Thursday, March 23, 2023

Riding the struggle bus

 This week has been a struggle.  I'm working 7 consecutive days thanks to the retail world in general and my company's Thursday-Wednesday work week specifically.  I'm used to my old job where I got off every Wednesday and Sunday, which was bad in that I never got a "weekend" to recoup, but at least I had a day off every 2-3 days, so that I never burned out.  By the time I get home, I'm so exhausted that I barely eat, listen to some videos on my phone and crash before my bedtime alarm even tells me to.  Last night I fell asleep so early that when I woke up at 11pm, I thought it was morning already.  

In the small amount of time I've dedicated to crafting so far this week, I have crocheted on my Piper Pocket Dress.  The yoke is coming along. I'm not quite satisfied with how the join is looking, but I'm hoping that I can smooth that out in the blocking process.  It is a nice soothing motion - the half double crochet.   

No photos today, since I'm updating this from my MacBook on my lap, sitting on the floor in my work's break room. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Substitution, not quitting

 Well, I had one heck of a time trying to work on my Emerald Isle Cabled Sweater this weekend.  I got so frustrated by row 3 that I gave up and admitted that my skill level with crochet isn't there just yet.  Plus, my mind isn't in the right place to focus on such a commitment when I have other things I should be doing, like organizing my home.  So, I scoured Ravelry for a pattern that was still crochet and would pose a challenge to me like the cables, but something I could handle.  I set the filters to show me crocheted, fingering weight, single color projects.  And I fell in love with a crocheted dress as soon as I saw it.  It's called Piper Pocket Dress by Tinderbox.  

I couldn't wait to get started on it, but first I created a presentation book of the pattern.  I love how she has it broken down into steps that are in small boxes that read left to right instead of just written out in lines down a page.  So far I'm only on row 9, but I've reviewed the entire pattern and there aren't really any hard parts.  The challenge with this one is to crochet such a high volume of material with a size 2.75mm hook and fingering weight yarn.  But it's mainly half double crochet, which I find to be soothing to work.  The smaller gauge does make it a lights-on project, otherwise I can't see the stitches I'm working into and it's more difficult to find them by touch in the dark. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

3rd FO of 2023


So a sleepless night and early zoom call did equate to more knitting time, and I was able to finish my vanilla socks knit with Knitpicks Stroll Tweed yarn in the color Lapis.  No matter what light I used, the color on camera is off.  They are a royal blue, not periwinkle like this picture I took under my Ott light. I got a little distracted while I was on my zoom call and knit a bit too much instep before starting the toe decreases, but I think they will be fine.  I was pleasantly surprised that I'd already woven in the beginning yarn end, so I just had to kitchner the toe closed and weave in that end on each sock and they are now ready to wear.  Now I have a clean slate to tackle my crochet projects for the CYC Crochet Instructor's Certification program.  less than 6 weeks to go for that.  I may have found some people to teach to crochet in my beta testing group for my certification requirement, so that's exciting.  

Right now I'm waiting for Jo to get out of the shower so we can hit the library for a book that I'm interested in.  She's a slowpoke.  After the library I might visit family before I come home and get back to my yarn.  Or I might paint.  I got some online painting videos last night from Painting To Gogh ($10 off from my link:

O Sleep, Where art thou?

 One of the biggest annoyances in my life is the fact that I'm a terrible sleeper in my old age.  I wake up every 1-2 hours and am wide awake and unable to fall back asleep.  I take medication to help me get and stay asleep, and last night I forgot to take it.  I remembered after I woke up for the 3rd time at 3am and was still awake at 4am.  By which point it was too late to take it because I have a Zoom call for my beta test group at 7am.  Sigh.  At 5, after it was clear I wasn't falling back to sleep, I got up and took a shower and got dressed.  Since I'm going to be meeting with my crafting group via zoom, I wore my Flax Light sweater, which is super comfy for my day off.  While I was awake earlier, I did manage to get within a half inch of the beginning of the toe decreases on my tweed socks.  During and after the call I will try to get those done so that I have another FO in the books for 2023.  

Yesterday I got some training at my new job from 2 different people who are both very nice & helpful.  Hopefully I remember what they taught me and I did take some chicken scratch notes to jog my memory.  I was so relieved to see a co-worker from my old store that I asked for pull into the parking lot behind me. My boss had said that someone I didn't know was coming from a different store, so it was a relief to see someone familiar.  The other person was the woman who had my position before me.  She taught me some of the shortcuts she uses to get around different problems that are unique to my position.  It was all a little overwhelming.  But in a good way.  An exciting way.  I don't leave my car in the morning filled with misery as I walk in, so it's a win.  One of my other old co-workers texted me out of the blue to ask how I was doing at my new store.  I told him about some of the different challenges we're facing as we go into the dreaded "INVENTORY" day next week.  

I did break the crafting no-buy this week to get a dress form in my size.  I like when people show a project in progress on a dummy.  I got an email from Joann's that dress forms were on sale, but my size was out of stock locally and online, so I checked Amazon and they had it even cheaper with Saturday delivery, so that will be here tomorrow.  I look forward to taking better photos of my sweaters on the mannequin and also maybe sewing garments that fit me in the near future, if I ever get my sewing area straightened up.  It was difficult to choose the size small-medium based on my measurements when I typically still buy size Large/XL by default.  But I wanted it to be accurate.  Now I won't have issues like I did when I tried to sew a skirt to wear to my aunt's funeral only to find out after it was done that it was too small around my waist.  And I will be able to mark for a hem on pants & dresses without too much trouble.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Second FO for 2023


Flax Light by Tin Can Knits is complete!  I cast-on for it on 2/11 and finished it on 3/11.  I'm not quite happy with how I cast it off the body, but I'm not upset enough to undo it and start over.  I wore it on Sunday without blocking it, since I was so desperate to wear it.  It's comfortable and I'm happy with the size ML+ a few stitches on the sleeves.  If I make it again, I think I will do reverse stockinette instead of garter stitch on the sleeves.  That was a struggle I did not enjoy.  I did entirely too much tinking and reknitting when I found that I'd autopiloted thru those sections and did the wrong stitch.  It was a great pattern, well written, and good for beginners as well as experienced knitters looking for a good, classic garment.  I knit it with 6 balls of Knitpicks Stroll Tweed in the color North Pole Heather.

Now I'm back to my Lapis Knitpicks Stroll Tweed vanilla socks.  I was excited when I realized at lunch this week that I was done with the gusset decreases already - I thought I was still in the middle of those when I'd put this project down to work on my sweater.  That meant I could just pick this up and knit while I'm at work without thinking about it for a while.  I usually make my socks about 6 3/4" before I start decreasing for the toe.  I think this pair I might make a bit longer so they have a little more toe room.  

The leftovers from this pair will probably join the leftovers from my sweater to become another pair of socks with contrasting toes & heels.  At least that's the plan.  I have so many things to work on, I have no idea when those will be done.  I need to get back to my Craft Yarn Council Crochet Instructor's Certification work as soon as these socks are done - hopefully this week.  I'm down to 6 weeks to complete the program.  Time to hurry.  I am finding that monogamously working on one project at a time is very rewarding.  I don't forget where I am like I did with the socks when I'm only working on one project at a time.  And the urge to start something new makes me work faster to complete what I'm on so I can get there.  

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Wow! What a Week!

 So, after a 6 day work week, I'm finally getting a proper weekend at home.  And with the snow storm we had last night, I'm not sure I will be leaving my house today.  I have a video call "Movie Night" with my beta tester friends at 2pm this afternoon, so I will be home knitting at that time.  We haven't decided what movie we are watching yet.  I voted for Where the Crawdads Sing, but right now it looks like there are more votes for Dune 😜.  I'm not a fan of sci-fi.  My sweater is about 11" of sleeve from completion.  I can't wait to finish it so I can wear it.  And I overestimated the amount of yarn when I ordered it, so I will have 2 balls left to make matching socks & hat at some point.  When I finish my sweater I will try to complete the royal blue stroll tweed vanilla socks, so that I'm at a clean slate.  I need to crochet a carrot for my CYC crochet sample of spiral technique, then on to my cabled crochet sweater.  I'm trying to stay monogamous to a single project so that I actually finish projects now.  Hopefully this will keep me from having so many abandoned wips.  Also it's a better use of my yarn, since I'm just tossing out yarn and half done projects as I find things I have no plans to finish as I'm cleaning my house. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

Needle Love

 For all the knitters out there that struggle to find circular needles with good joins and flexible wires with no memory, I can not say enough good things about Chiaogoo Red Lace needles.  I switched my sleeve from a Knitter's Pride Royale to a Chiaogoo and the project is now flying.  No more struggling at getting the stitches onto the left needle from the cord.  Sleeve 1 still has about 2" to go before I start decreasing, since I didn't knit at all yesterday.  I'm hoping to have the first sleeve finished on Saturday.  

