Monday, June 29, 2015

What Will I Do?

So. After having babies and babies and babies and babies, this autumn my last baby will start full time school.

I cannot fucking believe it.

After two weeks of taster sessions and half days and soft starts and all such nonsense, on September 21, 2015, I will drop all four of my children off at various schools and be completely alone from 0900-1515.

That's like six hours.

What the hell am I going to do all day?

If Megan hadn't left, I'd just either lay on her couch or follow her to costa and we'd read or watch tv or go shopping. But she did leave, and I'm alone with no job, no hobbies, and few friends.  So what do I do with my newfound and hard-fought freedom?

Maybe I'll be like those people on Biggest Loser who work out for six hours a day? I could lose the extra thirty (thirty? really? yes, really) pounds I've been wanting to lose since I had Warren? Probably not. Working out is really hard.

Maybe I'll clean the house all day? Stay on top of the laundry? Yeah, probably not gonna do that.  That doesn't sound like me AT ALL.

I like to cook, maybe I can cook all day? Like gourmet Julia Child type meals?  That could get boring, but it might be fun?  Sounds a little expensive.
I do know that's not Julia Child

I really like to read, and the library has free books, maybe I'll read all day? That sounds more my speed.

And I really REALLY like to watch tv, maybe I'll just lay on the couch all day and watch tv? Is there really that much tv out there worth watching? I'm thinking no. But hey, I'll just bookmark this for later...although I've already watched most of these...ugh...

 Google to the rescue!! I haven't seen most of these.  Good ole google, she never lets me down.

I'm sort of out of friends to make quilts for, and making them for myself will get pretty expensive...

So, what then? What do I do all day? I'm not being a smart ass or looking for another meme (although I do love a good meme) I'm looking for suggestions.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What I'm Into (June 2015)

Reading: Still getting too many books from the library at a time.  I've recently finished The Farm, Golden Son, the entire Never Sky trilogy, No Mark Upon Her, and The Shining Girls, which was TO DIE FOR.  Alls that's left in my library basket today is Second Life, which I'm about halfway thru (so far MEH), The Bear, and Big Little Lies, although in England it's just called Little Lies.  Isn't that weird?

Our library still doesn't have any copies (NONE!!!) of Finder's Keepers or Invasion of the Tearling.  Angry red face. For my next haul, I've tracked down The Ice Twins, Sound of Broken Glass (the next one after No Mark Upon Her, which I thoroughly enjoyed), The Good Girl (because Robin) and Case Histories, which someone recommended but I can't remember who, and as soon as I realized it was the same Kate Atkinson who wrote Life After Life (aka best book I've ever read) I was in.  SOLD!!!
I love reading.  Sometimes I worry that one day I'll wake up and it just won't be as magical, but honestly, we're going on what, twenty five years of reading real books now? And opening a book today is just as magical as it was when I was seven.  PRAISE THE LORD AND KNOCK ON WOOD.

Looking Forward To: Going to see Idina Menzel tomorrow!!! I'm gonna die.  Sort of a bummer that Megan isn't going with me (since she went with me to see Kristin Chenoweth, it just seems fitting that she should go see Elphaba...) but I suppose Nick is a good runner up for best date ;)

Going camping again over the 4th of July weekend.  I'm not looking forward to the camping part because duh, but I like the whole sitting around reading and knitting while the kids play, having a fire, eating smores, drinking Rekorderlig, and as a bonus, we're going to be Well.  I thought we were going somewhere cool on the Jurassic Coast with a beach, but apparently not, it's just another campground.  Notsomuch looking forward to this anymore.  Dammit.
Not how I feel about camping.  If Nick is reading...

Watching: Oh man, all the watching. I went to see Man Up (HIGHLY RECOMMEND)  and Pitch Perfect (meh) before Megan left, then I went to see Mad Max (PHENOMINAL- seriously, one of the best movies I've ever seen) and Jurassic World, which I also loved.  It was the perfect amount of cheesey campy fun and catch my breath excitement and get a little choked up nostalgia from the original.  Chris Pratt was absolute and complete perfection and the little boy brother kid was pretty rad too.
hashtag prattkeeping.  aka my latest way to waste three hours. 
(Don't pity me for going to the movies alone.  I love it.  Seriously.  And I REALLY love going to the movies all the time.)

