Stitching, Reading, and Babies?

When Karin asked me write a post for her blog I warned her I’m a pretty boring person, but she doesn’t seem to agree so here I am.

 

Let’s see … about me …  Well, I’m a 42 year old single mom.  I don’t do a lot of crafting unless you consider baking and cooking a craft – I love to do both!  Every year around the holidays I do a huge baking weekend and go crazy, but during the rest of the year it’s pretty well contained to just a few batches of cookies here and there and homemade pasta.  I enjoy finding new meal recipes that take our favorite foods and repurpose them.  Recently I found one for leftover chicken (or turkey which is what we eat a lot of) that uses penne pasta which I make at home along with homemade alfredo sauce (so easy to make – who knew?!), crumbled bacon, cheese, and ranch dressing.  Want the full recipe?  Let me know and I’ll post it in the comments.

 

Several years ago I discovered that adding Italian seasonings (ground up with a mortar and pestle) added to the flour of my pasta dough makes for amazing tasting dishes!  I use it in my lasagna, fettucine alfredo, and a few others.

 

As far as typical crafts go, counted cross stitch is about all I do.  I don’t have a clue how to sew, I’ve never learned how to crochet or knit, but I can count squares and make x’s all day long!  Seriously though, I love finding detailed, beautiful patterns and creating something special for people I love.  I’ve done a lot of small pieces that I’ve framed and given to people as well as stockings for special people.  I used to have pictures of all of them that I could share with you, but my external hard drive where they were stored crashed so this picture of the framed wizard that is above my bed is all I have to share.

Wizard

Currently I’m working on a stocking for my nephew.  Here’s what it should look like when it’s complete:

Full Stocking

Here’s a picture of the work in progress:

WIP

It is slow going on this project right now because I have a 2 year old who demands my attention when I’m home and when she goes to sleep so do I.

 

Speaking of my 2 year old …she’s the light of my life and my own personal miracle.  I waited late in life to have kids for a couple of reasons.  One, I was very overweight most of my life and knew pregnancy while as heavy as I was would potentially be dangerous to both me and my unborn child.  Second, I wanted to have a child with the love of my life.  Unfortunately, I never met him.  So at the age of 38 I made a decision that changed one of those things – my weight.  I had gastric bypass surgery in January of 2013.  At my heaviest weight I was 376.  On my surgery date I was 325.  By my one year surgical follow-up I was 168.  I lost 208 pounds – a whole other person!

WL Progress

(I was actually four months pregnant in that last picture.)

During your follow-up appointments with the surgeon they always remind you that your hormones are going to be out of whack for at least a year and to use two forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy – for both your safety and that of the baby’s.  This wasn’t an issue for me, but it got me to thinking more and more about having a child and the ever present biological clock that was starting to get kind of loud.

 

At around the 9 month point in my recovery I started thinking about what it would take for me to have a child.  I could hope to meet the love of my life, date, get to know them, try to conceive, and carry a pregnancy – all before my body decided it was too late – but it’s not as easy to just run out and meet the love of your life as you would think it is.  The other option was to have a child on my own.  Hmmm … random one night stand?  Sex with someone I already knew?  Would I want them involved in the child’s life?  What would be the logistics of that?  Ultimately I began researching cryobanks and sperm donation and all the details involved in conceiving with donated sperm.  My thought was that I could have a child and still hope to meet the love of my life, but I couldn’t guarantee that if I waited for the love of my life I would still be able to have a child.

 

By the time I went in for my one year follow-up appointment with my surgeon I had all of my research prepared and was ready to talk to my surgeon about whether or not I would be ok to try to get pregnant and if it would be safe for me and a baby.  Her immediate response – yes!  I was so excited, but there is a lot that goes in to the fertility process so her ok was just the starting point.  One month later I had an appointment with a local fertility clinic, three months after that we did the first procedure to attempt conception, and on the fourth attempt I conceived my beautiful baby girl!  I was a high risk pregnancy because of my gastric bypass surgery but I had a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery and I’ve loved every moment of being a mommy.  Just ask Karin, she’s subjected to the flood of “proud mommy” posts on my Facebook page.

Here’s what I looked like on the day I went in to deliver her:

Delivery Day

Here’s my beautiful girl just minutes after her arrival:

Newborn

And here’s my rambunctious two year old today:

Current

I brought up these two subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with crafting or reading because I found out when I was researching both of them that I had a lot of questions that I didn’t know who to ask.  If you have any questions about either bariatric surgery or undergoing fertility procedures please feel free to comment on here and ask me.  If you’re not comfortable with asking publicly please email me at bliltxgirl@gmail.com and I’ll answer you privately.

