Crochet Lap Blanket Extravaganza

Monday, June 17, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

If you were to ask me what my favorite thing is to crochet, it would have to be lap blankets. I enjoy picking colors specifically for individuals. I like using a nice big hook and a HDC stitch with either a rippled or scalloped border. I make them in the evenings while I’m binge-watching something on Netflix. And so far this year, I’ve made quite a few lap blankets…working on number seven, and that doesn’t include a smaller one for a cat with cancer that I made back in January.

I started out with this blanket, made with all kinds of colors, for a special lady who crochets blankets for shelter cats:

Next up was a blanket for a friend’s mother who was having surgery:

Then a blanket for a friend’s mother who was moving into a nursing home (the orange color with the blue and green edging reminded me of a sunset over the Caribbean Ocean):

Then a sage-colored blanket for a friend who is facing a serious health issue:

Then a pink blanket for the feisty daughter of a friend who was in the hospital:

And lastly, now I am working on a blanket for a friend who is moving someplace really cold. I’m doing something a bit different with this stitch pattern:

As you can see, Maxy often helps me work on the blankets. He especially likes it when they are long enough for him to nap under while I’m working. There is something meditative about working on a lap blanket, the same repeating stitches. It’s very calming.

Rexall Drugs

Thursday, May 2, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

Through the years I continue to come back to the Rexall Drugs sign. I’ve shot it with numerous cameras during all different kinds of weather and all four seasons. This shot, around lunchtime, was before it started raining again. At least it’s a little warmer. And hey, we saw our first oriole at the feeder yesterday evening.

Too many gray days
The rain gives me a headache
There is no escape.

Rose Gold Coffee Kalamazoo

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

If one must attend meetings, one should reward everyone involved by selecting a coffee shop as the location of the meeting.

And if one has a meeting in Kalamazoo, Rose Gold Coffee Company downtown is especially lovely.

They make their own syrups for the lattes. The atmosphere is peaceful. It’s a really great place.

In other news, it is officially May but it still rather feels like March. And the rain in incessant.

Never-ending rain
Dampens the soul and spirit
There is no respite.

2019 Bullet Journal

Thursday, February 14, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

It’s a new year, and I just started on my third bullet journal. You can read the original post here. I really enjoy the creative process of putting the journal together, and I enjoy tracking things like the weather and the amount of sunshine we receive here in Michigan in the winter (not much). I understand my Grandpa used to keep track of the weather as well, so it must run in families or something. My monthly goal pages look just about the same as in the original post I made, as is the monthly tracking log. The weekly spreads are also pretty much the same. I have added some new overall tracking pages though, and I think doing it for so long, it looks a little cleaner.

Weekly Spread:

2019 Monthly Plans:

Sun Tracker:

Bullet Journal

Thursday, February 16, 2017 0 No tags Permalink

Bullet Journal

It seems like everyone these days has a bullet journal. I first read about it in Buzzfeed last May. And then I started seeing them all over in Instagram and Pinterest. Touted as “The Analog System for the Digital Age” (see the details here), there have been countless articles written about the Bullet Journal, or BuJo. A lot of people use them for productivity. Some people use them as calendars. If you know me, you know I maintain a series of lists of work tasks already, and update them weekly. I also have a big House of Doolittle calendar that I buy yearly and drag with me everywhere:

calendar

Additionally, I keep my hours and a short task list of what I’ve done during the work day in an excel chart. Did I really need a third way of tracking all of this information? I mean, there are a lot of nice things about the journals. I love a nice notebook, don’t you? And I have a good sized collection of fountain pens, washi tape and different colors of inks. I often find myself scrolling back through my Instagram photos to see what I was doing or what the weather was like a year ago, but I don’t take photos every day so that’s kind of hit or miss on what I will find. Ultimately, I decided to start a Bullet Journal to track things outside of work that have meaning, and use the BuJo as a bit of a creative outlet as well.

Now, there are a million ways to set these up, and I encourage you to look around online, especially on pinterest, if you are looking for ideas. But here’s my set-up.

Monthly Goal Pages

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Each month I set up a goal page. It has a tiny calendar on the top so I can see how the weeks flow, a quote about the weather or the month or something inspirational, and three boxes for tasks, joy and resolutions. The task box is stuff I need to accomplish or projects I want to get done. March is National Crochet Month, so I need to keep that in mind and make sure I have goals set for those projects. I also want to finish sewing a purse I cut out months ago. I just started working on this page for next month, so I haven’t added all of my tasks…honestly, I’m likely going to add some of the February tasks that I might not get done this month. The joy section is a small list of things I can look forward to in the upcoming month for when I’m feeling a bit blue. These are not big things, just small things that could bring a bit of daily joy (did you know a small Shamrock Shake only has 150 MG of sodium?). The resolutions aren’t really big new years resolutions, but things I resolve to do/track/work on during the month.

