Audiobooks Rock!

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 was to "read" more. I have tons of real books that I need to read, but I was really interested in concentrating in the audio books we have. My dad drives truck and as an avid audio book listener. It is wonderful because we can talk about books and he always has lots of suggestions on what to read next. My problem is that I spend little time in the car, and less time in the car alone, so I have gotten really far behind. To give you an idea of how many audio books we have, iTunes says it would take me about 140 days to listen to them all, back to back, without stopping.

So I have started the J.D. Robb "In Death" Series. Many of these I have read before- in real book form- but that was years ago. And since Nora Robert's (the real author's name) turns one of these fluffy books out at least every 6 months I have gotten really far behind.

They were always my favorite books to read on a plane, or on vacation- just fluffy, with some mild steamy sex scenes. But based in the future so the sci-fi element kept me amused and interested. The main character is this tough woman cop, who happens to be model beautiful (although she doesn't know it) and smart as a whip, and head strong to boot.

In the first book (Naked in Death) the main characters- eve Dallas is married to her job, but in the course of he investigation meets the billionaire, handsome dude- Roarke. (think Bill Gate's money meets and Irish Hugh Jackman...) Of course she fights it, but they end up in the sack, and he falls in love with her and she fights falling in love with him.

The second tale (Glory in Death) makes Roarke a possible suspect and Eve battling between what she knows (he is innocent) and what the evidence says (maybe he isn't). At the end, the night in shining armour comes to save the day and asks her to marry him- and she says yes...

OK... I bet you are wondering why I am bothering with such fluffy books. I'm not on vacation, and this usually isn't my thing. Well for a few reasons. 1) Since I have read the first few, I can listen and concentrate on other things- like working on my web site- without missing anything. 2) They are formulaic, so I can listen while I work- leave the room- and come back- and not miss much that isn't explained again later... and 3) while knitting at night they are as good as most junk on TV, so I can concentrate on some harder knitting and not be distracted by the book itself.

So I am on book three. I think there are almost 30 of these. But I don't think I can take more than 3 or 4 in a row without a break for some real literature...


On to Chapter 5

Well, C is away so I don't have the ability to practice saying Chapt 3 & 4 with him before moving on. But I will start Chapt 5 and practice 3&4 with him over the weekend. I notice I have difficulty with double vowels- in Spanish you really say each letter and I try to smash them together like English. For example- leer- to read. In English I would say it leer- like to gawk. Spanish is more like le-air. See, you say both vowels.

I also have trouble with idea. it is e-day-uh. And aire- which I still can't say at all...

Chapter 5 is constants and their sounds. And I need to start some vocab flash cards. I have some words I just can't remember the meanings of. Wish me luck...


Pretty Versus Functional

I think that sometime between my grandmother's generation (that lived through The Depression) and my generation, things stopped having to be functional and started having to be pretty. I am trying to change that in my life- not that I want to be surrounded by ugliness- just that when it comes to certain things- a little function over form is OK with me.

Take for instance sock yarn. This stuff is expensive- especially if you are buying hand-dyed, hand painted, specialty sock yarn. I'll admit it, if I use my current favorite sock yarn, it will cost me about $22 in yarn just for a pair of socks. I can use other types and get it down to about $10 or so, cheaper if I am lucky and find some on sale, but seriously. A hand knit pair of socks is not an inexpensive thing to have on your feet, typically...

So I have been saving up my sock yarn scraps. When I am done with a pair, if I have left overs I put them in a plastic bag to be used later. And since I do yoga, and I like to exercise on my Wii balance board- yoga socks are a great thing to have around the house. No toe, no heal, you get some warmth with some traction- the best of both worlds.

This is my first pair of mismatched yoga socks. I used the same brand of yarn so they look very even, although the color changes just before the end. Wonderfully functional, not all that pretty. But really, I only exercise alone, so who besides me is gonna see them... and if they do, who cares???


I need to excercise!

