Ten on Tuesday: Drop everything and read!

This week, Carole’s prompt was 10 books that made you drop everything and read. I’ll tell you that I fought the very strong impulse to make #1-7 Harry Potter books. Because they are seriously and forever my favorites. But for the sake of variety, I chose the two most important HP books to me, and threw in a few others!

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I happened across this book very serendipitously after school one day. I had never heard of Harry Potter before, but I finished this book before I went to bed that night. I was seriously enthralled with every bit. I don’t think I spoke to anyone the whole evening. And after that, Harry Potter was part of my life. It’s brought me a lot of joy, and connections to great people, and the books are the best!
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – This book came out two weeks before I moved to England to marry Mr Snips. I bought it at midnight when it came out and then practiced immense self-restraint and did not start it until I got on the plane. Then I sat by a poor, confused teenage boy who was traveling with his soccer team – wondering why everyone else got to sit with friends and he got stuck with the overly emotional stranger (in my defense, I was sobbing because of Dobby – it was terrible!).
  3. Something Missing – I read this for a book club, and it had me hooked. At the time, we were the thief’s target audience – a busy couple with predictable schedules who never would have noticed small bits of our stuff disappearing. I still think of this book regularly, though according to the book, he would have stopped stealing from us after we had BK.
  4. Suite Francaise – I was reading this on a plane and was so enamored with the complete beauty of this book that I did not notice we never stopped circling the city I was supposed to be leaving. The landing gear never came up, and we ended up having to land again at a very nearby airport, but I honestly didn’t realize it for a long time. I thought we were halfway to the destination when they announced we basically hadn’t moved because the book was that beautifully written.
  5. The Eyre Affair – Very witty and wonderful and about books. Genius idea. LOVE. In fact, read the whole series while you’re at it.
  6. A Life in Stitches – The best knitting memoir I’ve ever read. I really love Rachael Herron’s writing! I’ve read another of her books, and enjoyed it a lot, too.
  7. Snow White by Donald Barthelme – This is one I discovered in college. And though it’s a little trippy (Snow White is in a relationship with ALL of the dwarves), it hit me at the right moment and made me think differently about literature.
  8. The Little Prince – I bought this in English during the summer because I knew I would have to read it in French during the school year, and I honestly didn’t trust my French was good enough to understand any of it. But it turned out totally charming and wonderful and worth reading twice in two languages.
  9. The King in the Window – I read this when I worked at the library because I came across it when it was ready to be shelved. It was a captivating and magical read.
  10. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Yes, it’s a silly but brilliant concept that a great President could also be a vampire hunter. But the author made it fit into Lincoln’s life, and I really enjoyed it.
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Ten on Tuesday: Keep calm and knit on

Today’s Ten on Tuesday topic from Carole Knits is 10 things you do to calm down.

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A few of my favorite calming things – including my current WIP.

  1. Knit. I’m not sure if she does it on purpose, but I think knitting has been an answer to every Ten on Tuesday I’ve ever participated in (with maybe the exception of the one about shoes. I don’t have special knitting shoes.). Anyway, getting in a couple of rows is sure to take the edge off almost anything.
  2. Go to Starbucks and order a tall, soy, no water, extra hot, Chai latte. If things are super dire, a grande. But this is most definitely my comfort drink.
  3. Make a cup of tea. This is an interesting one for me. I’d almost always pick coffee over tea, but the process of making tea is actually really calming. I didn’t know that until I moved to England. We used to communally make tea in my office (if you wanted one, you went round and asked everyone else and then usually commenced a rather large tea-making operation). But the process of putting the kettle on to boil, digging out tea bags, sweeteners and milk, and waiting for the tea to steep really gives you some calm time. Once my office got an instant hot water thing, it got way less relaxing. But I have an electric kettle at home, so I can still get the benefit somewhere!
  4. Take some deep breaths.
  5. Do yoga. Every time I do yoga, I am always surprised at how good it feels and the calm I feel afterwards.
  6. Read. Getting lost in someone else’s words crowds out the space in my mind where I have an annoying internal dialogue that could be keeping me from being calm.
  7. Eat chocolate. Sometime emotional eating is the way forward.
  8. Find a way to get some alone time. A few minutes in a room by myself can do wonders.
  9. Listen to music. Sometimes the right song is all you need.
  10. Take a cat nap. I am a master at 10 minute naps. And they work. For pretty much everything!

