Pay it Forward Handmade

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Rhyming events, rhyming events, rhyming events. You just keep coming don’t you?

The other day I was reminiscing about the Coloriffic Swap Jek used to host that I used to play on. They were SO much fun. Then just a few days later Carla put up a survey about a swap she was thinking of hosting and it included something handmade. Lately I’ve been considering making a little hair accessory and giving it away on the blog in honor of the De-Frumpiness Project and to show my gratitude to you lovely people. Today I was bemoaning to a friend that I missed being creative. Just a couple minutes later I found the Pay it Forward Handmade meme on Suddenexpression’s blog.

I am still working on my mom’s afghan but it’s not a little project I can tote around with me. This meme gives me a good reason to have small projects. SO, here are the rules!

1. I will send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be handmade by me. It will be sent sometime in the next 365 days. It will be a surprise what you get, when you get it. I will give you no warning whatsoever. 

2. To sign up and receive a gift, you must play along, too. Pay it Forward on your blog, by promising to make a surprise for the first three people who comment on the post.

3. You must have a blog (that is updated, as I will blog stalk you to find the right gift for you).

4. After commenting here, you must repost this or something similar to your blog in 48 hours. If not, I will chose the next person who comments…

So there you go. If you do it, know that it can be anything handmade. Anything at all. Collages, photos, poems, purses, paintings, jewelry, whatever. I’m also leaving this worldwide. I figure there is something about this time of year that makes people adventurous and creative and you’re not bogged down with the holidays or anything like that. I hope you’ll play!

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Work in Progress Wednesdays: The Afghan

One of the things on The Plan is to finish my mom’s afghan. I started this afghan last August but that I promised her back in Christmas 2010.  So even though I haven’t been actually crocheting it for as long as I thought, it’s still a long time coming.

I know I don’t have a lot of yarnies on here so I won’t get into the technicalities of it. I will say it’s a really interesting pattern done with two strands held together and a really big hook (love those). I also love the way it’s coming out and want to have it all done already but it is a time consuming project. While many people who know me and watch me crochet tell me they’re amazed at my speed, I know compared to most regular crocheters I’m a total slow-poke. The pattern is complete when the little curly things and the little diamondy things (non-technical terms in case you were wondering) are done a total of four times so I’m not even halfway through yet. Also, now you’ll know how close I am to finishing it even if you don’t know anything about crocheting and you can nag me.

I don’t know that I will do a Work In Progress Wednesday update every week but I would like to do one when I’ve made some decent progress. So if you don’t see one for another month, please harass the hell out of me. It would be awesome to have this for her Mother’s Day present.

Are you making anything right now? Tell me!!

Brain Dump: WIP, Kitty, Target Economics, Doctors, Etc.

Mommy's "Alaskan Nights" blanket

I did some more work on mom’s blanket. I love this pattern. It’s like piecing together a puzzle.The blanket is coming out so beautiful. And I find it weird that I can say that because I have issues generally complimenting myself but with crochet it feels different. I don’t really feel like I can take credit for the project. I didn’t spin the yarn. I didn’t dye it. I didn’t design the pattern. I just followed instructions. It’s like cooking.

Like the banana bread I made the other night. It was delicious. Soft. Not overwhelming. Perfect. I just followed directions.

Mutant Kitty is a wench though. My hands and feet are covered in scratches. She doesn’t stop attacking the yarn even when I’m not working on it. And she’s really freaking hyper. Kitty needs a Xanax. This is what goes on next to me while I’m attempting to work on this blanket.

The following is an excerpt from my thought process when I am observing a person who is being overly cautious while making a (right) turn: “Oh geez what an idiot! No, wait, you know what? It’s probably just someone who’s really old. Or someone who’s high as $@%&!”

Earlier today, I went to get lunch at Chicken Kitchen. It was packed inside and outside it was empty. Inside I looked at all of the people inhaling each other’s exhales and outside a gorgeous wind was zipping through the shaded tables and chairs. So I ditched the recycled air mob and sat outside. Others followed. Eventually a girl asked if she minded if she sat in the empty table adjacent to mine. “No problem,” I said. I finished eating and finished reading Chapter Two of “Visit from the Goon Squad” which I can already tell I’m gonna love. I got up, threw away my trash and left. Halfway down the block I realized I’d left without saying goodbye or even wishing my tablemate a nice day. I felt like such a hole of a. Books make me rude apparently.

I have a really great quote I keep meaning to share with everyone but it’s so great, I think it deserves it’s own post. So, yeah. I’m just gonna leave that hanging out there and tease you with it.

