Monday, November 24, 2014

Things I Like and You Should Like Too

Here is a (short) list of things that I am really enjoying lately and want you to like too. Mostly so that we can talk about said things together.

Serial. I am obsessed with this podcast. I listen to it while raking, and while driving. The other night I sat in the car, in the garage finishing listening to the podcast. Don't worry I turned the car off so I would not die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily my friend texted me to remind me of that, but I also knew to begin with too, but thanks for caring Chandra. It's so good, you should listen to it. I really need someone to talk to about it. I am only on episode 6 though, so if you're farther than me then I actually DON'T want to talk to you.

Watching stand up comedy on Netflix. A friend came to visit and made me watch the beginning of "New In Town" by John Mulaney. After he left I finished watching it and laughed hysterically. Then, still craving more laughs I started watching more. I've watched "Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats" and "Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive". Both had me laughing until my sides hurt. Now I have convinced myself I have missed my calling in stand up comedy because I think I am as funny as these people. Then I remember I hate crowds, and talking in public, and most importantly, that I am only funny to people who know me very well.

Buying flowers for myself. Flowers make me really happy. They also make me feel like my house should be clean. The flowers deserve to be in a clean house. Every payday I buy myself some flowers, and clean the house. Aren't I so exciting? I'm doing a great job of selling you on all of my awesome/cool things I do.

What awesome stuff have you been up to that I should look into doing so we can be cool together? 


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last month I tried to do five things every day.

  1. Read
  2. Create
  3. Exercise
  4. Floss
  5. Have Patience. 
Can you guess which one had the lowest success rate? "Have patience", obviously. Do you even know me?

I even made a check list to chart my progress. Because, I like giving myself arbitrary checks. 

This month my journey continues. Part of me feels like some of these things have become habits, but another part of me knows that if I stop putting checks on a chart I will probably stop doing these things because I won't have to be accountable. Sounds crazy to feel accountable to a checklist on your fridge that no one else cares about, but I swear it works.  Especially for flossing. I tell myself I'll feel much better checking a little square to say I flossed, than I'd feel skipping it, so I floss before bed.

What counts as what you ask?

Read: books and magazines count. Online crap does not, nor does work stuff. My goal here was to unplug and wind down before bed. It's also kept me reading into the fall, which has not happened in the past. No time limit on this goal 5 minutes counts just as much as 2 hours. 

Create: Sewing, knitting, felting, scrapbooking, art journaling, writing blog posts, baking and cooking, yes cooking. all count in my book. I have figured out that if you force yourself to create everyday you get a lot more done. There is no time limit, I could sew for 2 minutes and it would count. But that never happens. Previously I would not do something creative because I only had 20 minutes and didn't feel like that was long enough to get into a groove so I'd sit on my butt and do nothing. Now I have 20 minutes to meet my goal so I'll do it. Another strategy I have found works for me is to stop while I am still inspired. Sounds dumb right? Actually it works because I am more excited to go back to the project the next day than having to start over again thinking of something creative the next day. 

Exercise: Running, crossfit, walking the dogs for 30+ minutes, hiking, and recently raking have all counted. I aim for 30 minutes or more, but will still give myself a check for 20 minutes. Mostly, as long as I sweat it counts. 

Floss: That's easy, did I floss or not? I hope my late grandfather who was my first dentist is happy about this goal. I also hope my dentist now will be happy about this. I'll still get cavities though I am sure, I think I have very porous teeth. Also I recently went to the dentist and the hygienist still asked me with the same tone of voice they always do "how often do you floss?" as if saying "you obviously need to be reminded to floss, because no one does this everyday."

Have Patience: This is definitely the hardest one to measure and to keep. As someone who writes measurable goals all day you'd think I'd have made goal 5 something you could actually measure, but no. I mostly mean this in terms of my home life, so it pertains to Penny, Blaze, and Charlie. I seem to do a relatively good job of having patience at work, which is surprising considering the maturity level of the children I work with. It's when I get home that I feel like I've used it all up and have none left to give. But in making this goal, and attempting to make it a habit, I have realized that there is not a set supply of patience in a day. I want to put a check on my chart so I'll bite my tongue, do something I don't really want to do, and be flexible. Funny thing is it's easier to keep doing this once you have started. Patience momentum. If you asked Charlie I am sure he would say he notices no difference in my behavior but I do notice it and feel much better going to bed at night knowing that I didn't snap at anyone. 

