Sunday, January 27, 2013

How Are You?

This weekend has been a mix of disappointments and confusion but I’m still moving on…or trying to.


I’m spending a little time with my planner trying to decide how I am going to make it through the week. Tomorrow starts 9 weeks of 6 work days, 13 hours a day. I’m determined to get through the other side with my sanity in tact. So, how are you, my dear readers?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Need a Rug, Make a Rug


I need a rug for the entry way to the apartment. I tried to buy one, but I got it home only to find out it was too small for the space and much too thick. The problem with this seemingly small entry is that three doors open on it. Any rug put here has to be fairly thin to allow these doors to open with interfering.

When my store bought option failed, I decided to crochet a rug with a cone of cotton that I have had laying around for far too long. I’m determined to decreased the yarn in my stash this year. Since most of it is back at the house and not here with me, I have no excuses for getting the small amount I do have made into projects.


I decided to improvise a pattern. I wanted something that would crochet up quickly but still give me enough cushion to wipe your feet and shield away some of the cold. And by making it, I have guaranteed that it is washable! That’s the most important bit. Store bought rugs are often too big and stiff to allow you to wash them or they have that rubber backing that eventually starts to peel off and can cause a bit of a headache in the washer when too much comes off.

I started with a chain of 160 and repeated this row pattern.
1 row sc
1 row dc
2 rows sc
1 row dc

The double crochets give you a stitch with some height that helps the progress move more quickly. The single crochets give you a tighter stitch that lends to the absorbency and warmth of the rug. I have forgotten the brand of the yarn, but it’s just a standard kitchen cotton that can be bought at the craft store.

Like so many of my larger cotton projects, I crocheted till the end of the yarn.


In the end, it was a little too small for the space I intended, and since the goal was to get rid of yarn, I didn’t want to buy more. So, I started moving it around the apartment to see where else it could go. My choices are the entry way, kitchen or bathroom. These places made the most sense.


After weaving in the ends and adding adhesive rug gripper to the bottom, this nice little homemade rug found it’s home in the kitchen.


I still need a rug for the entry way, but that has now become another project for another day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Good Start

I’m happy to say that my crafting life is off to a good start for 2013. Only Jared Flood can look at the shape below and think it’s going to make a good cardigan shape, but here it is.


I started this cardigan in April 2011. I wish I had finished it to wear during the fall but the construction on this is not the easiest process to go through….but very much worth it.


I love the banding and I love the finishing on the sleeves. I’m really impressed with the elegant simplicity of this piece. And considering how many shortcuts I took, it really is a foolproof design.


A couple of the changes I made from the pattern as written.

-I only used one size needle for the band and body. I didn’t want the band to draw up too much as I’ve seen with some cardigans. On a bigger body this is not always flattering.

-I pieced the pieces together as I finished them. the idea of knitting, blocking and then finding out one piece was a little short and trying to block it out was not my idea of fun. And I’m not fond of blocking on a piece like this anyway. Because it’s an open cardigan that is meant to drape without any body-hugging shaping, exact measurements are really not important.


One thing that I wish I had done was learn a more neat cast-on before starting this project. I’m tempted to pick up stitches and make an i-cord edge around the bottom. I’ll have to think on that a little as I’m enjoying wearing this too much to put it back on the needles.

Talk about a great start to the year! How is your new year shaping up so far?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Last of the Books (Part 2)

Finishing up 2012. You can find Part 1 here. Happy Reading!

 For Colored Girls


I have not seen this on stage. I have not seen the movie. I had never heard of it until the controversy of who was directing the movie surfaced. I don’t know how this passed me by considering how many plays I attended in college, but I attended a predominantly white university in the south. I can’t say thing has ever been shown on campus. It was an interview with the author that made me want to read the play. I read his on the Kindle, which is probably a mistake, as the formatting doesn’t line up correctly to what you would see with the printed play. That in conjunction with the dialect makes the piece difficult to get into. Also, the formatting changes about 40% (or so) into it so you get jarred almost a the point where you were able to get into the pacing of the dialogue. This is one of those pieces that really has the potential to make a big impact on you when you are young. Being older and wiser, I know these voices. I have seen these women; I have been some of these women. But twenty-year-old me or even seventeen-year-old me really could have learned so much from this. The most jarring and important point that was made was that while looking out for that stranger that would come along to rape us, we were unaware of the familiar faces, sometimes even of family, that would take on that role in our lives. And nowadays, our sons need to be given this same message; familiar predators are just as much a part of a boy’s life as it is a girl’s.

