Monday, January 31, 2011

Saying and Doing

A few months back I was trying to enter a business arrangement with a small company where a friend worked. I thought things were going really well, but in the end, they fell apart. The owner of the company did some very strange things, including telling me after our first meeting that I was no longer permitted to speak to her directly and needed to carry things out through her assistant. She also strung me along, promising a presentation, assuring me that she was interested, etc. only to have a receptionist call me at the last minute and cancel the presentation for the employees and ask that I never set foot in their place of business again. I called another friend who had been approached by this same woman for web design and she assured me that she was treated in the same way. In fact, it seems that a lot of people have been treated badly by this woman - she had a tendency to approach people for things and when she couldn't aquire them for free, or if it might cause the IRS to question her business practices (which I assure you, were questionable) she would quickly turn into a nasty bitch.

Later, I saw on Facebook, a comment about this woman on the profile of the friend who worked there. This was the comment: "Ohhhhhh! You work for So-and-So?! She's wonderful and she looooooooves Jesus!"

So she loooooooooves Jesus, eh?

Give me a break.

A lot of people can say that. And maybe she does looooooooove Jesus. But loving Jesus and then treating people like they're vermin pretty much cancels out the 'loving' part.

I thought we were supposed to follow two great commandments? You know, I believe Jesus DID say the greatest commandment was "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength" but then he added something. He said "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Go ahead. Love God all you want. But if you can't treat other human beings with the same love you've been shown - or if you're doing something that you know is wrong and in turn, it causes you to treat others poorly? - what good is loving God?

You know what the number one thing I heard that the world hates about 'Christians'? It isn't that we believe in unreasonable hocus-pocus, or that we turned a philosopher into a god - it's the attitude of self-righteous arrogance and hypocrisy that 'Christians' walk around with. It's pride. It's bigotry toward those who can't see the truth in the same way that they do.

Believers, we were not given an option on who to love. We don't get to choose to 'love' the people around us that we hold most dear. The people we were commanded to show love to are those that hate us, those who are our enemies, those who are not worthy of loving.

Don't walk around claiming to love Jesus if you haven't even figured out how to be nice to the poor girl at the cash register, or the harrassed server at the restaurant.

And for God's sake, take that damn Jesus fish off of your car.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1st To Die

As I mentioned yesterday, I have recently discovered the absolute joy of If you follow this link, you can get 2 free book credits to try them out. If you have an Amazon account, this is easy and pain free!

The first book I downloaded was James Patterson's '1st To Die', which is the first book in his series called 'Women's Murder Club'. The reviews were definitely mixed, and no matter what, you'll always come across someone who has to be an absolute jerk about the book. After all, chronic complainers have to make a living somehow.

Complaints that I wouldn't have if I had read this book instead of listened to it: The narrator was a bit......dry. And her vocalisations of the four different women were kind of annoying. And the main character's name is Lindsey.... so everytime the narrator said it in an overly-emphasized way, I jumped, thinking that my mother was yelling at me. (I don't even live with my mother!)

By and large, I love a good mystery. This was a good mystery. It wasn't gory or grisly in any way, which I appreciate. I already have trouble sleeping. The last thing I need is a horrific murder description bouncing around in my head at all hours of the night. The adjectives and adverbs in the writing were helpful, rather than exhausting. Nothing gets on my last nerve quicker than too many adjectives and a poor editor who doesn't realize it.

The four women, Lindsay, Claire, Cindy and Jill, are all different pieces of a whole. Lindsay is the tough-as-nails homicide investigator. Claire is the soft, gentle, level-headed medical examiner. Cindy is the upbeat, perky reporter. Jill is the no-nonsense, pragmatic district attorney. this is pretty much the exact character lineup for CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, etc. Jerry Bruckheimer and James Patterson must have the same brainwave pattern.

