Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome Back, Kotter!

What the ...?? I have written several posts since March, but none of them are on my blog. Oh, dear! Well, I guess folks have been missing out on my latest obsessions, my project updates, and my general silliness for quite awhile.

As fall slowly creeps over New England, my desire to craft grows and my promise to post is renewed. I hereby promise to turn over a new leaf. I have been crafting much more than in the beginning of the year, and I plan to share my projects and thoughts more now that I am unencumbered by school work!

So, I am working in Cambridge, MA these days and I have a 2 hour commute there and back. Most of the time I knit and listen to the Smodcast Network, but sometimes I just want to read a book or stare out the window. When I do knit, it is generally something from A Stitch in Time. I am crazy about vintage, and a girl can never have too many sweaters. The first sweater I started and finished was the Rose Cardigan. Now I am working on It Cannot Fail to Please.

It Cannot Fail to Please
The Lay of the Land

I would like to get about 4 more sweaters knit before December. We'll see how this goes. There's also the small issue of knitting small scarves or socks when sweater pattern gets too complicated for the train, or its parts are too bulky to carry around.

The quilting bug also caught me this past month, and I finally finished my Bento Box quilt, which I started a very long time ago.
Bento Box Quilt
A Generous Lap Quilt Size

Wow. My machine is pretty small, and scrunching up the quilt sandwich and pushing it around was pretty difficult. I managed to finish it though, and gave it to my mom. She says its very warm and pretty!

I'm in Seattle this week for business, and I stopped at Fabric Crush and bought fabric for a new quilt I plan to start in a few weeks! I also got fabric for an apron. Time to get more domestic, and I've always wanted an apron. Myabe sewing something small will help with the dress I have been struggling with. I have been trying to get better at making clothes. My proportions are really crazy, and I am having trouble tailoring patterns to accommodate a 15" difference from waist to hip. I finally bought a dress form, Maggie, and I am going to work harder to successfully make a nice, simple dress. The wonderful lady at Fabric Crush, whose name I never got, suggested that a new sewing machine might help with my inability to sew straight lines. I have a $99 Brother I got at Walmart about 2-3 years ago when I was still a grad student. Seemed fine to me, but I'm starting to wonder if that really could be the problem with my quilting and clothes making. Does a machine really make that much of a difference?
Bento Box Quilt
My Work "Space"

Hope you are enjoying the inception of Fall! Post on my friend's wedding and KC/Seattle coming up soon!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Movie Review: Remember Me

I'll be honest. I went to see Remember Me for the eye candy. I'm a Twilight fan, and I love Robert Pattinson. But I was actually shocked at how good it was. About 30 minutes in, I even found myself thinking, "gee, I thought this was gonna be an angsty teeny movie with RPattz...Pierce Brosnan's in this?? Chris Cooper's in this?? Isn't that the girl from Lost??? WTF?"

Great story, really powerful filmmaking. I was crying within the first 15 minutes of the film. Even though you can feel what's coming, it's still heartbreaking. What follows is expert character development, great acting, and an easiness the cast shares that translates to interactions on screen that ring true. From the sister, to father, to the roommate, you care about every single character.

The ending, which is better than most recent suspense films, actually was a complete shock. Again, I knew SOMETHING was gonna happen because of the mood set by the music, and the camera work, but WHAT happened, I totally didn't see coming, and I cried again. It's in the last 10 minutes that you realize the genius of the film's title. You assume that the remembrance is for the people revealed in the story, but it actually extends to a much larger group that will never be forgotten in America... Very unusual film considering the usual drivel that Hollywood had been churning out lately.

If you've passed on this movie because you think its a non-vampiric Twilight rip-off, FORGET that Robert Pattinson is in it. He disappears completely into his character and you may even forget he was ever Edward...

