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Good morning from 2012!

Just a quick recap before I head back to organize our flat (messy from holiday festivities).    I can’t believe it’s 2012 already.   I know, I know – everyone you’ve ever met has said that or something similar to you in the last few hours.  But still, I repeat – I can’t believe it’s 2012 already.  Seth and I are almost halfway through our three years in Edinburgh, according to the Mayan calendar the world is about to end, and since it’s January, it is no longer okay for me to listen to only my favorite three Christmas albums (at least, not in front of other people).

2011 was a great year – we went to Paris, enjoyed a summer in Edinburgh (not hot persay, but sun from 4am to 12pm, yes please!), hosted many visitors and visited our homes in the states.

I did complete 20 knitting projects during the year – finishing with some baby hats for my soon to be born nephew and a friend’s new baby son.   I didn’t manage to blog twice a week, but don’t actually feel guilty about it.  My book goal fell one book short, but I am thinking that somewhere during the year, I read a book and neglected to blog it, so I am considering that goal a success despite my lack of actual ‘Book 52 of 52’ post.

For 2012, I plan to:
1. Finish 20 knitting projects.
2. Fit all of my crafting supplies into only two cubbies by December (currently occupying five cubbies and two small bins).
3. Sew a hexagon quilt.
4. Workout 3x/week (Zumba, Pilates/Yoga and running)
5. Get outside of Edinburgh and hike/walk once a month.
6. Read a history of Scotland (have one on my shelf just now – by a Scot named Magnus Magnusson – what a name!)

I wrote a few more down somewhere, but I will start there for now.    Besides my own goals, 2012 will hold a trip to London with Seth, potential trips to Ireland and back to Paris, another visit home to the states, another summer spent by the swan pond near our flat and plenty of good times with friends (and hopefully a good new job in there somewhere as well).

Here’s to your 2011s and 2012s whatever you completed and have planned!


The blog has been quiet of late, though I am sure those that read this nonsense will notice that my blog-per-week numbers have never been very high.   I’ve been busy in the real world though:

-making project bags for a friend in exchange for an Amy Butler pattern and some Wollmeise.
-visiting Seth in Paris for a week (I know.  Me in Paris?  I could barely believe it myself.)
-knitting and making plans for more knitting.
-finishing up small projects.
-sewing up scrap fabrics into a to-be-continued quilt.
-eating far too much sugar and continuing to contemplate an exercise plan (running, pilates, both?)
-job searching (going down to PT at work starting Monday – anyone need a creative, fun, efficient assistant?)
-seeing HP7.2 twice (I 100% prefer the book’s version of the ending)
-having a sleepover party with friends (food, Boggle, 3/4 of a movie, big breakfast, lots of laughter)
-learning the art of the espresso machine at Olive Cafe for my August Sunday lunch shifts.
-making cookies from the Nestle Tollhouse recipe because I was feeling homesick.
-putting together a project planning binder (organizing mixed with crafting is one of my favorite things – maybe that’s a job I should look for… hmm.)

How have you been spending your July?


No photos to go along with this list, but they will come along soon.

1. Went to WoolFest with some dear friends from knit group last weekend.  Got to hold a kitten-sized ten day old lamb and bought yarn to dye and fibre to spin.

2. Tried my hand at top-whorl drop spindle spinning.  My first attempt started as a slubby thin yarn and ended closer to a worsted weight slubby yarn.  But, I am still pleased with my new hobby.

3. Finished my first lace shawl last week, but will have to wait to show it off to the world until the fall (but no complaints about the warm weather!). Photos to come.

4. Feeling rather dull of late – tired and unsocial with nothing to talk about.  I am hoping this melancholy will lift soon – Perhaps a week in Paris is the cure I’ve been needing…

5. Am missing my family as we approach the Fourth of July.  My extended family on my dad’s side always does the Fourth together, and this year instead of all staying near my aunt’s vacation trailer home and being a  part of the small town parade in Solon Springs WI, they will be headed up to my dad’s land near Duluth MN for four-wheeling, golf, and apparently I hear rumours of secondhand above ground pools that have been purchased.  You’d have to know my crazy family to truly understand how I will miss this slightly white-trash/hick gathering in northern MN – I am considering writing a biography of the Johnson clan to preserve the memories for future generations. If any Johnsons or adopted Johnsons are reading this, I wish you well and safe for this Fourth of July weekend.  Enjoy the Lodge and don’t do anything stupid with fireworks.

