mention counting down the weeks until spring!)


~namaste~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Simple or Simply Boring?

Last night, as I sat snuggled in bed knitting next to Scott who was snuggled in bed reading...at TEN TILL NINE. I turned to Scott and commented sarcastically:

"I think this right here puts us right at the top of the most exciting 30-somethings EVER list."

We laughed about how hard it is fighting off the paparazzi each morning as they wait to capture what trend setting thing we will do next.

And then we went back to quietly knitting and reading.

I love that our life is simple. After all, isn't that why we decided to settle in small town Iowa to raise our family?

Maybe it's just the time of year. The cold temps. The snowy days. The shortened hours of sunlight. Or the reading of other people's Facebook statuses and Twitter updates and blog posts centered around this holiday gatherings and plans. I'm sure it's a bit about missing MY extended family (especially my Mom) and my dear friends far away with whom I wish I could toast a glass of holiday wine in the coming weeks. Maybe it's the fact that the couple of couples with whom we as a couple enjoy socializing, live 45 miles away which means gatherings through the winter are much less likely thanks to mid-western weather. (Seriously, what is it about us that makes finding couples with whom we BOTH get along so hard? It seems silly to have the "his friends", "her friends" lists around who the "other" feels somewhat uncomfortable after almost 15 years of marriage.)

Whatever it is, I find myself a little sad today about the lack of engagements on our social calendar. At the same time I am thankful that we don't have to try to "fit it all in" since I already feel a bit overwhelmed about the few "extra" things that need to be accomplished in the next 14 days. It's an evil play of opposites...wanting to be more social while possessing a personality that tends to prefer a more quiet, introverted life.

An evil play of opposites...one I think I will go ponder while quietly knitting.


peace

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day Project...

My quilt top is done! What a lovely snow day project. I've had this design rolling around in my head for about 3 weeks and "Iowadeathstorm09" (as it has been labeled on Twitter) provided me a reason not to leave the house today (actually it took away the ABILITY to leave the house today), which meant plenty of time to sew. I present to you...

"Lost in the Twilight"


It measures about 55" x 75" unfinished. The blocks are 12 inches finished and were pieced from batiks. The whole cloth section is a Robert Kaufman print from the Fusions Collection.

The title, based on my color scheme more so than the design, might need some explaining. At the risk of having a bunch of eyes rolled at me, here goes.

Often when I fall in love with a book (or series of books) it's as much for the images they help paint in my mind as much as the story. Angsty teenage love-lust and vampire lore aside, I was totally engrossed when I read the Twilight Series books because of the imagery. The rich, dark wooded forest. The shades of amber to dark brown of Edward's eyes against the creamy lightness of his skin. The warm red of "life giving" blood. What better way to bring those images to life than with a quilt under which I can snuggle to read! Can you imagine how much fun it would be to design all my future quilts on imagery created by reading a book? Hmm...

The design was actually inspired by all of the great contemporary quilts I've seen splashing around these days. Between Flickr; my favorite quilt blog, Crazy Mom Quilts; a new book I picked up at the shop a few weeks ago, Cozy Modern Quilts; AND working at the shop surrounded by so many contemporary fabrics, how can I NOT be inspired to sew more?!

Contemporary quilt designs very often lean towards simple. Which in my world translates to doable. Between big blocks and large areas of whole cloth, they allow for a little bit of tradition to mix with more modern design. And it doesn't mean having to cut a gazillion little pieces just so you can turn around and sew them back together again. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE old quilts with lots of little pieces. But at this point in my life, I'm just not patient enough MYSELF to actually put together a quilt like that. Which for years has meant I haven't been quilting at all. Which is just sad and wrong.

Being that the quilt is considered "lap quilt" sized also adds a plus in the doable category. I mean, who doesn't need a few quilts around the house just the right size for snuggling on the couch with a cup of java and a good read...or while knitting.

The only problem...

In the past 6 months I have now finished TWO (the other being this one) quilt TOPS. Both which need quilting before they can be functional. The quilting part...not so much my favorite step in the process. The good news is I have ideas for how I want to quilt both of them...now I just have to DO IT!

