Wednesday, November 30, 2011

and I'm back

My Thanksgiving was splendid. The turkeys were in fine form, the sweet potatoes were indulgent, the mashed potatoes were so creamy, and the stuffing was scruptious. And don't even get me started on the pies, Aunt Kath certainly outdid herself this year.

All of my family was there even Mal's dog Karl. Which meant that there was quite a lot of baby-puppy, puppy-kitty interactions to be monitored but in the end even the cat and the dog made peace with each other. And after spending a few days with Karl, I realized what I already knew, the national dog show is really all the dog that I need in my life. I must say that I am oh so pleased that the fox terrier won this year - some thought he was too strange looking but I thought he was adorable. I do quite enjoy watching perfectly groomed canines prance around on blue carpet.

So here I am back to work, and back to blogging.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ignorance is bliss

I've been taking a sabbatical lately, a sabbatical from the news. It's been weeks since I visited the New York Times or watched any news shows. I've even gotten into the habit of turning my radio to regular music stations when NPR gets too newsy. And it's been nice.

Last night I was talking with a friend about my sabbatical and we started talking politics. It was politics that inspired the sabbatical and I don't know exactly where he stands, so this discussion wasn't about platforms, or scandals, it was about leadership. He asked if days of great leaders were over. I responded by asking if we have rewritten history and compare our modern leaders with legend instead of fact. I think that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. 

Somedays I feel like I might be the only person in this whole country who is satisfied with the president. And yes I did vote for him, and yes I didn't have incredibly high expectations of him to begin with. So, I'm satisfied. He has fulfilled my expectations. And I'm certain that he has faced the challenges at hand with at least as well as our alternative, John McCain. Not that I don't think that McCain could have done a good job, I only doubt that he would have done things much differently. (How's that for cynicism?) I am speaking mostly about the economy. A problem for which no one has presented any magic bullet. Because, while in campaigns it is easy to speak of simple solutions, in life there are no easy answers.

So I've heard rumors of terrible things happening all of the world. Protests and wars and failing economies and abuses of power. And I'm pretty sure that there will be plenty of news to catch up on when I get back to it. But for a little while, I am going to happily ignore it all, think deep thoughts and indulge in a good book or two.

Friday, November 18, 2011

this I used to believe

I while ago I read this blog post on The Mormon Child Bride and it sort of stuck with me and today I thought I'd add my demons and misconceptions to the list. 

1 - I used to believe that if I died in my current single state, the only way I'd make it into to heaven* was through an arranged polygamous marriage.

2 - I used to believe that my divinity was tied to my fertility.

3 - I used to believe a man could never love me unless I was both perfect and subservient to him.

4 - I used to believe that women were better than men - more spiritual and incapable of going to hell. And that men were less spiritual, somehow accountable for "the sins of their generation" and yet inherently smarter and better suited to leadership.

5 - I used to believe that if I was good enough and loving enough that I would be blessed with the perfect life that I wanted.

6 - I used to believe that capitalism was ordained of God.

7 - I used to believe that the Church welfare program was perfect and that all government welfare programs were inherently insidious and corrupt.

Like Nephi said, "I don't know the meaning of all things" (1 Nephi 11:17) but there are a few things that I know for sure and I build on those. Some of these have cultural bases and others doctrinal but to my knowledge are found nowhere in scripture and the result of misinterpretation and speculation. If the devil teaches us the philosophies of men mingled with scripture, I think that these qualify as such. And I document these fallacies here to remind myself of that these are ideas to be questioned, not relied on.

What lies have you carried around?

* I use the terms heaven and hell quite loosely here, as we Mormons have an incredibly nuanced of view of the afterlife that I make no claims of understanding fully.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

And there better be fresh flowers!

I called home on Sunday to get the scoop for Thanksgiving. It's been so many years since I spent a Thanksgiving at home that I'm getting really excited. And well, I wanted to make sure that this Thanksgiving was going to be up to snuff. Specifically, I was worried about the turkeys. Yep, turkeys, plural. See, in my family, one is not enough. We need two. Because my uncle makes this amazing smoked turkey and we all love it so, but we also love gravy. And there's no way to make gravy from a smoked turkey, hence the roasted one. Which is great for me because I love 'em both.

