Virtual reInvention

One of the things I decided to do after getting married was to change my email address. The previous one was my first initial and my last name (now my maiden name). Yes, I could have forwarded everything to a new address and kept using my old account, but there is something so nice about a fresh slate. It’s like the draw to the fresh coat of snow, or the first day of school when all the pencils are newly sharpened and the notebooks fresh and clean. It’s a way to let any previous mistakes fall to the past and concentrate on the future.

 

You don’t notice it, but email is EVERYWHERE. So many accounts, so many spam lists that got a hold of my address and never let go, so many people that need to be reminded I have a new name please and thank you. I jokingly told my husband that I would never divorce him based on all this work! Yet, it is rather cathartic to strip away the  old information, to streamline what information I WANT rather than what marketing agencies think I need. This time it’s a bit more complicated since I have 2 addresses now, my name and my handle. Anything going to my new name email is professional, it’s family, it’s friends. My handle is my online identity and includes all online accounts that aren’t bills. It’s an important distinction and helps with the whole focusing and reinvention that is going on overall.

 

Cleaning up one’s virtual presence just makes sense to me, but it’s generally such a daunting task I can’t imagine someone doing it without a significant catalyst. It’s like how everyone looks at their material possessions when they move. You take a long hard look at that table that’s been in the basement since the day you moved in, the closet of clothing  full of things you haven’t worn in years, that pile of magazines and catalogs you told yourself you would read tomorrow. With email it’s the vacation spot you want to go back to someday, that awesome store you shopped at once but can’t really afford, that organization you donated money to and might again a year from now. We keep so much virtual clutter it’s amazing. I’m beginning to see how things like pinterest become so popular. Here you can place all those sites, organizations, stores, items for later purchase in nice categories for later. To unclog your daily bombardment of “must haves” and “must reads” and really get to what you want to know. One of these days I’d love to open my inbox and not have that list of email up for immediate deletion. It might be a dream, but it’s now or never.

 

Mediation:

 

What do you find helpful to combat the virtual bombardment?

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Year of the Stash!

New Years bring up so many hopes and dreams in people, and for knitters and spinners it tends to be the month of stashdown. We all do it, we all have stashes that might very well exceed life expectancy if left unpruned. 2013’s primary focus for me was THE BIG PROJECT, 6 lace shawls and a pair of size 13 socks to be completed by my wedding at the end of August. I am proud to say I achieved that goal and really didn’t buy any yarn or fiber that wasn’t directly connected with that task. After the wedding however there was a trip to Knitpicks here, some Rhinebeck there, and who could go on their honeymoon and not buy yarn? Needless to say there are a lot of pretty things in my stash that want to see the light of day and without the focus on  one giant project I can cast on to my heart’s content. I love being enabled to work on more projects. Whether it is Operation Sock Drawer from the Knitmore Girls, Stashdown 2014 with the Knotty Girls, Halos of Hope Podcaster Throwdown, being involved in the next Nerd Wars tournament, or the Ravelry Games surrounding the Olympics there are plenty of opportunities.   Keeping this in mind what is on my needles?

 

Halos of Hope is special to me after we lost my FIL years ago to cancer. This was before I knit, and the one thing he really wanted was a nice warm hat after chemo. His favorite was a hunter orange hat that he wore everywhere. In honor of him and others in my life that have been touched by cancer I’m working towards knitting 10 hats for the charity. So far I’ve completed three and am working on two more.

 

The first is a basic ribbed hat for a man or woman

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The second is a stockinette hat with color changing yarn

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The third is a variation on ribbing with alternating knits and purls called the “Bus Hat”

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One of my favorite things to wear are hand-knit socks. With the temperatures plummeting in the northeast last week I loved having my socks around for extra warmth. To date I have made three pairs of socks for myself and two for my husband.  A great single skein project for me is well, more socks! I’m following operation sock drawer and will be knitting more socks throughout the year to significantly supplement my sock supply. I love looking at people’s drawers on Instagram and you can see all the lovely socks by searching #operationsockdrawer. Here are my socks so far along with the stockings I made for Christmas.

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Currently I have one pair on the needles:

Vanilla Holiday socks

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More to come later as I whittle away at my stash and works in progress.

 

Meditations for next week:

What do you want to tackle as a fiber related goal this year? What kind of support system will help you get there?