The plot opens with a suicide attempt, and closes with an accidental death that is so disappointing that I basically yelled "REALLY??" across the living room. (I hate it when there is unnecessary trauma/drama.) The suicide attempt really threw me, because Patterson really never went back to it or resolved it. There was a breif mention of it toward the end, but nothing to justify why it was the opening to the series at all. In between these two events is a serial that involves 3 newlywed couples getting married and murdered within hours of their vows, the narrator of the stor, Lindsay Boxer, is diagnosed with a blood disease - but keeps working at her normal pace and doesn't tell anyone that she's probably dying, a romance between partners, and 4 women who get together to discuss the murders over margaritas. The plot meanders along with just enough intrigue to keep me interested, and enough foreshadowing to put my own mental wheels in motion. I had figured it all out before the end, but I actually like that! I like the mystery novels where I can think about it while reading/listening to it and 'solve the case' mentally with the detectives. (I grew up reading almost nothing but Nancy Drew mysteries.) There was one twist to the ending that made me cringe and wonder why it was there, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the story as a whole. I think sometimes that authors overdo it with the 'intrigue'. They just want to get that 'one more little twist' into the plot. And for me, that 'one more little twist' really did nothing for me. I rolled my eyes and thought 'so X WAS behind it all along...'.

I haven't decided if I will divulge in the second book in the series yet. It has much worse reviews that the first, and I'm not completely convinced that I really like Patterson's writing style yet. It certainly isn't the worst I've ever read - I reserve that honor for Christian historical romance authors. (Gag, barf.)

Final Grade? I give it a B-. It's worth listening to, but not a good start to a whole series. Like I said, still thinking about whether I'll go into the second one or not. In the meantime, I downloaded Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and I can't wait to get it started.

Statistically Speaking

My favorite part about this blog is the 'Stats' tab. I think it's so cool to be able to see where my nonsense is being read from. Okay, yes, sometimes it makes me a little nervous to see that 40 people on the other side of the world are reading a certain posting because it makes me wonder what I said it that posting that's so damn interesting, but by and large, I love to see the different countries of the world light up in mint green to show me that there is one or two souls in France, Nepal, Australia, China and Brazil that thought something I put up was worth looking at for a few minutes. :)

Alex and I have been talking about where we would move to if things here in the US were to get really bad. We don't anticipate it anytime soon, but you know how conversations just kind of rise up while you're riding in the car or just before you turn off the lights? That was how this conversation started.

We decided the place we might like to live best would be New Zealand. His company has a large client there where he would likely be able to get a job fairly quickly. And the climate is excellent for mini-farming, which would put me in heaven. Our second choice would be Germany, which is where Alex was born. Again, because of the possibility of him getting a job with one of the 3 companies that his company provides research for. Not my favorite choice though, unless we were to live more south in that country. I'd like to be in a place where winters are a little more mild than they are here.

So if you are in New Zealand, or Germany, or somewhere that isn't the US, Hello! I know I don't usually say anything great, profound, enlightening or otherwise important, but knowing that you're out there does make my day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Missed the Centennial Posting


Yesterday I posted my 100th blog posting without realizing it! Kind of makes me wish I had said something important rather than a breif bit of prose about what rolls around in my head on nights of insomnia. Last night I slept well though.

We put a lot of importance on the number 100. 100 years is a long time, 100 objects is a lot, 100 of anything can become overwhelming. 100 rejected job applications....well, let's not worry about that right now. I'm pretty impressed that I've made it to 100 postings. I've started 5 different blogs in the past 2 years, but this is the one that I've been keeping up with. Little pat on the back for me, as I have never been very good about keeping up with the things I've started.

I would be overjoyed with 100 sales in my Etsy shop and I believe I am well on my way there. Last night I reached 42 sales, and I am still playing catch up for the upcoming bazaar and promotions. I'm a little sad that there has been almost ZERO interest in my Superbowl Sale, but I also understand that it's only been a few days and that not everything works as quickly as I would like it to.

I have discovered the joys of audio books! They are wonderful for the crocheter/knitter because they do not require you to pay attention to a picture on a screen when you are trying to count stitches! All this week I have been listening to James Patterson's 'Women's Murder Club - 1st To Die'. It had very mixed reviews, but those are the kinds of books that I enjoy - murder mysteries, crime dramas, suspense thrillers, etc. - and I have really enjoyed it. Except for the narrator. She's a little bland. I still have one free credit left on that I want to use wisely, so I've been scouring the bestseller lists for the best title available. Then perhaps I will head to the library for some more.

