Hobonichi Techo 2016

I want to blog again! I'm never quite sure what to say, I want to share things but I also have become very, very, very private in the past year. It's a strange mix of wanting to be "real" about what I'm up too but not wanting to overshare. So I spent the summer trying lots of new things. Visiting thrift stores, learning to garden more, walking, decorating my house, finding my "style", birding more, restoring furniture, woodworking and journalling. I got REALLY into journalling this summer! Really really REALLY into it!

I started out the summer using Midori Travelers Notebook (you can view my previous post to see all about it) and I really liked it a lot! I liked adding things to it, using the elastics and decorating it with lots of stuff. I had something happen in my family over the summer that really threw me off and I filled up so.many.inserts. Just venting and working through the various issues. It felt SO good and it was exactly what I needed to do! But I ended up discarding my TN for big cheap journals with lots of pages from TJMaxx because I couldn't keep up with buying inserts or making my own. I also used a little Cute Kikki K and each night before bed I write something GOOD that happened. A little happiness journal!  

I really loved how cute and chunky my TN was but it didn't fit in my purse and I felt like I started spending more time trying to rearrange it to make it work for me than actually using it! I do think it's such a great system and I'd love to use it in the future again but I'm trying something new now. :) Oh! I also used an Erin Condren notebook this fall as a journal but I really didn't like it so I'm not going to talk that much about it. I have about 1/4 of the notebook left and I'm debating not using it at all.

In the end, I switched to a Rite in the Rain for my birding adventures, the same Kikki K for happiness- it's financial year so it runs until 8/16 and Hobonichi Techo

 

Hobonichi is quite possibly the sweetest thing out there. It's essentially a planner with very thin (but sturdy!) paper called Tomoe River, it lays flat while you write, it has many cover options and three different sizes. If you get a chance, check out the instagram hash tag. It's really inspiring. Here is the official "all about Hobonichi" if you aren't familiar. Reading this message from the editor in chief might make you fall in love with it too! And this tumblr page is helpful too! All the links! ;)

I ordered the hobonichi from JetPens. I originally ordered the Japanese version directly from Hobonichi but after comparing my Japanese to Ashleigh's English, I switched. Here is a good link that describes the difference between the two.

I also ordered a beautiful zip up case for my Hobonichi called Royal Stewart so when I travel I can protect it and carry some favorite supplies. It's small enough that it fits in my purse which I really like! Ashleigh & I both originally ordered from the Hobonichi website so we could save on shipping. It was pretty fast, about 5-6 days from Japan to California! We each got a pencil board and sticker savers! The sticker saver is so clever! It's three sticky sheets that stick to your page (but they are removable!) and you can put your stickers on the sheets to use them later! I saw them used in this YouTube video and thought they were so awesome! 

I'm using the Cover on Cover and I've cut some favorite scrapbooking paper and tucked it in, over my strawberry cover. Just so you know, if you order a Hobonichi from JetPens, they don't have the cover on cover with them. :) The cover on cover is basically a plastic cover that protects the nylon cover. Ashleigh & I spent a morning cutting up pretty much all my scrapbook paper to make different cover options. Here is a link to more cover options and ideas. I like that you can slide whatever you want in there! I might sew a little cute quilt block and tuck it in there. And I love the idea of changing it out with holidays and seasons. ;)

You also can do whatever you want with the pages! I was worried about using dated pages for things other than what they are intended for but it seems like everyone uses their Hobonichi differently! I'm using some of the calendar pages to keep track of pen and ink samples. This is an awesome video that is really inspiring for what to do with your Hobonichi!

I'm using mine to capture small sweet moments in my life rather than to write big swaths of text. I have a huge sticker collection that I'm enjoying messing around with and I like painting in it. So far nothing has bled through the pages except a stamp pad (StazOn if you are curious!) but the paper does take a little bit of time to dry!

Part of me wants to share daily on instagram like Paperedstars & Cecicat because I look forward to their posts but part of me is nervous about publicly sharing that much! I do share some journal pages on my private instagram though. I guess I'll just play it by ear! I really do like taking photos of my journal because I like getting a hot tea or coffee, lighting a candle, putting on music and just creating. It's super relaxing for me!

I'm going to blog soon about my favorite books I read in 2015. As of today I read 131 books, I'm going to see if I can pick my top five! And I think I might share one of my projects I did this summer, I turned my old toy chest into a trunk for quilts. :)

I hope you had a nice fall! :)

 

PS: This blog post contains an amazon affiliate link to a notebook that I purchased and used and genuinely like. :)

Planner Peace: I think?!

One of my favorite things to see on instagram and tumblr are the emojis following the words: Planner Peace. Thumbs up! Clapping hands! Sunshine! Hearts for eyes! It's like the goal of every planner addict!

Since my original planner post, I purchased a personal sized Filofax Domino! I was looking at planners on Amazon one night a few weeks after my original post and came across it. It's not patent or spotted, just plain pink but the one I got it doesn't seem to be available anymore so I'm linking to this crazy cute one instead.

It is the *perfect* size for me. It's not too big that I get overwhelmed and write 1000 things to do but it's not so small that I can't see it. It has room for a lot of pages which I love. I wasn't sure about the elastic, but it's great- I can really smash lots of stuff in here.  I sometimes cram my iPad mini along with some pens under it. Probably not a good thing but whatever. ;)

For me to achieve planner peace I had to let go of the idea that I was going to have a jam packed planner filled with decorated pages with stickers, washi and kawaii. I *love* the look of those planners but I can't seem to make it work for me so I'm not forcing it. I customize things with cute sticky notes (I find these super helpful!), the occasional sticker and indie designed pages though! I like making dividers and change them out every so often. I think of this planner as a little work horse, it's gotta get everything done for me! ;)

My planner set up is:

Dashboard: This is basically the home page of my planner. I keep a packet of sticky notes, a Starbucks drink tag to stick on my cup, a Luna bookmark and a few things to remind me to not drink 9 iced coffees each day. ;) All my dividers are laminated so I can stick and unstick things to it.

 

Monthly: All 12 months, one month per page. The first page is always the current month. I got these from KiddyQualia- she updates her shop with calendars fairly often. On this page I get to see my entire month at a glance. Book stickers are from Miki Thompson Designs, I use these to note library book due dates & Amazon pre-orders. 

Weekly: I don't find that I use it too often so I might let this one go!

Daily & To Do:

This is the most used section of my planner. Each night before bed I make a list of things I have to do the following day and add things through out the day.

For one section I'm using Cocoa Daisy's Personal Planner Pages, I like them! The front of the page has to-do list, to call and schedule. The back page has 15 minute pick up which I love! On Sunday's I fill in the weeks worth of pages with different rooms so our house stays reasonably tidy through out the week. It has space for dinner which I sometimes use. I batch cook once a week and I shared a photo of what my food plan/grocery list tends to look like. I don't really use the other spaces except to remember to take medicine and floss again before bed, lol.

These to do lists are almost always work related. I'm the business manager for us so each day my job is different. By writing down each thing, I know what I need to do so I can get it all done efficiently. I'm not joking when I say that this has been a game changer for me. I used to work, work, work but never really feel like I was accomplishing things. I felt like I was spinning my wheels and going absolutely no where. Now I have daily things to accomplish to create a bigger, happier picture. It allows me to plan social media, advertising, due dates, supply purchasing, trade shows, etc. These things used to stress me out, I'd be checking my phone constantly making sure that I didn't miss a google alert! Having a clear cut list and game plan has really helped. It also enabled us to focus and build a new website which has been amazing!!!

The second part of my to do list is personal and more fun. I make tons of lists. Just general lists. Lists of things I want to buy. Lists of home improvements. Lists of places I want to do. Lists of food I want to cook. Lists of things I want to knit. For these lists I use these from KiddyQualia! I've already ordered them twice because I've run out, lol. They can be customized with paper colors, heart shaped fill in bubbles, Quests or To-Do. They are just A+!

My last section is books! I know, weird right?

But this is super important to me! I love to read and wanted to keep better track of library books, pre-ordered books on amazon, my reading wishlist, when books are coming out, etc. I got these finance sheets from KiddyQualia (can you see a theme here, lol!) and they are working out so well! I dedicate each sheet to a month and can keep track of everything all on one page! I kept accidentally pre-ordering a book and then realizing I had a hold for it at the library. It helps me plan spending the money I earn with amazon affiliate links better. Full disclosure: it's about $10-20 a month and I *love* it, I can get books that the library doesn't have and when I finish them, I just donate them to the library. It's perfect.

I love this planner so much! I can't leave the house without this chunky little dude. BUT one thing is missing.

Creativeness! It is perfect for work and real life but I do want something cute, something creative, something playful.

Enter Midori and Hobonichi!!!!!!

I spent the weekend researching Midori Traveler's Notebook & Hobonichi (watch the video- it's so dang cute and catchy!) and I.am.obsessed. This is totally up my alley and I've added approximately 9000 cute pins to my paper love pin board! I made lists this weekend of what I'd want to buy, what I'd want to use, what I'd want to journal about, the whole shabang. I love researching this kind of stuff. I ordered a few things to try and I'm really excited. Also: JetPens is a VERY dangerously awesome website, lol!

