Saturday, January 31, 2009


It's not over yet, but we've been granted a reprieve.

And after reading part of the information after the voting section, I'm about to get rid of nearly ALL plastic toys.  (Legos must stay--there would be mutiny here if I tried to get rid of them.)

So, it's looking like I'll be sewing, knitting, and crocheting a LOT of toys in the near future. lol

Then again, Almanzo Wilder didn't have any toys at age 9.  He was too busy learning how to live a real life.  Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Simplicity's Power

Artistry's test lies not in the materials, but in the artist.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Handspun

Many thanks to sgeddes, whose reporting example is so easy to follow. I just wish my last name was as easy to turn into a great brand name. ;o)

From The Passionate Mind

This was my first attempt at Navajo plying, and there are a few flaws. Overall, though, it's decently balanced and doesn't have too many open loops where the three strands of the chain weren't the same length. ;o)

From The Passionate Mind
I was too excited to wait to take pictures during the day, so you've got to suffer through with ambient living room light for this post. Never fear, though . . . a light box is in the works.

From The Passionate Mind

EastSide* Handspun

Fiber Content: 100% Merino
Fiber Source: Sheepish Creations
Colorway: Unknown.
Yardage: ??? yards
Weight: 28 grams/1 oz
WPI: ???
Notes: 3-ply, Navajo plied, spun from the fold.

(*It's a play on one of my names.)

Wednesday Short List

One load of laundry.
Have kids put away their own.
Put crib & changing table on Craigslist.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I believe I'm beginning to really understand that I have "enough".

I excitedly ordered The Power of Less, excited to see what secrets Leo had for the rest of us . . . what incredible breakthrough he found that allowed him to apply the principles of minimalism and common-sense which so transformed his life. What epiphany so empowered him. I was rather surprised to find my excitement was unnecessary.

There is no secret.

Leo took much of the same information I already know, and transformed his life. Doh. I already know everything in that book.

That means it's time to knuckle down and just do it. Here goes.

P.S.) The Short Lists are working great--when I remember to do them, and write them down. I think I need to start blogging them daily.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Way to Live this Week

Some thoughts to ponder, from an old email foward:

92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is
fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his
hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly applied,
even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing
home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away,
making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting
patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled
sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I
provided a visual description of his tiny room,
including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an
eight-year-old having just been presented with a new

"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he

"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.
Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how
the furniture is arranged .. it's how I arrange my
mind. I already decided to love it "It's a decision I
make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I
can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I
have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or
get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll
focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've
stored away. Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what
you've put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of
happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you
for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still

Remember the five simple
rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

Today's short list:

Do laundry with the kids.
Mark spots on wall to hang family pictures.
Make good food.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Total Rant: On good error-handling in shipped code.

Could someone, somewhere, PUHLEASE make it easy on me when I hit a bug, for heaven's sake?

Is it my responsibility, as a user, to Google the error code, sleuth through overburdened help & FAQ forums, post a question, wait for an answer, and otherwise spend minutes or hours of my precious and scarce time on a problem that's not mine to fix?

Ravelry has it right. When there's a problem, a friendly little page appears containing Bob, the official Rav mascot, that says (paraphrased, as I can't find an error right now to quote it):

Doh! We've been notified, and we'll fix this as fast as we can. Thanks!

Casey (the well-loved code monkey behind the wonder that is Ravelry) is automatically emailed each and every time there's a problem. Knowing something of Casey's coding practices and design ethics, I rest assured that those automatic emails contain all of the info necessary for him to fix the problem.

I'm so terribly tired of bug handling being left to the end user. It's time for the code guys (I'm talking to you, Blogger) to take responsibility and automate the process so the rest of us aren't left without what we need from the service/product, and a burden to go figure it out ourselves.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Great Laundry Clean-Up

Last Saturday, after the kids were in bed, Vern and I were doing something a lot of fairly well-established married couples do on a Saturday night. He was paying bills, I was cleaning the house. . . although, like most cleaning, I can't remember what it was now that it's over. (It all has this mystical aura to me. Somehow, because I can't remember each and every step, it seems impossible both before and after the fact, while as I'm in the midst of it, it's all a blur. ;o)

Then my eyes fell upon something I had picked up earlier that day at Home Despots: a bag containing two 4" 90-degree vent elbows for the dryer.