Monthly Tracking Log

Bullet Journal

Next to the monthly goal page I keep a monthly tracking log. The top portion are good things that I want to track (doing a great job on the daily letters!) and the bottom portion are things I don’t want to or shouldn’t do (like take ibuprofen every day). In an ideal world, at the end of the month the whole top portion would be filled in and the whole bottom portion would be blank. I don’t necessarily track the same things every month, and normally the items on my ‘resolutions’ box from the monthly goal page are in the tracker.

Weekly Spreads

bujo4

Next up are my weekly spreads. I tried a number of formats before I settled on this. And every week is different…that’s where the creative outlet comes in. I try different hand-drawn fonts, or add different washi tape bits or stickers. Sometimes I try drawing something. I always put the sunrise/sunset times (right below the weekday), and the average and actual temperatures (at the bottom of the day). At the end of each day, I draw an indication of the weather…partly sunny, rain, snow, etc. I do note in the meetings I have for the week, as I now wind up taking the BuJo home to work on at night instead of dragging the calendar along. I don’t really write my task list for work, though. I also have a section where I write something I’m grateful for each day, and then there’s a small note section as well. Here’s next week’s page spread, themed for Twin Peaks Day:

bujo5

Special Pages

I have a number of other special pages for things I want to track over time. There is one for my stand-up paddleboarding and one for crochet projects. I have a page for craft project ideas and a list of birthdays so I can remember to buy cards. I have a sun seeker page where I track days with some measurable sun, and a page for garden and nature observations (thunderstorm on January 17, the starlings returned to their nest on January 30). I have a page where I am keeping track of who I write to each day, so I don’t seem like a nut and write to the same person twice in a week.

Supplies

There’s not much to a Bullet Journal…a notebook and a pen would work. But if you go to Michaels or follow boards on Pinterest, you’ll quickly learn that there are a ton of supplies you can use for your BuJo. Here’s what I use:

  • Rhodia notebook, dot grid, 5.5 x 8.3 inches. I have a number of Leuchtturm notebooks as well, but I find that some of the inks show some shadowing or even a bit of bleed through. The Rhodia doesn’t.
  • Pens/Ink – this is another area where I can use my fountain pens and ink. Since I first do the designs in pencil and erase after inking, it’s always helpful to test on something else if the ink will smear. The Noodler’s ink always smears no matter how long it sits. All of the black is done with Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pens (2 Pack from Amazon). They don’t smear, they don’t bleed and they have a nice bit of flex. Love them and at $8 for the set, it’s totally worth it.
  • Markers – I have the Kuretake Pocket color brush set in 12 colors. Sometimes I want more colors, but I deal with what I have.
  • Colored Pencils – I use a large Crayola set. They aren’t great, but it’s what I had and I don’t hand draw much. You could probably get a better set.
  • Washi Tape – At first, I didn’t understand it. Now, it’s an addiction. I use it on the BuJo. I use it on my envelopes for letter writing. I love it, and have many rolls in many different themes.

So that’s it. Are you thinking of starting a Bullet Journal? I’d love to hear about it!

Summer of SUP

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 0 No tags Permalink

Stand Up Paddleboarding 2016

Summer 2016 was the summer of stand up paddleboarding. July 22 was the first day out and I only managed about 15 minutes, half of which was sitting in the water. Since that day, I have been out on three lakes, sometimes with friends.

Here is Lake Orion, with my cousin Angie, on July 30. Notice the rain? We came off the lake when it started to thunder.

sup1

Bob and I went to Jackson Hole Lake in Fort Custer.

sup4

Kirsten rented us paddleboards in South Haven and we did a very short stint on Lake Michigan before the storm rolled in. We even managed to get Mom out for a little sitting down.

sup3

I’ve been out 25 times total since July 22. Mostly I go to Goguac Lake mid-morning. Some days it’s sunny.

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Some days I’m the only one on the whole lake.

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Some days, the lake is calm like glass, and I can paddle nearly three miles in an hour.

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Being out on the lake is like magic. Even when it’s too windy or there are too many jet skiers, I can drop anchor and just sit and watch the waves for a little.