Lost Symbol


I am a huge Dan Brown fan and this book did not disappoint me at all. The mix of history, drama, mystery and intrigue are fascinating and I am constantly amazed at what this man’s mind can come up with. With other Dan Brown titles that I read, I kept up on the controversy surrounding it. It baffles me to see how upset the church (Catholic and otherwise) and the academics get at what I see as purely fiction. It is true that some pieces can be seen as historical fiction, but you have to take these reads as entertainment only and rely on established reference books for all the rest. Although, you can definitely find references to support whatever theory that suits your fancy. I did not look into the controversy surrounding the Lost Symbol, but sure there was plenty as Dan Brown has become a magnet for it. As fictional entertainment, I give this book high marks.



I was given this book at Blissdom 2012. Jon Acuff was one of the keynote speakers and the audience was given complimentary signed copies. Jon is such a great, great speaker and I was very much excited to read his book. I was not able to get to it immediately and I think that may have served to my advantage. It’s difficult to really give an honest opinion of a read so soon after having such an inspirational speech by the author. I am quite sure he hypnotized us all. With that said, this is still a very good book. It is very inspirational and gives very good tips and steps for preparing yourself to leave the job you have and step into the job/future that you want. What is really important to me is that Jon really stresses biblical responsibility. I am an engineer and I do enjoy being an engineer but I do feel like I’m meant to do something else…in time. One thing I an not crazy enough to do is step out without a plan or without a financial safety net. Jon’s path was not always well thought out, but he learned from it and is passing on those lessons to us. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where this book fails for me, but something just doesn’t settle well. I will re-read this in the next year and update my review afterwards. I do recommend this for anyone that is actively dreaming of doing something else. Read it, revisit it, pray over it and be spiritually responsible about it.

 The Bookshop

I don’t remember what used bookstore I picked this book up from, but I’m so glad I did. This is an over-the-pond book set somewhere in England, which is an instant draw for me. I don’t know why I love all things British, but I do. And it involves a quaint little bookshop, which is an additional plus for me. I’m working right now in a very small town of about 2700 people and in a small town everyone knows everyone and everyone is in everyone’s business. This book was right along those lines. What is a person to do when the affluent in the town plot against them? There are still places in this world and definitely in this country just like this and I enjoyed seeing how the bookstore owner dealt with it all, although I think I would have been more forceful. Very quick read and I highly recommend it for the more open-culture-minded of us. (yes, I made up a new term) I do have friends to whom only American literature appeals so I wouldn’t recommend this to them.

 Lethal Legacy


 I love a good detective mystery but I have never really read them. My love for the genre has been rooted in tv shows and movies but I never really thought to read them. I feel very short sighted in saying that, but it may be because so many detective stories are derivative, even while maintaining their entertainment value. I could not predict the outcome of this story and that was quite intriguing to me. There were several twists turns that took me by surprise without being so over the top that I started to see the writing as implausible.

Five Little Pigs


I love Agatha Christie but I have never actually read any Agatha Christie books! A shame, I know! There is nothing new I could say about Agatha Christie. I am so late to game on reading her books, so I will leave the in depth reviews to others. What I can say is that I really enjoyed the story line and premise of the book. The tie in with the childhood story was very clever for the time this book was written. I will be moving on to read more Agatha Christie titles. I see a book/movie marathon in my future.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Last of the Books (Part 1)

I did not reach my goal of reading 100 books in the 2012 calendar year, but I did get quite close. I finished out 2012 having read 61 books and I think that is pretty damned impressive!

Before I set any goals for 2013, I do want to post reviews and recaps of what I have read in this year. There were some really awesome reads that I can’t help but share again. According to my Goodreads profile which I am using to track my progress, I have quite a few selections that I have not reviewed, so this post will spill over and become two or more posts.

Enjoy and please comment and let me know how you did on your reading this year and if you plan to set any reading goals in the coming year. All books pictures and links provided are from Amazon, where I am an affiliate, but please support the book seller of your choice.


