It’s my birthday!

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Happy solstice!

The longest night of the year, you know.

I’m 23 today. I was going to do a ’23 before 24′ list, because I like the idea of setting goals to be achieved while I’m a certain age, but I was having a hard time figuring out where to start. Until I read this. Nicole’s meticulously organized process was just the sort of hand-holding I needed to set some real, concrete, achievable, clearly-articulated goals. (She’s awesome.) Following her six-step process was fun & I could concentrate on deep thoughts about my life and my goals and all that, instead of thinking about what to think about.

First, the eff yeah! list. While I was 22, I wrote a longish scholarly work (the thesis of doom); graduated from college; traveled to England, Italy and Greece with my bff; came out as bi to my family; went on a vacation by myself (outside of study abroad); started an MAT program; and knit my first sweater. Wow!

There was no word for 22, because I had no goals. Well, to graduate college and be a good person, I guess. Anyway. The word for 23 is doing. Less thinking “I should do this or that” and more of actually doing things. (Probably less mindless absorption of the Internet would help.)

I’m not going to detail every single goal (all 27 of them), but my life buckets are career (namely, working towards being a teacher); growing up (mostly pertains to setting up my life outside of my parents’ house); health; italiano (maintaining my ability to speak it); organization; pastimes/hobbies; social awareness (and politics); and travel.

I think my biggest problem will be sticking with this plan, and not letting laziness get in my way. I have a tendency to make a plan and then gradually start putting things off until it’s been three months since I went for a run. Hopefully, having 27 different goals for the month that I can try to check off will help. And making new mini-goals every month, so each month is sort of like a fresh start.

Appropriately, this is a Shatterboxx design.

Let’s do this!

Knitting is the best

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All I want to do right now is knit. I think I’ve got some sort of completion high from finally finishing my Augusta cardigan (real pictures forthcoming) and having full use of my formerly-fractured thumb. And, maybe it has a little to do with having to do only a tiny amount of work before my classes are over. Maybe.

And, my room is a huge mess and I should fix that.

But, but… TARDIS charts (that I’m making) for my sister’s mittens. They’re going to be awesome. I have the yarn and even swatched for Aidez (for a knitalong that is in its last week). And I’m working on a pair of socks. All of these are so much more fun than the things I have to do.

(Geeky) Mitten Inspiration!

Anyway. I just felt sort of guilty to my poor neglected blog, so this is just a ‘hey, what’s up, blog?’ sort of post. How’s it goin’?

Making Bread

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Last week I made bread. For-real, from-scratch, French Bread. (Well. I’ve never really been to France, only through it on the way to Italy, but the Rombauers call it French. And it tastes like the French bread from the Bread Co., so I’ll take it.) If this were a food blog, which it’s not, I would post pictures of my lovely twin baguettes for folks to ooh and aah over. But I haven’t taken any, and anyway. Not a food blog. Anyway, I used the recipe from my Joy of Cooking, with only one substitution born of necessity and the fact that we don’t use up shortening before it goes bad.

My pretty Joy. Crappy photo due to laziness.

I think this is the first time I’ve used Joy since I ripped out her spine and gave her a newer, prettier, less-falling-apart binding. To tell the truth, I was a little hesitant to, because a lot of time and effort went into that binding, believe you me. But books were made to be used. Especially Joy. (We’re on first-name terms now, since we got so close during the whole rebinding effort.)

Waxing poetic on my pretty book done, I’d like to get to the point: waxing poetic on bread and breadmaking. When the Irma and Marion (who were St. Louisans, btw) first self-published Joy of Cooking in 1931, eighty years ago!?, they expected it to be used daily by home cooks who wanted to broaden their repertoire. People (women) actually made bread, regularly, for their families! I assume, I mean. Wonder Bread had been around for at least half a decade in pre-sliced form, but there were fewer convenience foods, at least. How amazing would it be to have fresh bread almost every day, or even a couple of times a week? Without having to go to the bakery and pay more, and with the added bonus of your whole house smelling like bread all day. I’m sold right there.

Now, I’m not advocating returning to the values of yore (that’s a different blog post), but maybe a return to some of the food values? Less with the fast food chains and more with food made by hand out of identifiable things. Plants, meats, eggs, grains. Cheeses! These are good things.

One of my former roommates, who cooked and baked from scratch, once told me she’d never met anyone who made her own stock. Of course, the fact that she told me this while I was simmering up a pot of chicken stock sort of negated her claim, but the point’s the same. Why do so few of us make staples like chicken stock and bread from scratch? Convenience, I guess. Speed. I mean, I use a ton of pre-grated cheese, which is sort of a silly thing, but it’s easy.

I guess my point here is that food is good. Real food is better. And I hope that by making it more often I spoil convenience foods for myself, like I’ve spoiled store-bought pie for my family with rich butter crusts and decadent fillings.

On knitting and NaNo

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It’s just shy of November, folks, and that means one thing! Wait, no, that actually means a couple of things. Which calls for a list!

