Category Archives: Uncategorized

Imposter Syndrome

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post here. Honestly…I’ve been avoiding it. There are things I want to write about, and things I would feel guilty writing about, and some of those are the same. It’s hard for me to want to sit down and write, when I feel like I can’t talk about some of the things that have hit me the hardest.

Early June, I lost a very important person to me. My great-aunt was an amazing woman; kind, generous with her time, advice, and resources, incredibly gifted, and one of the most important people in my life.

But I didn’t act like that. I didn’t visit as often as I wanted. I didn’t call or email regularly. She taught me how to knit and spin, and honestly opened up an entire world for me. Through the skills she taught me, I made so many friends, some of whom are my closest friends today. She gave me a way to open a conversation when meeting new people. She gave me something to occupy my mind when J was overseas.

It could never be said that she had an easy life. The universe threw so much at her, but she took everything it sent, and stood solid in her faith and faced it all head-on, and many times with a smile. She is the strongest person I have ever known. She never let anything slow her down.

But I feel like an imposter. I’m not her child, or even grand-child. I’m a more distant relative. So I feel guilty for mourning her this much; as if it isn’t my right to do so. I have hesitated writing anything about it because I am so worried taht someone will say “you couldn’t care as much as you say. You only saw her twice a year.” Or “You’re not family. You don’t have this right.” But the fact is, I did rely on her. Even if it was just relying on the comfort of knowing she was *there.* And now she’s not.

I love you, Aunt Marie. And I’m sorry I didn’t show it better.

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Tri, Tri Again

This past holiday weekend, I competed in my third ever, second individual triathlon. Each race has been such a tremendous learning experience for me. Those of you who know me are probably laughing at the idea of me participating in any sort of race, much less one that includes swimming, biking *and* running all on the same day.

The fact is, I signed up for my first one to prove a point. I’ve never been the athletic one in my family. As a kid I participated in swim team, but was never overly impressive. It didn’t help that my family is a bit competitive, and once my sister aged up into my group and kicked my butt on a regular basis, I decided it wasn’t worth the damage to my self esteem.

That was 10 years ago. Since then I’ve done social dance, marching band, and go on the occasional hike, but that’s it. That was all I needed. Recently though, fit is in. Athletic is in. And yes, I am shallow and superficial enough to start working out because it’s “in.” Hey, at least I’m aware enough to realize that.

My first race was just to prove I could do it, that I wasn’t a complete couch potato, and then call it a day. As a warm-up to the first race though, my mother suggested we do one as a relay, so that she could try out swimming in open water. Sure, whatever, how hard could it be? HA. That bike route was extremely difficult. It was the worst idea I’ve ever had.

After completing my first race though, I realized I enjoyed it. Sure I hated the training and getting hot and sweaty and sore 5 days a week, but the feeling of completing a race like that was really empowering.

So I decided to do another. Now, I will be the first to admit that I hardly trained for this one. We had a huge move, my bike is in storage, I’m still trying to figure out coordinating workouts with having an infant around, and I’ve been pretty inactive since halfway through my pregnancy. I didn’t finish this one in under 2 hours, but I finished it. Not only that, but I swam the whole thing without stopping, I only got off the bike once and that was to fix my brakes, and while I walked half of the 5k, I did push myself on the runs with it. I am proud of myself for not backing out; for proving to myself that even though I’m not the best, I’m better than I think; and that exercise can be fun, once you get past all the sweatiness, pain, and let’s face it, total boredom of being alone with your thoughts for 2 hours.

Now for pictures!

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Insert Quippy Title Here.

It’s been a while since my last post. I’m not even going to look at the date, because I don’t want to know just how long. Life has been changing quickly here, and it’s taken me a while to regain my bearings and figure things out. Our family has moved to a new town in a new state. I’ve gone from being a full-time career woman, part-time student with a kid to a stay at home mom who telecommutes a few hours a week.

Just one of those transitions would take some adjusting, but doing both at once made it very difficult to adjust. I had to start figuring out a new schedule as a stay at home parent, while also trying to find things to do in the area, navigate new towns, and plan how to keep myself current professionally.

We’re still living in a temporary house right now, which makes things even more difficult. I don’t have my kitchen supplies, canning items, or food storage. The vast majority of my knitting and spinning supplies are in storage.