I thought about adding a 6th for November, but I think another month to get these more ingrained into my mind and my schedule will be good. I read it takes 21 days to make a habit. I must just be extra slow compared to normal people in habit making. 

What habit do you wish you had? 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe (ish)

I've been reading about capsule wardrobes a lot lately. Must be a new blogger thing. The basic idea is that you have 37 (or some number you pick) items of clothing, including shoes, that you wear for a three month period of time. Only those items. I read that people only wear 25% of their clothes anyways, so why not only have that 25% of the clothes out to pick from?

My brother in law is a self proclaimed "minimalist" and has been talking about that idea a lot. When he gets something new he throws out or donates something else. One in, one out. I've also been reading about simplifying your life, having only things that make you happy around, etc. All of these ideas collided with my summer to fall clothes switch over about a month ago. Usually I just take the fall clothes out and put the summer clothes away. This time I was (mostly) ruthless in my switching. I threw a lot of yucky clothes out, got rid of items I had had since college (seriously), and donated items I never wear. My biggest issues are items that I've sewn that aren't 100% perfect or ill fitting. I have a hard time getting rid of those things, even though I never wear them, because all I think about is how much time went into creating it.

Inability to give up clothes aside I did slim down my clothing significantly. I also put aside clothes that I couldn't get rid of right now, and if I think about a particular item or want it before Christmas I'll get it from the other closet and wear it, if not, it's gone.

Capsule wardrobes seem to work well for people who work from home and have a casual style. I'd say I have a casual style, but I cannot wear jeans to work everyday. Due to this trimming down my closet to 37 pieces seemed to daunting and downright impossible. I had 37 cardigans alone! I have since cut down the number of cardigans drastically by getting rid of the ones I never wear or the ones with stains and rips, why did I keep those anyways? I also got rid of about 6 pairs of work pants. I realized that it seemed like I had a lot of pants to wear to work, but I only ever wore 3 of them because they fit and were comfortable, the others were ill fitting, stained (seriously what's wrong with me) or just not a color/style I wear. One pair has 4 buttons and a zipper, which is way too much for someone who only has 10 seconds to go to the bathroom between students. They're gone! I did the same with my jeans. Who needs 6 pairs of jeans, only two of which you wear, when you only wear jeans on the weekends, and to be honest many weekends you just hang out in workout clothes/pj's/sweatpants anyways?

This is a very long winded way of me introducing my new style goals.

1. Buy or make only pieces you're sure you'll wear, fit with items you already have, and can be worn multiple times.
2. Diversify, match different items.
3. Have a color scheme.
4. Flip clothes hanger to other side once I've worn an item so I know I wore it this season.

I have a feeling no one will care about this post, but if I say it I'll feel more accountable and stick to it instead of falling back into my old habits. "Make it public make it happen."

Have you heard of this idea? Think you could do it?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Keeping It Real Race Recap

Well, I promised I would start sharing "real" stuff here, so the real truth is the race I ran on Saturday sucked.  It was a 12 mile trail race. Mistake one was drastically underestimating the elevation profile of this race. Mistake two was drastically overestimating how much I had actually trained for this race. Conclusion to these two mistakes, wicked bummer of a race.

The first two + miles were up a mountain, so I walked, and huffed and puffed. By the top my legs were jello so running down all of those switch backs was a real pleasure. It had rained the day before so there was ice everywhere, and lots of slippery leaves. This resulted in me tripping and in two instances totally wiping out. The people in front of me and behind me kept falling too so I didn't feel so bad, but I also did feel bad because it hurts to fall. I think I sprained my pinky finger catching myself, but everyone I ask says it looks normal. I also banged my knee on a root or rock or something hard. At mile 6 I told myself to drop out, but by mile 7, where you could drop out, I had convinced myself not to drop out, then mile 7.7 I was kicking myself for not dropping out. At that point my legs were alternating between feeling like jello or lead bricks. Since I was not having much luck getting my legs to work, and the tripping and falling kept happening, I decided to just switch my mind set to "I am hiking" and not "I am running a race, and sucking ass at it." The views were really great. You could see the lake and towards the end of the race you "hiked" past several water falls. People were very spread out by the last 4 miles so I was totally alone wondering if I was even going the right way, doubting all of my previous life choices.