And the better be two turkeys!*

*A little homage to my Padre's favorite movie, The Man Who Knew to Little. Because, my family doesn't really know how to communicate except through the quotation of our favorite movies.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

knitters gift guide - mittens edition

Yesterday I shared a few of my favorite hat patterns and today I thought I'd indulge/bore you with mittens. Don't you just love mittens? I've never tried knitting gloves, all those fingers, too much work for me. Plus no one ever sings about warm knitted gloves. These are a few of my favorites:

Pescovegetarian mittens by Veera Villapuu

I can personally attest that these are deceptively quick and easy, and lovely. Lovely, first. Plus they're designed by a Finn, so of coarse I can't help but love them.

You can find the pattern on her blog here.

Bella's Mittens by Marielle Henault

 You guessed it, these were inspired by Twilight. Whatever, they're still pretty cute and maybe an awesome gift for the Twilight fan in your life.

You can download the pattern for free here or here.

Yarn Harlot Thrummed Mittens by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I know that these may not be the cutest mittens you've ever seen but they are quite possibly the warmest. This is a technique that I've been meaning to try for a while, maybe this year.
You can download the pattern for free here

 Herringbone Mittens with Poms by Elli Stubenrauch

I love how this pattern feel simultaneously traditional and modern - right in line with the current chevron trend. And the stranding (using 2 colors/strands) makes 'em warmer.

You can download the pattern for free here.

 Rib Mittens ( AAde Mittens) by Tognato Barbara

Ah, look at all those glorious cables. I made these last year for my little sister and they were really fun but I'll warn you, quite time consuming. See my final product here.

You can download the pattern for free here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

knitters gift guide - hats

I'm starting to think about Christmas - gifts that is. A knitters gotta start early or she'll find herself knitting through the night facing hand cramps and a very unhappy back. So I ask you, how many times can a girl give hats to everyone on her gift list before it becomes a cop out?

Well, here's a few patterns that I have my eye on, that are far from cliche (and p.s. they're all available as free downloads).

I just love this vintage inspired tam. 
You can download the pattern for free here

Regina by Carina Spencer

This art deco inspired hat is absolutely beautiful. And what's really cool about this pattern is you can use any weight of yarn you choose - which is great for rebels like myself who hate to use the proscribed yarn for a pattern and often end up paying for it with and ill-fitting final product.
You can download the pattern for free here

I'm Glad it's Plaid by Jane Roberts

I've already got this one on the needles and it's getting me all nostalgic for Christmas and snow days. 
You can download the pattern for free here.

Milanese Lace Topper by tante ehm

Isn't it lovely, don't let the word lace scare you, you just might find it a fun challenge.
You can download the pattern for free here.


 A Better Bucket by Amy Swenson

And if you're not into beanies or tams, how about svelte bucket hat? 
You can download the pattern for free here.


Maybe I'll throw some mittens in the mix to keep things interesting. Come back tomorrow and I'll share some of my favorite mitten patterns.

And then there's the question of what to get the men in my family. I never know what to make them. knitted ties? golf club covers? another beanie? I could depart from the knitting theme, but I don't have any bright ideas there either. Good thing I've got some time to think about it. think. think. think.

Monday, November 14, 2011

out of small things

I've been making making these balloons out of church programs in Sacrament meetings for as long as I can remember. Totally digging the maps and garland twist to my otherwise useless pass time. Put's a whole new spin on folding maps, thanks Poppytalk.

Speaking of church, over the weekend, I discovered President Uchtdorf's talk, Providing in the Lord's Way, from Priesthood meeting*. And there's some really good stuff in there. He speaks of the welfare program and Lord's continual exhortation to care for the poor. I especially liked this part here:
"The lesson we learn generation after generation is that rich and poor are all under the same sacred obligation to help their neighbor. It will take all of us working together to successfully apply the principles of welfare and self-reliance."