I'll report back with more journal/planner stuff as time goes on :):):)

 

Moda Building Blocks: Progress

I'm so excited to be able to sew again!

I got my machine tuned up this winter...and a few weeks later it ended up needing a new electrical unit! Thankfully Bernina has a pretty great warranty on parts!

The first thing I pulled out was my Moda Building Blocks quilt that I started last summer/fall. I went on an epic scrap overhaul. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it inspired me one night to take my scraps from four giant trash bags full into one small basket worth. Insane. I still have the majority of my sewing room to unpack and wayyy too much fabric but it felt like a good start!

I only have two bed sized quilts so I want this quilt to be really great. Like potentially my favorite thing ever status. 

Since this quilt is going to be on our bed, I wanted to get some ideas on how I want it to look...and how I don't want it to look. I just took our winter bedding off our bed and put on some lighter stuff, including my Farmer's Wife Quilt.

That quilt alone has provided me with so much inspiration on how I want this quilt to look. 

I decided to tack some batting up over my sewing machine so I can live with my blocks. The most frustrating thing about my Farmer's Wife is that didn't get many chances to actually see it completely laid out as I was working on it. As a result the blocks have so many different feelings, colors and it doesn't feel cohesive at all. It kind of drives me nuts, sometimes when I'm folding laundry and looking at it on my bed I think "oh I wish I'd put this block there." or "I shouldn't have used this block at all!"

As a result, with this quilt I'm really firming up what I want in a sampler. I know I want a lot of neutrals, pink, metallic fabric, some mauve, warm and cool taupe and fussy cutting galore. Different textures. Modern + Traditional. No green. No bright aquas. No red. 

I'm trying to really push myself with my fabric combos. I find my favorite blocks are the ones in my quilts that don't really "match" but seem to work anyways. They are quirky, unexpected and my favorite to look at. Slimming down my scraps really has helped with these blocks, I'm challenging myself to use up what I have before buying new things. And if I have been buying things, it's been a lot of background fabric. A new quilt store opened in Colusa and I've found some great tone on tone prints there. Metallic stars on white. Gold metallic dashes on cream. Lots of neat stuff.

I learned that if you go a long time without sewing, there is a re-learning curve. My piecing is pretty terrible in some of these blocks, lol. I had a few settings changed on my machine and I'm still getting used to them. I've really debated if I should start over or just accept that it's not perfect. But I really truly cherish any free time I can sew and I don't want to spend my sewing time stressing over perfection. I know that won't make sense to everyone and that's totally ok! 

My Farmer's Wife quilt is almost completely foundation pieced which I loved. On the outside, those blocks are fantastic looking. But on the inside... well...I really should have paid much better attention to my seam allowances and not tried to fudge so many tiny bits and pieces! I have three blocks that are literally falling apart. And I'm definitely not helping it by washing and drying our quilts once a week. I have no doubt that in the next two years I'm going to have to make significant repairs on it.

As long as this quilt is structurally sound, I'm ok with it not being perfect. I also plan on getting this quilt long arm quilted to help it stay together. I only did the bare minimum on my Farmer's Wife and I regret that! I also know now that when the batting manufacturer suggests a certain amount of space between your quilting, you should follow it!!!! Doh! I'm hoping if it's heavily quilted any mistakes won't be as noticeable. ;)

One thing I've found SO helpful is a rotating cutting mat! So awesome! I wish I'd gotten one years ago. It's really neat because this quilt has you cutting squares diagonally and all I need to do is turn the mat and cut! Less room for moving the fabric and making a mistake.

I've been listening to a lot of The Wise Man's Fear while working on this and I *love* this book. SO MUCH. I read the first one and I feel like I missed a lot of subtle nuances that I'm really picking up with the audio version. Chop moved his computer into my sewing room so on Sunday's after breakfast he does computer stuff, I sew and we listen to this book. It's pretty fantastic! :):):)

 

(this post contains affiliate links to amazon- all thoughts are my own)

Mini Book Set Up!

Have you guys been following along with Shannon's "Making Ourselves" series on her blog and instagram? I am so into it. She's pretty fantastic and a very positive person.

She's inspired me to admit that I'm trying to make some changes in my life: taking better care of myself, more fresh air, taking a bit more relaxed approach to creating, trying to relax a little bit more in general, balancing life & work, making new friends, etc. 

I've been wanting to try a different way of documenting my daily life and how I'm trying to incorporate my changes. I love Project Life but I'm struggling with making it more personal! 

When I saw that Tina had a e-class about making mini books I jumped on it SO FAST. I've never taken a Studio Calico class- so far I'm really enjoying it! I love how it's set up. It has video tutorials made by Tina, they are well organized and I love hearing her thoughts about her process. I'm always inspired when I hear someone I admire break down their process, it makes me step back and think "aha! that totally makes sense- I totally *get* you now!" 

I used my CalicoPoints to get the dedicated kit for the class. It doesn't look like it's available online any longer but it's really, really, really cool! Filled with so much good stuff. I think that's what I like most about Studio Calico- they seem to curate their kits really well. I'm also using a ton of stuff from my Project Life monthly kits, every so often someone will come across an older blog post and ask if I'm still getting them- YES! YES! YES! I love the anticipation of a new kit arriving, I love looking at all the stuff in it, getting ideas and often I find just the kit itself to be inspiring- there have been times when I've scanned a card and saved it in our file of "cross stitch color inspiration".

One of the neat things the class kit came with was a 4x6 pad of paper that made me think immediately of Carolyn Friedlander. I'm totally into that- I love that minimal aesthetic but I can rarely personally pull it off, it'll be fun to journal and use this paper. I liked buying the class kit especially because it's outside of my comfort zone and it's making me want to work on the book because it's SO different.

Tina encourages the use of 4x6 Project Life cards, I feel like I have a million cute ones saved up but I rarely use them in my album. I borrowed a hole punch and put holes in a bunch of my favorite ones. I'm going to add stickers, stamps, etc to them. I love the look of really layered pages. I went through all my 3x4 cards and started putting holes in them as well. One neat thing is she takes photos of all the pages in her book, there are so many fantastic details in it. She also teaches two photo transfer methods that I'm really excited to try.

 

I found this little weather card in my stash and it is perfect for one of my current obsessions- Weather Underground! It's probably a little batty to be obsessed with an app about the weather but I'm all about enjoying little things in life. I like knowing things like the pollen count, sunrise/sunset and it's nicely designed app!

 

I never know how to handle bad days in Project Life! And often I'll just skip them all together. Which is kind of cheating, lol. I found this awesome lemon paper from a previous kit and it was perfect for last week! My mom took pity on me, came over and cooked us approximately a million meals. She baked some lemons, juiced them and mixed the juice with honey. I've been having it with hot water. The sticker is really cute and I like the metallic edge around the little tag. I liked being able to document the memory of my mom coming over.

 

My favorite part of the class was Tina saying that she just carries her book around with her and sticks stuff in it while she's out and about! That is right up my alley. I found a purple elastic that came with some asparagus and I'm using it to hold everything in my book. I have my pen clipped to it. I think it's in one of the videos,  she talks about using a hair tie! Brilliant! I'm constantly shoving things in my Filofax but now I'll have an actual proper place for them. And how seriously great is that gold lettering on the cover?! eep!

The class came with prompts and they are so good- I have them folded up in my book to work on. I like how chubby the book is too!

 

Ok! One last page! :):):)

I'm not sure how many pages I'll share in the future because I do want this to be a journal where I can get super personal but I'll definitely post about this project again because I'm really into it. :):):)

Birding Tips & Tricks

Bird watching is definitely an exciting hobby. I think sometimes it's easy to assume it's a lot of boring walking around not seeing much of anything but it's totally not like that at all!

There have been times when I've had to remind myself, CALM DOWN. THE BIRDS CAN SEE YOUR MUPPET ARMS FLAILING ABOUT!

Also: birds are very much alive. and moving. constantly. and fast. Can you see the hawk flying in the very top photo?!

One of my favorite birding tips that Sibley succinctly puts is: Look at the bird.  When I see a bird I don't recognize, I watch it as long as it's physically possible rather than glance, then look at a field guide.

Why? Because in the time it takes for me to find a page in a book or scroll through my phone, the bird can leave. And I want to gather as much information with my eyes as possible before this happens!

Often I'll tell Chop what I'm seeing so we both can talk about identifying marks- birding with someone else is great for this. So for example: gray face. bright yellow throat. dark breast. yellow rump. Then, when I feel like I've committed key aspects of the bird to memory or it's flown off, I'll use Merlin to get an idea what it might be. Merlin has 400 of the most common North American birds. Sometimes what we see might be be a common bird, but immature or in a different version of it's colors. Once I know for sure what it is, in this example it's a Yellow Rumped Warbler, if it's a brand new bird I've never seen before, I'll add it to my life list using LifeBirds

It's so easy to get caught up in seeing a new bird (I'll admit, new birds make me squeal) and want to id it INSTANTLY. But the best thing you can do is just to simply watch and mentally catalog it. If Merlin can't help, it's good to have a little time watching the bird because you'll start to notice certain body shapes or characteristics to help determine what it is. For example, wrens! I love wrens! But they are a LBB (little brown bird) I've learned to recognize them because their little tails are almost always up in the air above their bodies, they definitely have a unique body shape! (don't we all ;)) The more you look at birds, the more you'll begin to associate certain characteristics to certain birds. 

