Setting the Stage for 2019

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We have just a few days left in January and a mere seven weeks to go before we welcome baby #2 into our family. After all we’ve accomplished this month, it feels like we’re right on track with getting everything sorted and ready to meet our newest little one. I did my best to restrain my nesting instincts until after the holidays were over, but once January rolled around, there was no stopping me. I’ve been waddling my way through every room, closet, drawer and cupboard of our house, reorganizing the things we want to keep, donating or throwing away as much as possible, mending or replacing the old and tattered, and shopping for for added storage and organization. When you live in a small house, you have to get creative with your use of space. Especially if clutter makes you feel blocked and claustrophobic like it does us.

In addition to all the preparation for the baby, I find myself freshly inspired by the New Year and my 2019 New Year’s Resolutions, which are primarily to:

  1. Begin the process of curating my personal wardrobe

  2. Eat well

It’s a simple list, really, but there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. If you’re curious about the details, read on.

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For my first goal, curating my personal wardrobe, I plan to finally begin the process of laying down the foundation for the clothes I want to wear for the rest of my life. I’ve been heading towards this goal for years, which is why I initially started knitting in the first place, and why I bought myself a sewing machine back in 2010, but I held myself back from following through with this goal for several reasons:

First, I had no grasp on my own personal style. I felt like I was being pulled toward several different directions, and it wasn’t until the past few years that my mind began to settle and I began to notice recurring trends in my preferences, such as understated patterns, muted colors, rich textures, a balance of masculine and feminine elements, and natural materials. I find I can’t resist pieces that combine structure with comfort, and I’m always drawn to old, well-worn items of clothing that are of high enough quality to bother mending.

So now that I have some ideas in mind, I’ve decided to buckle down and focus all my knitting time on myself. I still plan to knit for my husband and our children, but I’m taking a break from gift knitting this year for those who aren’t in my immediate family. Especially after taking a peek at my Ravelry page and realizing that 2/3rds of my knitting time over the past few years has been spent on gift knits for other people.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy gift knitting very much, but it really is time for me to put this skill into action for myself lest I spent the rest of my 30’s living in yoga pants and hoodies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In addition to focusing on personal knitting, I’m going to finally teach myself how to sew. I purchased a Brother sewing machine for myself years ago for this purpose, and taught myself how to thread the machine and stitch with it. Heck, I’ve even used it to make party decorations with both paper and fabric scraps, but I’ve never actually taken the plunge to sew my own garments or learn how to decipher sewing patterns.

But this is the year that changes.

For one, it’s impossible to find ready-to-wear clothing I like in stores. The more I hone in on my wardrobe preferences, the more picky I am about finding the right shade of color or the perfect fabric + silhouette. When it comes to aesthetics, I’m very particular. It’s part of my creative process, and it makes decorating my house or designing my garden fun for me. It is also part of the reason it has taken me so long to begin curating my wardrobe. I knew once I started this process, there would be no turning back. Everything would have to be just so.

So learning to sew is non-negotiable. I need to be able to have full control over what I wear. This doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally purchase items from the store, but my standards have now gone from just buying what fits to only buying if it’s absolutely perfect for my wardrobe in every possible way.

So that’s goal number one for 2019. Don’t worry, I’m not being unrealistic. I know I’m having a baby in just seven short weeks and that my time and energy will be limited, and right now, while pregnant, I really am just throwing on anything and everything I possibly can that will fit over this ever-growing baby bump. That said, this is the year I begin this process. I’ve got plenty of time to work on it, and I intend to have fun with it.

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My second goal, eat well, is equally as complex as my wardrobe goals because it, too, has been a decade in the making. It has taken me years to understand what eating well means for me, though I didn’t start really trying to observe my reaction to different foods until 2010, which is coincidentally when I started my first blog focusing on, among other things, gardening and garden-based recipes (I’ve never been able to keep it to one subject).

