Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just What the Doctor Ordered

The Duke and I decided to take off to Portland for the weekend. We were in dire need of a little down time.

Before we left I treated myself (with knitter's credit of course) to a couple of Grafton Fiber's Batts, one is Cooridale, the other Wensleydale. I can't wait to try them out.

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I got more knitting done this weekend than I have in the last three weeks.

I was part way through the first one of these, and now there are two. I love them. They were originally intended to be socks, but about 2 inches down the first one, I realized I hadn't cast on enough stitches. (How does that happen?) Not to fear, I have itty bitty wrists and smallish hands. Fingerless mitts to the rescue! They are in my handdyed sock yarn. I think I originally called the colorway "St. George."

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I started and finished this, which looks terrible before it's blocked, so you just get a pretty fabric shot until then. The yarn in Jitterbug by Colinette, doubled.

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I also started my next pair of socks (seeing as the last pair turned out to be mitts instead.)

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In addition to all this wonderful knitting time, I got a little fun shopping in.

I visited Knit-Purl, my favorite Portland LYS. If you are ever in Portland you must go, and if you never make it to Portland, good thing for you they have an awsome website. Check it out, and be sure to drool over their own line of yarns, Shibuiknits.
I love the silk puff. I had a hard time walking away from it. Hilltop is awaiting our own order of their sock yarns, which Kalani was kind enough to inform me we can expect in the next 2-3 weeks. YIPPEE

So what did I pick up?

This- sock yarn and matching roving from Fleece Artist. It is intended to be a kit for thrumbed socks, but I won't be using it that way. I'm not too interested in thrumbing.
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I also got another cone of this. I got a cone of it last year and Logan got ahold of it and killed about half of it before I got to him (little bugger!) I couldn't figure out what I was going to do with such a small amount. I decided that I would just buy more in a contrasting color. I have an idea of what it might become.

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We also paide a visit to Powell's Books, my very first visit. Heavens to Betsy this place is HUGE! We were there for an hour and a half (not nearly enought time.) I didn't even make it all the way through one room and there are 7 very large rooms. You must go, it is, just as they claim, a book lover's paradise. I got these.

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I'll be sharing out of both of them. The Knit to Fit is a hysterically charming vintage (early 60's) knitting book with some very useful info in it as well. The other is just a cheap cook book that looks like it has some good fast dinners in it. It has over 700 recipes in it and all of them only have 4 ingredients. I hope it has an index. ***looking*** It does.
Last but not least, I spet a great deal of time grooming Maggie, a long overdue chore. Have you ever wondered how much fur comes off of a Wire-haired Fox Terrier from stripping HALF of her body, and all this after all ready spending severl hours pulling out matts? You can see why some spinners might get it in their heads to spin their dog's fur. No, I will not be spinning this. It smells like a dirty dog!

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And now we are home, and tomorrow we return to real life. Sigh. At least the Duke gets paid to go to work this week, and then, he starts his second to last rotations. We are gearing up for a serious CELEBRATION!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Knitting Specialist"

Occasionally when I am asked what I do for a living, or sometimes, especially at school, when I hand someone my card, I get a confused look.
If someone asks, I usually just answer that I work in a yarn store. Many muggles think this means a craft store, like Joannes (if only they knew!) Knitters conjure up romantic images of me knitting at work and helping other knitters every so often (couldn't be further from the truth- I have never knit at work, at least not while I was on the clock.)
My business card lists my title as "Knitting Specialist." That really throws my fellow MBA students for a loop. I kind of get a kick out of it, but then usually they ask me explain.

I only worked for three and a half hours today, and I thought I might let you in on the secret of my job by outlining what those three and a half hours looked like.