We got word that local schools will be closed again tomorrow and I will simply have to wait to see if I can make it out to teach the classes for which I am scheduled. To bad I don't have batting and enough fabric for backing on hand...or who knows what could happen if I'm "stuck" at home for another full day.


~namaste~

Snowed In...

Iowa winter weather has arrived. Yesterday before the snow totally kept us home bound I ran to the grocery store and made a stop at the quilt shop for fabric for the lap quilt that has been designing in my head for the last 3 weeks. Yesterday I got 3 of the the 6 large blocks I'll need for the quilt finished...


Today I hope to get the top finished. Yea for snow!


~namaste~

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything...

I have so much I want to share today...

First, a couple of words of thanks.

I was amazed (and deeply honored once the shock wore off) to learn that Roseanne over at it's all yoga, baby included one of my posts here in her review of her top 15 yoga blog posts of 2009. Roseanne, if Canada wasn't so far to travel, I'd run over and give you a big hug of thanks. I have a feeling the two of use could find a lot to chat about over a cup of coffee. (It might take several before we run out of things to talk about.) The other thing I love about reviews such as Roseanne's...it's a good way to learn about other blogs out there in the expanse of the WWW that I might enjoy reading. (Does Google Reader have a subscription limit?)

Secondly, thanks for everyone who has offered up words of support and encouragement after my last post. I don't have much in the way of an update on how things are going, but my thoughts have been busy processing it all in the quietness of my mind. For many reasons I think that's where I'm going to keep things tucked away for a bit.

And finally, due to the lack of knitted posts lately one might assume there is not much knitting going on around here. On the contrary...MUCH knitting has been going on, but photographing of said knitting has not. And let's face it, sharing knitting in word's just isn't as fun as sharing knitting in pictures. So for now I thought I'd share this lovely high quality web cam photo of my new button tab hat.


I actually finished this a few weeks ago, but awaking to our first "real" snow this morning has given me reason to add it to my "leaving the house" attire. The pattern is a free design I found on Ravelry by ilikelemons (it's also available on her blog). The yarn is a natural tweed by Araucania Yarns that I splurged on (at $17 a hank it was a definitely a splurge for me) because once I picked it up...I simply couldn't put it down! With a fiber content of 30% Alpaca, 45% Merino, 15% Silk, and 10% of those little Donegal flecks...it's as soft as a baby bunny. A new born kitten. A duckling...well, you get the picture. It's SOFT.

While the pattern is super simple I had a few bumps in the road to finishing this. First I mis-read the pattern and got nervous I wasn't going to have enough yardage to finish. (Because you know being "splurge yarn" meant I only bought one hank.) So I ripped back a bit to start my decreases early. After finishing all the way to the crown but BEFORE I cut the yarn I decided I should make sure it fit...and it was too short. So I ripped back to the row before the start of the decreases and re-knit what I had ripped out the first time before once again finishing the crown. I learned several things making this hat...including the fact that "hairy" yarn isn't as easy to work with in the reverse direction and one should not wear black when knitting with a "hairy" white yarn. Even with the bumps in the road, I'm quitepleased with my new winter accessory.

In case you were wondering, my worry about running out of yarn...



~namaste~

Sunday, December 6, 2009

That's Me...

Lexi got a bracelet making kit yesterday at the holiday party Scott's new company puts on for kids/grandkids of employees. This morning she gifted me this...


A title I'm happy to hold.


peace

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thankful...


Lexi made a Thanksgiving card at school last week. Inside she wrote this message to us:

Dear Mom, Dad, & Brea, I am thankful for you guys. I'm thankful for the the food you give me and for the house I have. Thank you for all your help with my life. Love Lexi

My heart swelled with pride as I read those words. Still I have a hard time reading them without tears coming to my eyes. As someone who finds the holiday season filled with so many complicated and often conflicting emotions, I find peace in the fact that she gets "it". That even with the excitement of gift wishes and lists for stuff, she knows in her heart what matters.

Love.

Family.

A nurturing home.