I got my work schedule for the rest of this workweek from my new store yesterday, and I do work on Sunday, so my wallet will be happy.  Then on Monday I have a short day so that I can attend a video call about the beta test I'm participating in.  Super stoked about that starting.  I can't wait to meet the other participants and see what this new platform looks like.  The creator is focused on building a community and I commend her for filling this gap in the crafting ecosystem of the 2020's.  Yesterday I applied to be recertified for my Pharmacy Technician certification.  It was approved when I checked this morning, so I can rest my mind for 2 years on that front.  Now I have a fresh certificate to take to my new store to hang on the wall.  My promotion went into effect yesterday, so I'm now a CPhT Lead.  Unfortunately, that isn't an option on the name tag generator.  I am excited to get to work on Sunday morning.  Tonight I work almost until close with one of my favorite pharmacists.  I will miss our Friday nights together, as we were commonly scheduled these shifts together.  I think I will get pizza and cannolis to celebrate the bittersweet ending.  The weather is supposed to get pretty bad here in Rochester, NY, which is good because it keeps people at home and out of my store.  

This weekend I am planning to get my nails done, knit, do laundry and work on the bedroom reorganization.  We also have a birthday dinner planned for my brother-in-law Saturday night.  One of the difficult things about working with split days off from my job, is that I have to try to squeeze a whole "weekend" into Saturday.  And my new store's hours make it so that I work later on Sundays, but not by much.  Monday-Wednesday I get home in time to eat dinner with my family for a change.  So all is good in the Shannanigans household. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

March 1st Recap

 It's late and I was supposed to post today but I just wasn't in the mood for it today.  I didn't sleep last night and had to get up early this morning to take Jo to doctors appointments.  I worked on my sweater sleeve but got frustrated during the 2nd appointment where I'd made the same mistake of knitting 2 rounds in a row thru the garter stitch section.  I decided to stop working on it until I got home and got my new 12" chiaogoo needle to unknit the round and fix my mistake.  I have about 2" more to knit before I start the decreases.  I was exhausted so I took a couple short naps today.  I did manage to get the bedside cubes into place and my houseplants have been rehomed to the top of those cubes.  I have 1 more planter that needs to find a home  but I haven't made room for it yet.  I found an audio book I like and was listening to that this afternoon while cleaning and then again tonight while Dan was watching The Mandalorian.  It's a fictional romance story which is refreshing after my non-fiction, self-help jag I was on.  Tomorrow I'm only planning to sort all my writing utensils and move the Cricut to the office finally.  I don't want to have to push that forward on my task list for another month.  I haven't heard any news about my new schedule yet.  Hopefully I get some update tomorrow or Friday.  I typically work Sundays, and while I won't be totally upset if I have the whole weekend off, my budget prefers that I work that day.  Friday night I'm working my last shift at my current store and it's going to be bittersweet.  I think I'm ordering a pizza and cannoli's  to celebrate.  That's my favorite meal at work.  

Monday, February 27, 2023

Entering Sleeve Island


Ok, so I finished my Flax Light sweater body this afternoon.  Hooray!  Now I'm entering the Sleeve Island.  I tried on the sweater to make sure it would fit.  The neck is fitted a little closer than I would normally like, but I can block that a little looser.  I didn't cast off the bottom ribbing very loosely on purpose because I don't want it to flare at the bottom.  I did make a mistake of starting the ribbing with the bigger needle and rather than unknitting a round and a half of 1x1 ribbing, I just knit off the big and onto the smaller needle when I realized the mistake.  Not sure if it makes that much difference, but I'm willing to deal with it.  Now we're back to the sleeves and those cursed garter stitch panels down the sleeves.  Hopefully after working the body on so many hundreds of stitches, the sleeves will go faster.  I broke into ball 5 of 7 to finish the last of the body ribbing, so about a ball and a half goes into each sleeve.  I can't wait to finish this sweater so that I can get back to focusing on my crochet certification course and get that completed before the deadline.  I will also need to finish the tweed royal blue socks I am at the gusset decreases on.  I've decided that I much prefer the flap & gusset heal versus the shadow wrap short row heel.  That one doesn't stay in place on my heel.  My socks kept slipping down off my heel in my boots.  As much as I enjoyed not having to do the pickup stitches and decreases of the gusset after making the flap, it fits better for me.  

The bedroom organizing is still incomplete, but I did get all the bins labeled with clip on chalkboard labels I got on Amazon after 2 different types of labels wouldn't stick to the bins or the cubes.  New deadline to have it done is this coming Saturday.  I can't get over how many notebooks I own... piles all over the place.  And I don't want them in the bedroom, so I have to haul them all to the office/craft room. That room is also overflowing, but that mess is probably a problem for April's Shannon, since I will be busy in March.

March 9th I start my new job at a new location within the same company.   For the past 3 years I've been working at a pharmacy as a technician.  I applied for,  but did not get, a position last fall that was more managerial.  A different opportunity was presented to me a week ago and I accepted it on the spot.  My current location has become a toxic environment for me.  I love the job, the store, and the customers, but my coworkers have become unbearable to work with.  I'm unsure why they don't like me, but it's been the case since I started there and is getting progressively worse, not better.  I work too hard to come home feeling defeated.  So I jumped at the option to transfer to a different store where I will be taking a quasi-management position.  I'm still not sure of the job title, but I'm going to be in charge of the store part of the pharmacy.  The pharmacist and lead technician were so nice when I stopped in today to introduce myself and the pharmacist was super excited that I was going to be starting there.  It was such a foreign experience for me.  People excited to see me.  People who look forward to working with me.  But, I was also a little nervous that I'm going to let them down.  That will be a problem for March 9th's Shannon.  ;) 

March will also be busy with Beta-testing a crafters community group, which I'm super excited for.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the first "introduction" video call because it's at 2 in the afternoon on a day I'm scheduled to start work at 2 o'clock.  But other than that, I plan to spend a lot of time on the platform making friends and learning about the platform before it's opened up to the public.   I'm so stoked to be a part of the day one crowd for this group.  I tend to shy away from getting involved in any groups that are established because I don't like feeling like an outsider, but this time I'll be there from the beginning.  Hopefully I'll feel like I belong there, and I will make it my mission to make the newcomers feel they are welcome after it opens to everyone. When testing is complete, I'll be sure to tell you all about it so that you can join us if you wish!

What projects are you working on?  Leave me a comment.  

Friday, February 24, 2023

Bedroom Overhaul

 This week I was supposed to get my bedroom redone while my husband was on a work trip.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time & steam before it was finished, but I'm still inspired to keep going.  My room has no aesthetic to speak of.  We have modular cube furniture covering all the walls.  My cubes were full of forgotten books, notebooks, craft supplies, clothing I don't wear, you name it.  And they were overflowing - the bins long since removed and objects were crammed in all willy nilly.  I managed to empty all the stuff that was in them, but haven't gotten them all filled with new stuff yet.  I bought all new white bins, which I love the look of.  I bought white labels to put on the bins, but they won't stick to the non-woven material that the bins are made of.  My fear is that if they aren't labeled in some way, I will forget what's in them and therefore rebuy items I've forgotten I already own.  I found 2 of my misplaced Dior Addict Lip Glow lipsticks - I bought a 3rd one last weekend at Sephora.  The sad part is that I only remembered owning one - I was shocked to empty a discarded purse and find another one in it.  I emptied the rolling cart that I had been using as a night stand and moved it into the bathroom off my bedroom until I figure out what I'm going to do with it.  I took out 6 garbage bags of stuff I didn't want or need anymore. Most of it was paperwork and study guides I didn't need anymore, drawer units that were inefficient and/or damaged, expired vitamins and over the counter medications I bought and never used.  Clothing that I didn't need or that was beyond usefulness.  Craft projects that I had no intention of finishing.  But you would never know that I removed that much stuff, because my side of the bedroom is still overflowing.  It's all so overwhelming, being a hoarder.  Every decision can become a struggle.  It's mentally and physically exhausting.  I figure I need about 12 solid hours of work to get it completed so that I can move the newest cube unit to the wall beside my bed and have my "night stand" in place.  Then I can bring up the houseplants I bought last week and get them off my stovetop where they are living right now.  Because that was the only place I could find to store them.  I'm dreaming of having a neat and orderly bedroom, and hopefully by next weekend, it will be a reality.  

Tomorrow we are going skiing.  Probably the last time for the season.  I booked Jo another lesson with the fabulous Jocelyn.  The opening she had was for earlier in the morning which means we have to get moving early on a Saturday to make the 45 minute drive to the mountain and then get Jo situated with her rental equipment.  I'm hoping that I have better luck going down the mountain now that I understand that the "slow down" signs are not directed at me.  I always panicked when I got to that area.  It rained here this week, causing a lot of ice, so who knows what kind of snow will be on the mountain.  I'm not a fan of skiing on icy conditions.  Next year I'm going to take some lessons to get my confidence back.  I also downloaded a bunch of playlists to my phone so that I can listen to music while I'm skiing.  The cellular data is weak there, so streaming it from the cloud wasn't cutting it last time.  