  1. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), that crazy month of literary abandon.
  2. Highest-grossing Dierbergs holiday cracker sale in the area.
  3. The knit-a-long I’m theoretically doing is in week 3 of 8. I’ve knitted nothing.
  4. Fall is here.
  5. Halloween candy.

4 & 5 are obvious, let’s focus on 1-3.

1. I did NaNoWriMo in 2008 and 2009. The goal is simply put: write a novel of at least 50,000 words in November. In 2008, my sophomore year of college (am I showing my youth?) I ‘won.’ That is, I wrote 50k words and they told a complete story. My junior year I wrote enough words but the story wasn’t over, so that’s sort of losing. I still haven’t finished that story…

Anyway, I hadn’t really thought about doing it again this year until a day or so ago, when some of the people I follow on Twitter were talking about it. My excuse for not doing it last year was that I was writing a thesis and was therefore very busy and stressed out. This year? I’m barely working, and I’m in 8 contact hours of class a week. I’ve become filled with ennui and do almost nothing on a day-to-day basis. It’s a big problem, and I think NaNo could help. Having a goal with a deadline might motivate me to be a person again.

word cloud for the 08 nano novel

3. Another project I was going to be (and will be, eventually) working on was a knit-a-long, but I fractured my thumb two weeks ago and can’t really knit. Which sucks majorly because I miss the act of knitting, but also because the cardigan I’m in the middle of would have been done by now. It’s total cardigan weather, and my first-ever handknit sweater is still on the needles. Boo. To catch up with the knitalong I’ll have to knit like the wind once I’m healed. In another 2-4 weeks. Double boo.

2. is work shit. I deliver Pepperidge Farm products–cookies and crackers, including Goldfish–to grocery stores, and the holiday season is our big time of year. Like, HUGE. One of the grocery stores we service sells the most crackers of any store in the metro area, too. The technical term for how many crackers we sell is ‘a shit-ton.’ And I’m broken. Luckily, this is a family business and my cousin has been covering for me the past few weeks, but I’m probably going to need to go back to work not fully healed. Which is a prospect I’m not looking forward to. That’s life, though, platitude platitude platitude… Gotta get paid.

happy fall!

Now, T-60 till novel-writing commences.

More quotes

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via

I have no idea who Samuel Beckett is, but I really like this sentiment. Keep trying. Fail better.

via, via

Good god do I love John Green. And Hank, too, of course. (Clicking the image takes you to the vlogbrothers’ youtube site.) Because enthusiasm is cool.

via

via (can’t find the original source)

Mel Brooks is great.

I love lists

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I hoard paper and notebooks. My pens/markers/etc are an organizational nightmare–there are so many, and I leave them scattered about my room. Lists are a nice, neat, small way for my organizational tendencies to come out. My room & my life are much bigger, harder organizational challenges, but making a list gives me a sense of accomplishment. To-do lists are obviously great for this, because I get to cross things off!

So I’m going to be doing the 30 Days of Lists challenge in September. I’m really excited! There will be all sorts of prompts, and I plan to make a book & sort of art-journal my lists.

Some lists I've made lately.

What am I doing with my life?

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There are these bloggers out there in the intertubes that have made bucket lists (though most of the ones I’ve seen don’t call it that) and write about the experiences these lists lead them to have. I think it’s a pretty interesting idea, and I love lists (more on that later), but a bit more big-picture than I can handle right now. So, I’m going to do a pro-rated “22 before I’m 23;” my birthday’s only 4 months away, so 22 things seems a bit ambitious. I’ll call it 8 things and be done.

  1. Enroll in & begin a Master’s program to become an English teacher.
  2. Finish bookcase & desk projects.
  3. Find a second job.
  4. Declutter room! (Donate/trash lots of things.)
  5. Knit 5 gifts for family members. (Plus a sweater for me!)
  6. Read 6 books for fun.
  7. Read in Italian an hour a week; speak it monthly or more.
  8. Develop exercise habits: practice yoga and jog.

Knitting! (And Reading!)

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I just got back from a week-long beach vacation, and what’s there to do on those long, lazy do-nothing days at the beach house? Knit, that’s what. And read a lot. Actually, I read more than I knitted, and it was glorious.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, and started Tales from the 1001 Nights translated by Sir Richard Burton. I blew through the first three (I read Handmaid’s Tail in a day), but Burton’s old stuffy English is a bit slower to read. Plus, I was starting to feel poorly, so there was definitely a day of mindless stockinette stitch knitting and James Bond marathon watching.

Now, the knitting! I just finished a pair of armwarmers (on the right up there), with the help of Firefly. The pattern is A Friend to Knit With’s Toasty, in Brown Sheep Co.’s Lambs Pride Superwash. The color is a really beautiful bluish green, and the yarn is woolen, so the armwarmers are warm and cozy. I’m working on a baby blanket and a pair of socks as well, and have promised myself not to cast on any other projects till I finish at least one of these. Which is too bad, because I’m dying to try my hand at making a sweater!

 

PS – I did spend a lot of time at the beach, too! And in the pool. And in a rocking chair on our back deck, watching the waves roll in. It was bliss.