Gardening

When we moved into our house almost two years ago I immediately installed a small raised garden bed and started collecting plants.

My garden didn’t produce much that first year, but I enjoyed a few tomatoes and carrots.

I started some plants in pots and kept them inside over the winter. Pots are an excellent way to expand on a small garden space.

As I gathered more and more potted plants I needed a way to store them vertically. I bought a plant stand from Wayfair so my whole dining room floor wouldn’t be covered with plants.

With a little practical gardening knowledge under my belt I determined that this year’s garden would be better than last year’s – both in terms of size of harvest and in growing plants we would actually eat.

I started with lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes (even though I had never even tried a radish before this year).

Once the weather warmed up I added tomatoes, peppers, and beans (and a few Brussels Sprouts – this ended up being a mistake. Cabbage Whites are evil!)

Speaking of Cabbage Whites, I have learned more about bugs since I started gardening than I ever knew before! It’s remarkable to me how if you step back for a minute and avoid the pesticides a predator will swoop in and make a nice lunch of many of your garden pests (to get to this point you do have to be willing to tolerate a certain level of things munching on your beautiful plants).

Going out into my garden is really soothing and helps me take my mind off other things. I really enjoy the excuse to get out in the sun and work with my hands. I have become a little bit of a crazy plant lady, but you know what? I don’t mind.

Me Made May 2021 – Week 4 and Conclusions

Day 23: paisley tank top and striped jean shorts

Day 24: brand new happy cloud t-shirt and the same striped jean shorts

Day 25: new ruffled blouse and grey pencil skirt

Day 26: brand new bees t-shirt and floral paper bag skirt

Day 27: plaid Wiksten top with striped jean shorts

Day 28: blue Adrienne blouse with cream shorts

Day 29: jersey Wiksten top with cream shorts

Day 30: happy clouds t-shirt with cream shorts

Day 31: linen Juliette blouse with striped jean shorts (+new smocked apron for gathering peas!)

I made 3 new jersey tops over the weekend, so my wardrobe this last week tended to be more casual than what I’ve worn the rest of the month. It’s funny that even though I really felt like I needed more pants throughout the whole month I only ended up sewing tops. I guess tops somehow seem a little less intimidating, which I don’t understand since my pants pattern is already fitted to me, but the patterns I used for my tops were mostly un-tested as to fit.

I had a lot of fun wearing full me-made outfits this month. 2021 is the first year where I’ve had enough me-made garments to wear full outfits every day of the month, which is a huge milestone for me! My favourite garment to wear was my grey pencil skirt, which really surprised me. It is comfortable to wear and I always feel fabulous in it. I think I might have to make another.

One of the things I love about Me Made May is how it really forces me to look at my handmade wardrobe and see what works well and what gaps I still have. Over the last year I have been mostly focused on sewing “nice” clothes that I can wear to the office. These happen to be the kind of clothes that I most like to wear, but can be a little impractical for cooking or cleaning or running around with my dog. I knew I had a gap in my handmade wardrobe regarding leisure staples and pants like t-shirts and jeans. I am looking forward to filling this gap and continuing to improve my overall handmade wardrobe.

Me Made May 2021 – Week 1

Me Made May 2021 – Week 2

Me Made May 2021 – Week 3

Me Made May 2021 – Week 3

Day 16: linen Juliette blouse with striped denim shorts

Day 17: blue Adrienne blouse with the same striped denim shorts

Day 18: Pocahontas dress

Day 19: pencil skirt and kimono jacket

Day 20: cream shorts and a brand new ruffled blouse

Day 21: striped petticoat worn as a dress with a brown vest

Day 22: cream shorts with a brand new Wiksten Tank in Jersey

I tried some new outfit combinations on days 19 and 21, and mostly didn’t like them. I also got tired of my limited options and made/finished two tops, which I wore on days 20 and 22. This is ironic, since my options are much more limited for pants/shorts than for tops. I have a great pants pattern that is already fitted to me, and my fabric is already washed, so I really have no excuse to not make some fantastic new pants. I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.

