Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crow's Feet

I saw a bit of Rachel Ray while I was at work today. A woman was talking about her schedule and her career as an early morning news anchorwoman. She said that other women in her career are considering botox or plastic surgery. Aside from anything that invasive she would be willing to try anything to get rid of her crow's feet. She said this sentence in tones that became distressingly emotional at the end. The way she said crow's feet is, for me, associated with deep personal torment and grief. She wasn't being dramatic or fake. She was baring her soul. It absolutely amazed me. I feel sad for her. Not because she has the crow's feet, but because she feels like she has to hide them.

One of the first things I fell in love with about Lost Boy are the happy creases at the corners of his eyes. He is still rather young, so you don't see them all the time. But when he has been out adventuring in the sun and wind, or when he smiles and I'm sitting close enough, I can see them come out. To me they say:

I enjoy life.

I laugh often.

I have experienced things.

I hope I can develop crow's feet like my Lost Boy's. Or like my mom's beautiful ones! I know I need to laugh more and go on more adventures - to experience life; not to just wait for, or stress about, the next big thing. I married Lost Boy because I knew he would take me on adventures, and I've discovered that he is helping me laugh more often. I'm glad I didn't choose a career that pressures me to look a certain way and hide my natural face.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sewing Angst

I have been dreaming about having a new hip-bag for my geography class. We are going to start collecting data in the field this week and I really want to have a bag that is more functional than a purse, but smaller and more accessible than a backpack. I found a super cute bag at JCasa *handmade and was all set to try it out (with a few tweaks, like adding a pocket inside, and changing the length and placement of the handle). I cleaned of my Door Desk and Lost Boy got out my (very heavy) sewing machine. I set it all up and even got out the iron to press things.

I started having trouble right away. I replaced my needle (which had broken last time I tried to sew) and it promptly broke again on my first stitch. I spent some time examining the machine and figured out why the needle was breaking and how to fix it. Right, everything is good! No. The thread kept snapping. I couldn't sew even a centimeter without broken thread, knots and lots of extra thread jumbled up on the bottom of the fabric. So I got on the internet and looked up my machine, how to adjust tension, and how to thread a sewing machine. I think I did pretty well. I got the thread to stop snapping. But all of the reviews I read about my machine were very discouraging. I have a Necchi 540, which I got for $20 from a friend who owned about three sewing machines. Two comments on the internet said that Necchi was an excellent brand, but that any machine made after the company left Italy was junk. I think my machine falls into that category (from the model numbers and comments). Sigh. It was already past my bedtime, so I stopped for a day or two.

When I tried to work on my project again later, things were even worse. My needle wasn't picking up the thread on every stitch so all the stitches were different lengths. The thread snapped regularly. When I tried to sew my pocket onto my lining, the foot wouldn't close and the needle wouldn't go through. I felt so dejected. My project is dead.

Lost Boy listened to my despair sympathetically. We talked about how my mom sewed when I was little. He helped me realize that I assumed that since I was now a grown up too (like my mom) I expected to automatically have grown up skills (like my mom). But although I did sew a little, I never spent time with my mom while she was sewing to learn how she did it. Also, my sewing spurts have been significantly sporadic, so I never practiced regularly. Still, I think that the machine is contributing to my frustration. When I used my aunt's sewing machine for a project three years ago I didn't have even a third of the trouble I've had this past week. (Maybe because she was there to coach me?)

I am going to sign up for one of those sewing classes at JoAnns and see if that helps. Also, I know a little shop that will let you trade in your sewing machine for a different one. Hip-bag, here I come!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cupcake Apron Giveaway

Stressed Spelled Backwards is giving away a super-cute Cupcake Apron! Details for entering this Giveaway are at her blog, which she updates with scrumptious recipes and yummy pictures every day or two. The Giveaway ends at noon (MST) March 10th.

If you visit her blog now, you'll still have time to remember to enter after you've been distracted by the yummy Big Sweet Berry Popover or the Whole Wheat Muffins!

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Description of Miss Bates

Lost Boy and I are currently reading Jane Austen's Emma. As I read a description of Miss Bates (in Chapter 3) I realized that she has many characteristics that are worth emulating. Here is how Jane Austen describes Miss Bates:
"Her youth had passed without distinction and her middle of life was devote to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved everybody, was interested in everybody's happiness, quick-sighted to everybody's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbors and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to everybody, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip."
The characteristics I see (which I would like to have more of) are charity and gratitude. You can see that she had charity because "she loved everybody," she was interested in the well-being of those around her, and because she proactively looked for people's merits. It is clearly stated that she had a "grateful spirit," but since she viewed herself as being "fortunate" and "surrounded with blessings" it is even more evident that this was a profound factor in her personality. Gratitude causes us to feel happiness, joyfulness, and appreciation. I think that a lot of other positive feelings about both ourselves and others spring from having gratitude. I was to be more like the (imaginary) Miss Bates. I need to be more grateful and cheerful.

I also think that to be "a great talker upon little matters" is a valuable skill. Small talk and chit chat are important to being social, especially when you are first becoming acquainted with someone new, but they are sometimes hard for me because I don't really think about interesting things to talk about.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Giveaway at Homespun Light

I've just started to figure out how blog Giveaways work! Homespun Light is currently doing giving away a copy of Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. You can enter the drawing for the book by going to this page and posting a comment anytime before midnight on March 12th. (Directions for extra entries are explained in the body of the post.)

The cover art is so scrumptious that I think it is enough to make anyone want the book. (Maybe to frame by your bed and pretend you're her?) But if you need to be convinced you want it, Homespun Light wrote a review and synopsis post that will make you want it even more (if you're like me).

Do you think I could get Lost Boy to let me read it to him?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Current Crochet Projects

I have a few crochet projects that I've been working on for a long time. But it seems that the only projects I can reliably finish are humanitarian aid ones. I decided to learn to crochet in 2004 when the church was collecting hand made leper bandages. My very first crochet project (which I finished!) was a leper bandage. In 2008 my ward made hats for newborns in countries where new babies have really low birthrates during Save the Children's Knit One Save One campaign. I crocheted four or five little hats. All my other projects are still undone, or were adjusted (an afghan turned into a scarf for a friend).

Since I now know how to crochet little hats, I started to make one for a friend's brand new baby. But since Baby M. isn't underweight I decided to experiment with adjusting the "recipe" to make a bigger hat. I think I made it too big. The project is temporarily suspended until I find out how big around Baby M.'s head is so I can decide whether to go ahead, or to go back.

Meanwhile, I picked up a long abandoned project and made it past the spot where I've been stuck for the past year. I can tell that my skill has improved since I last worked on this project. I can even count stitches now! (Except when I'm talking or listenining.)