Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On New Year's Eve and Expectations



There's so much pressure around New Year's Eve. Society seems to expect anyone of drinking age to get dressed up and lit up. Add to that the all-important New Year's kiss, and it's a single introvert's anxiety nightmare. I recently read an article in which the author suggested that how you spend your New Year's Eve is indicative of how you'll spend the coming year, so, you know, no pressure there either.

My New Year's Eve is most likely to be a low-key evening at home. There's a pretty good chance that I won't even stay up until midnight. And, on the face of it, it might be easy to think, "Well that's going to make for a pretty boring/depressing year," but I think that would miss the point. I'm planning to make a nice dinner and spend time doing things I enjoy (reading, knitting, maybe some Netflix). I'm not going to worry about what has been deemed socially acceptable for this one particular night. I'm going to have a cozy, content evening, and, really, I think I would be lucky to get 366 more of them. And if I end up going out? That's great, too. Either way, I intend to make plans that set me up for a leap year's worth of contentment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 5 Posts of 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the wins and losses of the past year. The past month or so has been tilted towards the loss end of the spectrum (though my holidays have thus far been happy, thankfully), so I thought it would be a fun exercise to determine the top 5 "blog wins" of the year. Here they are:

1. Bonanza of Bat Crafts: Yarn-Wrapped Wreath


This beauty was picked up by both Craftgawker and Brit & Co. racking up nearly 200 views!


2. Style Your Stitches: Vera Cardigan


Confession: I have yet to wear this sweater other than for this photo shoot. It hasn't been cold enough!




Or, "The Little Toaster Oven That Could."




And the beginning of 1000 Things to Be Thankful For.




Here's hoping my Christmas cacti are looking this good next year!

It seems you guys like reading about making things and giving thanks--there will be plenty more of both of those things in 2016, so please keep coming back to visit!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

12 Songs of Christmas: 'It's Christmas' - Coconut Records

This song has been running through my head all day, and thank goodness--"Hotline Bling" had been stuck in my head for days, and it was driving me crazy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Crazy-Easy Peppermint Bark Bites


Happy Holidays, friends! If you are a fan of peppermint bark and easy recipes, then this is for you. Print the festive recipe card below as a little token of my appreciation! For a larger version, click here.


12 Songs of Christmas: 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' - Bad Religion

What I love about Bad Religion's 'Christmas Songs' is that the only thing punk rock about the Christmas carols is the arrangement--lyrics remain untouched, and some songs include verses that most people wouldn't know by heart. A band that calls themselves 'Bad Religion' is bound to have a tendency to be critical of religion, but critical is not automatically the same thing as disrespectful.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

12 Songs of Christmas: 'Joy to the World' - Claymation Chrismtas Special

Growing up, my family watched a VHS recording of the Claymation Christmas Special featuring the California Raisins pretty much every year. 'Joy to the World' is my reigning favorite. For whatever reason, the owner of this video disabled embedding, so you'll just have to click the link!

Monday, December 14, 2015

12 Songs of Christmas: 'Oi to the World' - The Vandals

A perennial favorite I've had the pleasure of hearing performed live. Perhaps especially poignant this year...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Real Talk and 1000 Things to Be Thankful For: 81-100!

This will no doubt be a strange introduction to a post about thankfulness, but I am going through a quite a rough patch. In the span of a week, I lost both my boyfriend and my transportation. (To clarify, my boyfriend just isn't my boyfriend anymore. My car is definitely in the shop and likely a goner.) I muddled through the work week okay, and I was looking forward to checking out a Unitarian church today. More accurately, I had built up going to this church as The First Step Towards Being OK. I always feel cut off at the knees when I don't have a car, but now being denied the opportunity to take The First Step is a pretty big blow. I also have a lot of memories tied up in my car, and I am having a hard time dealing with the idea of saying goodbye. (I think this is something that will either immediately resonate with people, or it won't make any sense at all.)

