’21 ~ by Sam…or Kate

I didn’t post on New Year’s Eve, as I often have in years past. There’s a lot I could have said about 2020, but I’m working on learning not to say anything, if I’ve nothing nice to say. Yes, at 50, I am still working on that. Sure, there were some good things that happened in 2020. Of course, there were. As a whole, however, I feel no need to look back fondly over it and struggle to find the golden nuggets amongst the everyday struggle and outright horror that dominated much of our lives, and the lives of those around us. No, I am not exaggerating. It’s okay if you want to decide I am. I’ve made my peace with that.

The year ’21 brings with it New Hope, as new years always do, but also, for me, new responsibilities, and a renewed sense of determination. I don’t think I will write a list of “Resolutions” for the year, at this time. I thought I would just come here, and note some observations I’ve made about myself, about life, about what I’ve learned, and where I hope it leads me. Perhaps, that is roughly the same thing.

I won’t be looking to others to verify my worth. If others cannot see my value, then, I suppose, that will be their loss, and not mine. After 50 years, it finally occurs to me that I am worthy, whether others can see, understand, or acknowledge that.

No love that comes from without will ever be as deeply powerful as the love that comes from within. For me, this, and the previous statement are grounded somewhat in my faith, as I believe we are all of God, and that God lives in each of us; but I think anyone regardless of their beliefs might still find both of these ideas helpful, which is why I’m sharing them.

If you can get to that place where you love and value yourself, then I think, maybe, you can move on to achieving other things that have been eluding you. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying I’m there, or that when I get there, I will stay there. I’m not sure anyone does.

Sometimes kindness is more powerful than truth; but sometimes truth is essential. It’s important to proceed cautiously in these matters, and tread lightly where others are concerned. People are delicate, whether we want to believe it, or not. Sometimes, truth can be spoken with kindness. Sometimes, it is best to err on the side of kindness, while, at other times, the truth will set you (or others) free.

It will always be important to me to live up to my own ideals, in so far as I can (to paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt). I’ve always been this way, and I always will. While it will always matter to me what people think of me ~ because I genuinely do care about them ~ it won’t change what I think of myself, or whether I think I am of value. Nor will it change my ideals, my values, or my intentions to live according to them.

I will make mistakes. I will say the wrong things, do the wrong things, act inappropriately, and hurt people ~ probably both with and without meaning to (and sometimes without even realizing I did). All of these are things of which I am aware. I’m human. I try very hard to do the right things. I make mistakes, and when I do, I try to make things right. I don’t always get that right, either. I’ll keep trying.

I figure this is just how being a human works. We just keep growing, and learning, and trying to get it right. We keep failing, making mistakes, and trying again. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes ~ a lot of the time ~ it’s glorious. Sometimes, it is absolutely stunning. For those moments, we get up every day, and keep on trying.

So, that’s my plan for the year ’21, and beyond. I’m just going to get up every day, and keep trying to get it right. I am going to keep trying to do better, to be a little bit better, a little bit kinder, a little more like the person I want to be than I was the day before.

Happy New Year to you all. May this be your best year yet.

…but not all “good exciting…”

It’s been an…um…exciting?…week. Let’s go with “exciting.” In the way Kaia used the word that time when she was little, and accidentally sledded under a truck ~ ‘though nothing quite so dramatic has happened this week, thank goodness. Just, as she said at the time, exciting, but not all “good exciting.”

Over the weekend, I was eating something fairly innocuous, like bread, and a small piece of my tooth just fell out of my head; so I thought, you know, I probably ought to call the dentist about that. It struck me as not the sort of thing that ought to happen whilst one eats bread. I figured it wasn’t a dental emergency, since it was only a very small chunk of tooth, so I waited until Monday to call, because, you know…whatever. I kind of feel like I’ve reached the stage at which little bits of bits of me are always giving out, falling off, etc. So, yeah…not exactly an emergency.

Called and left a message for the dentist Monday morning, and he called back, thinking it would be a good idea if I came in right away, so he could take a look. Unfortunately, he only had time at exactly the same time as my physical therapy (PT) appointment that day ~ and it was the first in-person physical therapy appointment I’d had in months, so I didn’t think I ought to cancel. We scheduled for the next day, instead.

At PT, I worked really hard, and made plans to work even harder at home on my own to continue my ongoing recovery from frozen shoulder. It’s been over a year now since the onset, and I have to say, I’ve worked through a lot of issues, but this one’s been super tough. The pain of CRPS has been worse, but frozen shoulder is exactly what is says it is. I mean, it just literally will not move, and your job is basically to make it move, anyway. Which, in case you have never done this before, is not easily accomplished. So, I’m doing fairly well, and recovered a lot of range of motion (but may never recover all), but still not much strength, and I still have a good deal of pain. Of course, I completely forgot to mention one MAJOR issue to him…but more about that later. Basically, it went well (except for that one thing I forgot), and I will see him again at the end of the month. I took home a stronger elastic band, and I’ll be getting an exercise ball and more tennis balls to add to my over-the-door pulley, little hand-or-foot pedal thingy, towel, light weights, the cane I use w/ ankle weights strapped on to it to created a weighted bar…and yoga. I can do some yoga, and of course a bunch of stretching and other exercises.

So, the next day, I got in to see the dentist, who confirmed that I had, indeed, lost a small chunk of one of my back teeth. It’s a very small chunk, so he’s hoping he can take care of it with a fairly good sized filling. We’ll find out next Tuesday. In the meantime, I am brushing, flossing, and rinsing with Listerine.

Then, it was home just in time for a phone appointment with my neurologist. That was just a fairly routine follow-up appointment. We aren’t changing my medication at this point, because it seems to be keeping things under control. I’m on the waitlist to see the new epileptologist at our medical center, sometime in the next few months (after the New Year, for sure). It seems like a good idea to check in, I guess, but also maybe sort of frustrating. I guess I feel like, at this point, it seems like we aren’t likely to find any new answers. They ask the same questions, I give the same answers, because they’re the only answers I have. You know, when a doctor asks me to estimate how long I thought a seizure lasted, and I say, “I have no idea…because, you know…I kind of wasn’t there.”
“Can you estimate?”
“Just give me an estimate. I have to write something.”
“Can you write that I have no idea? Because I can tell you how I felt going in, and I how I felt coming out, but I cannot tell you anything about what happened DURING that time, or how long that was…because I just don’t know.”
“Okay…and how long would you say that lasted.”
“um…I have no idea.”

“Well, then I don’t know what to put down here. Was it seconds, was it minutes?”
Usually, I give up and say something. Hence, there is confusion over what is going on with my health. I have tried to explain this problem to multiple doctors.
Their response has usually been:
“And how long would you say these episodes last?”
But, it seems like the time has come for me to give it the ol’ college try again.
I’d love for this next doctor to exceed my expectations. Frankly, Id love for any doctor to exceed my expectations, at this point. Well, that’s not entirely fair. I’ve had some very good doctors. I’ve just also had some not-so-good doctors, and some super frustrating experiences with doctors. Here’s hoping.

