Wednesday, December 30, 2015

16 in 2016

I love making goals. I'm not always so great at the follow-through but I love the potential that each goal carries. Last year, I tried to do something slightly different. I wanted to split my goals by month. Have a different theme following each month and just try to find the joy in making. I didn't succeed very well. None of my goals were really tangible. Quantifiable. That being the case, my accountability flew out the window and I did not accomplish much.

This coming year will hopefully be very different. I constructed a tracker in my journal/planner that will hold me very much accountable and I am really excited to begin ticking things off my list and coloring in boxes.


1. SRT 365 days of truth (find the plan here) // 2. Wear dresses for half the year or 184 days // 3. Try 50 new recipes (I did this one way back in 2012 when we were living in Glasgow and loved it) // 4. Read 24 books // 5. Make 6 dresses for the girls, 3 each // 6. Make 4 shirts for the boys, 2 each // 7. Sew 2 dresses for myself // 8. One completed quilt (start to finish in 2016, the already started ones from this year do not count) // 9. Learn to knit, start with a scarf or potholder or socks // 10. No soda // 11. Knit a Baa-ble hat // 12. Knit a Weasley Christmas vest // 13. Project life for 2016 // 14. Create a sewing space // 15. Weekly game night with Husband // 16. Move!

Sidebar: Number 16 is purposely ambiguous. I don't know where. I don't know how. (...but I know something's starting right now, watch and you'll see, soon I will be, part of your world) Okay, now that's out of the way (please tell me you sang along) I really have no details as to that one, it's just something that I think/hope might just happen, big or small, here or there.

Things that didn't make the cut: any type of photography goal (project life doesn't really count). I struggle with making goals when it comes to my photography. Someday I would love to have a business and I had a lot of fun shooting my niece and my friend's family. One of the coolest 2015 experiences was seeing a photo I had taken on a Christmas card that wasn't my own. I'd also like to do a 365, but man alive that pressure gets to me and my stomach ends up in knots // any type of weight loss, I just don't think I am ready to commit to that type of goal, food is definitely a source of comfort and although I know it's important to be healthy and lose the boys' (yep I still haven't lost Little Man's) baby weight, I just don't think I can, I would fail and that would be worse I think  // I do want to include some sort of financial goal but not quite sure how, I don't want to set a savings goal because it feels like inviting karma to do something nasty like rupture my husband's appendix and have really nasty side effects following surgery that we'll be paying off for months. I would like to budget better, but I don't think that needs to be on the 2016 list, it should just be done.

Do you like making goals for the New Year?

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 wrap up

I love wrap up posts. I love seeing the year in a snapshot. I love reliving the magical moments, the hysterical moments, the ordinary moments, the ta-dah moments, the duh moments, all the moments. 2015 was a heck of a year for us filled with an awful lot of down, but also some pretty spectacular ups.

Baby boy was born at the beginning of the year which is by far the biggest UP and definitely sustained me through the rest of the year. This baby is such a mellow, happy, joyful little soul and his birth was pretty much the perfect birthing experience, you know except for all the pain at the very end. He has never been much of a fusser and loves to be surrounded by his people, unless they get too rowdy and in his face then he lets them know it. He is determined too (just like Wookie. It's so amusing and interesting to see the similarities and differences in each of my children.) So tremendously grateful for this little guy coming into our family.

Opportunity doors slammed shut in both March and June (and October but that one wasn't as big as a surprise as the first two). Somewhere there's a window and we are still searching.

Poor husband lost an organ (appendix) the day of Nins's birthday party, but luckily (miraculously) a whole slew of family were in town (for said party) and kept the kids entertained and Husband company. We took the chance (after he was released from the hospital) to spend a wonderful, magical day at Bear Lake. My poor shoulders are still sunburned, which is only a slight exaggeration, British skin and all that.