 

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Use your bird book! No seriously! Familiarize yourself with how the book is laid out. Don't hesitate to make notes, use sticky flags, etc. The guide is just that- a guide! It's your map to the birding world. I use sticky notes on bird families I'd like to learn more about, mark when certain birds could be migrating through, note birds I've seen, etc. Don't look at your guide only when you are out birding, it's like any another hobby, you gotta practice! I'm not saying it needs to be homework but browsing it while having a cup of coffee is pretty great! The art is beautiful and it's full of great facts that you can whip out during casual conversations...;)

By looking at the book, you can get ideas of what kind of terrain you are in or around, what will visit that area and where in the area you can potentially find the bird you want to see. The more specific you can get, the better.

For example, I'm obsessed with seeing a Rail. I think they are really fascinating birds. I know through looking at Sibley that I'll never be able to see a King Rail because they don't live even remotely close to us. But I could see a Virginia Rail! In the guide you'll see a map of the US, purple means it's year round where we live! So I know I'm not having super crazy unrealistic expectations by wanting to see it. Next I look at the habitat. It likes marshes with tall reedy vegetation, wet meadows, rank growth at pond margins. That means I'm not going to see it in the middle of my neighborhood. If I do, it's lost and we have a bigger problem going on. ;) However, I know that when I visit my local refuge, I should keep an eye out along the bottom of the patches of tule in shallow water because that is a location it would like to be! It's obviously not a guarantee that I'll see one but it'll give me a good idea where to look. I've been trying to see one for over a year now and while I haven't see one, I have seen a Sora! I would never have seen it if I wasn't looking for the Rail. So keep your eyes open, even if you don't get to see what your specifically looking for, you never know what you will see!

I know some of you are reading this post and thinking "I live in a suburb/city/etc, there are no cool birds!"

One Saturday morning this winter Chop & I got up and decided to walk to Starbucks. We live on a busy street with lots of big truck traffic. As we were walking, we noticed a tree with a ton of birds on it. It was absolutely FILLED with Cedar Waxwings! They travel in flocks and they were all in this one tree. They migrate through in the winter, by the time we walked back a few hours later, they were completely gone. And I walked back to the area where we saw them for nine days in a row around the same time as the original sighting...I never saw them again! It was a chance sighting and that's how bird watching (and let's be honest- life!) works. Sometimes you'll see the most fantastic things in your own backyard!

This past weekend we had the privilege to watch a Barn Owl sleep in a tree cavity. I have no doubt if the sun wasn't hitting her how it was, we would never have seen her! Always be looking and be aware of what is around you- I think you'll be surprised!

When we were in Texas one of my favorite things was telling the ranch owner how excited I was to see a cardinal and how I hadn't seen one and IT HAD TO HAPPEN. He looked at me kind of funny and said "oh those funny little red birds, sure, we got those!" And that afternoon he dropped us off at a elevated stand and a few minutes later...ALL THE CARDINALS. Talking about birds, even folks who aren't into them, can lead to surprising results. 

Visiting Texas was actually a fantastic birding trip. I got to see so many birds that I normally wouldn't get a chance to see. One morning while Chop was hunting, the ranch cat (Lucky!) and I went for a walk. I kept seeing this little red blur and knew it was too small to be a cardinal but I kept watching it. Eventually it landed at the very top of a tree. I was having a hard time with my old binoculars that morning but instead took a few photos and waited for Chop to get back. It was a Vermilion Fly Catcher! And each day we saw him hanging out in the top of the same tree. 

My new favorite thing is to keep all my birding supplies (and spare epipens!) in a dedicated bag by the front door. This way it's always ready to go, I just pop in my Filofax and a Klean Kanteen of water and I'm good! I was previously using a Topo Designs Daypack for all things outdoors but I switched to a Project Bag from Chicken Boots specifically just for birding. I like to carry some sort of knitting with me and this bag keeps my yarn separate from my field guide and binoculars! It's also narrower so it fits down near my feet in the car nicer. 

As of right now, I have 166 birds on my life list. I've only been seriously keeping track the past year and I'm really picky about what I include. I've always wanted to see a Crested Cara Cara and I saw one flying but it was just a silhouette. I don't include it on my list because while I did see it, I don't feel like I got the chance to really SEE it. 

I hope this series of blog posts has inspired you to try birding! I'd love to hear some of the neat birds you get to see where you live in the comments! :):)

PS: If you aren't into bird watching but like quilting, I saw this on Kerry's instagram feed (so cute!) and there is always this epic quilt with bird blocks to sew!

 

(this post contains affiliate links to amazon)

 

 

My favorite birding things & links

When you read my blog, you might assume that my favorite hobby is quilting. Or maybe knitting. Or cross stitching. But actually my two very favorite hobbies are reading and bird watching. I do both of these far more than quilting, knitting and cross stitching combined.

Today I'll be sharing with you why I enjoy birding so much and my favorite birding supplies. Next Monday I'll be sharing tips + tricks and my favorite birds I've been fortunate to see!

Chop & I met in a bird identification class in college. I was fascinated by birds, the fact that they are literally everywhere and I knew nothing about them. I wanted to learn all about them so I could paint them. He was a wildlife biology major in college. I loved the class, we'd walk around and learn about different local birds and Chop & I got to know each other. I loved listening to him talk about birds and his life outdoors- it was unlike anything I'd ever known. New England city girl meets rural Northern California boy.

As our relationship grew, I became absolutely obsessed with bird watching. I constantly was picking Chop's brain, asking him questions and just being genuinely curious (bordering on obnoxious) about birds. Our weekends typically involve car trips to go bird watching. But even just walking around town we keep an eye on whats around us! I've gone from being completely oblivious about birds (ok, nature in general ;)) to being very aware and conscious of my surroundings. It brings an awesome sense of joy because literally anyone can go birding! You can live in a city and still see great things (next post I'll share with you a good story about this!), one thing I see often on instagram is that "I get to see lots of neat things because I live in a rural area" and while that's partly true, it's more that I'm aware of my surroundings now. Bird watching makes you become very deliberate in what you see when you are driving, walking, etc. I think at this point, I might take birding far more seriously than Chop does. Bird watching to me is sort of like a very advanced game of hide & seek! However, in the grand scheme of bird watching, we are very laid back. We don't have super expensive equipment, we wear tshirts & jeans, we bring coffee with us, we don't belong to any organizations - it's a just a combination of enjoying of what we get to see and being outdoors together.

We are very fortunate that our home is less than ten miles away from a wildlife refuge. Often times we'll run over there in the evenings, even just for an hour. You never know what you'll see. I typically keep lists each time we go, I write each and every bird I see from the time when enter the refuge until we leave. I keep track in my Filofax Personal Domino because it's what I always have in my bag. Chop uses a Rite in the Rain. I previously used the notes app on my phone but this is working more for me right now.

If you are a smart phone user, there are some neat apps available! If I see a bird that I've never seen before, is not typically found in a certain location, or something really unique I use an app called Lifebirds! It will let you add a bird to your list with the GPS coordinates and notes. I know this isn't something for everyone but I found it really handy last spring. I'm looking forward to comparing and seeing if I can catch a glimpse of some of the same birds that migrated through last year. Another great app is called Merlin Bird ID, it's a very beginner friendly app for bird identification. You start by adding your location, then the date, then the size of the bird, the main colors, where the bird was and it creates a list of possible birds! It contains a bunch of photos and descriptions. I  liked using it in Texas because a few times I didn't have a field guide with me and I wanted to get a general idea of what the heck I was looking at! There are many field guide apps available, Chop has a few, I personally do not, mostly because my phone is almost always full. ;)

My all time favorite birding book is The Sibley Guide to Birds. If you buy one birding book- make it this one. It is a chunkster (624 pages!) and will take up space in your bag but it's lush. The introduction alone is worth the book: it has equipment for birding, variation in appearance, learning calls and songs, etc. So.much.information. And Sibley is a fantastic artist. Typically I'll bring this with me in the car but I don't often carry it with me when I'm walking. I'll explain a little bit more about this in my next post! This book has taught me a lot. For example, I was feeling concerned that the local white pelicans were becoming deformed! They started getting these giant lumps on their bills...well...Sibley informed me that the lump is normal- it's a sign that the bird is in breeding season, lol!

I recently got Chop The Bird Watching Answer Book, mostly as a joke because I ask him questions nonstop. It's a pretty fun little book, it has information on birding etiquette, nests, migration, etc. It's written in a very friendly and conversational style- super beginner friendly!