Because, even though I know that I am the beneficiary of rich blessings sometimes I feel like I am too poor to help. And it doesn't really matter if my income is above or below the national median or what percent I happen to fall into. We are all obliged to help our neighbors and seek out the poor - myself included.

* I feel like this message holds special significance, as it is addressed to the men of the church in light of the current social and economic events. It feels quite progressive, but I don't won't speculate further here. 

Friday, November 11, 2011


Steven Colbert, December 16, 2010 show, see clip here.

Sometimes I just can't help myself. Politics and current events have been getting me down and I can't help thinking that we're reaping what we've sown. So yeah, some days it seams that Colbert is the only clarion voice in the wilderness (i.e. media). When are we going to stop bickering about who's Christian and start following the example and teachings of Christ?

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35

Thursday, November 10, 2011


My first year of law school nearly did me in. I came so near to calling it quits that if it hadn't been for my hefty financial investment, I couldn't have forced myself to stick it out through my second semester. But I learned an important lesson. I learned that I couldn't do it all on my own and that I was going to have to learn how to ask for help. And while there was little anyone could do to help me get through the mountains of reading assignments or perform better on my finals, the moral support of family and friends was incredibly fortifying.

I talked to one such friend (and mentor) before I went back to Vermont to start my second year. I told her how hard it was and how I wasn't any good at it. And she said something that's stuck with me ever since. She told me that people have done studies on the lasting psychological effects of law school.* That's right, there are lasting psychological effects. And after that, I started recognizing that there are a lot of aspects of the legal education that are unproductive and amount to little more than hazing. And though I believe that my particular law school was probably better than some, they still carried on their fair share of the tradition.

Despite my efforts to overcome, I carry around a lot of baggage from law school. Included in that baggage is an obsession with citing sources. This is something that was drilled into my head time and time again and has become deeply ingrained in my brain. In the legal world, citations are king. The more citations the stronger your argument, it doesn't matter how brilliant you are, or how revolutionary your argument is, it'll be stronger if you can show that someone else said it first. It's not uncommon to have multiple citations for a single sentence, and a dozen citations in paragraph. It can be rather awkward to read, but it is those sections that are riddled with citations that I'll skip ahead too.

I have found this obsession migrating into everything I see and hear. In everything from craft ideas to talks in church to arguments about politics, I want sources. If you're going to use facts or anecdotes to support your argument, I'm going to want sources. Opinions and new ideas are fine, but if you've come to a novel conclusion, I'll probably dismiss it if you don't back it up with your own analysis (tell me how you got there) or cite your source. And I think that's what irks me about Pinterest**, which I'm the first to admit is engrossing and inspirational. But it leaves me empty, because even though I can search down a source for many of the images I like there, detached from their source the images loose some of their meaning. I love beautiful things, inspiring quotes and new ideas but I need to have a framework to put them into and I need to know where they came from. 

*Which I ironically I have no source for. And it's really bugging me that I have nothing to link to here.
** See yesterday's rant. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


So what's the deal with Pinterest? After hearing about it for months, I finally signed myself up and gave it a look-see. And you know what? I don't get it. I find it simultaneously boring and overstimulating. And what's more, frustrating. I feel bombarded with images of things I don't need and can't afford. And when I do find something inspiring, that sparks my creative juices, I can't find the dang source or the instructions or pattern of said blasted muse.

Case in point. Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen? Yeah, I know, I'd totally entertain the fantasy of making this beauty. But wait, where's the pattern? the instructions? Seriously! Turns out the only source is a stupid Flickr pic.

Source: via Alicia on Pinterest

So yeah, Pinterest, we're dunzo.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the world of lovely things

Every Saturday there is a farmers market and flea market in my neighborhood. And you wouldn't believe the some of the amazing things I find there. Last Saturday I picked up a quarter of a loaf of rye sourdough bread that rivals the best stuff I ever ate in Finland. It is so good.