Oh, I’m sick again! Looks like this time I saw the doctor before it got out of hand because it looks like I’m on the way to another sinus infection but the doctor thinks we can beat it before it sets in. She’s convinced seasonal allergies are at the root of this so she wants me to pick up some Zyrtec. Sudafed and Nasonex are also on my list. Lots of fluids. Lots of rest (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and low levels of stress (see previous parentheses).

Yesterday, I went to Target and it wasn’t for Missoni. I actually went for ballet tights for Daughter. However, I saw the Missoni aftermath. I feel like the Missoni carnage is a commentary on something larger and even though I have ideas and theories, there’s not a real solid thought formed yet. On the most basic of levels, I feel yesterday’s ridiculousness is concrete evidence rich people are holding on to every penny they have and is probably just the latest in an avalanche of evidence that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. It doesn’t trickle down. It just sits there and is released whenever it suits their fancy.

I mean, ok, think about it. Let’s say you have a family of five and you’re on a $300 monthly food budget because you have no other money. As a matter of fact, everything is down to the bare minimum and not because of a conscious lifestyle choice (I’m a minimalist!). Now, let’s say you give that family another $500 a month. They’re going to spend most of it because they are not at a decent standard of living. They need to spend it to get closer to a decent standard of living. There’s more room to get to the whole peak of fulfillment. But if you take a family of five who has an $800 monthly food budget and give them another $500, they’re most likely going to save more of it because their standard of living is pretty decent already. They’re not scrabbling to make ends meet and lighting candles to ward them against Murphy. I dunno. I just get the feeling every time I talk to an advocate of trickle-down they’re all smug and don’t think trickle-up works because “those people” have no idea what to do with their money.  But in capitalism, you need spending in order to have success. If you’re trickling up, you’re going to see more of that. There is just no motivation for money to trickle down. At all. As a matter of fact, in the physical world things that trickle down tend to be leaks and you always try and plug a leak as soon as possible. Things that trickle up tend to be utilizing capillary action and growing. *sigh*

I think my kids have allergies too. Not to mention the insanity that is Baby’s poop problems. I totally don’t want to talk about that right now though because I’m so over poop.

I started applying to my university. I’ve actually reconsidered a Master’s. I’m just going to go back to school. I think I might start working towards a second bachelor’s– most likely in Computer Science.

I’ve been so busy at work! It’s nuts!

The past two days I’ve had major issues waking up. I’ve been completely dead to the world when the alarm’s gone off. I hate it when that happens because it almost physically hurts to pull myself out of bed.

The doctor today told me that basically I’ve got 4 good years left and once I hit 35, it’s all over. She was joking. But not really.

That’s all there is, there is no more.

Edited to add: I just saw they posted the winners of the local blog award. Unfortunately, the Mutant is not a winner. But you guys are all so awesome for your votes and help. I appreciate it muchly. Thanks 🙂

Lazy Weekend Ahead

Mmmmmm it’s Friday. A long weekend-eve Friday. The day is so much nicer for that reason alone, isn’t it? Try and get under my skin. Ok wait, don’t try too hard.

Know what else makes this Friday wonderful? A giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders and is now ready to grace the shoulders of my Mommy! Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have finished The Shawl. Oh, sweet relief!! I actually finished it just this morning so I need to go home and weave in the various loose ends and then block it to its perfect beauty but the hard part is over and done with.This means, yes I do in fact have a FO Friday and it’s an awesome one.

It took me just under a month to finish this tiny thing but it’s oh so cute! Seriously, I just wasn’t thrilled about this project until I started binding off (the second time because I screwed up the first). I saw the girly little ruffle slowly emerging and I got seriously geeked. It’s just so cute and dainty and perfect for our insanely hot and humid weather.

Ok I know there’s dangly bits and it’s not blocked but you can see the cuteness right? I’m thinking of buying a beautiful pin for it too. I was thinking a wooden one would be gorgeous.

My older kids spent the night at my mom’s house last night as they have a four day weekend (lucky duckies). This morning was just me and Baby. What a difference. It keeps blowing my mind whenever I find myself with just one kid how freaking easy it is. Hell, this morning was so easy I even had time for a photo shoot.

WIP: This is the shawl that never ends…

This is the shawl that never ends. It goes on and on my friends. Some people (me) started knitting it not knowing what it was and now they’ll keep knitting it forever just because…

My very brief WIP Wednesday post. Yes, I’m still working on Mommy dearest’s way late for Mother’s Day shawl. I thought for sure I was kicking butt until right in the last section, it suddenly doubled the number of stitches in one row!

I was like “Whaaaaaaaaaaat!?!?” and the shawl was like “HAHA pwned!” and I cried a bit while trying not to get tears in the yarn.