And then my most recent fun find...bird flash cards! I like to quiz myself on how fast I can ID them (have I lost you yet, Dear Reader? Clearly this a new kind of nerdiness I'm sharing with you today!) Obviously these aren't necessary but they are fun. I can imagine kids would enjoy them too!

Birding doesn't require binoculars but they are helpful! Some folks bird by ear, I prefer seeing them. I have poor eyesight and struggled for years trying to find a binocular that worked for me. I have to wear sunglasses during the day, sometimes I wear contacts, sometimes I wear glasses. I wanted something that felt comfortable, crisp and fast/easy to adjust in all those situations. My biggest suggestion is to visit your local sporting goods store and try out as many pairs as you can. We have a bunch of pairs, often when you purchase a rifle scope they'll come with binoculars so I borrowed pairs from Chop or my father-in-law. And they were really nice but they weren't quite right. I was the Goldilocks trying to find the just right binoculars. Finally one day when we visited Bass Pro I spent a good few hours trying different pairs and I found a pair that works great for me! They are called Leopold Yosemite BX-1 10x30mm Clamshell. They weren't super expensive in terms of binoculars (around $140) which can range from $100 to $2,500. I tried a range from $70- $1,000. I went into it with a $300 budget and this was the pair that worked best for me. Amazon has some similar pairs here. Audubon has a post dedicated to binoculars that is helpful in terms of explaining optics but I truly think that the best thing you can do is ask friends or family if you can try their favorite binoculars or visit a sporting goods store. I also knew that I can't hold things in my hand very long so I picked a light and compact clamshell style pair. I couldn't be happier with them. They are quick to focus, nice and crisp and not bad in low light conditions. Also they came with a great warranty which is important because...clumsy happens!

If you maybe aren't into nature (I understand!) but want to see some great birds in your facebook feed, here are some of my favorite pages! I like the following three pages if you are local- they'll share refuge photos of birds, scenery and the occasional farm dog! My favorites are Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge ComplexCalifornia Rice CommissionSacramento Valley Water. Not local but other great bird related Facebook pages are: Cornell Lab of OrnithologyDavid SibleyInkDwellMetisBirdingProject Feeder WatchUSFWS Migratory BirdsUSFWS Refuge SystemPheasants Forever (yes- hunting related but also conservation.)

My blog post next Monday will share a few birding stories and my favorite tips +  tricks. I'm not a pro by any means but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and if it's something I can talk about, I'll add it to Monday's post :):)

(this post contains affiliate links to amazon)


Kawaii Shawl (Germinate #2)

I started a new knitting project earlier this month and I am in looooove. Every minute of knitting time is bliss while working on this!

I'm making Germinate by Through The Loops!

This is my second time knitting it which is kind of fun! The first time was so.so.so. tricky for me. It was by far the most complicated thing I'd knit. 

For some reason this time it's not as complex, it's enough to keep me interested and focused, but not so crazy that I can't listen to music while knitting. I'm barely into it though so that could change. ;) I'm using the charts to knit the lace and I'm looking forward to doing the next one.

I'm using a very "different for me" combo of colors. I've been hoarding a skein of Plucky Primo in Holland Mint and I thought it would be so pretty as the lace! It's the palest, glow-y lilac color. The other skeins are two amazing indie dyers. The light skein is Lamby Toes in Experiment 013. It's a buff/pale gray/pink with neon speckles, bright pink speckles, aqua speckles. It's a speckle lovers dream! The darker color is another really unique yarn by Gale's Art in Graffiti and Asphalt! This yarn is really different, it's incredibly variegated and has so many colors. In photos it looks almost like a black but it's not at all, it's a million colors all in one skein! I really like how the stripes are so different but are kind of blending together in some spots. 

My inspiration for this shawl definitely comes from the colors in comic books and...my little pony. I KNOW. I know. Totally all over the place. I think I'm enjoying this so much because it is the exact opposite of everything I've ever made for myself! It's so quirky. Hopefully I'll finish it by next winter, I'd like to wear it with big gray sweaters and leggings.

I wear this shawl 2-3x per week. It's cozy to the max. The size is pretty perfect for me so having a second one would be fantastic! I recently noticed one of the ends at the top of the shawl is coming unwoven. As a note to myself, I definitely need to work on weaving in my ends better!

:):):)

I Love Comic Book Art

How's your Thursday going?! Good? Cold? Covered in snow?

Let's talk about one of my most favorite things ever- comic books!

I've started keeping my little collection with my hipster magazines and card decks in this antique cranberry bog rake that used to belong to my grandparents. I like having them out in our living room so if people come over, they can check them out! I'm not sure how many people will actually come over and would want to check out my comics, but it's an option! ;) Lately I've gotten obsessed with the idea of framing some of my favorites and hanging them in my sewing room above my sewing machine. I'm on the hunt for display options. I saw this & this on pinterest and I *really* like both ideas. My local comic book shop sells boxes specifically for storage but I'd like to be able to look at the covers because some of them are pretty dang perfect.

My very. very. very. VERY. favorite series is Bee and Puppycat. Do you know about them?! Oh boy. I hope for your sake that you have about an hour to spend on the internet right now because I'm going to blow your mind with adorable. All I'm going to say is visit YouTube and watch the first five videos. If you are into snacks, temp jobs, kawaii and puppycats, you'll love it. It is so quirky and sweet and silly and PINK. I got this tshirt a few weeks ago and I've been wearing it nonstop because come on! Puppycat is so fierce! Also, Natasha Allegri is so crazy talented. I think what I love most about the comics I've been reading lately is how many are illustrated by women.

In my previous blog post I mentioned how much I loved Fangirl and Tammy commented that she liked the cover artist, Noelle Stevenson. HOW FUNNY BECAUSE I DO TOO! And Rainbow Rowell does too! I am totally inspired by her. She co-writes a comic series called Lumberjanes! I love it because it features fierce girl friendships and adventures. She has a great tumblr too!

I really love looking at all the different cover options available for each issue. I buy all my comics locally at Bat Comics in Chico and I'm often with Ashleigh. I have to ask her "WHICH COVER SHOULD I GET?!" It feels a bit like a treasure hunt, discovering new series, bugging the owner, picking out which cover is the best and waiting for the next in a series to be released!

Here are a few others in my collection I love!

Both Abigail & The Snowman and Capture Creatures are newer titles but Bravest Warriors isn't! Does Bravest Warriors look familiar?! It's a comic based on the cartoon by Pendleton Ward! He's behind Adventure Time! Mathmatical! I'm hoping to get a bunch more of this series soon. 

You can tell my comic collection is pretty cute and kawaii and I'm totally into that. It's visually most appealing to me. I've had this book on my amazon wishlist for ages, I sometimes daydream about starting a web comic or a little zine. It would probably be about walking to the library and post office, meeting the cats who live in my neighborhood and how Starbucks is equal parts great and awful. ;) 

I hope you have a good rest of your week! I am thisclose to having a table to put my sewing machine on, it has been ages since I've sewn and I can't wait! I have a huge pile of projects I'm dying to work on and then I got overly excited last night and bought a new quilt pattern! It looks challenging and exciting. Cross your fingers it stays warm so I can stain my table and get my machine set up!

:):):)

(this post contains an affiliate link to amazon)


Favorite Reads of 2014

Some how, quite by accident I've started turning our home into a pretty fantastic place to read.

We now have another place for guests to sit- a cozy chair from Ikea! Smashleigh and I went last week and I've been lusting after this chair after sitting in it at Saremy's. I keep it next to our wall heater and piled with quilts and shawls. 

A few weeks ago I was talking to Chop about this little wall in between our bedroom, spare bedroom and bath room. I thought I could hang one of my grandmother's watercolors on the wall and maybe put a shelf below it. Just do something cute with it because it's wasted space. A few hours later, he built me a perfect little book case! I still have to pick out trim and stain it but I'm so happy with it! It's bright and sunny and warm in here.

Our new house is less than a mile away from all the essentials: the post office, the bank, Chop's office, Starbucks (!!!) and best of all...THE LIBRARY! It's literally on the same street! I can't wait to get a bike helmet so I can ride my bike there in the afternoons.

2014 was an excellent year for reading. I read a total of 153 books which is the most I've read in a year before! Towards late summer I could no longer knit/sew/stitch as frequently as I used to so during that time, I really found comfort in reading. I stopped letting amazon help me decide which books I should read (mantra: stop clicking suggested for you Amanda! it's not a real person suggesting it! It's an algorithm!) and instead I started lurking around the bookish internet! I listened obsessively to BookRiot & Books on the Nightstand. I really love EpicReads (That 365 graphic!!!) and I started talking more about books with friends! I realized I don't really share how much I enjoy reading mostly because I don't know *how* to talk about books. I just sort of say things like "I liked that book!" or "this book was great!" I started an instagram account just for books and my stuffed boar- Boarish, rates books in terms of beets. One beet = bad book! Five beets = best book! I've been fortunate that I met Saremy this year, she listens to a lot of audiobooks and reads a lot. I've finally been able to have a conversation about a book and explain WHY I like it! 

So here are my very favorite books of 2014!