Sometimes I look at her in wonder at the amazing person she is all too quickly growing up to be. She (and her equally amazing little sister) makes being a Mom an awfully easy, endlessly rewarding post in life.

For that I am thankful.


peace

Monday, November 23, 2009

MIA?

I'm still here.

Simply been busy teaching here.

And here.

Writing this.

Keeping track of these.

AND creating in my new crafty space when I get the chance.

(There's been a bit of knitting mixed in there too of course!)

Last week at the shop we announced our Holiday Stocking Challenge and of course, I can't back down from a challenge. (Even though employees can't win anything.) So I've been working on making this...


into a lovely holiday stocking for our display window. I am almost finished, the bead embellishment (something new to me) is slowing me down a bit.

I also cracked into my mini Moda HoneyBuns (a gift given to me by my dear friend Jen last spring) and whipped together this little bag to hold all my knitting notions.


It ended up being a little bigger than I expected, but bigger just means I have room in which to grow. (Tee Hee.) I also love that every time I grab my scissors or stitch markers from under the flap, I think of Jen and her friendship. That is truly a gift that comes with using handmade goodies!

(Even with all the busy I made sure to take time this weekend to hit the movie theater for this. I mean I may be a 30-something wife and mother of 2, but I'm not dead! Everyone needs a chance to drool over hot wolf boys sneak away to enjoy a chick flick with a friend now and then.)


~namaste~

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What to Eat, or Not...

Is anyone else totally frustrated with the current state of "our" (collectively) relationship with food these days?

That might be somewhat of a rhetorical question considering all of the books and documentary films hitting the market these days on that very topic. Currently in my bedside reading table...The Omnivore's Dilemma.

On one hand it is so interesting to learn how we have gotten to the place we are in America's food culture. On the other it's down right frustrating trying to sort through it all and figure out the healthiest way to feed one's self...not to mention a growing family.

For the most part we eat pretty simple in our family. We try to stay away from highly processed foods, though you will still find a few boxes of crackers, snack bars, store bought cereals, and a loaf of store bought bread next to the name brand peanut butter in the pantry. (Not to mention my weakness for Pepsi.) I try to make sure we are eating fresh when we can and opt for the closest thing to fresh when we can't. (Such as choosing frozen veggies over canned.) I for one like to know what I am eating rather than wonder just how many unpronounceable ingredients went in to making my dinner. (Also the reason we opt for real sugar, not sugar substitutes...no "diet" items for this household.)

Trips to the grocery store usually go pretty quickly since most of our shopping happens around the parameter of the store...through produce to meats to dairy through frozen and done. Granted there are a few frequently visited isles in the middle too...mostly for cereal, pasta, bread, and baking ingredients...but most days we can be in and out in 15-20 minutes, depending on the wait time at the meat counter (if we are getting a meat item) and the check out lane.

I've been eating mostly gluten free for about 2 months now. (I say mostly because sometimes I choose not to avoid it...like this weekend when we ordered pizza out. Or those days I just want to enjoy a beer...you know, a REAL beer, not a GF one.) For the most part I am still very happy that I made the decision to move in the GF direction...even without medical evidence that it's what my body needs. I can FEEL that my body is happier and that's good enough for me.

(Side note: I find it sad that we have become so disconnected with how food nurtures our bodies, or doesn't, that we don't feel empowered to make food choices without some medical evidence or proof of "good or bad" provided by studies and recommendations of the food industry. Many often willingly follow the latest diet/food fads without stopping to think "how is MY body responding to this change?" or about "how do I individually feel about the limitations presented by this certain diet?" But I digress...)

While the change hasn't been always easy, it hasn't been hard either. Since we already eat pretty basic foods, changing some of the ingredients we use to cook/bake with has simply meant trying products to take the place of the old. That doesn't mean we have increased the amount of processed foods in our diets in search of the "gluten free" label. Processed is processed. Period.

Today my Mom's email asked if I had seen any articles about the problems that can arise as a result of eating gluten free when it's not deemed medically necessary.

No.

So, I did what I always do when posed with such a question...Google search.

