A Post Short

I’m having a tough time trying to find something to write about today. I’ve got a ton of ideas, but nothing is coming out right. I get going with something and delete it all.

I’ve been listing again. It started with the grocery list. I have a system that I have been perfecting since the kids were babies and making it through the store with the least amount of hassle was my goal. I make a list of meals that I want to make throughout the next two weeks (I use to shop weekly, but currently it’s biweekly). About 8 dinners, a few lunch ideas, and a couple breakfast ideas. Some dinners can be reheated, or turned into something else. I also give myself wiggle room to make stuff up. If I give myself too strict of a schedule I just get stubborn, or forgetful and waste a lot of food.

Then I go through the meals and check what I already have and make a list of what I’ll need to make everything. Then I add the kitchen staples that need replenishing and snacks. Then, I rewrite my list into groups and put them in order of how I move through the store. This has been my system for years. Once I’m home, I make sure to cook the meals with the most perishable ingredients first and work through the week. I keep the more labor intensive meals for earlier in the week, and the really lazy meals I save for later in the week.

After all that was done, I had to make a list of everything that needs to be done around the house. Room by room, I break down all the details of cleaning the room. I have to be able to check items off my list as I go or I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything. Have I mentioned I have OCD and anxiety? Lists help soothe my anxiety so I can put order to the chaos. Making them so meticulously calms my OCD and gives me the sense of control the disorder craves. Then I begin to work my way through the impossible task of organizing our house.

If I think about the whole project, I panic. I clam up and surrender. That’s not what this past month has been though, I swear. Life has been one impossible task on top of another on top of another. Making sure I could keep going to take care of my family involved a lot of shoving things aside and not dealing with it. I didn’t have time to fall apart. Years of some really challenging stuff, which I’m sure I’ll delve into little by little. The point is, this past month and a half has been the rest that I’ve been craving. The rest that I’ve been needing. That my kids have needed. And even though my husband is still working from home, it’s been the rest that he’s needed too. It has been really nice. (Even with the kids bickering). (Ok, even with us bickering with our kids sometimes too).

So now that I can breathe a little better, and my muscles are craving movement, and my mind is racing with inspiration, the house is an utter disaster. It puts us all on edge and I usually get about a week of ‘conquer the world’ energy and motivation every month. Now the shopping is done and I’m making a to-do list every night before bed, trying to think realistically of what I can accomplish. I’m in a hurry to create space for my kids to do their school work, as well as play and create stuff. I’m trying to bring the order back that we all crave right now.

To the side of the house chores I list out the meals for the next day and make sure I get anything I need to ready. I set out stuff for waffles in the morning. We have strawberries, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar. I’m excited. Plus the waffle iron is fun. It also takes away any anxiety I might have about trying to figure it out what to make when I might be caught off guard that it’s already lunch time. This way, I’m ready, and I can enjoy cooking; which I do.

Lastly, I’m adding yoga and ten minutes of focused workouts. Mostly body weight stuff. Pilates. I’m trying to re-teach my body proper form after a month of curling up to read and knit, or rough house with the kids. The youngest still crawls into bed with us most nights, and sometimes our middle one does too. It makes for some achy places in the morning.

Writing this makes me think of an episode of The Storyteller by Jim Henson called ‘A Story Short’. We’ve been watching it with the kids recently. Yet another show or movie that my husband and I both grew up with. We get excited about that stuff. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend looking for it. Jim Henson is an amazing storyteller himself. John Hurt is wonderful and all the puppeteers, the sets, the way the stories are told. It’s a must see at any age.

The last two days have been filled with much cleaning and sorting and getting rid of things that have been taking up space. It feels good, but it’s also good to take a break and enjoy the simple things. The little things that make up the big things. And most importantly, I am grateful for these moments with my kids and my husband.

A Little Too Small

Just rolled out of bed.

Well, I finished my daughter’s sweater. She was so excited when I woke her up in the morning and she tried it on. She just makes my heart melt. Then we took a look and the sleeves don’t touch her wrists and it’s a bit tight across her chest. She refused to take it off, until she herself had to admit it was too tight.

