The Good, the Better, and the Amazing

Three Smiley Faces

It’s Monday! And instead of being all Boo-Hiss about it, I’m trying to get into the Woo-Hoo frame of mind instead. And with that, I bring you this week’s, The Good, the Better, and the Amazing!!

The Good

  • I feel pretty today. Oh and yesterday too.
  • I really like the book we are reading from class right now, Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro. It’s my favorite so far although Hedda Gabler was pretty awesome.
  • My car started doing this crazy shaking thing this morning while I was taking the kids to school. I was able to get them to school AND drive the car to the mechanic. At first look he says it’s just a spark plug but wanted to let the car completely cool before taking a deeper look. So fingers crossed it’s just the spark plug.

The Better

The Amazing

  • I have the coolest idea for Stallion’s birthday. Still munching over details but the gears are turning. I love surprising people with something awesome that they really want.
  • I tried a new to me crochet technique this weekend called filet crochet. It looks so much harder than it actually is. I made a neat little skull doily type thing I am going to send to an artist as a thank you for some stuff they’ve sent me. And now I’ve got a new technique to add to my skill set!

So what about you? What’s your Good, Better, and Amazing this week?

What we did this weekend: AT-AT Walker Model building, girls play date, swing twisting, fort building, chores with the gecko, taco night, and filet crochet

 

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Pay it Forward Handmade

Image

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!

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!!

2012- The Plan

I’ve been thinking about this post for weeks now. Not exactly the structure of it or the words in it, but the actual content behind it.

My plans for 2012.

Did I want them? How many? What kinds? Do I want to blog about it? Where do I start? Where do I end? Do I end? Is it acceptable to plan out a new year in the first month or am I showing the world I am very lazy and should just forget it?

In the end, my need for acknowledgment won out and I sat down and started mind-mapping 2012. A technique I learned on Google+, my mind-map helped a lot.

Then I put it aside.

But I kept thinking about it. And inevitably, I’d add to it. And even though it looks quite big and messy and full, it doesn’t feel finished to me.

And I’m finally accepting that’s a good thing. Plans are great things to have, and they’re even better to scrap and start anew. But you need to have them in order to scrap them. You need something to check yourself against. You need something to measure life with. You need something to motivate you. You need something to inspire you.

The other day, I tore down my old vision board I had set up. I chuckled over how many of the things on there weren’t representing me right now.

So, what is right now?

This.

What is this? Well, let me just list it out for you, and for me. And we’ll see where that leads us, shall we? Forget priorities, there aren’t any. Let’s go alphabetical:

Blog

1) Self-host Mutant Supermodel

     a) If I can find a way to monetize the blog enough to cover costs in a non-obnoxious way

2) Blog twice a week

3) Avoid content types I dislike

     a) How-I, How-You,  Top Tens, Three Things/Ways, Sponsored

Create More

1) Crochet More

     a) Finish Mom’s Afghan of Love and Labor

2) Knit one pair of socks

3) Try new recipes

     a) One a month?

4) Craft with kids

5) Cook with kids

De-Frumpiness Project

January: Lipstick

February: Fingers and Toes

March: Mascara

April: Accessories

May: More Milk

June: Yoga

July: Skin Care

August: Underwear

September: Smile

October:

November:

December: Fruits and Veggies

Others: Hair, Positive Attitude, Clothes, Generousity

Keep Reading

1) 50 books in 2012

1 down, 49 to go!

Money

1) “Found” money goes to savings

2) Use more cash

3) Save Swagbucks

4) Simplify

A) Bills

          i) Automate as much as possible

B) Savings

          i) Automate as much as possible

          ii) Use HSBC to make it harder to reach goal-oriented savings

a) Birthdays, Car, Christmas, Registration, Summer Camp

C) Expense Tracking

5) Cook More

6) Create a debt goal

School

1) Take it easy

But go for the A

Structure

1) Better use of calendar

2) Enforce chores

3) Create schedules

  Cleaning

     Kids

     Bring back bedtime stories

     Sleep

     Family Meetings

Theme Song: “Be Ok” by Ingrid Michaelson

Travel

1) Family

Universal and Virginia

2) Adults Only

Somewhere, anywhere

In a way, this becomes not just a framework for my life, but it’s also a pretty good indicator of what might very well become my blog’s content. And of course, it’s subject to change at any time. And it probably will since this is what’s going on my now empty vision board.

A lot of these need expanding on, others need some major fleshing out still. I’ve been more concerned with just getting the stuff out of my head than with figuring out all of the details. But I have time, a whole year in fact, to work through it all.

What about you? Are you gonna wing 2012, pray for the best, and see what happens? Are are you in full strategy mode? Or are you way ahead of me and already barging through the year, plans in hand?