The end of the race must have been designed by someone who really hates all people. You run up a road to the carriage house, then turn left and continue running up these old winding steps to get to the "Castle in the Clouds".  Charlie was waiting for me on the step, upon seeing him I immediately began to cry since the entire race had been very mentally and physically challenging. If I thought he would have said yes I would have asked him to carry me.  He walked with me to the finish line where I continued to cry until I forced myself to laugh at how stupid I was acting.

These are the stairs. I did not look .00001 percent as beautiful as this woman. At the finish line you have to turn around and walk your sorry butt back down the hill you just ran up. Seriously a sadists made this race up. Once we got back to the carriage house and met with our friends I sat down and was able to laugh about how seriously dumb the entire race was, and how delusional I was, and also how dumb it is that people willingly pay money to do this type of stuff. The after race food consisted of bagels, beer, whoppie pies and beef stew. The beef stew was all I could eat and was ice cold by the time I finished, so I took one bite and spit it out. Moral of the story is if you want hot food at the end of a race, run faster.

My new running friend had an excellent race so I gladly listened to her recant her success. Our other friend tried to run the 4 mile race but had an asthma attack and had to quit. Charlie finished 6th and "ran almost all of the race." Of the four or us two had a good race and two wanted to die. Pretty bad odds if you ask me. 

There was nothing but ice cold soup to eat so we packed up and set out to find food. I wanted to get ice cream at Ben and Jerry's in Meredith, Charlie was sure they were closed for the season. After looking it up online my phone said that they were open and I convinced him to take us, but once we got there the sign said "closed for the season." Google, you let me down. Instead we went to a pizza place next door and I had hot chocolate and gluten free BBQ chicken pizza. Probably a (little bit) healthier choice. Once we returned home though I made gluten free brownies to eat with vanilla ice cream on top. Not healthy, but who cares, I "hiked" 12 miles. Get off my case. It was delicious #noregrets.

On Sunday I was quite tired but managed to force myself to rake leaves for 3 hours, hang out with the dogs and do laundry. 

If you are wondering, I will not be doing this race again next year. Charlie said he would, he has issues. I'll go for a hike, take pictures of the pretty view and watch people try not to puke hiking up the last part of the course. 

I have not signed up for any more races, so staying motivated this winter might be an issue. I am going to try to run (at least) one mile a day from Thanksgiving until New Years. I did it last year and only missed one day. Running helps me have an easier time skiing, so I'll have to remind myself of that when I don't want to go for a run. 

I hope you had a less painful weekend than mine. What was the last really dumb thing you did? 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuff and Things

I was planning to come home after work today and rake, but the rain had other ideas. Instead of being useful I decided to waste my time and yours by telling you a lot of random things. This photo is not from today.

1. Seeing this pretty view every morning makes me not hate daylight savings time so much. I do wish those two dead branches on the far right tree would just fall off already though. Lots of people have been complaining about the sun going down so early, but I just see it as more sewing and reading in bed time.

2. We've started using the pellet stove again to heat the house, I forgot how great it is. I love to be warm.

3. I think my Christmas cactus has been spending time at Home Depot and Walmart when I am at work and thinks Christmas is a lot sooner than it is. Why plant, why? And yes, that is our smoke detector behind the plant, it seems to be going off a lot lately. I am not even the one setting it off.

4. This weekend Charlie and I are running a race. When we signed up it was an 11 mile race. Then we got an e-mail saying that due to weather and unforeseen trail issues the race had to be bumped up to a 12 mile course! Only in trail racing would this be acceptable. I am nervous because I've never done this race before, or even been to the area that it's held at. Most All of my training runs have been on flat trails and the race is up a mountain so that should be great. I have downloaded three new "pump up jams" for my ipod to help me run like the wind.