1. An order came from vendor Crystal Palace. It was a rep order, meaning "new to us" merchandise. One of the other women has all ready checked the order for accuracy, so I took it to enter all the pertinent info for each new item into our point of sale system, set the prices, etc. create a purchase order, and receive it to indicate to the system that we now have inventory. Then I printed a receiving document to give to our AP person and printed price stickers for the merchandise.
2. There was another order there from vendor Cascade. I opened it, so I checked it for accuracy. Another buyer had created a purchase order at the time of order, so I received it into the system, printed report and tags. I checked for and filled special orders placed in this order (there were four.) I separated the tags and attached them to each bag of yarn to try to insure that the right price stickers end up on the right merchandise.
3. I placed an order for vendor Notion's Marketing for merchandise we were low on. Then I placed another order with them while talking on the phone to one of HT's designers, who needed a specific item that we didn't currently carry in the the shop, and also filled customer special orders from that vendor.
4. I take care of the dozens of requests that we get for charitable contributions. Today I organized and bundled up the 2006 procurement forms and left them in AP's in box. Then I sorted through the stack of requests I had all ready this year, determined there were three that fit the criteria we have for donation, filled out the procurement forms, created the gift certificates, created an excel sheet to track them, entered the data into excel, and called the various charities to tell them to come pick them up.
5. I corrected the inventory from a mistake I made in receiving last week when I was trying to work through my sickness (another reason to stay home!)
6. On my way out the door (all ready clocked out, but I love yarn and knitters so it's OK) I helped a customer pick out yarn for a jacket that she wanted to knit.

That is what three and a half hours looks like in the work world of this "Knitting Specialist."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

For the Curious Among Us

For the culinarily curious

Gnocchi (pronounced NYOH-kee) are small dumplings usually made with potato and flour. Small ridges in the dough help the sauce to stick to the Gnocchi.

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They were wonderful, and very filling.
From Taste of Home 2007

4 med potatoes, peeled and quartered (I used 8 very small and had just the right amount.)
1 egg lightly beaten
1.5 t salt
1.75-2 C. flour

boil the potatoes, covered, until tender
drain, rinse with cool water, and mash
use 2 C. mashed potatoes and discard the rest (or use for something else)
add egg and salt to potatoes
gradually beat in flour until blended
turn out onto a lightly floured surface
knead 15 or so times
roll out into 1/2" wide ropes
cut into 1" wide pieces
using a lightly floured fork, slightly flatten each piece (makes the ridges)
boil more water
add gnocchi to boiling water in small batches (so they don't touch each other too much, I did it in three batches.)
when they float to the top they are done, take them out with a slotted spoon.
cover with sauce and parm. (or rice cheese if you're me) and eat!

For our sauce, I cheated a bit. I used a bottle of Classico, added about a 1/4 C. of red wine and a couple of cut of Aidell's chicken and apple sausages (SO GOOD!)
It's not as good as my homemade, but it's still good.

for the fiber curious

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a little sneak peek at what I'm happily working on. . . and the yarn is from my stash. I'm so good.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I wonder what this button does?

Sounds like a dangerous question doesn't it? I wish I would have asked it, oh I don't know, say a year ago.

Tonight, for the first time, I noticed a little flower symbol on my camera. I thought that was strange, as I was certain my camera (much to my irritation) did not have a macro function on it. I decided to press it. A little bar graph came up, giving me the abbility to select how far away the camera is from the subject. OK then, I'm an idiot.

I have struggled to shoot good yarn photos for over a year. I would curse myself for allowing my husband to talk me into a digital camera without a macro function. Tonight, after discovering this, I sat here thinking and then remembered, "Oh yeah, it's the telephoto lense he gave me for my non-digial slr that doesn't do macro" Sigh.
Anyway, hopefully my fiber photos will be much improved, at least as improved as I can get with my little point and shoot digital camera.

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Louet's Northern Lights Space Dyed Top: Violets
This wasn't very easy to spin, even in pin drafted form. I had terrible problems with it breaking or not holding its join. It turned out pretty though, and I have a few more onces in a different colorway that I will stil spin, so it must not have been that bad.

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My finished scarf in my own hand-dyed colorway: Savanah.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

So long comments. . . welcome email!