These weeks have been beautiful. I feel great promise for us this new year. January is already nearly over, and though I am tired of the snow and the blizzard conditions, I will be sorry to wave goodbye. But February, though usually the least favorite time of year for me, has the same amount of promise this year. Bring it on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I love to read poetry, it's

One more nail in the coffin that makes me

Too free-spirited to be of any real use to the

General population of hard-working, logical


Sometimes I lie in bed and

All these verses tumble around in my mind

Not sure which way is up or


And so I get up and make a pot of

Tea thinking that it will help soothe the

Savage beast and  lull my racing thoughts

Enough to rest and refresh but it doesn't always


I love to read poetry and to wrap my tongue

Around words of prose and verses sweet but

I don't think poetry is what keeps me up at


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Discussion

L. Peek Designs now has a Facebook fan page! Look me up and 'like' me!

And if you do, please add your thoughts to the discussion board!

The topic is what you would like to see in the Etsy shop this spring.

Baby Uggs?

Baby Vans?

Baby Ballet Slippers?

Baby Blahniks?

I would LOVE to read your thoughts on the matter. :)

And while I'm shamelessly promoting myself, here's another look at what's in the shop right now!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Producing Produce UnProductively

I have just returned from the grocery store, and I am quite irritated. The irritation is not at this particular grocery store, but more because I have had the same problem for exactly 3 weeks in a row.

Bad Produce.

When Alex and I went to the market last week, I needed potatoes. We eat a lot of potatoes because Alex doesn't really like many veggies, and so potatoes become a versatile side dish, or easy dinner that I can whip up quickly. The whole stand full of potatoes was rotten. Moldy, cracked, blackened, rotten potatoes. I was quite upset, and quickly decided that needing potatoes could wait until I went to another grocery store. Potatoes were not the only rotten veggies though. Pomegranates looked bruised, discolored and sickly. Bananas were spotted and squishy or far too green to really justify being there. Onions were turning black with mildew along the edges of the skin. I was disappointed and Alex pointed out that perhaps it was simply because we were at the more 'discount' of our local grocery chains.

Today at a completely different grocery store, and, sad to say, a much more upscale grocery store than the one we had frequented previously, I came across the exact same problem. In fact, I brought home two small bags of onions that were one sale (2 bags for $3) and out of 11 onions, 5 of them are unedible, growing mildew and mold, bruised, blackening and oozing mush. I did the best I could to examine them before sticking them in the cart, but I still ended up with rotten stuff.

What am I complaining about? A lot. But mostly I am once again pointing out that grocery store imported, out of season produce is unreliable and a waste of money. I can't wait for the snow to start melting so that I can plant potatoes, onions and cabbages and then preserve them, dry them or freeze them as necessary to avoid having to purchase inferior produce.

Frequent your farmers' market, buy local produce and grow what you can, if you can!

Special Sale

Last night, after a day with friends watching the Green Bay Packers beat Alex's beloved Chicago Bears, it occurred to me that I have been making Baby Chucks in NFL team colors for quite some time, and I should run a sale on them from now until the day after the Superbowl. And so that is what I am doing.

So if you are interested in some super cool team colored duds for your little one, come find my facebook fan page (L.Peek Designs - in the search bar. It will take you right to me.), 'Like' me, leave a comment on the current status, and receive in return, a coupon code that is good for 10% off Baby Chucks in Packers or Steelers colors!

Good through February 7th! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Proper Cup of Tea

Last night during a quick trip to the mall (to pay a credit card bill at Penney's), I was overjoyed to discover that our little mall here in Waky Town is getting a TEAVANA!

Teavana was brought to my attention 3 or 4 years ago during a trip to the Watertower Mall in Chicago. I loved it - I could smell the tea from 50 feet away. We went in, I ooh'ed and aah'ed over all the beautiful tea pots and cups and accessories. I breathed deeply of the herbal blends. I enjoyed several samples of teas I had never heard of. I was in heaven.

And we're getting one!