I was super excited to rent Jupiter Ascending a few weeks ago, despite all the AWFUL reviews.  Why did I think it would be good?!?! I don't know.  But it was seriously one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  Like, SERIOUSLY.  It was THAT bad.

I finished up Game of Thrones and thought it sucked.  I was hoping the finale would be KNOCK MY SOCKS OFF AMAZING and then I'd just be bummed that the rest of the season was a waste of time, but the finale wasn't even that good.  What's going on? I will say that the scene where Marcella says she knows Jamie is her dad and that she loves him and then SPOILERS broke my heart.  BROKE MY HEART!!! I was so happy!!! Then so sad!!! That obviously wasn't in the books, but I thought it was a fabulous edition.

My Outlander obsession fizzled out a little for me, I've still got the final two episodes waiting in the queue. Oops.  Nick and I are still itching to start up an episode of Breaking Bad every night- that show is honestly one of the best shows I've ever seen.  I always say that after it ends, Walking Dead will go down as the best show ever created, but I dunno, Breaking Bad is pretty amazing.  Poor Jesse!!! Poor Hank!!! Poor Marie!!! And why is she obsessed with purple?!?! Don't tell me.  We're about halfway thru season four.  I hate for it to end, so I want to stretch it out, but at the same time we can't stretch it out because MUST WATCH BREAKING BAD ALL THE TIME.
Still makes me lol
Still obsessed with Supernatural, but during my sewing time lately I've been watching Orange is the New Black, which is great, as always.  Suzanne!!! The Time Hump Chronicles!! Boo!!! The meth heads!! Tastee!!! This season is just as great as the first two, it's just perfect.  LOVE.

I'm halfway thru The Affair and loving that too.  I didn't realize we were dealing with an unreliable narrator situation, and now that I know, I can't decide who I believe.  I want to believe Allison because I feel like Noah is more than a little gross, but she was Alice in Luther and I just can't trust her.  I need to watch the next one because I'm dying to know what murder they're talking about in the flash forward thingies.  DON'T TELL ME!! And how far in the future are these interviews? DON'T TELL ME ANYTHING!!!

Listening To: Well, as expected, I don't like the new Mumford&Sons album.  Actually, I don't even 'not like' it. I'm almost completely indifferent to it.  It's all right, I guess, it's just not them.  However, the new Monsters and Men album? Thumbs up emoji.  And that one where it's making the okay sign with the thumb and pointer finger.  That's my favorite emoji.  The new Monsters and Men sounds EXACTLY like them, only better.  Which I wouldn't have thought possible.
Those drums!!!

In other listening news, I should probably be ashamed of the fact that I listen to Supernatural inspired playlists all day.  As in Kansas and Journey and Boston and REO Speedwagon.  Although Dean makes fun of that REO Speedwagon song, but whatevs.  I heart them.  Regardless, I'm not ashamed.  My kids are sort of embarrassed though.

Phew.  As always, these posts make me feel like I watch too much tv.  I just love tv!!! And in the WEIRDEST chain of events, knitting has connected me with random nerdy weirdos and now I'm dying to watch Firefly, which I've barely even heard of but all the geeky hipster knitters on IG seem to love.  So that's not very helpful.  Or it's extremely helpful.  I guess it's how you look at it?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer, as always, for What I'm Into this month.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Proper Footwear

"Always wear proper footwear."

My dad was full of weird gems.  Pearls of wisdom. Read Vonnegut.  Read anything.  Read everything.  Don't drink. Be able to drive a standard. Don't be an asshole.  Get good grades. Don't marry an asshole. Don't let your kids be assholes. Watch Jeopardy every day.  Read the National Geographic, cover to cover, every month.

