Blogiversary 4

They always seem to sneak up on me.  Today I've been blogging here on Typepad for 4 years.  Typepad itself just celebrated it's fifth year.  I've been thinking a lot lately about my blogging.  I sort of resolved (NOT a resolution – I don't do those) this year to get back into blogging more regularly.  I fell out for a while for lots of reasons, but the fact is, and I've mentioned it before, I missed it.  Writing isn't exactly a gift with me, so I have to work at it a little more than some, and I'm not particularly disciplined at it, but I felt the loss of connection to my knitblog friends so I thought I would just try and do it regularly on weekdays, with weekends off.  That was pretty optimistic.  I didn't even make it a full week. 

It could have been the fact that I was trying to write at night, after getting up at 5:30AM, working all day, coming home and cooking dinner, getting the kiddo to bed and tending to the many little things that pile up on a mother's plate every day, and honestly, I wasn't in the best "place" to be creating witty, clever chatter or even relaying what the heck I had done with my day.  Not my most creative time of day.  I was about th chuck the whole idea and berate myself for abject failure when I came across this article on Slow Blogging that I saw on someone's tweets that I follow on Twitter.  It made a lot of sense to me and I think what happened to me has happened to lots of people. 

Over the last four years that I've been blogging, lots of things have evolved online, new tools and applications have been introduced and since I tend to be an early adopter of much that is Social Media, I began using some of these tools and I think perhaps a lot of what I used to do solely on my blog, I am now doing on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Delicious – sometimes I even poke my head in Plurk and LinkedIn, oh and the Queen Mother of them all…Ravelry!  Each one is great for some of the small focused activities that I had previously done just through the blog.  So, the Slow Blogging concept is pretty appealing to me now that I step back and consider the sanity of it.

I guess I want you all to know that I am still here, but sometimes its easier to say what I gotta say in a photo or 140 characters at a pop.  I am not going to abandon the blog, I am just going to be realistic.  I can't do everything, much to my consternation, so I do what I can.  Join me anytime on any of these other sites, or here on the blog when I can put it all together enough to write a coherent paragraph.  My account links follow.

Twitter
Flickr
Facebook
Delicious
Ravelry

Thanks for sticking around with me. 

Obvious Lack of Self-Control

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I went to the Nest today at lunch and I couldn't help buying a little something to whip up for the grandson before spring (look, Kandis, it's machine washable!) Yes, I have several UFO's lying about, but this shouldn't take long…really.  He outgrew the last sweater I knit for him and it could still get cold in February.  It's been tough to adjust to the early mornings again this week.  Hope next week will get easier. 

My aunt was supposed to have her third surgery today on her face, but they postponed it because she has a sinus infection.  I will get to visit her in late January when I am in Fort Worth for a symposium.  She's never far from my thoughts these days. 

Now, I think I'll go cast on a sweater.

My Friend Frank

Frank came to work for the agency 3 or 4 years ago.  I don't recall exactly.  As a new web administrator for the agency, he automatically became a member of our web team and was encouraged to attend SXSWi like many of us.  We got acquainted while waiting for panels and  started hanging out together picking panels and going to lunch with some of our coworkers and friends outside the agency who were also attending the conference. 

Frank is a great programmer.  But he is also an artist.  And a flyfisherman/fly-tyer, and a cattle rancher, and a grandpa, and he likes to read, a lot.  His wife's name is Frankie, (Frank & Frankie) which I think is the cutest thing in the world.  Frank was always a little curious about my knitting habit which I exercized through many a web team meeting.  He was especially curious about my sock-knitting as that was my preferred meeting project.  I tried to explain to him the joys of wearing hand knit socks.  One day I presented him with a pair of his own.  I guessed on the sizing, since it was a surprise, I didn't exactly want to measure his foot, but I think I got pretty darn close.  It seemed like every time I saw him, he had those wool socks on.  Not a little surprising since we are after all in Texas and I think I gave them to him in a warm part of the year, but I was the one who told him wool breathes and that I wore nothing but wool or at least hand knit socks. 

So, Frank kept asking me questions about knitting, how do you do this? or how do you know when to do that and how do you pick a yarn or a needle.  Well, as you may have suspected, Frank was on that slippery slope to becoming a knitter.  I think I've told people that I taught him, but honestly I don't remember teaching him to knit so much as handing him my Stitch N Bitch book, answering his questions and showing him a couple of things and, oh, maybe introducing him to the owner of a yarn shop.  He's made himself quite at home at The Knitting Nest, even if I don't go with him.