I was so excited today when I visited Exercise before Knitting and discovered that there is a way to fix the one thing that most annoys me about Blogger, that you can't email the people that leave comments.
It does mean that all of your old comments get deleted in the process, but I felt like that was not an unreasonable price to pay.

Hurray, and if you Blogger users out there want to know the trick, visit Haloscan. It was very easy, only took about a min. or so.

Thanks Elinor!

Friday, January 19, 2007

To Dream the Impossible Dream

I have a new toy. Here it is adorned by my newest attempt to drive myself to insanity.
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(Yes, that is a very long scarf knit all in garter stitch. Only the beautiful colorway is keeping me going.)

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I am very excited, as it will make both spinning and dyeing much easier. I gave my kniddy knoddy a couple of coats of varnish to make it feel better for being effectively replaced. I'll still keep her around for classes and the odd time the skeiner might be otherwise engaged. I'm planning on finishing the skeiner like I did Tara (my wheel) with a couple of coats of tung oil.

Speaking of Tara, she is back at home and we are both very happy. I spent a couple of hours earlier in the week assembling the shops new Ashford Traditional, so Tara was able to come home. I'll post pictures of the progress in a few days. I still have two more wheels to put together.

In addition to a new windmill looking object in my room, current event in my personal life have also had me singing "I, Don Quixote." Recently a couple of old friends contacted me about an idea they had. The best teacher and mentor that I have ever know, our HS theater coach, is getting ready to retire. They have accumulated a group of her former students to explore various possibilities of honoring her.

Carol always put us in the spotlight. Only twice did I see her perform. The first time was a mono-act from I, Don Quixote. (I think, it could have been from the book or the musical as well.) Over the next several years she taught me to dream the impossible dream. She taught me that I could be Dulcinea. She taught me to fight against improbability. Those lessons have served me well. I am pleased with where my life has gone, and pleased by the fact that I have driven myself there, finding help where I needed it, and turning away from the voices of discouragement. Carol taught me lessons far more important than any lesson I have ever learned in any classroom (and believe me I have spent A LOT of time in classrooms.) I am looking forward to finding a way to say, "thank you" for shaping my life.

I am interested to know who the women and men who have mentored you are, and what you may have done to honor that gift. Leave me a link in the comments or email me (yarnnation at gmail dot com) if you post it to your blog.

Incidentally, Carol also taught me all I know about power tools (which you might be surprised to know is quite a bit.) This has also served me well in many ways- assembling spinning wheels is not as easy as one might imagine! So if you stop by the shop in the next few days and hear me humming "To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe. . . ." between mumbled cursings, you will know why.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lessons I Seem to Never Learn

I'm sick
It's lame
I tried the denial thing.
It made it worse.

Here are a few of the lessons that I never seem to learn about being sick. Maybe if I type them out they will stick in my brain better.

1. It's not allergies, not in the middle of the winter, just take the zinc, JUST DO IT.
2. You no longer have the mutantly strong immune system of your youth.
3. Don't try to "work through it." Rest is the only thing that is going to get you better.
4. Don't take Sudafed after 3:00pm. It may say that it wears off in 4-6 hours, but at least for you, its side effects (hyperness) do not.
5. Don't let the Tylenol wear off.
6. Don't go to the gym, walk the dogs, or push through a yoga workout. You'll regret it.
7. Don't knit on size US1 needles. It will make your head, shoulders, neck, arms, ect. hurt more.
8. Drink tea, drink lots and lots and lots of tea.
9. Eat, even though you don't want to.
10. Do not comment to your husband how happy you are that you have managed to stay well for three months straight (the bugs can hear you, they will make short work of such mockery.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Change of Pace

Thank you so much to all of you for your words of encouragement. You all inspired me to actually DO something about slowing my life down, instead of just talking about it. So, I dropped one of my classes today. It felt good. It felt really good. This, in addition to giving me more time to prevent my house from looking like the place has been tossed, will also give me more time for knitting and spinning, at least this is my hope.