There are reasons for my love of tea, but they really come down to two very specific ones. International travel and gardening. You know that I am not one of those 'the world is SO much better than America!' types of people. (Quite the contrary, as I was in Zimbabwe during the black coups in 2000 and right now the people of that country are starving to death. I have seen countries fall apart personally.) But Americans, by and large, do not appreciate a proper cup of tea like the older regions of the world. During my international travels, one thing I came to count on was the presence of the tea houses along the road, where I could enter, recieve a hospitable smile and a hot cup of tea and meet new people.

When I started my garden, I started with herbs. Chamomile, lavender, tansy and mints - all vital ingredients for herbal tea blends! I love my teas.

Yes, I applied for work at Teavana! I might hate the mall, but I think this would be right up my alley! I applied to be a barista, although I could wind up just being a team member, being that my work experience is all in retail sales. (Why is it that the only work experience I have is the one thing I hate to do more than anything else in the world??)

I can't wait to find out when they open. I can't wait to get a call for an interview. Even if I only work two or three days per week, and continue to teach music lessons and work my Etsy shop, it will be a welcome adventure for my life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nothing to Say

With all the stuff going on in the world right now I am really blessed to be able to say that Alex and I have relatively nothing going on in our lives. It sucks to still be unemployed, but I am managing. I'm a little stir-crazy, but part of that is simply because it's January and I've only left my house once since Sunday. I'm actually getting bored with knitting baby Chucks and I started drawing out some new patterns to work out.

I do have opinions on the current events of the day, but let's face it. For every word I say about the political landscape or foreign affairs, there are 100 other blogs saying the same things and 500 blogs saying the exact opposite. Why would I even want to lump myself into all that? I consider it a blessing that we get to live day to day in our house, drive our cars, and I get to cook what I want for myself and Alex, with relatively NO interference from anyone.

Alex and I talk a lot about where we would move to if we ever decided we wanted to get out of Dodge. Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Virginia usually top the list. His reasoning usually revolves around the companies that he could transfer into with ease. My reasoning always revolves around what grows there and what kind of property we would have.

Last thing - Has anyone ever tried it and found it to be worth the subscription price? I've watched every possible History channel special on both History channels, and I'm running out of OnDemand shows to waste my time with. I refuse to watch MTV's atrocities against humanity. I have 2 books that were downloaded from a friend's computer - "Going Rogue" and "Arguing with Idiots" (Don't judge me. I'm allowed to listen to anything I want, and right now, I feel like listening to Palin and Beck.) and they do provide a welcome change from the television, which I tend not to actually watch, but listen to anyway.

And that being said, does anyone have any good adult fiction that they could recommend? (Please, please, for the love of God, if you say the Twilight saga, I will shut my blog down. I DID read it. I do NOT like it. I prefer GOOD writing as opposed to poor writing aimed at tweens.) I really love mysteries, always have, and sci-fi/fantasy. I also enjoy a good drama if it has adults who are dealing with 'real' problems, not 'who's going to take me to the prom and will they survive my teenage angst?'

Please, if you haven't already, type L.Peek Designs into the Facebook search and find my brand new fan page for the Etsy shop and 'like' me! I hope to update it every day with new listings, new products, promotions, coupons, sale information, giveaways and upcoming shows and bazaars! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Whew, it was a really busy week!

As I may have mentioned a few dozen times on Facebook last week, I actually sold out my Etsy shop between Monday and Thursday last week. Now that isn't saying that I made myself independently wealthy, but it was a huge step in the right direction for me, and now I am desperately trying to restock my shelves with new colors and new design ideas. I also started wearing a compression glove on my left hand because I quite literally worked my fingers to the bone. Last week I had a total of 11 sales, bring the grand total of my shop to 27 total sales since I opened it. It isn't 'quit your day job' income, but you know what? I don't even have a day job, so I'll take what I can get!