Last week:
Sunday I shoveled show for an hour (that counts right?)
Monday: nada
Tuesday: 1 hour on wii
Thursday: 25 min yoga
Friday: nada

OK, really, this week I am starting. Last Thursday I weighed myself again and I haven't gained or lost anything in 18 days. I think it is great that I haven't gained anything, but I really do need to loose. I finally cleaned the shop, got all the junk off the excercise bike, and got it moved to a place that I can actually use it.

C will be traveling a lot the next 6 weeks and this is my chance to take control of what I eat when. I don't have to cook larger meal, I don't have to eat later at night, and I don't have to plan my breakfast and lunch so i am hugry for dinner. He won't be gone the whole time but some weeks it will be quite a bit, so instead of eating lots of junk and candy I am going to eat lots of soups and salads, get on that bike and see if I can loose some weight in the next 6 weeks:)

This weeks goals:

Monday: 10 minutes on bike or wii fit
Tuesday: 15 minutes on bike or wii fit
Wednesday: 10 minutes on bike or wii fit (and shovel some if the snow comes)
Thursday: 15 min on bike or wii fit
Friday: 20 min on bike or wii fit


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles-Haruki Murakami

If I was forced to sum up this book in one word it simply would be "weird". If I had to decide if I liked it or not- my answer still would be "maybe".

First, it is wonderfully written and translated. The original is in Japanese and my awe at it's translation is limitless. The prose borders on poetry. Descriptions of people and places are wondrously lush. And in my case, since I listened to it on audio book, the voices and characters were such an addition I wonder if I would have been able to completely read this book myself.

The story is surreal. It takes place over a real timeline that is spelled out for you but it wanders between worlds, between realities. It centers around a sort of magic and evil- on one side the ability to psychically help others, on the other the ability to harm others both with the mind and body. At its center is a love story complete with the baggage we all bring to relationships from our past, our family.

To me it is about a woman, harmed in her past, trying to be a new person, but the past keeps creeping in, destroying her new life, and ultimately causing her to take revenge on her past.

But it could be about the man she falls in love with and his journey from the mediocre to the sublime and back again- through a maze of metaphysical relationships and eccentric acquaintances. All of which leave him with an understanding of his wife, of life in general, and of himself. His dreamlike story makes you wonder what is reality and what is a careful rendering of the human mind and the odd ways it processes things after emotional anguish.

The audio book was broken into three parts. After the first, I loved the book, after the second, I wished it had ended already, and after the third- well I am still undecided. Maybe I have to listen again. But I can say that while I listened I mostly knit and I found myself stopping to listen, afraid I would miss something integral to the plot which is unusual for me- so whatever this book is or isn't- is is enthralling.


Done with Chapter 2

So I am having some pronunciation difficulties. -

Why is it when the book says that the ll is pronounced like the y in yes- that to me it really sounds like the letter j- and is said as such?

And words that start with "v" sound like they start with "b" and "b" sounds like "v"? I couldn't dictate or spell these words if I tried after hearing them. And sometimes there are two whole different meanings- and C says I'll just have to figure out the word from the context of the sentance. Blech!!

Anyway- I am done with Chapter 2 and learned some new words as well as some pronunciation techniques. Next week is Chapters 3 & 4. I know I didn't want to go too fast, but Chapter 3 is just the alphabet and Chapter 4 is short so I decided to combine them.


An Afghan Sqaure or Two

I learned something new today. According to wikipedia "An afghan is a blanket, wrap, or shawl of colored wool, knitted or crocheted in geometric shapes". I always thought that the term "afghan" was derived from the place the blanket was made- Afghanistan's or the Middle East. Which meant using the term for something I made was a misnomer and that I should be knitting a "blanket" not an "afghan".. so today I looked it up.. and I was wrong... I am knitting an afghan...

My favorite group on Ravelry is having a block of the month for an afghan. Each month a member posts a pattern and if you make them all at the end you'll have a nice afghan (once it is assembled..)I made the one that was posted to make (double moss stitch) and another that a second member posted as an alternative to the first. I liked them both and I figured I'd either end up with a larger afghan, or if I don't like a block down the road I can omit one later and end up with the same size...