 

Getting back on track … reading … man do I love to read.  When it comes to books I will read on a e-reader such as my Nook and Kindle apps on my phone, but I really prefer to have a physical book in my hands.  I’m old school that way.  I’m not a “deep” reader.  I read for enjoyment and to lose myself for a while so I don’t look for books that are going to make me think.  I love Patricia Cornwell.  Her Kay Scarpetta series is my favorite series of all time.  I have every one of those books in hardback.  Did I mention I also prefer hardback to paperback?  I also enjoy WEB Griffin and Tom Clancy.  My grandfather introduced me to both of these authors.  The first true adult novel I ever read was Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins.  My grandfather also gave me that one to read.  I was 12.  I have no idea what he was thinking.  Hahaha!  I didn’t know what most of the sex scenes meant but I enjoyed the book!

 

I’m also still a FanFic lover.  Because I have a hard time finding time to sit and read without my daughter crawling over me or trying to take my phone to watch YouTube Kids, I find FanFic a wonderful option because I can read a chapter or so at a time and get updated when new ones are available.  I do stick primarily within the Twilight realm of fanfiction, but occasionally have ventured out to other series.  I don’t stick to any particular coupling – I rather enjoy reading M/F, M/M, F/F, and all the various combinations authors come up with.  Currently I have several authors on favorite, but probably the one who updates most frequently and has the best writing is LyricalKris.  She has a great Carlisle/Bella story, Worth the Wait and two Edward/Bella stories, Cerebral, and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, currently updating.  I have a ton of other stories that are sitting in my inbox just waiting for me to start them, but as of yet I haven’t found the time.

 

I hope I haven’t completely bored you with my little commentary on my life.  Please let me know if there is anything you have questions about – recipes, authors, fertility, bariatric surgery, or otherwise – and I’ll get back with you.

Posted in Books, crafts, fan fiction, Guest post, Needlework | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Framed!

Do you remember the two small cross stitch pieces I made for hubby as a surprise? And remember the boatload of crafty stuff I was given a while back? Well, I finally put two and two together, so to speak, and set about framing the pieces in a couple of the mini hoops that were in the bunch.

What do you think? I’ve never done this before and it isn’t quite as neat as I might like but I’m still happy with it and so is hubby, which is all that matters in the end, right? All it needs is a ribbon at the top and for hubby to figure out where he wants to hang them around his desk. They can’t go where I had intended them to go anymore due to lack of visual space, but he’ll figure it out.

 

Posted in Needlework | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Huh, I guess I am crafty

Hi everyone!

Niva here, and Karin got me to be her guest blogger for this week. It began with her asking if I was “craftily inclined,” to which I snorted out loud, because when I think “crafty,” I tend to think about things like scrapbooking, knitting, or those small things that you can sell at a craft fair; all things at which I utterly suck at. However, Karin said it could be anything I’m into doing, so here we go.

I’m a recovering attorney, and full time mom to three boys (17, 12, and 9 ½). In my spare time (ha), I have a tendency to take on my own home/furniture/decor projects. My latest one has involved taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets in order to paint them, to the utter consternation of my family. It also wound up involving some carpentry and cabinet repairs, but since I’m not done with the project yet, I’ll regale you all with that at some other date. Instead, I’d like to share the project I finished last month.

When we first moved into this house, we were only a family of three, so a small kitchen table not only made sense, but worked incredibly well for us.

Small table, with small child. You can tell it’s an old picture by the Blackberry!

Forgive the food spam, but I didn’t think to take “before” pictures and had to find old ones.

However, as our family grew, the boys started sitting at the counter, and if all five of us ate together, we ate at the dining room table anyway. The kitchen table, instead, became my de-facto office, with a mess of papers everywhere. To make matters worse, my kitchen is really old and in desperate need of a complete reno, but that isn’t happening any time soon (hence my painting project), and I also really need more (and actually functional) storage.

So, I decided it was time for out with the old, and in with the new. I took apart the table, decided to build myself a desk/fauxdenza on that little half wall.

It began with two Ikea kitchen wall cabinets.

I went with shorter wall cabinets, instead of base cabinets, because I still wanted the top to be about table height, and Ikea’s base cabinets are all 31” high, before you add a top. Definitely too tall. I put the cabinets together by myself, measured, marked, found the studs, but then needed hubby’s help to mount them. Ikea has a handy dandy suspension rail, but still, it helped having another set of hands.

