FO: Abigail Cardigan & Spring at Wheeler Farm

Spring is just around the corner, and we are feeling it! Last weekend, it got up into the high 50s with glorious sunshine and we’ve been hovering in the low 60s this week. Okay, sure, it’s stormy and gloomy today, but it’s not cold, which makes me a happy camper.

But last weekend? We had this….

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Which meant it was time to take the Abigail Cardi on its first outing to Wheeler Farm, which happens to be just down the street from my house.

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This cardigan is definitely my lucky cardigan… not because good things happen to me while I’m wearing it (too early to tell), but because it’s a freaking miracle that the thing fits! Here’s why: I started this cardigan back in 2012 and I didn’t swatch. I. Didn’t. Swatch. What was I thinking? Oh yeah…. I was a newbie knitter who didn’t know any better. Darn you, past Kim!

Well, present Kim decided to pull this project out of the back of the linen closet and try to salvage it, in the name of aiming for a Stash Less 2016. I figured if it ended up not fitting—and I resigned myself to the fact that it probably wouldn’t—I could always give it to my niece. So, I took a deep breath, finished the last sleeve, soaked it in my fave Twig & Horn Lemongrass wool soap, and pinned it out on the blocking mats.

Once it was dry, I tried it on…. and sat on the floor next to my blocking mats, giggling like a crazy person. It fit! And it was ever so soft and lightweight. It was perfect. The Fibre Company’s Canopy fingering weight yarn gives each stitch beautiful loft and a subtle halo, thanks to the 50% baby alpaca fibre content. The rest of the yarn is made up of bamboo and merino wool, which means it’s sturdy, has a bit of sheen, and lovely drape.

Side Note: The Conifer color way that I used here appears to have been discontinued. Good thing I bought enough back in 2012!

Side view so you can see what I mean about the drape…. Forgive the squinting into the sun….

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We had an amazing afternoon hanging out in the sunshine and seeing all of the animals, who seemed to be as happy as we were about the weather.

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Think they know I’m wondering if someone’s going to spin their wool into yarn?

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And one last image of the farm… Come on, spring!

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I have a planner full of springtime knits to make and share with you, as well as some fantastic guest models and photographers. It’s going to be a great season!

Random Thoughts: Burn Out and Recovering

Hold onto your hats people, this is a post that has very little to do with crafting and nothing to do with Lawn Fawn (though there’s LOTS of that coming later this week!)

Beware: rambling ahead.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot. Mostly about the things that make me happy that I haven’t been incorporating into my life, and I don’t know why…. Okay, that’s not true. I do know. It’s because they are things I “should” do. “Should” makes these things feel like chores. Like work. Like something that’s being imposed on me. When I say “should” it usually makes me turn on some sort of rebellious switch in my head that craves “me” time without any obligations whatsoever. I immediately think “But I’m so tired….” Perhaps over the last few years, I’ve overextended myself and have reached a point of burning out. What a horrible feeling. But it’s there.

Anyway, while dwelling on this rebellious streak against things I “should” do, I came across this insightful blog post.

Here’s where I have landed in working to get over the feeling of “burn out”, and, because of #2 below, I decided to share it with you:

  1. I feel better when I don’t eat gluten. I could completely cut it out of my diet instead of just whittling back. It wouldn’t be that difficult. And my sister-in-law type person (aka Chris’ brother’s girlfriend) is already gluten free. If most of what we eat is too, that would make family dinners a snap.
  2. I feel better when I write. I could write more. About anything. Who cares? It doesn’t have to be marketable. (Burned out me: “Dear god, I’m tired of trying to think about my writing in terms of profit.”) This is why I haven’t written that novel yet. It really is. Because, crap, I have to write something that I could sell. (Terror). But I could just write about anything I want. I could sit and write a rambling blog post about my random thoughts instead of surfing the internet. What? Yup.
  3. I feel better when I exercise. “Exercise for fun,” people say. But getting your body and mind to the point where exercising is fun again is hard. It just is. At that point exercising is a “should”. So, here’s what I’m doing about it. I joined Daily Burn. It’s only $10 a month. And I put my pride aside and started with the True Beginner program. Instead of thinking “I should be able to do these harder workouts…” I said “I can’t do them right now. I have to start over. I could easily get there in the four weeks it takes to do this program… and fix my IT Band issues on the way.” I just finished that program and am two grueling days into the Cardio Sculpt program. I hurt all over. But it’s a good hurt.
  4. I feel better when my house is clean. Honestly, who doesn’t? I could clean my house. Do I really want to? No. But I really want the results… so change that no to a yes.
  5. I feel better when I look put together.  I could look put together all the time. It’s not that hard. Pretty hair. Check. Stylish clothes. Check. Nice makeup. Check.
  6. I feel better when I’m learning new things. Things that are not programming related. I love making things and I could make more. There is so much out there to learn and there is nothing stopping me from learning more about things that catch my interest. Recently, my friend Mandy taught me to make Kombucha!
  7. I feel better when I have things to look forward to. Subscription boxes, for example, which have been both fun and useful in helping me do other things that make me feel better. Granted, I could have a lot more things to look forward to. We recently started doing Sunday dinners with some new friends, which have been a little sporadic thanks to work and travel schedules, but we do them as often as we can. I really look forward to those.