Ten on Tuesday: 10 types of footwear I own

  1. Short leather boots. They’re definitely getting a lot of outings recently. I got a new Ecco pair a few weeks ago that I really love!
  2. Casual trainers. I have an old pair of Pumas that I love dearly and still wear a lot.
  3. Boat shoes. Because who doesn’t need at least one pair of Sperrys?
  4. Flip flops. I live in Reef flip flops during the summer.
  5. Knee-high leather boots. Because that’s what you need to rock when you have a great dress or skirt and tights!
  6. Snow boots. So there are a lot of boots on this list! But every Midwestern girl needs a pair.
  7. Flat dress shoes. I have a pair of gold and pewter toned flats that I wear with nearly every work outfit during the summer.
  8. Dressy sandals. I have 4 variations of the similar sandals that I wear with my summer dresses.
  9. Heels. I don’t wear heels much, but I have a couple of short-ish black pairs that I wear if there’s a good reason.
  10. Basic nude wedges. I just bought these for myself on super sale from Nine West. I think they’ll be great to go with everything once it gets a bit warmer!

How to make the best burp cloth ever

My friends, one of the best gifts we got for Baby Knitsnips at my baby shower was some handmade burp cloths. BK LOVES them. They were used lots when she was tiny, of course, as a regular burp cloth, but also as something soft to put under her head so she didn’t spit up directly on her stroller, to comfort her as she fell asleep, to clean up tiny messes, to play peekaboo… They’re still in use today!

So when we found out that we had a friend having a baby, my mom suggested that I pass on the great gift and make some for my friend’s baby.

I heartily agreed, but I was a bit nervous about flexing my minimal sewing skills.

I believe the friend who made the burp cloths for me used cut-up receiving blankets. However, I went to JoAnn’s with my coupons and purchased flannel.

Mr Snips and BK went with me to pick out the fabric. We tried to pick things we knew would be special to the couple and their little boy. We settled on soccer balls, umbrellas (she’s British!), race cars, American football, and rocket ships. For the cloths I wanted to be the same on both sides (soccer balls and rocket ships), I got 2/3 yard. For those that I was doing different on each side, I got 1/3 yard. I made 7 cloths, and have enough to make at least 7 more.

Burp cloths

So how do you do this?

  1. Cut a rectangle the size you want. I used one of the larger ones BK had that I thought was a nice size. I don’t have the ones I made in front of me any more, but my guesstimate is about 11” x 5”. As you can see, mine aren’t all the same size (that’s fine – the baby is going to spit up on it!). For those that are the same on both sides, I cut so I had one fold to save the matching and sewing up.
  2. Put wrong sides together. Sew around all 4 sides, leaving a small gap to pull the fabric back right side out.
  3. Pull the fabric through the hole to be right sides out.
  4. Sew over the gap you left, making sure to catch your ends.
  5. Trim your threads and try to tidy up as much as possible.

A view of both sides of the burp cloths

That’s it! Easy peasy (after my mom helped me get started!). You can wash them in warm water and dry them all the way. They hold up amazingly and just get softer with each wash.

While I have to say my sewing is not the best, and there are certainly some uneven seams, they were made with love, and I hope my friend’s baby gets as much use out of these as we have out of BK’s. She’s due any day now, so we’ll soon see!

Stack of burp cloths

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things to do in a waiting room

After a long delay, I am rejoining with Carole Knits on Ten on Tuesday! The topic she chose for this week is 10 things to do in a waiting room. So here’s my list!