I often talk myself out of my greatest finds but a couple of weeks ago I decided to treat myself (Tom and Donna style) and purchased this. A lovely clipping from the Lady's Home Journal, circa 1918. I love fell in love with the colors and the style. The texts is pretty amazing too. I wanted it and I bought it.

The World of Lovely Things  
What is Newest and Loveliest in It

Some of the Happy Results of our Shopping
Lovely Aren't They? - and So Easily Made When They are Not Buyable.

Some of the Many Attractive Accessories
Which Complete Our New Costumes and Gladden Our Old
(on the back)
And This Wold of Lovely Things has certainly gladdened my wall.

Monday, November 7, 2011

why I'm still single

There are moments, when I am faced with the cold hard truth. Maybe there's a reason that I'm still single. Last Friday night I went on a date. He was a perfect gentleman, for the most part: chivalrous, attentive, doting, generous, complimentary. So why was I so annoyed?  By the end of the night I was ready to scream, to call him out on... well, that's the problem. It's kind of hard to call someone out on their attempts to be nice. Only a terrible anti-romantically person like myself to could find romantic gestures grating.

For example:

  • He insisted on picking me up from work, which sounds nice but all the time I was waiting for him to arrive, and then waiting in traffic on the way to my house, I couldn't stop thinking of how the metro would have been so much faster. 
  • He offers to stop and get me something to drink and I answered, "no thanks" - but I was thinking, "why the hell would we stop now, let's get going already!"
  • He offers to buy me something at a kitschy souvenir shop and I this is were I stopped being sweet. I told him I was tired and that I didn't need anything from this shop. 

In my head I knew that he was trying, trying to be a gentleman, trying to be romantic. And yet I was incapable of accepting and appreciating his gestures as such. I think it irked my inner independent feminist, who can take care of herself and enjoys the control that that brings.

And this is why I'm still single.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

i feel wonderful

I've got a lot on my mind lately and I don't really know what to think of any of it. At times I catch myself mumbling "i don't know i don't know i don't know i don't know" like a mantra of the disturbingly uninspiring sort. Truth is, there are a lot of things that I just don't understand, a lot of unknowns and uncertainties that boggle my simple little mind.

To counter act it, sometimes I'll borrow a mantra from Bob Wiley, who went on to become a psychotherapist and author Death Therapy.

I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful. I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful. I feel GOOD. I feel GREAT. I feel WONDERFUL! 

And even though it isn't always true, thinking of this makes me laugh and then I'm half way there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

work[s] in progress

Saturday morning, I ventured out into the rain and made my way to the yarn store. I was on a mission, to buy yarn for my very own chevron scarf. And boy oh boy, Fibre Space sure does have some be.a.u.tiful yarns right now. I was hard pressed to choose and there were several that I just can't stop thinking about.

Back at home, as I was searching for the right size of knitting needles, I came across a sad little queue of unfinished projects. "This has to stop!", I told myself. And I forbade myself from buying any more yarn, starting any more projects until I've finished all these. Now, let's see if I can hold myself to it.

Clockwise from upper left: Baby Jacket, Fern Lace Scarf, Chevron Scarf, Simple Baby Shoes, Cascade Cardigan. Looks like somebody loves purple, no?

It's going to be hard because, I really want to make this.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

oh so tempting

I can't tell you how much I want to do this to my lil' Yaris.

I spotted this over on PoppyTalk. What do you think, maybe just the bumper? Could be a creative way to cover up some unfortunate blemishes - a sort of diy body work.

Uh, oh. Is this the sugar talking? I've heard that the best way to treat a sugar hang-over is with more sugar. That's why I ate brownies and licorice for breakfast. 

Have I mentioned how much I want a Fiat? Every time I see one, it pains me. Is it just me or are the ads EVERYWHERE? I've wanted one ever since I laid my eyes on 'em in Rome, back in 2001. And now that they are here in the States, it's just so hard. Maybe someday.