So, that’s my ramble for today. Thanks for listening!

Stitch Fix #2: Put a Bird on It!

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Whenever I think of my second shipment from Stitch Fix, I’m going to think about Portlandia. And be reminded that I can’t quite trust my own opinion when it comes to clothes and how they look on me. After the onslaught of positive reinforcement from Instagram and Chris’ enthusiastic thumbs up, I ended up keeping the entire box—despite my initial reaction to some of the pieces. So, here we go! That Catherine knows what she’s doing….

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Vintage Market: Striped Scarf
The scarf was super soft, and I knew right away that it was a keeper. The teal and gray stripes were perfect for me, especially with the bright, vintage-wash neon I’ve been wearing lately. A great accessory.

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Kut from the Kloth: Leandra Denim Buttondown Shirt
Next up, the chambray shirt I’d asked for—yippee! This was was a darker denim than the previous one and had more Western detailing. Not my usual style, but the fabric was (again) very soft but with a crispness that I liked. And it fit beautifully!

Just Black: Carter Skinny Angle-Length Jeans
Admittedly, I was terrified when I saw these. I adored the color (love, love, love), but… skinny jeans? Me? And… they sent me a size smaller than I’m used to wearing in jeans. And not specifically a tall size. In my comments on my profile, I’d specified my measurements and that I needed a certain inseam length in order to not look like I’m wearing floods. Too many jeans have gone to the goodwill because I bought them in desperation and didn’t hold out for a tall size. One of my big “Shopping Fails”—Desperation Shopping. So, it was with a great deal of cringing that I put these on.

They’re a dream. This is the first pair of ankle-length jeans that actually hits my ankle without being a tall size. Heaven! And they’re a really lovely stretch denim. Machine washable! Hooray! Still, yikes, skinny jeans… The Instagram peeps said to keep. Chris confirmed that I did not look like a stuffed sausage, despite what the mirror told me.

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Fate: Melissa French Terry Blazer
Initial Reaction: Oh boy. Shoulder pads. Shoulder pads? What? Yes. Shoulder pads. And tabs on top of the shoulders. Oh boy. Am I going to look like a linebacker.

Chris told me that I looked good—it would be better without the tab detail on the shoulders, but it looked nice. After thinking about this one, I decided to go for it.

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Glad I did! I put together this outfit for work. So much classier than my usual tank, cardi, and jeans combo. I look like I put in some effort. And I felt like I was wearing a sweatshirt. Win. I’ve actually worn the blazer to work twice now. It looks fab with the necklace from my first Fix.

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Collective Concepts: Ivy Bird Print Tab Sleeve Blouse
My first reaction was definitely a negative one. First, I had said no white clothing or black clothing on my profile. I tend to look super washed out in white and black. It’s not a good look for me. I need color! Second, I had said nothing sheer on my profile. I can’t feel comfortable and confidant if I have to worry about wearing something underneath a shirt or worry if my bra is showing. (Confession: I live in constant fear of my bra showing. It’s kind of neurotic.)

I put it on with my aqua shorts for the Instagram picture. It was not so fantastic. But I tried it on later with my regular jeans and with the new coral skinny jeans. Chris loved it and told me I was crazy. (Ha!) And that’s when I decided to keep the whole fix.

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I wore the bird shirt and coral jeans to a friend’s baby shower, and felt so pretty and put together! I had to take a “happy ducks” picture to offset my “boo ducks” picture from the initial try-on.