  1. Knit! That was an easy one, right?
  2. Blog. Sometimes if I forget my knitting, I draft a blog post on my phone.
  3. Play games on my phone.
  4. Watch TV. My doctor’s office usually has on HGTV, and I can’t resist an episode of House Hunters!
  5. Do work. That is both a benefit and a drawback of having a work phone with email access…
  6. Read. A benefit of having a Kindle app on my phone if I haven’t planned ahead to bring the actual Kindle.
  7. Check my social media.
  8. Read knitting blogs! 🙂
  9. Shop online. Hey, sometimes I need some time to browse Etsy and Amazon.
  10. Roll my eyes dramatically, sigh, check my watch, and try to find a fellow waiter who is also exasperated and will complain with me!

Wow… so I never realized how much my waiting habits have changed since I got my iPhone. I’m kind of ashamed that so many of these are focused around my phone, when I like to think that I’m not on my phone all the time, and actually engage with real life!

4th of July wrap-up

I really love the 4th of July. I don’t really remember being that into it until we moved back to America from England, and I really appreciated what America was all about and the opportunities it provides.

It became even a little more special after Mr Snips became a citizen. And my heart did a little skippy beat when we started out for a bike ride yesterday and he stuck an American flag into BK’s little trailer, and we whizzed off through the cornfields to the park.

20140705-230323-83003339.jpgAnd I was never really that into cornfields until we moved back either. But considering I grew up in one (really), I don’t think it’s surprising that it feels like home. And nothing fills me up quite like green cornfields, bright blue sky and a red barn, like this one we passed on our bike ride.
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Growing up, Indiana often felt too repressive, small, not quite interesting enough. But going away and coming back, I’ve realized it’s a really nice place to live. Of course, the number one thing Indiana has going for it is that my family lives here – but there are other things. It’s got a nice capital city, but it’s not too big or overpowering. It’s affordable. It’s safe. It has open spaces. It has views like this:
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Sure, we’re a little backwards about a lot of things, and certainly no one would accuse us of being progressive, but we’re generally a kind, friendly people just doing our best.

And we’re just one of 50 states doing the best we can, still trying to hold on to the American dream, and figure out how we can contribute in this land of opportunity.

This 4th of July, I thought a lot about how lucky my little family is. That we’ve been able to make our home in the USA, and we have a wonderful place to live and grow.

 

Ten things I’ve done since the last blog

  1. I got a really bad cold, and was completely and totally miserable for a couple of days – barely moving off of the couch. I got well just in time to…
  2. Go to England to visit the Mr Snips side of the family. We got to visit Dublin for the first time (bought some green Irish yarn there! – Coolree Merino/Silk in Eye-Balm Green!), saw family in England, attended my lovely friend Sarah’s wedding, celebrated BK’s birthday and explored London with my parents.
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    And then…
  3. Lost almost all of the pictures of those things when our camera memory card corrupted unexpectedly, and no one in the universe can recover them.
  4. Our flight home was cancelled, which resulted in an extra three days away. That meant we got to make a side trip to Wales, which was fun. But I was getting so tired and then we spent so long on planes that I got home…
  5. Just in time to get sick again! Only to start recovering…
  6. To go to England again just 6 short days after coming home! This time for a work conference. I left on a Monday, came home on a Friday, to find…
  7. That my mom, dad and BK had all developed various levels of cold/virus/nasty lurgy of some kind.
  8. Which meant that Mr Snips and I had to do some creative childcare to give my parents recovery time (my mom especially was very ill).
  9. Once I finally got back to my regular schedule, I have come down with Cold #3 in just 7 short weeks!
  10. BK has decided since my return home that it is awesome to get up at 4:30 every morning.

So, in short, I am tired, sick, and feel totally drained. There is a little knitting going on here and there, and I’m finding my sporadic work on it relaxing and a little return to sanity. I’m working very hard on my Bigger on the Inside shawl, because my knit-a-long partner has finished hers, I’ve been working on it since October, and I’m starting to feel guilty it isn’t done.  What are you working on??