Neither are blocked, so the first looks a little wonky but that will be better later. I tend to block things in groups- don't want to take up a bunch of room with a blocking board for just one little square...


Excercise (or not!)

Last Week:

Monday: 10 minutes on bike and yoga 15 min
Tuesday: 15 minutes on bike
Wednesday: 10 minutes on bike and yoga 15 min
Thursday: 15 min on bike
Friday: 20 min on bike, 15 min yoga

I did nothing of the above. I already feel that I am missing the yoga- getting tight and sore again. I need to get my workshop cleanso I have room on the floor to do it- or I need to get my yoga video on DVD rather than VHS so I can do it upstairs.

What I did do was move furniture- three times in three days (Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday)- i was sore, sweating, and exausted. And yes- the living room furniture is back exactly where it started.

And Friday I played the Wii. My right arm hurts from throwing and I got pretty tired.

Don't know how much of this counts as excercise but it sure felt like it!

This week:
Sunday I shoveled show for an hour (that counts right?)
Monday: 10 minutes on bike
Tuesday: 15 minutes on bike
Wednesday: 10 minutes on bike and yoga 15 min
Thursday: 15 min on bike
Friday: 20 min on bike, 15 min yoga


It's the ride- not the destination

I have been listening to an odd book lately (which I will review when I am done) but basically the last chapter focused around the thought that it only because of death that we contimplate life. Basically if we lived forever we would be less likely to think about our lives and what we do with them and how we do it and how to make out life meaningful.

This got me thinking. If we all have the same destination- then it is all about the ride. I mean, think- if you and another car of people were driving from LA to NYC you could go the highway and get there first, or you could go the scenic way and enjoy the countryside. Lately I have been on the highway. Do one thing, zip to another, get there as fast as I can and with a bunch of road rage inbetween. I need to get onto the scenic roads, to relax, to enjoy the view, to enjoy the ride.

I dreamt about this all alst night and woke up with a great quote around 4 am. Which I didn't get up to write down because it was too cold to get out of bed. But, when I reawoke around 6 am.. i felt refreshed, and my crink in my neck I have had all week is gone, and well, I feel a little more relaxed too. Ureka!


Hard time with Balance

I have a hard time with balance. I tend to focus on something and it eats me alive until it is done. Or I ignore something and it eats me alive till I get enough time to do it. It is an endless cycle with me..

So I started working on things around the house this week. Vacation is pretty much over but the business still isn't open until next week. So I focused on cleaning and rearranging the living room. An hour a day to move, vacuum, scrub, polish, and put back everything in the room. I moved the furniture three times this week- trying new arrangements..guess what- it is all back where it started. The bookshelves have been cleaned off- junk has been thrown out- meaningless kitch donated for someone else to love.

I also started on the web site this week. B and I took two days and hit it hard and now that is onto an hour a day schedule as well. Tiny steps- stay balanced- don't burn out- my mantra for 2009.


Spanish Chapter 2

So I practiced Chapter 1 all week and last night I read the words aloud to C. He said I did pretty good (but that may just be because he knows I do all the cooking...)and he explained a few places I was going wrong.

You know when you say something that makes sense to you and then when you think about it it sounds really, really stupid.. well he was explaining the proper way to say El Salvador.. to which I replied..."dor.. like door but with only one o"... duh!!!!

On to Chapter 2- cognates...

Lots of washcloths

My mom and I knit every knitted item I sell. Last year that was 140 wascloths alone! So while mom toils away at knitting bath mitts, I have taken up the washcloths. Since Chrsitmas I have knit 30 of them. Only 110 more to go!

I keep myself from getting too bored by changing up the colors and knitting things for me inbetween lots of 10 cloths. Searching local yarn stores and the internet for great deals on cotton, soy, and bamboo yarn (not to mention corn or any other natural fiber I can find) is also fun. I have kept a book of ball bands and have over 100 different yarns I have used over the past few years.