So there you have it, my second Stitch Fix! I can’t believe I kept everything from only the second try. My closet is starting to look downright fashionable! I’m currently on the fix-a-month schedule, until my wardrobe fills out a bit. The next one hits on May 23, and I’m hoping for some Stitch Fix gift cards for my birthday on the 17th.

One of the BEST parts of this fix? Three out of five pieces were made in the USA! The scarf, the jeans, and the duck shirt are all USA-made. I cheered in my feedback, so hopefully more USA-made clothes will be coming my way. Whoo hoo!

If you want to give Stitch Fix a try yourself, they’re still invite only, so here’s my referral link to sign yourself up!

http://stitchfix.com/sign_up?referrer_id=3064425

Disclaimer (’cause I gotta): I’m in no way affiliated with Stitch Fix, nor do they sponsor me in any way. I just really love their service!

Stitch Fix #1: Review Time!

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Okay, so let me preface this with a simple fact. My second Stitch Fix gets here tomorrow. This one arrived on April 13th. The fact that I just “Could. Not. Wait.” ought to tell you a little something about how freaking much I loved this.

Backing up…. Like most of the crafty, scrapbooky community, I learned about Stitch Fix through the adorable Stephanie Howell (Love her!). And then I went on a review-reading bender. I was sick, so what else did I have to do, right? Ha!

If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix, it’s a brilliant shopping service that uses data to help stylists pick out clothes. Um. Oh my… That’s what I went to school for! Data! And People! And more Data! And using that data to match people with things they’ll love! Sure, it was books, movies, and other things in my world, but, yes, clothes! And the more feedback you give them, the more data they have, and the better the service will get. Like Pandora! Must Have! (Melts into a geeky puddle.)

Whew! That’s over. Still with me? If you want more of the ins and outs of how the system works, check out their official spiel here.

Unlike a lot of people who have signed up for Stitch Fix, I don’t hate shopping. I love it! I just want a little help with the higher-end, more stylish items. The not-so-everyday items that will step-up my wardrobe. I want to be uber chic … and I want help putting that dream wardrobe together. I just don’t have time for the kind of shopping it would take to pull it off. So, with this goal in mind, I set my price points a little higher than I believe most people do. I anticipated spending what I would spend at Nordstroms for the kind of pieces I hoped to get.

It took three weeks to get off the waiting list. Three weeks in which I read more reviews and pinned clothes like mad. I’m not a patient girl. I’ve accepted this. When I did finally get that happy e-mail, I scheduled my fix right away.

And… this arrived:

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My happy box! In it was a quick note from my stylist, Catherine, who mentioned that she picked the items in the box based on my ratings on my profile. Gotta start somewhere, right? Sounded good to me!

First reaction: Everything is so soft. I could tell that each piece was high quality, which is exactly what I expected. (Good seams, no snags, great fabric). I apologize for the Instagram photos. That’s as good as it gets right now.

The one piece I don’t have a decent photo of was the silver circle necklace I kept. Considering I recently discovered jewelry (thank you allergy shots for helping me be able to tolerate metal touching my neck!), I don’t have any silver necklaces. Winner winner! Okay, I don’t have a great photo of the knit tunic top either. Sent it back: I kind of thought it made my hips look big. Plus, I already have a tunic-style gray sweater that I don’t wear very often.

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I need a chambray shirt! I actually wasn’t sold on them before. Had never even tried one on. I thought: “Really? Really? Denim shirts?” But this… this was good. Very good. Chris was a fan. Too bad when I swung my arms forward, it was tight through the shoulders. Otherwise, the fit was great. No gaping across the bust, no weirdness through the hips. Just a bit tight through the shoulders. This was really hard to put in the “send back” bag.

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Next. Okay, I had a moment with this one. Drawstring hesitation! But I tried it on and thought: Hey skinny lady! Whoo hoo! And then I swung the arms. Again, too tight through the shoulders. Fab everywhere else. Into the bag it went.

StitchFix1-Lottie Pintuck Top

This is Chris’ favorite shirt. In my entire closet. Needless to say this is the one shirt I kept: 41Hawthorne Lottie Pintuck Sleeveless Silk Top. It’s sexy and soft and the color is perfect. Really perfect. I like to wear it tucked in because it’s super (super) floaty. But because the silk is so lightweight there is zero bunching when it’s tucked in. Score!

