Monday, 28 April 2014

A Knitter Learns to Crochet

I've been having trouble with work motivation lately (Lately? Or always.).  I decided I needed some off-computer reward for getting my daily quota done.  I've been wanting to learn how to crochet, thanks to a cute striped blanket that Natural Mommie posted on Instagram.  So I bought some of my favourite chunky wool yarn and an appropriately-sized hook.  I told myself that I would not start until I was caught up in my schedule, and finished my quota for the week.  It has been an excellent way to motivate myself!  Instead of allowing myself to browse the internet after my work was done, this is something that gets me off the computer, and the I can sit in a comfy chair to do, or even on the front porch now that it's finally warming up out there.

Learn to Crochet:
Step 1: Create a Pinterest board titled "Crochet."  Pin things.
Step 2: Figure out how to make the right kind of slipknot.
Step 3: How do you hold this thing? Which hand holds what?
Step 4: Finally learn how to do a chain stitch.  I've always known how to do one with my fingers, but could never figure out how to do one with a hook.  It may have been that my older sister wouldn't share her crochet hook when we were kids...
Step 5: Go from thinking, "Ok, my stitches are really wonky," to "Ooh, look how straight and even these stitches look!  Continue until, "Ok, I think this is long enough for the blanket I want to make."
Step 6: Visit Pinterest board and watch a few videos about how to double crochet.  I already learned this stitch once from my sister, but once the one granny square I did was complete, I promptly forgot it.  She also taught me a ruffly stitch that I used to edge my first knitted project that took me five years to complete.  I've forgotten that stitch too, of course.  That's what I like about knitting; there are basically only two things you do: knit and purl.  Unless you want to get fancy with cables and lace.


That's as far as I got yesterday.  Now, I must get my work done before I pick it up again!  Editing, laundry, etc: Here I come!

Do you crochet?  If so, please share your favourite tips and patterns!  And I'd love to know what motivates you.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Charting "Responsibilities", Not "Chores"

I'm not sure if it is the Easter holiday and late nights that made my kids extra whiny and stubborn this week.  But after three days of having them both pretty much challenging everything I told them to do, I had had enough!  These kids need something tangible to help them remember what their responsibilities are!  I looked at probably a dozen printable chore charts online, free and otherwise, but I didn't like any of them.  They were cute and all, but I wanted to include things that aren't really "chores" per se.  I wouldn't call practicing piano or getting dressed or brushing teeth chores.  They're responsibilities.  And my kids were fighting me on them.

So last night I stayed up late and made my own charts.  I created the header-type images in Picasa and Picmonkey, then created the tables in Microsoft Word, just using one of their themes.  I wanted quick and easy (And pretty. Of course).

And then I put my washi tape collection to good use to stick them on the fridge.  I also wrote up their morning and bedtime routines (which they already know, but I'm hoping to prevent arguments by being able to refer them to the sheet).  I know my 4-year-old can't read, but he seemed to like the idea just as much as his sister did, making his own careful check marks.

So far, this morning went so smoothly!  I congratulated my son on getting dressed without a) taking an hour, and b) whining about it.  And he said it should be on his list to check off.  So we added it.

I only included the kids' current responsibilities.  They don't have any jobs you might call chores yet.  I want to start where they're at.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


thunderstorm watercolour pretty paint nature sounds sound effect soothing rain storm
my one and only decent watercolour painting

So around this time of year—or earlier—I begin to crave thunder.  I love rain.  And storms, and thunder.  And by now it's been at least eight months since I last experienced any of that.  If you love storms too, scroll down to the very end of this page (or hit the "end" key on your keyboard), and press play for an hour of recorded (not fake!) rain and thunder.  I can't wait for a real storm.  I'm entirely aware that I live in the wrong province.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

On the Lookout For...

