Who Needs Yoga?

I ran across this article this morning that links knitting and crocheting with relaxation and stress reduction. Now if only it would help me shed my Type A personality.

Hideous Kinky

Believe it or not, my dear Mark isn't color blind. His favorite colors are a conscious choice.

When we moved in together I made him these pillows for the couch, using colors I knew he would love. The back sides are solid red. They're nice, and on a small scale in a beige living room they do provide a nice spash of color.

However, on a large scale, these colors are a bit too much. But still I soldier on, because when Mark looks at it there is a certain amount of excitement in his eyes. It will make him happy, and I can't deny the enjoyment I'll get out of using up 9 fairly unattractive skeins of yarn.

But seriously? I wish we were both color blind.

Tote Bag

I spent the weekend working on a tote bag. The body is made in 5 pieces (front, back, bottom and 2 sides). When I seamed them together I decided to do a more decorative attachment by working half double crochet stitches on the outside edges when I attached them.

Need to felt it still. Would it be wise to remove the straps beforehand and sew them back on after the fact?

I had 6 skeins of Lion Wool from my best friend Sara. I was almost out of the off-white, and used just a touch of the second skeins of the brown and green. I used a J hook, which I typically use when I felt anything.

I'm pleased with it. Hopefully it will felt nicely. It's pretty large, so I'll likely line it afterward.

Have a good night!

Are We There Yet??

What is it about this month that's just sucking the life out of me?

I'm still in a bit of a crafting slump and not working on big projects that I want desperately to be working on (an alpaca shrug I'm designing, a wool rug, a cotton bath mat, another ghan). I can't commit to anything right now except small little clutches and bags. My friend Sara and I have made 8 small Paton's SWS bags that are suitable for make up or what have you, and I need to get them felted, photographed and put on etsy for sale. They're damn cute. I have a newfound obsession with SWS.

Speaking of yarn...Has anyone tried the new Debbie Mum Traditions yarn from Joann? I'm curious about it and almost tempted to buy 1 skein and see what the big deal is. It looks like it's similar to a Lion Wool-Ease in terms of fiber content (It's mostly acrylic with about 25% or so wool), but reviews I've read consider it to be a cheap alternative to a Noro-type yarn in terms of how it looks once it's worked into something. It sounds like a PITA to work with and the cons seem to outweigh the pros. I'm curious about the striping though, and how it looks once it's worked into a project. I should check Ravelry.

I came down with the flu 2 1/2 weeks ago and I'm still not quite right. It started on a Tuesday morning where I had a tickle in my throat and I felt run down. Same thing Tues, Wed, Thur. Come Thursday night I had a fever and body aches and the worst cold symptoms imaginable. The fever lasted 8 days. It was pretty awful. I still have cold symptoms but haven't felt sick in about 5 or 6 days. Just feeling really run down and tired. I've now had the flu twice in 6 years. I think it might time to start getting an annual flu shot.

Stomach issues have not resolved themselves but I'm doing a lot better now than I have been since October. It took me until December or so to figure out exactly what I could and couldn't eat, and now so long as I stick to a strict diet I'm doing alright. I've found some fats that are okay (healthier fats) vs. the ones that cause serious discomfort. Now that I'm eating alright and not having excrutiating pain all the time I'm able to better pinpoint where the pain is and what triggers it. Before I just felt bad all the time. Now I can see that I have a chronic sort of indigestion feeling, that is worsened to the point of needing an ER and pain meds if I eat fattening foods. So I'm eating very healthy now, nothing pre-packaged, no red meat, reduced caffeine, tons of fruits and veggies and lean chicken breast. It takes me much longer to cook dinner and it's a bit more expensive, but I'm starting to love always cooking with fresh vegetables and ingredients. I haven't found a single low-fat or fat free food that bothers me either, except for sczechuan sauce and chili powder, which I could tolerate before this whole thing started. So it's 99.9% a fat thing. I see the new GI the first week in March and I'm hoping he has some ideas for me. I hope that he'll repeat the HIDA scan and see if there is a difference/drop in my gallbladder function since October (by the time I see him it will have been 5 months since the first scan). I'm still hoping it's gallbladder and not some weird non-ulcer dyspepsia or chronic gastritis that has no cure. I don't mind my diet when I'm home, but it makes it very hard to have a meal at a restaurant or a family member's house. It also makes it hard to snack, because packaged snacks in general are not healthy. When I have a craving for something like that I'll eat rice cakes or pretzels, but there are those days where I'd give anything for a piece of chocolate, or a muffin or pastry or something delicious and nasty. Oh well. Hopefully someday again. Otherwise my wedding is going to suck if I have to bring my own meal and forgo the cake!

