2016 Year in Review

Ive been mostly dormant this year as far as blogging is concerned, but my friend Grady has inspired me to get back to it. So to start things off, I’ll share a few things I’ve made in 2016.

The first project of the year was two pairs of socks to celebrate the wedding of my college professor and his husband. It was my great pleasure to design and construct them as a gift for their long-awaited day.

  

One of my bosses had his first baby, so of course, the little man needed a sweater.

And a sweater vest for my office manager’s 18 month old son:


I made myself a few pairs of socks. These are There and Back Again in Knitpicks’ Stroll.

Soon I’ll show you guys a few more things I made last year, and some of the new techniques I learned. My goals for 2017 (other than keeping the blog alive!) include updating my Ravelry projects, hopefully finding a new apartment, and crafting for our upcoming wedding! See you again soon, friends!

Advertisements

I Am So Excited About My Life Right Now

So much has been happening in the last six months or so and our lives have changed so much. I’ve started a new job at a local dental office, where I’m training to run the front desk and to assist in the back. Ben started a new job doing mediation for car insurance companies. And we’ve both been kept very busy working at The Player’s Ring. I’ve stage managed Christmas Carol, Antigone, now The Flick, and running sound and light boards for Evening Broadcasts. Ben performed in Evening Broadcast and The Flick. You can check out The Player’s Ring at their website or Facebook page and come over to see our work!

I’ve been knitting and stitching up a storm in the last few months, beginning with a sparkly gown for the Young Miss who played The Ghost of Chriatmas Past at The Player’s Ring. I have two UFO’s on the needles right now: the Juliana wrap and and the Sans Souci cardigan. I also just designed a special surprise for a friend and mentor that I’ll be able to reveal in a week or so.

I have a few more things on the horizon for the spring and summer, but they’re still in the works so I don’t want to announce them just yet. I’ll see you then!

Springtime in Dover

Our adventures at the farm have come to an end, and the Humanist House has relocated to Dover, New Hampshire! Over the last few months, Ben has taken and passed both the New Hampshire and Massachusets Bar Exams, and is slated to begin work as a lawyer in the next few weeks. I continued my costume work at Hampstead Stage Company through their spring tours, created a few gowns for a local fashion designer, and made quite a few knit pieces for Christmas gifts. Ben and I have also had the pleasure of appearing in some shows at The Players Ring in Portsmouth, NH – Ben as Gordon in Dead Man’s Cell phone, and several charachters in A Christmas Carol, and I got to be Mrs. Cratchet. Appearing onstage is a rarity for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

More recently, I’ve been working on knitting up some baby items, scarves, and socks, along with my fifth commissioned Shawshank embroidery. I’ll be showing off some pictures of those as I get back into the swing of a more standardized schedule. In the meantime, here are some adorable photos of Rosie being the best Christmas bunny around. 

   

Looking Ahead

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been having a hard time managing my health and keeping up with my generally over scheduled life. And my wanderlust and desire for change and adventure has been making me impatient to begin the next steps of our lives.

But time moves ever onward and some very exciting things have been happening. This weekend Ben and I drove home for my youngest sister’s wedding. It was in a charming rustic setting (that was nearly impossible to find) and weather was wonderful. We had a fantastic time.

At the end of the month, Ben graduates from law school at Northeastern University. His parents and sister are coming for commencement and a week-long visit. I’m so proud of Ben and so excited to see his family.

Then for the summer, we’re planning on moving up to The Farm in New Hampshire and living with friends while Ben studies for the Bar exam. I’ll be working for Hampstead Stage Company and OSG Paintball, helping around the house and the farm, and getting a break from nannying.

In the meantime, there’s lots to be done: finishing up the sewing projects, cleaning out my supplies and selling things I don’t need, donating clothes that no longer fit. Along the way, I’ll be taking photos and keeping the blog updated with photos of our new adventures. Thank you for coming along with me!

February Resolutions

The month of January has been a complete blur. I’ve worked 23 solid days in a row – from Jan 7-29 – and now I finally get a week off! Now, of course, I would never deliberately set up such a schedule, but one of my mombosses herniated a disc in her back and has been quite laid up. I certainly don’t mind helping out the family I’ve really become a part of, but I’m also looking forward to our schedules returning to a more manageable level.