Wednesday was…you know, I’m having a hard time remembering much about Wednesday. I have to tell you all, I am very tired. Since I was sick back in March and April, I have been very tired. I just can’t seem to catch up. I wake up tired, then, I just get more tired throughout the day. I find it difficult to accomplish daily tasks. I try to do my PT, take a walk (even if it’s just around the backyard, because I’m not supposed to go for walks by myself, due to the whole seizure thing), keep up w/ the housework, and do something that makes me feel happy (read, play my banjo for a few minutes, cook, work in the garden, etc.), but I get exhausted and winded very easily ~ walking in the yard, or inside the house while doing chores, and especially if I try to walk & talk at the same time. This is particularly frustrating, because I used to get in a lot of my walking while talking on the phone to my mom, sister, and other far-away family and friends. Well, I’m sure I did something Wednesday. I know I talked to my parents on the phone, and that was probably the most important thing that happened. Oh, and our new pantry was delivered! …but it won’t be installed for a few more days. So, more on that in the future.

That brings us to today.

Over 1 year in to frozen shoulder recovery.

Ugh. Last night, I asked the kids for help. I wanted to be sure I could explain to the orthopedist when I saw him today what I could and could not do, so I showed them what I was having trouble with. “Oh,” they said, “You can’t Robot!” To be more specific, when my arms are outstretched (straight out to the side), I cannot bend my left arm at the elbow so that my hand drops down toward the floor, while keeping my shoulder away from my ear and my arm (shoulder to elbow) parallel to the floor, because by shoulder simply won’t rotate correctly to allow that to happen. We’re working on it. I have some muscle atrophy, and some weakness, so this is my last mountain to climb. He’s going to send some notes over to the physical therapist, and is also referring me to a neck specialist, just to be sure that none of the issues I am experiencing have to do with anything in my neck (‘though he’s fairly certain it’s all related to the rotator cuff, and muscle atrophy, of which we were aware).

So, that’s been my “exciting” week, so far.

Lost a chunk of tooth, gained a pantry (sorta…almost?), was put on the waiting list for yet another epileptologist, and learned I can’t robot.

Exciting, but not all good exciting.

How was your week?

Good Morning!

Today is Kaia’s first day back at school after a break for Thanksgiving week, and Shane’s first day back at work. I got up with Kaia this morning, and, while she was taking care of some business that needed to be attended before school, I made her breakfast, and made myself a cup of coffee. This all seems pretty normal and mundane, so far, I know. The thing is, I don’t work in mundane. That would be too boring, I guess.

Instead, here’s what I did.

I shook the bottle of green juice, loosened the cap, and set it on the counter in front of the toaster. Brewed my coffee, grabbed butter and creamer out of the fridge. Popped an English muffin in the toaster. Added a little creamer to my coffee, put the creamer away in the fridge. So far, so good, right?

Went to cook some veggie sausages, then back to the toaster to grab the English muffin. I’d already gotten the butter out of the fridge, so that was on the counter right there by the toaster, as was my coffee, so I paused to take a sip. Then I opened the dishwasher to get a clean glass; but before pouring, I thought I’d better give it another shake, since it had been sitting for a while, and I figured it had probably settled. So, I picked up the bottle of green juice, and gave it a good, swift shake.

Did you catch that? Do you want to go back and read it again?

I’ll wait here.


I shook it again. After I had already loosened the cap. Green juice went EVERYWHERE ~ including all over the counter, down the wall, on the woodwork, the floor, and even inside the open dishwasher full of clean dishes. And into my coffee.

None got on me, or on the sausages or English muffin, so I guess that was a bonus. Some did get on the butter, but it was still tightly wrapped, so that was the easiest part of clean-up, and the butter, itself, was spared.

I finished making breakfast, and made sure Kaia got something decent to eat, then poured a disgusting cup of coffee w/ green juice down the sink, and cleaned the kitchen ~ which is fine, because the kitchen pretty much always needs to be cleaned ~ and re-washed the dishes (which sucks, in a way, because they were already clean; but, let’s be honest, it’s not the end of the world).

As I was doing all of this, it occurred to me: I watched a lot of I Love Lucy when I was a kid. I think there must have been some sort of misunderstanding. Lucy’s madcap misadventures were not supposed to be used as a blueprint for how my adult life should unfold. So, I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but, if you’re listening:

…eh, nevermind. Who am I kidding? I’d probably miss the comedy.

Besides, one corner of my kitchen is cleaner now than it was when I woke up. Who knows, after I finally manage to drink some coffee, I might whip the rest of it into shape.

Routines & Motivation ~ by Sam

I feel that title is lacking, but I did the best I could. I keep thinking I should come here and write something meaningful about things that are going on in the world ~ because so many things are going on in the world ~ and then I keep thinking, “Wait, what? It’s what time? I have to make dinner…or…Oh…you all already had dinner? I guess I should eat dinner. And like…do…something…” It’s been…you know…weird around here, as I am sure it has been for most people.  It’s been weird in ways that aren’t worth writing about, because there all the same ways it’s been weird for everyone: our 16-year-old is learning remotely, husband is working from home, all 5 of us are here all the time, it’s hard to keep track of the days, the time, etc.  It’s been weird in other ways, too.

I spent 19 days home isolating under doctor’s orders for symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath from late-March through mid-April. It was…strange, and sometimes scary. I wasn’t hospitalized, and there was no known exposure, so I wasn’t tested. It got pretty bad, but not hospital bad, and for that, I thank my lucky stars. I may never know for certain if I actually had the virus or not, but , more than a month later, I still don’t feel fantastic.  I lost about 10lbs I didn’t need to lose while I was sick, and I’ve only gained back 2-3. I still get tired, and easily winded. It’s…well, it is what it is. I expected it to take some time before I felt up to speed again, but I am starting to feel a bit daunted.

On May 8th, while watching TV with two of the kids, I had what turned out to be a complex partial seizure, and ended up taking an unscheduled field trip to the ER. Not my favourite way to spend a day, by a longshot, but, after a few hours there, lots of tests, a consult w/ the attending neurologist, and a follow-up with my regular neurologist, I do FINALLY have a diagnosis. (Some of you might remember that I have in the past eluded to some unnamed medical issues ~ this is that.) So, yes, I have epilepsy. It wasn’t a great surprise, and I have been taking an anti-seizure med for some time now, but, hey, now, when filling in forms, I know which box to tick when I get to the question about whether I have epilepsy/seizure disorder.

So, now, officially, I have CRPS, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s Disease, IBS, asthma, and epilepsy.  And I’ve been trying to recover from frozen shoulder since November, and, I have to say, that one is starting to get on my nerves, which I think might indicate progress.