Gotta run, it’s secret birthday dinner time for a friend and we’re hosting – time to cook 50 meatballs for the spaghetti…

Back at work today after a very good weekend.  Finished a couple of books, cast off Fiorella and blocked it, helped some friends move, dinner and movie with some other friends, watched the latest episode of Doctor Who and crossed off several things on the ever present ‘to do’ list.   I washed all my winter hats to be stored for the summer, put together the supplies to make a few flower pins, did endless laundry and washed (what seemed like) hundreds of dishes, stopped by a charity shop for a guidebook to Paris for our July trip, made bread and picked up groceries, volunteered in the nursery at church and made plans for the fun and busy week to come.  I didn’t make it to the Botanics last week as my goals list would have me do, but did sit outside Friday late afternoon to catch the last of the sunshine that day (75 degree weather in Edinburgh = amazing!).   Gotta be honest, I think I might still be a little too selfish of my time and schedule to have kids! :)

The above shown M&Ms got me through a very quiet day at work, and now I am preparing for dinner with a fellow couple at New College.    Here are some random thoughts for today – the beginning of the week:

1. Dark Chocolate M&Ms are just the best.  Although, depending on the day, I might say that about any variety of M&Ms.

2.  Have finished 12″ of the Woven Stitch Laptop Case, 18″ more to go and they’d better go fast.  I need to mail this thing MN this week, so will have to trade cleaning for knitting until it’s done.

3. Been on a Sherlock Holmes kick lately – books, shows, etc. Am amazed at how differently the character is portrayed depending on the author/director and love that he can be played as both a clean cut gentlemen with a sharp tongue or a sort of dirty addict with a genius that borders on insanity.  Will have to research some articles about this – it is most fascinating to me (don’t judge). 

4. Dear Seth, let’s please go out on a date soon. Maybe we can see the new XMen movie or get a schwarma?  Love, Rachel

5. I am still collecting far too many ideas for projects and not actualizing them.  As I obviously do not have the budget, nor enough hours in a day, to attempt all of the ideas/designs I see – maybe I should take a step back from looking at ideas and use that time to work on completing some I already have materials for.    I am already planning to sketch out some sewing plans for after our November trip to the states, where I plan to make full use of Joanns 40% off coupons and bring back some of my fabric stash to Edinburgh.  I have yarn in my stash for 10 projects, so should stop queuing a million new patterns until I knit through it (and should be perfectly content and not impatient while doing it!).   This realization of having too many ideas strikes me as both a burden and a source of happiness, as I cannot make everything I’d like, but do love the inspiration and creativity the various blogs and books I read bring.   How to balance this?  Any ideas?

6. How come I have so many pregnant friends right now?  I am having trouble keeping track of all of the names and birthdays of the little ones as it is, stop bringing new kids into the mix! :)

7. Though I have seen very few that I have really liked, I am in the mood to make a maxidress for my wardrobe. A floor length dress I made as a Jane Austen costume for Halloween a few years back was a dream to wear – I loved the material swishing around my legs and the whimsy of a long dress.  I am thinking that a modern version of a floor length dress is in order.  I wonder what style would suit me best and will have to sketch out some ideas – woven or jersey? Hem ruffle or plain? Scoopneck, vneck or straight?  Pattern or solid fabric?  Hmmm…  Speaking of maxidresses, this post from Dottie Angel made me laugh.   

I think I will stop my thoughts there for now.  Please comment on any thought that strikes you as I am eager for dialogue…  Hope you are having a wonderful Monday!

1. Finish Fiorella/Laptop Case/Giraffe/Chrysanthemum Mittens.
2. CO Milanese Lace Hat/Larch/Wurm/Raglan Baby Sweater.
3. Knit 10 Hexagons for the blanket.
4. Have Seth decide on his sweater pattern.
5. Wash all winter handknits and store until fall.

1. Cut cotton scraps into quilt squares.
2. Sew Carrier Bag Holder/Ironing Board Cover/other already cut projects.
3. Run that wool sweater through a hot water wash.
4. Make 25 flower pins to sell at Olive.
5. Create list of projects to sew from inspiration book/computer files.

1. Catch up on magazines.
2. Read: Girls Gone Mild, Jesus for President, The Two Towers, & Practical Theology for Women
3. Blog 2x week.
4. Create business plan for new Etsy store idea and create sample products.
5. Update inspiration book with new images.
6. Walk in the Botanic Gardens once a week.
7. Re-visit the National Museum.

Note: This list may seem long, but if I count up all the hours I spent watching dvds/tv in May, I could easily fit all this in if I exchange TV for fun projects and stop wasting time on the computer. True (and sad) story.

Last week I went on a road trip with Seth and the in-laws.  I made a point to drive up to Shilasdair as a part of our driving around Skye, and on the second attempt to get to the shop, we made it (the first attempt ending a few miles short thanks to a flat tire – in the rain – with no phone service – fun times).

The shop is well laid out and displays lots of hand knits already made (for sale or as display for a kit or both).  I picked up four skeins of 4 ply with a vest in mind, TBD.