Now to find a 2 year old to give this to.

I will make her another one. The pattern was a lot of fun. I’ve already started my middle one’s. I’m changing up the colors and am going to make stripes instead of the two blocks of color. I think I’m having even more fun the second time around. I also love using this bag my sister gave me for Christmas! I keep all of my knitting and crochet supplies within.

Another thing I’m learning is that I really need to use scrap yarn for holding sleeve stitches so these sweaters can be tried on by me or my kids. My first sweater is wonderful, but if I ever make it again, I would definitely make a few changes. I’m really hoping this sweater for my mom fits. We definitely have different body types, but we have shared sweaters.

Almost there.

Hopefully I can finish this sweater in the next couple days and send it off to my mom. Then I’ll focus on sweaters for my kids, but I am working on the design for a sweater for my sister. I’m taking a basic top-down pattern and adding cabling. I can’t find any cable garment patterns I like, so I’ll just start making them up myself. That’s why I finally bought this.

What’s Left in the Pantry?

There is a stack of tires stinking up my kitchen. Our recycling is overtaking a whole corner of the house. The sink is full of dishes. The girls refuse to sleep. The laundry is backing up. And I think my kids are starting a water cup collection in their bedroom. But at least I can still whip up something everyone will eat. Tonight was one of my best ones, if I do say so myself. Stew Covered Cornbread.

I gathered things from the pantry and freezer. I’ve got all those boxes of Jiffy cornbread from my mom and I do love cornbread. Of course I always like to jazz it up. I didn’t have the ingredients for what I originally wanted to do, so I made stuff up as I went.

Canned corn is always sweeter, so that will work. No sour cream, or yogurt, so milk it is. And why not some shredded cheese? This was also the first time I followed that direction that say to let it sit for a few minutes before stirring again and pouring it in to the muffin cups.

Then the stew. I wanted to get rid of this awful can of chicken pot pie filling that I’ve had taking up space. I bulked it up with frozen veggies, cream of celery, canned chicken, milk, and whatever spices seemed right at the time. I heated it up on medium-high until it bubbled, then let it simmer with the lid on. It was amazing! The kids really liked it too.

I love my kitchen gadgets! This one is from my mom and is super easy to use and clean. Just mix up whatever muffin mix you want, pour in, and cook up. Wipes clean. With all these Jiffy boxes we’ve got, some donuts are in order. Apple Cinnamon donuts with applesauce. Easy snack.

Spaghetti is always a hit with the kids. And if I’m being honest, I get excited for spaghetti night too. I never really do anything fancy with it. I just cook whole wheat pasta (I find it more filling than white so I eat less). Ground beef gets salt, pepper, garlic, and chili pepper. Once it’s cooked I add whatever jar of sauce I have on hand, top with grated Parmesan cheese. The best is when there is enough leftovers, you can have baked spaghetti with melted cheese another night.

More Sweaters

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate seams. With a passion. I find a beautiful pattern, get excited, then I see those dreaded shapes, and I walk away. I’m so glad I discovered top-down sweaters, otherwise I may have never made one. Now I can’t seem to be stopped. First one for myself, then one for my mother (I’m still working on it), and now one for my youngest.

About a day’s worth of work.

She’s really stuck on Frozen and now especially Frozen II. Her favorite colors are blue and purple because of it and so everything has to be blue and purple. I’ve got a bunch of solo skeins and a pattern I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. It’s from ‘Love of Knitting’ Spring 2017 issue called Spring Day Raglan. And guess what? It’s top-down! Yay!

I happen to have a blue and a purple of the same type of acrylic. Thankfully, my daughter is still small and it is working up quickly. It’s great when I just need to make progress on something and the endless rounds of stockinette stitch are driving me crazy on the adult sweater. That reality warp happens and the the closer to the end of those rounds I get, the farther from done I feel. So, kid’s sweater.

