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~

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thinking Small...

As some of you know, we here in our house welcomed the week with a change. What we hope to be a change for the better for our family. And while I fully expected to sit down today and write about the details of that change, for a variety of reasons I am not ready to do so. There have been a few twists and bits of info along along the way, that today I find my gut feeling a bit uneasy. Whether it be simply my own resistance to change, or something more, for now I feel like the best thing to do before sharing details, is wait it out until I can be sure it is indeed good news to share.

The twists and turns of this transaction, combined with other events happening in my life right now, has me pondering...

I've had several "dream" professions over the years. Some that will probably always simply remain a dream. Some which I fully believe are obtainable endeavors. From owning my own coffee shop, to owning my own quilt/yarn store, to being a massage therapist, to freelance work, to being an independent yoga instructor...what hit me today is not how those things are different, but rather how they are connected. I was thinking in the shower this morning (as you know the shower often provides a good place to ponder) what all these "dream" jobs have in common is me owning my own small business.

I have over the years been firm about the fact that I am not a "business person". But what I'm realizing is that my definition of what a "business person" is has expanded over the years. As a result of that expanded definition I can very much see myself in the roll of small business owner these days. Possibly even in the roll of small business activist.

Living in a small, yet vibrant and progressive, town has opened my eyes to many things. Including how rich a community is in which to live when small, locally owned businesses are flourishing. Small businesses make it their business to respond to their customer's needs through the best customer service possible. Their customers are: neighbors, fellow organization members, parents of a child's classmate, teammates on the city rec league softball team...the list could go on and on. When you own a small business in a small town your customers are a face and a name first and foremost. Small businesses depend not only on the product they sell, but also on their connections to the community to keep their doors open. And, if the business is lucky, profits often do not much more than provide a modest living for the business owner's family.

I'm not saying big business doesn't have its place. After all I find peace in driving a safer, more fuel efficient car thanks to the innovations and developments big business dollars has afforded the automobile industry. I'm thankful for the millions of dollars, often provided by big business and foundations funded with big business profits, that have gone into cancer research and medical innovations that helped my brother when faced with dealing with his own cancer diagnosis. And let's not loose sight of the generous big business owners who as philanthropists have touched millions of lives with their community enhancing gifts...libraries, theaters, school endowments...the list is long.

That being said, I'm having a hard time with the big decisions facing our governing body these days not believing that big business (and often its focus on the ever important bottom line above all else) has out grown its proper place in society. I can't help but draw the connection between how the distribution of wealth in big business (a few big wigs at the top benefiting from the hundreds/thousands of workers needed to produce or provide whatever the business is selling) mirrors our society. While democracy in theory is a fabulous thing, the fact of the matter is there are very few in a place of power who are responsible for making decisions, and many, many, many more who will be more personally affected by those decisions.

Hind sight is 20/20, and I wonder if we as a society knew 100 years ago some of the things we know now, how might our lives look different? Maybe they wouldn't. What I do hope is that those of us with dreams of being a small business owner, and those who currently rely in their small business to provide a living, can continue to believe that small businesses in our communities can make a big difference. That owning a small business will continue to be a way to make an honest living while providing products or services about which we are passionate to our communities.

I for one plan to continue dreaming...


peace

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Clean-up...

After filling 15 paper lawn bags with leaves, we decided to rake the other HALF of the yard's leaves into a giant pile in our little garden plot. With it being 70+ degrees today, it was a lovely day for yard work...and for playing in the leaves...


Barefoot and carefree...


I will forever cherish these moments when I get to watch my kids just be kids.

The yard has been mowed one last time. (We've been saying that for the past 3 mowings...but I think this time it should be true. It is November 8th after all!) The flower beds are ready for their winter sleep. Even the not so little Sand Cherry bush that I got for Mother's Day the first spring we lived in our house has had a fall trim. I will be eagerly awaiting the first days of spring when everything comes back to life again!


peace

Unexpectedly Frogged...

I have been super excited to start my first pair of socks with "knitting season" in full swing. So I ordered some a whole set of sock sized double point needles (DPNs) and sock yarn. By Thursday night I couldn't wait any longer to cast on...yes, even with 2 other projects currently on the needles. Variety is the spice of life.

Do you want the good news or bad news first?

The good news...things seemed to be going well after I finally decided on which basic pattern I wanted to use. Size and stretch seemed appropriate and I LOVE the plum tweed Stroll yarn from Knit Picks that I decided to start my sock knitting adventure with.

The bad news...my new 4 inch DPNs and I were not getting along. I've knit most my projects on DPNs thus far, but 6 inch DPNs. What I didn't realize is how the shorter needles would rest IN my palm rather than along side. A fact that soon resulted in little sore hot spots in my palms. Not cool.

So, today I mailed back my set of tiny needles.


And I frogged the short (but good) start to my first sock.