Speaking of the wedding...it's definitely going to be fall of 2009. It will be low-key and very intimate and cozy. The site we're interested in (and will visit in the spring) is a vineyard with a rustic post and beam barn. It's a very simple site and they provide the food, location, alcohol and waitstaff. Pretty much nothing else. For table centerpieces and the like I'm planning to stick to the autumn theme and use carved pumpkins, gords, lots of candles, etc. Instead of numbering each table so guests can find where they're sitting we're thinking of assigning a color to each table, using dark autum colors. So, the guest that are at, say, the orange table may find pumpkins and orange flowers and orange candies and orange vases and an orange table runner on their table. The blue table may have a bowl of fresh blueberries, some dark potted blue african violets, a bunch of blue pillar candles on an antique tray, etc. I think it will be lovely. I stole the idea partly from Martha Stewart. I plan to start hitting flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores to find unique, old glass flower vases and other items to serve as decorations. I want it to be very unique and stylish, and hopefully that will work out. If there are, say, 10 tables that utilize 10 autum colors or shades, I hope to tie in each of those colors into my bouquet, and then each of those colors into the cupcakes. I think it will work out wonderfully. I love the idea of lots of candle light and tons and tons of bright, vibrant fall colors eclectically utilized in the space. The wedding itself will be very intimate, no bridal party or anything like that, and somewhat non-traditional because it works best for us. Why not make the reception site extremely non-traditional and eclectic and bohemian? I can't wait to start buying fabrics for table runners and hunting for the perfect table accessories to serve as decorations. I live for this kind of thing.

Hope you're all having a great day. Pictures of FOs this weekend perhaps.

Crafting Slump

Not sure what it is, if it's a post-holiday thing, a winter blues thing, or what. But for whatever reason I'm beyond lazy these days. I recently pulled out a large amount of yarn for 3 projects, two of which I've just barely started, but lately I haven't had any desire to crochet. I try to force myself but that's just not fun.

It's unfortunate because I'm actually quite excited about the projects I've chosen. The first one is just a striped wool rug. I plan on felting it. I took all of my dark, autumn-inspired colors of wool (perhaps 7 colors?) and am making a rug to put in the kitchen by the sink. I have a rug that I currently use in that spot and I made the wool rug about 10 inches longer than that one, and will make it about 10 inches wider, so that after being felted the size is similar. I didn't measure, I'd guess it's maybe 3x5? It's a good sized rug. JC Penney's catalog carries rug backings so I'll buy one to fit so it doesn't slide. It's a great stash busting project, and one that will look great in the house.

The second project I have in mind is another ghan though, truth be told, the rug project is large enough for me right now and I'd rather make smaller items. I would really like a striped throw for the couch though, so that's also on my 2008 to-do list.

Finally I'm making a cotton bath mat for the bathroom. The pattern I'm using for this is the circle motif rug from the new Crochet Me book. I'm awful, I am not certain who the designer is off the top of my head and, well, here I am not looking it up as I type this. Anyhow, you can see a picture of it on the CrochetMe CAL Blog. I'm using Sugar n' Cream doubled in white, a pale yellow and light blue (the colors of my shower curtain). The shower curtain is striped and I thought the juxtaposition of the circles would look fantastic. Here's to hoping. I've made a whopping 2 circles thus far.

But mostly I can't bring myself to crochet anything. Not even something small and quick. At most these days I spend my spare time napping, going to bed early, staring at the TV (are you sensing a pattern here), or wedding planning. Actually, the wedding planning is fun. I know our budget and when the weather is more agreeable we'll take a look at the vineyard we're interested in. Aside from the dress, the meal, the roof and the alcohol this will be a 100% handmade wedding. So literally for the next year I imagine I'll slowly be collecting craft tid-bits to make favors and invitations and centerpieces and the like. Some of the things I wish to do (like make my own cake) will require some practice, so I'll have some very happy family members who get to sample oodles of dessert over the next 12-18 months until the wedding. Poor, poor people that they are!