And there it sat for a month, while I tried to decide what doors/color I wanted, whether I wanted to try to make my own doors, or order from one of the many new companies that offer upgraded door and drawer fronts specifically for Ikea kitchens. In the end, however, I went with Ikea’s Laxarby, and I love it!

And then, it sat for a while, again, while I tried to figure out what top to use. I’d decided on wood, but Ikea’s butcher block, just below my beautiful mahogany countertop was going to look ridiculous. I researched the hell out of mahogany countertops, and all of them came back too expensive for this project, even when I priced them unfinished. Then, I decided to go to a local lumberyard and see what they had. My big concern, however, was finding a piece wide enough, but not too wide (since I only have a circular saw, not a table saw, which makes rip cuts harder.) Lo and behold, they were having a closeout on 1” thick, African Mahogany planks. Luck was with me that day, and I found a 20 foot long, 19” wide plank…for about $90. Yes, you read that right.

Then began the process of cutting to size, sanding, staining, and finishing the top.

This was after the first coat of stain.

The rough work and staining was done in the garage, but when I needed to do the polyurethane, I moved it into the house because of the dust in our garage. I moved it into the playroom/office/computer room, much to my childrens’ unhappiness, as they were banished from gaming for a few days. I cannot stress to you the apparent horror of this in their world. In any event, the project was fast approaching Passover, and I was having 20 people over for the holiday. I needed it done! On the night before, we were able to install it (and the door handles I’d bought a month earlier in optimistic anticipation of a quick job.)

Ta da!

I was a bit nervous to have so many people around my freshly finished tabletop, and I knew that the polyurethane needed three days to fully cure hard, so I made a point of not allowing hot plates on the surface, etc. Still, a bit of the finish did get a bit messed up, so a few days later, I had to do some light sanding, and redo a couple coats of polyurethane. I then put anyone under pain of death of touching it for three days, and then finally, finally, it was really done.

Karin and I met through a mutual love of reading and writing, so it’s only fair that she would ask me to include a bit about what I’m currently reading. I’m honestly in between books right now, but I do plan to begin my reread of the Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan. My twelve year old has begun reading them, and I thought it would be fun for us to read them “together,” so to speak. I haven’t started them yet, because I tend to find them all consuming, and I wanted to finish my current kitchen project first.

I hope you enjoyed my little journey, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

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Zap!

As in, my spoons have consistently been low this week due to pain levels being high in some form or another. Mostly headache, like today. I haven’t been up to much of anything beyond reading and trying to not get too far behind on housework. Also doesn’t help that it seems I have managed to lose my one and only hook that I’ve been using for my skirt when I did try to work on it the other day. :-/

Actually decided to re-read an old favorite of mine, Reparation by Saras_Girl, which is part of the Foundations series.

Catergory: M/M

Summary: Harry is about to discover that the steepest learning curve comes after Healer training, and that second chances can be found in unexpected places.

Warnings: Snark, present-tense and a number of original characters. I’m hoping you’ll give these a chance; given that it was necessary – the story is set away from Hogwarts/the Ministry, and it would have felt entirely unrealistic to populate my St Mungo’s-verse with people Harry already knows.

Posted in fan fiction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Another Piece of Kori

It was such an honor, when Karin first asked me to be a guest blogger on this site. In “real life” I am a 47 year old wife to Daren of 23 years and a mommy of four to  Alex who is 22, Courtney who is 20, Blake 16 and Tyler 14.  I own my own insurance agency and I split my time between “kid stuff” and work in my community of Seal Beach, California.

I love the little details that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  There are so many things I have done over the years, and my first draft of this blog chronicled them.  However, I just couldn’t get myself to forward the post to Karin because after reading and possibly obsessing over it, I  couldn’t get over how “nice” it was, but not necessarily reflective of anything I had done recently.  2017 has been my year to live more authentically and share more of me than highlights of my life, so a post of things I did five and ten years ago didn’t quite meet the benchmark of authenticity I’ve been trying to achieve.  The truth is, I LOVE this stuff. I mean, did you see Karin’s socks?  And the cakes from Leisa Rayven?  OMG.  The cross-stitching?  Wow.  I’ve knitted and crocheted, but never to the level those socks are.  I mean, do you even wear those?  .

It amazes me that I’ve let so much time go by since I’ve done things like this on a regular basis, and frankly, I’m a little sad about it. It’s not about not having time, so many people are busy like I am, it’s about making the time.   I know this because I have girlfriends, both of whom laughed at/with me when I said I was going to be a guest blogger on this site, manage it much better than I have.   They do things to the caliber of everything else on this site.  Caroline, who became my best friend in college far more successful and busy than I, takes weekends and makes the most amazing scrapbooks while spending time with her girlfriends.  It my own fault that haven’t gone in about eight years due to scheduling conflicts.   To this day, my kids all-time favorite photo album remains to be one she made our family when we lived in Mississippi.  Francine, who is a true professional seamstress can sew anything from hemming my husbands pants to ball gowns. 