I got a slight promotion at work and began in a different department (which leaves 5 down 5 to go (just kidding...sort of). There was a pretty steep learning curve and a big difference in workflow but I am finally getting the hang of it. Husband published two books (and they're available through Amazon) and is working hard writing more. I love this series and am so proud of him. He's home with the kids all day and still manages not only to write and read for himself, but is teaching the kiddos so much. Little Man is so quick and keeping up with Wookie, which is huge. Eleven months means a lot at this stage and he's super sharp. So sharp that playing Uno with him around is problematic because he shouts out the colors of your cards. They are all great learners. Which brings us to school.

School was a big and exciting change this year and with school clearly glasses are necessary, right? Nins loves going to school. She has a fantastic teacher and I really love the administration. They've made the transition from homeschool so easy and I'm so grateful. Fall brought football in all it's glory. Thanksgiving at my parents, Christmas at home, Boxing day and New Year's in Idaho (two months in 14 words).

This year I haven't done nearly as much sewing or stitching as I had intended but I did read quite a few books. Twenty-one for the year. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. If I had to choose, my favorites were My Antonia, It's What I Do, Marius Briggs & the Bonnie Pretender, and Heidi. Really of the whole list, there was only one I didn't like. Several of these books were the product of reading to the big kids in the evenings. I am loving this nighttime routine. We're on book three in the Chronicles of Narnia currently.

As far as sewing goes, I did finish one quilt. I also sewed five Geranium dresses. And finished crocheting a blanket (I completely forgot about it until I was review pictures). I am excited for the quilts and clothes that will come out of 2016.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cabin Fever

In the process of piecing this quilt together, I threw the biggest, most magnanimous temper tantrum that puts my Irish twins to shame. When living with toddlers do as toddlers do, right? Now, I honestly can't remember why. I know it had something to do with the sashing, and a couple of the squares don't line up quite right, but the proverbial straw is elusive.

In the end it looks okay, I hope. I spent so much time on this quilt. Actually, focusing on each step, to ensure that I didn't botch it last minute. Good intentions and all that. Of course the one little step I chose to overlook is pretty much the most important. Karma.

Originally, this quilt was for Nins, but upon closer inspection of my children's bedroom they each have piles upon piles of blankets on their beds, all of them handmade, three made by me. So this one is designated to the living room, keeping friends with the Cozy Cottage blanket. They're best buds.

Sewing is hard. Quilting is harder. I lack the patience for it, but I'm learning. I'm not sure why. I don't seem to have the passion that many of my favorite sewist/bloggers have. I'm a bit into metaphors so the I find the idea of taking something, fabric, yarn, floss and turning it into something else appealing. A creative outlet. Stress inducing stress relief.

Anyway, about this quilt. I bought the fabric from various places and have no idea about the brand names. I tend not to notice them too much unless I'm making something really specific or if I see something that I absolutely love. (Anyone else totally and completely anxiously awaiting the release of Somer by Sarah Jane. I swear that lady can do no wrong.)

The color scheme is reminiscent of one my earliest memories living in the UK. I was playing in the garden (which my mother had carefully cultivated with beautiful flowers that she can tell you the names of) when clouds covered the sun, so I ran inside and changed into warmer clothes, continued playing, then the sun reappeared, and I ran inside to change back into the warm-weather clothes. I must have changed at least half a dozen times. The mix of the grey and yellow and "rain-drops" and flowers all remind me of that memory. And the strawberries, oh the fresh strawberries.

I followed what I think is the typical Log Cabin fashion with 3 inch squares in the middle surrounded by 2 inch strips. One (or maybe two) of the blocks got a little off somehow so I had to add an extra strip to one side before adding the border to the sides. Sew and learn, and all that.

I used a flat sheet I picked up from a local thrift store as the backing and hand-quilted the squares. I was surprised to learn that one of the local quilting stores does not carry hand-quilting thread and received such a look of confusion and was pretty much told it was a waste of my time, which I guess it would be when you have uber fancy machines that can guarantee you a finished quilt in four days or it's free. But I like hand quilting. Or at least I liked it until I poked a hole in my finger, thimbles are around for a reason. I used a scrappy binding of all the left over 2 inch strips and discovered a super cool tutorial from Missouri Star Company on binding using one of the fancy stitches. I am pretty pleased about the binding. For some reason that is the part that scares me most on quilts and I was glad to switch it up from straight stitch.