But I feel like the most important lesson my father ever taught me was this- wear proper footwear.  Always.

It's not like I wear heels. I'm not Carrie, addicted to four hundred dollar shoes. But when I went on my honeymoon to London (thirteen years ago...) I wore a new pair of boots.  They weren't stilettos or anything, but they had a good solid two inch heel and they were NEW (aka NOT BROKEN IN) and they were cheap. I was miserable.  Cold and homesick and miserable with ACHING feet.

It basically ruined my honeymoon and left a bad taste (that has since been COMPLETELY erased) of London in my mouth. I wanted to be (sort of) cute, so I wore those stupid shoes instead of my trusty Merrell's.  Idiot.

I've never EVER made that mistake again.

My dad has been saying 'wear proper footwear' for as long as I can remember.  Literally.  Driving thru Sicily as a five year old? On the off chance that we'd get out to walk around, I'd better wear proper footwear.  Headed to the river in California for an afternoon as a ten year old? Better wear proper footwear for the hike.  Walking around the neighborhood in the hundred plus heat with hundred plus humidity, dressed all in black because I was too cool as a fifteen year old? Wear proper footwear.

I could go on and on.

What did he mean? Was he trying to teach me some valuable life lesson?

Probably not.  He probably truly wanted me to...wear proper footwear.  To protect my feet. So that I wouldn't bitch for days and days about how much my feet hurt.

But sometimes, when I'm feeling melodramatic and emotional, I like to think he was trying to prepare me for life.  Wear proper footwear.  Be prepared.  Be practical.  Plan ahead. Oh, that's another one of his faves: people don't plan to fail, people fail to plan.  Like when I failed to plan to wear proper footwear on my fucking honeymoon.

This was taken after we hiked up the tallest waterfall in Europe, fifth tallest in the entire world.  You can't see it, but I'm wearing a not-very-stylish pair of basically orthotics Clarks. They cost a fortune (for me) and they're ugly, but they're sturdy.  And my feet don't hurt at all.

So thanks Dad.

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with prompt 3.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Things I've Made

So, since I don't seem to cook anymore (like EVER) I decided to swap out my cooking page with a collection of all the crap I've created over the past year or so.  Looking at it all laid out, one after the other...I'm actually quite proud.  There's just something about making something with my hands, I don't know.  I'm certainly not saying it's ground breaking, most of it isn't even well made enough to give to anyone except close friends.  But still, I made these things.  How weird is that?!?!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Reports: All the Light We Cannot See and Code Name Verity

What can I even say about either one of these books that hasn't already been said, and said a thousand times better than I ever could? They're both five star winners, both Drop Everything And Read, both deal breakers in that if you didn't like them, we can't really be friends.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anothony Doerr just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, which doesn't mean anything to me because I read it before it won and it's probably the ONLY book that's ever won that I've actually read... but anyway.  Here's what I said as soon as I finished it, and it all still holds true: Five stars. Absolutely one of the very best books I've ever read. I can definitely see why it made all the Best Of lists for 2014, and it totally lived up to the hype. That being said, it's a WWII book. It's brutal and heartbreaking and soul crushing. And filled with hope and poignant and breathtakingly beautiful. Go read it. Now.

Then we've got Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. When I tried to review it, I came up with this bit of literary brilliance: Too raw to write a review. Brutal and heart wrenching in the most beautiful way. This book will stay with me forever.

Very helpful, Past Jenn. I'll be honest, I wasn't overly excited about Verity bc it was in the 'teenager' section of the library, but I shoulda known better.  My friend Robin recommended I read it, and the girl has seriously NEVER steered me wrong.  Hello, she's the one who told me to pick up Game of Thrones.

So they're both AMAZING, and they're both MUST READS and they're both about WWII...but they're two VERY different books.

From the back of the book: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

For me, the horror of this book (and really, the entire War) is how easy it must have been to convince people to commit unspeakable atrocities.  I mean, Werner is just a regular kid.  Smarter than most, but still just a kid, an orphan.  He's easy to snare: if he doesn't join the Nazis, he's gonna starve.  And so is his sister.