Some Sing, Some Cry

This book is too long! It is so hard to review this book beyond that. This is an historical fiction but it is written in heavy dialect and that makes it a little exhausting. I did listen to this through my Audible subscription and I really enjoyed the speech and singing of the narrator, but even she can only carry this book so far. It’s just too long. It follows several generations of a mulatto family, but I can’t tell you the point or outcome of this book. It’s just too long and not interesting enough to pull me to the end. I gave up on it. Maybe I’ll revisit it again in the far away future. It’s just too long. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife


I’ve seen the movie and the concept intrigued me so I really wanted to read the book. Having seen the movie prior and listening to the Audible version were definite benefits to me going into this. The constant time and character jumps would be very confusing reading this as a print book. If it were not for the male/female voice changes in the audio book, I would have been lost. Outside that, this is still a really good book. There are some differences between the book and movie but this is the one clear instance where I can really say what was cut out of the movie version should have also been cut out of the print version. I hope the editor(s) paid attention. I recommend this book for a limited audience. Although the movie turned this read into more of a romance, this really is a sci-fi book (in my opinion). And the writing style makes it a strain for the attention span of most. If nothing else, this is one read that should definitely be listened to.

 The Millionaire Wives Club


I love a good reality show and I love the occasional display of drama but this book was a bit too much for me. It was drama overload and had no thread of hope what so ever, not that it had the intention of being so. What really depressed me more than anything was the notion that if we are really lucky in life, when we turn away from the money-chasing, we will end up with a good man that will save us with his goodness and also happen to be rich. We keep re-telling the Pretty Woman story in different ways re-enforcing it as the way to truly escape from the hardships of our lives. It’s played out. The author clearly is a story teller. I would like to see what else she could do with her talent. If nothing else, she is on her way to producing/scripting some good reality television (I am not foolish enough to believe that all reality television is actually reality).

Steve Jobs

This book just couldn’t end soon enough. Not thinking, I picked this book up to read just before the 1 year anniversary of his death so in addition to the book, I’ve been listening to a lot of the tech pundits rehashing the life of Steve. I do think Steve Jobs did great things and had an interesting way of processing things but I cannot ignore a few things.

1. Steve Jobs stole ideas and took credit for the work of his friends and employees.
2. Steve Jobs enjoyed letting people know the lack of value they brought to his life. This book continued that.
3. Steve Jobs always thought he would die young so its no surprise that he procrastinated when told he had cancer. Steve wanted to die a martyr and, in a way, he got his wish.
4. Steve Jobs wanted to make money just as much as he wanted to make good products. He got over on a lot of people with this false pretense of not wanting to be rich. “Let’s move the Porsche so no one thinks we are just out for money.”—In the book!

This is not a book. This is Steve Jobs’ last chance to get the last word on all the issues, circumstances and activities of his life. This was his chance to tell everyone they were wrong and it was his chance to list out all the people he rejected during his life just so they don’t forget posthumously. He claims to have done this so his kids would know him, but he was never a family person so I don’t see why he would think his children would get anything out of this other than learning how to be absolutely horrible people.

Now, I would never deny that Steve Jobs had talent, but it is now more clear that his talent lay in rallying the troops and getting them to do their best work. His talent lay in manipulating the situation and his talent lay in selling. He was not an engineer. He was not a creator. But he was a leader.

It’s hard to see this book outside of its subject because it’s clear that Isaacson just wrote what Steve told him to. The book was contradictory as Steve was and it was very one sided. I think Isaacson got caught up in that reality distortion field that he mentions so much, which I only see as an excuse for giving in to the charlatan that was Steve Jobs.

This book is much, much too long--about 400 pages longer than it really needed to be. I wouldn’t really recommend this book especially considering how Steve’s rock star status may negatively influence others.

The Checklist Manifesto

I am always looking for ways to improve my working life, both how I work alone and how I work with co-workers. I started reading this book back when I was working with a Japanese company and my manager kept forcing me to send out these reminder checklists outlining what everyone on my project was supposed to get done that week or that day in some cases. 

Now, I love a good checklist. And after incorporating a wedding checklist into my daily planner, I love them even more. They can be very useful when the audience is receptive and willing to use them. This was the biggest problem I was facing. 

Reading this book gave me a more purposeful view of using checklists but also gave some inspiration on getting wide adoption of using checklists. I am no longer working with the Japanese company, but I will carry the lessons from this book on to other projects that I am involved with. And if nothing else, I will be using them to improve my own productivity. 

On the downside, I found this book too heavily geared towards the medical field. I was willing to overlook this as the author is a doctor, but then he started getting too heavily into construction. He really could have branched out and given a more diverse set of usage examples. And considering the lack of diversity in the examples, the book did seem to get really repetitive.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Setting Up For 2013-The Planner

I am a huge fan or all things related to organizing. Labels, label makers, pretty folders, planners (Franklin Covey, Daytimer, Mead and all the others), journals (I swoon over one that is pretty and functional)… the list goes on and on. I like to be organized.