I have a couple of meds I take to manage some of this stuff, and then there are some lifestyle changes that help.  Things like physical therapy, keeping a somewhat regular schedule, taking my meds on time, exercise, good nutrition, good sleep habits…Of course, the caveat is that some of these things interfere a bit with things like regular sleep, exercise, good nutrition, but, look, I’m not here to argue about this.  I’m just trying to do my best to achieve these things.  Really, I am.  I swear.  It’s just…I’m having a hard time, y’all.

Boy, I feel this has turned into a much whinier post than I intended.  Sorry about that.  I logged on here in the first place to talk a little bit about how I have been feeling unfocussed/unmotivated.  I want to establish a better daily routine. In my dreams (not the real ones, but the ones I make up) I want to get up every morning, take my meds, start my day w/ yoga, followed by a healthy breakfast. Instead, I hit the snooze button too many times, sometimes forget to take my medication until after breakfast (getting kid to school, when that’s happening), have nothing but coffee for breakfast, realize I am running around in yoga pants at 3pm, but haven’t actually done any yoga, feel light-headed, eat something stupid, because I have forgotten to eat all day, look at my messy house, get irritated and start trying to accomplish something ~ anything ~ get distracted and start doing something else, still don’t do any yoga, maybe realize it’s time to make dinner, if we’re lucky that day, but, more likely, there’s been some small disaster (a cat knocked over something and I have to clean it up, or the fence fell on the apple tree, or I took a jar of sauce I’d made out of the fridge for dinner, but didn’t have a good grip on it, dropped it on the floor, had to clean that up ~ bonus: floor’s clean), and whatever it was, there’s not going to be time left to make dinner.  I’m still wearing yoga pants.  I haven’t done any yoga. Or done my physical therapy, which I’m supposed to do every day. Or gone for a walk (which is also supposed to happen every day).  Or done any sewing, or worked on the blanket I am supposedly crocheting…and I keep wondering what it is I DO all day long.

Right now, for instance, I am sitting here doing this, and I know I need to pay bills and balance the checkbook. On the up side, at least later I will be able to look at this and know what I did ~ and I put in laundry earlier, so that will be done, assuming I remembered to start the machine.

I’ve been trying, in the past few days to “just do it,” but my body is still adjusting to a higher dosage of anti-seizure meds, and it’s kinda like, “HAH.  No, seriously.  Where’s the coffee?”

So, for now, I’m trying to take things slowly.  Of course, if you know me, you know this is driving me nuts. I’ve done yoga twice this week. That’s better than never. When I sign off here, I will probably do it again, and I might even practice my banjo, too (which would be the second time this week ~ and is a big deal, because I only started being able to hold it again last week). Maybe I’ll sew. Or maybe not. I did at least cut one of the curtain panels that needed to be hemmed yesterday, and I made dinner.

One evening recently, while I was washing veggies to prep them for the grill, I felt the ground swell under (and then kind of up through) me, and I had to call the kids to ask if we’d had been a tiny earthquake. We hadn’t, it was just me. I’m luckily everyone is here, and someone was nearby so I could go sit down, and the veggies got prepped.  We had fantastic veggie kabobs, tiny earthquake notwithstanding.

Veggie Kabobs

Unfortunately, I’m not here to give you any advice, or tell you that I have solutions to your organizational, health, or daily planning problems. Ultimately, my goal would be for things like taking my meds, doing my exercise and integrating the necessary healthy lifestyle habits into my life that will help me feel my best to become so much a part of my routine that it feels effortless. Maybe that’s a a lot to wish for, but I’ve always believed in aiming high.

Our Baby Blue Baby Waffle Iron

Yes, I’m back again, already.

When you visit our blog, you might notice this line, right under our name (The Low Life): Low stress, low budget, low impact living for a family of 5 in L.A.  And you might think to yourself one of two things.

a) Yeah, right.


b) What ever happened to that?

So, to answer the first part: yes, it’s possible.  All of it.  (really)

On to part B:

You know…so much happened.  Life happened.  Things got super busy, and super stressful; and, honestly, we kept doing a lot of the things we were doing, but…you know…well, we also might have fallen off the wagon in some ways.  In other ways, we were still doing pretty well, but just not really blogging about it.  And, while I am not going to necessarily EXCLUSIVELY write about those topics here, I thought, since they are among the things to which I am recommitting myself in the new decade ~ it’s a new decade.  fight me.  don’t really.  I’m scrawny ~ I might as well write about them.

Okay?  Okay.

Anyway.  That brings us to today’s post.  (At last.  Sheesh.  I’m sorry.  That was A LOT.)

Today, we decided to FINALLY break out the minuscule waffle iron I got ages ago.  To be specific, this is the Mini Maker Waffle by DASH. I’m not sure why it’s a Mini Maker Waffle, instead of a Mini Waffle Maker, but there you have it.  Technically, it reads: Mini Maker Waffle, so I think it is the waffle variety of Mini Maker, which implies there are other Mini Makers, and now I am very intrigued by this possibility… Anyway ~ I think I got mine at Target for about ten bucks…but not really, because it was on sale, and I get the 5% discount, and I might have had a $5 gift card that I got for a previous purchase, so the thing was practically free, you guys.  Importantly, it is robin’s egg blue, tiny, and undeniably adorable.

Not only that, but it came with this equally adorable envelope:
Which contained all sorts of important information, as well as several simple, easy-to-follow recipes.  Kaia and I decided to make the Classic Waffles on page 20 for our first foray into Mini Waffle Making. (Mini Maker Waffling?  Probably not.)
The ingredients were all wholesome, whole foods that we already had at home: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, butter.  We could easily have made it dairy-free for me by subbing the butter with oil, and the milk w/ a dairy-free milk, but for the first try we kept it like this.
Kaia did all of the measuring and mixing…
…then cooked herself two perfect mini waffles.
Then Justice then went out and made herself a tiny waffle, too, and covered it with peanut butter, of course; but, sadly, I didn’t get a picture of them.  In fact, when Shane gets home, I plan to offer him one (not covered in peanut butter).

We’ve been buying the frozen waffles, because, honestly, a toaster waffle is a quick grab on a school morning ~ or any morning ~ and it’s nice that it’s not something sugary; but, obviously, something less processed would be a healthier choice.  It’s just, I’ll admit it, we’re not always up and lugging out the big waffle iron to make a passel of waffles at the crack of dawn on a school day (or any day).  Enter our new tiny friend.

Kaia has suggested we make up some batter and keep it in the fridge so we can pull it out in the morning to make fresh, hot mini waffles, instead of buying the frozen ones.  As she she pointed out, this will save all that packaging from the waffles we’ve been buying (reducing waste FTW!).  I like that they contain just a few fresh, whole ingredients, too.  For what it’s worth, I am sure it costs less to make waffles with a handful of flour and a few other ingredients I already have around my kitchen than it does to buy them frozen.