I guess a large part of me feels like I have nothing to write about…my days are pretty mundane right now. Who wants to read about what new skill the baby learned, or what I cooked for dinner? Maybe I’ll start a series on some of the awesome new recipes I’ve been trying, or the local travelling we did. SO I will write a post on the delicious dinner I made last night, and post it tomorrow. And then I will begin finding things I WANT to write about each day.

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Welcome to the World

This post has taken me a while to write. Not so much because I didn’t know what to write- I know what I want to say. And not because I don’t want to write it; I do. I guess the reason it has taken me a bit is because it’s still so very surreal. Writing about it makes it seem more real, which is also terrifying.

On October 6th, at 1:17am, I woke up, not knowing why. After laying in bed for a few minutes, I realized I woke up because I was having some mild cramp-like pains.

At 2am I headed downstairs to tell my husband I thought I was having contractions. The poor guy was just about to come up to bed when I told him this; instead he sat up with me while I walked around, bounced, and timed them.

At 4am my contractions were pretty regularly at 4 minutes apart, and getting more intense. We called the doctor, packed up, and headed to the hospital. This is where my timeline gets all confused, and I have no idea what time it is anymore.

I labored for 24 hours. 16 of those hours I did without painkillers, without an epidural, without drugs. My original goal had been to have a natural childbirth. All the women in my direct line of descent had quick, easy childbirths (<6 hours). Mine? Long, drawn out, with little progress made at each check. By hour 17 I was in so much pain and agony that I convinced the nurse to give me an epidural. I literally could not take it anymore. Each contraction had me in hysterics, and it seemed each one brought me no closer to the end. I wasn’t dilated enough to push, and the contractions were so strong at that point they were making me throw up. Finally at hour 20 I was told I was allowed to push, so I did. For five hours. Five long, agonizing hours. This is where we found out that the head was stuck. I spent most of those 5 hours moving around into positions trying to get the head shifted. Nothing helped. At the end of the five hours I was told they recommended a c-section. This was the one thing I had hoped to avoid, but by this point I was exhausted, I was stressed, and I was feeling like a failure.

At 2:04am on October 7, 2014 this beautiful boy came into the world:

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His name is Connor Tiberius. He was a whopping 9lbs, 2oz at birth. Apparently he was a bit too large for my body, and I wouldn’t have been able to evacuate him the natural way anyway.

Connor is now 1 1/2 weeks old, and I am in love with this kid. He has the grumpiest old man face most of the time, but when he smiles it is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. He loves his snuggle times with daddy, and naps on mom are the best thing ever.

these past two weeks have been exhausting. I have slept less per night than I ever did in college, I have been peed on and spit up on. I spend most of my day on the couch nursing, so J has to do most of the housework right now.

And I love it all. Well, except for the parts where I’m crying hysterically because it’s 5am and he hasn’t slept since midnight and is fussy and I don’t know what to do. But that is what husbands are for.

We are so very, very blessed to have him, and I cannot wait to watch this tiny little person grow into a unique and wonderful human being.

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Blueberry Jam Tutorial

Three weeks ago, I purchased a 10lb box of blueberries from a local library fundraiser. Do you know how many blueberries are in 10 pounds?! A lot. A lot a lot. 20140629_19071920140629_190715 

 

So, what the heck were we going to do with these? I made one pie, I was eating them every day mixed in with granola and yogurt, but these activities hardly made a dent in the box.

 

We decided to make blueberry jam! It was a modified recipe (Ok, I misread the recipe) and it turned out great! It’s always nice to have a helper when you’re making jam.

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Stephanie’s Blueberry Jam Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

5 1/2 cups crushed blueberries
4 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) pouches liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS:

1.Simmer the jars and lids in a canning pot with the rack on bottom. Keep jars hot until you’re ready to use them. Set the screw bands aside, they do not require heating.

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Mashed blueberries and suger

2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine crushed blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the pectin. Boil hard, stirring frequently. Check to see when the jam is set using the spoon test. Dip a metal spoon into the jam. If the jam drips off quickly, it is not set yet. If the jam coagulates and drips off slowly, it is ready to can.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boiling Blueberries

3. Working with one jar at a time, remove a jar from the canner. Place the jar on a heat-protected work surface, such as a wooden cutting board or towel. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Slide a rubber spatula down between the food and the inside of the jar two or three times to release air bubbles. Adjust headspace if necessary, by adding more hot jam. With a clean damp cloth or paper towel, wipe jar rim and threads. Center the sealing compound on the rim of the jar. Place a screw band on the jar. With your fingers, screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. (Do not use excessive force to tighten.) Return the jar to the rack in the hot water-filled canner. Repeat filling steps until all jars are filled.