I am having a day

The list of things going on in my head is too much today. It is driving me crazy. I can not focus and I can not stop it. Currently my living room is a mess- with furniture half moved around, and ideas for a redesign on hold till C gets home and can tell me if it seems like a good idea or not.

I bought a new desk calandar- each day has enough room for me to put in 17 things to do. So I am trying to stick to that- breaking large tasks into smaller ones and not getting overwhelemed. But as I do one thing the list grows and grows. As I cleaned this morning now I have to buy batteries for the remote... It is like the list never diminshes, it only changes.

And I am not helping myself. I want to take the business in a new direction and this is driving me nuts. I feel like it should be ironed out and changed by now- but I have to remind myself that this is a process, that this year is to grown and change over the course of the year, that I can not accomplish my goal in just a few weeks. I guess I need to break that down into smaller peices to swallow too.

I think I am going to go sit in the hot tub and close my eyes. Maybe when I reopen them I will be in a better frame of mind. Wish me luck.


So last week didn't go as well as I had hoped.

Monday- Yoga and sit-ups done
Tuesday- Yoga only
Wednesday- Sit Ups only
Thursday- Saturday- Nothing
Sunday- I shoveled snow for at least an hour

This week:

Monday: 10 minutes on bike and yoga 15 min
Tuesday: 15 minutes on bike
Wednesday: 10 minutes on bike and yoga 15 min
Thursday: 15 min on bike
Friday: 20 min on bike, 15 min yoga


Balance is the Spice of Life

If you leave me alone I will work, eat, sleep, and work some more. In my youth this distroyed most of my social connections. In my adulthood I try and find balance.

Currently the business is closed till the 19th- and it is KILLING me. Thoughs fly through my head, my body literally itches from the desire to go into the workshop and clean it...

But I feel after four long weeks of Christmas craft shows I deserve four or so weeks to give back to me, my family, and my friends. Last year I counted my days of work and compared them to "Joe Sixpack"- the working man. I worked 30 days less than Joe would have...but..really did I? Except for when I am out of pocket- on a cruise- in another country- even my days off I work some. I check my e-mail, I take phone orders, I knit washcloths and bath mitts. Having your own business in your home means you can't walk away from it, you see it, breathe it, and live it every day...and you feel guilty for not working...

So this week I took for me. I visited B on Tuesday. Wednesday K & M visited for a few hours. Thursday K & I went shopping and for lunch, and at night I got together with E,E, & R to sit and knit. I set up time to meet with B next week (we will be working, but it is more fun with someone else around), and hopefully A and I will get to have lunch the week after that.

My plan this year is to say "yes" to as much as I can- so see people, to socialize, to enjoy, to live.


Wednesday is for Spanish

I bought Living Languages Spanish Coursebook : The Basics. I have tried to start this program before but never got too far with it, so this year I am starting again. There are 40 lessons so I hope to practice one a week (or every two weeks if one lesson is long and hard), hopefully meaning I fill finish the course at the end of the year and be better at understanding and speaking Spanish.

What I like about the book is that it comes with a 3 hour ausio CD of many of the words and phrases found in the book. This allows me to practice pronunciation, but also lets me close my eyes and hear the words, not just read them. I have found in the past what Spansih I have learned I tend to learn through reading- this means that 1) the pronunciation is all off- because it is what I hear in my head, and 2) I have gotten OK at reading basic Spanish, but trying to listen to conversations is almost impossible for me to understand.

Lesson 1 is simple: it is an introduction to how some words, some vowels, and some consonants sond. It is a bunch of names and geographic places along with some simple vocabulary that are examples of basic pronunciation guidelines.

Today and until next Wednesday I'll listen and speak the names and words three times a day and read the chapter again after that, saying the words out loud without the CD on to guide me.


Yarny Tuesday

So far this year I have finished a shawl for a sister of a friend. It is a "prayer shawl"- the concept is that while you knit the item for a person you "pray" about them and typically their speedy recovery from an illness such as cancer.