Yesterday, Sarah and I took a little field trip to Bainbridge Island. What were we doing there? Oh not much. . . just picking up all of the new spinning wheels for Hilltop! YIPEEE!

Sarah and I met a little over a year ago at a "mentor fair" for school. She had her knitting with her, (smart girl) and we were eventually also assigned to the same mentor. Sarah is the one who is paving the way for knitters to knit in class. She also told me yesterday that she knits under the table when she is in long meetings at work. I LOVE IT!

In addition to picking up the wheels and various other spinny items, we paid a visit to Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. A very interesting thing happened there, neither of us, both maniac knitters, bought a single thing. We had spinning on our minds, and commercially spun yarn was not answering that sweet hand spun call.

Our other stop, however, was beyond our ability to resist. Esther's Fabrics is a fiber maven's paradise, and if that weren't enough, they were having a SALE. I could not resist, but kept my purchases to a minimum.

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These will make a nice little notions pouch for me

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And these little lambies. . . their sweet little bleats enamoured me.

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I finished a lovely scarf for a friend, it's long and soft and wonderful. The yarn is Elesbeth Lavold's Angora. One ball each of colors, (7) midnight blue, (8) aubergine, (14) lime green, (12) cloudberry.

I realized when I finished it that I have only ever knit myself one short little scarf, a situation that will soon be rectified. The Duchess needs a new scarf for this ridiculous weather Seattle is experiencing.

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The Duke is also doing his part to help me slow down. Isn't he the picture of masculinity?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Master Muggle

Tonight the Duke and I attended the adult session of our Stake Conference (a Stake is a group of wards or congregations similar to a diocese in the Catholic church.) It was a wonderful meeting. The topics were uplifting, the speakers were engaging, the Spirit was strong, and the words motivational. I naturally knit through the entire two hours, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, let me get a little personal here. I rarely talk about this, but I feel like maybe it's time to start. Maybe then, people like the Master Muggle (whom I will introduce shortly) will be less ignorant.

I have severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have been diagnosed by a professional mental health provider and I am engaged in several different types of treatment. It is difficult to talk about because of the stigma that is so common concerning mental health disorders. People, including myself at times, do not take such disorders seriously. I would like to believe that I can control my own emotions, but in fact, that is not always the case. We, as humans, are much more complex and delicate than we would like to believe.

I won't go into more detail, but just let me say, that if you are someone who doesn't believe that mental health disorders are as real as any physical malady, let me personally assure you that they are. I have been in some scary situations, but never in my life have I been more terrified than the first time I experienced a panic attack.

Now, how does this tie to Stake conference, knitting, and my friend the Master Muggle? (I know that several of you who read this blog aren't knitters- we knitters refer to non-knitters as Muggles, in a very loving way, of course.) Well, let me tell you.

So, I knit during church. Sitting still for long periods of time is very very difficult for me. I get very fidgety, I can't concentrate, and at worst, I have had panic attacks. I have tried several of my "tools" to combat this, as my church meetings are of great importance to me. Only two have, to date, been effective. I have been able to get through long meetings using a technique where you study a single object in minute detail. Yes, it works, the problem is, the technique requires that you carefully tune out all other incoming information, thus defeating the purpose of being in the meeting in the first place.

As many of you knitters know, the simple rhythmic motion and tactile feel of knitting is a very powerful type of meditation. While us knitters have known this for a long time, medical studies are beginning to demonstrate this as well. Schools throughout Europe and many private schools here in the US have also begun teaching knitting to children to help them improve concentration.

When I knit I am able to relax, concentrate, and focus on the message that is being presented. When I knit during my church meetings I come away uplifted, calm, and with a better understanding of the material that was being discussed. When I don't I come away tired, irritated, and jumpy.