It’s the ’20s. Where’s your roar?

Nah, I’m not challenging you.  It’s me.  I’m challenging me.  And maybe the 2020s.  I’d like to see what I’ve got ~ and what they’ve got ~ to offer.  I’d like to challenge myself to be bold enough to bring all that I’ve got to offer to the table.

I’ll turn 50 this year, so I figure I’m reaching just about the top of my arc ~ oh, don’t worry, I plan to spend A LOT of time at the top ~ so I need to figure out exactly how I want to spend that time, and what kind of person I want to be.  For me, this might mean some reevaluating, and a lot of holding myself accountable.  Much of this is personal, and introspective, and probably won’t make it onto the pages here…as far as I know, at this time, anyway.  Some of it might.

You see, I’m not sure exactly where this will go.  It could be that I’ll figure out I’m doing all right, generally speaking.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things I know I need to work on, but I don’t necessarily think my life is on entirely the wrong path or anything like that.  It’s just that some of what makes us who we are will always be very personal, and, in what has become a very public world, outgoing as I may always have seemed, I remain a very private person in many ways.  So, hopefully, I will continue to grow, and learn, and improve in measurable ways…whether or not I throw it all up on the wall for everyone to see. I might not make any major, life-altering changes that would be noticeable anyone but myself, or those closest to me.  But who knows what my future will bring?  That’s the incredible promise of the future.  It’s the promise of newness, of opportunity, of endless possibilities.  After all, it’s the Roaring ’20s again, and I have to tell you, after the past decade, I am ready to roar.

I just have to figure out what, exactly, that means for me.  Don’t worry.  I have some ideas.

I can leave you with some of my tangible goals for the New Year, and while none of them are especially earth-shatteringly “new,” or exciting, they’re mine, they’re attainable, and I’m achieving them.  That’s something.

In 2020, I will:

  1. Reduce my use of single use plastic:
    a) Fewer carry-out coffees, & bring my reusable cup/straw
    b) Bring my own shopping bags
    c) Use bar soap/shampoo. Shop for products in larger size and/or refillable containers. Look for more sustainable/non-plastic alternatives
  2. Reduce overall waste; use cloth instead of paper towels, reusable containers. Shop smarter/more carefully to reduce food waste.
  3. Make a schedule for household chores, and try to keep it.
  4. Make time to exercise & time to relax.
  5. Work on patience, gratitude, and leading w/ kindness ( which I know sounds hokey, but I’m trying to refocus my own lens: how I see the world & the role I can actively play in my life)

So, that’s my jumping-off point.  I’ve got a few kinks to work out ~ nothing to worry about ~ before I can really dig in to the “exercise” and “household chores” as much as I’d like, but I am making a solid start on all of these.  I’ll be back to share some tips and info that might be helpful to others who are trying to reduce waste/save money, because that was one of the reasons we started this blog together as a family many years ago.  It will be nice to get back to that.  Of course, I’ll continue to share other parts of our journey as well.

Until then ~ Have a Blessed & Happy New Year.

Knit dress tutorial ~ by Sam

What I want to do here is attempt to walk you through the steps I used to make myself a cute, easy-fit knit dress based on an existing dress I own.

I have a cute dress that fits me well, and I had some knit fabric that I loved (I want to say I had about 2.5 yards of it, which was plenty. The amount you need will vary, and I wish I could tell you exactly how to figure that out, but I am not sure, other than laying out the pieces and seeing if it will work. Maybe read through this and see what you think. It will depend on a) your size, b) the style and length of your dress, c) features like the length and cut of your sleeves and skirt.) The point of this post is to give you an idea of the process I used to make my new dress. Hopefully, it will be helpful should you decide you want to try this.

I started with a dress that was fairly simple in shape, and also knit. I like sewing on knits, because it is forgiving, but some people find it challenging. I’ll offer a few tips I’ve learned as we go.

The fabric I chose was lighter weight than the fabric of the existing dress, but I thought it would work out all right (and it did). I decided to make a few changes in style to my new dress: I wanted the neckline slightly different, the sleeves shorter, and I decided to skip the pockets. My sister may never forgive me for purposely making a dress without pockets, but I felt the lightweight fabric would hang better without pockets, and I wanted simple, clean lines. I also decided to make the dress slightly less fitted…but only after I accidentally made it that way and decided not to adjust the size because I like it. Sometimes, an accident turns into a design choice.

Here we go. I took lots of picture, which I hope will help clarify the process.

Here’s the dress I owned. It’s cute, comfy, and fits me well.

The first step is to wash and dry your fabric exactly as you intend to launder the finished article of clothing. Always prewash you fabric before you sew to take care of any shrinking before you start cutting and sewing. If necessary, iron your fabric. You can find washing instructions on the end of the bolt of fabric when you purchase it (I sometimes snap a pic).

Now, fold your fabric lengthwise, so the selvage edges are together on one side (I hope that makes sense ~ you should have a fold on one side, and both selvages running the length of the other side). It will be a long, narrow rectangle.

*For all of the the cutting steps, you could, instead of placing the dress directly on the fabric and cutting around it, place it on paper, draw a pencil line around it, and create actual paper pattern pieces you can use again. You can buy a roll of paper that is specially made for creating patterns ~ or you can tape together smaller sheets of paper, ask for paper bags at the grocer store and cut them open, or (one of my favourite low-cost options) pick up a roll of wrapping paper at the 99-cents store. I sort of wish I had created a paper pattern for this one, and I might have to draw up one for future use. But ~ here’s exactly what I did:

You are going to cut your skirt front and back first. turn your dress inside out, so you can see all the seams. Carefully fold it down, right where the skirt meets the bodice (at the waistline), tucking in the sleeves. Trying to keep everything as flat and even as possible. It helps to work on a flat surface. I used my floor, because it is the largest flat surface I have. Next, carefully fold your skirt (because it is now basically a skirt) in half lengthwise, tucking all of the other bits (bodice, sleeves, the whole shebang) inside, being extra careful to line up side seams, hem and waistline, as best you can. Place the fold of your “skirt” right on the fold of your fabric, and cut all around the shape, being sure to leave a seam allowance (How much seam allowance? What do you like? I usually leave about 5/8″ seam allowance, but I think I cut about a 1/2″ here, which is how I got a more relaxed fit. I just kind of eyeballed it. After you’ve cut one this way, move the skirt down, being careful not to unfold it, place it along the fold of the fabric again, and repeat the cutting process. Congrats ~ you have cut your skirt front and back!