You know how I was selling things in my house, and stashing the money away to save for other household things?  Well, I kind of got derailed when moving my mom and dealing with some other things and catching up with work.  But I'm starting to feel like I can handle getting back on track with that again.  With all my mom's stuff in my house, it is even more important that I clear out my excess clutter.  Before, I was thisclose to having my basement laundry room decluttered and spacious and functional, with a lovely new free desk for my sewing machine.  Now the room is a big pile of junk again.  It's amazing how quickly that can happen!

Unfortunately for me, with my work deadlines, I'm not really able to spend time down there dealing with that mess right now.  But what I can do right now is declutter the main floor a little.  One item at a time.  If I don't love it, I will list it.  Even if it's only one thing per day, I may as well get a move on.  And the bonus of doing this so slowly, instead of listing huge batches of stuff, is that I don't have to have a place to store the piles of stuff for sale.  The one thing I listed today (Neighbourhood-based Facebook buy and sell groups are the best!), is already pending pick up.

I've already bought a few things with my household stash.  Like my caned velvet chair.  I love that chair.  So does my daughter.  She sits there to read or useher rainbow loom.  And I have a few other things in the back of my mind that I want to keep an eye out for.  But It's probably about time I make a formal list.  With one rule: If it isn't exactly what I need, and/or I don't love it, I won't buy it.  So here's what I'm looking for:

  1. 6x9 to 10x13 natural fiber rug.  Jute or wool, in neutral colours (maybe with some blues and greens, depending on the pattern and style).  I've found a few I like, but they're either too small (5'x8' won't work much better than the $20 4'x6' I'm currently using), or too expensive and/or I'm not 100% sure it's what I want.  I have a really hard time committing to fabric-type furnishings.  Rugs, curtains, lamps, upholstery...I'm clueless.
  2. White/Off-white dishes.  I can't wait 'til the day I can get rid of our ugly grey Ikea dishes and our ugly rainbow Walmart dishes.  I even asked my husband if I could get rid of them already.  We have enough pretty dishes to be able to serve a meal for our family of four.  But he vetoed that idea.
  3. Dining room light fixture for $25 or less.  I want a 5 or 6 arm wrought-iron candelabra, as simple as curly-ques or shades or dangly bits.
  4. Drum-style lampshades that will fit my lamps.  As in, not too wide or too short.  In a neutral colour.
  5. Antique wooden wall shelves, furniture, or boxes/crates.
  6. Curtains.  No idea what I want them to look like.  But I want them lighter and more farmhouse-worthy than the red, tan, and brown striped curtains I made several years ago.  Like maybe unbleached linen.  The problem with something lighter is that the south- and west-facing windows make the house ridiculously hot in the summer, so I need something lined.  Maybe I'll make some black-out roman shades for the living room like I did for our bedroom upstairs.
  7. King-size headboard and bed frame.
  8. King-size 100% linen bed sheets.
  9. Chalk paint and soft wax.  I have a few things that need painting, that I don't trust latex paint for, like my mom's cane-back chair.

For my inspiration, I've recently found a blog that perfectly embodies the style I'm aiming for.  Of course, her home is an 1867 farmhouse, while mine is a 2007 suburban duplex.  So I'll have to work a little harder for the farmhouse vibe.  If only I was allowed to paint the cabinets...

What's on your list?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

I love Instagram

Twitter is fun.  Facebook is great. And I love Pinterest. But really, where I feel most at home in this crazy social-media world, is Instagram (and I just don't have time for anything else).  Honestly, I should have some kind of visually-focussed job.  I should be a photographer or a designer rather than a word-crafter.  When I want to share, a picture is what I default to.

Even in this season of stress and deadlines that I've been going through, where I just crave some sort of normalcy but can't seem to grasp it, when I feel like blogging would just be sharing my depressing chaos, I can still manage to find a bit of beauty in life to share.  All it takes is one picture, even when I'm hiding from the rest of the world.

great-grandma's buttons

makeshift windowseat


family day skating

because sequins and leopard print just go


first ride of 2014. goal: no training wheels this year!

she pulled them out herself

because what else would you do when you meet a bear?

waiting for daddy to finish skiing

maligne canyon

can't wait to start reading