On Christmas and Books and Crochet

I figured I’d write a post that has nothing at all to do with money or shopping or anything like that. Mostly because I just need a little break thinking about it all.

Do you remember how I challenged myself to read 60 books this year? Well I’ve been doing pretty well but got derailed a couple of months. Now I have 8 more to go. I used Robert’s list of ranked books at 101 Books to help me put in a slew of requests at the library.  Right now, I’m reading Revolutionary Road. I have 1984 and Naked Lunch at home. The library is gathering together Never Let Me Go, Lolita, Rabbit, Run, Blood Meridian, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, I, Claudius, A Clockwork Orange, and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Can you believe I’ve never read these? At least, I don’t remember if I did.

It kinda kills me that I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and have not read so many classic books. My University never offered a great comprehensive course on more modern stuff which was just such a letdown for me. Anyways, I’ll have lots of books to choose from and I have a couple more Rick Riordan books to read as well to help get some fast and easy reads in there. 25 days. 8 books. Should be fun. I just realized my list of books that I’ve read on here needs major updating. I’ll have to put that on my To-Do list for the week.

It’s a really unique experience when I pull into my train station every morning. Coming up from a good read is so much like coming up from a dream-filled sleep. Honestly, that’s what reading is most like to me. Dreaming. I don’t know what everyone else’s experience of reading is like.

I’ve never been good at creating crystal images in my head. I can’t conjure up the perfect Frank and April Wheeler for instance. I just gather up these vague impressions that shift. It’s much the same as my dreaming experiences. Especially the dreams that play out as if they were a movie I was watching. Have you done that? Even in those kinds of dreams, the appearance of some “characters” suddenly change and I don’t skip a beat.

It’s like that for me with books. Characters aren’t static when I read them. They’re not definite either. In one of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, Percy is describing his meeting with Aphrodite. And it’s a struggle for him to describe her because she doesn’t settle into one appearance. She is all of his ideas of beauty swirling together, in and out. That’s my experience when I read books and try and envision characters.

But yeah, folding the corner or placing something in the book to mark the page. I put the book in my purse and look up blinking. I feel so surreal for the first few minutes as I walk to my office. With my brain drifting from the story into the reality. It leaves me feeling somewhat sleepy and sometimes even sad.

I would probably be reading faster but I got back to the crocheted afghan I promised my mother almost a year ago and began months ago. There’s this one row that has been going so slowly and tediously. It’s this beautiful cablesque row but you have to crochet, chain, crochet, turn, crochet, turn, repeat. Again and again across 152 stitches. I’ve been doing it little by little for the past three nights and I’m not done yet. This blanket though is really pretty. And I know that my mother will be very happy to have it and she will be very proud that I made it for her and honestly, there aren’t many times in my life where I’m convinced I’ve made my mom proud but the blanket one is a definite. So there’s a little excited anticipation moving me forward.

I have no delusions about having it ready for Christmas. I just want to have it soon. And I’m not going to crochet anything else until it’s done. The only exception would be a hat for my daughter to replace the butterfly hat because the cat decided the wool was much too tempting to not chew on.

I’m feeling hermitish again. Maybe it’s the time of year. I just want to withdraw into my shell of a home. It’s turning into a Christmas home too which is nice.

I put up our Christmas tree this weekend but when I went to put the angel from 1983 up, she didn’t light up. I love this angel. She’s the one sat on the top of our tree as kids for years. So The Boyfriend and I had the same idea– buy new lights and re-light her. It’s not exactly change the bulbs, I have to unwire her and buy a miniature string– the type they use for wreaths for instance. I’m happy about this prospect though. A vintage Christmas angel with LED lights. I hope my idea works or that at the very least, I figure out a way to make it work.

I have the crazy kind of Christmas tree. The one with the colored lights and the ornaments that have no theme or anything. I like those trees the best. I know there are people who love the Gold and Cream, or the Red and Green, or the Silver and White, or even the Pink, White, and Lime. But for me, everything goes. And every year I take the kids to Target to buy a new ornament to add. It’s had this unforeseen effect of making unwrapping the ornaments a really special experience. The only thing that makes me sad is that I’ve forgotten what ornaments are from what year and that sort of thing. This year when I put them away, I’ll have to pull out the Sharpie and write the info on the bottom of the special ones.

Stories. Memories. Creations. Personalities. All on a tree. There are even photos as the kids make ornaments in school to bring home. I found one of Eldest from four years ago. My heart jumped into my throat as I was jarred by the image. I don’t remember my Eldest looking like that. Was it really just four years ago? His cheeks were so sweet and his smile so funny. A little old man grin on a four year old cherub face. I kept looking from the ornament to him. It’s shocking when it’s unexpected like that. Mystifying.