Place folded “skirt” along fabric fold

Cut skirt leaving seam allowance
Move down, repeat

The bodice is a bit trickier, but you can do it. The first thing I had to do was figure out where on my fabric I could cut two bodice pieces. I unfolded my fabric and folded each selvage edge in toward the center. (Sorry, I don’t have a picture of this: open the fabric out flat, and then bring the selvage edged to meet in the center, instead of meeting on one side, so you now have a fold on each side to work with)

Unfold your dress. Tuck in the sleeves. Try to get them as flat as possible, and really isolate the shape of the armhole. Now, fold your dress in half lengthwise, again, trying to get it as flat as possible. Place it on your fabric, so the fold of your dress lines up with the fold of your fabric. Remembering to leave a seam allowance, cut around the neckline, armhole and sideseam. Then, fold the skirt up and out of the way, so you can cut along the waistline. I feel bad that I somehow neglected to get a picture of cutting along the waistline. If I make another dress soon, I will add a pic here.

Fold dress and place on fold of fabric
Leaving seam allowance, cut around edges, folding skirt up and out of way when necessary ~ you’ll get a shape that looks like this.

You’ve cut your bodice back. Now, I cut my bodice front differently. I should probably have folded it in half, just like I did the back, but that didn’t occur to me, so I’ll show this method, and you can decide which you prefer. Depending on the style and fit of your dress, you might find this method works better.

I unfolded my dress leaving the sleeves tucked in, and lay it halfway on top of my fabric, using my tape measure to make sure the neckline and waistline were both resting at their midpoint on the fold of my fabric. Then, I cut around it exactly as I had cut the bodice back.

This is how I cut the bodice front. This is also a good pic, because you can see how the fabric is folded ~ see the selvages meeting in the center?

Now, I had to cut the neckline for the front. I decided I did want kind of a V, but slightly gentler, and not quite as deep. So, I measured the original neckline, and then, based on that measurement, I made some adjustments. I measured down from the center of the neckline and made a mark (use tailor’s chalk or a pin), then folded my front bodice in half lengthwise. I then cut a line from that point to the point where the original neckline I had cut (which was actually the back neckline) met the shoulder. I gave my line just a tiny bit of a curve, rather than making it a straight diagonal. You can draw your line first, if that helps. I just cut. (I also forgot to take pics before I cut, but hopefully these ones help)

Measure, and draw a line where you want your neckline to end (how low you want it)
Fold bodice lengthwise and cut neckline
Ta-da! My finished bodice front!

Next up: Sleeves! We finally get to pull out those sleeves. Leaving your dress inside out, pull out your sleeves. You should now see your whole dress, inside out. For your sleeves, you will need to find two places on your fabric that you can fold and place your sleeve on the fold to cut. I cut mine one at a time. You might be able to cut both at once, but I found this easy. Lay your sleeve so that the top edge is right on the fold of the fabric. (I knew I wanted my sleeves a little shorter than the original dress, so I let the sleeve hang over the edge of my fabric, and cut my new sleeve a little bit shorter. If you want yours the same length, obviously, you will need to cut around the entire sleeve, and add a hem allowance.) Leaving a seam allowance, cut along the bottom and wrist edge of your sleeve. Now, carefully flip the rest of your entire dress up out of the way (you can pin the sleeve to the fabric, if you are afraid it might move) and, leaving a seam allowance, cut along the curved edge of your sleeve (this is where it will attach to the armhole).

Place the sleeve…
Cut along bottom and wrist edge of sleeve…
Carefully flip the rest of the dress out of the way, so you can see this curved seam where the sleeve meets the armhole. Leaving a seam allowance, cut along this line. This is the same method used for cutting the bottom of the Bodice Front & Back

After you have cut one sleeve, you can use it as a pattern to cut your other sleeve. Simply place it on your fabric, making sure the fold of your sleeve is right on the fold of your fabric. Remember, this sleeve is cut to exactly the size you need, so there is NO NEED TO ADD SEAM ALLOWANCE. Cut the 2nd sleeve exactly the same size as the first.

Use sleeve 1 as a pattern to cut sleeve 2. Cut them exactly the same size.

Well, I think this is cause for celebration. You have now cut all of the basic pieces for your dress. You can lay them out and admire them. I did.

Wow ~ it resembles a dress!

So, now you get to pin it together. Right sides together.

Pin skirt front to skirt back, just on the sides.
Pin Bodice Front and Bodice Back together at the sideseams (under the armholes), and the shoulders.
Pin the sleeves just across the bottom.

This is when I realized I had one piece left to cut. I needed a facing for the neckline. So I measured the neckline as best I could with my measuring tape, and added two inches. I think I should have added more. I decided, to cut a strip 22.5 inches long and 2 inches wide for my facing, but I think a 1″ wide strip would have worked better because I ended up trimming a lot later. In the end, I wished I had cut a separate facing for the front and back bodice, and, although this worked, I did find it a tad fussy. I’ll give directions for what I did, but I might come back later with an update on a better way to finish a neckline like this.

Measure neckline to determine length of strip needed for facing. (You want to measure the entire neckline ~ I multiplied this by 2, the measured the back and added that number.) Add a couple of inches, because it going to need to move around curves
Here it is, my fancy strip.

And NOW, you can finally start sewing!

Here are some tips for sewing on knits that I have found helpful:
I use a zigzag stitch, and that works just fine, but I know there are other stitches that work well, too. You can check your sewing machine’s manual to see what is recommended for knits
Use a needle that is made for stretch or knit fabrics.
Do not push or pull your fabric through the machine ~ both can cause bunching.
If you’ve never sewn on knits before just try a little scrap first to get a feel for it. It’s really not that tricky, but if you’ve never done it before, it might feel different.

You just need to sew everywhere you’ve pinned: Skirt side seams, Bodice Front and Back (side seams and shoulders), and sleeves (just the bottom seam). When you’re done, you can turn it all out, and hang it, or put it on a dress form, if you have one (I pinned the sleeves in place to get an idea of how it would look). Alternatively, you could try it on. This also gives you a chance to check and adjust the fit, and make decisions about things like skirt length, sleeve length, neckline and collar, should those things need to be adjusted.


Sew everywhere you’ve pinned
Check your dress for fit & style, and make adjustments as needed

Sewing in sleeves can be a bit tricky, so I had Kaia help me take pics. I will try to explain, too. Start with your bodice inside out, and your sleeve right side out. It will be helpful to mark the center top of each sleeve with a pin, tailor’s chalk, or something similar. Hold the armhole of your bodice open.

Hold armhole of bodice open
Place sleeve inside armhole

When you get the sleeve inside the armhole, match the sideseam of the bodice to the seam of the armhole, and match the center top of the sleeve to the shoulder seam of the bodice. Pin those in place first, then pin the rest of the sleeve in place inside the armhole. If you find the sleeve gathers a bit that is okay, just distribute the gathers as evenly as possible between your pins.

It’s hard to show this, but this is the sleeve down inside the armhole.

Once you get it all pinned in place, you can sew your sleeve into your armhole. I sew a 5/8″ seam, then move in and sew another seam inside the seam allowance very close to that one, because sleeves sleeves take a lot of wear and tear, so I like to give them a reinforced seam.