When things are hard, I have a tendency to internalize them and give the outward appearance that I am carrying on just fine. I don't want to burden anyone (friends, family, the tow truck driver, my mechanic, pretty literally anyone), so I put on a brave face. On the inside, however, I really want someone to notice how sad/anxious/hurt I am and swoop in and make things better. Of course, I usually have no idea what would make things better, but I suppose I think that's the job of whoever swoops in to figure out. The longer I struggle, the more I want someone to notice, and the longer no one notices, the more alone I feel. None of this is a conscious process, by the way; it's just a pattern I stumbled upon while incessantly watching Dressing Your Truth videos.

This led to the thought, "Instead of waiting for myself to go numb waiting for a white knight who doesn't exist, what if I just fixed my own damn self?" Of course, I don't really know how to do that, but actively figuring it out is bound to be better than passively waiting. Continuing to remind myself that not everything is horrible seems like a good place to start. Just a list today, because writing this was tough enough.


1000 Things to Be Thankful For: 81-100
  1. Knowing that I can fix myself just as well as anyone else can. (Still working on how...)
  2. The AAA membership my parents renew for me every year. 
  3. The kindness of strangers and AAA drivers. I have a long and storied history with AAA, and I have yet to be meet a driver who wasn't lovely.
  4. A mechanic I trust.
  5. Friends I can ask for favors.
  6. Enough self-compassion to stop me from beating myself up over having to ask for a favor.
  7. Unseasonable weather, so walking to run an errand or two is relatively pleasant.
  8. The DYT Type 2 backpack I bought on a whim awhile back--pretty and so much more comfortable than schlepping groceries over my shoulder.
  9. Not living so far away that my parents can't help me out in a pinch.
  10. A new-to-me car plan that's been in the works for months.
  11. The ability to coherently call AAA instead of just sobbing in Wegman's. (Putting on a brave is sometimes useful...)
  12. Car breakdowns that occur in a safe place with a comfortable waiting area (assuming a car breakdown is inevitable).
  13. Finally-functional oven.
  14. When that one class is more of a regular mess than a freakin' hot mess.
  15. An afternoon in the kitchen.
  16. When the weather matches your mood.
  17. A back-up plan for when that thing that looked soooo easy on Pinterest turns out to be rather challenging.
  18. Nightly meditation with my mala beads.
  19. Picking out a new pair of earrings.
  20. Anything written by Thich Nhat Hanh. Insta-comfort.

Want to see more thankfulness?
Click here for 62-80.
Click here for 41-61.
Click here for 21-40.
Click here for 1-20.
Click here for the original 1000 Things.

12 Songs of Christmas: 'Alone on Christmas Day' - Phoenix feat. Bill Murray

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ask Not

Whenever things just aren't going my way, Bender's voice puts into my head, and I feel a little better. I'll get back to my things to be thankful for tomorrow, especially since, with my car now in the shop after some QT with AAA, I don't have a whole lot else to do!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

1000 Things to Be Thankful For: 62-80

The past week brought about some major life changes that made me think I needed to take a step back from this project; I just didn't feel like there was anything to be thankful for. But even when it seems like your life is playing out like a punk rock song, there are still things worth celebrating, like...
  1. Songs that perfectly capture the moment, good or bad. (But especially bad--solidarity!)
  2. Saying that you'll stay friends and meaning it.
  3. Mulling over a problem while driving.
  4. Friends who check in on you just because.

  1. Realizing an impulse buy is just right for a task at hand.
  2. The state of flow that comes from preparing a home-cooked meal.
  3. Actually getting a sub at school when I need one.
  4. Having my grades done well before they're due.

  1. When your house plants are in particularly spectacular bloom.
  2. Those moments when social media is really uplifting and positive.
  3. When a package is delivered early.
  4. Moments at work when there isn't anything I must be doing, and I can catch my breath.
  5. The seemingly elusive moments when my students are actually engaged with what I'm saying.
  6. Finding an "ugly Christmas sweater" with a bat on it.