For me, made-from-scratch whole foods that are natural, GMO-free, pesticide-free and unprocessed are the maintenance plan, but there are times (especially, say, after having a baby) when I need to get specific with my food and rebalance myself with a low-carb diet full of good fats, clean meats (from animals that are hormone-free and fed what they’re meant to eat), and lots and lots of vegetables.

And above all else, my body reacts best when I make my meals myself rather than eating out. It’s the main reason Matt and I have grown a vegetable garden every summer for the past 10 years, so I can eat garden-based food I’ve grown and prepared myself. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single year since we began gardening that we haven’t gone through stages where we have relied heavily on prepared freezer meals or takeout while letting all the garden food we have so carefully preserved sit on the sidelines. Sometimes we’re able to turn things around and get through our stores before the next garden season, and sometimes a lot of that food ends up going to the chickens.

But this is the year that will change.

I know, I know. But I’m having a baby, I’ll be too exhausted to cook. Except those times of pure exhaustion and stress are exactly when I need to be focusing the most on eating well, so to prepare for the baby, I’ll be making a month’s worth of food in advance and freezing it for quick meals on the days and weeks we’re feeling pinched for time and desperate for something warm and comforting.

I’ll be making bone broths, soups, sauces from our frozen garden tomatoes from last year’s harvest, burritos, lactation cookies, sourdough breads and so much more. And hey, if for some reason we get so desperate that we feel we need to order takeout, then fine. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, but I know I’ll feel so much better (and clear up so much freezer space) if we stick to home cooking. I think we can do it, and I know we’ll be happier and feel better for it if we follow through.

As for foods we are unable to provide for ourselves, such as raw milk, grass-fed beef and free-range, organic chicken, I’ll be sourcing those from local farms that I can trust.

That, to me, is eating well. I know not everyone agrees on what is healthy or ethical, but we all have different needs when it comes to the food that nourishes our bodies. I’ve spent years paying attention to what does and doesn’t work for me, and this is the year I take the time and effort to prioritize food for myself and my family rather than letting the stress of life dictate what we eat.

Right now, we’re only 27 days into 2019, and already I’m feeling more comfortable and focused just having these goals in front of me. My crafting time feels more structured as I watch videos on learning to sew while knitting on a cardigan (currently the Albini) that will someday be finished and part of my forever wardrobe. And now that I no longer see meal preparation as optional, I’m finding ways to make it fit well into the rhythm of my life so it’s sustainable rather than overwhelming.

I have a good feeling about this.

Breaking the "Rules"

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Over the course of participating in social media for the past 10 years, I’ve always known that if I want to be “successful” I need to zoom in on one topic. This means making one account for gardening, one for knitting, one for fermenting (maybe a sub-account for kombucha), another for general recipes, and so on.
 

But I will just never do that.
 

For me, it would suck the joy out of posting if I had to narrow my focus and disconnect those topics from one another. So, fine, maybe I’m a bad blogger, instagrammer, YouTuber, etc. It’s a conscious choice I’m making because, when it comes down to it, my primary motivation in doing all of this is to collect memories for me and for my family: snapshots of our adventures together, project notes, favorite recipes to refer to later, small and special moments in our everyday lives...

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I’ve never much cared for how many followers I have. I just want to continue learning and growing at my own pace, and to connect with like-minded folks. I want to take up space in my own way. Rebel against forces, external and internal, that try to convince me I should stay silent and hidden. I want to continually seek out inspiration because feeling inspired is, for me, the opposite of depression, and my tendency toward those lows is something I have to contend with on a daily basis (some days more than others).
 

So, for my own sake, I’ll continue posting about a mish-mash of topics. The things I write about, take photos of and share with the world are simply the things that excite me. If you were to look for a common thread, I suppose you could call it “simple living,” or  “seasonal inspiration,” but I wouldn’t bother trying to categorize things around here because the winds may change, and I never want to box myself in. All I know is that I want to try and encapsulate as much of life’s special moments as I can. It helps me focus on the positives, it helps me get out of bed in the morning, and it helps me feel a little less alone (although, like a proper introvert, I do very much enjoy my alone time).

