Getting Back on Track

P1030769Shortly after I came home from the hospital with our newest Cub, DB wrote this on the chalkboard in our kitchen. I guess in a way these four little things are like our new year’s resolutions, but I think they reach beyond that and help us to stay on track as we adjust to being parents of two and get ourselves back in shape after a long, hectic, and stressful holiday season. I always find that the cold of the winter can really knock me off track when it comes to things like eating healthy and staying busy. The allure of a warm electric blanket and a snuggly new baby can make it hard for me to want to go to the gym, or study for tests, or put laundry away. But all those things need to get done, and when they don’t I really can’t blame the blanket. The frigid temperatures we’ve had around here lately have made things even more difficult, since it always seems more appropriate to eat comfort foods drowned in cheese than it does to eat a light soup or a salad. Still I find that having things written down in plain sight has been really helpful. It’s driven me towards the bowl of oranges instead of the stash of chocolate in the freezer as well as out the door and to the gym for about an hour a day these last two weeks. It also helps us to keep each other accountable, for the first time in our marriage DB and I are carving out time to work out together, which has been surprisingly enjoyable. I’m also branching out more in the kitchen, trying new recipes that are comforting without weighing us down (literally and figuratively).

Every Monday I’ve decided to take a progress shot of myself at the gym. I’ve been posting them up on Instagram but I’ll also be sharing them here so that I can have even more accountability partners, but also that I have a frame of reference to see where I was when I get to where I want to be. Health and fitness can be a long and frustrating road, but I need to remember to take baby steps, stick to the simple things, and keep pushing through till I make.

Starting Point

Starting Point

Week One

Week One

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

xo, S.

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The New Year

P1030785For me the New Year doesn’t really start until today which is my birthday. I find the holidays to be way to crazy to start thinking about the new year, and goals, and expectations, so I save January leading up to this day to really reflect on the past year and decide what my goals, ambitions, and hopes are for the new year. Last year I did a 31 before 30 list, which I thought I’d revisit today and see what kind of progress I made. Truthfully, my goal was really to get pregnant and have a healthy baby, but I didn’t write that one down. I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment, especially since when I made the list I was on the heels of a miscarriage.

So let’s revisit the list and I’ll tell you how it all went. Things in bold are ones that I either completed or came close to.

1) Sew a quilt for our bed: I started on this and was going at a good clip, but had to set it aside and haven’t gotten back to it yet.

2) Make the Beekeeper’s Quilt: I thought this would be a good knitting project for our cross country trip, until I realized I’d also need to haul along a bag of polyfil so shelved this

3) Knit Abotanicity: I realized this sweater just isn’t me so I scrapped it as well

4) Complete 365 Project: This is about halfway done. I took pictures pretty much everyday, but I need to finish sorting through them. You can see my progress here.

5) Get film developed: I have a box of undeveloped film. I sent all the medium format to Old School Photo Lab, but had a horrible customer service experience with them, so I’m looking for someplace else to develop the 35mm I have left.

6) Continue to knit through stash: Achieved! Most of the things I made this year came right out of my stash, which is thankfully waaaay smaller now.

7) Start rock climbing: This went out the window when I got pregnant, but I hope to start later this year.

8) Outstanding PRT: Another victim of pregnancy

9) Get down to 27″ waist: Ha! More like up to a 42″ waist

10) Write more: I was much more diligent about blogging and writing in my journal. It’s been a good exercise that I plan on continuing.

11) Read the Border Trilogy: Completed! I’ll tell you what I thought about it soon.

12) Sew a well fitting dress: alas, a pregnancy victim. Hopefully this year

13) Finish EXW: For those of you not in the know this was my Expeditionary Warfare Specialist qualification for the Navy, and I completed it back in June. It was a TON of work, and now I’m working towards a new pin.

14) Take the Bear outside: Both DB and I have worked hard to get the Bear running around in the fresh air.

15) Paint Porcelain: I wanted to spruce up some cups and bowls, but never quite got to it.

16) Roast Coffee: We’ve been wanting to try roasting at home, but after lots of consideration, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

17) Record music with DB: Not yet, but we have made strides in getting our home studio set up and we just bought a new guitar.

18) Learn intarsia: I’m working on an intarsia project right now, and it’s a way easier technique than I previously thought.

19) Learn Japanese short rows: Haven’t gotten to this yet, but the intarsia project calls for short rows so I’ll try them when I get to that part.

20) Learn to make macarons: Nope, not yet.

21) Make map quilt: I have this kit from Haptic Labs, but I haven’t started yet.

22) Visit a National Park: We visited 6! You can read about the here, here, here, here, and here.

23) Buy more American made clothes: I didn’t buy a ton of clothes this year, but I did buy American made, and discovered lots of new to me brands like Pickwick and Weller who make, hands down, my new favorite tees.

24) Develop a better workout routine: I did really well with this until we moved and then my workouts became more sporadic. I’m back on the horse now though.