Once he gets to school, it's sort of life or death: if he doesn't join in with the crowd, they'll beat him until he's a vegetable.  And then, presumably, his sister will starve.

This book is more about the individual characters, though, than the actual horrors of the War.  For me, the most horrifying part was near the end (sorta spoilerish) when the Russians showed up and the sister was with the lady who ran the orphanage and she tells the girls how to prepare to be brutally raped.

I feel like I'm not doing a good job of convincing anyone to read this book, but I don't know what else to say.  It's gorgeous.  It's uplifting as much as it's brutal and (I hate to keep using this word, but I can't think of anything else for it) HORRIFYING.

From the back of the book: Oct. 11th, 1943- A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

Let me start by saying that that's NOT what the book is about.  Well it is, and it isn't.  Basically, it's about the horrors of war. At first, I didn't really LOVE the way it was being told- you're reading the confession she's writing for the Nazis. But after the first few bumps (for me, as a reader, maybe not for you?) I literally couldn't put it down.  LITERALLY.

I read the ending chapters in the park and I was straight up sobbing.  SOBBING.

But it's not just a make you cry mess, it's also a make you think masterpiece.  For example, take a look at this tiny (spoiler free!!) passage:

Let me spell it out in case you're not getting the gravity of the situation: Being a kid and worrying that a bomb (in the Blitz) might kill you is terrible. But being a kid (in France) and worrying that the police might cut your head off is something else entirely.  I haven't words for it. Every fresh broken horror here is something I just DIDN'T UNDERSTAND until I came here.

Let that sink it.  It was awful in England because of the Blitz, it was horrifying.  But that's sort of all I ever knew about.  And apparently, all she ever really thought about.

But in France, school girls were worried that their friends might be found out as spies, carted across the street to the hotel that's now a Nazi jail, tied to a guillotine, and have their heads cut off.

That's what war was.  Is.  That's what war is.

And while this book might have been slightly easier to read, slightly more 'shallow' that All the Light...for me, it was almost better.  It made me think more.  And while I'll most likely  not pick up All the Light again (is that awful?) I can see reading Code Name Verity over and over again as the years go by.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finish It Up Friday

No quilts.  Frowny face.  Well actually I did finish one up last week, but I didn't take any pics.  What's up with that?!?! When do I not take fourteen hundred pics of the same thing?!?!


Anyway, onward.  I've been a bag making fiend lately, but knitting has fit perfectly into my watching-tv-after-the-kids-go-to-bed time, just like I was hoping it would.  I hate to go upstairs to sew instead of hanging out with Nick, but I also hate to just stare at the tv mindlessly, so knitting it is!! Angela, have I thanked you lately for getting me started on this?


I finished up my very first pair of socks!! And they (mostly) work!!!

The bigger one, I cast on 72 stitches because the directions said something along the lines of '64 for an average woman's foot, 72 for a man' so I figured an average woman doesn't wear a nine and a half...but then when it came to the heel I think I just made some shit up and ran with it.  Honestly, no idea what I did, but whatever it was, it wasn't right, and it didn't work.  So that made it even BIGGER.  Then when I cast on the second one, I figured I'd go 64, which is pretty snug going over my cankles, but better than the 72, and I followed her directions (novel idea, I know) for the heel and voila, a pair of socks. I don't know why the big one is so much taller.  Sigh.

But regardless, I'm so proud I could just cry.  Fine, I did cry. Anyway, that pair is made in this (extremely affordable for the new knitter!!!) Lion brand sock-ease yarn in Rock Candy.  Whoa, it was way cheaper when I got it.  Maybe look for sales? I used this super simple (FREE!!) pattern from my favorite (of like three...) knit blogger podcaster dyer everything else- Voolenvine. Trust me, she's rad. A little too into her cat though. I can't wait till I know what I'm doing enough to justify buying yarn from her.  First on my wish list is something in her gorgeous, TO DIE FOR Octopus Garden colorway.

