Thursday, June 30, 2016

1000 Things to Be Thankful For: 161-259


This is my 99th post. I had been planning for my 99th post to be about the day trip I was planning to take with my mom on Tuesday, and then my 100th post would have been this list plus one more thing that I am grateful for... but then some things came up. Stuff of the costly medical persuasion, but also the stuff that results in enough gratitude to merit its own stand-alone post. So I've had to adjust my plans a bit. I may work out a 100th post tomorrow, I may not. I may do a little more processing of the week's events over the holiday weekend and come back to it Tuesday.
  1. Adaptable relationships
  2. Plenty of rest
  3. Courage to go out of my comfort zone
  4. Interspecies friendships
  5. Bats
  6. Actually laying eyes on a binturong
  7. Stumbling upon a delicious restaurant
  8. A really good egg sandwich
  9. Osprey sightings
  10. Spotting a great blue heron in flight
  11. Animal web cams
  12. A sunny window in an air-conditioned cafe
  13. Working A/C in my car!
  14. Day trips
  15. Homemade pickles
  16. Farmers' markets in full swing
  17. Jeans every day!
  18. Plenty of kitty snuggles
  19. HGTV on Netflix
  20. Baby animals
  21. Fireflies
  22. Fireworks
  23. Catching up with friends
  24. Road trips
  25. Flip flops
  26. Painted toenails
  27. The feeling of sand under my feet
  28. Popsicles
  29. Cook-outs
  30. Fresh fruit cobblers
  31. Picnic food
  32. Long days (as in extra hours of sunlight)
  33. Long walks
  34. Days bookended with birdsong
  35. Moving at a slower pace
  36. Visiting with family
  37. Discovering a new yarn store
  38. Finally finishing projects that languished all school year
  39. Sundresses
  40. Spending an afternoon in a bookstore
  41. Huge glasses of iced tea
  42. Starting the day with yoga
  43. Not teaching summer school!
  44. Clean sheets
  45. No assessment data to collect
  46. A cold drink at the hot and humid zoo
  47. Fans that spray a fine mist of water
  48. Fresh corn
  49. Fresh tomatoes
  50. Making a big mess in the kitchen on a weeknight...
  51. And having all of the next morning to clean it up
  52. Second breakfast
  53. Spontaneous IKEA trips
  54. Leisurely drinking cinnamon coffee...
  55. And not having to plan out subsequent bathroom trips
  56. Logging fun stuff in my bullet journal
  57. The arrival of fall knitting and crochet patterns
  58. Days without an agenda
  59. Working on things for school without a deadline
  60. Discovering new blogs
  61. Discovering new books
  62. Daydreaming
  63. Visiting a farm
  64. Fresh flowers
  65. The perpetual "youth" of faux florals
  66. Braids
  67. Afternoon tea
  68. Meetings that feel more like work-family reunions than meetings
  69. Visiting vineyards
  70. Celebrating milestones
  71. Treasure-hunting at consignment shops
  72. Blonde highlights
  73. Cozying up in my bed during a thunderstorm
  74. Baking from scratch
  75. Drinking a lavender lemonade
  76. Time to stare off into space and daydream
  77. The satisfaction of organizing a space
  78. Watching gulls squabble over prime sitting spots
  79. When the school stuff hits the Target Dollar Spot
  80. The sound of cicadas
  81. Sleeping just the right amount
  82. Running into a box turtle on a hike
  83. Doughnut peaches
  84. The occasional actual doughnut
  85. The scent of honeysuckle in the air
  86. Driving around on a day when the sky is full of giant cotton-candy clouds
  87. Live music, preferably outside
  88. Lobster rolls
  89. Running into friends
  90. Having a fancy lunch out, just because
  91. Going somewhere new
  92. Planning parties (even if I don't end up throwing them)
  93. Ending the day pleasantly sleepy instead of exhausted
  94. Sitting on a porch, drink in hand
  95. Eating on patios
  96. Successfully avoiding sunburn
  97. Mosquito-free rivers, thanks to #5
  98. Eating oysters
  99. Feeling like the world is my oyster

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Finisher: Kayleigh Tank


I finished the first of what I hope will be many works-in-progress this summer. I actually only had to sew the seams and weave in the ends, which, in and of itself, can be a battle, and, on top of that, I had run out of yarn. And the yarn I used was discontinued. I really only took action on it when I did because I realized I had some yarn of a similar color on hand, and it wouldn't ruin my plans if I used a little bit of it for seaming.