Sunday it's back to the grind at work.  But with a crew that I enjoy working with.  Monday I'm not scheduled but I think I will go check out the new store I'm transferring to and introduce myself.  I was going to volunteer to work there that day, but just my luck, they don't need anyone that day.  I have plenty to keep me busy if I don't have to work, so that's fine.  Wednesday we are tied up with 2 appointments.  Then next Saturday I have a nail appointment in the middle of the day to work around.  I'm still nervous about starting the new job, but I keep trying to remind myself that this is a good move.   I'm leaving behind toxicity.  That's always a good thing.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Moving On Up!

On Monday afternoon, I went to work expecting a typical afternoon shift of being stuck on the front counter and drive thru the whole day.  Working in the pharmacy, there are several stations or tasks that we are supposed to rotate through during the day to keep the workload balanced and fair.   That's the theory, anyway.  It never seems to work out to my benefit, but I digress.  I did not expect my store manager to pull me into the office for a conversation.  Dread filled me on the short walk, even after he told me, "You're not in trouble." For context, on the Monday 2 weeks prior, I'd been walked to the office for a tough conversation about how I wasn't meeting expectations.  Let's just say, my supervisor now knows how much crying I can handle before and after hyperventilation. But, this was a new day and my store manager.   Actually, he said,  there was an opportunity that they wanted me to consider, working in a smaller store that's not really a store, but a pharmacy with an aisle or two of merchandise.  I would be working in the pharmacy, but also taking responsibility for management stuff that a store manager or shift lead would take care of in my current store.  Yes, sign me up, please!  I had applied for a position in management about 6 months ago but was passed over because I had less experience and they had no confidence that I could manage my coworkers who don't respect me.  They ended up hiring someone from another store who had experience in the position but apparently wasn't doing such a hot job with it.  I haven't spoken to my pharmacy manager since I accepted this new position.  I assume that she's glad to be rid of me.  I hope they get the replacement that they deserve.  I have been treated poorly from day one, for some reason that I still don't know.  I cared more about that place than anyone, came in when I was needed, worked overtime or picked up hours or entire shifts when someone called off.  I called off when I was sick exactly twice in 3 years.  I never got COVID or had to quarantine, unlike some of my coworkers who milked that 3-4 times.  I'm glad that this opportunity came up and I get to leave on my own terms.  Because after the sob fest conversation I had with my supervisor 2 weeks ago, I was both devastated by my apparent shortcomings, and resolute that I wasn't going to let anyone push me out of a job and career I enjoyed.  I have been working for 31 years and have never liked a job like I do with my current one, despite how I was treated on a daily basis.  But after putting up with it for 3 years, it's time for a change, and I welcome the challenge of learning all the new stuff I haven't been taught so far.  Hopefully the people I'm going to be working with and managing will put up with my learning curve.  I think I have a lot to offer, given the opportunity and not squashed.  I've been able to think of little else for the past 2 days.  I haven't even been able to knit!  I'm hoping that now that I've gotten it out in the open, I can stop perseverating on it.  My ADHD and OCD are showing.  I will be starting at my new location in 2 -3 weeks.  Hopefully I'll find out later today.   I'm also waiting to find out what my new title and pay rate will be.  That I should be finding out on Thursday or Friday.  I'm pumped! Or maybe that's just my Bipolar Mania ... ya never know with me. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Monday Morning Blahs

 Ugh, do I hate Monday mornings, especially when I have a late start to my work day.  The day seems to be an endless countdown to the worst part of my day.  I'm really sad to say that work has become more of an anxiety trap since my discussion with my boss 2 weeks ago.  I used to love my job, but now I'm nervous before work, dreading the inevitable negative interactions with my coworkers.  Before, I just let them roll off my back and they were forgotten.  But apparently they are keeping score and I'm losing the game. I bought a new Erin Condren x Etta Vee planner to record everything that happens so that I can go back and remember situations that happened and the circumstances if they decide to escalate to an actual written warning in my file.  Like I needed to add another planner to my repertoire, right?  I actually love the planner though, and sort of wish I'd gotten it as my regular daily planner.  I miss the EC planner layout with the 3 vertical boxes and room for stickers.  Maybe next year I'll go back to that layout instead of my Hobonichi Weeks... we'll have to see.  I like that the Weeks fits into my mini backpack purse.  

On the Flax Light front, I'm still chugging away at ball #3 on the body of the sweater.  So much for finishing the body by the weekend!  I'm at about 10 1/2 inches out of 15 1/2 so far.  I most likely won't finish the entire sweater by the end of the month, but hopefully I'm close.  I've been getting sucked into tv I have to actually watch, and scrolling TikTok, which is also something I can't multitask with.  Dan is out of town this week, so I plan to stay home and knit after work with the lights on.  My other project this week is cleaning my bedroom.  Dan assembled my last cube unit on his side of the bed and I put all the bins in it, so now I just need to fill the bins with the appropriate stuff to hopefully get going on this cleaning.  I have a written map of what goes in the bins, so it shouldn't be too difficult.  I'm hoping that by the time he gets home on Friday night, I will be ready to have him move the cubes to their permanent home next to my side of the bed.  I think my biggest struggle is going to be moving and finding a place for all the stacks of loose papers that I had in the old cubes.  And the miscellaneous stuff that was on the floor in front of the old cubes.  I honestly have no idea what is in some of the tote bags and shopping bags that I just kind of abandoned there and stacked up.  For those that are new, I am a hoarder.  I tend to bring stuff home and forget all about it.  And anything I can't see ceases to exist.  I do love how the new white bins look.  I can't wait until my whole side of the bedroom is complete.  

On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook I started posting Would You Rather questions.  If you don't already, please consider subscribing to me on my other socials and answer the questions.  The links are in the sidebar to the right of the posts.  I'm so excited when there is engagement.  

Friday, February 17, 2023

Fantastic Friday

 When I was in the 4th grade, the teachers hosted something called Fantastic Friday, where they would all set up their classrooms to do different activities and we all got to choose which activity we wanted to do for the last hour or so of Friday afternoons.  One time, I even got to be in charge of making Sock Puppets after I brought in a few of my own and my teacher was impressed with them.  I usually picked the crafty option or the computer lab for whatever DOS game we had back in 1985-86, I don't even remember.  My teacher often sent me up to the lab to preload DOS on the computers so that they were ready to go for the other kids.  I remember for Christmas I made a bar of soap with a Christmas sticker that we dipped in Paraffin wax to laminate it.  When I was first married I tried to duplicate that craft but all I accomplished was ruining an electric frying pan.  We all lived for that short span of time we got to move around and be with other 4th graders that were in the other classes, doing something less academic and more fun.  I wish there was an adult version, 'cause I would definitely sign up.

This week is almost over and I am going to be sad to say goodbye to my vacation tomorrow.  I go back to work on Sunday morning.  I didn't get the sweater knit this week, but I did make quite a bit of progress yesterday, now that I've finished the difficult-for-me yolk section.  Next week, Dan is in Ohio for work, so I'll be home and be able to spend time knitting when I'm not working.  I also get at least 3 hours of knitting tomorrow because we are going to The Melting Pot in Buffalo for my "birthday dinner" that Jo insists I have, mainly because she likes going there.  It's an hour drive each way, and it's a 2 hour meal with plenty of down time for me since I can only eat so much before I'm overstuffed and feel sick.  Since it's just straight knitting for about 9 more inches, I'll probably finish the stockinette and maybe even the ribbing this weekend.  That leaves the dreaded sleeves with their garter stitch hassles for next week.  My new goal is to have it done by the end of the month.  It's a light weight sweater, so I can probably wear it until May here in NY.  