  1. Having an entire afternoon free to make something. (Check out the tutorial.)
  2. Stumbling upon a special event at a (yarn) store.
  3. A really good nap.
  4. Taking off your shoes at the end of the day.
  5. Sweatshirt dresses and blanket cardigans, because I want to feel like I'm in pajamas but look nice.
Want to see more thankfulness?
Click here for 41-61.
Click here for 21-40.
Click here for 1-20.
Click here for the original 1000 Things.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Snow Drift Wreath


It remains to be seen if it will be white Christmas or not, but I'm decorating for one regardless. This wreath was a small investment in both time (about an hour) and money (about $16). Carve out some time to make one, too!

Materials:

  • White foam wreath form
  • Small bottlebrush trees
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • White "furry" yarn, like Bernat Pipsqueak
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors
  • Plaid wired ribbon


Directions:

  1. Arrange and then glue trees to the wreath form. Allow glue to dry.
  2. Glue end of yarn to back of wreath form, then start wrapping. Because you're using a white wreath form and furry yarn, you don't have to be too worried about covering every bit of the wreath.
  3. When you get to the trees, wrap the yarn repeatedly over the base of trees so they look like they're sticking out of a snow drift.
  4. When you have wrapped the whole wreath form, cut a long tail, and then use a tapestry needle to thread it under an inch or so of wraps. Cut yarn.
  5. Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to wrap around the wreath form and overlap about about half an inch.
  6. Before gluing the ribbon in place, cut a long piece of ribbon for the bow.
  7. Place the long piece of ribbon sideways across the top front of the wreath. 
  8. Wrap the shorter piece of ribbon around the longer piece and the wreath form; glue ends together at back. Allow glue to dry.
  9. Tie the long piece of ribbon in a bow, adjust the loops, and trim the ends to your liking.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

1000 Things To Be Thankful For: 41-61


It was not a particularly good day today, and, for awhile there, I was much more focused on what's going wrong in my life (and in the world) than what's going right. Given my sour frame of mind, I figured today would be a good day to add to my 1000 things.
  1. Coming home to the smell of soup in the Crock-Pot
  2. Work friends who randomly bring in sweet treats
  3. Students who put their phones away without being asked
  4. Failing that, students who only have to be asked to put their phone away once
  5. Being able to go out to eat essentially whenever I want

  1. Kitchen inspiration for re-imagining leftovers
  2. Reliable transportation
  3. A warm, water-resistant coat
  4. Comfortable work shoes
  5. An unexpected compliment
  6. The ability to accept a compliment without feeling the need to put myself down in response
  7. Days when I get to leave work on time
  8. Health conditions that may be chronic but not scary

  1. Seasonal beers
  2. Burning a scented candle in the evening just because
  3. Sitting down at a table to share a good meal and good conversation
  4. Good conversation, period
  5. The feeling that everything is going to be ok when that special someone grabs your hand
  6. A really, really good chocolate truffle
  7. Watching DL repeatedly throw hair ties in the air and catch them in her mouth
  8. The fact that DL can walk, let alone run around chasing hair ties
Want to see more thankfulness?
Click here for 21-40.
Click here for 1-20.
Click here for the original 1000 Things.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

1000 Things To Be Thankful For: 21-40

  1. This silly kitty
  2. When you know someone doesn't have time to spend with you, and he makes time anyway
  3. An afternoon of flipping through a new cookbook
  4. When the heat kicks on right before you get out of bed, making your bedroom nice and toasty
  5. Special pillows that eliminate back pain
  6. Piles of clean laundry
  7. Leftovers I actually want to eat
  8. A shopping basket full of fresh veggies
  9. A steaming cup of cocoa after running errands in the drizzle
  10. The peaceful stillness of a cloudy, rainy day
  11. The right outerwear options for the ever-changing fall weather
  12. A cozy chenille blanket to wrap up in on the couch
  13. A hodgepodge coffee mugs collected over the years
  14. That magical (and fleeting) moment when all of the dishes are clean
  15. Stumbling upon a quote that perfectly captures your day/mood/life philosophy
  16. An arsenal of supplies for spontaneous crafting
  17. A stocked pantry
  18. The satisfaction of watching a lace or cable pattern emerge from your knitting needles
  19. The luxury of spending a morning or afternoon puttering around a bookstore or craft store
  20. A good cry--either the kind that results from having your faith in humanity restored or the kind that flushing out an excess of stress hormones
Want to see more thankfulness?
Click here for 1-20.
Click here for the original 1000 Things.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Part II



