Out and About

This was a good week for going out and doing stuff with people.  Tuesday was my slightly delayed but regular meeting with my World of Darkness RPG group.  One of our members ran a D&D one shot for us that turned out to be a giant pun / joke.  That was a fun and relaxing session, and I got to dust off some of those seldom used D&D dice I posted about last time.  On Thursday, I went with an old neighbor to Stitch N’ Pitch – Mariners vs. Yankees and knitting in public.  Amazingly, after weeks / months of picking up projects only rarely, that wasn’t even the first knitting I did this week.  I’ve done a few more rows on my Scoreboard Blanket and accomplished several more cable repeats of the neckline for my bamboo Henley shirt while at the game…even though they never did turn on the lights for those of us up in the nosebleed section!  Today, Sister, Munchkin and I went to the zoo.  We went and saw some of the animals on a loop we don’t usually do – and they were out and active –  and then hit some of our favorite exhibits.  I got to see two different types of otters, so my day was complete.

My Dice! No Touchy!

(Note: Sorry for the missed weeks!)

I was sitting on my room reading the other night when Munchkin came home.  She wanted me to talk to, which was absolutely fine.  Then she wanted to investigate my World of Darkness dice bag (three or so sets of 10 sided dice), which was less okay.  I told about how it’s often considered rude to touch other people’s dice (which I only sometimes apply to my own dice), but I really couldn’t explain why.   We act like other people touching our dice will change their luck even though, intellectually, we know that there’s no such thing.  This got me thinking about gaming traditions, how they get started, and how these occasionally very odd behaviors bind gamers together as a group, a very widespread group.  There are dice shaming posts on Facebook with contributors from all over the country, or even world.  I, personally, have threatened to put my dice in the freezer when they’ve misbehaved (seriously! eight dice and no successes?!?).  We pick up behaviors and vocabulary (I’ve never had to deal with THAC0 tables, but I understand they’re a thing) from each group we play with and become part of a huge web of people over space and time.  It’s amazing really.

Of course, it’s not just role-playing games where a shared set of vocabulary and traditions and in-jokes bind together a far larger group of people.  All my crafts and knitting friends and experiences connect out into millennia of crafters – both professional and amateur.  We fondle yarn and knit in public and talk of frogging and SABLE and FOs, and thousands of miles away complete strangers are doing the same thing.  I’ve participated in the SCA with all of its traditions and culture, which have spread across the globe (aka The Known World).  My recent entry into the running community has certainly come with a new set of vocabulary (bonking and Fartleks, anyone?).  Even friends and families have sets of idiosyncrasies that create a personal feel to your own nearest and dearest but connect to other groups of people over distance and generations.

I love the feeling of inclusion when I start on a new hobby or meet new friends and start picking up habits and lingo.  You get a new tribe and find your people.  The only danger is that shared behaviors can also become exclusionary to people outside the group.  That big web of connections may spread far and wide but be isolated from other webs.  People are people, and we love to feel special, so sometimes we use our private languages and group traditions to keep other people out.  Each of us is part of a lot of different webs, which sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t.  Sister thinks my new-found desire to run is crazy, and probably doesn’t really need to know about some of our terminology, but I still try to share with her my excitement – hopefully without boring her too much with details.  That’s what I hope most people try to do, open up the edges of their web so that people can join or at least share.  True, sometimes you really “had to be there” to understand a reference or joke that keeps coming up with one group, but if we find other ways to connect between groups and people then I think it’s still okay.  And, wow, this is not where I expected this post to go.

Organization Re-Organization

It was a grey, sleepy, actually rainy Sunday today.  I did go out for a run with Munchkin in the mist this morning.  First time doing that; it wasn’t too bad while we were out there, but I felt kinda icky-sticky once I was back inside.  Anyway, as expected with guests in the house, I’ve been catching up with my reading and with some work in my room.  A couple of years ago, I came up with an idea to increase the book and craft supply storage in my room.  I’ve alluded to this storage solution in at least one other post.  The idea was to create both storage and a place for me to sit and read – that isn’t my bed.  I did a little research and got another PAX wardrobe case like I did for my closet redesign, except this one was even bigger.  The one I got fits perfectly in the outside corner of my room beside the front window.  I also got a matching piece to go under the window and use as a bench, with the side of the wardrobe case providing a back rest.