My second cube unit arrived on Wednesday evening and I was able to put it together and stack it on my existing cubes yesterday with Johanna's help.  I love the look of it with the white bins rather than the brown or lilac colored ones I'd had in the past.  Much cleaner looking.  I made the right choice.  Today's goal is to clear out and rearrange another row of the existing cubes.  I sat down and drew a map of them and assigned most of the cubes a group of items it will contain.  Not all of them are assigned something, but I have a pretty good idea where a lot of stuff will go.  The problem now is that the stuff in the cubes is mostly not in bins, so I have a ton of loose items to take out and nowhere to put them, as I rearrange.  It's going to make my side of the room an even bigger disaster while I work on this project, which I knew, but I still don't like.  I figure if I work on 1 row each day, I'll have it done in a week.  At some point, maybe on Sunday, I want to get the other cube unit built and possibly brought into the bedroom where it's going to live.  Right now there isn't room for it, but if I clear the area tomorrow after we get home from dinner, I'm hoping we can accomplish that before Dan leaves.   That's where my most used items are going to go - next to my bed.  It's also where my new houseplants that arrived yesterday will live, on top of the cubes.  My houseplant potting soil arrives tomorrow, so I'll be able to put them into the planters and let them move into their new home as soon as the cubes are there.  I've never owned houseplants but I'm really looking forward to it.  The spider plants remind me of my grandma.  She had them and it was my job to water them when I was little.  ** ooh, I just got a delivered message on the potting soil, so I'm gonna be able to take care of the plants today!  Yay!**

Yesterday I splurged on 2 pairs of Dr Marten boots.  I've never owned genuine Docs before.  My "combat boots" in high school in the 90's were from Payless and were made of vinyl.  I bought the classic black ones from a Journeys Ad on Facebook, then informed my mom that's what she'd gotten me for my birthday.  (She gave me cash, but will inevitably ask me what I spent it on, and usually I can't remember, so I was proactive and sent her a picture this time.). Then a half hour later I saw an ad for NordstromRack for pink splatter Docs that I liked even better, so I bought those too. Had to send a picture to my mom, knowing she'd rather have gotten me cute pink ones instead of the black.  Pretty sure she hates them all, but I love them.  I'd had a different pair of Docs in my Amazon cart for a couple days, debating on them, but I ended up getting 2 pairs for not much more.  And then last night I got an email from Steam saying that some game I wanted to play was marked down 90% off.  Of course, then it became a question of which bundle did I want, since those were marked down too.  After struggling over the decision I decided to download the pack that had all the expansions and downloadable content packs, so that was more than the base game, but if I like it, I'll be able to play the game for years without any added expenses.  I might even play it with Johanna.  So far, I've tried doing the tutorial, but it was interfering with knitting last night, so I'll have to save it for another day.  

Well, I better get going.  Johanna has a zoom meeting in an hour that I need to be ready for.  I tried to opt out of the voluntary survey they wanted to do, but I couldn't come up with a good excuse on the spot, so now we have to do it.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Progress and Setbacks

 Life is an ebb and flow and I'm not sure why I'm always surprised when I suffer a setback.   This week I am on vacation from work, so I'd set the goal to start and finish the Flax Light sweater from Tin Can Knits.  I've struggled hard with this pattern for some reason.  I don't know why, because it's pretty straight forward and I fully understand what I'm supposed to be doing.  But for some reason I keep making the same mistake over and over, leading to a lot of tinking.  The last time I made the mistake of knitting 3 consecutive rounds on the garter stitch panel, I didn't realize it until about 4 rounds later and decided "oh, well" and kept going.  I was not about to unknit 2000 stitches to fix 40 wrong stitches.  At least that time I'd made the same mistake on both sides.  I'm calling it a redesign element and moving on.  Then I got done with the raglan increases, reviewed my stitch counts and found that somehow in my knitting and re-knitting, I'd gone 2 extra increase rounds beyond the pattern.  So now it's a ML+ sized.  Again, not ripping out 4 rounds to make the correction.  I have enough yarn to make the size L, so having an extra 1.5" in ease shouldn't be a problem in that regard.  I've gotten to a "work even" stage, thank goodness, so I just have to keep track of which rounds knit and which rounds purl on the sleeve garter stitch panels and can ignore all the other markers where I was having to increase.  This sweater will not be done this week or maybe even this month, but it's a lightweight knit I can wear in March and April, so that's gonna have to be okay.  

Upstaging my knitting time was my urge to shop for organizing materials for my bedroom - causing me to buy new cube furniture on Monday.  I bought 2 more units to add to my side of the bedroom, along with the bins that go into them.  Right now my side of the bedroom is a literal disaster.  I have books, journals, writing utensils, beauty products, healthcare supplies, even some laundry detergent and fabric softener hanging out on top of my shelves.  The bins that are still left don't close all the way because they are overflowing.  Most of the bins have been removed because the stuff wouldn't fit in them, like oversized books and binders.  I had 3 different colors of bins, none of which I liked.  So I bought all new white ones, to make the area look cleaner and more spacious.  Now comes the hard part of getting stuff into the bins and off the tops of my existing furniture, and taking out an old drawer cart I have been using as a nightstand for the past few years, so that I can put in the new cube units.  Yesterday I began the purge, but my husband arrived with dinner after I'd been at it about an hour, so half a bag of garbage was all I accomplished.  I dumped all the writing tools I came across into one bin and all the knit/crochet tools and supplies into another bin.  The notebooks and journals got stacked on the floor for now.  The area looks just as bad as when I began.  One of the units came overnight and arrived yesterday.  It took me & Jo to bring it into the house. I need to assemble it upstairs somehow because it's too heavy to move up the stairs assembled.  The other unit will be arriving today.  That one is smaller and can be assembled downstairs and then carried up and plopped on top of my existing cubes, so that might be my goal for tomorrow - to clear the way for that to be done.  Looking at my belongings, I'm not sure where I'm going to be able to fit all my oversized books, as they are taller than the 11" cubes and my shelves go over 7 feet tall, so it's not like I can put them on top of that.  My "nightstand" cubes are only 4 feet tall, but I bought house plants to go on top of that already (those arrive later this week, to give the place some sign of life.)  I may or may not have room for them in my office - that disaster isn't on my agenda for this week.  

Along with ordering the furniture and houseplants, I also had purchased Loop Engage Plus earplugs, which arrived yesterday.  So far, I like them.  I was relieved to find that I can hear the phone clearly with them in, which would have been a dealbreaker for wearing them at work.  I wore them all day yesterday and slept in them because Dan was snoring when I went to sleep.  They are built to filter sound so that I can hear people talking clearly but not so much background noise.  I am praying they help me concentrate better at work.  Courtney said she's not thrilled with the Loop Quiet earplugs she bought a week before me, so I know they're not for everyone.  If you click the link, it'll give you a discount code.  

Monday was my birthday, but I didn't do anything except spend a lot of money shopping online and in the stores.  In addition to the furniture and cubes, I also went to Target and bought a bunch of other organizing bins and some brownie & cake mixes.  I came home and decided I wanted to go to a paint & drink studio, but Jo didn't like the picture they were painting that evening, so I decided to look up online options and found a picture I liked.  The site offers an unlimited subscription for 4.99/month and gave a supply list.  So I went online and ordered the painting supplies from Michaels.  Then I took a little nap and woke up to eat my favorite non-pizza home-cooked meal, Creamy Cheesy Ziti, which is an Instant Pot recipe.  Dan cooked dinner while I baked brownies.  After dinner, I went to Michaels to pick up the painting supplies and stopped at Barnes & Noble's, where I picked up some calendar notepads for work that were on clearance for $2 and a book of 3001 Would You Rather Questions on clearance for $9.  By the time I got home, it was too late to do a 2 hour painting, so I watched old episodes of The Rookie where they introduced John Nolan's con-woman mother so that I had some idea of who this week's episode was about. And then I stayed up too late trying to knit my sweater.  

Tuesday was Valentines Day, which we don't really celebrate, other than a text saying Happy Valentine's Day.  LOL.  It's more of a holiday that we can't go out to dinner because we don't like the crowds, like Mother's Day.  So Dan called and asked what I wanted to do, and we agreed that he would bring home Chipotle.  This is at least the second time I've gotten the wrong meat on mine, which is annoying because I'm not a meat eater normally, but I force myself to eat chicken occasionally.  This time they gave me pork.  Gross.  Then we watched The Rookie, The Rookie: Feds, and Will Trenton.  I'm annoyed that all the good shows are on the same night - 3 hours is a lot of TV for someone who rarely watches TV.  I gave up on the sweater during the first show when I was making the same mistake on the garter panel even after I was at the Knit Even section.  Clearly, I can not multitask.  I opted to take my night pills and listen to an audio book about cleaning my messy house and get a good night's sleep rather than going downstairs and knitting some more.  

OOOH!  I just got an email saying I'm going to be testing out a new platform for one of the crafters I follow on YouTube and Facebook!  I can't wait to see how it works and hopefully share it with you when it's out of Beta!  What a great start to my day!  

Friday, February 10, 2023

Taking time off work

 Today I will finally finish my rainbow socks, come hell or high water.  I didn't sleep well last night because I fell asleep before taking my night time pills that include something to help me stay asleep.  I kept tossing and turning and sweating and getting cold... it was terrible.  Getting old sucks!  But I got up at 8am, took my morning medication and surfed all the apps on my phone that I check in with during the day.  I checked the tracking of my yarn, my Loop order, my amazon orders.  I reviewed the USPS site for my incoming mail, etc.  I spent some time trying to fix issues I'm having with a google service.  I renewed my domain for another 5 years (hopeful that I'll still want to be doing this when I turn 51.  LOL.)  But my number one priority is to finish these rainbow socks so that I can mark a FO off on this year's list and feel less guilty about starting a new project next week while I'm on my vacation from work.  I have about 10 rounds of decreasing on the toes left - definitely doable before I get ready for work at 1:30pm.  I may even pull out the royal blue pair and take a look at where those stand.  I know I'm at the gusset decreases, the reason I've been dilly dallying on working on them.  That requires time & concentration since I have them TAAT on a single circular needle, I need to make sure I keep straight which rounds are decreases and which are knit even rounds.  Yesterday I found myself happily knitting around not paying attention to what I was doing.  Luckily I caught myself before I'd done too many wrong stitches and was able to correct.  Wouldn't it be fabulous if I got both pairs of socks done and could start my vacation with just an unfinished sweater in the works?  I have no delusions that I'm gonna be able to get those blue socks done unless I spend all weekend on them.  But it's a nice dream anyway. 

