Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 11

Hi people! I'm down to the next to the last block in this series, and although I've lost my excitement over this project I'm still going to finish. I'm not sure if it's because the quilt itself is not exactly my style, or if it's because it's just almost a year and that feels like a long time for something simple. But anyway, almost done. I submitted my guess for who the whodunnit, but when I look at the blocks and read the bonus clues and so on, I still have no idea. I don't know if real detectives would ever get anywhere if they had to solve crimes in this fashion.

And here are all the blocks together--

According to the block eleven bonus clue--this is a completely incorrect layout. But I didn't do much better following the clue, soooo... It would seem like a decent idea to just stop working on this, but there's a prize basket drawing for correct guess, and another one for completing all of the blocks. And even though being randomly chosen is a slim chance, I always have that hopeful thing that it's gonna be me, so I can't quit now.

The good news is this is almost over and you won't have to see quilt blocks that make no sense to you anymore. The bad news is--tomorrow is December already.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sale, List, Glue - In That Order

Good morning! I know that many of you are busy getting ready for Christmas (or trying to avoid it), but I've got a couple items for you that might make it easier.

First, my wee shop is 'this' close to being emptied out. Things are now on sale for 75% off!! Please note--as the site calculates shipping, it frequently overcharges, and I always always always refund the shipping overages. All proceeds from my shop shut-down sale are being donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society--so you score some great items at a discounted price, and your money goes to cancer research and outreach. Win win! Actually, win-win-win as I get to reclaim some space in the house. I'll post proof of the donation, so you can be assured your money is going where I say it is.

Second--several years ago I made up some adorbs shopping lists to help keep you organized (hopefully). You can find them by clicking here (they hold up best on card stock, but regular paper will obviously work, too).

And finally--I posted this Christmas countdown page, last year--it was always one of my favorite traditions from childhood. Click here for the file.

That's all I've got right now! I've got decorating on the schedule today, and then I'm hoping I can snap pics of some finished knitting projects and get started on making my Christmas cards tomorrow. Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Creativebug Sale!!!

Hi kids! I know it's a busy few days here in the States for most of us, but I wanted to alert you to a great deal that's only available through Monday.

I've mentioned here before that I'm a big fan of Creativebug. Normally, for the low price of $4.95/month (and a free two week trial) you get access to all of their classes on pretty much every crafty topic you can think of (baking, sewing, quilting, knitting, drawing, painting, and on and on). But now, until Monday, you can get a three month subscription for $1.00. That's insanely cheap, and you can cancel at any time. That's one George Washington in exchange for access to hundreds of classes for three months. However, this deal is only good until Monday, November 28th, so hurry up if you're interested.

I know December is a busy month, but I often find myself wanting something to do in the long, dark months of January and February. Do you know how many of these classes you can take in that period of time? They're presented in small manageable chunks, so you can work at your own pace, or watch the whole thing in one go.

I am in no way affiliated with Creativebug--I'm sharing this post for the simple reason that I love their site and their courses, and what have you got to lose except a dollar?

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Do you ever find yourself saying to yourself "I'd like to do [this or that] but I don't want to do it by myself?" I say that a lot. For certain things (like international travel or something like that) I feel that it makes sense to not go alone. But for most local things I felt I needed to just get over it and do something I wouldn't normally do alone. So this week I had three mini adventures.

First up--last Saturday I went to see the live Philadelphia broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion down at the Academy of Music. There was an article in our paper, and I decided to just order a ticket so I'd be locked into going short of a true emergency. I was so worried I wouldn't make it as construction made traffic a nightmare, and then I had to work my way through downtown Philly, but I made it just in time. It was so worth it.

The new host (Chris Thile) did a great job. He's not Garrison Keillor, and there was no Lake Wobegon monologue in that soothing baritone, but you can really see that he's going to tweak the show just enough to make it his own, whilst keeping in place the things listeners have come to love. The best part came at the end. A mainstay of the show is the audience sing-along at the end, and this time we sang This Land is Your Land. It was beautiful.

I had a great seat, but part of me wished I had gotten a balcony seat. I always thought they looked so luxurious and elite (which is funny, because they were cheaper). So next time I go to a show (and now I will, on my own or otherwise) I'll be sure to do so.

Next up was the movies. I usually don't go to the movies by myself. Actually, I never go by myself. But at a fairly local theater (one of those delightful old single-screen theaters) they were screening A Man Called Ove, a Swedish film based on the book by the same name. Most people I know don't like to read their movies, but I loved the book so much I really wanted to see it. So off I went.

Oh! I loved it! So well done! The book is so worth the read, and the movie stayed pretty true to the book. It was nice to hear sniffles from other people (sometimes I feel like I'm the only one crying in the theater).

And finally, a day trip. I haven't used much of my vacation time at work this year, so I have some time to use up or I'll lose it. Friday's weather was Indian summer beautiful (can you still call it Indian summer a week before Thanksgiving?) so I wanted to take a little jaunt somewhere. Sometimes I'll take a day and run errands and do the things I've been putting off, but it was one of those times where I knew I wouldn't be doing anything like that and would truly waste the day. So I popped up the question on Facebook asking for ideas. I got a few that weren't what I was looking for, and a few that I had done already. But then there was a suggestion for a place I'd never heard of before--historic Smithville, NJ. I normally get fairly nervous driving in New Jersey, but it was supposed to be an adventure, right? So I put on a cute outfit and headed across the state, dang close to the shore.