Sewing on a sleeve
The finished sleeve, reinforced w/ two seams

After you get both of your sleeves sewn in, turn your bodice right side out again. I found it easy to work on my dress form, but you could hang your bodice, or place it on a flat surface.

Fold the long strip you cut in half, and pin the center to the cent front of your bodice, with the right sides together. Now, carefully work the facing to fit around the edge of your neckline. You can stretch the facing to fit, but DO NOT STRETCH YOUR NECKLINE. That’s a little bit tricky. Use LOTS of pins and make sure it is laying flat against the neckline. (I overlapped my ends and sewed right through them, because they didn’t overlap much at all. If yours do, you can cut off the excess.)

Pin center of strip to center of front neckline
Continue pinning strip in place all the way around neckline
Stitch in place.

You can release tension and help your facing turn and fit better by clipping the curves. Make small vertical cuts through both layers of fabric, within the seam allowance, and not all the way to the seam, as below.

Clip curves like this to release tension. You can make many little clips like this along the curved edge.

Turn facing to inside and press (iron). I found that, in order to get my facing to lay perfectly flat, I had to make a vertical cut in the facing right at the point where it met the V of my neckline (but not all the way up to the seam), and another vertical slit near each shoulder.

                                  Facing turned to inside

Pin facing in place along edge of neckline.

Pin facing in place all around the edge of neckline

I stitched 5/8″ from the edge, using a straight stitch.  Then, I moved over and added a second row of stitching about 1/4″ inside that seam (closer to the edge). Trim close to stitching.

                 Sew two rows of stitching about 1/4″ apart, then trim off excess facing.

Mark the center front of your skirt (with tailor’s chalk, or a pin.  I did this: 

           I marked the center front of my skirt with pins (you could use tailor’s chalk)

Turn your skirt inside out.  Turn your bodice right side out.  Now, fold your bodice in half lengthwise and turn it upside down, so the waistline of the bodice and the waistline of the skirt meet, and the top of the bodice is down toward the bottom of the skirt.  IMG_3336
   This is how your pieces should be lined up ~ Waistlines and center fronts together.

Pin center front of bodice to center front of skirt, then slip the bodice inside the skirt, and unfold it.  IMG_3337
               This is the best picture I could get of the bodice inside the skirt.

Pin side seams to side seams of bodice to side seams of skirt at waistline, then pin the bodice and skirt together all along the rest of the waistline.  IMG_3338
                  Bodice and skirt, all pinned together and ready to sew.

Now, all you have to do is sew all around the waistline, and your dress will be pretty much a dress. 
                                 Sewing the waistline.

Well, I’m at the end now, and I realize I got no photos whatsoever of hemming the sleeves and skirt, but that’s what you have to do now.  So, turn your dress right side out and take a look at it.  Try it on and/or put it on your dress form.  Decide how long you would like your sleeves and skirt.  My skirt was already cut to just the right length, so I turned it up about 1/2″, used my iron to press in place the hem, pinned, and stitched it in place.  For the sleeves, I decided to go with a slightly shorter length than the original dress.  I cut an additional inch off my sleeves, then turned them up about 1/2″, pressed in place, pinned and stitched.  

                                        My finished dress! 

I decided to use a contrasting colour thread so the stitching at the neckline and hems would stand out instead of blending in, and I like the effect. My stitching is not perfect, but I’m still happy with the finished product.  
   I used contrasting yellow thread to add a subtle detail.

I was able to finish this project in a day, and I am very happy with the result.  I hope you will find this tutorial helpful.  If you decide to make a dress of your own, I would love to see it.  

         Me in my dress, the day after I made it.


Leveled ~ by Sam


The Little Blue House (before sod)

The Little Blue House is gone.

Shane told me this evening, while we were sitting in the parlour, of our bigger blue house ~ the one that we own, and that we had painted blue, with white trim, exactly the way we wanted (even if the wall out front still hasn’t been painted to match, and the ironwork is rusting because some of it should probably be replaced).  He said it like it was just a casual remark, something you might say about any old place.

“So, the Blue House has been torn down.”

I think I asked him to repeat it.

The Blue House.  Our Blue House?  The Little Blue House?  Yes, he told me, he drove by, and there was just an empty lot there.  It’s been completely leveled. 

The Blue House.  The Little Blue House.  Our Little Blue House. 

Not ours, really, but…

It was the first house we ever lived in.  I will never forget the day Justice and I first saw it.  We were coming home from school one day when we happened to drive by and see a “For Rent” sign out front, so we decided to stop in and check it out.  We always loved visiting open houses, but we always knew we wouldn’t buy a house.  Not anytime soon, anyway.  But this house was for rent.  It wasn’t far from our little apartment, and there were three large trees out front, and a nice front porch, just like I’d always wanted.  The owner happened to be there cleaning up a bit, and he let us come in and look around.  Two bedrooms and one bath, just like our little apartment, but with a large playroom, and a paved backyard with a covered patio area, a basketball hoop, a fenced in-ground swimming pool ~ and a poolhouse that was divided into two separate areas: one for storage, and another that would make a nice office space.  It was too perfect.  Some of the rooms had built-in storage.  There was a fireplace, and a pantry, and the dining room was tiny, but charming.  I absolutely loved it.  We convinced Shane to take a look, and he loved it, too. 

At about this time, I was expecting our third child, so we needed a little more space, and, while the house didn’t give us any more bedrooms or bathrooms, it did give us much more space, and a yard (albeit a paved one).  It was beautiful.  The Little Blue House, ‘though it was a rental, was our home.  Our landlords were so kind, and we adored them. This is the place where Shane put down sod while I was in the early stages of labour with Kaia, while our friend Lauren helped me with the kids, until it was time to go to the hospital. We had a beautiful lawn and a beautiful baby ~ it made perfect sense.  It was the house we brought Kaia home to when she was born, ‘though I don’t think she remembers it at all.  It’s where I held her in my arms in the swimming pool, where she took her first steps, threw her first birthday cake on the pavement ~ sorry, honey, I didn’t know yet that you didn’t like fruit on your cake.  It’s where I used to sit and rock her on the porch and sing to her.  It’s where Justice planted her apple seed, and Hallie used to run in a loop through the living room, dining room, kitchen and playroom.  It’s where the kids hosted the very first ever Island Day with their cousins, the year Kaia was born.  It’s where my sister-in-law, Amy, saved Kaia’s life when she was a tiny baby. 

This is the house where the kids arranged the two loft beds at different heights and Kaia’s little toddler bed to all interconnect, so their bedroom was almost like a tree fort.  It’s where the enormous…what even was that thing?  Was it a mosquito??  Some huge flying bug got into the house, and I whisked all of the kids, including our friend Makenzie, into our bedroom with a pizza; and we all piled onto the bed and watched a movie until someone braver than us arrived to help with the giant bug situation.  It’s the house where our friend Geoff lived with us for a while, staying in the poolhouse ~ one of my favourite memories of which is overhearing what I think was a jumping contest with little Hallie in the kitchen one evening.  It’s the house that was just so incredibly full of crickets, but I loved it, anyway.  They say crickets in your house are good luck, right?