I stand by the idea, but the execution has been more difficult than I expected.  First, the bench is actually a the base unit of a TV stand.  It looks nice with three open cubbies and three drawers, but it wasn’t really made to take the weight of a person sitting on it.  I bought some legs to go on them, but they didn’t attach the way I thought they would.  I’ve tried a couple of other methods, but haven’t gotten anything to really work.  Mostly, it collects junk and clean clothes that I haven’t put away, not helped by the fact that I haven’t gotten around to trimming and covering the foam I bought to make a cushion.  I also had more trouble finding a way to maximize book storage on a deep shelf without sacrificing access.  I thought I’d be able to buy book / DVD size storage boxes, but I couldn’t find any that would go the depth of the shelves.  Being relatively crafty, I decided to make my own.  After searching on the internet and Pinterest, I found a blog where someone had made custom storage boxes out of foam board and duct tape.  So I bought some supplies, did some measurements, and started making what I thought of as “book drawers”.


They were a pretty neat solution, and I do like the ones I’ve finished.  They’re colorful and store over twenty paperbacks each.  With five shelves of seven “drawers”, I would have been able to store lots of my paperback books.  The problem is that it actually takes a couple of hours to make each box, and I can only make one at a time due to ergonomic issues (I have to use the floor for all the cutting and assembling).  With other projects and work and inclination, I haven’t made that many.  Furthermore, with the five I have made filled and sitting on one shelf, I’m not entirely certain the shelf is rated for that kind of weight.  I keep looking at the shelf and thinking that it’s got a bow in the middle.


So, it’s been a couple (a few?) years since I started, I’m nowhere near done with the project, and I’m no longer sure it’s going to work.  Thus, I decided I needed to make some changes to the over all project.  I am going to repurpose the wardrobe box to being craft supplies only.  I should be able to find larger boxes or tubs that will fit craft supplies while utilizing the depth of the shelves.  Actually, I already have some, though that particular brand / style has been discontinued.  I’m pretty excited by this concept, in part because the storage (TV) bench doesn’t hold nearly as much of my yarn as I thought it would (I have even more stash than I thought!) and in part because I will be able to finish the storage quickly.  Despite being proud of my clever “book drawer” solution, it was taking way to long to really be satisfying.  And with nothing really finished, I actually still have a bunch of stuff that can’t put away decently (as can be seen in the pictures).


The second change I’m making is too rearrange my room some to make space for more traditional bookshelves.  I currently have one short bookshelf in my room, which I will keep initially but eventually replace with a taller unit.  I’m going to move that bookcase, shift my bed over, line the entire side wall of my room with bookshelves, and shove the bench into the corner.  I won’t be able to look out the window from it any more, but it should be a nice cozy corner.  I have a wall quilt from BestFriend that will also be really nice on that wall and make the nook even better.  I am also considering moving my desk into the line on that side wall.  This will lose me bookshelf space, but seems like a nice idea.  I rarely use my desk where it is in the shared office, and taking it out would give BIL a place to put in more storage as well.  Of course, I may just be wanting to put it next to the craft storage because if I do, the cool “tea time” vinyl decal Sister got me will still show.

And she came up with it herself

Munchkin’s school does a craft fair a couple of times a year where they can trade school points (“dojo dollars” – it’s a computer tracking / award system) for things made by other kids.  Last time she made catapult kits with loom band puffballs and plastic spoons.   This time, inspired by a project her teacher showed the class on Pinterest, making monsters out of old gloves, Munchkin is making stuffed monsters out of some of her outgrown socks.   Considering that most of her socks are wild and crazy patterns from LittleMissMatched, the monsters are turning out really cute.  The awesome thing about this is that Minchkin came up with most of the “pattern” herself.  Sister contributed the construction of the legs and has helped with the sewing (particularly the button eyes), but Munchkin figured out most of it and has assembled some of the monsters by herself.  As Sister said, perhaps she got the crafty gene “from” me after all.