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Personally, I’m drawn to folks who share more than just one part of themselves online. Maybe our interests don’t always overlap, and maybe we don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, but I would almost always prefer to know the person behind the project/product/garden/etc. Perhaps I’m alone in this thinking, or at least not in the majority, and that’s perfectly ok.


If you need me, I’ll just be puttering along over here, content in my stubborn ways.

Early Spring Cleaning (A Quick Update)

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Hello friends. It has been quiet here in this space for a long time, but it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and settle myself in with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket. It’s still winter here, but you wouldn’t know it with all the beautiful, almost-warm sunshine and spring blooms outside. Seasons arrive when they want to, regardless of the date on the calendar.

In the past several months, natural dyeing has taken over my life in the best possible way. Actually, I shouldn’t say it has taken over. Rather, it has nestled its way in like a long lost friend or a missing puzzle piece, and has brought color into my neutral-loving life in a way I could never have imagined. Suddenly something I initially thought of as supplementary to my other seasonal occupations - my gardening, knitting and kitchen experiments - has become an obsession in its own right. It’s part of our lives now, and it fits right in.

Last year in October, I made a giant, break-out-of-my-introverted-shell decision and started a video podcast on YouTube to share about my growing interest in fiber-related work. It’s something I had been mulling over for a long time, and it required a lot of emotional preparation before, during and after my first couple episodes (I had to occasionally hide from my phone and computer), but I finally feel comfortable and confident in my decision to put myself out there through the podcast, and I’ve never felt more connected to the fiber community than I do now.

So while the blog has been mostly quiet until now, I have been very busy. The cogs in my mind have been steadily turning, especially over the past six months. I have so many ideas and plans to document and share with you here, and now that spring has arrived, my fingers are itching to dig in the dirt, plant seeds, experiment with plant colors + fibers, and knit (always).

So, for the next few months, you can expect posts about many of the things that have already happened but never saw the reflections they deserved interspersed with some of the newer projects I’m working on now. And for those of you who used to follow me on blogspot, I just want to let you know that I’ve made that blog and all its content private, but I will occasionally re-publish some of the projects or recipes from its archives over to this space whenever it seems relevant. If there was a recipe on that site that you miss, just send me an e-mail or fill out the contact form here and I'll respond as soon as I can. 

Lastly, I started a new group on Ravelry! Please join us if you'd like to chat about anything fiber-related, kitchen experiments, natural dye, or even if you just want to come say hi. 

Autumn Vibes

Autumn, I can't believe you're finally here. I've waited so, so long.

The weather is still warm where I live, but the sun feels different in the sky, even when it's hot. We harvested the last of our tomatoes and peppers from the garden boxes last weekend, and Matt went out to the family plot and brought home tons of pumpkins and acorn squash of all shapes and sizes. I've been roasting, pureeing, and freezing the pumpkin puree to keep as baby food for Ella because, out of all the foods we've given her, pumpkin has been her favorite so far.

Ella and I even managed to curl up together in bed to read a good Gaiman book about graveyards and ghosts, which put me in the mood for Halloween, Harry Potter (especially Prisoners of Azkaban), crunchy leaves and pumpkin-flavored anything. This really is my favorite time of year, and I'm trying to slow down my crazy life so I can take a few moments to enjoy it.

This time last year, I was nearly three months pregnant, and saw my future a little differently than the way my life is now. I had always fully intended on quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom, so it took me by surprise that I would actually want to keep working part time after Ella was born. It was a nice surprise, really, but it never occurred to me to prepare for the fact that I wouldn't have as much time to spend on my favorite hobbies.

My hobbies are really important to me. Knitting, gardening, reading, writing... They help keep me centered and balanced, and make me feel rejuvenated, so you can imagine that it has been hard having enough time to devote to all (or any) of those things. In fact, my anxiety levels have been through the roof this past week, and I suspect that it has to do with how out of balance my life has become lately.

But somehow, with all the crisp autumn vibes surrounding us,  there's a part of me that's saying Slow down! Read a book. Don't go out tonight.

So I'm going to try to listen and embrace my homebody nature for awhile. We'll see what happens.