Next week (Monday to be exact) is my birthday and I've taken off from work for a week.  So far we have no plans other than an appointment on Tuesday afternoon.  We do have 2 meals out planned on the 2 Saturdays, but that's it.  I want to be semi-productive since this is the only time I get consecutive days off. I typically work Sun-Tues, and Thurs-Fri, which is exhausting over the long term.  It will be nice to know that I can stay up at night without worrying about what time I have to get up the next morning.  I am more of a night owl, but due to my random work schedule hours, I go to bed between 10pm-midnight most nights.  I do want to work on the first-floor clutter situation, maybe get my craft machines moved at last, put together my yoga ball chair for my craft room/office, and do a bit of sewing.  But honestly, I'm mostly looking forward to the knitting.  I might go knit in public like at a Starbucks or the Library.  Who knows.  I do need to make a real effort to get out of my house because Shannons don't fare well in isolation.  I get melancholy if I sit at home too long.  

Another thing I want to work on is checking out Skillshare programs.  I was honored to be chosen for a one-year scholarship this week, which was really cool.  They called my entry "thoughtful."  Of course, they didn't announce it until after I'd already signed up and paid for a year, so now I have a 2 year membership.  :)  Still pretty cool.  I also have some audio books I want to listen to on Audible, which I can do while I'm knitting, although I do find that I block out what I'm hearing sometimes while I'm concentrating, then have to rewind and listen closer the second or third time, like with War and Peace.  

How do you celebrate your birthday?  I'm not sure how I want to celebrate my 46th.  It's not a banner year, but I really wanted to do something fun this year, other than the typical dinner out.  I looked into painting events locally but they're either pictures I don't like or are pair paintings when there are 3 of us.  I could go see Titanic in the theaters but that reminds me of my 21st birthday, when we did that as an attempt to save a shitty birthday of watching my ex-husband sleep all day when he was working a night shift job and my not having a drivers license or car to leave my house. We got out of the theater too late to get alcohol other than some cheap wine cooler from the grocery store, which was fine because I've never been a drinker. But  it isn't a good memory I care to relive in any way.  I've already gone to the casino.  It's a Monday, and my husband has to work Monday and Tuesday, so we can't do anything that will start too early on Monday or end too late for him to get to sleep in time for work on Tuesday.  This is why I take a week off... so that I can piecemeal little errands and treats to myself throughout the week.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wasted Days

 I had a lot of things planned to do today, but I just didn't feel like doing them.  Monday was a terrible day for me at work.  I received some negative feedback about my performance lately, which I was not expecting and handled poorly.  Tuesday went okay but I was anxious and fidgety at night so I took myself to the casino, where I did not win a jackpot, I'm sad to say.  I came home, ate some mashed potatoes, and put my spinning wheel back together with the lace weight bobbin and started spinning some white Blue-Faced Leister wool top I got in 2021 when I was signed up for the School of Sweet Georgia's spinning class online.  So far, the spinning is much more satisfying and less fiddly than the e-spinner, so I'm confident that not buying the bigger model as an upgrade was the right choice there.  I went to bed around 2am, feeling satisfied and tired.  This morning I woke up and just didn't really feel like accomplishing anything.  I updated my journals that hadn't been updated since Monday morning.  Then I looked up my files to print more address labels to my pen pals and got those printed.  I made out a postcard to one penpal and then sat and wrote/typed 5 solid pages to my college roommate.  After that, I felt like I'd had a therapy session.  A weight had been lifted.  I went downstairs and spun a little more but got frustrated when the yarn started breaking because I had the tension too high.  I don't much like being in my living room right now because there's clutter from my garden supply packages that have been delivered and some Christmas items that haven't been put away, along with yarn in a huge basket that needs to find a home.  And it's cold and drafty on the first floor, which makes me uncomfortable even though it's a decent day out (40F).  So I came back upstairs and knit on my rainbow socks for a while as I watched a YouTube podcast live for a change.  When that ended, I decided to take a little nap.  Now it's a little after 5pm, I have accomplished nothing of importance today, and I have to work an early shift tomorrow, so I have to go to bed at a reasonable time.  I think I'm just going to work on knitting my socks so that I can finish at least one of the 2 sock WIPs before I cast on my new sweater when my yarn arrives on Monday.  I printed out both of the sweater patterns today and reviewed them.  I'm still very nervous about the crocheted cables on the Emerald Isle sweater, especially since the pattern is the same for all 3 sizes, just the gauge difference determines how big it turns out.  So, swatching will be of the utmost importance.  The difference from a small and a large is 1 stitch per inch.  The yarn is the same, so it will all depend on the hook I use, I guess.  I've never successfully crocheted a sweater that I can recall, and everything I've ever made has used a different stitch count in the design to differentiate different sizes.  I feel like the gauge of the stitches determining the size of the sweater is very risky, as tension can change slightly as you work, especially complicated/unfamiliar stitch patterns such as the 3 different cable motifs in the sweater pattern.  I will need to sit and swatch for half a day to make sure I'm getting the right gauge before I start the actual pattern, and I'm not typically a swatcher.  On the other hand, the knit sweater, Flax Light, is a fairly straightforward, top-down knit on circular needles.  I've decided to make a size ML which is 39" and that includes about 3-4" of positive ease.  I sure hope it fits.  I'm mostly concerned that my flabby arms won't fit that size.  I may have to play around with it a bit to broaden the top of the arm, although on the model it appears that she has some ease in the fabric.  It's a thin, tailored looking sweater, so I don't want to ruin the aesthetic by making it too baggy around the chest.  I bought enough yarn to go up 1 size to a L if I decide I need to.  I think I can probably get that one cast on and the neckband done in a couple hours, then it's pretty smooth sailing with just the increases for the raglan shaping and the garter stitch panels down the sleeves.  The choice between starting, and maybe even finishing,  the easier pattern in my vacation week home from work versus using that time at home to fully concentrate on learning the crochet cables and executing as much as I can with my full attention on it is a tough one.  I could start both next week, but I don't want to overwhelm myself and not accomplish anything, either.  I wish the yarn would get here before the weekend so that I could get the full 8 days out of it, but at the last check, the post office said it wouldn't get here until Monday.  

I ordered Loop Engage Plus earplugs tonight that I hope will help me both at work and at home.  I've heard good things about the brand, but I got the newest version that is supposed to block background noise but help you hear voices clearly.  I'm hoping they will help me to focus, which is something I struggle with at all times, despite being medicated for ADHD.  I hope those get here soon, because I can't wait to try them.  If you're interested in trying them, here's a link to save you some money:  Loop Referral Link to save some $$

Monday, February 6, 2023

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

 When I sat down last week and planned my posts for February, I had originally set today to talk about knitting with Handspun yarn.  But, I never got around to winding my handspun into a ball and casting on a project, so I have no idea what I want to say on the subject.  I've only ever knit with my own handspun one other time - a failed scarf project - so I really need to do some knitting with my latest handspun before I try to talk about it.  

What I can talk about is perseverating on Spinning Wheels.  I really want a new one quite badly.  So far I've resisted checking out my cart at several sites, but I don't know how long I will hold out, honestly.  I wish there was a local store to see them before I commit, but from the online ads, I've been drooling over the Ashford Kiwi 3.  

For contrast, the wheel I have now is a Babe Production wheel.

What gave me the most pause is the fact that searching for the amount I paid for the wheel back in 2010, I saw the receipt for the upgrades I purchased at the end of 2021.  I replaced the flyer unit and bought new bobbins, including lace bobbins I haven't even tried using yet.  

The whole reason I was looking at spinning wheels in the first place was that the Erlbacher website wasn't working when I tried pulling it up on my phone so I couldn't see the prices of the circular sock knitting machines I'd originally planned to spend my bonus on when they announced we were getting it last summer.  That would have been the only way I'd be able to justify the splurge.  But when I priced the machine when I was able to get into the site later at night, I came to the conclusion that I'm much better off paying my LYS to use theirs to knit my sock yarn for me.  They have both sizes I would want (64 & 72 stitches) and I would have to pay for more than 79 pairs of socks for the machine to pay for itself!  See, good choice, Shannon.