Me Made May 2021 – Week 2

Day 9: cream shorts and plaid Wiksten tank

Day 10: burgundy linen dress

Day 11: grey pencil skirt and red tunic top

Day 12: checkered shirt and herringbone pants (bonus: enjoy my husband’s photo-bombing skills!)

Day 13: plaid Bruyere shirt and the same herringbone pants

Day 14: striped boxy shirt and cream shorts

Day 15: Wiksten tank with the same cream shorts

I tend to dress up when I go into the office (usually two days a week) and dress more casually when I’m at home. My dressier wardrobe is serving me well, which makes sense, since I’ve been more heavily focused on making pretty clothes than on making casual items to wear around the house. I am still finding some new clothing combinations as can be seen on day 13. Despite this, I’m getting to the point where I feel like I’m wearing the same pieces a little too often.

Me Made May 2021 – Week 1

April showers have indeed brought May flowers. And with the flowers we have also come to Me Made May. I have been participating in Me Made May since 2017. The first year I had a hard time wearing just 1 self-made item every day, but as I have continued making myself clothes dressing myself in Me-Mades has become easier and easier. Here is what I wore the first week of May:

Day 1: blue shorts and a striped boxy shirt

Day 2: the same blue shorts and a paisley cowl-neck tank

Day 3: pinafore dress

Day 4: grey pencil skirt and a checkered blouse

Day 5: grey dress with a white ruffled blouse over top (bonus: I made my necklace, too!)

Day 6: striped petticoat and a paisley cowl-neck tank

Day 7: grey herringbone pants with a striped purple tunic

Day 8: the same grey herringbone pants with a green Adrienne blouse

I definitely feel a lack of pants in my Me-Made wardrobe. The one pair of long pants I have made are very warm, and will quickly become unsuitable as the month goes on, so I am mainly reliant on the 2 pairs of shorts I made last year and several skirts and dresses to clothe my lower half. I have several self-made tops, but I’m worried I don’t have enough to fill all the gaps for an entire month. I am enjoying wearing some items that don’t get a lot of wear and mixing up which pieces go together (days 4-7 were new combinations!). Trying new garment combinations may be one of my favourite parts of Me Made May!

Words to Think On

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of selecting a word of the year instead of, or in concert with, new year’s resolutions. I like how this is rather less specific than, say, a resolution to lose 10 pounds or start exercising every day. It is harder to gauge progress using this method, but it is also harder to feel like a failure when you still weigh the same in December and stopped going to the gym in February.

In 2019 the word I chose for myself was Enough. I chose this word because it could mean a lot of things – good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, but also, rest because you’ve done enough. Reminding myself of these concepts helped me when I felt anxious about myself or like I was always behind or nothing I did was good. One afternoon I sat down and did a small embroidery of this word – something decorative to remind me of my goal. This embroidery should have been very simple by rights, but it turns out I don’t know when to stop. I thought about taking some of the colours out, but I decided that with all its imperfections, it was still good enough.

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This year, the word I chose was balance. I chose it before the Coronavirus pandemic took over the world, and while I didn’t have the pandemic in mind when I chose my word, I have found it to be very appropriate to what is going on. It’s hard to find balance when you’re not supposed to leave your house or see people. This word has been a reminder to me that even though right now I’m working at home, I don’t have to work all the time. And that getting some rest, or even relaxing and not working on a project, is part of the balance of life, too.

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How do you find balance in these strange times we live in?

 

Make Do and Mend: Slippers Edition

There is so much going on in the world these days, and almost all of it seems out of my control. I find it easy to get sucked into a quagmire of negative thoughts and fear, so when I feel like this I try to find something I can do with my hands. My sewing or knitting or gardening is something I can control, and that helps me to feel a little better.

A year and a half ago I made myself some slippers. They were cozy and kept my feet warm. I wore them all that winter, and all this winter.

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And then a few weeks ago I realized both slippers were developing holes on the outside/bottom of the foot.

So I mended them.

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I started off with some non-superwash wool, some snips, and a darning needle.

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I cut a length of yarn, and sewed it in a regtangle-ish shape that went a little past the edges of the hole on all sides.

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Then I turned the whole thing 90 degrees and needle-wove the patch – over, under, over under. While doing this, I made sure to catch a stitch in the slipper at the end of every row so the patch would be firmly attached to the slipper on all sides.

