2013: Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I spun the yarn, designed and knit my own sweater.  I took a Zumba class.  I went to Yarn School.  We took my niece and nephew to Florida and went on a gator boat ride.  We rode the Amtrak to Chicago.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


These were my resolutions for 2013:

* Enjoy my time with my husband.

* Get moving. I seriously lacked in the fitness and self care department this year.

* Be more deliberate with my money and my time. Make time for the important things, clear away the junk that isn’t worth the effort.

I definitely enjoyed time with Wes this year even if we didn’t get in a vacation for the two of us.  The second I did in fits in and starts. I took some Zumba classes at the beginning of the year and then towards the end of the year I started jogging on the treadmill. I could certainly improve my efforts there.

As to the third, I think I did a fair to middling job. I did do some cleaning, I did get rid of things that are just taking up space. I haven’t been as deliberate with my money as I would like to be.

As for resolutions for the coming year, I’m just not sure yet. I may have to take it as it comes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


My sister had a beautiful baby girl, my niece Roxy. I got to meet her just a few weeks ago and I’m smitten.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Luckily not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

None.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

I’ve said it two years running, but a vacation would be nice. Somewhere just the two of us.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sadly this year it’s mostly the tragic days that hold sway. April 15 – the Boston marathon bombing.  May 20 – the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.  On the other hand, October 31st is now not only Halloween, but my niece’s birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


This year I think surviving the year was key. Nothing terrible happened, but at times it was a hard slog. I’ll be happy to greet 2014!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Definitely the no exercising thing. I actually got into a good little groove in October/November, but the holidays came and I lost it. Will be trying to find it in the new year!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than the house of plagues over Christmas week, we were pretty healthy this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My favorite thing this year was actually something I bought for Wes. For our anniversary I bought him a pair of Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. I thought they’d come in handy for him at work in the cubicle farm. He has loved them and I have loved watching him enjoy them.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Have you seen my yarn and fiber room?

13. What did you get really excited about?

Knitting all sorts of baby things for baby Roxy!

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Brave by Sara Bareilles and Royals by Lourde (and the amazing Pentatonix cover),

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? About the same.
– richer or poorer? About the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


I wish I’d spent more time outdoors, taking photos and enjoying it.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


As always, I wish I spent less time worrying and anxious. It doesn’t change the outcome of things so I want to be a little more go with the flow.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Sadly, Christmas was kind of a mess this year. Wes got the flu, I got a cold and we basically skipped the whole thing in favor of napping feverishly on the couch. We did get each other a few movies, which provided good entertainment.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

As a couple, we’re still diehard fans of the Big Bang Theory. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the next season Downton Abbey.  I was absolutely hooked on Orange is the New Black. I discovered Parenthood on Netflix this year and am tearing through it.  And just when I’d almost given up on The Good Wife it became electric this season.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I discovered a new series this year – Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock books and read them like candy. I was fascinated by The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. Other notables include Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Andrea Kane’s The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


This year I concentrated on collecting songs with a good beat for exercising. So far my list includes: Linkin Park (Numb, What I’ve Done), Avicii (Wake me Up), Rihanna (We Found Love), Maroon 5 (Payphone) and Puddle of Mudd (American Psycho).

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

We saw very few movies in the theatre this year. I watch Hugo on Netflix and loved it.  I’m hoping to catch up on the Oscar nominees in the next few months.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

We went for our annual dinner at Piropos.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I can’t think of any one thing. I suppose I’m just ready for the new year.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

About the same as always. Towards the end of the year I did gravitate towards tunics, leggings, boots and legwarmers. So comfortable!

26. What kept you sane?

My wonderful husband. My knitting and spinning, and my Wednesday night knitting group. It’s cliched, but I’ve seen these women every week for the better part of the last five years. We go through life together, exchange recipes and book reviews, knitting patterns and yarn. And there’s always laughter.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.


This year wasn’t terribly fair or enjoyable, but we survived it. Now it’s time to focus on getting healthier and enjoying the new year.

Five.

I still remember the morning five years ago. We woke up in our hotel room, breaking the rules about seeing each other before the wedding.  We dressed and went downstairs to have breakfast, the ring boxes on the table between us. I think the waitress asked us if we had any special plans for the day and we giddily told her we were getting married. The rest of the day was perfect.

There have certainly been parts of the last five years that weren’t perfect, but I am so grateful that you are my dance partner for life and I still wake up each and every day excited to be married to you.  Thank you for a wonderful five years and I hope it’s just the beginning of many, many more.

Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day. — Barbara de Angelis

Comfort.

I feel like I should preface this post by saying that despite the quotes I’m about to use, I don’t actually intend this to be a religious post. Those of you who know me know that I’m not terribly religious.  However, recently a coworker lost her mother and it gave me pause to think about what might comfort her during this time. I once told my sister, “Bad things happen to people and I don’t know what to do, but I know how to knit.” So that’s what I did.

Shawls have been made for centuries. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify.

Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, or Peace Shawls, the shawl maker begins with prayers, blessings and thoughts for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl.

(from the Prayer Shawl Ministry)

The pattern is Arabella by Kristin Hanley Cardozo and the yarn is The Plucky Knitter Merino Cashmere Nylon in the colorway Tara’s Velvet Drapes.

I hope it provides her comfort.

Unexpected.

I never expected to end up where I am in life. To be clear, I never had a real clear vision of what the future would hold, but every few years my life has taken twists and turns that I never saw coming.

I thought I would live and die in Los Angeles. I never thought I would move back to the Midwest after college.

I thought I wanted an MBA and yet I learned I’d rather run things behind the scenes than right up front.

I did tons of musical theatre in high school and sang in vocal groups in high school and college. Today the thought of getting up in front of people and performing makes the bottom drop out of my stomach.

I never thought I’d find so much fulfillment in crafting and making beautiful things, learning new knitting and spinning techniques, or in selling things that I made with my own two hands.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m starting to understand that life is a series of wholly unexpected events and I’m just trying to find the beauty in them.

Like after torrential rains, our creek babbles and I can hear frogs in it late at night. How did I get to live here?

Or after an unexpected day of snow in early May, a week later the yard is full of flowers and dandelions:

The blog of the future.

I’m sort of being facetious with the title of this post. I’ll preface this by saying that this isn’t a fond farewell to my blogging days, just something I’ve been thinking about of late.

When I started blogging, just over 8 years ago, it was the new thing. I wrote short witty posts.  I used this blog as a place for my rants, open letters to people who were bothering me.  I posted strange pictures and links to articles (most of which have probably disappeared by now) and wrote almost every day.  I dreamed of becoming a widely read blog, a la Dooce or Pioneer Woman.

Over time, social media has changed. Now I mostly post a series of photos of my crafty efforts that most likely bore the snot out of most of you, but allow me to document what I’m spending my time doing. My witticisms are constantly edited and re-edited to fit the 140-character space of Twitter, and links to nifty things are immediately posted to Facebook. Cool pictures are “pinned” on Pinterest.

I email less these days as well. I usually text short messages or leave a comment on someone’s Facebook wall. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter.

I haven’t had a land line in years and my cell, outside of my wedding ring, is the thing I feel most naked without on the days I’m distracted enough to leave it at home. I don’t remember what it’s like to not have a smart phone and have the internet at my fingertips 24/7.

I don’t really have a point to this post except to point out how much things have changed in the 8 years since I’ve started this blog, or rather the first incarnation of it. I’ll continue to post here in fits and spurts, in an effort to memorialize or journal what I find important, amusing or fulfilling as life whirls by.  And I’ll be interested to see what comes next.

For Boston.

It is days like today that alter my perspective; everything that seemed so important this morning just isn’t by dinnertime. I just long to go home and hug my husband, to cocoon in my house and to try desperately to stave off the chill and get warm.

After an afternoon being unable to concentrate, I raced out to my car at 4:55pm so that I wouldn’t miss President Obama’s address to the nation about today’s bombing incident at the Boston marathon. Based on the news reports I had been scouring all afternoon, I knew that there was very little information to be had, but I still was loathe to miss him speak. As soon as his rich baritone began, tears streamed down my cheeks and I choked up several more times on the way home. When he speaks I can’t describe how I feel: his calm soothing tones, his warmth and compassion, yet his definitive command. I feel safer.  I feel pride in being from this country.  I am reminded of people’s greatest qualities, compassion, spirit, and resilience, that are so incredibly important in the face of an act perpetrated by those acting on their worst qualities.