I had this run of sweaters coming out too small, and I was worried that this one would be no different, but I think it's really a very good fit. While the yarn I used is cotton, it is a pretty bulky, textured cotton, so this is really a top for a day that's going to be full of air-conditioning. Maybe a day spent at an art museum. I'm "modeling" it with skinny jeans, but I think it would also be cute with cut-offs. You'll want to wear a tank top underneath, because the eyelets in the leaves are not exactly small. If you spied by goat-and-monogram necklace, I got it from Kim's Jewelry on Etsy.

Particularly since the yarn I used is now discontinued, I'm not going to any details here. However, if you want to know the pattern I used, etc., you can check out my project on Ravelry.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The $50 Kitchen Facelift


Immersing myself in home decor shows and magazines has, oddly enough (*sarcasm*), resulted in wanting to fix up my apartment. However, since this is the summer of less, I'm going for an approach that is both light on labor and light on cost. To borrow some verbiage from "Fixer Upper," I set a kitchen budget of $50 all-in.


My version of "demo day" involved organizing all of the cabinets and drawers and doing a thorough deep-cleaning. Throwing in some new accessories won't do much to brighten things up if I can't find anything and there are still spills from meal-preps past dotting the stove top. (Yeah, I could stand to step up my housekeeping game.)


Once all of the cleaning was done, I brought in my new accessories: dishtowels, a spoon rest, artwork, a cheeky coffee scoop. Aaaaand... that's it! Less than a day of effort to do all the organizing, cleaning, shopping, and staging, and my kitchen feels clean, bright, and pretty. The colors in my kitchen are brighter than anywhere else in my apartment, but bringing in some floral print and some detailed, feminine artwork helps soften the overall look and make it feel a little more connected to the other rooms.


Not the most luxurious or dramatic kitchen makeover ever, but under budget, and I'm quite pleased with the end result.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Crafternoon: State Silhouettes



The only two states in which I have lived are probably also the two states most full of themselves: Virginia and Texas. When I was younger, I was horrified by the idea that someone might recognize me as a Southerner. I was positive that any hint of accent when meeting someone new would conjure images of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, and I Did. Not. Want. That. However, the older I get, the less I care what people think, and the more I embrace the geographical area known as The South.



The project is inspired by some prints I saw in an old issue of "Country Living." It's perfect for an afternoon, because you'll have it completed in less time than it took you to go buy the materials. Make one for yourself, or make one for someone who recently moved or is especially proud of their state and/or hometown.


Materials:

  • Caffeinated beverage
  • Word processing software of your choice
  • Cardstock
  • Printer
  • Scrapbook paper (2 contrasting designs/colors)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue of some kind
  • 8.5" x 11" frame


Directions:

  1. I like to start all of my projects by making either coffee or tea. For this project, I went with Celestial Seasonings Antioxidant Max Green Tea with two turbinado sugar cubes. Caffeine is an essential part of my creative process.
  2. Do a Google search for an outline of your state.
  3. Select a relatively simple version of your state, and then copy the image into a word processing program. If your state is taller than it is wide, stick with portrait layout. Since Virginia is on the long-and-skinny side, I used landscape.
  4. Resize the map so that it will fill most of the paper; print onto cardstock. If you don't have cardstock, it's not the end of the world, but a heavier paper will make tracing easier.
  5. Cut out the state shape, and then trace the template onto a piece of scrapbook paper. Erase any stray marks, then cut out the state.
  6. If you're using a new frame, use the paper insert as a guide for cutting down another piece of contrasting scrapbook to the dimensions of the frame.
  7. Glue the state onto the center of the paper you just trimmed.
  8. Allow the glue to dry before slipping it into the frame.
  9. If you want to get really fancy, you could place a sticker or draw a heart around the place you live.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Favorite Things: Fixer Upper

Image via TVGuide.com
I'm late to the party on this one, I know, but how great is "Fixer Upper"? Chip and Joanna Gaines are the definition of relationship goals, and the homes they fix up are gorgeous. "Fixer Upper" has all the elements of a hit home show: choosing between properties, demo day, and a big, dramatic reveal--no wonder it is so insanely popular! I also love how everyone on the show is so nice and understanding. I'm about halfway through Season 1, and I have yet to see a client blow up over an unexpected cost or a crew member buckle under the pressure and act poorly. Not everything goes smoothly, but all of the adults involved seem to be committed to behaving like actual adults, and they keep the mood as lighthearted as possible.

I don't think there's any way to watch this show and not get an itch to fix up your own space. (Or, y'know, buy a dilapidated home in Waco and let the Gaines family handle it.) However, most of us watching at home can't just grab a sledgehammer and start swinging. Most of us probably can't gut our existing decor and run out to buy all the stuff necessary to stage our homes like Joanna either. So what to do with the desire to fix things up?