But, looking at the wooden wheels is giving me serious FOMO.  I also considered getting a better/bigger/stronger e-spinner as the Nano isn't really thrilling me. The biggest problem I have with it is that it's fiddly about taking up the yarn.  The yarn gets overspun.  It works intermittently just fine, and then there are times it's a total hassle. I was looking at the EEW 6, but people are reporting problems with the motors burning out and I don't want to deal with that either.  Commercially produced e-spinners are $900 or more and I can't justify that expense.  And I would probably still feel anxious about the runaway feeling I get because you can't just slow down your treadling like you naturally do when you're struggling on a traditional spinning wheel.  

I think I'm going to set a 1 week deadline on the decision to upgrade, after spending a few hours using my Babe wheel with my lace bobbins.  If I wait too long I won't have money left to get it.  If I buy too quickly I might regret wasting the money.  A week is just the right amount of time.  Plus it's my birthday a week from today, so I will be deciding on a very expensive gift to myself either way.  

In other news, I downloaded the pattern I planned to work next and WOW, am I overwhelmed!  The pattern is Emerald Isle Cable Sweater by Noelle Stiles.  I've never worked crocheted cables before, and this might have been biting off more than I can chew.  I was looking for something a little more complicated, so that I could really dig in and concentrate on what I'm doing.  Well, I'll definitely be paying attention to this one.

Hopefully my Knitpicks order comes this week so that I can start it next week while I'm on vacation.  I will have plenty of time to frog and curse at home as I learn.  

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew in regards to crafting?  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

No Spend Fail - for a good reason, I think.

 As I think I mentioned in my last post, I got a bonus from work as a thank you for working in healthcare thru the pandemic.  It's also coming up on my birthday, February 13th.  Last year I made Dan pay for yarn to make 2 sweaters, All the Love and Worsted Boxy, both patterns designed by Joji Locatelli.  This year, I decided to splurge on myself and buy yarn to make not 1, not 2, but 3 sweaters and 3 pairs of socks.  No, I absolutely didn't need to buy more sock yarn, but the way I probably misunderstood the sale to work, you got 10% off the yarn if you bought 10 skeins of the same type, so those were added in so that I could take advantage of the sale. I picked out my next sweater project to be Flax Lite by Tin Can Knits.  It takes about 8 balls of fingering weight to make it in my size, leaving me 2 balls short of the sale.  I added 2 more.  Then I decided I also wanted it in another yarn with tweed flecks, and again, 8+2, another pair of socks.  Or maybe some hats or gloves, who knows.  That was last night.  I couldn't sleep.  I also hopped onto Amazon and bought new Chiaogoo 40" circulars to knit this with.  I thought the splurge was over.  I mean, that's months of knitting I just added to my calendar.  Then on the way to skiing today, I found myself looking up crochet patterns for sweaters.  I found a pattern I fell in love with, Emerald Isle Cabled Sweater by 8 balls Stroll Dove Heather
I'm trying to update my Ravelry account for this stash.  At some point I need to go thru and clean out all the crap yarn I've gotten rid of. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Sock Knitting Progress & What's in my knit jars?

 So, today's post idea was to show the progress on my socks that I've been working on since the beginning of the year.  I'm running short on time, so no photos today.  The socks are coming along but not very quickly or neatly, I'm afraid.  The rainbow striped socks with WYS yarn that I'm working TAAT using Magic Loop are the ones I've been working on most.  The royal blue tweed Stroll socks are also TAAT using ML, but those haven't been worked on in a couple weeks because they are at the gusset decreases and I need to pay attention to what I'm doing as I decrease every other round on 2 socks at the same time.  The rainbow socks are a bit of a disappointment right now because I used the Shadow Wrap short row heel for the first time, and while it was easy to do, I ended up with holes on one side of each foot for some reason.  I don't really care if they have holes - I'm not that much of a perfectionist when it comes to knitting - but it's a disappointment none-the-less.  Those are the socks I've been bringing with me when I go out of the house to knit on because it's just even knitting now that the heels are done.  My socks in progress live in large yarn jars I got from Joann's years ago.  I have the 2 cakes of yarn, stitch markers, yarn snips, a crochet hook and a darning needle in each one.  On the side, I've marked a piece of Washi Tape with ruler measurements up to 6" so that I can measure the socks without a tape measure, and I wrote out the Kitchner grafting instructions on sticker paper and stuck that to the outside as well, since I have to reference it to get started every stinkin' time I close a toe and I was sick of looking it up in the notes app of my iPhone every time.  This is the most organized I've ever been when it comes to having a self-contained project, and it's worked for the past 3 or 4 pairs of socks I've worked.  I have 2 of these large jars set up.  I'm not sure if they still sell them anywhere, since they have been discontinued from time to time, I think because they've changed manufacturers or colors.  I've gotten them on clearance at least once or twice.  In the past, I've gotten these yarn jars to hold large skeins like Red Heart Super Saver acrylic but then the problem becomes what do you do with the project you're knitting or crocheting with the yarn in the jar?  I suppose if you're just using the jar to keep the yarn away from kids or pets, it's fine to use at home.  But I like to take my projects with me when I go out.  I don't get funny looks and rarely get asked what I'm working on anymore.  I take my socks to knit while waiting in restaurants, or while Dan is driving us somewhere.  I will get a couple hours in tomorrow when we head to Bristol Mountain to ski.  

I thought I was going to get some knitting time today, since I have a late start at work today.  Yesterday I had appointments right up until I started work at 1:30pm.  Today I don't have appointments but finally got a small windfall from a work bonus we were promised many months ago and was surprised to see the deposit finally in my account this morning, so I'm heading to the store to buy long sleeved t-shirts to wear at work since they changed the dress code and I just found out that my usual company jacket and my black thermals are both out of dress code.  I'm not allowed to wear my company jacket anymore, and my long sleeved t-shirts under my scrubs have to be either white or navy blue.  I'm not sure who decided navy blue was a good look under royal blue scrubs, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.  I'd already replaced my heavy thermal black Cuddle Duds shirts with thinner black thermal shirts from Costco in the fall.  Now I have to replace them again with white.  Which will be dingy lookin in no time, I'm sure.  Normally buying clothing would be a no-spend rule breaker, but for work uniforms I've decided it's okay.  I thought I would be able to buy them in a bulk package in the men's department of a big box store, but I'm not seeing that option online, so I'm heading to the craft stores to see if I can get a better price there.  I may also look thru the furniture at Hobby Lobby while I'm there for a drawer unit to use as a nightstand. There is one I've had my eye on for quite a while but couldn't justify the splurge.  Now that I've got a few extra bucks from my hard-earned bonus, I would like to buy at least one thing to remember it with.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

January Recap & February Goals

 Well, January is in the books and I'm glad to put it behind me.  I lost my dear friend, Bonnie who had a massive stroke on Christmas and passed away January 23rd.  I made a lofty list of goals for myself and missed most of them, but I did accomplish a few and feel good about that.  I'm going to try to do as much of those missed items as I can today, so that I start February with some wins.  

Among the goals I missed was getting the dining room cleared out.  I did consolidate so we could have 1 game night this month, but I didn't actually relocate my vinyl machines or printer to my office like I know I need to do.  I didn't get thru 1/3 of War and Peace... I listened to a few hours, but I'm still at the "beginning" of the massive book.  My no-buy/low-buy had 4 fail days, where I bought organizing products and gardening supplies.  The only craft items I've gotten were 2 acrylic tumblers and a pair of sweatpants to put vinyl on.  I didn't write to my penpals once a week like I wanted.  I had trouble with making my aunt's bowl cozies and gave up that day.  

Now, for the stuff I actually did accomplish...  I managed to keep up with all my planners.  The most behind I got was recording the following morning instead of doing it the night of that day.  I didn't buy anything frivolous.  I only ate out when I was with my family, never alone.  I recorded my gratitude every day.  I got all my swatches done for my CYC course.  I looked up the requirements to make Senior Tech at work and started marking off the ones I'm able to do so far. I went to the Bariatric doctor for a followup for the first time in 6 years and got back on vitamins to help my health. I saved my $25/paycheck.  

Now, for my February goals ...

  • Get the dining room cleared out
  • Read War and Peace at least 3 days a week
  • Work on the CYC course and complete at least 1 spiral pattern
  • Stick to low-buy/no-buy
  • Finish organizing sock yarn
  • Participate in InCoWriMo
  • Make Bowl Cozies for Aunt Sharon
  • Make Bowl Cozies for Leslie
  • Post a video to Youtube
  • Finish my 2 pairs of socks that are in progress
  • Sew PJ pants for Dan, Jo & Myself
  • Reorganize fabric stash
  • Keep up with planners
  • Ski 2 more times this season
  • Work on learning the Senior Tech skills
  • Family game nights 2x this month
  • Schedule sleep study and endoscopy appointments
I'm keeping the goals specific and attainable this month in hopes that I can accomplish them and mark them off as I go.  It's a short month and I have a week off work for my birthday, so I think I can get all of this done.  

How are your goals or resolutions doing so far after 31 days?  