5. I went hiking last weekend to the top of the logging road with my sister in law, Meera. There was snow on the top of one of the mountains in the distance. Now I am very excited for it to snow. I won't be hiking up this hill when there is snow though.  Also, her little dog Raffi doesn't own orange gear to not be shot by a hunter so we had to tie a scrap of red fabric around his neck. It looked like a little scarf, so he looked like a mini French dog. It makes me want to sew him a beret.

6. I had to go to an unfamiliar grocery store the other day, and had only a little bit of time to find what I needed. Instead of wandering around (or reading the signs) I asked sales clerks where things were, I'm not afraid to ask for directions. This plan backfired on me when I asked a male associate "Where are your nuts?" Luckily he was nice and pointed my severely embarrassed red faced self to aisle 12, which was 6 steps from where I was standing when I asked him. The worst part is this is the second time this has happened to me. The first was in high school. I can't tell which incident was more mortifying. Probably the high school one as the boy then was much more attractive than the man this time. Anyways, to keep that from ever happening again I bought a huge container of nuts and will never buy them again, ever.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

How'd You Get That Way?

Once my brother said to a rather large female friend of my Grammy's "You're fat!" He was probably 3. She stuttered a response something along the lines of "well....yes.....I am" and then to add salt to her wounds Garrett said; "How'd you get that way?" Ever since then the phrase "how'd you get that way?" has stuck in my head. He wasn't asking to be rude, 3 year old's can't really be rude, he was asking because he was curious. I'd say we were both curious kids who grew into curious adults.

I like hearing back stories, finding out how people got to where they are now. I am awkward at meeting new people because I just want to skip the chit-chat and get to the "how'd you get that way" questions. I love asking how people met their significant others. I love to hear about how people chose their profession, or the house they bought. I also adore when people ask me the "how'd you get that way questions." Who doesn't love taking about themselves right? (why else would people have blogs?! am I right?)

The other day I helped a co-worker sew something for her mother-in-law. She watched me sew the item and then remarked, how did you learn to do this? I thought I'd share the (long) story here.

My mom has been sewing all of my life. She's made tons of clothes for Garrett and I, and even my wedding dress. She likes to sew, knit and cross stitch, so I grew up seeing her doing those hobbies. Honestly, I don't remember really learning to sew. My mom says that I used to sit on the table next to the sewing machine while she sewed and watch her. I do remember a few time when she would leave the room and I would jump off the table and sit in her chair trying to reach the pedal and sew. She says that sitting on the table lead to sitting on her lap while she sewed. I can only imagine how helpful I must have been (nawt). We had a vintage sewing table in the kitchen that I used to play with. It never worked, but I guess I liked to pretend. I'm not sure which my mom taught me to do first hand sew or use the machine, probably hand sew. Who wants their 5 year old to sew through their finger? I can remember hand sewing little clothes and pillows for my dolls. I also remember getting frustrated that my stitches were not the same size and were much bigger than my mom's; I tended to be a perfectionist even then.
I swear this is me, not a boy. 

I seemed to stick with hand sewing for a while, mostly because I didn't exactly know how to use the sewing machine very well, but also because the things I was sewing were rather small and were just easier to sew by hand. Garrett had a teddy bear named Baxter, he would pay me a penny for each item of clothing I made for Baxter. That one eyed bear had quite a collection of clothes after a while. One summer we decided Baxter should get married to my bear Kimberly (named after the Power Rangers). I spent hours making Baxter a tux and Kimberly a wedding dress. On July 12th (Garrett's birthday) Baxter and Kimberly got married; a stuffed leprechaun performed the ceremony, and there was a mini cake made from a bit of Garrett's real birthday cake. It should be mentioned that Baxter also needed many "surgeries" performed by my mom of myself to re-stuff him because his insides kept falling out. He was a very loved bear, and still lives with my brother.

Aside from sewing for Baxter I tended to get inspired by movies and books and try to sew clothes for my teddy bears based on what I had read or seen. I vividly remember spending hours making a hoop skirt from straws for a teddy bear after seeing Little Women for the first time. It never turned out the way I wanted it to though.