It was great for hosting parties, because of that big playroom, even through it wasn’t a very big house, and it had that nice outdoor area in the back that was fenced separately from the pool.  It was good for shooting hoops with grandparents (or parents, if grandparents weren’t around), and making chalk drawings, and lots of messy arts and craft projects, and rollerskating, and setting off 3-2-1 Blast-Offs, and swinging on the little wooden IKEA swing ~ careful of the wooden patio edge!  Where camellias grew out front, and almost nothing grew out back, because of all of the pavement (I’m exaggerating. There were plants along the fence by the pool) ~ but there was that amazing swimming pool.  It hosted birthday parties, pool parties, tea parties, and sleepovers.  It’s where grandparents met their youngest grandchild.

It was the first place our kids got to hang their stockings “by the chimney with care…”  You know, actually by the chimney.

Our little fireplace

Just yesterday, we were driving on the cross street at the end of that block, and I was telling Justice about how, when she was young, I remember giving her cash and careful instructions, and then walking out and standing on the sidewalk to watch her cross the street to the market there so she could pick up an item or two that I needed for dinner. 

It was just a rental, and so, it wasn’t really ours, but, in so many ways, it was our first house.  Even in just a few short years, so much of our life happened there.

It was our Little Blue House, and we were very happy there.

I am heartbroken to hear it is gone.  Like a memory has been erased.  I used to like to drive by it, sometimes, just to see it, and remember those sweet, happy days. 

Our Little Blue House is gone. 

If I had known it was going, I might have bid it farewell. 

Just Too Sensitive ~ by Sam

I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern over the years in which spaces that are meant to provide support ~ groups that were formed as a means of support, or social connection specifically for people seeking, ostensibly to support one another (and, in my experience, this has often, but not exclusively, been women’s groups of this nature) ~ have a tendency to become cliquish and unsupportive, even ostracizing to certain individuals, or to certain segments of a community, and I have always had difficulty understanding this. Throughout my life, I have struggled to understand why people feel the need to put down or exclude others, and how in the world doing so could possibly make them feel… I don’t know. I was going to say “better,” but is that the right word? Is that what they are feeling? Does it make them feel better about themselves or their situation to put down others? Somehow, if someone else is doing a worse job of parenting, succeeding in business, managing their health or their particular situation (whatever it is), then are they doing better, and are they, perhaps, somehow superior? Because, I thought, in a situation in which people came together to support one another, people would be there to, you know, support one another.

This wasn’t brought on by any particular incident recently, in case anyone is trying to decipher what I am saying and figure out if they did or said something that upset me. I’m not that cryptic. Most of the time, if I am upset, you can probably tell. It’s honestly just a thing I have noticed. It’s happened to me, to be sure, but I have watched as it happened to many others over the years, and even in speaking up have felt fairly powerless to stop it, which has been frustrating. I haven’t always found my voice when I should have; and, in some cases, even when I did, I felt it didn’t matter, in the end.

It’s a thing I just don’t get, and never have, this clique-mentality that develops within a group and weaves a web drawing in others near it, normalizing behaviours that, in another context, would seem abhorrent. When we were young, we were taught that excluding others, gossiping about people, saying nasty things behind people’s backs, and any of that sort of “othering” behaviour was wrong. But suddenly, as adults, we’re doing it again. To me, it feels especially wrong in the context of something that is meant to be a support structure. That’s specifically what I am talking about here. I’m not saying we have to be friends with everyone we meet. That would be preposterous. (‘Though, I would argue that, while we needn’t be friends with anyone, I honestly can’t see many reasons to be unkind to most people, and absolutely none to say anything behind anyone’s back that we wouldn’t say to them. If a thing is true, and not something we shouldn’t be talking about, why wouldn’t we say it? So, if we wouldn’t say it to the person in question, perhaps we shouldn’t say it. I know. That’s not always easy, but maybe it’s kind, and maybe the world needs more kindness.)

I am talking about a very specific situation: groups that have been formed, online or IRL, in which members commit to providing support to one another. So, a member joins, and, for whatever reason, other members ~ often members who have known one another, and already formed bonds, or have certain ideas about some things that differ from the new member’s ideas ~ decide the new member just doesn’t “fit” with their group. But they don’t say anything to the member. They just leave them out of invitations, talk around them, talk about them behind their back. This behaviour usually starts with just one or two members, but then other members start to join in, even if they did not, initially share these feelings, until it seems everyone agrees in their negative opinion of the new member. But still, nobody tells them. The problem is, they can tell. They can tell they are not liked…or they have a feeling they aren’t liked as well as other members, because it’s clear that everyone else has a closer bond, and seems to be doing things without them, or it feels like people are talking about them, or that people don’t like them…but…maybe they’re just being paranoid…or maybe they’re too sensitive…

If they ask anyone what’s going on, that’s what they’re likely too hear: they’re just too sensitive. If anyone has anything negative or unkind to say to them, that’s the problem: they’re just too sensitive. Even if those same people wouldn’t dream of saying the same unkind things to a different member of the same group (because this is a safe space, where we support each other). I went through this a lot when I was younger, and it still happens now, sometimes, but I think am quicker to recognize it and walk away (which means not getting the support I need, in those situations). As I said, I know I am not the only one who has encountered this, because I have watched the same scenario unfold time and time again with other people.

Then there are the situations that come up in conversations (both online and IRL, but often, these days, online), not just in the aforementioned groups, but even with close friends and family members, in which people will say and do things that I cannot imagine having said and done even just 10 years ago. I do think this is more of a problem online, specifically, but lately, I notice it happening more and more In Real Life, as well, and this worries me (because I am Just Too Sensitive, remember?). I think, maybe, we are getting so used to this idea that we can just say anything to anyone ~ is that a product of the digital age, when a screen removes us from the face-to-face reality of our living, breathing audience? ~ that we are losing touch with our sense empathy and compassion. We’re forgetting to take into account the other person’s feelings, to think before we speak. Which is funny, because I think half of things I see posted on the internet are some version of somebody’s homemade sign/craft/digital art about exactly that (“Before You Speak, Think!…” “Classroom Rules:…” “In this house…”) So, I feel like there’s solid evidence that so many of us are trying really hard.

In fact, I keep feeling like I am trying super hard to live up to those standards; but I also keep just missing my mark. It’s disheartening, and sometimes defeating, because I do truly try to lead with my heart and take all of these things into account. I’m aware of all of these things, and yet, sometimes, I just don’t get it right. Sometimes, I act (or speak, or type) before I think. Sometimes, I have been on the wrong side of those situations, before I even realized they were unfolding, and I hate that, because I know how much I detest them when I’m on the other side. I know how much it hurts. I know how hard it is, and how bad it feels, and how it can impact a person’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth, and even their health and well-being. I am aware of all of these things, because I really am exceedingly sensitive. And still, sometimes, I fail.