Which provided a number of articles from what I consider to be reliable sources. Nothing earth shattering...you know, nothing like how I'm gonna die tomorrow from eating gluten free without the advisement of my doctor. I particularly like this article and this article. I also found this related article on the food industry interesting, even though it really has nothing to do with eating gluten free or not.

(Another side note: I love how articles written to disprove a certain diet, whether potentially healthy or imbalanced by design, always point out how said diet could cause nutrient deficiencies "if not properly planned." As if our regular dietary habits are so perfectly balanced. You know...never too much fat or sodium or sugar, never consisting of empty calories. Um yea...)

So, I'm not too worried about giving up my new (mostly) gluten free ways.

I AM to a point where I'm just tired of thinking about making the best food choices for our family. I'm tired of reading labels. Even though I know I have made the choice not to go vegetarian, I find myself unable to eat meat without thinking about the animal that gave its life to provide my meal, wondering what type of life (and death) that animal experienced. I notice myself reading WHERE a food item has come from trying to make my selections of which brand/item to buy based on how far that item had to travel to get to my store.

IT'S ALL SO EXHAUSTING.

And sad. I miss simply being able to enjoy food for the experience of the taste or the textures in my mouth. I miss being able to savor a meal (or a treat) without thinking about trans-fats or processed sugars or bacterial contamination or environmental impact. With the holidays close at hand I find myself already stressing about how/what choices I will make about food through the next 2 months...about how strictly I will stick to being gluten free and just when it's going to be OK to throw all caution to the wind. I feel as if there's been one more layer of complication added to a time of year that I already find emotionally challenging on so many levels.

My brother and I were having a conversation this summer about awareness, being connected to the present moment, and understanding how our individual actions can affect the greater world. At one point I commented that sometimes I wished I could go back to going through life mostly "unaware." At which time he responded that because of the path I have chosen, that's simply not going to happen.

Hmm. Bummer.


peace

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Changing My Spaces...

My creative juices have kicked into high gear lately, what with all my knitting and the work I'm doing for the quilt shop. So once again our office has gone from office + spare bed to office + creative space.


A much better use of the space...in my opinion.

(I've posted some additional pictures of the space over at Namaste & Knitting.)

The iron is heating, my fabric strips are ready...I'm off to get crafty!


peace

Creating a Space for Creating...

We live in a small 3 bedroom house. Even though we have 2 kids, they thankfully are happy to share a room, leaving our 3rd bedroom to serve as an office-plus. The "plus" part has changed over the years from: "room in which we pile crap we're too lazy to take downstairs", to sewing room, to spare bedroom, to once again...sewing room!

We've been busy around here the past 2 days creating a little change. Thanks to furniture moving help from my hubby and fabric sorting/folding help from my oldest daughter (whose growing interests in all things crafty makes me so proud), the spare bed now occupies the space in our unfinished basement where I had set up a dedicated craft space last fall. In exchange a good portion of my work surfaces and fabric goodness has has moved in to our warm, cozy little office that has a WINDOW TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD. (The biggest draw back to the basement...no real windows. Well that and no real heat and concrete floors...but that's nothing a space heater didn't help.)


Working at the quilt shop and planning out my latest list of "items to knit/make and gift" has totally got my creative mojo flowing again. I decided since our spare bed only sleeps a visitor a few times a year, the "extra" space in the far corner of our office could be much better used as a creation station. I've brought up the old drop leaf table given to me as a friend ("because it would make you a great craft table") so that I have plenty of cutting and work space. Plus my little sewing desk, that I simply adore, has taken it's rightful place right in front of the window.


I've put my favorite 2 Longerberger craft baskets to work storing stash (both of the woolen and woven varieties) under my work table. In addition to an old Yaffa block tower from college that houses quilting fabrics, UFOs, and inspiration magazines. (Not the most ascetically pleasing, but functional and I can hide it behind the closet door if need bed.)



In the process of sorting I uncovered a fair number of UFOs. Some which will remain such forever...


And some, started much more recent, who are simply waiting for finishing touches...




Gotta go...the iron is hot, my fabric is waiting...


~namaste~