  1. Clean. Have you noticed how all of the Magnolia makeovers feature a lot of white, natural light, and open space? You really can't have that feeling with clutter and dust everywhere. Get crazy and wash your windows, too, for maximum brightness.
  2. Declutter with baskets. Baskets of all stripes can be found anywhere, and they pop up a lot on "Fixer Upper." Clear a surface or two by corralling the stuff that doesn't really have a home in baskets, and increase the feeling or airiness you got started by cleaning. 
  3. Put a letter on it. Large cardboard, wood, and metal letters abound at craft stores. Get yourself one, decorate it if you wish, and then either hang it on the wall, or just perch it on a shelf. Instant "Fixer Upper" style, but it's about as personal as a copy-cat project gets.
  4. Practice your penmanship, and then label everything. Have you noticed the abundance of chalkboards and chalkboard labels? Joanna (or someone on her staff) has really pretty casual-but-fancy script that adds a charming touch to kitchens and gardens.
  5. Add some flowers. Real is always better than fake, but nice silk flowers will get the job done, too. Flowers and plants up the style quotient of your home kind of like jewelry and accessories improve your outfit. They have no purpose other than looking nice, so incorporating them into your decor sends a signal that you really care about having a beautiful and inviting home.  


If that's not enough, and you need both your wardrobe and your home look like Joanna styled it, check out this article from "Country Living." And if you're really looking to go all in on Gaines's style, you can check her makeup essentials on her blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Finisher

Frequently Asked Knitting Question: Isn't it too hot to knit in the summer?
Answer: Not if you have air conditioning.

I tend to do a lot of knitting and crocheting in the summer. As always I have several projects on hooks and needles in various stages of completion. A Lofty Goal would be to use up my stashed craft supplies; a more Reasonable Goal might be to simply finish those projects that I've started. Since it is the Summer of Less, I will go the reasonable route.

This is what I'm working on, minus a few pattern-less projects that I'm making up as I go:

Image via Ravelry

As I was uploading this picture, I thought, "Y'know, I think I've blogged about this sweater before..." It has been in progress for about a year, so it's entirely plausible. Anyway, I'm using a soft, light brown cotton/wool blend.

Image via Ravelry
I started this vest around Thanksgiving, and I'm a little over halfway done. It's hard to see, but it has pockets, which is a fun and exciting feature to knit. Mine will a light heather rose pink.

Image via Ravelry
This is something I started just in the last week or so. I'm using a soft green chenille yarn that is probably meant for baby blankets. I decided that I wanted a solid cardigan for a couple reasons: I'm not in love with the over-sized polka dot effect of the two colors, and I didn't want to weave in as many ends.

Image via Ravelry
The only summery knit in the bunch, this tank actually only needs to be seamed. The yarn I used is a textured cotton in a shade of green slightly more yellow than the color shown here. 

What are you working on this summer?

Friday, June 17, 2016


As the end of the school year approaches, I always find myself setting goals for the summer. They're usually pretty lofty: Become a blogging and Etsy sensation! Run a 5K--no walking (nevermind I can't even run a mile)! I usually also have some sort of major life event involving a moving van and/or airplane in the works. What ends up happening is that the summer becomes all about The Major Event, and then, once that's over, it becomes all about being disappointed in myself for how little progress I made on my Lofty Goals.

As I started planning this summer, I realized that I don't want anything Big. I want a summer of less. My goals are more along the lines of "eat a lobster roll" and "declutter my closet" than radically changing aspects of my life. I would like to be generally healthier, but I don't need to be able to run a certain distance or studiously monitor my diet. I would like to have less stuff, but I'm not interested in experimenting with hardcore minimalism. I would like to do more of the little things that fuel me (crafting, reading, walking) rather than banking on a vacation or move to recharge my spirit.

To kick off my summer of less, I'm going to really get back to basics. Like biological-necessity basics. I'm going to focus on two things that are completely essential, but are often the first to be compromised when we're stressed: oxygen and water. Starting Sunday, I will meditate and drink more water. I have been giving myself the excuse of "too tired--just want to go to bed" to avoid meditating, and I am so absorbed in my love affair with caffeine that I seldom drink plain water. Literally anything would be an improvement (which I say as a positive thing rather than self-admonition), but setting a goal to meditate daily and drink a glass of water before each meal feels right.

As I move through the summer months, I plan to keep building on my self-care habits while also pursuing some of my other projects. You are, of course, invited along for the ride, and you can certainly play along with me! What are you doing to make this a healthy and happy summer?