Now I'll be honest, I am not a church going woman, but if I was to align myself with any particualr religion it would be Christian, as that is the first religion I was subjected to as a child, and the religion of my family. I do not know if what I do is considered prayer- I speak to no particular diety or saint- but I do think about the person I am knitting for, I send them warm wishes, good thoughts and hopes for a fast and pain free recovery.

I hope this shawl finds her well and keeps her warm during her treatments, and after recovery, I hope it does the same during the balmy nights to follow.


Monday is Excercise Plan Day

My Weekly Plan/Goals for Jan 5-11.

Monday: 15 min yoga- 20 sit ups

Tuesday: 15 min yoga- 20 sit ups

Wednesday: 15 min yoga- 20 sit ups

Thursday: 15 min yoga- 20 sit ups

Friday: 15 min yoga- 20 sit ups

Saturday: 25 sit ups

Sunday: 25 sit ups

Next Monday I'll update to say what really got done and what I want to finish the next week..

The First 5 Things of 2009

What have I done to build the business already you ask- honestly not much.. I have been on vacation.. but I have laid the framework for doing quite a bit later on... so here is my list so far...

1)I am reading my pile of trade magazines gleaning out the important info and putting it into one giant notebook to look at later for inspiration and ideas.

2)I am doing tha same with my 100's of web page "favorites".

3)I did my 2009 calandar and now have a list of the 4 weekends I am looking to fill with a craft show (thought there would be more than 4...glad there's not)

4)Started my lists of "things to do", "things to buy", and "things to make"

5) Started the blog update. Still a little work to do on the side bar but it is comming along nicely.

This week I hope to finish these 5 things and start the web site update/redesign as well. I'll let you know as things progress.


Happy New Year!

Well around mid-August 2008 life became a little too much for me and all I could do was hang on for the ride. Certain things (like this blog) fell off my radar while I struggled with an ongoing illness that to this day has left me physically well but emotionally drained and with little stamina. But I am back, and so is this blog- with a vengence!

So what are your 2009 New Year's resolutions? I have many, but they all mostly have to do with me getting healthy and getting my business healthy again as well.

My Plans for 2009:

1) Do a minimal amount of craft shows, but find 365 ways to build my business in other ways. I will be counting these ways here on the blog and pointing out what is working and what isn't along the way.

2) Excercise- 15 minutes of yoga a day- some stationary bike - and break out the wii fit. Not really a weight goal here (but a 12 lb loss would be nice) but more of a generally healthy feel back into my life is the overall goal. I'll do a weekly post as to what I did/ didn't do.

3) Relax: I want to knit a project a week (on average) and read a book (ok listen to an audio book while knitting) a week as well. I'll be posting these projects and a book review here too as I finish:)

4) Learn: I keep wanting to learn Spanish- I have some great books- a chapter a week is my goal to read and make cue cards for me to practice with. I also want to learn Photoshop so I am buying the software and a few tutorial books and plan on getting through them this year as well.

5) Ballance: ballance home and work- this means some deep cleaning of the house, some DIY projects such as painting and organizing, and generally finding time to spend with family and friends.

So.. my weeks will run Monday-Sunday.

I will post daily or almost daily about how I am growing the business. I will also catch up on show reviews from 2008 so I have a record of those for the future...

Every Monday I will post my excercise goals for the week, and update last weeks goals with actually what was accomplished.

Tuesdays are for yarn and books. I will update you with pics of my projects (some may even be for sale...who knows) and do any book reviews of what I have listened to.

Wednesdays are all about education. I'll let you know what I am learning- Spanish, Photoshop, or any other classes I am taking or teaching. (There are some soapmaking classes scheduled for 2009!)

Thursdays are for ballance: tips and tricks on how to ballance working from home with real life. I'll also teach you hints and tricks I learn as I do some DIY projects. You may get a few things to cook here, some cleanin naturally tips, and advice on how to keep your family from hating you are a crafter...

So join me for an awesome 2009 and I'll see you on Monday when I kick off this year!