25) Start an indoor herb garden: We started an outdoor one instead.

26) Build something: While I meant this to be more like something out of wood and screws and nails, we put together enough IKEA furniture that I think I can cross this one off.

27) Become a more diverse canner: I definitely did a better job at stocking our larder this year and trying new things. I talk about it here.

28) Make paste from scratch: I made gnocchi. We recently discovered that our Kitchenaid is not in the mood to support attachments like our pasta roller, otherwise we’d be make noodles for days.

29) Embroider more: Total fail. I didn’t embroider a single thing last year.

30) Make more home products: I made hand soap, laundry detergent, lip scrub, and DB just made some wood butter. 

So overall, not bad. However, I’ve got my hands way too full to think about doing it again this year. At times I felt a little overwhelmed by the list, or that it was keeping me from doing other things. When taking on a project like this, you really can’t expect to finish everything, life always gets in the way. For my 31st year, I’m keeping things simple. I’ll be happy to spend time in my kitchen and get my kids to eat their vegetables.

 

Go For Launch

plaid skirt etsy shopIf you’ll recall this post from the beginning of the month, my number one goal was to do something that scares me. Well, guys, I launched an Etsy shop, and yes it is scary. Friends have encouraged me to do this for years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to invest the time or the startup capital to give it a go. I didn’t feel creative enough. I didn’t feel like my handmade things were good enough to share with people beyond my family and close friends. I felt like I didn’t have enough ideas. Plus, I was scared that it would be a huge failure, so I just kept talking myself out of it. Fortunately, over this past year I’ve really started to feel more creative, inspired, and driven to be a better maker. DB has been hugely encouraging and supportive, even helping me choose colors and QC design ideas. I’m so lucky to have here cheering me on (and pushing me, I really need the pushing).

And so friends, here’s the start. The Plaid Skirt Etsy shop. We’re starting off with a collection of women’s hats. I love these things so much that it will be hard to part with them! They’re made with a super soft, chunky wool & alpaca blend yarn that has been lovely to work with. Plus, I think you’ll really dig the color palette, perfect for winter!

I’ll be adding more products over the coming weeks including holiday ornaments, home textiles, and perhaps some other knit accessories. I hope you’ll check it out, like what you see, and spread the word. Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming shop updates and specials. Thank you so much for your support.

Blue Bell Mountain

long chevron scarf // plaid skirtI came across this pattern on Ravelry a couple months ago and I totally fell in love with it. I loved the featured color way, the stitch patterns and the alternating textures created by the garter and stockinette sections. I also really liked the fact that the yarn called for (O Wool Local) was partially grown just across the bridge from where I grew up and milled in Philadelphia. I wanted to cast on right away. Of course, there’s not a whole lot of room in our budget for more yarn, and one of my goals this year has been to keep knitting from my stash. Immediately I thought of the Beaverslide Fisherman 3-ply (also raised in America) that I had bought last year with the idea of making an afghan only to realize I hadn’t bought nearly enough for what I had in mind. So I took 4 skeins. 2 of Big Sky Blue, one Autumn Licorice, and one oddball brown guy that I’d bought back in 2007. Originally I’d intended this for myself, but DB saw it and immediately loved the color combo, so I happily knit it for him instead. It is quite masculine after all.

long chevron scarf // plaid skirt

I really love Beaverslide yarns. The wool is raised in Montana and milled in just over the border in Canada. It’s thick, wooly, has great stitch definition, really blooms after blocking.  I have a couple skeins of Big Sky Blue left after this, along with some dark heather grey that I think will translate to a sweater for myself. Anyway, while gorgeous, it’s also significantly heavier than O Wool Local, it took some trial and error to figure out what needles to use and how many stitches to cast on. I ended up using size 11 with 37 stitches cast on which gave me about 9″ in width after blocking. It’s forever long, hence mountain instead of hill. In fact we keep referring to it as his Doctor scarf since the length is reminiscent of Tom Baker’s as 4th Doctor. P1030169

 

Instead of following the pattern verbatim, I alternated the garter and stockinette sections as seemed fitting. That’s what I like best about this, it’s a very adaptable the stitch pattern. You can really make it with any yarn in any color(s) you like, but thanks to the chevron created by the paired decreased on each end and the lifted increases in the middle, you end up with something much more stunning than a traditional garter stitch scarf. I’m actually using the garter pattern in fingering weight to make a blanket for our impending baby. I also think this would look great made a bit wider in a single color and used as a table runner. Raveled here.

long chevron scarf // plaid skirt long chevron scarf // plaid skirt

Four Simple Goals and Friday Favorites

knit hat and homemade ax :: plaid skirtSo the Bear totally was not into getting dressed up for Halloween. I made him this little ax and was measuring out some brown felt to make a lumberjack beard when he made it very clear that he would have none of it. Even when a little friend popped by all decked out in pirate gear he remained adamant that he wanted to stay inside, play with cars, and eat the candy we had here. So no adorable pictures for this round. I’m sure he’ll be more stoked about it next year.