Director: Allen Coulter

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie De Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today’s Yoga Sequence

I thought I would share my practice from this morning. No particular focus today, though I felt a little tired so I added a few more standing poses and backbends for energy :) Each pose was repeated twice on each side and the interlock of the legs was changed as well. The Sarvangasana Sequence was done once, flowing from each asana gently. (The full sequence is after the jump.)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (transitional)
Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana (transitional)
Virabhadrasana I
Utthita Parsvakonasana
Urdhva Hastasana (transitional)
Uttanasana (transitional)

Gomukhasana (arms only)
Baddha Konasana Forward Bend
Sukhasana Twist

Salabhasana I

Sirsasana prep

Ardha Halasana (on chair)
Salamba Sarvangasana I
Ardha Halasana (on chair)
Supta Konasana

Ujjayi Pranayama I, II, III (lying in Savasana II)
Savasana I

Until next time...
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mantras and Mudras and Asanas, Oh My!

If you've seen me since Thanksgiving, you'll have observed that I am obsessed. With yoga. I rediscovered my love of this ancient Indian practice on a much-needed trip home to Wisconsin, at my LYS (local yoga studio), the Milwaukee Yoga Center.

After checking the IYNAUS website for a licensed Iyengar teacher in Rhode Island, I found one teacher in Providence. Joy of joys, she was right downtown and accessible by public transport. My first class was January 5 and I have taken at least two classes a week since then. Lately it's been three. I also participated in a workshop on building an effective home practice, which I do most days I do not have a teacher-run class at the studio, Motion Center. You see, I am not just obsessed with getting better at performing yoga, I am intrigued at the prospect of understanding yoga. I'm studying the full art form, and it is an art. It clears the mind, challenges the body, and refreshes the spirit. It's the reason I want to embark on the long process of teacher training to become a licensed Iyengar teacher. I have a long way to go, but I think it will be a pleasant and enlightening journey.

I keep a journal of every class I take and every sequence I create. Sometimes it's out of order because my mind can't recall the exact order, but the asanas are there and so are my observation about how my body or mind felt at the time as well as corrections to apply or observe. I thought I would share with you my 2010 asana To-Do List. There are poses that I need further practice in, and which are springboards to more complicated poses. I don't have to get these poses perfectly, but as challenges, I think they will enhance my practice and help me be a better teacher when the time comes. What are your physical/mental challenges this year?

Virasana - I have large thighs and calves, so this pose is a challenge. Getting closer though! Only about 3 fingers off the ground.

Gomukhasana, right arm back - I can interlock my fingers with the left arm back, but barely reach my fingertips with the right back...would like to be even by the end of the year.

Salamba Sarvangasana - Working on pressing my shoulders and arms down, while lifting my chest/lower body up. Much better than it was a few months ago. I can hold it for about 3-5 minutes, perform a hovering konasana, partial eka pada, etc.

Halasana - Not happening at all...too much for my neck I think...or maybe I am smothering myself with my chest?

Salamba Sirsasana - I need more strength in my arms and shoulders to take the weight off my head. I have an inversion workshop in two weeks, maybe I'll learn some tricks :)

Until next time...
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Lately I have been getting into natural products. Not products that are necessarily labeled natural, but products made exclusively from all natural ingredients. I thought it was kinda silly before, but when I switched chemical cleansers and started wheezing and coughing everytime I washed my tub, I began to reconsider.

That was maybe 6 months ago, and it took this long for me to give au naturel a try. Boy am I glad I did! I have been using vinegar, baking soda, and lemons to clean my bathroom and kitchen for a few weeks now. The vinegar cleans, the baking soda scrubs, and the lemon brightens and freshens. I have to say it works just as well, if not better than what I was using. Plus no more wheezing or coughing! It's cheap, easy, and makes me feel old school. Let's face it. I'm kinda stuck in the wrong century, so using these things reconnects me to the past I must have lived. This natural trend, however, doesn't stop at cleaning tiles and toilets. No it also has moved to my face.