This and that

Not a lot going on here.  Played mini-golf with the family on Memorial Day and had grilled hot dogs etc. for dinner.  Went shopping it’s VetFriend and FlowerFriend on Tuesday (new running pants and a tiara!).   Worked the rest of the week, including longer that usual on Saturday. I finally got to sleep in today, but I’m still tired, so tonight will just be a project update of sorts.  I haven’t canned anything recently, or vein cooked that much, but I did start a new knitting project last weekend. After having the yarn for years, and swatching during my cruise with BestFriend back in March, I finally cast on for Henley style sweater I want to make out of pretty purple and silver bamboo yarn I initially found during the Local Yarn Store tour years ago.   I’m starting with the cable that will trim the neck line.  It’s not very wide,  but I only got a few inches done last Sunday because the yarn is skinny and the needles are tiny.  I should have a sweater in three years or so.

In other activities, I’m embarking on month two of bullet journaling.  I’m not super dedicated,  but it’s going okay.  I was right that my favorite thing would be the habit tracker.  I also like seeing my running log in there, too.   I haven’t run a lot in the last week , but hopefully I’ll get a lot more miles in during the next few weeks.   I’m also going to try to work on cleaning up and rearranging my room.   I might get some extra reading in, too.   I’m on a re-reading kick right now.   I’m part way through re-reads of the Toby Daye and Libray Wars series.  It might be time for Harry Potter again, too.  Anyway, we have guests coming (BIL’s parents), so I won’t get to hang out in the library at night because that’s our guest room.  Thus, stuff I can do in my room or outside.  Speaking of outside the house, in the past few weeks I’ve also gone to a couple of movies: Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 and Wonder Woman.   I very much enjoyed both.   Okay, it’s bed time now; that’s enough random updates. 


I was too tired last weekend to write a post, and this week I forgot.  Honestly, I forgot today was Sunday. I did meet VetFriend and FlowerFriend for knitting and a play today, though, so at least I’m enjoying my Rainy Day activities on this not so rainy Memorial Day weekend.  More to do tomorrow, though, so I can’t stay up any later.  I’m terrible!   In the mean time, enjoy some random pictures of knitting.

Productivity 2

Sorry for the late post.  Most of this entry was written, but I got hit by a migraine and was unable to finish and post it.  I blame spring allergies.

IMG_8132The weather has been crazy this spring.  Hot, cold, windy, rainy, thunderstorms (real, loud ones like I love but rarely get here)…sometimes all in one day.  I managed to get out to run once during a nice weather moment a couple of weeks ago.  The thunderstorms did keep me inside one evening on a day that had been so beautiful that I really, really wanted to get outside and run (and I’m not usually so dedicated a runner as all that).  This is okay, though, because one of things I picked up while out and about last Tuesday was supplies to start a bullet journal.  I’ve been hearing about them recently, mostly from the HRC Ravenclaw Common Room.  They seemed like a nice idea but not something I needed to do for myself.  Then I ended up telling my coworker about them when she was advised to start a journal but didn’t really think she’d keep up with a traditional journal.  After that, I spent a week or two with the idea taking root in my brain.

IMG_0038I’ve tried journalling before but usual give it up after a short while.  It takes up too much time, and my hand gets tired from all that writing (maybe I’m a bit verbose?).  The best I’ve done was a year in college where I was determined to write something every night, even if it was just a haiku. (Note some similarity between that project and the take a picture of tea every day project; it happens every so often.)  More recently, I’d been managing to write about each day while I was on trips; but the travel journal fell behind, too, and missed a couple of trips since.  With the bullet journal, though, I like the idea of it being a hybrid between a planner, a journal (but in short form! – they call it “rapid logging”), and a notebook where you can write grocery lists and plan out projects.  You can sketch or keep track of books you want to read and TV shows you watch.  Beyond a few basics, there aren’t a lot of rules…and lots of ways to be creative.  If you go online or on Pinterest, it’s easy to find hundreds of examples of bullet journal pages that are works of art or incredibly cute.  It’s a little intimidating, but you can also find minimalist versions.  In fact, the inventor of the whole idea uses a very minimal style, and it still looks great.  I’m not going to be that minimal because I love a reason to buy colored pens and washi tape and stickers, but my bullet journal is unlikely to be a work of art either.