For those of you coming over from Tami’s WIP Wednesdays: Welcome! Yarn is actually only a part of this blog of mine. You can read more content at my main page or check out the Top Posts in the sidebar that way —>

If you’d like to know more about me, you can check out my Re: Mutant Supermodel page.

For my “regulars”, I figured a “light” post would be welcomed by all after all the heavier stuff going on here lately. 😉

WIP Wednesday: The Mother’s Day that never ends

Of three planned Mother’s Day presents, two were finished and gifted on time– the Hi Five Towel and the Clapochet. I didn’t get one picture of either finished project. By the way, both recipients loved them. My mom wanted to steal my Aunt’s shawl I could tell. And my grandmother was excited about the towel matching her 1960’s bathroom. I might be able to snatch a photo of it in its new home in the case of the towel as I go there all of the time.

Aside from enjoying sharing these with fellow lovers of crafts, I actually really like seeing my projects on Ravelry because I’m encouraged by my progress. Also, it’s pretty easy to forget just how much you crochet in one year. Remember how I declared my intention to crochet eleven projects this year?

Ravelry says I’ve finished ten. That means this will be the eleventh project and my goal will be shattered to smithereens although not in as dramatic a fashion as the initial reading goal is getting.

Don’t look too hard now. The first section of “butterflies” “abstract lace”  towards the bottom is so embarassing. The color of the yarn isn’t exactly right either but it never is on these fancy devices is it?

This is a knitting project and it’s been a headache. I don’t know why but between Clapochet and this one, I’ve had major stitch count issues. I never thought I’d say this but after these projects, I’m seriously looking forward to something brainless and repetitive like the afghan I promised my Mom last Christmas…

I’m getting to the end of the shawl though. I’m about to commence row 73 of 82  and am in the sixth of seven sections plus the picot edging. It’s ok because I’m treating myself to Dreamfever: The Fever Series when it all gets to be too much (omg it’s so good- lots of sexiness in this one, heehee). And then it’s time to figure out when to purchase the yarn for the afghan because it hasn’t gone on sale at a great price in a very long time and that’s frustrating me incredibly much.

So there you have it, my WIP Wednesday project. What are you working on?

P.S. Unrelated to yarn, I saw this today and loved it– the swish of the skirt with the clomp of the boots. Hard to get an inconspicuous picture but I’m sure you get the idea.

Many Different Thoughts & 18/52: Wet

It’s been raining pretty aggressively here all night and all day. I think it’s beautiful when it’s so gray, misty, and muted outside. I’d rather be in bed but then again, I don’t have a window with this view in bed so you win some you lose some.

Did you notice the figurines? My daughter was here with me last Thursday and apparently she thought the little guys would much rather look out the window and enjoy that view than stare at my back all day. Smart girl.

Do you know what this is?

Pardon my French but there’s just no other way to describe that. She’s standing still in this shot because it’s the only way I could get any sort of clear shot. The rest of time I saw her she was out there pounding away at the pavement.

She’s not even tuned into a music player and I know there was not a single break in the rain this morning so this girl laced up and went out there in the pouring rain because she can and because she wanted to and because I needed to see something awesome like that this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, part of me wanted to hate her with her perfect body and blonde hair and youthful carefree life that allows for running in the rain but that was such a tiny part and it stood no chance against just how awesome I think she is really.

You know how the phrase, “You go, girl” got way overdone? Well this is the kind of situation that no other phrase more adequately describes. Girl power, indeed.

I’m trying a couple of things this month. I’m not necessarily challenging myself because I feel sort of beat up and need a break but my brain doesn’t do well when it has nothing to toy with.

I’m talking to my kids in Spanish all month. I didn’t make an announcement to them, I just stopped talking in English on Monday. I’m trying to make it exclusively in Spanish but it is really hard to do and sometimes completely ineffective.

Eldest has turned into a surprisingly accurate translator for Daughter who’s decided she doesn’t understand a lick of Spanish and believes the best approach to my current language of choice is a completely blank dumbfounded stare more suited to a thirteen year old who’s just heard you admit you have no clue who this Justin Bieber person is they keep going on about.

It seems Baby understands as much Spanish as English so that’s working ok. I figured I won’t press them to speak back to me in Spanish. What I’m hoping is that I can keep this going and that at the very least they absorb Spanish vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.

The next step would be that they sometimes respond to my Spanish with their own Spanish as an experiment (Do I have this right?) and then after that they respond to my Spanish with Spanish naturally.

Besides, I need to keep practicing my Spanish. My job requires a pretty high level of fluency and I don’t feel as comfortable as I’d like with my conversational Spanish.