Now, where I was headed was a collection of a variety of shops--clothing, gifts, books, food, housewares, toys, and so on. Most things were quite pricey, but I had a good old time walking around and looking at everything. I literally gasped when I saw the light coming in through this window--

This shop had a set-up for every color of glass you could imagine (most from estate sales), and let me tell you--if I had a place for it all I'd have certainly stocked up. I had to sneak this photo, as every shop I went in had a big 'PLEASE--NO PHOTOS!!' sign in the window. But I'm a rebel so I took one. I would have taken one of the red window, but the owner was standing right there. I'm also a weenie and I didn't want him to yell at me, hahaha!

There's a big duck pond in the middle of the village, but most of the day they were just sitting and chilling like this. The benches were filled with older men, who I assume were waiting for their wives.

It was such a beautiful day. Bright blue sky, sunshine, perfect temperatures, not too crowded. I went into a tea shop and bought a peach roobois tea, and snagged a photo of this perfection--

--but one thing I do not need is more mugs. But you can see how I would neeeeed these, right? Don't worry--they're still on the shelf at the store.

I grabbed lunch (a grilled Swiss, crab and tomato sandwich) that was insanely delicious, and headed back. I probably shouldn't have stuffed myself and then driven eighty miles without buying a coffee to accompany me, but after what seemed forever I made it home. All I could think of was trying my new tea in a proper teacup, and eating the linzer torte I bought at the bakery. So my mama and I sat and had a little impromptu tea party and relaxed for a bit.

Big adventures are fewer and more far between, but little adventures are just as good for the soul.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Random Blather for an Afternoon Cup of Tea

Without getting too specific as to avoid any argument, I think we can all just agree that this past week has been a bit stressful, or worrisome, or chaotic, or contentious. The week before was very difficult for me on a deeply personal level, so here's hoping that the last several weeks of the year are cozy, and filled with love and warmth and family, and candy and cookies. 

So light a scented candle, pour some tea (I'm having a cup of spearmint), and join me for a bit of blather.

I went craft shopping last week. I practiced a great deal of restraint, too! I had my hands full of stamp pads and stamps and papers and all kinds of things, and then I literally stopped in my tracks and thought "Wait. How much of this are you likely to use ever again? Will you end up giving this stuff to someone else after one use?" So I reconsidered and put a lot of things back. 

The one thing I have no idea for is that fat quarter--it was just too cute to leave there. But that book (from Joann's) has tons of cute stuff to make, the yarn will be peppermint-shaped dishcloths, the tags will be decorated gift tags (I've got glitter pens and markers on hand--surprise, surprise!), and that little pack of bon-bon yarn will be miniature socks, hats, and sweaters for a garland (OR if I don't get to it I'll set it out as Christmas decor, haha).

The leaves are dried and crunchy, and give that perfectly autumnal rustle when the breeze blows them down the sidewalk. I haven't seen very many in the brilliant colors of fall that we've come to expect--I wonder if it's because the weather has remained fairly warm?

Do you remember Skylanders? They were a Wii game from several years ago, where each character had to be bought in the form of a figurine that sat on a pod. Z-man loved these, and was great at the bribery necessary to obtain them on a frequent basis. A-train and my bil Matt discovered these over the weekend, and immediately set them up to play. The volume wasn't working, but that's fine by me as a listener, as the sound effects worm their way deep into your brain and stay there. Z-man hooked this up to the stereo one year and put it on surround sound at about eight in the morning when he had slept over. I'm pretty sure I came out of my slumber in so sudden a fashion that I literally hit the ceiling.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the low angle of the sun. In the morning my bedroom is bathed in a golden glow that is absolutely gorgeous (but also makes me cringe because I know I have to get up then). The other thing I love is this--

--curtain shadows.

I can't even tell you how long I've been working on this shawl. There was a not-my-fault mishap at the start that delayed this a little bit, and I've been working on it for seven million hours now (give or take one or two). I love the design, loved the colors more online (it was a kit), but I'm very ready for this to be finished and blocked. I'm hoping that happens very soon. The final knitting will go very quickly.  But I have to pick up about five hundred stitches, and ultimately bind off almost eight hundred. I feel like if I can get this done this week I'm going to fashion myself a gold star.

Well, kids, I've got a date tonight. It's with myself, so I know we'll get along fine and have a great time with each other. I'm headed down to the Kimmel Center--they're broadcasting A Prairie Home Companion from there tonight, and I splurged on a ticket. So enjoy your day, and I'll see you soon!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hoo-gah! Hoo-gah!

Do me a favor. Before I go any further please read the title in your best Al Pacino voice (in your head, though. Or out loud. Makes no difference to me). Done? Ok. Onward.