Monday, January 30, 2023

Garden 2023


On Saturday I got an email from Costco advertising raised-beds for gardening square foot style.  I have tried this method several times with varying success.  But these containers were the legitimate size recommended in the official SFG guide, so I was feeling optimistic that somehow having these particular containers will lead to a greater chance of success.  Plus, they were relatively inexpensive compared to the ways I'd come up with before.  So, I confirmed with Dan that I was gonna be able to use them in our yard this summer and ordered them.  Costco shipped them for free on Sunday, and they should be here soon.  

Next, I tried to come up with a list of vegetables I wanted to grow.  My number one reason for gardening is honestly the tomatoes.  I LOVE tomatoes fresh from the garden.  In the past I've had problems with growing them.  One year they were exceptional and the next few years I got stuck with blight and blossom end rot, so I sorta gave up.  The last time I bought a patio variety in a pot which tipped over in the wind, landed on the recently-weed-killer-sprayed lawn, and promptly withered up and died.  That was about 3 years ago and the last time I planted a thing.  

The list of fruits, vegetables and herbs I decided on:

  • Sugar Baby Watermelon
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
  • Waltham Butternut Squash
  • Cherry Belle Radish
  • EZ Grow Monster Pumpkin
  • California Wonder Pepper
  • Sugar Snap Pea
  • Salad Bowl Lettuce
  • Bibb Lettuce
  • Black Beauty Eggplant
  • Spacemaster Bush Cucumber
  • Tendersweet Carrot
  • Garden Contender Bush Beans
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce
  • Thyme
  • Italian Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Bouquet Dill
  • Genovese Basil
  • Mortgage Lifter Tomato
  • Roma VF Tomato
  • Sweetie Tomato
  • Early Girl Hybrid Tomato
The first 2 sites I tried to order from were too expensive for the tiny amount of seed I actually need for a 32 square foot garden space.   I do not need 1300 lettuce seeds!  So I chose Ferry-Morris, who I've used in the past.  Their prices were much more affordable than Burpee or Harris Seed Company.  I used a coupon and hopefully the seeds will be freshest coming straight from the supplier instead of a big box store that carries them like Walmart.  

The spreaders are going in my old planters so they don't take over the whole garden.  The herbs, tomatoes,  peppers and some lettuce will go in one of the square foot boxes, and everything else will go in the second square foot box.  I need to get tomato cages and a trellis for the peas.  The beans and cucumbers are supposedly bush style so I'm hoping they won't need support... I need to look into that more at some point.  

I bought seed starting kits to get the plants growing in February.  I want them to be ready to plant when the frost is done at the end of May.  According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Map, we are a zone 6 area.  I don't know how smart it is to grow the plants so long before transplanting them outside, but I think it's necessary to start them early and have them large enough that when I put them into the outdoor garden, I can tell which are the plants and what is a potential weed sprouting up.  Aside from the lettuce, herbs, and root plants, I'm starting them early.  

In May I'll go to the garden store and buy the vermiculite, compost and peat that I'll blend into the growing matter.  It's my favorite but most exhausting part of the entire process, mixing the soil substitute.  But I like the fact that there are no weeds or grass when I start.  As long as Dan doesn't blow the grass into the boxes while cutting the lawn like he & my dad have done with the old gardens, we should be good.  Miracle-Gro makes raised-bed soil, but it would cost me over $200 for just the 2 beds.  More if I want to fill the old planters for the spreading plants (mint, squash, pumpkins & watermelon.)  We'll have to see how my local garden store and the big box home improvement stores compare between making it myself and buying it premade.  

The only other potential problem I'm just now thinking about is Fred.  Fred is the wild bunny that lives in our yard.  We might need to get some chicken wire to put around the beds, which is an expense I hadn't thought of.  I don't mind him chillin' in our yard, but I'm not trying to feed him a buffet either.  Luckily we live in a populated enough area that deer aren't an issue like at my old house.  

Do I really need another "hobby"?  No.  But this is something physical and outdoors, which is good for me and for Jo.  And it will give us some veggies that are otherwise lacking from our diet.  This year, the garden will be expensive, but all in all, worth it.  Like my knitting and crocheting, it serves a dual purpose.  It's something wholesome to do with my hands and helps my mental health, but it also creates something useful at the same time.  Subsequent years will be less expensive, but just as rewarding. I'm ready for it. 

Do you garden?  I'd love to hear your plans for the upcoming year if you do!  Leave me a comment. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Closet Accomplished!

So, Wednesday evening I got the closet finished.  I bought a 3 drawer cart to put on the one side of the closet under the few hanging clothes that are left (hoodies, dresses and jackets).  I stacked the 2 older carts on top of each other on the other side of the closet. In the new cart I am storing the pants and shirts that I couldn't fit in the first cart.  I've decided to return the organizers because they're so inefficient.  If I had regular bedroom furniture with deeper dresser drawers I can see how they would be beneficial, but for my low-budget closet they're just not gonna cut it.  Now, all my clothes are put away, my laundry is caught up, and I can freely open & close the closet's sliding doors without having to move piles out of the way.   The only clothing not in the closet are my uniform scrubs which hang on an over-the-door hanging bar on my linen closet in the hallway, and my PJs which I just throw in a storage cube under the bed.  I'm satisfied with how it's all come out in the end.  

I wish organizing other areas of the house were as easy.  I just have so much stuff, and it's spread out all over the house.  I think I need to focus on one particular thing at a time, a-la-Marie-Kondo, instead of focusing on organizing an area.  For instance, I have a gazillion writing utensils.  It would probably take me all day to find them all, bring them to one spot, organize them, and put them away neatly.  The same with notebooks, yarn, vinyl, diamond dots, sewing supplies, beauty supplies... I have quite a few hobbies. 

 I did break the low-buy to get the 3 drawer cart and a couple covered bins to put my sewing accessories in.  I "found" some bins I bought a year or two ago downstairs in the sewing area that will help corral my pens I think.  

The next 2 Saturdays I will be busy skiing and then coming home and relaxing (because getting up early after a late night at work, then skiing for a few hours is exhausting for a nearly-46 year old).  That leaves me 2 Wednesdays off work to get something accomplished, and then the whole following week I'm on vacation for my birthday.  I would like to have most of the organization done by the half way point of my week off so that I can relax and enjoy my time & space on my staycation.  By most, I mean my bedroom and office will be able to be walked through without climbing over piles of "stuff."  I'm not asking for them to be completely clutter free, I would just like to be able to walk freely without knocking over or stepping on stuff.  

I'm gonna go brainstorm a path forward in my sketchbook journal's Brain-dump section. I feel like writing things down and setting goals is really helping me this time around.  In the past, making a list or setting a goal was counter productive because then I became "demand resistant" where I refused to do the tasks because I knew I needed to do the tasks.  It makes no sense, but that's how I've been for a good 10 years.  It was like I would use up all my "go" energy making a plan, then decided not to do any of the work.  I'm not sure what's different this time around.  Probably that I'm doing it publicly and feel like I'm accountable to anyone who stumbles upon this page.  Whatever it is, I'm glad it's working and hope it holds up thru February so I can celebrate having an organized bedroom, office & sewing area in the near future. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Declutter progress... or not!

 So far today, I've worked in 3 rooms of my house and feel like I've made an even bigger mess of things.  My organizing grid units arrived from Amazon, and let me tell you, I will be reading reviews of anything I buy going forward, because the warnings were there if I had looked.  The organizers are super small.  My jeans are a US size 4 from Old Navy and they take up the equivalent of 2 slots.  They work ok for leggings and size Medium t-shirts, but anything thicker than that and you're gonna be disappointed.  I ended up taking the jeans out and putting them in my drawer without the organizer.  I got rid of several pairs of pants that were too big and some ciel blue scrubs I wore 3 years ago when I first started in the pharmacy and that was the color we wore.  We've changed colors twice since then and I've lost weight, so they weren't the right color or size, so I let them go.  I got rid of bras I haven't worn in years, pantyhose and tights from god-knows-when, and shape wear from when I cared about my midriff showing.  When I opened the drawers in the closet that I hadn't used in a good 5-8 years, I found pjs that were too big, so those went as well.  I found dressy shorts that still had the tags on them from so long ago I don't remember buying them.    I have a feeling they were too small at the time, hence the tags, but I tried them on and they fit me now, so I'm keeping them for the time being.  There are a couple events I go to in the summer where I imagine they are appropriate attire.  If I don't wear them this summer, I'll retire them to Goodwill. I have a pile more shirts to fold, and I'm waiting for a couple more loads of laundry to be dried so that I can put those items away as well.  By tonight my clothing should be under control.  