Today, some scenes from my Thanksgiving with my parents and the beginning of a new project: 1000 Things to Be Thankful For. Check out the original project here.

The spread.
The star of any Thanksgiving table: cranberry jelly in pristine can-shape.
The dessert table.

1000 Things to Be Thankful For (#1-20)
  1. Supportive family members
  2. A quick text from a far-away loved one
  3. Enough space for a dinner table big enough for 6
  4. A futon so I can comfortably host guests in a 1-BR apartment
  5. The luxury of time enough to improve my cooking/baking skills
  6. Affluence enough to feed more people than just myself
  7. Affluence enough to spring for the special urinary health cat food
  8. Inside jokes
  9. Package delivery when I'm actually at home
  10. Thrift store treasures
  11. Cozy hoodies
  12. Flowers bought already arranged in a Mason jar
  13. The Little Toaster Oven That Could
  14. Matching pajamas
  15. Soft slipper socks
  16. A leisurely chat over a meal
  17. A window that faces a strip of woods in the middle of suburbia
  18. A glimpse of suburban wildlife
  19. Pumpkin spice latte mix
  20. Good news from the doctor's office


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Part I


Last year was my first year cooking (most of) Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I know a lot of people find The Big Meal stressful, but I really enjoyed carefully selecting the recipes, collecting decorations, and planning out what should be cooked/baked when. This year, my mom and I are roughly splitting the cooking/baking work, and we'll be eating at my place again. For the curious (or those still figuring out their menus!), here's what we'll be having, with as many links to recipes as I could track down.

What is Thanksgiving without a little kitsch?

Turkey Breast with Mushroom Marsala Dressing (courtesy of my mom)
Brussels Sprouts, exact preparation TBD (courtesy of my mom)
Green Beans Marinated in Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing
Cranberry Jelly a la Can
---
Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (recipe in November issue of Better Homes & Gardens)
Spiced Parsnip Cake 
A Dessert TBD (courtesy of my mom)

The beginnings of a table setting.
A few notes about the menu:

  • Growing up, my dad's aunt always made Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, and he always ate exactly one. This tradition prompted him to call her Aunt B.S. until he learned that b.s. stands for something other than Brussels sprouts. 
  • Three desserts is also a Thanksgiving tradition in my family. If you're really going for it, you finish your meal with a small piece of all three. 
  • We like to add a kitsch factor to our meal by serving cranberry jelly from the can still in the shape of the can, and my parents, my brother, and I all have a special serving platter just for the jelly.
  • Pimiento cheese and Mexican chocolate may not seem very traditional, but they are two of my true food loves. If I find a way to work them into a meal, it's happening.

The Real MVP
As for the subtitle on my Thanksgiving Menu graphic, the universe has decided to up the difficulty level on this year's dinner by putting my oven out of commission. I put in a work order a week ago, and it seemed to be working on a test run, but yesterday I found out that there's a part that needs to be replaced. It currently isn't the safest thing ever to use the oven, but the stove top is fine. I have a gas range, and I don't play around with gas, so the oven is right out. I was having a minor freak-out until I realized that all of the baking dishes that I need fit in my toaster oven. I use my toaster oven All The Time, so, once again, it is stepping up to the proverbial plate as the real (kitchen) MVP.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Soft and Subtle Mobius Cowl


Since I am currently enchanted with all things 'Dressing Your Truth,' when I spotted this yarn with its gently blended, muted colors, I knew I had to have it. The Mobius structure gives it a gently flowing appearance, and it feels soft and comfy against the skin. It's the sort of accessory that you put on in the morning because it's chilly outside, but you end up wearing it all day because it's just so cozy.