One sleeve and a few fixings to do yet.

I’m looking forward to repeating this pattern for my other two. Also to redeem myself. The pattern is simple enough. I just couldn’t concentrate. I had no idea if I had written down the tally for my row or if I was on the increase round. It’s hard to notice the mistakes and I actually don’t mind them. I’ll probably write it out by hand to space it out better for the next attempt.Happy knitting!

Using the needle from another WIP to bind-off a bit more loosely.

Random Musings: Insomnia

Insomnia and I have been lifelong friends. Having an overactive imagination is pretty useful when you’re the middle child and entertaining yourself is kind of a must. Not so much when you have no control over it at night and it keeps your brain racing and you’re not always sure of the destination. Or what will happen along the way.

I have tried almost every natural remedy. The only things that ever cured me was being pregnant or breast feeding. So, the only times in my life where I had no trouble falling asleep, or even taking naps (after the age of 3), was when I wasn’t allowed to sleep because of a tiny human. The irony of my life.

I had hoped my insomnia was cured, until a few months after my last kid had weened herself away from me and I found myself in that same strange place of being tired, exhausted even, and yet unable to fall asleep once I laid down. That awful feeling of checking the clock every twenty minutes, telling yourself, “just another forty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…another twenty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…” Then just getting up because you have to do something. Otherwise another hour will go by, and then another.

Or I get up and make lists of things that need to get done around the house, or in my career, or personal projects, or the grocery list. Or I stay up late feverishly writing out the start of my next brilliant, unfinished novel or short story. Sometimes I’m just too fried to be tired.

The one tip that works most of the time is my mom’s. I began creating whole stories in my head at a very young age to put myself to sleep. The problem with an overactive imagination and creating is that I often lost control of the story and characters were swallowed up, or trapped in a loop. I later learned how to push through those hiccups, and gain control back. And that is part of why my mom’s tip was the best.

Whenever she had trouble falling asleep, she would picture walking through her childhood home. Walking up the front path. The feel of the pavement below her feet. The feel of the sunshine on her face. The way her neighborhood smelled. Each minute detail of each step along the way. I don’t think I ever make it much past the front foyer of the first house I remember. Just the stories of our antics in that foyer could almost fill a book. Five, maybe ten, minutes and I’m out. If only it worked every night.

I will say, when I’m exercising regularly, eating the balanced diet that I know works for me, keeping my processed sugars low, doing yoga, and basically doing all the self care things that keep me healthy in mind, body, and spirit, my insomnia nights are few and far between. I think that says a lot for taking care of yourself.

Latte Swirl

I hate seaming. Well, I don’t mind it so much with mitts or infinity scarves. But just the thought of trying to line everything up to begin sewing long seams just makes me start to panic a little. Working in the round is where it’s at for me. Double pointed needles (dpn), straight circular rounds, or the magic loop method, I love them all. And after finishing my first top-down sweater, I dove right into my next one.

This was before I frogged it.
And, honestly, my first time using magic loop.

Now, my love of coffee began just before high school. I started with those powder mocha mixes. Then graduated to regular coffee with lots of sugar and cream. My brother and I used to sing the Beastie Boys song when out with my mom and she looked at us funny adding all that sugar.

I could go on about how and why coffee is one of my loves, but the point of this post is the sweater. Coffee dates or picking up a cup on our way home from running errands is one of the ways my mom and I spend time together. It was what she did with each of us in high school for one-on-one time. My siblings and I have fond memories of those dates.

Such a fun yoke!

So, the sweater. It’s from that same Coffeehouse Knits book as my first sweater and the yoke was so much fun to make. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but when I start a pattern like this, I usually get several rows in before I get the swing of it. Then I rip it all out and start over so that I know it’s coming out right. With this one I did mess up a few times even after that. I had to frog back a few rows once or twice and I go stitch by stitch and they were cabling rows too!