Earlier this week, the children and I went to Ikea. We had a ton o' fun, and sadly have no photo record. I took quite a number of shots with my nifty new-to-me Palm Treo, but as it is very new to me, instead of saving each one, I managed to discard them right after I took them. Sigh. We have our memories.

Oh, but back to Ikea. While there, I bought a changing table on sale. (Hooray for Winter Madness!) On Friday I assembled it (straightforward and enjoyable as far as RTA furniture goes), and tried to install it in the laundry room where the old changing table had been. Being within 1/4" of the same size as the old one, I figured I only needed to move the dryer a teensy, tiny bit in order to squeeze the changing table in past the door molding. Well, I guess I moved it a little more than a teensy, tiny bit, because I managed to put enough stress on the flexible 90 between the dryer and the floor that it popped all three of it's seams.

In case you're wondering, this is what a flexible 90 looks like:

The one I destroyed was very close to that.

So, on Saturday I bopped on down to Home Depot with MissE, picked up a couple of replacements (if you've ever worked with rigid vent pipe, you understand why), and then had to set them aside to jump back into the fray of everyday living.

Fast-forward a few hours to post-bedtime peace, and we've surfaced from the flash-back. I'm looking at the bag with the 90's in it, and thinking to myself: "If I don't want to be buried alive in laundry, I need to get this thing fixed."

About 30 minutes later, Vern comes downstairs and is thwarted in his efforts to gain the kitchen:

Upon closer inspection, this is what he sees:

Except I've just popped my head up from behind the washer, where I'm hunkered down, gently coaxing various pieces of venting together in such a way to allow me to switch the relative position of the washer and dryer.

You see, we have a rather disturbing pattern when we move. The truck arrives at the new place (after much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth for the preceeding week or six), it's unloaded in as careful a manner as possible, and no matter how hard I try (I've had eight shots at it now), most everything is almost, but not quite, entirely in the wrong spot. (My apologies to Douglas Adams.) The dresser is on the wrong wall. The washer and dryer are backward (we didn't have the vent pieces to put them where they should have been, and for some unknown reason, having the dryer hooked up Right. Now. seemed more important than calling up one of the multitudinous helpful familiy members who helped us unload the truck and say: "Hey, you know how you offered to help if we needed anything? Well, would you mind picking up a couple of pieces of vent pipe at the Home Despots and dropping them by sometime soon?" Add to that the fact that I didn't realize I could switch the darn things without taking one of them out of the room entirely, and I was stuck.

(This is turning into quite the rambling essay, isn't it? I hope you're all feeling patient, because I'm not done yet . . . feel free to just skip this one, if you're getting bored.)

Where was I? Oh yes, Vern was peering into the laundry.

I smiled, waved some greasy fingertips at him, and tried to offer an explanation that would ease the slightly-worried-that-my-wife-might-be-up-in-the-night look off of his face. It sort of worked. At least he didn't make me stop. (He does like the hallways to be rather un-blockaded, so I can see why my explanation might not have had anything to do with it.) He helped me ease the dryer back into position, carefully and breathlessly attaching the vent to the exhaust on the back of the machine. (No slip-ups, and no bent edges. Hooray!!!)

I walked the washer back into position, and felt much as I would imagine Atlas himself does as he turns the world on its axis. Rotating a several-hundred-pound washer on one of it's feet is something every housewife should do once in her life. Nearly as empowering as childbirth.

I snuggled the changing table back between the washer and wall, and nearly dissolved in ecstatic relief. Not only did I not have my appliances fighting with each other (now the washer door opens away from the dryer!), but I have actual drawers (did you see em'? did you see 'em? real, live drawers!) for the baby's clothes. It's so much nicer than them living in a pile on top of the dryer. I've found that drawers lend themselves to cleanly-clad munchkins.

And so, when I venture into the hallway that offers itself as a laundry room (I'm grateful to have it, btw), I'm no longer greeted by teetering mounds of clean laundry on the dryer, piles of miscellany on the washer, full hampers of dirty laundry threatening to take over the narrow space in front of the door to the garage, and mounds of other household laundry waiting its turn on the floor.