The summer between my third and forth grade year I started using the sewing machine more often. We had a babysitter named Elizabeth who lived next door. She would drive us to art camp and swim lessons everyday. Regardless of the weather we had to get out of the pond at exactly 1:35 in order to go to the market in town to get a bar of candy for each of us, and make it home in time for Elizabeth to watch her favorite soap opera, which came on at 2. Being home from the beach at 2 left a few hours of open time for Garrett and I to either get into a lot of trouble, or to crafts. Garrett usually chose the trouble option, and I usually picked crafts. I'd sew using scraps of fabric, make friendship bracelets,  and do little needle point kits. A few summers later when our parents started letting us stay home during the day without a babysitter I kept filling my free time with sewing. Whenever I ran into trouble I'd count down the hours/minutes until my mom got home to get me out of a bind.

I have mentioned here before that following patterns has never been my strong suit. Patterns for doll clothes and accessories were not as popular as they are now, so there were not many pattern options anyways, even if I had wanted or had access to something along those lines. I have also mostly been much happier to make up the pattern as I go. It's easy for me to visualize the end product and the steps to get there. I think this developed over time, but also has something to do with having a smidgen of the same skills as my dad. He's a carpenter and can build things with minimal measurements or drawings. When we build things together he only draws a picture so I can see it, not because he needs it. I'd like to think his ability either rubbed off on me or was just in my head to begin with. It was probably a mixture of the ability to visualize and many instances of trial and error that got me to the level of sewing I was at in middle school.

All through middle school we had to take Family Consumer Science, I usually messed up the cooking part but excelled at the sewing. We made lunch bags and stuffed toys. Some of the items we sewed I remember being bored by because they were too easy.  I also finished projects so fast that I offered do my classmates projects secretly; I was such a rebel in sixth grade. This was the point where I switched from sewing bear clothes to sewing purses and making shoes. Yes shoes. I was positive I would be a shoe designer in the future and used all the available resources I had to make this dream a reality. At that point resources included wood and fabric. Not the best shoe making materials. I had a pair of "high heels" made out of plywood and an old closet rod. I had to add a wooden lip at the bottom of those shoes so my toes would not slip out of my 5 inch heels. This pair never really made it to the wearing stage, as I was barely able to walk normally as a 13 year old with normal shoes. I made one pair of "flip flops" out of solid blocks of oak that I cut out using a band saw and a pencil marking of the shape of my foot. Then I covered the wood with fabric and made fabric straps to keep them on my feet, which I used a staple gun to attach. I proudly wore them to school one morning. My pride lasted all of 10 minutes before I started clomping across the gym floor to get to the point where my friends always stood before school started. Everyone in the whole gym (all 4 grades of students) turned to look at who was making the huge racket. Every step made an echo, everyone stopped talking to stare and my face got redder and redder. That was the end of my shoe designing career and the beginning of my "awkward phase".

After giving up shoe creation I went back to sewing. I made a lot of little drawstring bags and several purses. My mom was still helping me a lot, and also sewing things for me that I could not do myself. I had a hard time getting my ideas from my brain onto paper and into her pattern minded head to get what I actually wanted. Many times she'd listen to what I wanted, then when we were buying fabric would get a pattern that kind of fit what I was describing and use that. It was so nice of her, but I am sure I was not as appreciative as I should have been at the time. I think my body shape at 13 did not help either. I was as tall as I am now in 7th grade, and about 50 pounds lighter with no "shape" to speak of. Clothes obviously did not fit me the way I expected because I was too busy imagining myself to look like the models in my Delia's catalog to realize what I actually looked like. A pencil with acne. You couldn't pay me enough money to agree to relive those years.