So, I keep trying to be mindful of all of these things. I keep trying to do better. I keep saying I will lead with Kindness; but, like, really, am I doing it? I want to try harder.

Nah. That’s a copout. (I know, because Yoda just came over and smacked me in the kneecaps with his stick ~ I know, it’s not called a stick. Get off my back. Like…literally.)

I want to DO better.

So, here’s a thought (and, I know, I have mentioned this before to many of you, but here we go again): What if we’re not too sensitive?

What if, just maybe, the rest of the world needs to pause and consider that sensitivity is normal, and not a fault, and our mamas were actually right when they taught us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all?

What if we all started pausing to consider the consequences of our words and actions BEFORE we put them out into the world, taking into account our own sensitivity, and how words and actions like them might impact us (“Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you”)?

What if we all decided to lead with kindness and empathy?

What if we forgave ourselves when we failed?

What if we forgave others, too?

Those last two parts are super hard for me sometimes (especially that first one), but I think they might be the key to my success here.

I was taught that peace begins with me, and that the only change in the world I can make is change within myself; so I am working on being more mindful of how I interact with others in what I say and do ~ how my words and actions impact people. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It seems we talk a lot these days about being the change we want to see in the world. I think that’s a great idea. The change I want to see is one toward kindness, empathy and greater understanding.

2019 ~ by Sam

Well, here we are. It’s the 5th of February, and I haven’t updated since the New Year. We’ve been busy…ish.

The end of the year found us scrambling to get a new roof on the house before the rainy season. I know, I know ~ the rainy season? In L.A.? I’m joking, right? But, really, I’m not. Because, honestly, any amount of raining inside your house, is not great. Also, we kept hearing there was actually going to be a Rainy Season this year. Maybe even a RAINY SEASON by L.A. standards, and that, without a rainproof roof, did not sound like a Great Idea.

So, while trying to get lots of other things ~ like Holiday shopping, and decorating, and baking, and gift-wrapping, and packaging and mailing ~ done, we were also trying to do things like get roof estimates, find someone who could take down the solar panels and put them back up again, decide who to hire, work out all of the details and figure out how to finance all of this… And you know, get the kids to school, and still do all of the usual day-to-day stuff, too. So, you know…it was a little bit hectic. You might say. But we did some things, anyway. We didn’t necessarily get everything done in a timely fashion (we might have mailed out “Happy New Year” gifts ~late, very late ~ instead of Christmas gifts), and I definitely didn’t remember to come over here and write about any of it. So, I thought it might be good to come back and do a little bit of a check-in:

I looked at my last entry, and saw this (I’ve added notes about my progress in parentheses):

I will:

Accept that I am a work in progress. (working on it)
Balance the books and pay bills every Monday. (need to do this)
Strive to buy coffee out only 1x/week, and remember my reusable cup when I do. (eh…this needs work, too)
Exercise at least 3-5x/week, and do my PT at least 5x/week. * (um…2-3x/week, so far. But that’s better than none! I’ll keep trying)
Play my banjo every day. (not every day, but not none!)
Accentuate the positive. (um…probably also needs work, but I’m trying)
Focus on forgiveness. (I think I’m doing okay here)
Breathe, drink water & eat real food. ** (Girl Scout Cookies are not imaginary)
Read every day. (YES ~ nailed it!)
List stuff on my etsy shop within 1 week of making it. *** (Haven’t made anything new, but did list a bunch of stuff I had already made!)
Work in the garden at least 1x/week. (Okay, it’s been POURING, but I did work in the garden a little bit when it wasn’t, and I potted a couple of indoor plants)
Try to be more present & attentive. (will always need more work, but I’m doing it…the trying part, I mean)
Sew/knit/crochet or otherwise craft/make something every week. (100% doing this ~ I don’t finish a project every week, so far, but I am always doing something creative)

I will NOT:

Beat myself up if I fail. (still needs a little work)
Give up because I miss a step (week, day, whatever). (yup, got it. It’s hard)
Care what other people think about this list, me, or anything I’ve written here. (uh, huh. Pretty much doing this, most of the time. I still have my moments)

So. Here, in no particular order, are some things I have been doing:

I made some fun cookies with these adorable cookie cutters to send to friends and family. Kids helped with some of the decorating.

I made this set of pillows for my sister & brother-in-law.

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing with my mentee, and I finally started working on this dress. Several years ago, I bought this fabric and pattern. As soon as I got home, I washed the fabric, cut all of the pieces from the dress fabric (but not the lining ~ it will be fully lined), and then put it away and never got around to sewing it. Now, I am finally actually sewing it. Slowly but surely, because I keep getting distracted by other things, but at least I keep working on it.

It doesn’t have wings. My dressform, Mädchen, just wears them, sometimes.

I have been working on finishing a large single crochet blanket I started last year, then set aside. When I ran out one of the yarns I was using for that blanket and had to order it online, because I couldn’t find it in stores, I started working on another, smaller crochet project (probably just a throw), because I found some yarn I loved while looking for the other one.

Blanket #1

Blanket #2

I am still painting the Little Free Library, and trying to get it all ready to open. It’s ridiculous that this is taking so incredibly long. We have books and everything! It’s almost done! I am so excited. But still really slow. (Who knew it would take so long??) I really wanted to have it up and running before the end of last year, but promised not to kick myself if I didn’t get things done. (I’ll wait to post a picture until it’s done.)

I visited The Last Bookstore with Shane and Justice, and the Museum of Tolerance with Kaia.

We all went to the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center.

I drove Kaia to an animal shelter to drop off 4 pet beds and 20 cat toys she’d made for the animals there.

There are so many other things I am forgetting. No wonder I’m so tired all the time. Now that I see it all in black and white, I can see that I’ve actually been rather busy.

So, now, we are just trying to get back into the swing of things. It seems like there is always something else to do. The laundry room is mostly painted, thanks to Shane, and we have settled on a colour for the next project. I am sure, by the time we get that one done, we will have figured out something else that needs work.

I think, at least for now, I am beginning to feel like I’m settling into something like a routine. It’s not the same each day, and it still needs fine-tuning ~ for instance, I have to include more exercise, if I want my foot to hurt less, and I want to include more banjo-playing, and I should include more housekeeping ~ but I am hitting my marks (or at least landing somewhat close to them) more often than I used to, and that feels good. At the end of the day, I feel like I am making progress, and that’s what resolutions are all about, aren’t they? I never expected to just immediately achieve all of those things. I set out to work toward my goals over the course of a year, with the hope of someday achieving them. I’d say I’m doing all right, by my standards.