I'm greeted by this:

A clean slate. :o)

Next time, tune in for the Great Laundry Spiff-Up, where this intrepid housewife decorates where no one has decorated before . . . (suggestions welcome!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Zen Initiative

So, as some of you may have seen on facebook (I'm there, btw, if any of you are, too), I've just begun reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. I've just finished chapter one, and there are some questions I'm supposed to ask myself. In the interest in really getting some good out of this book, I thought I'd actually take the time to write down my answers (hoping I'll remember them ;o).

And here they are:

1. Which areas of my life are overwhelming?

Jokes about having five children, living in a post-consumer age overflowing with material excess, and my pack-rattiness aside . . . it's my environment. The housekeeping, meal-making & clean up, everything. (Although the laundry has been humming along since I re-did the laundry room.)

2. What would I like to simplify?

Everything about the housekeeping.

3. In addition to the tasks I need to accomplish in different areas, do I want to limit the number of possessions I have, what information I receive, or what responsibilities I have?

Overlooking the fact that the first part of this question is ambiguous to the point of complete obfuscation (too many subjective terms), this is a yes. I want to limit the number of possessions I have (which is way to many), the information I receive (I read too much on the internet), and what responsibilities I have (the kids could do a LOT more around here).

So, there's that. I'm really curious to see if the first part of question three is elucidated later in the book . . .

(Oh. I just got it. The first part of question three should have the word "limiting" right after "In addition to . . .", meaning that limiting tasks is a given. I was understanding it as "In addition to working on/completing the tasks I need to accomplish in different areas . . . " Oh intricacy, English is thy name . . . .)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Muddy Gem

From my dear friend Birrd:

"That was in October. Life was going like a mudslide, sucking me along in a torrent of squelchy goo-filled days, accelerating as the Holidays approached. Now, I like mud and all, but come January I decided that I was going to harmonize my debris flow and tell it where to go instead of letting it push me along."

She's one of my favorite writers, you know. Just too much fun.  :o)  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


True love is friendship -- caught on fire.

                                                                       --Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January: The Short List

So, I've decided that in order to actually make any progress in life, I need to lower my expectations.

I have only twelve New Year's resolutions this year.

Wait, wait. I can hear the laughter now. Honestly, I really have scaled back. In the words of Inigo Montoya: "Le' me 'splain. No, there is too much. Le' me sum up."

Each New Year, I would pick several (or occasionally one) resolution. Something like "Lose weight", "Exercise more", "Get to bed earlier", etc. Not too bad, right? Not. I would turn that one simple thing into a huge list, with tons of bullet points and schtuff to do each day.


So, this year, I'm taking one simple thing each month (turns out it's a good idea) and just worrying focusing on that. For January, I'm focusing on what I call "Short Lists". Each day I think of (and sometimes record) no more than three things I really want to accomplish. Today it was: (Italicized notes are mine from today. Non-italicized are from the day's original list.)

Clean the floors.
Pick up the book club book at the library.


Bathe kids
Visit the Cox family. (Name changed.)
Baby-sitter's knitting lesson (Barter is awesome.)
Put kids to bed (Vern's gone tonight to superman-programmer's group meeting.)

Monday's Short List:

Make Vern's Pie
Nap the Kids
Wrap gifts.

Now, yesterday's list got away from me, because it was too long. The first one slipped through the cracks. (We were still a half hour late to the Cox's house, but it turned out alright in the end.) However, I've noticed that I'm actually getting to the things I put on the list. I'm astounded.

For the last several years (five? seven?) I've made careful, extensive lists, and then ignored them with all the power of my being. This is not an effective way to get things done. So, in the last year or two, I reserved lists for grocery shopping and sometimes road trips, and largely shot from the hip on everything else. (I always had a calender, but seldom used it.)

So, I'm taking back my beloved and long-lost lists, in the hopes that I'll never fear them again. In honor thereof, I give you the rest of this year's monthly resolutions:

1. The Short List
2. ____________
3. ____________
4. ____________
5. ____________
6. ____________
7. ____________
8. ____________
9. ____________
10. ____________
11. ____________
12. ____________

It's an organic process. ;o)

I'm making it up as I go along, depending on what I learn from my new book, and how our life here in the green PacNW evolves.