A new year is mere weeks away. How can it be? And yet, how can it not?

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 🙂

Heading into August’s final stretch

I will defeat you She-Ra!

Well, it’s the last week of August and the last week to work on the goals I set up when the month started. I figure I’ll refresh us with some of these, update you on where I’m at, and lay out my plan for the last week.

Financial

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, the bulk of Eldest’s birthday party expenses were associated with a reptile show that was a no-show. This left me with $250 which ended up being absolutely necessary to carry me over the gap between when I would’ve normally gotten child support and when I actually did get child support. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’d challenged myself to hit 8 No Spend Days this month. Well, I’ve got 7 so far! I am pretty happy about this I have to say. I look forward to challenging myself again next month with a couple more days perhaps. It really helps to plan ahead, let me tell you. It also helps to just stay home and relax. Amazing how affordable that is!

I really do like the two account system although, I do confess things got a bit tight and I had to switch to the bill account until the child support dust settled, but that lasted only a few days and I’m back to the initial set-up: Credit Union for spending and ING for bills.

As regular readers know, the Income Deduction Order is working. The first amount was cut from his paycheck Friday, August 12 and I deposited the check yesterday. There was a gap in income then from when he normally would’ve paid me something (that same Friday) to yesterday. But, the gap was worth it because I know I got more this way than had he been able to choose the amount given to me. I need to set up for direct deposit. I have the form all filled out in an envelope, stamped, and ready for the mailbox on the way out. I doubt it’ll go into effect before they cut the next check but hey, I’m working on it!

Since I did get some money from the deduction, I’ve arranged for $575 to go into the different savings accounts and I’ve set aside $59 to pay off one of my low-balance credit cards next week when the funds transfer. YAY!

Personal

It looks like working out is going to be a September thing. My friend bought a Groupon for six classes at a circus arts school. They’re letting her split it so she and I can go together. She’s eyeballing something called high-flying yoga. Not to be outdone, I found a Groupon for pole dancing classes at a studio by my house. She went and bought that one too. It was only $29 and they have all kinds of hilarious classes—even some that have nothing to do with a pole or disrobing or laps. The best part of both of these options is they have very flexible schedules. The pole fitness studio is even open until 9:30 on weeknights!

As I predicted, with school starting for the kids this past Monday prepping the night before has become a must-do. And it’s paid off. I don’t know why I know this consciously and yet struggle to do it. I know this is common after all it’s why people smoke cigarettes or eat a box of Swiss Cake Rolls in one sitting (god I love those).

Following the success of our first family meeting, I’m going to schedule another one the first Monday of September which is Labor Day. I think it’ll be good to check in with the kids and how their new school routines are working. We’ll also most likely have to discuss extracurricular activities. This is something my mother and brother have traditionally helped with financially. I never asked, they just really wanted to do it for my kids. But this year, I’d like to contribute financially to this. Eldest has already expressed a desire to try out for the Primary basketball team and Daughter has told me she really wants to do ballet again this year.

So the girlfriend outing didn’t happen this month and it’s not likely. But I guess I’ll be compensating with the pole dancing and trapeze-flying in the next few weeks.

As far as books, most of you voted for Bossypants as my next read and it will be—after Posionwood Bible because that’s due at the library first and I can’t renew it. I’ve been reading it on the train every day and already love it.

As you know, things have gotten pretty exciting at this blog this month what with all of the mentions everywhere and most recently the nomination at my local news site (which is hilarious considering I’d said I wouldn’t ask for votes and I promise you, I’m really trying not to). As a matter of fact, I may even break a previous record for traffic to this blog in one month. The funny thing is that particular month was a freak month for me and was completely due to the Facebook child abuse campaign that asked everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite childhood cartoon character. People came flocking to this blog for She-Ra pictures. They still do! It was by far my highest spike in traffic and this month, I might match it or beat it without a freak Facebook campaign skewing the results.

I should mention I’ve begun crocheting the Alaskan Nights afghan for my mother. I promised this her blanket last Christmas. It’s so beautiful but I’ve already worked myself into a mess. I only copied part of the pattern apparently and returned the book. And I am getting confused without a photo to guide me. So far, I like what I see but I’m in a weird part of it right now and not really sure if I’m doing it right or what.

I have to say, I am really liking the fact I’ve been on top of the goals I set out for myself this month. I worry that maybe I’m boring you guys but you have to know, this has been tremendously helpful to me in staying on track and staying focused. Not to mention, I actually get to prove to myself that I’m accomplishing things and not just meandering mindlessly day to day.

What about you? Are you looking at closing August smoothly or are you kind of freaking out a bit? Do you create and track goals or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?