Today immediately after the meeting was over, a man I have never met before approached me. I smiled expecting him to introduce himself. Instead, he scowled at me, and asked if I knew how distracting my knitting was. Taken back, I simply said "I'm sorry."
He continued along these lines, "We are all sitting here enraptured with the speaker, and then, there is your hand flying about, have you considered how distracting that is to other people?"
I, having now had my spiritual bubble burst, simply told him no, I hadn't considered it, and turned my back on him.

The Duke and I were both in shock that someone would, after such a wonderful meeting, feel a need to be so rude to someone he had never met. (Ironically, two of the main topics of the meeting were loving those around us even if they make decisions we don't agree with, and forgiving one another.)

Now, for your further consideration, there is also a deaf woman in our Stake who communicates through ASL. Naturally, she has translators at all Stake meetings, including this meeting. I love to watch the signers. I find them fascinating, and I will carefully watch them, if I am seated somewhere that I can see them. (As a side note, this has helped me get through Stake meetings in the temple, where it is not appropriate for me to take my knitting, and I greatly appreciate it.) I will not, however, hear most of what is being said by the speakers. I have found that if I want to get anything out of the meeting I need to sit somewhere that I can't see them. I guess you could say that I am distracted by them. I doubt, however, that the Master Muggle would approach one of the translators with the same complaint that he had for me.

After discussing my hurt feelings, and having the Duke comfort me, assuring me that it was nothing to worry about (remember anxiety is the problem here,) we agreed that he clearly does not know that my knitting is not a mere form of entertainment. The best course of action is to forgive and move on.

Moving on, for me, is always about writing. Once a concern is committed to words, I usually find it easier to let it go. (Another helpful tool in my arsenal against anxiety.) So here I am, writing, and feeling more calm than I have since Brother Muggle's complaint. I chose to write here, because the only way that other people won't make the same mistake is if they DO know, if they ARE informed.

This is my contribution to the Muggle Education Movement (and more seriously, to increasing awareness about mental illness.)

Tomorrow is another two hour Stake Conference session. I don't know if I will see Brother Muggle tomorrow, or even if I will remember what he looks like if I do. But I will be there, I will be knitting, and I will have a copy of this post tucked into my knitting bag just for him.

Happy Knitting

Friday, January 12, 2007

New New New

So, I do like the new Blogger, it at least makes changing the sidebar much easier. I still had to fidget and fiddle to get my new header up (pretty snazzy- no?) and we still aren't able to email the people who leave comments. Progress has been made, and like all things, there is progress left to make.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


This afternoon (while I was working at home) I heard a noise outside my front door. I went to investigate.

This is what I found. . .

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It was filled with a most wonderful, colorful, and happy respite from a dreary winter's day.

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For lunch, one of the best Braburn apples I have ever had. Crisp, Juicy, Sweet!
Keepers, all of them.

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After a trip to Costco, some creativity was required for dinner.
Yarnnationized Gyros- Supper Yummy!
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Two hamburger patties, pre-cooked from the previous night's dinner, some soy sausage, an egg, some garlic, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Throw it all together, heat it thoroughly.

Peel and chop a cucumber, toss it in a bowl with some more garlic, about a tsp. of lemon juice, more salt, more pepper, and about a half cup of sour cream (or sour cream substitute in my case.)

Chop up a tomato.

Some pita bread.

It's a KEEPER!

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Another finished object.
My design- name name yet (any suggestions?)
Yarn: Classic Elitet's LaGran (4.5 balls)
Needles: Size 11 Knit Picks Options (LOVE THEM!)
Another Keeper :)

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I AM working on several other projects, but I need some "tired" knitting- ie- little or no counting, easily memorized pattern.
I have seven balls of Nashua's Painted Forest.
55 yds each
2.5 sts per inch on a size 13 needle
Any suggestions?
I'm looking for another KEEPER!

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Oh yes, and for those that inquired, an avocado shake is an excellent way to enjoy the sweetness of the wonderful Filipino Fruit!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Avocado eatin', illustration lovin', cliff divin', birth marked, beach avoider.

I've been DOUBLE tagged by Lucy vanPelt and The Fantastic Five.