I am still looking for a new job, but I'm enjoying the ability to watch my sales increase every day. I have been thinking about applying at the new Tractor Supply Company near the US 20 bypass on the south side of town. I have always worked decently well in a retail environment, and that kind of store is less likely to have bitchy rich women frequenting the aisles like some of the other retail places I've worked at in the past. It isn't perfect, but it will be a little income in a time that Alex and I really need it. Or at least until the music store figures out when exactly they can start training me for this job that they 'hired' me for. God bless corporations, because right now, I feel like cursing them.

So these are my four newest additions to the shop. I'm trying to introduce some new designs and different pieces to the mix, but honestly, these little shoes are SELLING, so I keep making more! Why mess with a perfect system? Well, maybe not perfect, but definitely working for now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In Need Of Refreshing

I got an unwelcome shock this morning when I got a message from the bank saying that our mortgage payment is increasing by just under $100. You can imagine my panic! I'm still not working, although the Woodwind and Brasswind DID offer me employment a month ago. They just haven't been given the greenlight to start the next training course for their catalog telephone reps. from their corporate offices in Oregon yet. I don't know when I will be actually receiving a paycheck. I also lost 2 piano students this month - down to 8 - and had to request 6 more months of forebearance on my student loans. Yikes! 2011 is starting out with a lot of demands!

But I've had 19 sales total on my webshop, and a lot of interest and questions and people offering promotions, and that makes me feel very hopeful that my handmade business may actually turn into something worthwhile someday.

I also had to remind myself that one of God's names is Jehovah Jireh - God my Provider!

Without getting too weird and overly-spiritual, I had this thought this morning. A lot of evangelical Christians have forgotten that God has many, many names. I love the Hebrew names for God, and almost no one preaches sermons about them anymore! Yahweh (God's proper name), Elohim (God with Authority), El Shaddai (mighty one), Adonai (master) , El Elyon (most high) , Avinu (Our Father), El Roi (God who sees me), and many more! All describe a different facet of God's character, and show us what we believe in. There are also many Anglicanized descriptions, such as Jehovah-jireh (provider), Jehoveh-nissi (my banner), Jehoveh-shammah (God is there) and four or five others that I can't remember at this exact moment.

I struggled for so many years with this terrible description of God that I was force-fed at a fundamental Baptist school. It left me feeling conflicted because it offered none of these facets. I was just expected to recite a prayer and be good for the rest of my life as a means of 'fire insurance'. But what was I supposed to do when I was sick? What about those years that my mom was sick and close to death and I was sinking into depression and becoming suicidal just like she was? Was I just supposed to be good and hope for the best when I was struggling with finances and going to school full time and working two jobs? What about the friends I had who were Catholic or Mormon? Was I seriously supposed to tell them they were going to Hell for believing in the same Jesus I do, but not the same way? And what about the Holy Spirit? Isn't the Holy Spirit what Jesus left us with? Why do we ignore the Holy Spirit when He is our Comforter?

Don't get me started on the idiots who quote Scripture at a situation like it's the be-all-end-all to everything in life. I have a whole tangent for that.

I have been studying God's 'names' because they describe his character. And as a being created in His image, I want to know who I am supposed to be! If you have noticed my profile description, it reads that I am who I am, and I am still learning who that person is. I no longer accept the traditional way of being a Christian. People say Christian are bigoted, irrational, judgemental and radical. Yep, that's putting it mildly. I don't want to be associated with those kinds of Christians. I don't even call myself a Christian anymore. I am simply a Believer, and I'm leaving it at that. I don't have all the answers, I can't rationalize everything, and I don't blindly follow some ancient religious hocus-pocus. But I do know that I have been saved from myself if nothing else.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Always Talking About The Weather

Personally, I was delighted with all the snow.

When we woke up Saturday morning, we got up very early because we were supposed to be helping our church deliver 8800 food boxes to our community. So much for that. It was cancelled due to a massive dumping of lake effect snow! So instead, we were quite content to stay inside, venturing out only to clear a path between the house and the garage, and eventually to shovel the driveway. At it's highest point, the snow was level with our front porch, which is appoximately 30 inches off the ground.

So I got a lot of crocheting done, and experienced great joy, as I recieved several requests from friends and potential new customers on my Etsy webshop.  Alex shovelled and napped and then later in the evening we rented a movie after venturing down to the grocery store for some bread and eggs. Pizza Hut provided our dinner. Snow days are wonderful. They provide excuses to be lazy that no one thinks twice about.