Our kids are in show choir at Los Alamitos High School, and she volunteers her time and will sew over 2000 costume pieces. Each have full lives and make the time to share themselves through their own designs.  Far too much time has gone by since I fed this part of my soul.  

I’m okay with not being at the caliber of so many of you reading this.  It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything for the last ten or so years, I’ve been “crafting” my kids and involved in their stuff.  I’m still BRILLIANT adding glitter to anything and “my kids” had some incredible projects during this time.  (Yes, I’m THAT mom.) The things I can to with a spreadsheet are, well probably only sexy to me.  These days I’ve been entranced in the show choir world where I became a backstage mom.  I’m fairly certain that gaff-taping is not a crafting category in anyone else’s world, but when you have a football-player-shaped boy put in slim cut dress pants doing intense dance moves on stage, something is going to give, and it’s usually the inside seam.  I practically earned a degree in pinning crotches and then taping the inside of the pants so the show can go on.  It seems reasonable until you realize this 14-18 year old boy is expected to drop his pants in front of a 40-something mother who is sitting in front of him safety pinning,  inside of his crotch.  (Pants stay on due to time constraints.)   Yep, fun times.

But thing is, they are fun times.  I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent with my kids for anything.  I’ve had the honor in sharing in their lives which resulted in less me-time and that’s okay.  The beauty of being a little “older” these days and my conscious effort to be more authentic, is being comfortable in knowing that I’m a usually hot mess on a good day.  Like so many women I know, I take on way too much.  We work hard all day, are present for the overscheduled kid activities and then still come home to, “What’s for dinner?”  The laundry, dishes and toilet-cleaning fairy must believing in the lap of luxury at someone else’s home, because she doesn’t visit mine at all.  We are creatures of our own making (at least I am).  We put everyone else’s needs before our own and we do it without a second thought or hesitation.  I think that’s why this blog is so critical, it reminded me that the stuff I used to do for me, that was set aside, is still there and gorgeous people like Karin and everyone else on this blog are taking the time to create these amazing things.  It’s important.

I did promise Karin I’d do pictures of the things I’ve been doing, which unsurprisingly are very kid-centric.   I’ve done balloon arches and columns for events and graduations, they’re very simple and a fun way to decorate.  This is the only picture I could find, but I’ve done them for years (clearly).  A four-balloon arch looks spectacular, but is relatively easy to create.  It is simply a series of stacked balloon quads attached to heavy duty monofilament string (fishing line).  In this case, the elementary school’s colors were red and black and their mascot was a leopard.  Great points to remember about creating an arch is the balloons should all be the same size.  Tie two balloons together.  I place these tied two balloons between my legs and repeat the process with two more balloons.  It’s important to remember that if you like the look of the spiral with different colors, you need to have those colors in every quad in the same sequence.  Once the second set of two balloons are tied together, I twist the four around each other, forming my desired quad.  I wrap the monofilament string around two of the balloons in the quad.  The next quad will nest in the the first ones, gentle push down on the first quad when wrapping the monofilament around the second quad, ensuring it’s taught.  From here, it’s just rinse and repeat until the arch or column reach their desired length.  

We tend to have the house kids come to and because of that we have a lot of graduations/promotions this time of year.  I really don’t like giving cash, I began making money leis several years ago.   Again, not having much time, I tend to keep things easy, and it doesn’t get easier than this.

You take dollar bills  or any denomination you want and fan fold down the length of the bill longwise and simply tie either ribbon or string in the middle of the bill.  Do this over and over with each bill you have.  Fan out the bill, creating a circle (or flower) and tie the bills in between the flowers of a pre-made lei.   I used the silk flower leis with the straw separators in the color preference of either the school or graduate’s choice.  There is a difference in newer bills versus older bills in the way it lays.  Newer bills give a more ridged  (and in my husband’s opinion) more masculine look.  I actually prefer more well used bills that I can manipulate and make more pliable which mimics a petal look better, in my opinion.  I’ve done so many of the years, that I wished I remembered to take more pictures.  I think most schools in the mid-west and east coast are out of school now, but we’re in the middle of graduation season here. This is a great activity while binging on Netflix.