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Celebrate the Small Stuff

One way to stay positive making progress on goals is to get excited about the small stuff. For me that was signing up to take test #4 of my architecture registration exams and make major inroads on paying off debt. How is that going? Well last year I started using mint.com to track how much my husband and I spend on everything. Once I had the benchmarks established we realized we were spending way too much on food. The changes didn’t happen overnight and there were many days where someone runs out of the house without their lunch, but 99.9% of breakfast is eaten at home and 4 out of 5 days a week lunches are brought into work from home. The last hurdle was dinner. When this process began we were eating out whenever we were too tired to make something  or whenever we forgot to defrost something to make. This was clearly a problem. Last year we purchased a chest freezer for the basement and have kept it well stocked with everything from meat to veggies to prepared meals. If it’s on sale we stock up. Part 2 of a good pantry is the grocery storage. At the new house there are 2×4 shelves the entire length of one wall. This is the perfect depth for 2 cans so I never forget what I have buried in the back and enough length that you can get some serious storage!

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Armed with a crock pot and dutch oven meals are a lot simpler to prepare ahead of time, easier to make in large batches, and I am happy to say we are down to take out 1 night a week, just as a treat. This saves a significant amount from the joint pot and means that our individual spending money isn’t all gone by the next paycheck and can be saved.

Bulk chicken for the week

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Stuffed Peppers

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Another small victory is the compost pile. In the old house we had a compost pile out back but the carbon/nitrogren balance was completely out of wack. It took years for anything to degrade with all that carbon! Once of my joys was getting my little composting container ($5 Marshalls) out on our porch and I fill it with all the kitchen scraps, especially coffee and egg shells. This weekend I’ll set up the “green machine” and start putting my compost in progress together. It feels really good to get a fresh start on that project!

 

Next hurdle: find some time to exercise

 

Meditations: What small step did you make this week?

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Theme of the Year

There is something about a new year, a fresh start, that invites meditation on where we are in our lives and where we want to be. We make resolutions that get left on the sidelines after the first few months of a new year. One of the best ideas I’ve heard is for a “theme” for the year, that way there is no obligatory trip to the gym, no slipping into bad habits after a  few months. Last year the theme was “Excelsior!”. My husband and I were planning our wedding and making decisions that would start us off on the rest of our lives together. I am happy to report that we had a wonderful wedding (and stayed within budget), I began my architectural registration exams, we moved to a new location with more opportunities, and I began a knitting circle at my office that has taken off.  It’s amazing what a positive outlook and baby steps will achieve given a chance.

 

What about this year? Well, onwards and upwards is still the theme of the year, now with visions of paying off remaining debt and completing those pesky architecture exams. On the homestead we are going to get chickens, plant a substantial garden, and maybe just maybe I get to set up my beehive.  Personally, keeping a blog with all the interesting things that go on is going to be a new thing for me. I love to observe from afar and it will be a change of pace for me to be more vocal about the wonderful things that go on. Apparently what we do and how we think isn’t considered normal by modern standards, but who wouldn’t love to have their own food and not be worried about when that next paycheck comes in? Common sense just isn’t common anymore so cheers to 2014!

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Active Living

For the past five years my other half and I have been interested in preparedness. As residents of New York City it started off simply as a logical possibility of needing to evacuate a large metropolis quickly, or shelter in place depending on the situation. Having grown up in a small New England town power outages, difficult weather, and other situations were a part of life. We always filled the bathtub, put the contents of our refrigerator in the snow, had oil lanterns, a well stocked pantry, and a cord of wood on standby for the fireplace so I thought it was only natural for my SO to get on board with these basic requirements.

Over the years we’ve gone camping (even in the winter), built up our gear, both been licensed for amateur radio, and purchased a chest freezer and amassed long term food. What I didn’t realize was how passive of a role I was taking watching my SO acquire skills and knowledge beyond what I had grown up with. It took some serious occasions like a massive blizzard and tornados back home and a hurricane and a tornado here in the city for me to wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as “preparedness” if you can’t cook with your stored food and rely on your knowledge when the internet goes down.

The other part of the wake up call is my position in life. In the not-too-distant future we’ll be married and looking to settle down somewhere more rural than the five boroughs. Having the abilities to take care of myself and my own when you are cut off from the rest of the world for any reason is paramount when you might be unreachable by first responders. On a more basic level, having a sustainable lifestyle makes a person take a long hard look at their life, their priorities, and what they can do to be independent on every level.

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