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Six jars of blueberry jam, all ready to eat!

4. When all of the jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover and bring the water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, process for 10 minutes. After letting it sit in the pot with the lid off for 5 minutes, remove the jars, lifting them out of the hot water without tilting them. You don’t want to disturb the lids while the seal is being formed. Place the jars upright on a towel in a draft-free place and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

It makes a delicious topping for toast!

Next up, strawberry jam! That will have to be a different post though, because I can’t find the memory card those photos are on…

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Things and Stuff…and a Giveaway!

Oh man. There is nothing worse than having to do fieldwork in the middle of winter…with a fever. Needless to say, recovering from that has really limited my crafting lately. In addition, we are getting ready to move next week. J has been boxing our household items up daily, and every time I turn around something has been moved or packed. I dread how much worse it will be after the move- I’m sure I won’t be able to find anything for weeks!

Luckily I was able to get some knitting in before my entire life ends up in boxes. I finished my Opulent Raglan over the holidays. This is hands down my favorite top. It fits great, the color is amazing, and the pattern was a pleasure to knit. I got tons of compliments on it when I wore it to my company holiday party last week. I made some minor modifications to it: instead of a turned hem, I just did a 2×2 rib along the bottom. I also stopped the sleeves just short of the elbow and did a 2×2 rib there. I think this makes for a more versatile top, plus I really hate wearing ruffles.

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I also completed my annual New Year’s Cast-On Along project. I needed something quick and simple to cheer me up. This cowl was the perfect thing! Knit with bulky baby alpaca yarn, it knit up in one day and soft and cozy. I found the perfect large, purple buttons to put on it. I love wearing this thing. I’ll be sad when it warms up this spring! (also, please ignore the awful florescent indoor photos. Winter in PA is an awful time to try and get natural lighting.)

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I’ve also finally pulled my spinning wheel back out for a few days before we need to pack it up for the move. I have some merino/bamboo blend from MDSW 2010 that I’ve finally decided to dive in and spin. This fiber is like butter. I wish I could remember who the vendor was. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them every year though, so I’ll have to remember to go buy some more this spring.

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…that’s a bad photo. I really need to find time to take a photography course of some sort. You always see all these blogs with beautiful photos, and I wish I could make mine look like that. Maybe that will be a goal for this summer.

 

 

Finally, exciting news! Over at Rock Solid Designs, we are adding needle rolls to our product line-up. To celebrate, I’ve decided to give away this roll.

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All you have to do to win this, is enter the giveaway over here. You need to hurry though! Entries close on January 21, at 11:59pm. 

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This and That

I have been travelling for my full-time job almost non stop lately, home only long enough to attend my graduate classes two evenings a week. This means that little crafting or blogging has been completed recently, so today will be random things I forgot to blog about earlier in the year.

Rhinebeck Haul

This is my haul from Rhinebeck this year, minus the amazing cheese and pesto I bought. Those are already gone.  Starting from the upper left: BFL naturally dyed from Spencer Hill Spinning and Dyeing. She only uses natural dyes for all of her products, and gets amazing colors from them.

Next is 4oz of baby mohair/wool from Steam Valley Fiber. The White skein is also from them; it’s a mohair/wool blend dk weight yarn.

Next are two skeins of sock yarn from Spencer Hill (can you tell where I spent all of my money?) in indigo/lac and indigo. Then two miniskeins of sock yarn from Miss Babs for some colorwork mittens I am planning. Finally, 8oz of CVM/Silk from Carolina Homespun. It is like touching a cloud. I LOVE it.

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This was my big birthday present from my parents- an antique yarn blocker! It is fully functioning, and makes a popping noise after approximately 80 rotations (I need to count again, it’s hard to keep track). Some of the spokes are chipped, but they will still hold yarn!