Materials:

Gauge: 19 stitches and 26 rows = 4"


Directions:
  • Cast on 117 stitches.
  • Beginning with a RS row, work 5 rows in stockinette stitch.
  • Beginning with a WS row, work 4 rows in garter stitch (2 garter ridges).
  • Switch back to stockinette stitch, and work until piece measure 8" from edge of second garter ridge, ending with a RS row.
  • Work 4 rows in garter stitch (2 garter ridges).
  • Work 4 rows in stockinette.
  • Cast off, leaving a low tail for sewing.
  • If you want to block your cowl, this is the time. Don't wait until after you've sewn the cowl together; the Moebius curve will make blocking extremely difficult.
  • Align the two edges of the work so that one edge has the right side showing and the other has the wrong side showing. This is what will create the Moebius curve.
  • Use your tapestry needle to sew the edges together with mattress stitch. Weave in other end.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Gentle Reminder

Who am I?

Who am I? by happilyintended on Polyvore

I'm about a week into my 30 Day 'Dressing Your Truth' challenge, and I'm having some mixed emotions. About half the time I look in the mirror, I think, 'Wow! I look so pretty!', and the other half of the time I think, 'I look so girly...'

Growing up, 'girly' wasn't a good thing. (This wasn't instilled in me in my home, btw, but it was the attitude of the other kids at school.) There was only girly in the sense of, 'You throw like a girl.' Expressing a soft and feminine style was for the weak and superficial. Other girls would judge you, and boys thought you were high-maintenance. I started playing soccer in large part because the cool girls seemed to be doing it, and I was tired of being ridiculed for being slow and unathletic. The only time it was acceptable to look pretty would be at a special occasion, like homecoming or prom.

Day 7: Got a lot of compliments! A little positive feedback never hurt anybody.

Reframing what it means to dress in a way that is soft and subtle has been a surprising difficulty of the process so far. It's easy to think, 'Oh, it's just clothes,' but matching your outside to your inside turns out to be a challenging thing to do. For many years, I used clothes as a force armor to protect my soft, gooey heart-center, and it can make feel very vulnerable without it. Overall I'm enjoying how I look. I feel really pretty and really comfortable (MAJOR for Type 2s), but I was not expecting dressing soft to require so much courage.

Have you ever changed your look and felt happy with it and insecure about it at the same time? Were you able to power through and come to a place of complete acceptance? Is complete, 24-7-365 acceptance of your appearance even possible?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Live (and Dress) Your Truth

Image via Dressing Your Truth Store

A couple years ago, I found Carol Tuttle's website while tooling around on the internet for resources on chakra balance. I started reading one of her books and learned about the 4 personality types. Intrigued, I decided to type myself. As I read, I thought, 'Oh man, there's going to be a quiet, introverted mouse-person type, and that will be me.' Sure enough, the soft and subtle Type 2 fit me to a T. I felt like I had confirmed that I am destined to fade into the background. I was stuck with the exact traits that people throughout my life have tried to get me to reject: quiet, introverted, detail-oriented, sensitive and slow. I would never naturally become a bright, bubbly person, nor would I morph into a bold go-getter.

And then something interesting happened. I calmed down and read about Type 2's a little more objectively. It sounded like... these were people with things to offer the world? Not just doormats? And it sounded like they didn't need to force themselves to be louder or more gregarious to have value, but they have worth just as they are. Most surprisingly of all, some of the qualities that I like most about myself were actually classic Type 2.

Anne Tuttle Brown, Type 2 Beauty Expert. Image via New Money Mama.