Styled-Lottie Pintuck Top

Plus, it looks fabulous with my JCrew staples: the Jackie Cardigan and Matchstick jeans.

In my notes, I requested that Catherine style me again. She really nailed it with the Chambray, Drawstring, and Silk tops. We just need to tweak the fit. So I asked them to take another crack at getting me a Chambray top. (Tomorrow maybe!) Next time, I promise I’ll remember the exact names of the clothes! And take better pics… One excuse: it was rainy.

If you want to give Stitch Fix a try yourself, they’re still invite only, so here’s my referral link to sign yourself up!

http://stitchfix.com/sign_up?referrer_id=3064425

Disclaimer (’cause I gotta): I’m in no way affiliated with Stitch Fix, nor do they sponsor me in any way. I just really love their service!

Delish 12x12 Scrapbook Page

Changes + A Layout

Delish 12x12 Scrapbook Page

What a week! As most of you already know, Thursday the second was my last day as an editor at Creating Keepsakes. It was a hard decision. So hard. Anyway, I’ve gone back into software development, which is a huge, huge change. It’s so strange–I’m quickly re-engaging a part of my brain that’s been put into sleep mode since I finished grad school. And it feels so good, you guys. I had no idea it was going to feel this good. Isn’t life funny? I started in software development, started grad school, got the position at Stampin’ Up!, graduated, then took the job at CK. And now, here I am, going back to where I started (but with an awesome degree to back me up).

Even better, I get to still be crafty and creative and involved in the papercrafting industry–an industry I adore. I’ve made so many incredible friends through crafting that I never would have met otherwise. And in the last week that I’ve been at the new job, a few really fantastic things have happened. I’m so excited for what the next few months are going to bring!

Anyway, after work one night this week, I made a layout. Just for fun. Just for me. And I wanted to share it. ‘Cause that’s what we crafters do. Hugs!

Delish! recipe: Patterned paper: Webster's Pages; Stamps: Lawn Fawn; Ink: Stampin' Up!; Stickers: Sassafras and Studio Calico; Journaling spot: Studio Calico; Tape: Vintage Street Market; Brads: BasicGrey; Jute: Papertrey Ink; Pen: Mitsubishi Pen Co.

Pickles!

A couple of weekends ago, I had my first experience making pickles; it was a total success! We had quite a few cucumbers on hand from our CSA. First, I have to say that getting involved with community supported agriculture (CSA) is one of the best things Chris and I have done regarding trying to establish ongoing healthy eating habits (french fry-eating binges not withstanding . . . it happens). Most nights we enjoy farm-to-table dinners, which has completely altered our relationship with food, the weather, and our community. If you don’t have the space, time, or energy to devote to your own garden, I encourage you to look into finding a CSA in your area.

Okay, getting off the soapbox now, and back to pickles! In the August issue of Bon Appetit, there was an article about canning, complete with some delish looking recipes, like the one I used here for Bread and Butter Pickles.

While we don’t generally love sweet pickles, these particular ones promised to be both sweet, sour, and spicy, but not too sweet. I figured, well, we’d only have three quarts, so if we didn’t really care for them, we could easily give away three quarts and never use the recipe again.

You start by chopping up a ton of cucumbers and onions and covering the whole thing with salt and ice. Then you walk away for two hours.

Then it’s all about getting the vinegar, spices, and sugar boiling, then adding the cold veggies. Cook them for a bit, and then bottle them up. Place the bottles in a big stock pot filled with boiling water.

Make sure the water fully covers your bottles, but make sure you don’t have too much water either. Once the bottles were in, I had to scoop out a bunch of the water because I knew that when it got boiling again, I’d have water everywhere. Yikes! So out came about two cups of hot, hot water. I’m so glad Chris didn’t see me doing this. (Shhhhh!!)

Okay! Crisis averted. And now to bring the water to a rolling boil. Remember: do not start your timer until the water is rapidly boiling again. And if you’re in Utah, you have to adjust your time for altitude (i.e., add 5 minutes). Then you wait, and nervously hope that your bottles don’t crash into each other and shatter.

Pro tip: Next time, add a clean dish cloth to the bottom of the pot to help keep everything stable. Yup.

Ding! Pickles are done! I turned off the burner and waited another five minutes for all the boiling to stop and for the contents of the jars to chill out. Lifting them out was a bit of a challenge because I didn’t have cool jar-lifting tongs. Again, I’m glad Chris didn’t see me screwing around with dish towels and regular tongs. But not burning myself for the win, right?