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I followed the same steps on the 2nd slipper. This closed the holes on both slippers, but the yarn I used for the repair was very softly spun, and I knew I would have another hole soon if I didn’t put a tougher material on the outside.

I still had some of the leather I used when I originally made the slippers, so I made a template for a piece that would fit over the holes on both slippers, and cut the pieces out. When I made the slippers a year and a half ago I cut the leather with scissors and an X-acto knife. It was a PAIN! This time borrowed a chisel and mallet from my husband. What a difference! This was quick and easy and painless. Anytime I work with leather in the future, I will absolutely use a chisel and mallet!

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After cutting the pieces out I stabbed some sewing holes into them at regular intervals. Most people would use a proper awl for this. I don’t have one, so I appropriated another one of my husband’s tools for this purpose (I think this is some sort of electrical tool?). Pro tip: it helps to have a spouse that is handy! (Also, if you are borrowing tools, make sure you ask first!)

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With my pieces cut out and holes stabbed, I sewed the leather pieces into place. When I made the slippers I sewed the leather on with nylon cord, which was a royal pain. This time I used a doubled strand of upholstery thread. Much easier to work with, and almost as durable.

And here the slippers are, good as new, and ready for another winter.

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hoMEOWner

On December 30, 2019 my husband and I bought a house!

But that’s not when the story started. Right after I got home from my trip to Manila last summer we started looking at houses. We trolled the internet and drove all over. We finally decided we wanted to build a house, so we found a nice neighborhood that was being developed, signed the papers, and scheduled our appointment to choose the finishes we wanted.

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Then the wait began. After a month of nothing (while the architect finalized the drawings) our foundation was poured!

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From there the house progressed quite quickly. Within a few days of the foundation being poured, the walls went vertical, and things started falling into place.

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At times it seemed like nothing was being done, and at other times progress was much quicker than expected. But finally the day came when we signed the papers and got the keys.

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There are so many things I love about my house, but my favourites are the kitchen, my craft room, and my tiny backyard garden.

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We went a little overboard on the kitchen, but it was absolutely the right decision since we both enjoy cooking.

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My craft room is largely unfurnished right now, but it’s so lovely to have a space where I can leave things out and not worry about my husband stepping on pins in the middle of the night.

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I have been dreaming about creating a garden for at least a year now. My husband helped me build a raised bed for a vegetable garden. I am also thinking about digging up the bushes in my front bed and replacing them with roses and all sorts of bulbed flowers.

I feel so fortunate to live in a beautiful house and a beautiful neighborhood. Owning a home is something my husband and I have been working toward for a very long time.

I love my house.

Thanksgiving Roadtrip – 2019

I haven’t been with my family for Thanksgiving for over 10 years. Most of the family lives in sunny Arizona, while I’m in South Carolina. That’s a big trip, especially at the holidays. This year I started planning early, and I planned big. I let all my siblings know I was coming and I hoped that we could all be together at Thanksgiving. I talked dates with my husband, and we both requested time off from work. We planned and packed, and finally the day came: time to leave for 2 whole weeks with my family!

Day 1: Travel

We got up at the crack of dawn and drove 18 hours our first day. It was exhausting, but worth it. We hit 8 states that day, and spent the night in Amarillo, Texas. I brought a sweater with me as travel knitting. 

South Carolina

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Georgia

Alabama

Mississippi (where I did a little sweater surgery)

Tennessee

Arkansas

Oklahoma

Texas

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Day 2: Travel

On day 2 we spent about 10 hours on the road. We were wiped out from the previous day, so we stayed the night in Flagstaff, Arizona. As we went further and further west we started seeing red rock and cacti. It felt like home.

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New Mexico

Arizona

Day 3: Travel + Family Time

We drove the 2 hours from Flagstaff to Phoenix, and spent the rest of the day resting and enjoying being with my family.

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My sister drew this picture of me as a Lord of the Rings character. We’re all nerdy and artistic in this family!

Days 4-5: Family Time

We laughed a lot and made Christmas cookies. We were also able to spend some time with friends. My husband made us all eggnog (pro tip: homemade eggnog is way better than store bought).