All The Light We Cannot See! I think this is the first book that got me actually talking about books with Chop. He's well aware that I read a lot, he asks "how are you liking that book" or "did you finish that book already" but I never specifically talk to him about what I'm reading. 

This is because I really love three genres of books: cozy mysteries (murder, but not scary. adorable towns. snippy women. sometimes involves food, crafts or pets. or all three!). paranormal romance (secret skills. loooove. intimate scenes. vampires. werewolves!). scandanavian crime thillers (gory. dramatic. winter. disenfranchised hero. all the serious!). For some reason I felt embarrassed explaining what I was reading which is super silly! I'm absolutely over that now. I will talk anyone's ear off about whatever I'm reading. ;)

So with this book, I was stepping out of my comfort zone. I'll leave it to you to read the premise of these books on your own but it does not fall into those three genres. Not even remotely. It's graphic. It's heartbreaking. It's beautiful. It's war.

And it was an awesome read. It is written so incredibly beautifully that you want to devour the book but the subject matter is so heartwrenching, I had to pace myself. In the evenings during our walks I'd explain to Chop this story and how I didn't understand how something could be so amazing and awful all at once. I read somewhere that Mr. Doerr took ten years to write this book and that doesn't surprise me. It's a story full of hurt and suffering but also hope. I'm not sure I'll be able to re-read it, I'm not much of a re-reader and this was genuinely hard (emotionally) to read but as you can tell by the crumpled jacket- I've been lending it to lots of friends! 

I'd suggest this book to anyone who enjoys books who take place in Europe during WW2!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before!

This was a book I knew nothing about, except that it was supposed to be excellent and that Jenny Han was a good writer. I saw it on EpicReads, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. I'll completely admit that I picked it up at my local bookshop because I loved the cover. It looks like it was written on with a sharpie.

I'm not particularly interested in things involving teenage drama. I was a teenager once and that was plenty for me. But one afternoon I decided to read it, I tossed it into my bag and was hooked. Totally hooked. One particularly great afternoon I brought it with me to the river and sat with my chair in the water and read while Chop fished. I like that I loved this book so much that I can tell you when and where I was reading it. I feel bad looking back and thinking it was just a book about teenage life. 

It's so much more than that! It's a story about friendship. It's a story about sisters. It's a story that had me saying NOOOO LARA JEAN WHAT ARE YOU THINKING and definitely laughing out loud. I also found it refreshing to read a book about a character who is 1/2 Korean and learning about their traditions.

I'd suggest this book to anyone who likes YA and wants a little more substance while still being light! And I just recently learned that it's the first in a series! woo woo!

 

Fangirl! Oh Fangirl!

Fact: I owned three copies of this book before I even read it.

Have you ever read a blurb for a book and just known that it was going to be amazing? That's how I felt with this but as time went on, the longer I went without reading it, the more panicked I was that it would let me down!

WHAT WAS I THINKING? RAINBOW WOULD NEVER LET ME DOWN!

Here's the thing about this book: it's quirky. And if you read this blog, chances are you are quirky too. The story captures the struggles of life after a parent leaves, the reality of online life vs real life, fandom, college, love, ethics, relationships, depression, social anxiety, how to navigate real life, etc. But it's all told in Rainbow's amazingly down to earth and clever way. You don't feel lectured to, you just love her characters. I texted Smash multiple times begging her to design a web comic with me. Cath is just so great. And Levi!!! <3

I'd suggest this book to anyone who wants to laugh/cry/have all the feels. Also: Simon Snow! October 2015! (at the time this post goes live it looks like the kindle version of fangirl is $4.99!)

Throne of Glass Series!

Ok, full confession.

I had ZERO desire to read this series. I think because everyone I knew was trying to shove it down my throat every five minutes. "It's like Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Game of Thrones!!!" Nooooooo! Not interested!!!!

Then late one night I didn't have a book and couldn't sleep. I saw my friend Glenda was reading it and I realized there are novellas. One novella can't hurt. I'll try it. Next thing I know Chop is getting ready for work and I'm still awake reading. I then binge read the entire series (so far!).

Yes, some parts are eye roll worthy and some parts drag BUT I really like the world building and the characters! I think what made me love the series more was reading the novellas first. It sets up the story perfectly. It's not Hunger Games. It's not Divergent. And it's not GoT. It has a spunky and fierce heroine, politics, romance, action and adventure. It's also a long series in terms of pages. I am a big fan of books I can sink into. I think they average around 400+ pages each which is great! I can imagine this would be a good spring break or summer vacation kind of read. Or if you are like me, read all night even though you know you have to drive to a meeting at 7:30 in the morning kind of read. #bookhangover!

I'd suggest this to anyone who likes binge reading, adventure stories and picking romantic teams! Also she has a new book coming out this spring that I'm so excited for that I have an alarm set on my phone. 

I am saving the best for last!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm about to make a very bold claim.

The Raven Boys series *might* become just as beloved as Harry Potter to me. 

I KNOW RIGHT?

Ok here's the deal. I love Maggie Stiefvater's love of the English language. She is so dang brilliant with words and writing and using all the words to describe all the things. 

This story kills me. Ignore the blurb about the girl killing a boy with her kiss. Just erase it from your head. Instead think about friendship, loyalty, dead kings, ley lines, all the adventures, all the dreams, all the craziness everrrrrrr. What you imagined probably doesn't come close to this series.

I've mentioned that I'm not a re-reader but this series I've reread more times than I can count. I just finished listening to the audiobooks with Chop. WHO LIKED THEM TOO! And Chop isn't really into books! We listened to them together over the course of a month. If you tried reading this series and had a hard time with it, try the audiobooks! They are narrated by Will Patton and he does a fantastic job. Saremy suggested the audio to me and it's a totally different dimension to the story! He growls the name "Rooooonan" and it's pretty beautiful. Also his accent on the W in BMW kills me.

There are scenes in this book that just kill me- Blue Lily especially. Blue & Gansey in the camero. Blue's conversations with Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray & Piper's banter. Ronan doing things for Adam. It's just GOOD. I've seen a bunch of reviews of folks not liking this book but it's necessary and it makes so much sense!

Hopefully you now have a list of books to request at your library or if you have gift cards left over from Christmas! My goal this year is 75 GREAT books- quality over quantity. 

And I want to read a book that takes place in Russia. I'm all about Russia lately. And I'd like to read more library books. I decided to help my library book reading goal I needed new bookmarks (obviously I'll justify kawaii in any manner possible) and I found craft'ed on etsy! I got three of them. Can you guess which three? Here's a hint!

Also on a totally unrelated note, how bad do I want this candle? That sounds delicious right? I got their peppermint bark tarts and our home smells like a vanilla minty candy. I'm into it.

:):):)

(this post contains affiliate links to amazon. all thoughts are my own. based on books I personally purchased and loved!)



Planner Love

I love the idea of being organized. I use google calendar, I have one for personal and one that syncs with Ashleigh for business stuff. But it didn't really help me with day to day to do list stuff. I downloaded a bunch of apps, I liked teuxdeux best but nothing really felt like it "fit". It definitely didn't help that I'm suffering from extreme i-Phoneitis. Where you feel like you've become *that* person who has an iPhone growing out of their belly button. I honestly can't handle any.more.screen.time! ;)

I'd been watching Ruthie's instagram for awhile, she's always posting crazy cute planners. So I decided I'd try a paper planner!

I got a KikkiK Leather Limited Edition Personal Planner. When the box arrived I thought "this is pretty heavy..." This planner is NO JOKE. It's fierce. It is the size of hardcover book. It could eat a kindle for breakfast. It's bigger than YA hardcovers. And I looooooved it.

I think I might secretly be a magpie because suddenly I had all this space to tuck shiny things into. Little bits of paper, cute swipes of washi tape, hole punched project life cards, etc! I loved spending my Sunday afternoons decorating my planner, planning my week and making epic to-do lists. I loved having every detail scheduled out so when I went to bed at night, there wasn't a case of "busy brain" and worrying that I'd forget something. I really loved being able to open it up and take lots of notes while on the phone or in a meeting. 

But! The planner is too big for my everyday purse, it only fits in my Filson Bag which I adore but my dr has firmly told me to stop carrying because it weighs a ton. It fits awesome in my pool side tote though! So I took it with me on our epic road trip. I smashed it full of brochures, squished pennies, Polaroids, etc. At one point I couldn't even get it to snap shut, I had it filled with so much stuff!

But at the same time, all that space was kind of overwhelming for me. I'd find myself making two page spreads of lists of things that I wanted to do in a single afternoon and I'd find myself getting irritated when I couldn't check everything off! I also started to leave it at home because it was too heavy to carry. And that bummed me out because I *love* it!

So of course, the day after Christmas there was a sale on planners. I researched. I watched youtube videos. I searched the #planneraddict and #plannerlove hashtags. And then after the 1st of the year there was another sale on planners and I roped Chop into the research team. I know some of you are shaking your heads but I am that person who before I make a purchase or decision, I research the heck out of it. To an obnoxious level. But can you blame me? ;) It's $10 to ship from AU and takes 7-10 days. I didn't want to order a second planner and not love it. I had a hard enough time justifying the need of a second planner!