So that brings my quilt count for this year to the grand total of ONE. Wowzas. I really didn't do the half of what I wanted. Better luck next year! I already have plans and fabric so hopefully I will manage to complete more than one in 2016. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

R & R

I did almost zero crafting last week. One kiddo got a bit sick and needed to be "quarantined" from the other kiddos. Baby is getting another tooth and going through a growth spurt. All of this together, at the same time has been rough. I definitely hit a rut with crafting. Did I take on too much? Maybe. Did I lose a bit of inspiration? Yep. Did I read two books instead of taking out Lady Jane? You know it.

For some reason, I struggle, a lot, with the balance between reading vs. crafting. Why is there a struggle, you may ask. That crazy little construct; that thing we all wish we had more of; that fleeting element that the more children I have seems to disappear before I know what I'm doing. Time.

Plus, I love me some books. Truly, ask my mum to show you a video of when the final HP came in from Amazon (on second thought don't, because it's really embarrassing, just know that I love books and made quite a ruckus when she announced that the package had arrived and then spent the rest of the day consumed in words).  But, I also love me some crafting. That sentence is actually quite hard to write, but I don't think I can deny it any more: I love crafting. I struggle and am at my most humble when in front of the sewing machine but I'm also super duper excited when things go right. Or even if they go wrong my family tells me it (whatever it may be) looks great. The girls love their dresses and the other day at church someone asked me where I got them. Biggest compliment EVER!

I work 40 hours a week. I like my job; I like to think I'm good at my job. But that's 8 hours out of every day (8 of which are for sleeping) so that's 16 hours already eaten up. Plus, having four children eats up a lot of time. In an amazingly great way, but once they are asleep I only really have 2 hours to be with my husband, finish up an extra chores, Netflix binge, craft or read. I don't have a designated sewing space so sometimes it honestly feels like more of a chore to get everything out and set up, sew for an hour and a half just to put it all away again. It gets tiring. And I'm already tired. Plus, I haven't figured out how to read and stitch and sew at the same time. Really, what I'm saying is that I have no finished projects. BUT I have several almost finished projects.

The other thing I can say is that of the Wrinkle in Time series I think that Swiftly Tilting Planet may just be my favorite. I love the complexity of characters and the plot and the relationships between Meg and Charles Wallace and everyone else. Connection. Human connection. It was nice to be reminded that in one way or another we are all connected. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lucia's light

I absolutely love this holiday! I am so pleased we instituted it last year and that everyone was on-board, nay, excited and insistent to do it again this year. I'm pretty sure this is now a hard and fast tradition and I couldn't be more pleased. A lot of time with traditions it feels like I am forcing things that no one really wants to do, but not St. Lucia. This is a holiday everyone in the house gets on board for (even if it is just for the food).

We started the festivities on Saturday by visiting the lights at gorgeous Temple Square. We met husband's sister, ate an early dinner, explored the incredible City Creek Mall (the fire in the fountains was a big hit), and munched on Rocky Mountain Chocolate. So delicious.  We heard rather than saw the nativity presentation, there were so many people and it was super chilly. But soul filling.

I made Nins a brand new St. Lucia dress (using the same Geranium pattern as her Thanksgiving dress, but lengthened the skirt and fully lined the inside since you know, white). Her one last year was a haphazardly, patched together old t-shirt of mine that was here Leia dress for Halloween; so this year, I made her one special. Traditionally, the oldest daughter wears a crown of candles, though usually electric ones are used until about 12. Of course, this year I ran out of time to make the crowns, next year. We ate heartily on Swedish pancakes for breakfast (so so good) and homemade Swedish meatballs for dinner while listening to this beautiful video surrounded by the soft light of candles.

There couldn't be a more perfect time for this holiday; the days sure are short here in the valley and the nights are long, but I love any excuse to turn my tree lights on at four in the afternoon (heck if I'm home they are on all day). This beautiful festival of light was originally held on what was thought to be the shortest day of the year or Winter Solstice. It proclaims light and joy and hope.  Perfect for paving the way for Christmas where the birth of the light of the world is celebrated.