Anyway, the gals over at A Beautiful Mess published Four Simple Goals earlier this week, which is a concept that I really like. As the year winds down but the stress of the holidays ramps up, I think it’s a great idea to take a moment and identify some things to work towards and stay focused on so you don’t get washed away in the sea of cookies, pies, and wrapping paper. So as 2013 winds down here are the things I’ll be working on:

1) Do something that scares me: I find that I spend a lot of time talking myself out of doing projects and professional development because I don’t want to take the risk. Let’s try to get away from that.

2) Work on building my upper body strength: I’m disappointed with how my arms look. I have the power to change this.

3) Seek out volunteer opportunities: Something I had started to do when we moved here and then pushed aside.

4) Stay focused on our budget and long-term plans: In other words, don’t buy useless shit at Target just because it’s cute.

I’ll be sure to do a post at the end of the year to recap on the progress that I’ve made with these.

Now, onto some links:

I made these doughnuts as a special treat today and they were heavenly.

Check out these famous B&W photos rendered in color.

I know airbrushing is a thing that all the major glossies do, but this video is still really unsettling.

I was pretty surprised to find out some of the organic brands in my pantry aren’t as honest as I thought they were. (PS. We voted YES on I-522)

The folks over at the Coletterie did this great piece on slow fashion, and turned me on to some new American made brands.

Speaking of slow fashion, Bleubird featured Frank Clegg recently, and I am already dreaming of a new wallet and bag from his collection.

Have a great weekend.

xo, S.

Olympic National Park

P1020086 One of my goals this year was to visit a national park. Truthfully, we have plans to visit about 6 more as we move from Washington to Washington in a few weeks (yikes!) Another goal has been to take the Bear outside. Which I guess sounds a little silly. Of course I’m gonna take my kid outside, kids love being outside, but around here when it rains or worse, there are winds at sustained 30 mph through most of the fall/winter/spring having outside time is tough. So many days the poor guy would hand me his shoes or stand by the window with his face pressed up against the glass. So you can understand that it’s important to DB and I to get him outside running around, hiking, strolling, whatever and I think now that it’s been clear we’re off to a good start.

We started off our weekend taking the ferry from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend, then we hightailed it over to the Hoh Rainforest and took a short hike through the Hall of Mosses. Then we went out to the coast and ran quickly from the tides at Ruby Beach. At night we stayed in Port Angeles where we enjoyed some great food, beer, and live music here.

Our first hike. It quickly became apparent we needed one of those backpacks for toddlers.

Our first hike. It quickly became apparent we needed one of those backpacks for toddlers.

He was stoked about the letters

He was stoked about the letters

The Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest

I've got a thing for tree bark

I’ve got a thing for tree bark

Ruby Beach. Bear's first view of the Pacific.

Ruby Beach. Bear’s first view of the Pacific.

Enjoying dinner

Enjoying dinner

Sunday we packed up and drove up Hurricane Ridge in the hopes of seeing the Olympics up close. Of course it was way too cloudy. We could actually see them better from our house when we got back, but it was run to watch the Bear hesitantly explore the snow. We spent the rest of the day checking out the interior side of the peninsula and visiting other peaks and beaches before taking dinner and enjoying a peaceful sunset on the ferry. All in all, a great way to kick off our summer.

To view the full set of photos visit me on Flickr.

A majestic view of the Olympics

A majestic view of the Olympics

What is this stuff?

What is this stuff?

Where to next?

Where to next?

I love foggy trees

I love foggy trees

Finally a view!

Finally a view!

Quick! Let's capture it!

Quick! Let’s capture it!

Headed home.

Headed home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lately…

P1010898Wow, it’s been a while since I made the time to write. I’ve got plenty to share, but it seems that we’ve had so much real life going on around here lately I’ve been focusing on other things…and I think that’s good. It all started shortly after DB got back and we had a wave of sickness roll through the house for a good 3 weeks…so many tissues perished. Then we were back on track, but some goals at work got in the way, and are still in the way. In fact, I usually don’t even take the time to really sit down in front of my computer and read blogs or edit photos or even check Instagram on my phone.

And in that time we celebrated two years of marriage, learned that the Bear likes a wider variety of food than he lets on, started (finally) talking about the honeymoon we need to take, and started gearing up for our move. I’ve also knit, baked, cooked, photographed, and bought new clothes, all of which I hope I have time to sit down and share with you soon. I admire the bloggers who plan their posts in advance and have them all set to go throughout the week. I was starting to go that route, but like I said, real life started happening and my focus has been on squeezing in family time and not blogging time. I miss doing this though. One of my goals this year has been to write more, and this blog is a big part of that. Hopefully, as we transition towards summer I can find a balance again. I like it here. I like being able to keep track of my domestic productivity and share photos with friends and family who are all so far away. But I’m also learning to be patient with myself and not beat myself up when I can’t get it all done. I’ll keep figuring it out, and I’ll try and tell you more about it soon.