I love to read, but like my crafting I don’t read for myself, as often as I would like.  The Purple Cow by Seth Godin is currently on my night table.  I love his insights into business and what sets one business apart from another.  I also still read fan-fiction.  I love when people put their take on a story out in the universe, making that corner of it theirs, but often with the internet based reading, lately I’ve been creating audio files on Voice Dream and listening rather than reading them.  Voice Dream makes it easier to work out or even work to.  

I’ve had Erica Johansen’s, Queen of the Tearling on my to-be-read list for far too long and I plan on reading that this summer.   I like YA books when I’m just reading for me.

Thanks Karin for thinking of me.  I am a person who believes there is a reason and purpose for everything, and just like so many years ago when you first came into my life, you have brought me blessings and parts of myself.  This blog is truly special and so are you.  

 

Posted in Books, crafts, Guest post | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Finally FO

At long last, I’ve finished up my gray socks. I’m not even sure why it took me so long, especially since there was less than an inch left to do on them, but there you have it. Like many knitters/crocheters out there, I can at times get easily distracted by shiny new projects before having finished old ones 😉

I wish I could say I got a lot of other stuff done, but I found myself immersed in a fic. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down and since it is currently at 122 chapters(!) it took a long time to catch up. It’s a work in progress, which I normally try not to start on, but this came highly recommended by some friends of mine so I figured I’d give it a shot. No regrets, either, because it’s lovely (as much as fics that cover the below tags can be called lovely, of course). The voices are so well done.

If you’re interested, the fic in question is Damaged Defenders, by Sherza.

Fandom: Marvel
Tags: Movie AU, Fix-It, Do not fuck with the Avengers, Friendship, Families of Choice, Team Dynamics, Team Bonding, Team as Family, Odin’s A+ Parenting, Howard Stark’s A+ Parenting, PTSD, Amnesia, Aftermath of Torture, Mention of torture, Mention of past suicidal ideation, References to Brainwashing, Past Brainwashing, past human experimentation, References to Past Child Abuse, Flashbacks, References to Underage Prostitution, Rampant Badassery, All the Mutants, Internalized racism, Hydra, Red Room, Objectification, Dehumanization, BUCKY BARNES POV FEELS, science geekery, Fanboying, Women Being Badass and Awesome

Summary:

Thor takes a good look at Loki once he has hauled him back onto the quinjet, and realizes that there is something odd about Loki’s eyes. Thor has grown and changed much in the last year, and no longer takes anything for granted. So he starts asking questions. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Loki is not acting of his own free will.

Tony Stark knows what it is to be forced to do as an enemy commands. Steve Rogers has seen the atrocities manipulative madmen are willing to commit. Clint, Logan, Bruce and Natasha have been subjected to said madmen. They all know what it is to lose themselves, and to seek redemption.

Together, this band of broken heroes draws a line in the sand. They will not tolerate any tyrant, foreign or domestic. That includes Nick Fury and the WSC, who have used everyone on the team for their own aims. It includes Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, who has hunted Bruce against all reason. It includes Odin, who treats his sons like commodities. And it includes Thanos, who has delusions of conquering Earth.

Along the way, they learn to trust each other. They learn to help each other. They become a family.

 

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The One Where Carla Tells You How She Spends Too Much Money On Concert Tickets…

Hi! My  name is Carla and I’ve known Karin for going on… 7, 8, 9 years? I’ve honestly lost count. What brought us together was a love for fiber arts and the crafting of words; two things I still love, but find very little time these days to enjoy. Karin tells me that I’ll finish my book someday… I wish I had her faith!

These days when I’m not working 70-80 hours a week, I’m taking time off to chase my favorite band around, The Avett Brothers. While I typically only get to 5 or 6 shows a year, some of those are days long runs of shows, or ones where I travel a fair distance. Like last month? A three day run at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Last weekend? One show at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, home to sleep, then 2 hours in the opposite direction to catch them after a Philadelphia Phillies game. I’m not obsessed or anything, I mean it’s not like I’m trying to convince myself that I can afford to see them in Mexico next year. No, really, I am.. but that’s a story for another time.
Usually when I’m sitting outside the venue waiting with my fellow Avett Guild members (we get early entry to the venue,) I’m sometimes knitting a sock, or reading a book, and sometimes I’m just trying to stay warm and chat with friends.

Since I brought up reading, I’m currently reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.


I’m only one quarter of the way into it and I already know this is a must read for anyone wanting to understand what’s going on right now in our country with race. I plan to urge my children to read this as well.

Thank you, Karin, for giving me this space this week! I promise to make time for writing… since I don’t have another show to attend until September 🙂

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