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This summer, I really feel like I reached out and grabbed life. SUP is great fun, and not bad exercise. It’s good alone, and even better with friends. If you think you don’t have balance, you can still SUP. After your first half hour or so, it’s really hard to fall off the board. I hope to continue through October 31 at least, when Willard Beach closes for the season.

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It will probably take me until spring to get all of the sand out of my car.

sup2

If you’re looking to get into SUP, you should. If you want to get into it on a regular basis and are looking for equipment, here are some of my favorite things:

Ten Toes – The Weekender inflatable SUP
The Weekender fits in my Subaru Outback (it rides shotgun). It comes in a kit that includes everything you need to get started – a paddle, a pump, fins and a repair kit. If you order from the company instead of Amazon.com it’s free shipping and no taxes. I also got their backpack to put everything in and a leash. If you’re a beginner, you should always wear a leash so your board doesn’t get away from you. In the State of Michigan, you’re also required to wear a life vest.

Airhead SUP Anchor
Sometimes you want to take a break. Maybe you want to start out each session with a little meditation or relax a little at the end. Maybe you want to do yoga. To stop yourself from floating away, get this anchor.

O’Neill Superfreak Booties
Lakes can be full of nasty surprises. Often I see beer cans, fishing hooks, rusty pieces of metal, rotten dock posts. You should probably wear shoes, but you still want to feel your board. And in the summer, regular wetsuit booties can get too hot (I am suspecting I will enjoy using them in October, though). These O’Neill booties will let water in and drain it out again, and will help you stand on your board. You can get these on Amazon.com.

Rash Guards
You need UV protection. You need a hat, long sleeves and sunblock on your exposed parts. Rash guards, which are rated UV-50+ can be really expensive but totally worth it. You know who has cheap, well made rash guards that seem to fit normally? Land’s End. They often have some of them on sale as well. Also, when yours gets super-funky from the lake water? Soak in hot water and OxyClean for a few hours. Totally de-funks them.

Other Items
I have a cheap waterproof bag that holds my wallet, car keys and sunblock. I also have a waterproof case for my iPhone. Both are easily available for cheap on Amazon.com. I always have a couple of towels in the car – one to dry off the board and one to sit on. This summer I generally went out in a swimsuit with a rash guard and board shorts over it, but I’ve also gone out in yoga capris and a t-shirt. If you’re out for a long time, a bottle of water is nice to have, too.

2016 Summer Reads Week 9

2016 Summer Reads Week 9 Update

The past few days have been hot, hot, hot! I finished the second book in the series fo Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, Hollow City. It was just as good as the first. And, on thinking on it, I’ve determined that the writing and the way the tale unfolds sort of reminds me of the My Father’s Dragon books by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I will be getting the third in the series, but probably won’t start it until after summer.

hollowcity

I’ve been working on another project as well.

iSUP

You may remember that I did an ill-fated land paddling thing summer of 2014. This new project is safer, if you don’t count drowning. I am wearing a life vest and a leash, and sticking to the shallows. I looked back on my notes from the land-attempt and found this “First, the balance thing. Try standing on one foot for more than sixty seconds. You might not enjoy it. Your foot might hurt. And your knee. And your shin. And your calf. At first, I could only do ten minutes and it was agony.” Um, yeah. Same thing on the water, although my first attempt was 15 minutes and involved suddenly sitting down on the lake bottom twice (I was only in up to my knees, so it was no big deal). Last time around I was getting better by the fourth time I did it. Loving it by the 11th. And unfortunately the whole thing finished up on #13.

Anyhow, I am reaching out and grabbing a firm hold on summer. Hope you are, too.

Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week Eight Update

2016 Week Five Update

2016 Week Four Update

2016 Week One Update

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

Garden Update Spring 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016 0 No tags Permalink

Garden Update Spring 2016

May31a

Thought it was well time for a garden update spring 2016. Things have been growing quickly! I planted radish, carrot, beet, lettuce and arugula seeds on May 6. Planted all the flowers on May 21, and the cemeteries and vegetables on May 25:

May25a

We had our first squash blossoms and the start of peppers on May 29:

May29

And by May 31, things were really starting to look good. It’s been a fantastic year for hostas for some reason.

May31

 

The Siberian Irises are in bloom, and the salvia looks great.

May31b

 

We had our first white globe radish out of the garden over the weekend and should be able to start pulling them regularly this week, along with the arugula. I did some supplemental lettuce planting, and added more beet seeds where they all didn’t come up. We have the start of tiny tomatoes and a good four peppers coming. It’s been hotter than normal, with lots of sun. I’ve been watering every night.

May25
This is the best time of year to live in Michigan. Everything is fresh and growing.