Pro tip: Get jar-lifting tongs.

And there you have it. Pickles! For the record: They’re spectacular. Bon Appetit comes through for us again! We’ve almost polished off a full quart of these babies.

Last weekend, I made dill pickles from our mountain of CSA zucchini. These dill pickles had to sit a week before you can taste them, to give them time to pickle and soak up the dilly goodness. They should be ready for a taste test tonight! Hooray!

In which I confess my love of coleslaw

I can’t help it. There’s just something about the combination of crisp veggies and vinegar-based sauce that does it for my tastebuds every time. Yesterday, I had the day off, so I went to town and made Bon Appetit’s delicious Yogurt-marinated Grilled Chicken and classic coleslaw from their grilling issue (July 2011).

The Yogurt-marinated Grilled Chicken was featured in Bon Appetit’s The Providers column and comes from the ultra-cool Jenny Rosentrach and Andy Ward of Dinner: A Love Story. I prepped the chicken during the day, and it marinated for five hours until Chris got home and we tossed it on the grill. It was, as promised, juicy and full of flavor. The garam masala and cilantro added just a little bite of Indian spice. Wonderful.

One of the fab things in the July issue is this article on different slaws. Yum! We’ve made the beet and carrot slaw in addition to last night’s traditional cabbage slaw, and they were both fantastic.

Side note: Adam Rapoport is doing a brilliant job as Bon Appetit’s Editor-in-Chief. The articles are engaging, and the recipes are down-to-earth and consistently delicious. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this magazine lately, do it. Bringing Adam over from GQ was an inspired move.

Cyn & Wren

My friends Cyn and Rob recently got a new dog: the rascal you see on this layout. His name is Wren, and he’s an English Pointer/Australian Shepherd/Border Collie. Not that you can see any Aussie or Collie in him. Doesn’t he look just like a Pointer? Anyway, he’s hilarious! I’ve never met a dog with this much personality.

So here’s my first layout about Wren and his girl, Cyn. I wanted to create a playful, colorful feel for the layout without going themed, and the funky, vintage style of October Afternoon’s 5 & Dime collection worked perfectly for the bulk of the layout. Notice: I didn’t add any journaling to the labels. That’s because this is a gift layout, and I want Cyn to be able to write whatever she wants on it.

Also, you can tell from my photo–I’ve been messing around with Instagram. Yay! I’ve been following a few blogs that always post photos with a distinctive style, and I wanted to give it a try to see how it looks…. The filter I picked does add a vintage color cast to the full photo, which I like, but doesn’t tell you exactly how this layout looks. Close, but the colors are muted. Tell me what you think. (I can take it….)

Cyn & Wren recipe: Patterned paper: Lily Bee Design and October Afternoon; Stickers: Crate Paper and October Afternoon; Brad: The Girl's Paperie; Embroidery floss: DMC; Adhesive: American Crafts and Tombow; Photo action: Maggie Holmes Photography.

Welcome, Jack!

Welcome to the universe, my sweet little nephew! I think you’re going to like it here, Jackson. Oh, and this is what we call scrapbooking. It’s pretty cool, and you’re going to have lots and lots of pages made about you. I promise.

Welcome to the Universe recipe: Kits from Studio Calico, June 2011. Cardstock: Bazzill Basics Paper; Patterned paper: Crate Paper and October Afternoon; Stickers: American Crafts, BasicGrey, Crate Paper, and October Afternoon; Die cuts: October Afternoon; Buttons: October Afternoon and Pebbles; Paint: Jenni Bowlin Studio for Ranger Industries; Spray ink: Studio Calico; Embroidery floss: DMC; Adhesive: American Crafts and Tombow.

Jen’s Baby Shower

My older sister, Jen, is due to have a baby boy in June. The second boy in our family after my cousin Mimi’s little boy–but he lives in Texas, so we never get to see him. We’re beyond excited that we’re finally going to have a little boy in the mix on a regular basis. We held a family-only baby shower for Jen last weekend to get her set up with “boy things”. Thanks to Chris, I took a photo of the card before I packed it up with the present.

Congrats Card recipe: Cardstock and stickers: American Crafts; Patterned paper and brads: Crate Paper; Coffee filter: Fancy Pants Designs; Punch: Marvy Uchida.