I haven’t posted much about my addiction love here on the blog, but if you follow me on Flickr, you have seen pictures of my planner and my super organized pantry. And I’ve found others with the same affliction through Flickr. It’s the perfect support group. We all remain relatively anonymous and get to salivate over the photos of others.

To save space on this post, all the photos of my 2011/2012 planner and the 2013 planner have been uploaded to Flickr. Feel free to comment and ask questions there as I’m sure I’ve missed saying something (slide show and link below).

Those really close to me will know how often I am prone to change my planner during a year. Even when I was exclusively using the Franklin Covey planning system, I was constantly in the store or on the website looking at and buying new planner patterns. Add on top of that the changing planner covers. I had (and still have) mad love for FC!

While on temporary assignment in the city (miss you DC-DMV!), I had to really think about what I was carrying in my purse everyday. The one mile walk to work was brutal with a heavy planner in tow. I tried several planner options, but it wasn’t until I bought a weekly planner from Target that I really considered using something other than the two-page-per-day or page-per-day formats. I started developing a method for using the weekly format, but unfortunately that Target planner did not make it long.

After abandoning that planner, I stuck with the weekly format but swapped over to the Moleskine 18-month weekly planner. That was Sept 2011 and here I am in December 2012 finishing the year in the same planner. At the time, the-18 month planner appealed to me because I could do an entire year (or longer) of wedding planning without having to split between planners. I was worried that the plain-Jane nature of the Moleskine wouldn’t hold my attention, but the way the various colors of ink pop on the cream colored paper really spoke to me. And then I started color coding and plain-Jane started to really bloom.

The one thing that really drives me crazy about the 18 month Moleskine is that it is only sold starting in July. There is no option for starting in January. So, if you finish out an 18 month planner in December as I am, you either buy the previously issued 18 month calendar and skip the first six months or you waste a one-year calendar, using for only 6 months until the next 18 month calendar cycle starts. Ridiculous. Moleskine, please consider adding a January cycle. With all that said, I will be switching to a one-year weekly calendar for 2013. I even considered going back to FC but they have too much color on their planners that would conflict too much with my color coding.

I’ve pretty much gotten the 2013 planner all decked out, so I wanted to take a minute and share with you. I think this will be more appealing to the like-minded, addicted Flickr crowd so I completely understand if you haven’t made it this far into the post.

I put together the sketch above showing the outline of the Moleskine weekly planner format which is pretty standard across many planner brands so this is highly adaptable. A toned down color profile works best as color coding plays a big part of my system. Here’s an outline of each of the sections I have made.
  1. This is my color code tracking for the week. I used 8 colors during the 2011/2012 time period. I will be using 9 colors going into 2013. This gives me a quick visual of
  2. Another color coding area which is the flip side of area 2. This side gives me a quick view of what is coming up for next week. If I see a red half circle then I know there is a holiday or day off next week. If it’s light green, I know hubby has something special going on. It’s so easy to get lost in the current week and not look ahead. This gives me a visual prompt to do so.
  3. I use this blank section to set my priorities for the week. Sometimes I actually manage to get them done, but it does give me some impetus to focus my efforts for the week. Because I’m spending so much time at work right now, I’m using this to set non-work priorities or work priorities that require me to complete activities outside the office. I’m also using it to track my weekly weight which I record at the end of the week.
  4. The general daily note area is split down the middle. I use the left side primarily to not daily timed appointments and issue tracking.
  5. The right side is used to note all day events and tasks and to track bills that need to be paid and the day they are due. I split the small areas of Saturday and Sunday in much the same way but there is not much timed appointment tracking going on.
  6. Notes/attachments. I track short-time items on post-it notes that I stick here and discard when the activity is done.
  7. Financial Review-appears once a month, usually the second week of the month.
  8. Paycheck tracking-appears on weeks I get paid. I track deposits to my 401k, Health Savings Account or anything else that would be a positive to my financial situation.
I would love to know what you think and to see how you are using your planners for 2013. Please leave a link to your post(s) or picture(s) in your comment below.

To save space on this post, all the photos of my 2011/2012 planner and the 2013 planner have been uploaded to Flickr. Feel free to comment and ask questions there as I’m sure I’ve missed saying something.