Day 6: Thanksgiving Day

We made even more cookies, and cooked Thanksgiving dinner as a family. We decorated my mom’s house with Christmas lights. All my siblings and even some adopted siblings were able to make it. This was such a pleasant, homey day. It was everything I wanted it to be.

Day 7: Travel

My grandma lives in California, so we headed over to see her, as well as my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

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California

Day 8: Sightseeing

My husband and I went to the San Diego Zoo, then watched the sunset at the beach. 10/10, would recommend!

Day 9: Family Time + Thanksgiving 2.0

We spent the morning with my grandma, then had a second Thanksgiving dinner with the California branch of the family. This was the first time my husband got to meet this side of the family.

I had brought my sourdough starter to make bread for the family, and expose it to some different yeasts/conditions, and this is the day I made sourdough bread (for the record, I don’t think my sourdough bread tastes any different now that I’m home).

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Day 10: Travel

Back to Phoenix for one last day with my family.

California

Arizona

Day 11: Family Time + Packing

Getting ready to leave is always bittersweet.

Day 12: Travel

No matter where you’ve been or who you’ve been with, there’s something satisfying about heading home.

Arizona

New Mexico

Texas

Oklahoma (it was dark and we were tired)

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Day 13: Travel

Home again, home again, jiggedy jog.

Oklahoma

Arkansas

Tennessee

Mississippi

Alabama

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Georgia

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South Carolina

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This was the best Thanksgiving I can remember. Thanksgiving is a hard time of year for my family, and it was so good to make some truly spectacular memories of this holiday. I am so glad we went, and very thankful to my husband for driving us 5,000 miles/60 hours across the country (I tried to drive, but he wouldn’t let me).

2019 Roadtrip

Summer Travels

What a summer it has been! I have so much to tell you, so I’ll start with the biggest thing: I went to Manila! I work with a company that has offices in several places in the world, and most of my department happens to be in Manila in the Philippines. Over the last year and a half that I’ve worked in this department I’ve been emailing, messaging, and calling my team, but there is nothing quite like meeting someone in person. I feel so lucky to have been able to travel for work. I never thought I would be a jet-setting world traveler, but I suppose I’ve had a taste of that now.

My trip was 2 weeks long in the beginning of June. I packed 2 knitting projects and some spinning for good measure, but I barely touched my projects at all while I was away. Let’s dive right in with all the pictures!

The flight from the US to Manila is no joke. I had 3 flights, the longest of which was 14 hours. The total travel time including layovers was about 24 hours, so by the time I landed I was beyond exhausted. But my day wasn’t over yet. I knew if I went to sleep immediately my internal clock would be messed up all week, so I pulled myself together and went into the office long enough to say hi to everyone.

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The next few days were a blur of work and meeting new people. I ate a lot of good food every single day. If you are ever hungry in Manila, that is totally your fault because the food there is awesome!! Or as they say in Tagalog, “Masarap!”

The Philippines is on the other side of the world from the US, so our night is their day. In order to work smoothly with the US offices, the Manila office is most active at night. Working night shift long term would be a big change, but it was quite convenient not to have to change my day to day schedule. Over the weekend we had a team building activity planned during the day, so we had to switch over to day shift. This was difficult, to say the least, but it enabled me to go out and see a little of Manila.

We went all over: The Manila Hotel where the President of the Philippines holds special events, the oldest church in Manila, the National musums… And friends, I found YARN!

We got food (of course), and rode a Calesa, which is a kind of horse-drawn buggy.

The next day was our team building. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Pro tip: Filipinos love Karaoke, so if you’re traveling over there brush up on your singing!

The next day (Monday, if you’re keeping track) was time to transition back to night shift. But, this was my best option to go shopping while I was in Manila. A few of my friends took me to the mall to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I tried something called Kwek-kwek, which is hard-boiled quail eggs that are then battered and fried. Delicious, and very fatty.

The 2nd week was similar to the first, and before I knew it the time had come to leave for the airport. But wait, the team couldn’t let me live without a party!

I had such a wonderful time getting to meet my team and form personal friendships with them. I can’t wait to go back and see my friends again!