I saw that there was a 'spin-off', if you will, of energy profiling called 'Dressing Your Truth.' I dabbled in it as much as one could without buying the program, and I bought some 'soft and subtle' clothes and accessories, but it was never something that I was serious about. When I moved to Northern Virginia, it really went out the window. The DC metro area is fairly conservative and traditional--think lots of J. Crew. (Not that there's anything wrong with J. Crew!) I tried to fit myself into more of a classic-but-modern, neo-preppy, young professional look with more structure and bolder colors. I really wanted to fit in, and I really wanted to be taken seriously, so I slowed the flow of my Type 2 outfits to a grinding halt.

Then, about a week ago, came the email. 'Dressing Your Truth' was offering a 14-day free trial period. I figured, 'Why not?', and I signed up. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. What I had seen before didn't feel terribly modern to me, but what I was watching was updated and really, really lovely. I found myself wishing that just about every piece shown in the Type 2 course was in my closet. I loved the idea of quietly celebrating my personality with my wardrobe choices every day. And, honestly, I really needed the reminder that I am good enough exactly as I am.

The lighting in my closet is terrible, but you can get an idea of what's in my first real attempt at a Type 2 wardrobe.

To wrap up a post that is already a bit too long, suffice to say that I'm all in: I'm taking the 30 Day Challenge and 'dressing my truth' for 30 days. I'm curious to see what emotions will pop up throughout the process and how I'll feel in a month's time. I intend to post about it periodically throughout the challenge, but, at the very least, I'll wrap up the 30 days with a before-and-after.

Have you done 'Dressing Your Truth' or similar programs? How did it go for you? Any fellow Type 2's out there?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On Cooking For One


Cooking for one is a pain. It seems like you're either trying to measure out 1/6 of 1/4 of a cup of something, or you have so many servings of leftovers that having to eat that dish one more time feels like torture. In nearly a decade of cooking for mostly one and sometimes two, I've learned a few tricks:


  • Use a recipe template instead of a recipe. If you know some seasonings that nicely complement a favorite veggie or proportions of ingredients to whip up a marinade, you can cook a single serving size.
  • Cook recipes you LOVE, but only seasonally, so you still have a bit of the novelty factor on serving six.
  • I'd say, "freeze extra servings," but I don't think anything ever tastes as good defrosted from the freezer as it did when it was fresh. (But maybe I'm just bad at freezing stuff.)
  • Give your taste buds a break. You might be happier about eating the same dinner two or three nights in a row than eating the same for dinner then lunch then dinner then lunch.
  • Learn to transform your leftovers into something else. This topic is very popular this time of year, as home cooks try to figure out what to do with All. That. Turkey.


How can you transform one meal into the next?


  • Plan ahead. Do you want to try a new recipe for mushrooms, but you also love them tossed in with pasta sauce? Great! Make this week 'The Week of the Mushroom,' but keep your taste buds interested by varying the mushrooms' presentation.
  • Figure out if you can go ahead and cook the whole package, or if you need to reserve some uncooked in the fridge. Think outside the (recipe) box--if the mushrooms will be cooked in both recipes, could you cook them separately in a small skillet and toss them in at the end to let the flavors marry? Uncooked foods are more likely to languish in my fridge than cooked foods, possibly because feeling like I'm one step closer to a prepared dish can override end-of-the-work-day lethargy.
  • Commit to actually using up your foods. You did all that planning and prep work, so make it happen! I tend to have increased cooking inertia as the week rolls on, so, if I have set the stage for easy weeknight cooking by meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping veggies in advance, etc., I tend to keep cooking through the week. If I haven't down any of the ground work, I tend to turn to peanut butter and jelly or prepared foods.

Case in point:
This weekend I tried a new recipe: Curry Chicken Apples. As I am wont to do, I considered the recipe more of a suggestion than a directive, and I cooked the chicken on the stove instead of stuffing raw chicken into the apples. (I have a thing about touching raw meat, and that thing is that I avoid touching raw meat at all costs. Part of why I am mostly-vegetarian.) While I was cooking the chicken, I thought, 'Y'know what I haven't had in awhile that could use raw chicken? Sloppy Joe's. Hm... I'm going to have a lot of leftover curry chicken... I bet this would make a tasty take on a Sloppy Joe if I added tomato paste!' Then I started wondering which names are most common for males in India.