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Well, now I'm so proud of him that I want you all to know about him and take notice. He has done a hat, several scarves, for himself and as gifts. He wanted a felted sleeve for his fabulous new Netbook, so he figured his own pattern, and when the first one shrunk too much, he recalculated and knit and felted another one which was perfect!  Go look at the thing!  Then he came down to my office the other morning to show me his new mitts.  He found a pattern on Ravelry and made the pair in just 2 nights of knitting.  Y'all, this man is a Knitter.  And he is fearless.  He is this far away from knitting his own socks.  And besides all that, he's a really nice guy.  

You can find Frank in several places online, check him out at his blog:

Artistic License (and you can get his pattern for an Asus sleeve)

Also on Flickr

and Ravelry

and of course, Twitter.

His daughter Marguerite (Rete) is also a knitblogger and quilter and I met her when the Yarn Harlot came to town. 

Be sure and say hello to him sometime, I'm sure you'll run into him somewhere.

Winter Garden

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We still need rain really bad even though it rained today.  Here in Central Texas we are in a severe drought cycle.  The only things left in the garden right now are kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  Swiss chard will grow here pretty much year round.  The kohlrabi I planted because it is so interesting looking and apparently hardy.
I put it in soups and casseroles.  The Swiss chard I put it in soups and stews too and saute the ribs in butter and add cream and Parmesan and it makes a lovely pink pasta sauce.  Yum. 

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I tried to plant lettuce and spinach seeds before the soil got too cool and before the days got too short. The drought was just too hard to deal with.  I couldn't keep the soil at the right moisture level for germination for those seeds.  This year the looper worms were a real nuisance and took my spaghetti squash plants.  Normally I grow it earlier in the year and don't have any nibblers, but I delayed everything waiting of rain this year. 

Sometime around March, I'll start getting antsy and looking at seed catalogs online, making lists and eyeballing the current dimensions of the garden for further expansion.  I keep meaning to plant a couple of Hansen Bush Cherries, I really should have done that by now, and some asparagas crowns but something always comes up and I lose that train of thought.  Tom shows no interest or sympathy for my garden pursuits, he thinks it's a waste of time with grocery stores full of food just a short distance away.  I do try to visit the local farmers market that opened up nearby – she even carries the local Bastrop Cattle Company organic, grassfed beef. 

For now, I'm happy to see the kohlrabi and chard, but there's not much do in the garden now but dump more leaves in for mulch and wait for longer and warmer days…and rain. 

Late to Eight

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Miss Abby turned 8 on December 15th, unfortunately she was sick that day and for several other days just before they took their winter break.  We had to cancel the party we had scheduled at Justice Just for Girls.  They were very nice about it and assured me we could reschedule but ALL the girls were disappointed, especially the birthday girl. 

After the chaos of the holiday, we decided at the very last minute to try to reschedule the party before school started back up.  Success!  It turned out to be one of the nicest, most unseasonably warm days of the break (81 F) and after a fun time getting made up and Party_girls
playing games and picking out goodies at Justice, they got Amy's Ice Cream and a little play time at the nice playscape at the shopping center.  Abby thought it was the best party she ever had.

We chose Justice Just for Girls for the party because we like their clothes and we wanted to do a smaller party this year.  For the past couple of years we've done the Bowling Party for the whole class and this year we needed a change.
Justice clothes are stylish yet modest and age appropriate.  There is a little sparkle, but no Vegas glitz.  Their prices are very reasonable.  They have lots of cute accessories and of course, Webkinz.  Also as it turns out that even in a down economy, they are expanding to more locations in the coming year.  Apparently it's a business model that works.  The company owns Limited Too, but are replacing all those with Justice stores.  Abby and I have been having the battle over clothes (the one you're supposed to have at about age 14) since she was 4.  Justice is something we can both agree on. Isn't eight adorable?

Easing Back into Normal

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The holiday is almost over.  We put my MIL on a plane home to Vermont today, tomorrow early, my BIL and his family return to Seoul, Korea.  While our thoughts were with my aunt in Dallas, we managed to show them around a bit here at home.  We made it to SeaWorld and the Riverwalk in San Antonio, they took us to a Korean Restaurant in North Austin and then today they took me to a Korean Market in town.  I love Korean food.  I can't get Tom or Abby to eat it, it's mostly too spicy for them, but I got a few things for me; kimchi, noodle soup(hot) and some dumplings that I think they will be able to handle, also some soy bean sprouts and seaweed.  It was good to have some guidance in the market today for future purchases.  The man who owns the store promised to remember me when I come back without any Korean speakers with me. 