A meme

Five things you don't know about me:

1. I like to eat avocado's with sugar and creme (not real cream, as I am allergic to dairy, but a cream substitute.) Before you go sayin' I'm all weird and stuff, this is how ALL Filipino's eat their avocados. They thought I was crazy when I added salt and tomatoes to avocado.
2. I have a birth mark on my lower left abdomen that is in the perfect shape of a Scottie dog.
3. I collect intricately illustrated children's books
4. I don't like salt, sand, or to be wet. The beach is pretty much a cruel form of torture to me, however, I do enjoy the sound and smell of the ocean and can tolerate my feet getting a little sandy, so walks on the beach are enjoyable (as long as they are with the Duke!)
5. I have jumped off of a 100 foot cliff into the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, and hit my foot on a coral reef for my troubles. Let me just say that if you are able to have clear, concrete thoughts while you are falling through the air, you jumped off something way to high!

And now what is this?

My finished "Soft Serve Socks"

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Look for a free pattern coming to Yarnnation soon!

In other exciting news. . .

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These arrived from Grafton Fibers not too long ago. Employees observe a two week waiting period before we buy new merchandise. . . It may just kill me.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy New Year

Don't worry, I'm still here, you can call off the virtual blood hounds. I've just been otherwise occupied for the last two weeks, and happily so! It's not that I don't love blogging, I just love my lil' sis more.

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That's right, Princes P. and Prince Bertram the Bad came up for a week long visit. I realize that only explains one week, but the week before that was spent trying to frantically fit two weeks worth of work, both at home and at the shop, into one week. I was semi successful.

Anywhoo. . . it was a lovely visit.

We knit

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Princess P. knitting her self dyed yarn (much like mistletoe.

and we dyed

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Sweet Spring Dreams

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Big Rock Candy Mountain

and we relaxed.

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Isn't this the cutest thing EVER! Logan was asleep, but I woke him up when I got up to get my camera.
Oh, and see that piece of knitting the Princess wore herself out knitting. . . it's this knit in Alchemy's Sanctuary. She saw the yarn, they had the model knit up, and really how could you say no to hand dyed silk and wool? Only my empty wallet kept me away.

and naturally we did a little shopping, mostly yarn and fabric stores. A visit to Nancy's ribbon room is a must for the Princess.

It was a wonderful visit and I was sad to see them go. I continue to try to convince them that the PNW is heaven on earth and they need to move here. The continue to come here in the winter and think I'm insane. Actually, the weather was pretty decent most of the time they were here, but the whole dark at 4:00 thing is hard to hide. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

Now, as for the whole New Year's resolution thing.
I don't do resolutions well. I am continually in a state of trying to improve myself. I think that is enough. I don't want to feel guilty for not completing something I resolved to do. I do, however, think it is a great idea to write down the things you want to accomplish. In fact, I'm something of a list maniac.
So here are some of the things that I would like to accomplish in the next year.

Make more time for quiet contemplative time for myself. I sometimes feel that the world is sweeping me along at a pace that makes it hard to even think. I need to slow down sometimes.

Create several weeks worth of menus for myself so that I can make sure that I always have healthy food in the house, and I don't have to think about what I'm going to make for dinner when I am hungry and tired. I also want to eat more fruits and veggies, and with a little help from my friend Betsy I got signed up for a semi-weekly delivery of fruits and veggies right to my very own door. Thanks Betsy!

Not to worry so much about what I am knitting and what I am not knitting. I want to take the stress out of knitting that I have put into it. I am also going to make a concerted effort to knit from my stash. (Stop laughing- I can be determined if I need to be.)

Survive- this last quarter really burned me out. I think my classes this quarter will be more interesting, let's hope so.

I hope you are all adjusting back into the normal swing of things. The Duke and I were reluctant at first, but remembered that while the holidays are fun and joyful, there is a reason that we only celebrate for a few weeks out of the year. The pace is somewhat of a sprint at times. It's nice to be jogging again for a while.