December Favorites

December 31, 2013


Dracula. If you like vampire shows, give this a try. I love the costumes, props, Van Hellsing's lab...

CustomFit by Amy Herzog Designs (for knitters)

Alaska: The Last Frontier - For an entertaining taste of homesteading in Alaska wth Jewel Kilcher's family.

This article on mindful eating.

This video on empathy versus sympathy.

Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 - This is a 20 minute address, but it's worth every minute. So inspiring.

Speaking of the New Year, I hope you are all having a fantastic last day of 2013! This was a quick year for me. It went by in a flash, but I guess time flies when you're having fun.

Personally, I'm excited for the beginning of a new year. I have big plans for 2014, some of which I plan to share with you later in the week in my New Year's resolutions post. Until then, Happy New Year!

Christmas Snapshots

December 23, 2013


There's been an abundance of twinkle lights, hot beverages, and lazy evenings reading books by candlelight this weekend as we head toward Christmas. I've been recovering from a nasty cold, so with the help of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, I've had plenty of time to catch up on my Goodreads goal of 25 books read in 2013. Next year, I'll set the goal to 30.

We've got dinner with friends on Christmas Eve, and family breakfast Christmas morning, so I'll catch you all next week. Until then, warm wishes and happy holidays.

WIP: Handsewn Heirloom Patchwork Quilt

December 17, 2013


A few months ago, I was contacted by The Amazings, a London-based company that facilitates the teaching of craft skills from one generation to the next. Recently, The Amazings have decided to expand internationally, offering online classes in a wide and growing variety of subjects, and I was asked to help sense-check and review a few of these video classes for them.


Once I learned about The Amazings and their mission, I got really excited. I wasn't taught much about crafts as a kid, so most of what I now know about knitting, crocheting, and sewing has been self-taught. And although self-teaching has its merits, I find there are often gaps in my knowledge that would've otherwise been filled had I learned from a skilled family member or craftsperson.

That’s where The Amazings’ online courses come in. For each class (I've taken three so far), there is an elder who is highly skilled in their particular craft, and a student who learns from them, asks questions, and partakes in the act of creating. As you experience the student-teacher dynamic in each video, you learn about the craft in such a way that you feel immersed in the whole experience. It almost makes you feel like you're right there in the room with them, which is something I found particularly helpful.


Of the three classes I enrolled in, I was most looking forward to the class about Handsewing an Heirloom Patchwork Quilt. I've been collecting fabric (mostly bed sheets and pillow cases) from thrift stores for a few years now, and this class finally gave me an excuse put my collection of fabric to use. And although my sewing knowledge was limited, and my quilting experience was absolutely non-existent, I was able to start piecing my own quilt together right away, and I’m super excited about how it’s turning out so far.


Unfortunately, the holiday season hit just as I was in the middle of my quilt-making, so I’ve had to put the project aside until after the New Year. My initial goal was to completely finish the quilt before sharing it with you here, but I decided I couldn't sit on it any longer.

I still have a few choices to make regarding its final size (right now, it's the perfect size for a lap quilt) and edging. Do I want to keep the edges jagged? Do I want to make them even and bind them? There's a lot to decide, but I'll keep you updated as I go along.

Knitterly Things

December 12, 2013


I do believe this is the first year where I’ve had all of my Christmas gifts prepared well enough in advance to sit back, relax, and enjoy other non-holiday-related happenings. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of finishing touches that need doing, but for once I don’t feel rushed and anxious, which is especially nice due to the fact that I’ve spent the last day and a half sick in bed. Why does everyone seem to get sick right smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season?

Over the weekend, I made my dad a Hat Shaped Hat for his birthday with a ball of yarn I already had in my stash. I originally bought the yarn for something else entirely, but too much time has passed since then to recall. In any case, I thought it would work perfectly for a masculine hat because it's full of browns and neutrals.


Shortly after I finished my dad’s hat, my Knit Picks yarn order arrived. I placed the order during their Black Friday sale because there was a specific colorway I needed for an upcoming project. So, while I was at it, I decided to purchase another three project’s worth of yarn so I could hit the $50 free-shipping requirement. I think ordering yarn this way is the most effective method for me because once I’ve planned out which projects I want to knit, I can just chop away at it, one after the other, without having to spend too much time figuring out the details. I can literally spend hours and hours choosing between colors and fibers.


As for my current project, the Shapely Boyfriend cardigan, I finally chose a needle size based on my swatches. The Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tweed yarn that I’m using is light compared to most worsted weight yarns I’ve worked with in the past, so I’ve decided to go up a needle size. Still, despite the compensation, my gauge is off, so I’m knitting the next pattern size. Hopefully the math works out, but if not, I’ll just rip back and start all over again. I usually have to do this once or twice per project anyway, so it doesn’t really bother me anymore.

'Tis the Season

December 10, 2013


Two weekends ago, Matt and I drove out with his folks to Wheeler's Tree Farm, a local u-cut, for our annual Christmas tree. It was pouring rain, so we were sopping wet by the time we arrived back at the house with our noble fir, but we were happy. We picked a good one this year.

Since then, the temperature has plummeted to the 30's, 20's and teens. We even managed a light dusting of snow this morning, which somehow makes winter's arrival that much more real. Winter is coming.


Although I was worried about the hens in our below-freezing weather, they've held up quite well. They're still active and curious, and they eat anything that moves. Their hardiness is a nice surprise.

Us indoor mammals, on the other hand, are much more inclined to complain about the cold. We don't know how to cope as well with our freezing hands and paws, so we hide under blankets and cups of hot beverages, and cuddle together to stay warm.


December 4, 2013


It may seem odd to those who aren't keen on animals, but I feel fortunate to be surrounded by all of the small beings that reside with us in the nest. Maybe it's because I was raised by a major animal lover. To give you an idea, when I was growing up, my mom would bring home injured skunks and opossums and all sorts of critters, and nurse them back to health before sending them off on their merry way. And although I've never lived on a farm, I was surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, goats, llamas, and even rabbits. I can't imagine life without companions such as these.


Some of you have been asking about the chickens, so I went through my posts and realized there's a lot to update you on! First, the last of our girls stopped laying in early November. We've opted not to extend their natural laying cycle with artificial lights, so they probably won't start laying again until February when the days get longer, but that's a-ok with us. We'll just eat less eggs for now, and buy them from the store when we really need them.

Second, the only obvious molting came from Seven of Nine, my Black Australorp. It started during the week she went broody, when she surrounded the nest box with her own feathers, after which appeared bare patches on her tummy that have since grown in. The molting on the other ladies has been less obvious, but they are all looking decidedly fluffy, and if I dig around, I can spot a few pinfeathers here and there.

Third, Miss Amelia Pond finally decided to hop the fence into the neighbor's yard a few weeks back. I knew it was only a matter of time because she's such an avid flyer, but I was secretly hoping she'd never get curious enough to try. In any case, we've extended the height of the fence with some chicken wire, so I doubt it'll happen again. I hope, I hope, I hope.

And lastly, the cold has arrived, so Matt and I have double-checked the hen house to make sure the weather stripping is secure. From everything I've read, the girls should be fine as long as they have adequate ventilation, and are protected from the wind. Aside from that, we're bringing their water dispenser in with us at night to keep it from freezing over, and we'll be filling it with warm water before hooking it back up in the morning.

Oh! And Miss Olive's leg is doing just fine these days. See for yourself in the video above. Pro rail-walking skills. :)