Not having items turn out the way I wanted them too frustrated me, but also fueled me. I kept trying, and proudly wore my creations to school despite the ridicule I am sure I endured. My sewing and crafting in general went through periods of great enthusiasm and periods of not being interested all through high school. In 11th grade I got a job working at the town dump; still the best job I've ever had to this day. Lots of people would bring in clothes to donate and my co-worker Cathy and I got first dibs. Some things were really cool but not exactly my style or size. I'd take interesting things home and make them bigger or smaller, or add panels of fabric at the bottom of pants to make them longer. This was super fun, and saved me a lot of money. One cute boy who moved from England senior year signed my yearbook; "you look pretty good for someone who gets all her clothes at the dump." My heart melted and I was sure that meant he was in love with me. He was not.

High school was also the time that my great Grandmother gave me her old feather weight sewing machine and my Grammy bought me a sewing machine of my own for Christmas. At 16 I had two sewing machines, talk about lucky. Having my own machines to figure out how to use, and inevitably mess up was big for me. I didn't have to worry about screwing something up on my moms fancier machine. I also had a license and money (hello dump job) so I could buy my own fabric, talk about revolutionary. I could pick out my own fabric and supplies instead of relying on my Mom to drive me and pay for things. High school ended, thank goodness, and I managed to make it out alive.

At the beginning of college I focused primarily on school, diving, and finding a boyfriend, and left the sewing machines at home. I did buy supplies and create things I'd been dreaming about over vacations and breaks from school though. Lots of belts and drawstring bags. Once senior year rolled around and I had my own place to live, and had secured a boyfriend, I started sewing again. I made myself a Halloween costume with no pattern. I also made a lot of throw pillows and curtains for every window in our three room apartment because that's what I thought you were supposed to do when you moved in with your serious boyfriend; serious meaning you'd been dating for a year.

After graduating I had a whole summer that I was kind of lost during. I lived with my Grammy and worked at the local swimming pool. I had a lot of free time so I sewed Charlie a quilt; again because I thought that was what you were supposed to do when you really really loved someone. After the summer was over my sewing mo-jo continued into graduate school. I had classes all day for a few days a week and then had a few days totally off to myself. I could not possible study or read textbooks the entire day; sewing was a welcomed reward for writing a paper or reading a few chapters. It also filled my time between waiting for Charlie to graduate from college and move in, and when he was working on the weekends at his retail job. At this point in time I started sewing clothes from scratch instead of modifying clothes I already had. I still needed a lot of help from my mom and would save projects for visits to Maine where she would help me sew zippers or explain where I had gone wrong. This is when I started keeping this blog. I had been following a few sewing blogs, and felt like I wanted to share my projects too. At the end of graduate school my friends and I formed the very short lived "sewing club" where I tried to teach them to sew. One friend already knew how, and the other spend her time making us a delicious dinner. She has since started sewing a t-shirt quilt, so I feel like I maybe helped inspire her a little bit.

After six years of "higher education" I graduated (thanks Mum and Dad) and Charlie and I moved to the town I got a job in. We got a two bedroom apartment because Charlie was sick of hearing the sewing machine, and sick of the mess my crafting left everywhere. We were engaged and a lot of my free time went into planning a wedding and worrying about tiny details that only I noticed. I did find time to sew purses and the occasional skirt and top for myself. In the last four years I have gone through periods of being totally into sewing, and not so into it. Mostly due to what else is going on in my life, not so much a lack of interest but a need or desire to focus on something else at the time. I cannot even begin to add up the amount of time I have spent sewing in my lifetime. I was reading recently about the idea of "flow", when you're so immersed in an activity that the steps come easily to you, you lose track of time, you don't worry about screwing things up, and the task is just hard enough to keep you interested but not so hard that you can't master it. I'd say this happens a lot of the time when I am sewing now. I know it didn't used to happen, when I was still learning. Now it comes easily and I could sew for 2 hours and it feels like 30 minutes. This is highly annoying to Charlie, because 5 more minutes turns into an hour and I do not even realize it. And now we're caught up. I can sew button holes, follow patterns, and for the most part sew things without bursting into frustrated tears and running to my mom.

I think this (insanely long) post does a good job of telling my sewing story, but also explaining why I am who I am. Sewing has been a big part of my life and has helped shape me into who I am today. I'd say I stick with things longer than most people, think more outside the box, and am more creative than others in part thanks to my experiences with sewing.

Do you have anything that you think has helped shape you as a person?

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