This brings my yarn stash up to this much yarn:

This photo does not include the 5 skeins of yarn brought to me from my tiny stash in the states, nor does it include the 5-6 projects/yarn in my knitting bag.  I am going to guess that I have yarn enough for 9-10 projects in this bin.  Most knitters would consider this to be a small stash of yarn – judging by the ‘flash your stash’ thread on Ravelry, I would have to say that I agree!  Reading the ‘flash your stash’ thread is a frequent lunch hour activity for me – some days inducing jealousy, but most days just making me laugh and wonder in amazement at some knitters ability to accumulate yarn!  So far my favorite photo shared in the thread was of a double bed covered with yarn – probably 80-100 lovely skeins.  The tagline under the photo read, ‘And this is just my Malabrigo.’  I don’t know that I even want to know how much yarn this woman has if that is her stash for just one brand!   :) 

Do you keep a ‘stash’ of yarn/fabric/other craft supplies?  I’d love to hear about it!

1. Prepared three new knitting projects to start at will.  Am having trouble focusing on any one knit and feeling like I will complete more projects faster if I start a bunch at once.  This, of course, is total self-deception.   For this lack of focus I blame my Ravelry queue as well as any of my friends who are pregnant/adopting – suddenly my queue is filled with baby cardigans.  

2. One of those baby cardigans is Laura Chau’s Sweet Bunting. I have a feeling that instead of knitting many types of baby sweaters, I will end up knitting this for all of them (maybe even regardless of gender).

3. My love for this pattern was on intensified when last night at knitting group, Laura Chau joined us at Tea Tree Tea.  She’s a friend of Ysolda’s and is on holiday in the UK for the month.   I am a fan of her consistently good taste in designing and have queued up her patterns several times in the last 6 months.  She’s very sweet and down to earth as well – it was great to meet her. 

4. Despite the knitting fever 1-3 may have shown, I am in the middle of two sets of visitors (friends this week, family next week).  I love to hostess and practice hospitality, so I am enjoying having some people to inflict this on.  This weekend will see me on a Highlands tour and next week a road trip up the west coast to the Isle of Skye.

5. I am thinking about creating a nutritional plan for myself that does not include so much sugar.  Yesterday I consumed a hot cocoa, a tea, and a large iced mocha – along with these I ate sugary cereal, the equivalent of one whole donut, three shortbread cookies, two pieces of fancy hazelnut chocolate, and another dark chocolate cookie.   Admittedly, this was not at all balanced by veggies or super healthy foods (B: Scone, L: Cheesy pita, D: Turkey, Brie & Cranberry sandwich).     I really did think I was healthier than this.

6. #5 shows me that I should keep a food diary for a little while.  It has also proved to me that I am scared to keep a food diary as I would no doubt be ashamed of each page.

7. The next year may see me adding spinning to my craft repetoire.   I shall try to resist as long as possible for the sake of our budget and our storage space.

8. Just finished the latest Jasper Fforde novel ‘One of Our Thursdays is Missing’.  I am such a huge fan of his Thursday Next series – I am already impatient for the next novel (which won’t be out for a year or so I suppose).  Maybe I should have paced myself through the first six instead of reading them all in less than a month…

Eight seems like enough for one day and besides, I am having trouble stringing two or more thoughts together coherently, which is never the best state of mind to be blogging in.    I will be back soon with WIPs, photos from my upcoming adventures and more random lists.

Today I am in the mood to start something new

To take a nosedive into my newly organized Ravelry queue – starting with number one and moving swiftly down the list. 

To take a day off for the ridiculous reason of wanting to knit the whole left front of a cardigan in one sitting.

To put my WIPs on a timeout while I make them jealous by cozying up to this vest (number 2 in the ‘queue’ – mine will be in a solid color) or this flutter sleeved beauty (hmmm…two of them in different colors, I think).

The reasoning behind this sudden bout of want-to-start-itis is still unclear to me.  As listed last week, I have tucked away some WIPs, leaving only those I am still interested in finishing in a timely manner (or am under a deadline for).  Those Chrysanthemum Mittens are still singing a siren-song to me, but I haven’t had time for super focused knitting so they have been singing to themselves in their project bag for the last week.

I mean, should I take a knitting pledge not to start anything new until I have finished 2 WIPs? or go even further and say nothing new until all the WIPs are done?  :: Gasp ::   Isn’t that what a responsible knitter would do?


Knitting is only a hobby and shouldn’t be guilt-inducing.*  

That settles it.  I’m starting Fiorella.

*Guilt is probably a good thing when your hobby becomes the major expense on each month’s CC statement.  Stash as you will, but knitting is not worth your livelihood (or potential bankruptcy).  Just saying.