I'm not following my own guidelines, because I didn't plan ahead, but it's good to always be open to a lightning bolt of inspiration. If you keep a pantry stocked with cooking essentials, inspiration might not even require a trip to the store.

What are your pantry staples? How do you get excited about leftovers?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Songs Just Perfect for Today





The second one really brings back some memories from high school, mostly of questionable fashion choices.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Alphabetical by Author: Nickolas Butler

Image via Amazon

Admittedly, it's been awhile since I actually read 'Shotgun Lovesongs' by Nickolas Butler, so this review won't be terribly detailed. In short, I loved this book. It hit just the right note of sentimental and uplifting and, even though not many of us have best friends who are also rock stars, the characters are relatable. And they aren't just relatable; you'll actually feel for them and want to see them succeed. Rather than stick to just a single narrator, the narrator shifts between the main characters from chapter to chapter, so you get everyone's perspective. There is no bad guy, and there is no good guy. In other words, they're just like you and your friends--trying to do things the right way, but sometimes stumbling. And because of that, you're going to feel all the feels.

Definitely an author I will circle back to when I'm done with this whole alphabet project.

Next up: 'Telegraph Avenue' by Michael Chabon

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Style Your Stitches: Vera Cardigan

Have you ever made something to wear and then realized you have no idea how exactly you're going to wear it? I know I have. I'm starting this occasional 'Style Your Stitches' series to:

A. show off my finished projects a bit.
                        and
B. challenge myself to figure out how I'll wear them.

First up is the Vera cardigan from 'Perfectly Feminine Knits.'

 With a t-shirt and jeans, it's just right for casual weekend outings at which you could get away with a sweatshirt, but might rather kick it up a notch.

With a printed blouse and dress pants, it read almost like a blazer, but much cozier.

How do you style your knits? Ever went shopping to buy new clothes to wear with something you made? Or is your closet a museum of unworn sweaters? Anyone else notice that broken rib stitch is EVERYWHERE this fall?

Monday, November 2, 2015

'Put A Word On It' Thanksgiving Wreath


I so enjoyed my Halloween bat wreath that I decided to make another one for November/Thanksgiving. I like a rustic, harvest vibe for Thanksgiving, so I went with a grapevine wreath instead of using a styrofoam wreath form. Purple might not be a traditional Thanksgiving color, but I chose the purple flowers because I wanted something that would pop against my orange door. Materials and directions below:

Everything you need except a Sharpie

Materials:

  • Grapevine wreath form (Joann)
  • Silk flowers with a least three blooms (Michaels)
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Wired ribbon (Michaels)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Sharpie


Directions:

  1. Using the wire cutters, separate silk flowers and remove leaves as shown below.



  2. Thread the stems through the grapevine wreath in the center bottom, and then trim ends.



  3. Wrap the ribbon around either side of the hanging loop at the top of the wreath, and secure with hot glue. I folded under the raw edges to minimize fraying. The back of your wreath should look like this:



  4. Cut a long section of ribbon, and trim one end into an inverted 'V.' Starting with the last letter, write the word, 'thankful' in Sharpie. To make the letters stand out a little more, I went back and thickened the portions of each letter written with a down-stroke.
  5. Thread the ribbon around a center piece of grapevine, and then tie in a knot.
  6. Trim the end of the ribbon without writing into an inverted 'V.' 
  7. Because the ribbon is wired, you can adjust the two tails so that your writing is clearly visible and the two tails are reasonably symmetrical.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Super-Easy Halloween Costume: Brain Slug



For Halloween this year, I decided to run a 5K. Ok, so maybe the word "run" is not especially accurate, but I completed a 5K. My lovely boyfriend went with me, and he actually ran it, but decided to stop short of the finish line and wait for me to catch up.