Tomorrow we're having Abby's birthday party after we had to cancel it in December because she and some of the other girls were sick on the date we had it scheduled. If we don't do it tomorrow, we'll likely never get around to it once everyone is back to their normal routine. 

My thoughts have frequently been about my aunt since Christmas.  She continues to improve at the hospital in Dallas, but she's awake now and while that is great progress, it also means she is now aware and struggling with her condition and unable to communicate right now beyond responding to yes or no queries.  Besides around 12 broken bones and being strapped to her bed with her jaw wired shut, she is a smoker and I'm sure she's jonesing for a cigarette despite all the other indignities she is suffering, I KNOW my aunt.  This whole ordeal will likely also cost her some weight, as she hasn't had a real meal since Christmas Eve.  Her jaw will be wired shut for about 6 weeks.  I know she misses her CSPAN too, but at least if she can get into a room other than ICU, she'll be able to watch the inauguration because I know she's looking forward to it.  I wish I could do something now, but I'll wait till there is something useful for me to help with as she recovers.  

Monday I return to work and I'm looking forward to some new projects and committees at the office and beyond, some involving social media, which is very exciting.  I'm also looking forward to trying to get some things in my house organized – New Year's always seems to stoke my desire to get a handle on my demons and what to do with all my stuff is one of those demons.  I think I'll start with a new closet organizing system.  There simply must be a way to get it all in there.  Can't spend a lot of money, but I'm handy so I feel confident.

Now to bed.  I'm practicing getting up early again so that Mondy won't be so painful.  Night, night.

Happy New Year!

I have heard that whatever you do on New Year's Day determines how you will spend your whole year.  If that's true, I will continue doing laundry, cleaning house and cooking for family.  Somehow I don't think I was really going to get out of all that even if I'm not superstitious.  I am however an irrepressible optimist and like to think that attitude is what will carry me through this new year.  We all have lots to look forward to despite the economic outlook and the fact that we remain a largely one (solid) income family at this time. 

My aunt who was hospitalized on Christmas Eve is now awake and my family is positively jubilant about it even though she has a long and painful road to recovery.  We are up to it.  Her internal organs are fine, her brain is fine and she is no longer on a ventilator.  She will have several reconstructive surgeries but she should regain the use of her broken limbs.  I want to thank all my blogging friends and Twitter friends who responded with kind encouragement.  I am extremely lucky to count you all as my friends. 

Tom's brother and his family from Korea have been visiting since the 20th and will be returning home in a couple of days.  It's been really fun getting to know the newest member of the family, little Mina, who is only a month younger than my own grandson, Cooper.  They played together well and were a constant source of amusement.  My MIL #2 is here visiting also and she goes back to Vermont tomorrow. 

I've been playing around with a couple of ideas about my blogging for a while and today seems like a good day to make a decision one way or the other.  I have really been enjoying some of my online friends efforts at 365/6 Flickr postings but find that I am not such a good photographer and really dislike photos of myself so I don't think I could bring myself to do it.  I also have been envious of other knitbloggers who committed to writing a blog post every single day for a year.  That might be something I could pull off if I really worked at it.  What I would like to know is, those who have done it…was it difficult and was it rewarding and did you feel like you imporved your writing skills or what other revelations did you experience on this journey?  I may not do it, but I would like some force to compel/propel me to post more frequently because I really do enjoy the interaction.  I admit that I often don't post because I feel so overwhelmed and conflicted and don't want to babble or rant or just indulge in wasting time and cyperspace just to see my words in space.  I also know that I have lost a few regular visitors because I have fallen behind so badly in my blogging activites.  I wonder if I could carve out a bit more time to write and perhaps spend a tad less time on Twitter.  Finding the time seems to be the biggest challenge – Twitter is easy and I really like the immediacy of it.  But, it's not exactly blogging.  So, I will think on it some more.  

About my knitting:  I still knit and really need to organize that area of my life a bit more – still working on that Starsky Jr. for Abby and a couple of other UFO's that continue to haunt me.  And I have tried really hard to resist the urge to start more projects – at least until I can finish one.  Inspiration doesn't seem to be lacking, really, again, it's time that's lacking and I need to address that in some way.  What shall I stop doing so I can do more of what I want, hmmm, that may be the essential question.  And so this is how I start my new year; desparately wanting more time for me, without my family suffering.  If you have any success stores, please share.

And my you all have a Happy New Year and thanks for sticking around!