One thing Chop suggested that REALLY helped was drawing out the planner sizes on a piece of paper. KikkiK uses millimeters which can be hard for my brain to wrap around so he drew out the dimensions of the Medium Gold & the Small Gold. I was drawn to the Small Gold because it's so tiny, kawaii & chubby! But I did (and kind of still do!) worry that it's a little bit too small.

It has just arrived and I can't wait to move into it. In some aspects I know it's going to work better, there isn't enough space for me to over schedule myself but I do worry I won't be able to write well in it. I have terrible penmanship that can be kind of big. I'm definitely going to try and make it work for me this winter!

I'd like to buy a smaller diameter hole punch (if that's even a thing?!) it seems like the holes on this one are smaller that the one I have. One of the other reasons I got this one is that it's a great size for adding project life cards to as dividers or decorations! I'm doing Project Life again this year, I'm still getting Studio Calico's monthly Project Life boxes and I can't say enough about how much I LOVE them. I've never belonged to a subscription service this long before, usually I get bored (ipsy!)or uninspired and I quit.  I've been getting the boxes for a year now and each one makes me SO happy. I can honestly say I don't think I've been disappointed yet. I'll share my January PL album later on this month! I used the PL supplies in my bigger planner and really liked it! 

Here are some cute planner things I've recently found:

One thing I did with the bigger planner was create my own dividers! I found these awesome 3M Laminating Pouches and I would trace one of the dividers that came with the planner onto a sheet of cute scrapbooking paper. Then I put it into one of the laminating pouches, rubbed all the air bubbles out, trim and hole punch! The hole punching requires a little hand strength because the laminating sheets are sort of thick but it's not terribly hard. I like making my own dividers because it uses up scrapbooking stuff and you can stick washi tape to it and it'll peel off! I'm going to try and do this with the little one too!

Once I get moved into the new planner I'll share some photos! I'm hoping to get some coffee and work on it this afternoon. I have about 3 hours left on my current audiobook- Princess of Thorns and I want to finish it this weekend :)

Oh and this quilt is called Donut Quilt and the pattern can be found here! :)

 

(this post contains affiliate links to amazon & studio calico. all thoughts are my own. based on products I personally purchased and loved!)

Hello 2015

Hello 2015!

I can't believe it's winter and January.

In October we purchased our first home! It feels amazing to have a space of our own but I was completely unprepared for how overwhelming it would be! We have so many things stacked in boxes, in storage and at my father-in-laws. We have very little actual furniture but we do have a fantastic stove so we've been eating lots. and lots. and lots. I did get an old sewing machine table to use as a nightstand and last week I finally hung a few prints I got for Christmas! Sherlock is from Nan Lawson and The Kiss is from Maggie Stiefvater. The natural light in our house is my very favorite part! I'll definitely share more once we are settled in. It takes all my willpower every day not to share 900 house photos on instagram. :) My ultimate goal is to have our home be supremely cozy and sweet.

In November we went on a family trip to Texas. We drove so we got to see Arizona and New Mexico and I fell in love. It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen. A horse used me as a chin rest, a cat and I became best friends, I added 14 new birds to my life list (pyrrhuloxia!), I ate my weight in roasted green chiles, saw some cactus, visited Roswell and read a lot of books! We drove close to 4,000 miles in ten days! I've been making a mini book about our trip, hopefully once I finish it I'll share it!

While I was on vacation, Ashleigh launched our 2015 Mystery Stitch-a-Long: Story Time Sampler! I'm SUPER excited for this pattern. I've already started picking my favorite blocks and have been working on Sherlock. Each month folks will receive a new character from classic literature to stitch up and the finished pattern looks like little frames on a wall. It's ridiculously adorable. This fall we also launched our wholesale line of printed patterns- shop owners can purchase patterns directly from us or through distributors such as YarnTree & Hoffman. It is pretty surreal seeing shops carry our patterns! 

One of my current favorite things EVER is my Christmas Tote! I used Noodlehead's Pool Side Tote pattern and really enjoyed sewing it up! It's so big and roomy and fits tons of books and projects and is great! I got my kawaii Christmas fabric from fabricsupply on etsy :) I'll probably make a new one that isn't Christmas themed once I get my sewing machine back from being tuned up!

My goal for 2014 was to read 75 books, I ended up reading 153. This year my goal is 75 but I want to read BETTER quality books. Last summer I discovered bookish tumblr, BookRiot & Books On The Nightstand which really helped me read more diversely. I tried a lot of new books I wouldn't normally read and *loved* them. I'm going to do a post of my favorite books this year soon :)

I hope you had a good holiday! :):):)

 

Book Buying Habits

mytruelovegavetomebookcover
mytruelovegavetomebook

When we got The Big Life Event started this summer, I knew I wanted to start buying actual physical books again. My friend Saremy introduced me to a great local bookshop downtown and I started saving up my amazon affiliate rewards to put towards books on my wishlist.

I always wanted my home to be filled with books but with limited space in my current situation, that wasn't an option at all. So I read a lot of eBooks & library books which was totally cool. But now I can get pretty books and display them! I've been obsessing over DIY bookshelves on Pinterest and coming up with all sorts ideas!

Typically when I decide I want a new book, I first visit my local bookshop. They have a membership card that is $18 a year and you get 10% off all your purchases. Which totally adds up because new releases are 20% off so with the card they are 30% off! Woo! Plus I'm in Chico once a week so I like popping in just to see what they recently got.  And if I can't get a book with them, I then try amazon. I typically receive (full disclosure time!) between $15-25 per month in amazon affiliate money. I get it in the form of a gift card so I can save up two months of affiliate money to qualify for free shipping. I am super appreciative of that book budget (thank you for clicking my links!) so today I wanted to share with you a super pretty book I got that you might like too!

I recently discovered Book Depository! I don't know if I'm just late to the party (probably!) but I thought I'd tell you about them!

I ordered a pink edition of FanGirl this summer after seeing it on Rainbow Rowell's tumblr. I absolutely freaking adored that book. And I liked having a special fancy copy of it. For some reason it made reading it extra special! It helped that Cath was quite possibly one of my favorite characters of all time too! The dust jacket comes off and has a dance party illustration on it!

Now I check and see if there are alternate versions with different covers or features on Book Depository before I purchase on Amazon. They have free world wide shipping which is surprisingly fast, I usually get my orders in 4-8 business days after I order. They are in the UK & I'm in California so that's not too shabby!

I found a copy of My True Love Gave To Me that blew me away! I don't know how but my copy arrived before the book was even released? It was a super surprise! I thought it was cute in the photos but when it arrived, my head almost exploded.

PINK EDGES! SHINY GOLD WRITING! BIG LIGHT BULBS ON THE END PAPERS! I love those big giant old fashioned Christmas lights. I totally forgot to take a photo for this post but each chapter contains a cute illustration. The first page I opened to had a cat on it, so naturally I was in love. BoarishReads, my bookish instagram account, has a photo here.

Even the US edition is adorable. I like those ice skaters a bunch. I feel like I recently saw flannel sheets somewhere with ice skaters on them but now I can't for the life of me remember where!

I haven't actually READ this book yet, so I'm simply gushing that it's SUPER pretty. I can't tell you about the content but it's all of my favorite authors (Holly Black, Jenny Han, Laini Taylor, etc) writing short winter themed romances. It sounds really cute but I'm waiting to read it until it's actually Christmas/Winter. I like to read books that take place in the season I'm experiencing. Is that weird?

Here are three other books I got to read in November/December. They are either on order from amazon or I'm on the hold list at the library.

I'm currently reading The Young Elites, I somehow was the first person on the hold list at the library and it came on Friday. One thing I like about our library is if our branch doesn't have a book, it will arrive on a Friday from an alternate branch.

It feels funny to be talking about Christmas/Winter before Halloween but I'm feeling inspired by it right now. Ashleigh & I spent the past two months designing and stitching a new club, Christmas Celebration Sampler that matches Halloween Spooky Sampler. I'm just SUPER into it. We basically took everything Christmas & pushed it to the max! It spells out Christmas with the best little designs, she made a Mrs. Claus that is so sweet. As a personal project, I'm currently stitching one of the blocks from Christmas Celebration Sampler with some silk from Dragonflylotus Designs for a bookmark.

Last weekend was Fiber-Fusion and it was SO much fun! Our booth came out really cute!! And I got to meet a Yak so that was neat! The booth across from us totally had me obsessed, it was a local woman who raises sheep. She had baskets of fleece, big wool blankets she knit and was explaining the sheep to yarn process. She spun and chatted and I adored watching her spin. Like, I'd find myself creepily staring at her for 5 or so minutes because it was so relaxing! She was using the prettiest Ashford wheel. I learned to spin briefly in college and was quite terrible at it but watching her this weekend + seeing all the amazing Spinzilla posts on instagram has me thinking a lot about it. She teaches classes and I think it would be really neat to give it a second try. I might have room for a wheel? I don't think it would be hard on my hands like knitting? I'd definitely have to save up for one but it looks like a really neat craft. And I love seeing all the pretty indie dyed fiber. I just don't know if I'd feel guilty spinning yarn but being unable to knit with it?