I'd never done a race of any kind before, but I knew that people sometimes go all out with costumes for the themed ones. I wanted to participate in the fun, but I didn't want anything fiddly getting on my nerves or causing me to have to stop. I wasn't intent on running the whole thing, but I was hell-bent on not having to stop at all. So I had the idea of wearing a brain slug a la 'Futurama'--when you're sucking wind, you actually just look in character for someone with a brain-sucking slug.


To make my brain slug, I used the free pattern from Louie's Loops. If you can crochet a hat, you can crochet a brain slug. It's the easiest amigurumi project I've ever done!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

French Toast with Sauteed Bananas


It's the weekend! To celebrate, why not think outside the cereal bowl and whip up some French toast? Here's a recipe that looks fancy, tastes delicious, and is a cinch to whip up. Print the recipe card below, and get cookin'!


Do you like this recipe? Please Pin it using the image below:



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fridge Clean-Out Ramen Bowl


When the temperature starts to dip, I love making simple, filling soups. This recipe was developed out of a craving for Cup-of-Noodles (hold the artificial stuff) and a need to use up some carrots and cilantro I had sitting in the fridge. When inspiration hits, I typically season everything by taste, so please consider the measurements provided below as suggestions.


Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 packages of Ramen, throw out the seasoning packet
  • Tablespoon(ish) soy sauce
  • Teaspoon(ish) fish sauce
  • 6 small carrots
  • 1 small container mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 of a bunch of cilantro


Directions:

  1. While waiting for the chicken broth to boil, peel and chop carrots into 1/4"-1/2" coins.
  2. Season the broth to taste with the soy sauce and fish sauce.
  3. Go ahead and add the carrots to the broth even if it hasn't boiled yet. They'll take longer to cook than anything else.
  4. Once broth is boiling, add Ramen and mushrooms. Stir occasionally, and let boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Give the cilantro a rough chop while you wait.
  6. Crack the eggs into the soup. Stir a few times to break up the eggs into bite-size pieces.
  7. Cook for about another minute, adding the cilantro in the last few seconds, giving it a chance to wilt slightly before serving.


Serves 6. Reheats nicely.

Monday, October 12, 2015

School Spirit Scarf


And now a brief intermission from bat-related posts to share something I whipped up for school spirit Fridays. At my high school, teachers can wear jeans on Friday if they are in school colors. I jump at almost any opportunity to wear jeans, so I'm totally on board with this, but I don't like wearing the same thing week after week. Add in the fact that I need layers to adjust to the temperature swings of my classroom over the course of the school day, and you can see why I decided that a scarf in school colors was in order.

My scarf is knit in three sections: solid black, solid "gold," and black-and-gold stripes. Customize your scarf by switching up the colors and/or changing the relative length of the three sections.

Materials:

  • Size 10 needles
  • 1 ball of Lion Brand Heartland in Black Canyon (Color A)
  • 1 ball of Lion Brand Heartland in Grand Canyon (Color B)
  • Tapestry needle


Gauge:

  • 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4"


Broken Rib Stitch (multiple of 2 + 1):

  • RS: Knit across all stitches.
  • WS: P1, *k1, p1, repeat from * to end of row.



Directions:

Cast on 45 stitches.

Section 1:

  • Working in broken rib stitch (see above), work 2 rows in A and then work 2 rows in B, repeating until scarf measures about 20" and ending on a WS row. Do not break the yarn when you transition from one color to the next; instead, carry the yarn up the side.


Section 2:

  • Switch colors one last time, and then continue in broken rib stitch with a single color for about 20", ending with a WS row.


Section 3:

  • Switch colors, and then continue in broken rib stitch for about 20", ending on a WS row.


Bind off all stitches in pattern. Sew the two ends together.


Finished Measurements:

  • I chose to leave my scarf unblocked, and mine measures approximately 8" wide and 60" long. You could block yours to make it a bit wider, or you just cast on more stitches.