I first noticed what was going on shortly after the bombs went off. Someone I don’t know posted a picture on my Twitter feed about the aftermath of the Boston marathon. I viewed it, but didn’t think much of it.  There appeared to be fog in the picture.  I could see what I thought were streamers and confetti on the ground at the finish line. I don’t know what I was looking at, or what I should have been looking at, or if my mind was simply trying to block what it was I was seeing. When I went back and looked at the same image again, 20 minutes later, suddenly I saw the flags on the ground and pools of blood on the sidewalk. This wasn’t a sarcastic, wry photo of the leftovers of an event, this was the photographic evidence of what is still a crime scene.

In this day and age, I experience events like these through Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry. Each is not without its merits, also has its flaws.  When something traumatic happens, even if it doesn’t specifically affect me, I want to reach out. I want to share, to comfort people and be comforted. I immediately went looking on Ravelry for threads to post in. I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds roll by with prayers and good wishes for those in Boston, and confirmations of safety for those in the area or from people who knew people who were there. I am always reminded of how connected we are – through our personal relationships but also through the internet.

Of course, all of these sources, and their accessibility means that any information or misinformation can be posted and propagated. I found this particular Tweet quite poignant this afternoon:

I suspect speculation, unhelpful as it is, is a coping mechanism – how to make a sudden unexpected horror fit into pattern of known facts.

As a child, I remember listening to my father talking about how anyone old enough to remember knows exactly where they were and what they were doing the day JFK was assassinated.  There have been too many of these events in my lifetime: the Challenger explosion, 9/11 and many others, and more recently the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and a local gas explosion at a shopping area not far from where I work. Some of these are events that have definite perpetrators, while others are tragic accidents. All afternoon I kept hoping that what was happening in Boston was the latter, while the saddened cynical part of me was pretty sure it was the former.

So tonight, cuddled up under blankets in my house I am thankful for what I have, I am striving to remember this moment of perspective, I am choosing to think about the good in people rather than the bad, and I am sending all my good thoughts and wishes to the people of Boston who were victims of today’s events, and to those who are working to help those who were.

Paper is not dead.

In this digital age where I spend more time in virtual environments and reading e-news and e-books, it’s nice to see that paper hasn’t been entirely replaced.

The end and the beginning.

I woke up on the last day of the year to find the outside a literal winter wonderland:

Nothing like a clean slate for a new year eh?

I took the opportunity to finish a few projects before the end of the year. I finished these two little guys for Monster Strong and they are off to find their forever homes today.

I also finished another project, a warm squooshy wrap that I am wearing right now. You may remember back in the summer of 2011 I spun up these glorious semi-solid skeins of yarn:

At the time I had envisioned knitting them into a cozy stripey cardigan, but then I saw another pattern, All the Shades of Truth, and knew what they had to become. I cast on for the project on Christmas eve and spent several days joyfully knitting – just one more section… just one more row.

And now, for a new year!

2012 – the Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

I learned to double knit. I went to a wool festival in Estes Park and met friends from Ravelry and reconnected with my roomie from college.  We mostly stopped eating meat at home and I cooked quite a bit from our garden. I repainted our bedroom. Wes bought his dream bike, a Harley, and I got to ride with him. I participated in my first local craft show and made 7 sales!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


These were my resolutions for 2012:

* Cherish the time I spend with my friends and family.

* Whip my debt into shape.

* Knit and spin from the stash and stop buying like it’s going out of style.

* Read more.

I saw my family twice this year, and celebrated the bar mitzvah of my cousin Daniel in March. I am not normally touched by religious ceremony, but I felt so close to my family during that time.  I read 87 books this year and my “to read” list is enormous. I enjoyed tracking it all on Goodreads.

Whipping the debt into shape is a work in progress. I still spend more than I should, but we’re getting there and I’m pleased that I continue to increase my savings for retirement each year when my pay is increased.  I knit and spun A LOT this year. Sadly, I bought quite a bit too. I did, however, knit 16,000 more yards than I bought so I’m calling that a partial win. That’s another point to work on in the new year.

My resolutions for 2013:

* Enjoy my time with my husband.

* Get moving. I seriously lacked in the fitness and self care department this year.

* Be more deliberate with my money and my time. Make time for the important things, clear away the junk that isn’t worth the effort.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Just about everyone! My friend E gave birth to baby V in February.  In April my cousin and his wife welcomed their baby girl and my co-worker had a baby boy.  In June a friend had a little boy and Wes’s co-worker had their first boy as well. In August another co-worker had a little girl, Wes’s cousin had her little girl and my sister became an aunt to a beautiful little baby boy.  All of these babies gave me lots to knit for! So far I will have a new cousin in March 2013 and a friend is due then as well. More baby knits!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

I didn’t lose anyone close to me, but we lost Wes’s uncle Al in September.