While I am waiting for the laundry to run it's cycle, I decided to stick a few more hooks on my sewing area wall to hang the new thread rack I bought and hang my quilt rulers along with my scissors, pinking sheers, and rotary cutters. I got rid of the thread boxes that were buried on my sewing table since they were ineffective.  Now I can see everything and know that I don't need to buy thread for anything for quite a long time.  I went thru the table and threw out random receipts, unnecessary packaging from different products I've opened & used, and other junk that didn't belong there.  I even found a stamped letter to a friend from I have no idea when.  I'm torn between mailing it and opening it to see what I had to say that day.  

Another Amazon purchase was smaller 5x8" bags for my sock yarn collection.  I might have underestimated how much space 100 grams of sock yarn takes up, because depending on how it's skeined or balled, some won't fit in those bags.  But I do like that they're smaller and for the ones that fit, they look better to display the yarn.  I will keep using the other ones (10x12") as potential project bags if I need to, and for yarn once it's in 2 sock cakes which take up more space.  I need to take down all the yarn, re-bag what can be, and then organize and re-hang them on the hooks in the office/craft room.  That will probably wait until next week so I can focus and spread that stuff out.  

I need to go to the library and pick up Marie Kondo's books that I reserved.  I'm hoping to get more inspiration or ideas.  I was hoping the Home Edit books would get there today, but so far I haven't been notified.  We are supposed to get a bunch of snow today.  I wish I had a job where I got to stay home if the weather was bad.  Unfortunately, drug stores and pharmacies don't close no matter what.  Even when we lost power for hours a few weeks ago they wouldn't let us go home.  Today is my day off, so I just have a doctor appointment to get to, but tomorrow it's back to the grindstone.  At least the snow will be good for skiing this Saturday.  Jo has her second lesson scheduled and I'm hoping that I at least get up the mountain a few times this week.  Last week I just stayed on the bunny hill the whole time. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Sparking Joy

 So, one of my goals for 2023 is to get my physical environment under control.  As a legitimate hoarder, this is something that has been a lifelong failure for me so far.  I get the idea to straighten up, I get inspired, I go hog wild buying things I think will help me to get organized, and then they sit in a corner waiting to be used as more and more piles form, tip over and grow again.  On Saturday night at about 1am, I was window shopping Amazon and broke my no-buy for the second time.  I started looking for a pegboard system to hang all my sewing notions on the wall by my sewing machine.  I have multiple rotary cutters, scissors and pinking shears.  I also have a lot of quilting rulers that could be hung.  I didn't find a suitable pegboard system that was affordable, so I settled on clear adhesive hooks that I can stick to the wall and get my tools off my sewing and cutting tables.  That mission at least will be accomplished. 

And while I was on Amazon, I came across organizers for clothes that can be used to hold clothes folded the KonMari way.  Now, I typically fold my shirts using a Flip-Folder I bought after seeing Sheldon using one on Big Bang Theory years ago, then stack them in my cubes.   I say typically, but I haven't done that in a year.  Lately, I either hang tshirts that are presentable to wear outside the house, or just throw the sleeping tshirts in a bin under the bed.  But my closet is overflowing, so it's time to come up with a better plan.  I've read 2 of Marie Kondo's books in the past, but never really tried to implement her strategies because of her method of making a bigger mess before you start cleaning up.  The idea of dumping all my clothes in a big pile in order to neaten my closet just doesn't interest me.  But I'm willing to give it a try, because nothing else has worked.  I bought this set of clothing organizers on Amazon, along with 3 more organizers for the shirts/pants, 2 more for bras, and 3 larger organizers for socks.  These are for me & Jo to share.  So, I have potentially 36 slots for larger items like shirts and pants for each of us.  My work scrubs will continue to be hung up because they don't take up much space and I have to hang them to steam the wrinkles out anyway.  Currently my closet has a double hanging rod on one side and an unused plastic drawer cart under the top rod on the other side.  The second drawer cart is down in the sewing area where it's not being used, so I might bring it back up if I can get all my hanging clothes down to one side of the top rod only.  

Most of the organizers will arrive Monday, so hopefully Tuesday & Wednesday we can go through all our clothes, purge what we don't want/need/love, and get the remainder folded up and into the organizers.  I'm looking forward to the challenge to finally get my wardrobe under control, like it hasn't been since I purged all my 3X clothes 8 years ago.  I also need to get one of my yarn totes emptied by consolidating the contents so that I have a place to store my size 6 jeans that are currently too big but that fit perfectly if I gain weight down the road, and my wedding dress that is still hanging up in my hallway after 18 months.   It will also be nice to see all my hand knit socks neatly matched & folded next to each other.  And my hand knit sweaters will also have a home in my wardrobe.   

Monday, January 23, 2023

My Planner Routine

 Today I thought I would share my planner routine.  It's quite an ordeal for me to keep up with all of them, but I also enjoy it.  And so far, I've kept up with all 7 of them.  Worst case scenario is that yesterday I got home from dinner and was too tired to rehash my day, so I updated them this morning.  The memories are still fresh, with the exception of what I ate yesterday, which isn't of vital importance in the grand scheme of things.  

Why do I have 7 planners, you ask?  Because I love writing, I love notebooks, and I couldn't narrow it down to fewer, quite frankly.  

Last year I used a Hobonichi Weeks as my daily carry and love the size and shape of it for keeping in my purse and writing out my work schedule and appointments, which I'm doing again this year.  At the end of the day, I record how my day at work went and any other important bullet points like important things that happened.  It has some blank space in the back for me to record other things like tv shows I watch, knitting patterns I'm trying to keep track of, etc.  This year I went with the regular version instead of the Mega since last year I didn't use much of the back space.  

Also living in my purse is my Hobonichi A6 Notebook which I use as my social media planner.  I jot down notes for posts I want to make, I drafted a schedule of ideas for the month ahead, and generally brainstorm for my blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Youtube.  I keep this with me so that I can potentially work on it when I'm on lunch break at work, although I tend to scroll social media instead of working on my content. 

When I get home at night, or before I go to sleep, I sit down and write in the other 5 journals/planners that live in a bin next to my bed.  

  1. In my 8-in-1 sketchbook journal, I record my mood for the day, note anything that I talked to my kids about, track any spending, note any learning or crafting progress, write anything notable about my social media accounts, and record a bit of gratitude.  This one isn't something I spend a lot of time on.  I have a brain dump section if there's something I'm trying to puzzle my way through.  But for the most part, it's just relevant bullet points in each section that's applicable to that particular day.  
  2. In my Hobonichi Techo A6 (English version) I do longhand journaling about everything that happened that day.  The A6 size is perfect to record a couple paragraphs and summarize my day so that in the future I will be able to get a good view of my life's day to day happenings.  I hope to build a library of these so that I can look back on them in my old age. 
  3. The Aura Estelle Hourly A5 planner is where I record my work hours and everything else I do throughout the day to kind of know how I'm spending my time.  It's messy and quick.  I miss the Erin Condren Daily Duo for the hourly record aspect of what I accomplish in a day, but I don't need a whole page per day to record that stuff either.  I like having the week at a glance with my work hours blocked off so I can visually see how my week is shaping up.  I tend to get more done on days that I go into work late because I can get stuff done in the morning before work.  Most nights that I get home earlier in the day and just veg because I'm worn out.  
  4. Erin Condren Habit Tracker notebook - I got this one a year or two ago and never used it.  I make a weekly list of tasks I should be working on for that week.  I write the days across the top and just X off the tasks that I actually accomplish each day.  This is a newer idea for me, and I'm not sure how it's working as this is only the second week, but at least I get a daily reminder when I check in that I'm supposed to be working on stuff this week that I might otherwise forget about, like scheduling appointments or reorganizing my yarn stash. 
  5. And, finally, my Bullet Journal 2.0.  This notebook I pre-formatted for my year ahead with the pages already labeled with each week, my monthly goals pages, and my budget and spending trackers.  In the front is my no-spend tracker, my gratitude tracker, and all my goals for the year from my Makse Life-derived goal planning.  Each night I record my spending, the thing I'm grateful for that day, and then turn to the weekly view and record some bullet points of the day and cross off any task bullets I completed and sometimes record some bullets for tomorrow that need to get done. I'm not really a bullet journal follower - I found the video about how to bullet journal when Ryder Carroll put out his first video on it many years ago.  I like the original iteration of it where there was no preplanning, you just grew the notebook as you went.  It was a Moleskine and a pen.  I could handle that.  Then people like Kara from Boho Berry came along and made spreads and trackers and banners and beautified the whole thing and I just couldn't keep up with that aesthetic. I like to be able to plan ahead, so I pre-dated the notebook.  It will also keep me accountable since each page has its purpose and I don't want to waste them.  I don't pre-layout the weekly view though.  Some weeks I separate into 8 equal areas, sometimes I bullet each day's information free-form and use as many or few lines as needed for each day.   This week I set up a To Do list at the top to cover things I must accomplish this week.  I think I will eventually discover a layout that works well and stick with it, but right now I'm just experimenting.  
So, that about sums up how I use and keep track of my 7 planners.  Do you use a paper planner?  Do you have more than 1?  I'd love to hear your experience!