Then I created this massive knot in my yarn. I tend to pull from the middle with larger skeins so I don’t have to spend an hour winding up a ball. This works great until the skein gets all floppy and starts to tangle. I tried rolling it into a ball from the other end one night and that helped a bit, but I left the skein a little intact and that was my mistake. A few days later I spent a very frustrated, but determined 40 minutes on this knot.

Progress so far.

Originally, I was going to give this to my mother for Christmas. This pattern was her favorite when she looked through the book with me. With everything going on and us not being able to have our coffee dates, I think I’m going to try to finish this a little sooner and send it off to her for Mother’s Day. I’m hoping it will help pick up her spirits a bit during these times.

Chocolate and Coffee

A few years ago I was perusing the display books at my neighborhood library when I found a book called ”Murder Most Frothy” by Cleo Coyle. I am a coffee lover and thought it might be fun. Of course, it was the 4th book in the series and so I requested the first one (“On What Grounds”). It’s a very small library.

I had never really been into murder mysteries as they were so predictable and trashy. The characters were always flat. The writing very basic. Not with this series. The protagonist, Clare Cosi is sharp, witty, and fairly relatable. Her passion for coffee is delicious and there are always coffee and dessert recipes at the end. It’s how I learned the proper way to make a Mocha, and it really does taste different.

These books are also filled with historical facts, lessons on architecture, and random information that I would have never known. They’re quick and fun and definitely perfect for relaxing with some coffee and enjoying.

So, I guess while reading this, I got a little inspired. My mom sent us a big box of Jiffy mixes and used two boxes of brownie mix. While mixing them up, I added the usual chocolate chips, but then I thought some cinnamon would be nice. It’s great for circulation, has antioxidants, adds sweetness without the sugar, and just tastes good with chocolate. Then, I thought, why not add some nutmeg.

Now, I’m not a nutmeg fan. I like a dash to know it’s there and get a bit of a bite. I had made these chocolate cayenne pepper bites a few years ago that were good, but too spicy. Nutmeg sounded perfect. They are awesome! My kids ate them up! And they go perfectly with some coffee.

Queen of Hearts

Halloween is my favorite holiday and creating costumes has been one of my favorite things to do since I was very little. I don’t mean sewing and designing elaborate pieces. I mean when you look through your closet and craft stuff and see what you can put together.

Since having kids and learning to crochet, I’ve taken this creating costumes to another place. Well, at least there was one year that I’m particularly proud of, and I had very little time to work with.

It happens a lot to me. I start getting myself ready about a month or so in advance. Then days and weeks go by and suddenly the holiday or event is upon us and I have nothing done, or not enough time to finish. That was the case this particular year. I had ideas percolating, but had not begin making anything and it was October 1st!

I had recently dyed my hair red (again) and really love Alice in Wonderland and steampunk style. I’ll be the Queen of Hearts, but first, to figure out my kids’ costumes. Those are the most important.

I made each vest first. The circular pattern crocheted up faster than I thought they would! They were a lot of fun to make and have bronze clockwork and gear buttons on them.

Then I knit and crochet all of their wrist warmers and their leg warmers. I sewed on decorative embellishments. Gears for the Cheshire Cat, clockwork pieces for the White Rabbit, and keys and locks for Alice.

Then it was time for my pieces. I crocheted a long thin scarf for my mini top hat. I made a crown out of a toilet paper roll to go around the hat. I crocheted a neck warmer and used leftover granny squares from a blanket I made to create hand warmers and crocheted up some leg warmers for myself. I already had a few items from previous Halloween costumes to finish it all up. And of course, added heart-shaped gears!

I only had time to quickly make up a couple of things for my husband’s costume and ran to the thrift store to pick up a couple of items. My mom also gave us a hat for him. An here we are!

It’s Going to Be OK, Eventually

Drained lake at Whipple Dam.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is hiking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s usually a battle to get the girls to wear anything appropriate for the weather, the trail, or just the general concept of putting sneakers on. There is much screaming and crying and searching the house for the necessary items to make this trek. Whining over what I’m bringing for snack and who’s going to have to carry the water bottle. No one wants a jacket.