Well, for today, it's back to the yarn basket and crochet hooks. There are 4 new orders to fill and I am pretty pleased about it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Title Misnomer....

View ImageThe Broadway Theatre League is performing Fiddler on the Roof!

It's a great show. But the Morris Performing Arts Center is describing it as America's FAVORITE FAMILY MUSICAL!!!!

I love this show. BUT -

I just can't believe that a poor Russian Jewish family in the pre-communist Soviet Union who goes through repeated tragedies, nightmares and obstinate daughters before being uprooted and forced out of their villages by the Soviet revolution is America's favorite 'family' musical. Oh yeah, Chava gets to marry the Gentile husband she fell in love with, but only after Tevyeh disowns her and they're forcibly dragged from their home by mercernaries. What a delightful thing to take the children to!

I am more inclined to lean towards The Sound of Music, or Oklahoma to be the more favored 'family' show.

But seriously, go and see the show. It's a classic and has great music. I am always pleased when I see it. Google Broadway Theatre League South Bend for ticket info!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Will Work For Food

Big deep sigh.

Perhaps if I take an early shower instead of a late one, I will have the motivation to get myself going today.

The kitchen is a mess, I need to wash dishes and then I need to do some baking and cooking.

Alex woke up with a bit of a tummy ache. He thinks it's from the milk we finished off yesterday that had a sell by date of Dec. 26th. He's probably right. But it could have been from the 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies that I made last Sunday that he has systematically proceeded to wolf down. I think there are 6 left, and they're the ones that got slightly darker on the bottom.

What'll it be today? Blueberry muffins? Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? Oatmeal raisin cookies?
Apple pie?

After that, pasta sauce and potato salad.

Then patch the nail holes in the bathroom walls, sand them down, paint and then repaint. Hang the new toilet paper holder and the curved shower curtain rod....

Then finish all the baby shoes that are in the works right now. Waiting for my special ordered yarn to arrive to make a special hat for a breast cancer patient. I hope it comes soon.

Going to be a busy one today! Here's a recipe to get YOUR day going!

I made this farmhouse chowder last Wednesday. We seem to have an abundance of potatoes and ham. (Thanks Mother.) Alex picked through it like a fussy 2 year old, but I really liked it, and ate the leftovers by myself for 3 days following.


1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped sweet red pepper
2 tbl. butter
1/4 c. all-putpose flour
1 package ranch dressing mix
4 1/2 c. milk
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups cubed fully-cooked ham
1 can corn
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 oz. smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion, celery and red pepper in butter until vegetable are crisp-tender. Stir in the flour and ranch dressing mix until smooth; gradually stir in the milk. Bring to a boil, cook and stire for 2 minutes or until thickened.

2. Add the potatoes, corn, ham and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On A Roll

Tickled pink.


3 sales in one week is a record for my Etsy shop. I'm shooting for a new average of 5 per week. Hopefully by spring. I want this to be successful. I have had ups and downs with Etsy. It attracts the most bizarre garbage and insane creativity and sometimes it is difficult to wade through the downright horrible to find the gold.

Just Some Things

What a week. I hope I hear from my new job soon about when they are officially going to hire me and start their training courses. I had a call last week, to tell me that they don't know when it's going to start yet and am I still interested, but haven't heard from them since. Being at home all the time is kind of messing with my head.
I've been crocheting like a crazy person here lately! Seriously - a crazy person. Yep - part of being stuck in the house and not working. However, I am getting ready for a handmade/vintage bazaar that will be held on April 10 in S.B., so it's not necessarily bad that I am being a bit crazy about it. I am also in communication with a fellow blogger who does promos and giveaways for handmade goods and shops to be a featured seller in the next few months. Giveaways always attract potential customers.

I have been working out some new baby shoe designs, beyond my tiny Chucks, with some success. Alex's big contribution to the effort has been to suggest that I attempt the classic Vans skater shoes in mini crochet scale. Not a bad idea really. I've also been working on tiny Mary Janes with flowers on the toes. I hope to have them available soon, but with my freehand designing, it's always a process of trial and error. 