IMG_9795I took this an excuse to finally buy the Micron pens I’ve been lusting over for the
past fifteen
years or so, but I think I’m going to have to stop using them.  Unfortunately, the Peter Pauper Press Essentials notebook that I bought doesn’t have heavy enough paper to be compatible with that kind of ink.  I’ve got a lot of ghosting and a little bit of bleed through.  The bleeding mostly seems to be from the super fine point Microperm that I got to do small lettering / writing.  I’m going to revert to gel pens (I like the Pilot G2 for an every day pen, and it comes in plenty of colors).  I really want a notebook with higher quality paper, though.  In high school and college, I was known for using notebooks with heavy paper.  How or why people knew this I don’t remember, but I know I was picky about what notebooks I bought because I used liquid ink pens (Pilot V5).  When the liquid ink pens started exploding in my backpack (this happens when you leave your bag in your car in the desert), I switched to gel pens.  Luckily, the G2s had
come out by then, ‘cuz the early gel pens were terrible.   Anyway, I may try some of the other brands that are popular among bullet journallers – Leuchtturm or Rhodia.  I will be good and not buy more notebooks until I finish the one I have…or need to break for the new year.   I am also thinking about breaking out the bookbinding supplies and just making my own.  I could use whatever weight paper I like, whatever brightness, and just get the dot grid printed on.  It could be fun.

IMG_4717Whether my bullet journal proves to make me more organized or more productive remains to be seen, of course.  So far, I’m getting the most use out of the habit tracker.  I expected that; it was really the feature that decided me on starting the journal at all.  I wanted a way to encourage myself to make sone of my good habits more…habitual. Accountability, even if just in the form of a tracker kept in pretty colors, does help.  Being able to see the pattern of my behaviors, again in a pretty and visual format, should also help.   Hopefully, I’ll be able to move things like flossing my teeth from something done a few times a week to something done daily or near daily.  When that happens, I might even take a particular habit off the tracker and find some new behavior to improve.   Secretly, I’m hoping to influence some of the habits of the rest of the household (not so secretly, now).  It’s one little way that I feel like I can contribute to the house that’s nice enough to let me live here.



For the most part, I think of Rainy Sunday activities as the things we do for ourselves.  Rainy Sundays are the days when you have done your chores, nothing from the outside world is claiming your attention, and you can take time for yourself to relax.  Do something you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have any purpose but to be enjoyed.  The first activities that spring to mind are quiet things like reading a book and drinking tea by a nice fire.  Sometimes, though, the things that may us feel good are more active and could almost seem like chores.  The feeling of accomplishment, though, does our mental landscape good, leaving it refreshed and ready to move on to true relaxation or to snap back to work with new energy.

This week and this weekend have come under that category.  Tuesday, my day off, was spent almost entirely on my feet.  I ran a couple of errands, but spent most of the day in the kitchen with a few interruptions for laundry.  I was determined to get through more of the produce from our delivery box.  I peeled and roasted all of the beets.  Sister had ordered a lovely chevre in the most recent box, so I bought all the ingredients to put together a nice beet and goat cheese salad, which is pretty much one of my favorite foods.  I made another batch of mango salsa so that Sister could take some to her May the Fourth Be With You Cinco de Mayo party at work.  The box of mangoes (from Costco) did double duty with half going to salsa and half to dinner (mango beef).