And I have ordered both 6 inch DPNs in size 3 AND a 40 inch circular in size 3 to try a couple different methods to get my growing stash of sock yarns from balls to wearable pairs. Oh how I can't wait for the visit from the UPS man later in the week!


~namaste~

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Substitution Saturday...

I missed posting for Fab Friday.

But I have a perfectly acceptable excuse.

I was too busy having fun with these two...



And what a great day we did have! Slept in a bit. (No school for my oldest thanks to parent-teacher conferences.) Yoga with my lovely senior class. Then BEAUTIFUL weather meant we could enjoy traveling by foot all around downtown. We visited our NEW AMAZING community library. Followed by a stop at our favorite coffee shop for milk, biscotti, and a latte. The girls read their books while I worked on some webby stuff for the quilt shop. After some lunch at home and play time over at a neighbor's, said neighbor asked if we would join them at the park...and how could we not. My hubby got to leave work early on his last day (new job starts bright and early Monday morning) which meant he got to spend a little time enjoying the nice weather too before we all went out to celebrate his great new change at our favorite local deli and pub. A family movie, Disneynature's earth, drew the day to a close...and gave me time to knit on my newly cast on sock! (I can hardly believe I am making a sock. OK...hopefully a pair, but you gotta start with one, right?)

A fabulously fun Friday it was!


~namaste~

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yarnica!

What is Yarnica you ask?


Well, last year, after receiving my first yarn order from Knit Picks, I decided to declare yarn delivery days as their own holiday...and Yarnica was born! The cool think about Yarnica...it can happen several times a year, at any time. Celebration is not tied to a month, a day, a date...budget allowing you could celebrate Yarnica every week if you wanted. (OK, that might be a little over the top....maybe.)


Some of this yarn is bound for Christmas gifts so I can't really reveal it's envisioned purpose yet. (That is, my PLAN is to use it for Christmas gifts...we'll see if I can successfully knit that much with only the 7 weeks or so that is left before the big day!)


I'm guess you knitters out there can make a guess at what some of that fabulous wooliness is destined to become...



Aren't they pretty? (And so tiny. Yikes!!!)

I have a hard time ordering yarn without a book...or two. My picks this time did not disappoint. I'll post some reviews in the coming weeks...at this point let me just say I think either would make a fine gift for a knitter in you life this holiday season. (You know, in case you're planning to knit more yardage than humanly possible between now and then and just don't have time to get it all. OR if you knot a knitter, much like myself, who just can't seem to ever have a big enough library.)


~namaste~

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Look at this one...

Is there anything more fun than a pile of leaves?


I think not.


peace

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009, Check...


I have a confession...I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. Love it because it's the one time of year I regularly get to put my crafty skills to work for the enjoyment of my girlies. Hate...because I have to put my crafty skills to work for the enjoyment of my girlies...and there is a deadline involved. (Which, honestly, is a good thing or costumes would never get finished!)

Out of the 13 combined Halloween costumes the girls have worn, I have made 10 of them...by my choice. OK...more like by my insistence.

The exceptions:
  • There was the year that our oldest used a store bought costume gifted to her by her grand-parents.
  • Last year our youngest recycled this costume which I had originally made for our oldest. (It is by far my FAVORITE costume creation thus far.)
  • This year we borrowed the monkey costume as it just seemed like the smart thing to do on so many levels.

Some years I'm so excited to figure out how to put together whatever is requested by our brown-eyed girls. This year was not one of those. No real reason. I just wasn't as excited as say the year Lexi was the Tooth Fairy and Brea a newborn Tooth. Or the year Lexi was a duck...complete with tie-dyed leggings.

Regardless of the requested costume, you will normally find me the night before working into the wee hours putting on the finishing touches. This year was even worse than that as I found myself madly ironing on the last of the tiger stripes just 30 minutes before we wanted to depart for the neighborhood trick-or-treating walk.

Every year I vow to start earlier...to just give in to store bought costumes...to simplify.

And then, just as happened Saturday night, one of my daughters walks up, gives me a big hug and says "Thanks Mommy for making me a great costume!"

As she bounds away with a giant smile on her face, or every time I hear the proud words "My Mom made my costume!", it's right then and there that I know there is no hope...next year on October 30th (hopefully NOT the 31st again) you'll find me sleepily working away on the final details of different costumes.

And I will hate it...and I will LOVE it.

(BTW, more pics of this year's tricksters can be seen here.)


~namaste~



Sunday, November 1, 2009

We Bring the Zoo to You...

With not a moment to spare I ironed on the final tiger stripes, the girls dressed, and we head out the door for the fun that is Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood. I will admit...I am super glad we were able to borrow Brea's monkey costume as it was challenging enough this year to find the time (and desire) to get Lexi's tiger put together. Some years I can't wait to make costumes...this year was not one of those. BUT the important thing is our 2 girlies were super excited about their chosen costumes and we now have a stash of candy from which Scott and I can sneak chocolate for the next several weeks.







Hoping your Halloween was a hauntingly good time too!

peace