So back to the studio I go to run yarn through my fingers until they are dry and stiff with hopes of completing a finished product or two today. If you ever loved me, share my shop with your friends. :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Urban Homestead

This is an interesting little book that my brother in law gave me for Christmas. He gave it to me with the comment "I heard you've taken up gardening." With Robert one can never tell if he is being serious or sarcastic. If he was serious, he's quite behind the times. I took up gardening in my teens, and Alex and I have been married 5 years in May. If he was being sarcastic....well, awesome. I LOVE to get new books on gardening. Please, support my addiction!

To start with, this isn't quite a book on gardening. It is a how-to guide on urban 'homesteading' as they call it. It's very thorough. I will come out with my only gripe against it first - it's kinda preachy. It's definitely one of those books that I usually put back down because it has political ambitions. I always joke about those folks who live in big cities on the west coast - and wouldn't you know, this book was written by a couple of them.

That being said, I decided to plow through this because it is high time I make some efforts to get all points of view, even from the ones that I usually laugh at because of their smug adherence to things they know much too little about, and I was pleasantly surprised. While The Urban Homestead does have political ambitions, it also holds well-written, thoroughly researched advice on container gardening, care of small animals and harvest preservation how-tos. It's a good, healthy mix of advice I would listen to, and fluff spewing from a big city-dweller.

I am going to attempt a project from this book too! A worm composter made from a couple of 8 gallon plastic totes. I hope it is worth the effort. It won't be very expensive, and worm compost is supposed to be some of the best. I am still struggling with compost here in my tiny strip of yard because I simply have no good place to put it while it's decaying and turning into wonderfully rich food for my veggies and fruits. So I keep moving the pile from one side of the house to the other and trying to decide what is best. I'm getting pretty good with reserving the kitchen scraps too, and I keep them in a plastic cauldron that was a leftover Halloween prop while I'm prepping the food and then run them outside to the pile. This will continue to work as long as we don't have negative temps and blizzard like weather. I refuse to be nice to Mother Earth if she is going to slap me in the face with rediculous winter warfare.

I will admit to the one 'preachy' thing in The Urban Homestead that I wholeheartedly agree with is the discussion of lawns, which I have mentioned before. My belief on the matter is that 100 years ago, no one would spend the hours, water and backbreaking work that some spend on lawncare when you can't eat it! I really must not have any appreciation for a well-manicured lawn! I find a lawn to be useless and a lot of hard work that doesn't have any real payoff except that it keeps your toes out of the dirt. Alex wants to rip it out and pour down cement. I laugh and say NO, we'll rip it out and plant a jungle of fruits, veggies and edible landscaping! We'll see who wins this argument.

Anyway, The Urban Homestead is a book to read with thoughtful review - not to be read as absolute truth and the only advice book you'll ever need. Don't take everything as gospel, please. But there are some excellent points, and it is very well organized and written.

Final Grade: B

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Off To A Pleasant Start

Not really - I have a strange ailment upon me that could be linked to anything. I had a migraine last night, sinus troubles, stomach-ache and intestinal discomfort this morning. Let's just give it a broad title and say that today I'm not feeling my usual chipper self. This also means the bathroom did not get finished yesterday. (I was also short a helper.) And so I plan to stay home today and crochet a few more pairs of baby Chucks,
try to get a couple more of my famous projects unleashed on the world, and practice my drawing skills.

But to start the day out, I have put together two Etsy Mini-Feeds for my readers to enjoy. One is from the list of things I have marked as favorites from other crafters and artists. The other is the list of things I have for sale in my shop right now. It's all baby Chucks - but hopefully only for the rest of this week. I have big plans in the works that include more baby items, and some wickedly awesome new blankets based off of old-school video game designs. It turns out that pixels really lend themselves well to crochet!

Support handmade!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bathroom Break

Here we are - January 3!

I have a bit of a head cold, but nothing terribly serious. Just enough to make me slightly miserable.