I also made bread-and-butter pickles out of the zucchini and summer squash that were just about to go bad in the fridge.  I’m really excited about them.  Bread-and-butter are my favorite kind of pickle, but I’ve never had them made with squash.  At least two of the three small batch canning books had a recipe, though, and I just had to try.  I’m also really excited because, even though the recipe was easy (they’re just pickles after all), making them made me feel like I was a “real” canner.  I’ve made jams and not felt that accomplished.  And just to put a cherry on top of that feeling, I also made spaghetti sauce from scratch to be used for dinner the next night.  My feet were killing me, but I felt super awesome at the end of the day.

That is how you use up an entire flat of half-pint jars, make two meals, and do four loads of laundry in a single day.  Not relaxing, but I felt productive and accomplished, so it works.

Is she allowed to grow that much?

Well, it’s happened.  Munchkin officially has bigger feet than I do.  Or at least the same.  She is still shorter than I am, though, so I have that much to hold on to in the effort of deluding myself into thinking she won’t grow up. Truthfully, it’s my own fault that we found out she’s moved to adult shoes.  Since I started running, Munchkin has begged me to do races with me.  This is probably because I started with the really fun sounding races like The Bubble Run and The Blacklight Run.   We’ve decided to do the 5k at the Disneyland Lightside Half Marathon weekend next January (if they ever open up registration), so she’s been training with me.  She has also done one of this year’s Hogwarts Running Club races with me and some of the other local wizards.  Anyway, the shoes she’s been wearing were not bought with running in mind and didn’t breathe enough or have good support.  As we needed to get her a pocket knife for Campfire Girls, we decided to go to REI where we could look at running shoes, too. I suggested she might get better shoes in the adult section, and it proved that she’s out of the overlap zone and solidly in adult shoes.   Take a wild guess which shoe in the picture is hers and which is mine.

In other activities this weekend, Munchkin had a recital with her music school.   I thought she was going to play the piano and sing,  but she did vocals only.  There she was; big and brave enough to go on stage in front of a group of people she mostly didn’t know and sing all by herself.  I’m not going to say she’s ready for the pros, so to speak, but there are a lot of people who have never even managed that much.  Still, it’s another sign that she’s moving away from being a kid.  She’s not ten yet, though, so she’s not a tween yet, right?   Please?   She’s not allowed to grow up.

It only took me four months

I finally managed to “put up” some of our food overage, like I talked about back in January.  Last week, I managed to squeeze in making pickled asparagus between laundry and gaming.  This week, I made mango salsa and finished the laundry before going out with VetFriend and FlowerFriend.  I felt super accomplished.  Both recipes were from Preserving By the Pint, on opposing pages no less!  Both were labelled as “spicy” but, while I have no problem with spicy, I just don’t keep chili’s and such on hand.  Thus, I had to fudge on the recipes a bit.  Never fear, I didn’t mess with the essential make-this-food-safe ingredients, just the flavorings.  I have no idea how the pickled asparagus will taste, but I hope it’s good because Sister and I both love pickled asparagus.  At least I got to taste the finished product for the mango salsa before I canned it.  Also, there was a little left over that didn’t fit in the jars, so other people got to taste it, too!  So far, everyone has approved.

It’s really more fun canning in these tiny amounts, though I don’t have the usage of the fourth burner pot down quite smoothly yet.  I had to do both the asparagus and the salsa in two shifts.  It worked out fine, but I’d love to be able to do a batch all in one go.  Perhaps I’ve just chosen the wrong recipes to do the truly small batches?  Also, I was critically low on half pint (“jelly”) jars.  How the heck did I have only one?  That problem has been rectified, so maybe better luck next time.  Of course, I’m thinking of doing bread-and-butter squash pickles next, so maybe I’ll go larger batch on that one.  I’m fascinated by the idea of pickling zucchini and summer squash, and bread-and-butter are my favorite kind of pickle.  Of course, I also have some rainbow carrots that are going limp, so maybe I should pickle them first.  I also have a ton of beets, more than I need to make borscht.  Perhaps I should make up some pickled beets.  Tough decisions.  I might just have to make them all; as you might have figured out, I really like pickles.