Now that February is nearly upon us, I feel like I’m ready to start on my New Year’s goals. We all have a love-hate relationship with resolutions: they have such a connotation of failure or disappointment in yourself. Well, to tell you the truth, I’m pretty happy with where my life is now and how far I’ve come. But that’s no reason not to keep having goals and ambitions, so that’s how I prefer to think of “resolutions.” So here are the things I’m trying out this year:

The 52-Week Money Challenge
The idea is to make a game out of adding to your savings account. Each week, you add the amount associated with week’s calendar number. My challenge is slightly altered for practicality, though. One friend is doing it backwards to get the larger amounts out of the way first, and avoid having the big numbers stack up right around the holidays. Another friend suggested doing the weeks out of order entirely based on that week’s income – and for a person who’s week-to-week income could vary wildly, that seems much more practical. So I’ve been counting my pennies, marking off weeks, and watching that savings account balance grow. So far I’m ahead of the game, having marked off weeks 52, 50, 49, 40, 32, 20, and 10, for a total of $203. Check out the chart below if you’d like to play along.

Kanawha County Public Library’s WV Reads 150+ Challenge
This year, 150 is the minimum instead of the goal, and our team, Murdock Has 14 Friends Who Can Read, is going strong. Personally, I want to beat my numbers from last year of 32 adult books and 25 children’s books. So Far in 2014, I’ve got 4 adult books and 19 children’s books, so I’m off to a strong start. I’m not planning on doing reviews of each book unless it’s a book with a specific Humanist/atheist or perhaps a crafting theme, but please ask if you’d like to know my thoughts on any particular title.

Fitness & Health
In the past few years, I’ve put on 30 pounds and gone up a few pants sizes, bringing my BMI up to 28.3. “Normal” BMI is under 25 and I’m 10 pounds away from official obesity. Now those are the numbers, but here are the realities: I look in the mirror and I feel fine. But when I look at photos of myself, I can’t believe how chubby I’ve gotten. I’ve grown out of half my clothes and don’t like the way anything looks on me anymore. On top of that, my sister and my best friend are both getting married in the next year, and the last thing I want is to look bad in pictures that will be displayed forever.

Alright, so we’ve established the problem, and whining about it won’t do any good. So what’s the plan? Well, I think I’ve finally found the exercise that fits with the needs of my body and I’ll actually enjoy doing. It’s hula hooping! I took my first class the other day with a few friends from Kids Fun Stop, and we had a great time. I learned not only how to keep the hoop going, but I learned four tricks, both left and right handed, and we burned 600 calories in an hour! We definitely felt some muscles and broke a sweat, but it didn’t feel like work at all. I’ll be going to classes once a week and practicing at home. The instructor says she’s lost 50lb over the last few years just by hooping, so hopefully I’ll see some results, too!

I also generally want to take better care of my health: get better sleep, cut back my caffeine, get back on my maintenance meds, and have my thyroid tested, see the dermatologist for a fair-skin-checkup. All that stuff that gets ignored when you’re busy, broke and lacking health insurance.

Crafting & Creating
I have a few skills I want to learn this year, including cutting dovetails (my folks gave me some saws & chisels for Christmas!), and carding wool for spinning. I also want to find a bit more time for leatherwork, beading, and garment construction. But the biggest thing I need to do is finish up my ongoing projects and avoid overcommitting my time. Between my stashed projects and some very generous Christmas gifts, I honestly don’t think I’m going to have to buy any more yarn for myself until June. That’s a pretty happy problem to have!

House & Home
I spend a lot of time keeping up the homes of my nannying clients, and that’s just part of the gig. Nobody wants to come home to a pile of dishes in the sink and toys strewn everywhere. And neither do I – which means I have to do a better job of not letting my dishes and “toys” pile up. And get the vacuum cleaner fixed. And donate the stuff I’m never actually going to use. And find a loving home for some of my crafting supplies and all these books. And bear in mind that we might be moving within the next year, and not purchase anything I’m not willing to pack, store, and move.