Stylish hiking outfits.

But then we get to the trail and the kids bound out of the car and are unstoppable. They want to keep going and try the hardest parts of the trail. They run, they walk backwards, they stop to show each other things they find along the way.

Hiking in Coburn

These days, the hikes are even more precious. We have a parking lot for a backyard and no front lawn to speak of, and so our treks in the woods are a time for us to all have some space and fresh air.

Listening to my mother read us a bedtime story.
We do this almost every night now.

But, if I’m being honest, I am loving this time to just relax with my kids. We fight about school work, and who gets more XBox time, and contemplate the more important issues of life, like what we’re going to be for Halloween this year (I don’t know, alright!?). We also hug more, say I love you more, and are ok with just being right now.

Living in our pajamas and loving popsicles!

I’m feeling pretty blessed that our kids are at the ages they are for this. My husband is able to work from home, and while I will be out of work for the indefinite future, we will come through. We always do. We have weathered much worse than this.

Elsa battling Harry Potter while the Wild One runs amok.

In the meantime, we will allow the escape technology can give, find enjoyment in the simple things, be content with the mess, happy with the productive days, run with the spontaneous, and just breathe. Peace and blessings.

Only during quarantine.


It’s kind of crazy to think about what life was like when we only had two kids, I was staying home, and every day was a financial struggle. Those were the years that really formed the foundation of my domestic abilities. When there is a need, you buckle down and figure out how to do it.

Late winter wreath.

My mom was very creative raising us. We went through some really difficult times, but I never really understood the depths of the difficulty until I had my own kids. My siblings and I were always told enough to keep us safe or to just know what was happening in our world, but seriously, I have no idea how we survived. Other than an extremely creative mother, and an extremely loving and supportive community of people that my parents had made for themselves by being the amazing people that they are.

This one use to have two birds and an egg in the nest while we waited for baby number three. The little birdies got them.

So, I learned from both my parents how to make due with what we had and how to appreciate the gifts we have. Our holidays were always memorable, but never extravagant. My husband has some interesting stories of his childhood, but we both agreed to never go overboard on the holidays and to keep it low key as long as we could. That meant that we just had a few people over for cake on their birthdays and only started decorating for the holidays when our oldest was about two or three. Definitely less stress.

We’ve already established I wasn’t suppose to be domestic. I wasn’t suppose to be the stay-at-home parent either. It just worked out that way. Our oldest two are 18 months apart. My hormones were all over the place, my husband was working all the time to support us at a job that left him exhausted, I had an energetic two-year-old that never stopped and never slept, and an overly dramatic infant who had to cry herself to sleep every night. I was shot. But I wanted decorations for the house.

Autumn is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday.

That part about my mom being really creative in raising us. Yeah, she came up with all kinds of games and activities that were really ways to save on energy bills, or entertain us for free, or just give her a break when it was all too much. We were some pretty wild kids. She always had crafts for us to do and it was my favorite thing in the world- besides reading. She also understands what it’s like to be at home with your kids and need something to help. She won me a giant basket of yarn and supplies for knitting one year and the next year it was full of yarn and everything you need to learn how to crochet. This is when I learned to crochet.

I’m kind of surprised this has survived over the years.
This is the wreath from the class.

She also took me to a wreath making class. I no longer have the one wreath, but I have the second one I made. I still hang it on our door every Christmas season. I also found that crocheting with young ones was much easier and safer than trying to knit. I could make all kinds of things so quickly. It gave me something that was for me and then I gave most of it away as gifts. I also began making my own wreaths when we moved into the house we are in now. I finally had a front door where I could safely hang crocheted items.

Just a bunch of hot glue.

I still don’t have one for the summer months and I’m not sure if I’ll crochet one or craft one from other mediums, but one day I’ll make one. For now, I’m just happy I finally made a Halloween one. It’s my favorite holiday and really wanted to get it right. I think I did.

Hope you enjoy! And feel free to share pictures of your own wreaths with me! I would love to see what you’ve made!