That is, if the house doesn't fall on us in the night. The wind tonight is frightful. (I'm not accustomed to hearing the siding rattle. It's hardiplank.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ancient of Days

Today is the day, 37 years ago, my best friend came into the world. The firstborn of his mother, just over four and a half years older than I. We've learned so much together, he and I. . . it's hard to imagine where in the world I would be now if I hadn't met him.

From then,

to now,

through eleven years and five children; houses and moves; jobs, mountains and molehills; you've grown more handsome and more dear. Thank you so much for choosing me.

I love you, Vern.

Happy Birthday.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Importance of Walking

From a recent email:

Walking can add minutes to your life.
This enables you at 85 years old
to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing
home at $7,000 per month.

My grandpa started walking
five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he's 97 years old...
and we don't know where he is.

I like long walks,
especially when they are taken
by people who annoy me.

The only reason I would take up walking
is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

I have to walk early in the morning,
before my brain figures out what I'm doing..

I joined a health club last year,
spent about 400 bucks.
Haven't lost a pound.
Apparently you have to go there.

Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise',
I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

I do have flabby thighs,
but fortunately my stomach covers them.

The advantage of exercising every day
is so when you die, they'll say,
"Well, she looks good doesn't she."

If you are going to try cross-country skiing,
start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise
the last few years...,
just getting over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older,
because there's a lot more information in our heads.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Every time I start thinking too much about how I look,
I just find a Happy Hour and by the time I leave,
I look just fine.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Treatise on Organizing

This began as a comment to cindylouh's plea for suggestions, but quickly outgrew the comments box (and any rational hope for keeping it to comment length ;o). So, here's a post just for you, cindylouh, from a new reader. As for the rest of my loyal readers, I have a feeling that most of you could use this, too, so keep calm and carry on. ;oD

On Tackling Your Crafty Space

{voice: booming announcer; style: impressive echo}

The Rules of Organizing!

{/voice; /style}

The #1 Rule of Organizing:

Makest thou all things easier to put away than they are to find.

Kids will dig in a big toybox for incalculable minutes on end for a certain toy, mystifying their mothers with their determination and focus. But, if putting them away takes more than three seconds, no deal. It looks like you have a lot more stuff than space right now, with your current system(s). So, following the #1 Rule of Organizing comes the . . .

#2 Rule of Organizing:

Usest thou larger containers, with broad categories.

Larger containers mean less wasted space between and around smaller ones. You know the beautiful closet ads from California Closets? Whole rooms full of gorgeous closet hardware and the like, holding only a week's worth of dress clothes, three party outfits, and four pair of shoes. Measure your funny fabric nook and find containers that will fit one on each shelf (or so), and then categorize your fabric according to the visually least-obvious, or most often used requirement. If you usually search by color, then that's your sorting algorithm.

#3 Rule of Organizing

Excerisest thou restraint. Also known as: Thou Shalt Not Stash.

Whenever you bring something new into such a small space, you must either have made a spot for it before your purchase, or must remove something in order to keep your delicate crafty ecosystem in balance. Yin and yang. Live it. Love it.

#4 Rule of Organizing:

Pickest thou up after thyself.

Amen and amen. Without adherence to this last and final rule, all hope is lost. (And I'm in as much trouble as any of us! ;o)

And now, with these simple rules (and preamble) committed forever to memory (c'mon, it's not that much ;o), you are now to "Knowing is half the battle." On to the last half:

{voice: booming announcer; style: impressive echo}

The Plan of Action.

{/voice; /style}


Dividest thou thy crafty space into discrete spaces, according to thy will or their uses.

This allows you to conquer them one at a time, without tearing the whole room apart, or losing your sanity in the reorg process. As FlyLady says: "Don't pull out more than you can put back in an hour." Wise words from one of us.

Step 1:

Choose one of the spaces you defined earlier, and attack, armed with: a garbage bag, a "give away" box, a "put away" box, a tape measure, notebook and pencil.

Armed with these vital tools, you can now begin your quest.