Mind & Spirit
Last year I decided I need to make a few more friends who are over the age of 10 and don’t require my constant care and supervision. Podcasts, books, and television are fantastic and educational, but they don’t feed your spirit the way conversation and community do. So I’ve started attending meetings of the Ethical Society of Boston and lectures at the Humanist Hub in Cambridge. On Jan 12 I attended a lecture about what the Humanist community has to offer in 2014 by James Croft, a charming Englishman who’s a Leader-in-Training of Ethical Culture and is co-authoring a book with Greg Epstein called The Godless Congregation. Upcoming lectures that I plan on attending are entitled “Welfare Rights Are A Big Deal,” “Coming Up Short: The Eroding of Traditional Markers of Adulthood,” and “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Then and Now.” Hopefully they will provide lots of food thoughts and blog-posts.

And of course, the blog!
In addition to being more consistent, generally speaking, I want to bring back the Sunday Society, Wednesday Headlines, and Humanist Heroes posts. I want to make sure you guys have plenty of interesting material to read and I want to hear your thoughts and comments!

20140130-143641.jpg

About That Barbershop Video…

So any time I want to make a reply on Facebook that ends up being more than a sentence or two long, I try and redirect it over here to the blog. This is one of those times.

A video has been going around about a white girl who stops by a black barbershop with her boyfriend, and one of the hairdressers becomes highly critical of their interracial relationship. All three of those people are actors hired by a show called What Would You Do. Their schtick is that they put people in uncomfortable situations and see if anyone will speak up. I have a couple of criticisms about this video, some of which are from personal experience and some of which are from plain old critical thinking.

The first is this: While it is not stated, the video heavily implies that the terrible behavior on the part of the “hairdresser” is a common occurrence, when in reality, it’s completely set up. It’s important not to conflate this piece of performance art as the current state of race relations in barbershops.

Second, everyone except the “hairdresser” behaved either neutrally or in support of the “white girlfriend.” While in a situation such as the one presented, neutrality might not be the best response, but imagine the same scenario without the setup – neutral or supportive behavior would have made for a perfectly pleasant trip to the barbershop.

And third, while no one has the right to deride any human being in such a manner, I still have a hard time processing the idea that the onus for maintaining race relations has shifted to the black community. There ARE still plenty of examples of racism and discrimination in housing, education, employment, stop & frisk policies, unequal sentencing laws and incarceration rates. Like I said, no one should behave like this “hairdresser” did, but I also don’t think the black community needs to apologize for being pissed off about actual injustices.

Now for the personal experience part. I had occasion a few years ago to find myself as the “white girlfriend” in a black barbershop in Atlanta. I got some curious looks, my then-boyfriend vouched for me by saying, “She’s with me,” and then everyone smiled and I was introduced around. By then, I had come to expect the whole “curious look – vouching – welcoming” process, and in four years I never experienced anything more unpleasant than that in the black community (the white community made me far more nervous on a few occasions, though). I had exactly the same experience that everyone in that video would have had if there were no planted actors and camera crews.

Don’t get me wrong, this video gave me a lot of warm fuzzies to see people standing up for one another. We all should do that in real life when we see injustices. But let’s be sure that we’re addressing actual, real-life injustices rather than getting snowed by inaccurate videos designed to prey on our compassions.

Nannying

Today was my very first day as a full-time nanny. I’ll be taking care of an almost-two year old boy three days per week (four if Mom picks up an extra day at work later this summer), a pair of two and four year old sisters one day per week, and I’ll still be getting Charlie and Alex from school two days per week and sitting them on Saturday nights. All this will give me around 50 hours per week of awesome kid-time.

And you know, I have to say it, as a theater practitioner and hopeful artist, I’ve done an awful lot of different jobs to keep myself afloat over the years – coffee making, photo developing, shelf stocking, register running, drunk people steering, and ticket taking – but I think this gig is gonna be pretty darn awesome.

Today consisted of finger painting, play-doh-ing, walking slowly while inspecting every dandelion and puddle, pushing a swing, reading stories, putting colored plastic bears into colored plastic cups, nap time, and more play-doh. Then I got a last minute call to come over to sit for one of my occasional families when they lucked into Red Sox tickets for tonight. So I’ve spent the evening enacting, coloring pictures of, and speculating about all things Harry Potter with an 8 year old, her 5 year old sister, and 2 year old brother. Everyone is now thankfully and fairly quickly asleep, and I can’t help but think this is going to be a pretty awesome summer.

20130506-205219.jpg