I hope your week is going well :):):)

It takes a village right?

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It's still not even remotely fall-ish here which is really starting to bug me! It was 100 degrees all weekend. Ew! I refuse to drink a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte when it's over 75 degrees. But I have been making some homemade ones because Ashleigh has this theory that if we dress like it's autumn, eat seasonal treats and get cozy, the weather will HAVE to agree and turn autumn-y.

I appreciated all your emails and kind thoughts about my hand/arm stuff. I've been trying acupuncture which is so fascinating to me. I've gone five times so far and here are my thoughts:

I lack the ability to sit still. Truly. I am *always* doing things. Knitting. Playing video games. Cross stitching. Reading. Social Media. Just constantly DOING. And that hour where I have to sit still is HARD. Like the first time I went, I was nervously watching the clock and stressing out about my to do list. Then my friend Kelly had the brilliant idea to listen to an audiobook. That definitely helped, I asked my acupuncturist if that was ok and she said absolutely and now I have an hour of The Silkworm time. I'm not 100% able to relax fully but now I'm not feeling terrible about it, I look forward to listening to bits of the story. Last time I made it a full 37 minutes before I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. If you haven't checked it out yet, I LOVE the narrator of this series, I listened to The Cuckoo's Calling last fall and adored it. (Those are Amazon Affiliate links- meaning if you click them and buy those, I get a tiny percentage that I use to buy more books! But I obviously only suggest things I genuinely love!) I know they are JKR but go into the books just expecting a FANTASTIC mystery/crime and NOT Harry Potter and you'll love them. I am finding mixed relief from acupuncture. I knit yesterday for the first time in two weeks and was only able to finish one row of my Great Divide Shawl. I have a dr's appointment in October that some days I look forward to and other days I dread if I'm being honest.

It's really bothering me that I can't knit. And if I'm still being honest, this summer was hard. I had to cut back on all the things I love and I just felt sort of lost. I didn't realize how much of my happiness, self identity and confidence comes from the act of creating. I was really starting to feel sad about it and then I decided to find an alternative solution:

What if I asked for help? 

I had bought two skeins of Socks That Rock with the intent of having a Halloween Great Divide, I emailed Michele and asked if she could knit me one and she agreed! She's doing a gorgeous job on it!

And then! I've *always* wanted a crocheted afghan and my friend Bonnie made a beautiful one for one of her friends. I sent her almost my entire Plucky stash and suddenly...AFGHAN!

I had a pile of quilts I couldn't hand sew the binding on and I'm awful at machine binding...some cupcakes and rosemary potatoes later, Saremy machine bound my quilts for me. I *love* knowing that even if I'm not making things, I'm at least going to be surrounded by hand made stuff.

Someone on instagram sent me a private message asking how I could claim a quilt that someone else designed, someone else quilted and another person bound as my own. This message kind of threw me for a loop. It's definitely something to think about but I'm not dwelling on it. I feel like I have two choices: let my stash of collected yarn and fabric just sit & torment me or send it to friends and trade/buy/whatever in exchange for help finishing projects or creating projects I know I can't physically do. So thanks to CrinkleLove for quilting my Thanksgiving Donut Quilt and Eileen Quilts for quilting my Halloween Donuts, Halloween Squares and Hashtag Quilt and Saremy binding them for me I ACTUALLY HAVE THINGS TO SHARE WITH YOU! I'm looking forward to blogging about each one individually because they are all super fun. AND I HAVE COZY QUILTS TO BE COZY WITH! Because COZY.

I started actually taking Sunday's completely off. I have breakfast with my family at our favorite soda shop in Yuba City and then I come home and soak my arm. Last Sunday I cut out the first block in Moda's Modern Building Blocks. This project comes in two formats: a kit with moda bella solids (check google or your local quilt shop!) and a project fan card. I bought the fan card option off etsy (the shop is now sold out and asked me not to link directly to them) and I *love* it but it appears to be backordered online everywhere at the time I'm writing this.

It's this great sampler and the pattern cards are just the measurements for the blocks. I love it because it's so sweet and inspiring. Every sampler I make will always remind me of doing The Farmer's Wife Quilt with Angela and I wish that TFWQ book was set up this way! For me, it's so much easier to see a block diagram labeled with letters and then below those letters with the corresponding measurements. I sort of "hacked" my pattern, I put washi tape on it and hole punched the outer cover (this shows the entire quilt) so I could keep it all together on a ribbon. I kept being afraid I'd lose the outer wrapper with the quilt diagram on it! I had a perfect matching washi tape in my stash from one of my Project Life kits which made me ridiculously happy.

So today I listened to some music and cut out another Donut Quilt. This one is sort of fantasy book inspired?! And then I made my first Modern Building Block! It's a mix of quilting cotton, linen and silk. So much texture. I have no doubt this quilt will take me the better part of a year to work on and I'm sewing mostly from stash. I have a Big Life Event happening at the moment that I want to shout about from the rooftops but I'm afraid to jinx it so I'm not saying anything which is SO HARD but hopefully in 30ish days I'll be able to share something great with you. If it doesn't work out, forget I mentioned anything. Seriously. ;) If it does work out, this quilt is going to be extra special. I *love* long term projects because when you finish them and look back you see memories in them. Like "oh I was listening to this album and sewing this block when X happened." or "I got this fabric from (insert friend) during November and made a block instantly".

I took some photos last week of my current WIP cross stitch. It's pretty much the most autumn-y sweet thing ever. I just need to make sure it's ok to post them, I'm shooting for Wednesday :):):)

Have a good Monday!

Whoa Nelly.

 
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I'm so incredibly envious of all the folks I see mentioning that fall is coming! Cool weather! Leaves are turning!

It's not even remotely like it here. The only thing that I've noticed is it getting a little bit darker earlier on our evening walks.

So I'm pretending that it's happening here k?

I cut out a new quilt yesterday! I haven't sewn since I made my mod blocks quilt in May. That's crazy right?! I had almost a full day off from work yesterday and I decided to just put on some favorite music (lately I'm obsessed with old Death Cab Cutie) and just cut it out. I have two that I want to make, one sort of Autumn/Thanksgiving-ish and one Mystical/Fantasy-ish. I only got one cut out yesterday but I'm ok with it! I used a Moda Grunge that I haven't tried before, it's sort of a cream with darker cream splotches. I can't seem to find it online but I'll keep checking. I have no idea when I'll be able to sew it together but it was fun to cut it all out!

On a whim the second week of August I went by my local yarn store and picked up two DK weight yarns. I thought I'd try my hand at a Great Divide Shawl! I got a skein of Juniper Moon Findley DK in Buckwheat & Sweet Georgia Superwash DK in I think...Cayenne? Don't hold me to that, I've misplaced the tag. I cast on using size 9's (pattern calls for 8's) and just got obsessed with it! It's a *very* fun and addictive pattern. I could definitely see myself making multiples of these. I'm knitting it a little looser and English style. I haven't decided my border color yet- I have a skein of Tosh DK in Dahlia which just might be one of my new favorite colors. It's the prettiest wine-y plum. And then I have a skein of The Verdant Gryphon Traveller in Maijishan Grottoes. Which is also gorgeous but I'd originally planned on knitting a hat from it. Tough choice! I got some new stitch markers for my birthday that I stuck on my shawl Pecan Pie from Sweet & Savory Trinkets & S'more + PB&J From Sucre Sucre Miniatures!

I haven't been knitting as much as I'd like. At all. If it was up to me, I'd be have that shawl, some fingerless gloves and a new pair of socks done. My hand has been bothering me on and off all spring and has gotten much worse this summer. I've visited a few doctors about it and I'm not 100% in agreement with them so I'm trying acupuncture for the first time this week! I'm equal parts nervous and excited to try it. I'm giving it a shot until October when I have an appointment for a second opinion then I'll see an neurologist for an EMG. It's so incredibly frustrating to be surrounded by amazing yarn, great projects and not be able to work on stuff! But when I do take the time to knit, I enjoy every single second of it. Cute stitch markers, super nice yarn and a great pattern. It's a special treat to be able to work on it here and there.

I've been reading a TON. I think because I used to knit in the evenings, now I'm reading more! I've really gotten into the BookRiot blog & podcast! If you haven't checked it out and you love to read, you should. I also found The Readables BookTube Channel and she's so adorable. I've started reading comics and I was so excited to see that Chico has a great comic book store, BaT Comics!  (Next to a pie shop and one block over from the bookstore. See you later money & waistline ;)) The owner is super nice and really knowledgeable. I've been collecting a few series and have totally become obsessed with Manga this summer as well. In some ways not being able to sew and knit as much has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things! Positive thinking right? Chop surprised me with a strange stuffed boar this spring, who I've referred to as Boarish Yeltsin, I decided he needed his own instagram account so I could share all my book-ish things. I love sharing what I've been finding at my local library- I got these on Saturday:

Our library has started using Axis360 and I've been REALLY liking it. Lots of brand new eBooks, you should definitely see if your library offers it! I'm currently reading Unbreakable and I kept thinking "is this Supernatural?" This morning I checked out GoodReads and read some reviews, yep. Supernatural! I'm not far enough along to say if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Before this summer I was a monogamous reader, just one book at a time. But now I have an eBook (for reading in bed at night), an audiobook (for listening to while I work) and a paper book (daytime reading) going at all times. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with the characters in each story or get plot lines mixed up but so far it hasn't been a problem. I get really excited when I get to switch between them as well.