Financially, I’m trying something else too. I’m sort of toying with a weekly budget but this is already turning into a challenge and I don’t know that I have the mental energy to stick to it.

I thought I had it pretty figured out this week until my son came home last night and informed me he needs a mouth guard and cup for his Karate tournament Saturday. The same tournament that had a $50 registration fee I just paid because it was budgeted for.

So, I’m not really sure it’s worth it to me to make the switch from what I had going and really the problem with the budget system I have in place isn’t my budget skills it’s the unpredictable income stream.

This month with the tax refund, it should be a bit more stable. Besides, that court-ordered income deduction will go into effect this month. It will, I know it. I believe in the system.

Oh, I had my annual check-up with my doctor yesterday. She’s changed my birth control to a more inexpensive option. I’m happy to be paying $45 less a month but not thrilled I’ll be back on daily pills. She’s urging me to explore the possibility of an IUD. She thinks I’m an excellent candidate for it if the insurance covers it at a reasonable rate.

Other than that, the doctor thinks everything’s good. She says, even though I disagree, my weight is perfectly fine where it is. She does want me to drink more water and milk. She let me know women store calcium until the age of 35 so I’ve got a few years left and she wants me to make the most of them. She’s asked me to aim for about 1500mg of calcium a day.

I took a deep breath with the craft projects I’m working on and decided to stop stressing the stupid deadline and just enjoy working on them. I haven’t picked up the knitting one since I started the crochet one, but I’ll be getting back to it soon enough.

Tomorrow I’ll have to take a break to go and do a merchandising job. I signed up with a company to do merchandising and mystery shops. I like it because the jobs are quick and relatively easy. They get me out of the house and out of my routines. I try and do them when I don’t have the kids but this one was way too good to pass up and gives me the opportunity to earn up to $30 every two weeks to the end of June. They cut my first check for last month for $40 and they’re still pending a couple of assignments.

It might sound really small and meaningless to you but it’s $40 I didn’t have before. The more work I take on for them, the more often they call me for assignments with bonuses on them and such things. If I averaged $40 a month from them, that’s almost $500 at the end of the year which would be a nice thing to throw at debt, don’t you think?

Oh, there’s one more financial change I’m making this month but this one has to wait until the very end to happen. On payday, I’m going to open one more account with ING. This will be my Wants fund and 5% of any money I’ve managed to save up will go into that account. The rest will be used as a debt snowball as I am confident the child support issue will at least stabilize this month, one way or another.

Ideally, the court-ordered income deduction goes into effect but at the very least, he’ll pay what he paid last month. Although it’s not the full amount, it’s more than I’ve gotten for many months now and it helps cover the essentials.

I figure if I reward myself with 5% of my savings, it could motivate me to keep expenses low and put off the little things for something larger. Plus it gives me an outlet to enjoy the money. I can use that Wants fund for anything from haircuts to a family trip to books to new clothes to a really nice birthday dinner. Last month, it would’ve only been $4.55 but I’ve had some months with great success, especially when I was receiving child support and not having the burden of kiddie expenses on me and me alone. It would’ve been nice to have a piece of my hard work for something “indulgent”. And budgeting, saving money, and tracking expenses is hard work.

By the way, here’s some cute Budgeting humor from last Sunday’s paper. I love the comics section and always want to share at least one piece with everyone I know.

One more thing I’m doing this month is taking on household projects in very small bites. I’m telling you, I feel sort of bowled over with a bit of depression and you can tell when you walk into my house. This is always a problem for me because the worse it gets, the less happy I get and the less happy I get, the less I want to do anything which leads to a further decay of things. So last night I told myself I’d clear the dining table and nothing else but the dining table. It took me a while and I had to sit every now and then or take a drink break or something but I did it. And I made sure everything I cleared was put away, not just moved to another place.

This approach works very well for me when I’m in this state. It gives me small rewards and small challenges. It forces my focus on one thing and stops my mind from going everywhere else. Plus the actual task of sorting, trashing, filing, etc keeps my mind preoccupied and that means it doesn’t sit there and talk trash at me.

If you’re having problems like this, I strongly suggest you try this approach. For more benefit, choose a pretty small thing in an area you see a lot through the course of your day. Say, the end table in the living room or a particular chair or one side counter or something like that. I think this is why FlyLady loves the kitchen sink so much.

My problem is the kitchen sink gets disgusting fast and that’s really hard for me to overcome so I have to work my way over to it before I’m ready. Not sure I’m ready but my kitchen is starting to smell yucky and that turns my smile upside down.

When my Mother’s Day presents are all done, do you know what I’m going to do?

This.

And not necessarily in that order.