1. I made myself cocoa at work today.  This isn’t a big deal seeing as I make it most days, except that it was the best cocoa I’ve made in a while.  Making your own cocoa – you never know if you are going to get the ratios of milk, cocoa powder, and sugar correct.  Hot chocolate powder here is typically less sweet than its US counterparts – so I usually add a little sugar  (I mean, I have to ensure some sort of sugar buzz from this). This morning’s cup was one of the best yet. 

2. Last night I took inventory of my crafting supplies.  Mostly because I was collecting items I would need for this Friday’s PinMaking Party (post to come).  This, of course, led to a small bout of start-itis – seen in my new piles of fabric to cut, calligraphy to learn, and friendship bracelets to finish.  And yes, I did just say friendship bracelets – I started a few with my youth group girls last summer and brought them along to finish here.  You know you are jealous since you haven’t even thought about knotting up a friendship bracelet in the last ten years of your life…    Tangent over.  This makes my current list of projects look like this: (some are more like goals than projects)
   -Friendship Bracelets
   -Learning Calligraphy (just bought a book here, having left my other book in the US)
   -Sewing a keyboard/trackpad case & digital recording pouch for Seth
   -Sewing passport wallets for Mom and Bridget for their trip here in March
   -Sewing a project bag for Abby’s March birthday
   -Knitting projects (full list tomorrow on WIP Wednesday)
   -draw more
   -sample pins for Friday’s craft party
Should keep me busy through the rest of the dark Edinburgh winter…

3. I am currently listening to country music on iTunes Radio.  Don’t judge.

4. I bought a new cardigan on clearance at Zara when Abby was here.  It’s a dark bright blue – same color as my Citron.  I think if there was a store that just sold cardigans, I would have to move as far from it as I could to make sure I didn’t spend every last penny indulging my love for them.  Maybe that’s a little strong, but I do really like cardigans. 

5. Seth and I have two new shows that we are close to obssessed with – SyFy’s ‘Warehouse 13’ and BBC’s ‘Sherlock‘.  Both = FANTASTIC.   Warehouse 13 might be a little too cheesy for most of you (you’re judging me right now, aren’t you?), but I encourage you to pick up/download some of Sherlock (a modern version, done very well, sort of dark, but also has humor – very addicting).    

6. In case you didn’t heard my whinging about it, my first pair of wellies sprung a leak.  I was suprisingly able to return them for a full refund – which I spent all of and more on Hunter wellies in navy.  So far so good.  Pray these don’t also leak – I don’t like having wet socks. 

7. I started reading ‘Practical Theology for Women’ by Wendy Alsup.  It’s been great so far and I can’t wait to get into it more.  I have been needing to refocus and this will help me do that, I think.  If anyone would like to read it when I am done – leave a comment, I will happily send it along (even to my girls in the states!).   Thank you Jennie for sending to me!

That’s all I can come up with for now.  Watch the blog for information for a series I plan to do about letter writing and get your stationary ready for a penpal/letter swap/card sending event (in the next month or so).   Happy Tuesday!

Happy New Year all!

I never used to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I guess I always knew I would fail.  Last year, I made some – but thought that calling them goals would be better than resolutions.  This happens to not be true.

Some I accomplished, some I miserably failed at.  But I did appreciate having those goals to work towards.  I decided that though I mostly failed last year, I would make a few new goals for 2011 and try again (always the optimist).

My short list of goals for 2011:

1. Again attempt to knit 20 projects over the course of the year.  2010 got me to 18 (plus 4 WIPs), and I am proud of that!

2. Read 52 books.  That’s a book a week if you are tracking.  I figure I’ve read about 40 books this year, so this goal isn’t actually that crazy for me.   I’ve started a list of what I’d like to read or re-read (list post to come) and plan to write a really short review of each book, posting it here.   There’s a good selection of new books, books I am re-reading and a small section of non-fiction that I am determined to get to.

3. Keep a budget.  Seth and I have always created a budget for ourselves – different formats, different ways to handle money, we’ve tried a lot of ways of organizing our resources. We follow the plan for a month or so – then get lazy about it.  Now that we are in Edinburgh, I’m hoping we can find something that really works and stick to it – we have to be able to afford living here, pay off debt, and figure out how to save money for wherever we move to next.   As well as to finance the travelling we want to do while we are here.  All strong motivators for keeping us on budget and organized.

I think I am going to keep the list to three this year.  I have another list of plans/projects/etc that I am keeping for myself, but these three are really the big ones that I wanted to share here.

I also believe that this post is my 100th since switching to this URL.  Maybe I will host a giveaway of some kind to celebrate this small milestone…  info to come.

What are your goals for 2011?




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