Then I immediately cast on another pair of socks.  Okay, fine, I cast on a second pair waaaaaaay before I finished the first.  Whatever.  I used this super cheap yarn (random find on Amazon UK) and this super simple pattern (Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner) because I wanted to try this infinitely more complex Fish Lips Kiss Heel before I cast on a pair in this fancy, expensive yarn I got downtown.  And guess what, bitches?

I did the heel!!!
I don't know enough terminology to explain it, but the pattern was SIXTEEN PAGES!!! Only like three of them are the actual heel, and while it was difficult to figure out, the heel itself was SO EASY and amazing.  I loved doing it, and I think it's safe to say it'll be my go to heel.  I mean, I've knit three heels in my life so far, and this was my fave, so there you go.  God I'm an ass.  There's no weird slipping stitches and picking up stitches and making huge gaps and all that, so it's sweet.  Plus, Voolenvine says it's HER go-to heel, and if Voolenvine jumped off a cliff, I'd probably jump too.

I will say that the videos the pattern designer made weren't my fave, I prefered this one.  But what this second girl does next, after making her twin stitches, doesn't match up to the FLK heel pattern at all, she goes into making triple stitches and weird stuff, so only use her to learn the actual twin stitch, then get back in the pattern pdf.

And also, that badass Castiel stitch marker was a custom order from the One Geek to Craft Them All shop.  Fab customer service, quick turnaround, no fuss shipping to my APO.  Win win win.

And then for the big one, I finished all ten zipper pouches for my teacher gifts.
Why do my four kids have ten teachers? I have no idea. I don't listen to them very often.

I'd never done these before and even after ten (okay, more like twenty, I needed a LOT of practice) I still wouldn't say that I feel at all comfortable with zippers.  I'd never try to sell these for actual money (they're VERY rough, more home made than hand made, if you know what I mean) but I think for teacher gifts, they're perfect. Not that teachers deserve crappy gifts!! That's not what I meant.  But they're home made, with love, and I think it shows.  Am I full of it? Probably. But I think at least Daisy's teachers will love them.

I used quite a few different tutorials, but I started with this one and worked from there.  This one and this one go into the zipper problem I'm having, and they're each helpful, but I'm still not satisfied with my zippers, so I don't know where to go next.  Suggestions?

They're all quilt as you go with various scraps from quilts I've made in the past, and I ordered a massive amount of zippers from the zipit shop because all the cool kids seem to order from her, plus her prices were about a quarter of what zippers cost at the (sad and sort of pathetic) British version of a hobby store, even when you add in shipping costs.  Which she combined for me, btw. The "batting' for the QAYG is my standard flannel sheet, and for linings I just just whatever I could find that would fit.  They all started at about 9x5, I didn't really measure very often.

I love them.

Then, because I'm nothing if not consistently tacky, I made sure to sew my labels into every last one of them. It's like when a dog pees on everything to mark his territory, I just can't NOT stick my tags on stuff!! I bet if I did the math, the labels would come out as the most expensive part of this little project. I get my labels here but I'm about out and I might try another shop because I'm a little sad that these seem to fade in the wash.  Frowny face for sure because she's so sweet in all her interactions with me.

And also, on a whim at said craft store one day when I was wandering around aimlessly, texting nonsense to Angela, I grabbed a few baggies of supplies to try my hand at making zipper pulls.  Nick even soldered the jump rings for me, so techinally they're snag free and I can use them as stitch markers slash progress keepers!!!
Now I just need a huge bag of random charms and beads.  Suggestions? I'd love a banana to make a Nine marker.  Don't drop the banana!! Why?!?! Good source of potassium!

And that's it for now.  Hopefully for my next finish it up Friday, I'll have a complete pair of Rose City Rollers, plus my fancy yarn pair, the tee shirt quilt I'm working on, a few project bags I'm planning, and maybe the beginnings of a new quilt.  Anyone need a quilt? Winky face.

Linking up with Sew Can She's Show Off Saturday and Flamingo Toes Show and Tell.