Avery and Danny are coming over today to help me work on the upstairs bathroom. Our most pressing goal for the rest of the winter is to get that bathroom working again so that we can actually use it. Our house belonged to Alex's grandparents for forty years and there are some very strange quirks. For example - they really have something against using the bathroom that is part of their master suite. In the house they now reside in, they do not use their master bathroom, although, like ours, it is attached to their bedroom. They walk down the hall to a second bathroom. When they lived in our house, they walked all the way downstairs to use a tiny, cramped bathroom on the first floor rather than make a mess in the large, spacious, master bathroom directly next to their bed. The result? The master bathroom has a seriously bad case of dry rot and the fixtures don't work properly. We are not afriad of using the master bathroom, but we can't until we get it working again.

I'm not a plumber, so I can't actually replace the shower fixtures by myself. However, I can strip wallpaper, paint and scrub, so those are the goals of the day. Here are a couple "BEFORE" pictures.

I know this is hard to believe, but I actually have already done a bit of work in this bathroom. I replaced all the brass cabinet pulls with polished silver. The previous owners also had a serious affinity for brass. I think it's a generational thing because brass just screams "I did my decorating in the 80's and never looked back!!" It's definitely time to update things a bit.

If you will notice the green bathmat on the floor, and hearken back to what I just said about the silver hardware, I will give you a general overview of the room's eventual theme.

As you get to know me a bit better, you will find that I am a very elemental person. I am certainly very earthy - that is evident by my green thumb and my love of playing in the dirt. I drew the idea for this bathroom from an experience I had walking through the park one very early morning, when everything was dewey and silvered, and the sun was just beginning to rise, and all the foliage was brand new and pale. (It was in April.) And so, later today or perhaps tomorrow, when you see the finished product, I hope you will agree that the inspiration rendered an appropriate result.

Ta-ta for now! There is a lot of work to be done today.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

I'm just going to let today BE.

I have no deadlines, plans, arrangements or appointments to keep.

No one is expecting me to be anywhere.

The bank is NOT getting my house payment today. Or tomorrow. They might get it on Tuesday next. If they're lucky.

My husband is sleeping off half a bottle of Chimay Blue and 3 Killians, and a late night game of Creationary. I was not able to partake in the New Year's alcoholic intake, as I am heavily medicated right now with things that do not mix with alcohol.

I will crochet a new set of black and red trivets with skulls on them. Available at the Etsy shop later today, or possibly early tomorrow. After that, I will try some new designs.

I will roll the greenhouse out on to the patio for a couple hours to warm up the seed potatoes and the cabbage seed starts. It's 50 degrees outside and all the snow has melted. I will be so freaking happy if our winter stays mild this year. I like the snow for awhile, but I do suffer from seasonal depression, usually in February.

My year will consist of nothing more than seeking God. Oh, I will work, eek out a living and be a productive member of society, but I have no grandiose plans for this year. I will not strive to be successful, or change the world. I will, instead, grow my garden, play the piano, can more produce than ever, cut back on the monthly bills, go without luxuries, and deeply love my husband. I will not create rediculous expectations that cause disappointment and sadness.

I will read more books, write letters (yes write letters!!) and kindle old friendships into blazing fires that will be a comfort in the years to come. I will not debate anyone on their rediculous opinions, politics or religious beliefs, and will hope that they have the same respect for me and my rediculous opinions, politics and religious beliefs.

I will not waste hours at the computer on Facebook, BigFish Games or Etsy.

I probably will not watch any news this year if I can help it. And don't give me that eye-rolling expression and say something about making myself ignorant. This is America. I can choose not to give a flying you-know-what about our currant events if I want to.

I will take more pictures of beauty around me. I will hold more babies and comfort more children and spend more time with the elderly than in years past.

I will be grateful and content.

 I will be full of grace for those who probably don't deserve it - because I certainly don't deserve it.

I will find God in places that I never thought of before. I can't wait.

I will not base my self-worth on how 'happy' I might feel at any given moment of the day.

I will realize that 'happiness' and 'joy' are two very different things.

I will let 2011 be what it is going to be, and I will not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have it's own problems and difficulties.