That's actually how you're supposed to pronounce hygge. You've probably heard of this concept by now as it seems to have become some sort of cultural phenomenon. I had no idea it was a thing until my sister Alicia said to me a couple of months ago "Hey, did you ever hear of hygge?"

So, what is it? The translation I keep seeing is 'coziness,' but it's more than that. It's a feeling or a mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, everyday things more meaningful, beautiful, or special. It's being aware of a good moment whether it's simple or special. It's acknowledging the moment instead of drudging through it. It's taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing, things. It's really enjoying the companionship of the people around you instead of burying your face in some electronic device. No wonder Denmark frequently tops the list of world's happiest countries--hygge is a way of life there.

So why am I going on about this? As I mentioned in my last post, I've felt a little bit of myself missing over the past few months. My crafty inspiration is at an all-time low, the news and social media have been nothing but politics for over a year now (and angry politics at that), all of our favorite celebrities are passing on (I still get sad when I think of Alan Rickman), and I'll just toss it out there that I'm batting zero when it comes to relationships this year. This single lady has been feeling quietly angsty for the past few months.

But it is now my favorite time of the year. The cozy time of thick socks, bonfires, hot chocolate, sweaters and boots, pinky-purple sunsets, and let's not forget...Christmas. It seems the perfect time to press the reset button on myself and my psyche, and to get back to enjoying those little moments.

I'm thinking fires in the fireplace, lighting candles, curling up with a book, knitting, holiday crafting, and so on and so forth. Embracing that to-do list as a 'get-to-do' list instead of a 'have to do' list. If we have to do things, we may as well make it so that we actually get to enjoy it, right?

Going forward, I'm making this more of a part of my life. I live in Philadelphia, and not Denmark, so it might take a bit more practice for me to get the hang of it, but I need to get back to that part of me that used to do this all the time without even realizing I was doing anything more than amusing myself. And I thought it might be fun to share my hygge 'journey' with you. 

If you're interested in finding out more, I'm starting with this book--

and using a journal I've been saving for just the right thing to note those moments that happen along or that I have a hand in creating. The goal is mindfulness and actively creating that feel-good life through simple things. Maybe you'll join me? Or maybe you'll call me silly. Either-or.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Little Bit of Housekeeping

I'm not sure what happened, or why, or when, really, but when I look back at my blog (and receive comments from people--you know you are, haha) it's apparent I've lost 'it' somewhere. Not lost it forever, but misplaced it (it's probably in the same place, that special place, where I put actual items so that I won't forget where they are, and when I remember that place it'll be quite the happy day of recovering lots of things, haha). Anyway, I don't know if it's because Instagram makes it so easy to say "Here, this is my project, and I can tell you what I used and who designed it" without any further wordage necessary. I've seen this happening across lots of blogs, and I don't like it, because over the years I've carefully cultivated my reading list so I have many different places and people to 'visit.' Perhaps this is where my lack of motivation has come from--no inspirational words to back up a simple photo on a swiping app? Anyway.

I feel this lack of focus within me, and I don't like it. I was leaving work yesterday and for what seemed like the first time noticed the beautiful leaves against a brilliant blue sky, and the thought hit me that "Hey! It's November!" It's like all the parts deep within me have been asleep. I don't like that.

So, going forward, I'm going to try to make this blog a more focused place. I've had several big moments this year, both good and bad, but I feel that I've missed all of the small moments that lead to a happy, content life. I don't like that at all. I need (like in a psychological sense) to get back to that. It's where my joy comes from.

So, that promise being made, I want to mention two other things because I'm not dedicating individual posts to them.

First--I'm still in the process of closing down my shop. Some of you have bought a nice amount of things (like multi-page invoice amounts--thank you!). But I still have a good bit of stuff left. Everything is fifty percent off (automatically--no code required!), and all proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Please help me avoid paying any more digital 'rent' while scoring some goodies at a great price and donating to a fabulous cause. You can read my post on this here.

Second--I know it's November and it's way too soon to ponder Christmas in an actual sense, but if you're a crafter and a maker the internet will make you feel as though you don't have any time left before the big day. Creativebug has been having monthly courses throughout the year--some are for drawing, some painting, all present a daily 'challenge' to help you expand your creative horizons. For November, they've launched a series on handmade tags, cards, and wrapping ideas. For five minutes a day (or thereabouts) they'll present you with simple ideas to add handmade touches to your merry-making. I caught up with all of the videos this morning, and I must go get dressed so I can go to Joann's and give them some money. My inspiration has been tickled, and I need to embrace it while it lasts.

Third (I'm a liar, I said two things, but there's a third) I've recently discovered the Arne and Carlos youtube channel. Having met them in September, it's really nice to watch their videos and see that their personalities are the same as in person. Plus they pop up a weekly video (some are knitting, some are decorative, some are lifestyle and home-making) that, even if you don't knit, is fun to watch as they are just so dang delightful. So if you want to just cozy up and get lost in videos, you can find their channel here. Also, if they get ten thousand subscribers to their channel they'll keep posting weekly videos. So make life difficult for them and subscribe.

Also--is watching Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting ever not a soothing way to spend a Saturday morning?


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