I've been cross stitching a ton lately. Like, nonstop. And I've been enjoying it so much. If you've been reading my blog you might recall that I'm not the most confident of cross stitchers so my goal this summer has been to practice, practice, practice. Which has been a little tricky since my hand hurts and I'm sure it's contributing to the problem. But this is my job! I look forward to my mornings with coffee, my project and a book (or music!). I've made 3 bookmarks for myself, I stitched two of our new mini patterns AND we decided to use my personal project (remember- our patterns are stitched by ladies other than Ashleigh & I to test them) for the cover sample for The Mysterious Halloween Town. I feel fancy! ;) My stitching is not perfect but it's definitely getting better! I started stitching our new Autumn Harvest Festival pattern on a super pretty hand dyed aida and I really am enjoying it, it's so soft and dreamy. Also, we've added two permanent promo codes if you are interested: PARTYTIME which is $2 off 3 or more mini patterns and 15% off 5 or more patterns in a single transaction with PUMPKIN the 15% off one can add up super fast and if you buy some of the bigger patterns, it ends up being close to getting a pattern free which is always nice!

I hope you had a good summer :) My summer blogging hiatus is over and I'll be back to posting more often :):)

Favorite Projects & Books of Summer (so far!)

 
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Here is what I love about summer:

  • extra daylight
  • iced drinks 24/7
  • sunsets
  • ice cream
  • napping

Here is what I don't love about summer:

  • fire season
  • heat
  • feeling sweaty
  • heat. have I mentioned heat?

I made this insane goal that before the temperatures get cool (which is like...November) I want to have a little wardrobe of new knit goods to wear.

I want:

  • a hat
  • a cowl
  • a shawl
  • a pair of fingerless gloves.

I've accomplished one! I finished the cowl this weekend, I made Zuzu's Petals from Madelinetosh DK Twist in Modern Fair Isle. I thought the pattern was fun and well written and I know I chose yarn that doesn't do the pattern justice (I'm forever picking yarn that doesn't show off lace...eek!), I'm looking forward to wearing it!

I started knitting the fingerless gloves. I'm using zombie ViXen by Susan Claudino and it's been REALLY fun! Have you ever looked through her patterns? She is so good at knitting creatures, she gives them freaking eyebrows. That detail kills me! I forgot how great cables are to knit. The yarn is from Spun Right Round and it's called Combat Boots & Babydoll Dresses. Totally 90's and I *love* it. It's kind of a pale oat-y color with tiny flecks of orange, aqua and mauve.

I have no idea what I'll do for a hat or a shawl. I really love Moonraker, it's super unique and looks like it would be a really fun knit!

One of my favorite projects from this summer so far is my Quilt to Read Under. The pattern is ModBlocks by Johanna Masko. I had literally ONE weekend to make a quilt. My sewing time is super limited so when I have time, I want to make the most of it and get something great accomplished. I *love* Joanna's patterns. They are direct and to the point. Really clever. Easy to understand. Sometimes I just want to read the directions and end up with a great quilt with zero math or thinking on my part. It drives me nuts when I buy a quilt pattern and it has a ridiculous amount of waste and strange cutting instructions.

I picked a bundle of colors that I normally wouldn't go with but this year I'm crushing on lilac REALLY hard. Patchwork is always a very special thing to me, I like to take my time picking fabric to tell a story. I really wanted a new little lap quilt to take on a road trip to Modoc County we went on and I knew I wanted it whimsical and a tiny bit edgy. It has some silk. Some chambray. Linen. Double cotton gauze. Some old favorites and some new. I wanted the size to be small but the fabric to have a big impact. And maybe have a little fairy tale sweetness without being too saccharine. I love this quilt. FIERCELY.

I named it a Quilt to Read Under because I like dragging it to my chair and having it in my lap while reading. And this summer is alllllllllll about reading.

Here are my very favorite books I've read this summer. You should read them. Seriously. They are all very different and very good!

  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before- Jenny Han It was quirky and sweet!
  • Sinner by Maggie Steifvater I'm a huge fan girl of Maggie Steifvater and I went into this knowing that it wasn't meant to be part of the Shiver series but more of a stand alone and wowowowow. With each book she writes, she just gets better and better.
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson I was so confused for the first 1/2 of this book trying to put the name to the character. Who was the prince and who was the assassin. Just when I thought I figured it out...nope. This was a fast read for me, one afternoon! I just was super into it! And it's an excellent cliff hanger.
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen I went into this book knowing nothing about it, only that I wanted to read a fantasy with a strong female lead. This is one of those books where you watch the character go from UGH to YAY. I love good character development.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr This book. If you read just ONE book this summer, make it this one. Truly. What a beautiful and haunting story. It took me about two weeks to read this simply because it's lushly written, I didn't WANT to stop reading it but it's such a HARD subject (WW2) that I'd find myself having to pause to catch my breath. It's incredibly paced as well. Marie's story is going to stay with me for a long time.

We have about A MILLION new patterns in the shop. Truly. So many people asked about my scissor fob that Ashleigh made me last summer that we did the pattern for it. And The Mysterious Halloween Town club is now two clues in and I LOVE IT! Once Upon a Time is growing and it's insane! It feels like just yesterday we were stitching January's block! My birthday is next month and we always pick our favorite things for our birthday month, mine I think will surprise people and I super hope everyone likes it! And speaking of birthday months! It's Ashleigh's birthday today! We always have a BIG promo code on her birthday- this year it's 26% off your entire purchase with promo code BIRTHDAY

Print

It expires on Monday, July 28th at noon PST. Also, Picture This Plus has a huge fabric sale on July 25th so it's a good opportunity to stock up on patterns + supplies!

:):)

Summer Reading

 
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2014 is the Summer of the Book around here at Casa de Porkchop.

I'm just sitting over here, reading & obsessing over books. 24/7.

I want to visit my local bookstore that Saremy introduced me too and pick out books based solely on their covers, pretty much EVERYDAY.

I've become obsessed with taking my Studio Calico bits & bobs and making bookmarks with cross stitched pieces from our Summer Sampler. I think frappuccino is going to be next because it's adorable. I'm also slowly but surely working on sewing a book cover because my books keep getting smushed in my backpack.

Here is my summer reading bucket list:

  • Read a classic I've never read before! I started Jane Eyre this morning and I bought a super pretty copy of Sense & Sensibility
  • Read more YA! Favorites have been: We Were Liars, Sinner, Ruin & Rising and These Broken Stars.
  • Tackle unfinished books! It's very, very, very rare for me to not see a book through. I was slagging along with the first Game of Thrones FOR TWO SUMMERS NOW and I can finally say not only did I finish it but I loved it!
  • Finish trilogies! I am the worst at loving the first two books in a series and being afraid the final book will make me hate the series so I just don't read it and then inevitably I get spoiled and super annoyed. Terrible right? But I'm also the girl who (spoiler alert!) once I saw Mary & Matthew get married, stopped watching Downton because to me- that was the perfect ending! I finally finished Hunger Games with Mockingjay (loved it) and Immortal Instruments with City of Fire (blah!). I have 3-4 more series that I have to finish up.
  • Read more physical books! This is a big one for me. I've owned a kindle since they started selling them and I *love* e-reading. But I do think a lot about indie vs amazon so I am buying more locally and supporting the library. Also, we are house hunting and I heard a rumor that Chop is going to help me build some bookshelves so clearly it's my job to buy more books ;)

I've been going back & forth about updating my blog this summer. Part of me wants to take the summer off and part of me feels like I shouldn't. We (The Pumpkins) have a ton of new patterns (and some are limited edition!) and have been super busy getting stuff ready for this winter so I feel like I have a LOT to say but at the same time, I don't want to sound like an ad 24/7!

In knitting news, I'm working on Zuzu's Petals in Madelinetosh DK- the color is Modern Fair Isle (it's the project that isn't a sock in these photos!) and it's pretty! One of my summer goals is to make a "fall wardrobe" of knit goods. I want to make a cowl, a shawl, a hat and a pair of mitts. I have until about November because that's when it starts to get cool-ish here. I'm just knitting away slowly but surely, a few rows here and a few rows there. It's nice!

Also, I find myself listening to this concert over & over through out my day. It's funny because I technically think of them as a winter band (do you do this? think of certain bands and albums for different seasons?!) but I just love listening to this! I also recently got the audio version of my favorite book, The Raven Boys and o m g. It's read by Will Patton and just fantastic, so if you are looking for a new audiobook, pick that one!

:):):)