 

 

 

 

 

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This Book was a present for my inlaws. I cannot wait to start making some of the projects in it. The Penguin and Alligator specifically look like so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 I posted back here about spinning up some pink corriedale in fauxlags. This hat is the result of that yarn. It used about 2/3 of the skein (125yds). It is so warm and squishy, I love it! I didn’t want to take it off once I finished it. This hat only took about 3 days of intermittent knitting.

 

 

 

 

 

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And finally! Yesterday we went to Afternoon Tea at the Jefferson Hotel to celebrate my cousin’s 16th birthday. This was the fanciest tea I have ever been to. Absolutely gorgeous, amazing foods and delicious teas. Such a great experience. And probably the only time I’ll be able to set foot in a hotel that swanky. ;)

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A Quick Stop

To say that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. My full-time job has me out of town during the week, and personal life has me out of town on the weekends. This means that any spare time I have is spent sewing and preparing for the Carlisle Christmas Craft Show this weekend.

project bags

Here is a (blurry) progress photo I had of some bags two weeks ago. I’ve determined 12 bags a day is my limit- I tried to do 20 last night, and while I succeeded, it also took me from 9am to 2am. I do not plan on having a repeat performance of that.

 

 

I have been working out of town for the past month straight, making it very difficult to make enough time to sew the bags and prepare for the show. While I didn’t have as much inventory as I would have liked, I did have enough to keep my booth from looking empty, and it did attract a fair amount of people in.

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One thing I got many compliments on that I wasn’t expecting is my new business shirt. J had two custom made for me for my birthday, and they were a big hit! I do love how professional it makes me look at an event such as this.

Rock Solid Designs polo shirt.

 The show was a lot of fun, and I learned so much about how to build my booth to entice people in. I can’t wait for the next show to put some of what I learned into practice!

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I Am…IRON GIRL

This post is going to be me tooting my own horn, so fair warning. 

I mentioned in some previous posts that my mother got it into her head that we should sign up for a triathlon. Now, I haven’t done sports since I was 14 (aside from the occasional softball or broomball game in college); and my mom has never been super athletic. Getting ready to do a triathlon in 4 months? That is insanity, and I told her so. But she was adamant, so I signed up with her.

After 16 weeks, thousands of yards swam, tens of miles biked and miles run, we did it. We competed in and finished the Sandy Hook, NJ sprint triathlon.

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Getting ready to swim! That’s me and my mom. She was a huge inspiration through all of this.

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Woo bike ride!

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Finish strong! Or at least finish with jazz hands.

 

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family friend, myself, mom, and my goofy husband photobombing.

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It was a crazy experience, but I am so glad we did it. Our goal this year was just to finish. The swim was insane- there were white caps on the waves by the time my group started the swim. That really weeded out a lot of people this year. The bike and run were much tougher than I anticipated, mostly because the swim took a lot more effort because of the conditions. But I finished in less than two hours! I am still on a race high almost a week later.  In fact, we are now planning our races for next year!

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Jack of all Trades…

That’s how I’m feeling these days. I spent the other morning wondering where my time went, that all of a sudden summer was over, there were no new blog posts, and I felt like I had accomplished so little.  

Last week my stepdaughter asked me what I was knitting. I told her it was a sample for a class I am going to teach this fall. She knew I was going to school, so here she goes “OH! You’re the teacher, not a student!” Trying to explain to her that I am both (I am going for my master’s in the evenings) was confusing for both of us. It got me thinking, though. It’s no wonder I feel as if I have no time, and that nothing is accomplished. I’m wearing too many hats!

I work all day as a geologist. Two days a week, I then go straight to campus to get a swim in before my 3 hour class. One day a week I typically teach a knitting class at my local Joann Fabrics. One day a week I tutor a friend in the evenings in Calculus. And in between all of that? I am training for a triathalon. (Which is THIS SATURDAY! by the way. Not that I am panicking or anything).

And then, amidst ALL of that (because that is enough to wear out anybody); I am working on my side business creating project bags, yoga bags, and knitting patterns. All while also spending most of the summer as a new parent of a 6 year old, and still attempting to cook all of our dinners, shop local, play with my stepdaughter, and teach her awesome things like knitting and sewing and why quiet time is sometimes nice. 

So my goal: Blog once a week. If I do more, great! But I think we can all agree that right now, I have a lot going on, and punishing myself for not blogging enough won’t help anything.

Next time I post, I’ll have some fun photos. For now, I have to get ready for my tutoring session. :)

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