5. What countries did you visit?

None.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I said it last year, but a vacation would be nice. Somewhere just the two of us.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 29, the day Hurricane Sandy flooded New York and much of the east coast. This photo at Ground Zero says it all:

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


I’m not sure I have any great achievements this year. I’m proud of myself for putting my little craft business out there and selling some items. I took on more responsibility at work and had a great review conversation with my boss about my performance here.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Remember my Word? Yeah. I sort of fell down on that project even after a wonderful friend sent me a necklace with my word. I’m still thinking about whether I will try it again this year. Another project I started with the best of intentions was my “20 minutes” project – to spend 20 minutes a day doing something productive for the house or my health (clean, exercise, yard work) etc., and reward myself with something after 30 days were completed. It worked for about 45 days.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope! Thank goodness we’re all healthy!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I had a BLAST buying Wes’s Harley with him and I love that he’s enjoying it so much. He bought me a new Macbook Pro for Christmas to replace my aging one (from 2006) and I love it to bits.

12. Where did most of your money go?

I think my answer is mostly the same as last year. The mortgage, enjoying each other’s company while dining out and seeing movies and of course yarn and fiber!

13. What did you get really excited about?

Excited and nervous – the election! I was proud to vote and excited when the candidate I supported won.

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Gotye’s Somebody that I Used to Know, Maroon 5 One More Night and Gangnam Style

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? About the same.
– richer or poorer? About the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


I’m stumped here. I still want to knit and spin ALL THE THINGS, spend more time with my honey and explore more places. But this year was pretty darn good to me so I’m not sure I can complain!

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


I probably should have bought less yarn and fiber. My stash room still overfloweth!

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We spent Christmas in our house. We got a fake tree after the hot dry summer killed last year’s live tree and I decorated it with a ton of lights and our special ornaments. My mother-in-law and her boyfriend joined us.  We opened presents early on Christmas Eve which gave us lots of play time with the new toys. I didn’t leave the house for several days and I couldn’t be happier about that.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

As a couple, we’re still diehard fans of the Big Bang Theory. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about Downton Abbey (which starts again next week).  Wes mentioned the other night that I seem to have fallen in love with the Brits this year – Sherlock, Doc Martin, and others. I also tore through Gossip Girl and have queued quite a few other series on Netflix to enjoy on my own time.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I spent a lot of time on series this year. I loved George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and Hugh Howey’s Wool Series. I was enthralled with Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and I really enjoyed Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic.  I tore through Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. My favorite sources for recommendations were NPR (Morning Edition and All Things Considered) and, as last year, my knitting group.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I’ve been wracking my brain and I don’t think I have any favorite music from this year. I do however have a few favorite podcasts. My favorites, in no particular order are: NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, The KnitGirlls, This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Cast On.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I really enjoyed The Hobbit, although I didn’t care so much for the 3D/high frame rate filming and can’t wait to see it again in a different format.  We also enjoyed The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.  If short form counts, then anything by my brother-in-law’s company Awkward Spaceship.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

We went for our annual dinner at Piropos and Wes got us tickets to see Jersey Boys to celebrate my 34th year.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

We were hoping to start a family this year and it just hasn’t worked out that way. Here’s hoping for 2013.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I’m still in the “what not to wear” category.  We’ll just call my style “knitting influenced.”

26. What kept you sane?

Wes. My fabulous family and group of friends, both online and local. My knitting/book group. My crafting.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.


Life will never turn out like you expect it to. But focus on the positive and you’ll find the unexpected can be a pretty cool place to be.

Monster Strong

Once upon a time, my sister and I were talking about a situation a friend of ours was facing. It wasn’t pretty and I felt pretty powerless to do anything to make things better.  All I could think was that I wanted to do SOMETHING, that I couldn’t sit still and do nothing. I believe the words I uttered were “Sometimes bad things happen to people and… well… I know how to knit.”

Last week something terrible happened to a lot of people. Something no child, or adult should ever have to go through. And as I watched the news unfold I felt powerless to do anything and yet desperately wanted to do SOMETHING.

Out of this 600 Monsters Strong for Connecticut was born. I didn’t organize it, but I am insanely grateful and proud to be a knitter and to be part of the group from its very beginnings. If you’re a knitter or a crocheter check it out and join us.

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