Here's what I'm planning for the cake. This version shows 200+ cupcakes. My guest list will be about 95-100 so I think 3 tiers would be more realistic. I will need lovely silk flowers and silk leaves. I'll finally get to buy that Wilton cake decorating set and how-to DVD I've always wanted and practice making flowers. I'll stick with simple cupcake frosting designs: daisies, sunflowers, bunches of grapes, big round pumpkins, simple roses. All in dark October colors. I'm pretty good at cake decorating to begin with and will have the help of my dear friend and pastry chef, so I'm not worried one bit. The biggest part will be having enough silk flowers and leaves to give it the same full, elegant look as this picture.

They've used fresh flowers in these pics, but since I'm doing this myself and on a budget, no way. Too much to worry about by using fresh, and with the silk flowers I can have it mostly set up beforehand, and it will be quick the day of. Mostly what I need is to be able to mix dark frosting and make flowers. If I suck at it, there's always the option of using silk flowers or pre-made edible ones. I'm sure with some practice this will be very, very attainable.

Favors are going to be brown kraft bags with handmade black and white tags. The tags will have the individual and their table number. Inside it will be chock full of home baked goodies.

I'll make my own bouquet with a hardy flower (calla lily perhaps, or some other type of lily) tied with a dark ribbon. I may have a small vase on each table with a single flower (if I do calla lilies) or a few lilies. Or, I'll ditch the flowers altogether and do some other form of handmade centerpiece. I'm not certain.

Invitations will be 100% handmade and will take me 2-3 months to complete. I've sketched out a few ideas but haven't yet decided for certain.

Fun stuff for sure though. I'm very excited about these little details. It should be fun.

I'm fighting off a cold and I think it's getting the best of me. I'm going to go have some hot tea with honey.

Christmas Loot

We decided previously that we would use a portion of our Christmas bonuses to purchase 3 particular furniture pieces that we needed. Unbeknownst to me Mark used the remainder of his bonus for my ring, and I used the remainder of mine to pay for my CT Scan that the insurance deemed worth $500 of my money. So, we ended up getting two of the three pieces we wanted to get. This spring we'll probably get an unfinished dresser or clothing armoir at a mill store and finish it ourselves.

Here is the new desk. A bit small but very nice. Please ignore the cords, I hadn't yet taken care of them.

Here is the matching TV stand.

They're both distressed wood, made to look antiqued. I'm happy with them. The TV stand holds all of our junk pretty well, so I'm happy with it.

Wedding Stuff

Thank you for all your congratulations. I'm very excited.

It's looking like we'll be married in 2009. At the moment I have a plan to get us out of debt by the end of 2008 and to be honest, that is my priority right now. We have our future to think about afterall. Once the debt is paid off (next fall if everything goes as planned), we'll be able to save a significant amount pretty quickly so that we can proceed with the wedding. Mark would like an October wedding, but I'm not certain I want to wait that long. We'll see. I'm impatient.

We're going to try to do as much of it ourselves as we can. I want a venue that will deal with the meal, booze, location, linens and china. We'll have live music (his father's band) and hopefully my boss will be the JP doing the service. I want to make the cake and desserts myself with the help of one of my best friends, who is a trained pastry chef and chocolatier (is that a word?). I want to do all of the decorating and fine details ourselves, including invitations, programs (if we have them), favors, etc. So though I'm impatient the extra time may not be terrible. We'll be paying for the wedding ourselves, and my goal is to have a fabulous wedding for well under $5,000. It should be fun. I have my eye on a local vineyard at the moment, and we'll probably call in the coming weeks to go take a peek and discuss the pricing. It's all very exciting.

Happy New Year

Snowstorm #2 in two days. We got about 6 inches December 30th-31st. The sun came out around lunch time on the 31st. About noon time today (January 1st) it started snowing again, and it hasn't let up yet. I had to run to the pharmacy and it looks like it's another 5 inches so far. It's insane.

Hope everyone is having a happy new year.

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