Step 2:

Sort everything in your chosen battlefield into either the garbage bag, the "put away box", or the "give away box", remembering this cardinal rule:

Chuckest thou all that which thou dost no longer love, or that which thou wilt no longer use.

Need I say more? ;o) All of us crafty types have stashes that include things which we've had for (insert your time frame here), and we just don't love, won't use, or can't remember. Those things are taking up precious space . . . the space necessary to use the rest of the stash! So, the first thing to do it take stock, and let the pockets of less-loved supplies go elsewhere. (I like to let my kids go wild with them. It's fun to see what they come up with, and the kids' craft supplies are kept in a separate location! Muah-ha-ha-ha!)

Once things are sorted, take measurements of the spaces you need containers for, and guard that record with your life.

Step 3:

Now that you know what it is you have, and exactly how much space you have in that zone: Acquire containers, and install them.

Whether they're repurposed from elsewhere in the house (I hoard baskets and glass bottles) or purchased (try Craigslist, too!), use your imagination and go wild. Remember Crazy Uncle Eddie's workbench with the baby food jars full of screws and nuts, magically hanging from the shelf above? Screws. The lids were attached to the shelf with screws. Use the bottles from spaghetti sauce, jam and jelly, mustard, or whatever else you have. (Melt a pilot hole with a hot metal skewer on the plastic ones, or punch a hole with a nail in metal ones--just be sure you poke from the inside of the lid so your screw sits flush.)

This is where the resevoirs of creative how-to (especially Unclutterer's Workspace of the Week, Martha Stewart's Good things for Organizing, or ikea hacker's repetoire) come in handy. Or any of a million great blogs on design and such. And, where my vociferous (and hopefully humorous) treatise ends.

Have a great weekend!!!

New Year's Eve Cake

So, Melly's mini-meme got me thinking, and I pulled out the Nordicware Castle cake pan and made up an abbreviated cake for New Year's Eve. (Abbreviated because the batter didn't fill up the pan more than halfway.) I had a Pamela's brownie mix in the pantry (gluten-free and so yummy), and it turned out beautifully. Finely textured, light and tender.

It's not much to look at, really, as the batter had a lot of air in it, which made for a cake which looked a lot more like a Fairytale Castle cum-nuclear warfare, pock-marked and blurry. However, nobody seemed to mind. ;o) (Please excuse the photo, too. You think, after all this time, that I'd have the concept of contrast down by now. lol)

I whipped up some incredible strawberry coconut ice cream, and we all felt like royalty.

Strawberry Coconut "Ice Cream"

1/2 can coconut milk (I love Thai Kitchen's Organic non-lite milk.)
2 medium bananas (the more ripe, the sweeter they are--covered with brown spots is perfect)
2 c. smallish frozen strawberries (or Marionberries -- talk about decadent!)
10-ish medium ice cubes (the size that are 16 to a tray)
25 drops Sweet Leaf stevia extract
~1/2 t. vanilla extract

Put all of this in your smoothie-maker or good blender, and go to town. With a Vita-Mix, like we have, or a smoothie maker, you'll need to use the tamper while it buzzes. Otherwise, stop blending every 10 seconds or so to mix it and scrape the sides.

And now, this fairy tale queen is off to conquer the laundry . . .

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Still in absentia

I know I haven't blogged much, or very well, for quite some time. I find that the blog* often reflects my state of mind and health. The better and more peaceful I feel, the higher the quality and quantity of posts.

*Isn't it interesting how usually blogs are referred to by their owners as "the blog", as if it is an entity unto itself, not wholly owned by the author? Like "the mall" or "the country". I guess, though, that without readers a blog wouldn't be nearly as much fun, so maybe a "the" is more appropriate.

I've been sitting here, reading the No Impact Man blog, and researching thyroid disorder symptoms (the dizziness and swelling lip of the last few days now make sense--hallelujah). What a way to ring in the New Year, eh?

Well, whether or not I'm particularly festive tonight is beside the point. I'm just glad to have found some information that's helpful, so that maybe I'll be back to blogging soon. Typing with swollen fingers is a chore.

Hope you all had a wonderful and festive New Year's Eve, and that the New Year brings you much health, true happiness, and loving family and friends.