I've been using Lush products for a little over a year, and while I still love them, they are quite pricey and frankly I still get breakouts. Sporadic breakouts and monthly ones too. So in the midst of my natural cleaning spree, I researched natural face masks, cleansers, and moisturizers. Here's what I found out and even tried.
You can make a face mask out of pretty much anything! Fruits, veges, oatmeal, sugar, olive oil, any dairy product, plain honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. "Wow...really?" I thought. Smear some yogurt on my face and it will soften my skin and help prevent breakouts? I was skeptical. But, I went to the store and picked up two 1-cup containers of Stonyfield Farm organic plain yogurt. That night, I steamed my face to "clean" it and then applied the yogurt. 20 minutes of Lexulous playing later, and I was ready to wash it off. I applied a small amount of coconut oil as a moisturizer. My face felt wonderfully silky and soft. Hmm...

Two night later, and no new blemishes, I decided to try this weird honey mask everyone raved about. I had a blemish from before the yogurt that I wanted to get rid of and apparently honey has amazing antibacterial properties! SO I squeezed come into my hand and spread it over my face. It was a little awkward to apply. Sticky mess, actually, but it rinsed off my hands quickly with a little warm water. Now this one was supposed to stay on for 30 minutes. I decided to use that time again playing Lexulous, Chess tactics trainer, and other things. Then, drip, drip, drip. Honey on my bra, honey on my couch. Umm...honey does not play nice. It refuses to stay on your face, and basically starts to flee as soon as you put it on. Some people accept this and spend the time laying on the floor with a towel under their heads. I need to use all of my time. So I decided to try a new mask that incorporated honey.

Tonight, I got home around 11:50. I steamed my face and applied a new mixture I made based on people's other masks - the leftover yogurt, about 1.5 tbsps of honey, about 1 tbsp of cinnamon, and the juice of 1/4 of a small lemon. This combo is supposed to brighten, lighten, tone, moisturize, and inhibit blemishes. I stirred it all together, and then applied it to my face, massaging it in a bit first and then letting it dry for 15 minutes. I just washed it off and applied coconut oil, and my face feels like velvet! I can't wait to mix up some body masks soon!

There you have it. Three masks that work. It just depends how much effort you want to put in. Nex I plan to make a cleanser/scrub with organic brown sugar and olive oil. We'll see how well that works!

Until next time...
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Non-Resolution Health Resolution

Around Thanksgiving, I decided to try to eat cleaner. I saw an infomercial. Yes, I know what you're thinking. "An infomercial? Sarah, are you really that naive?" Indeed, I can be naive, but this infomercial was by Jillian Michaels. And she was talking about clean eating. Clean eating means basically minimally processed foods without chemicals and other evils like high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. I went into it skeptical. I don't watch The Biggest Loser. I'm just not a touchy-feely TV viewer. But what she was saying sounded right, it made sense. So I kept listening, and by the end of the program, my mom and I were ready to truck out to Barnes and Noble and buy her book, Mastering Your Metabolism. Best book purchase of 2009.

Long story short, I have been eating clean at home, making more meals, swapping whole wheat for enriched pasta, eating more organic fruits and veges, free-range chicken, and organic yogurt and dairy. And you know something, I feel better. I slip up now and again, but generally I am sticking to it, and even discovered I like the taste/texture of brown rice more than white! Who knew? So while I didn't make an actual resolution, it has turned into one by accident. I'll update you on my new clean lifestyle (lots of yoga, cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, baking/cooking) in the coming days. There is probably only so much New Age stuff you can handle at once on a craft blog :)

To tide you over, I will leave you this link to Smitten Kitchen's Sour Cream Bran muffins. I'm baking them now before my Power Vinyasa class! (Recipe Modifications: Added 1 tsp of baking powder (by accident); baked in paper-lined muffin pan.)

Until next time...
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

Multi-tasking got the better of me last year. I didn't post nearly as much as I intended, precisely because there was not a whole lot of crafting happening. This year will be different. I have a few resolutions that I would like to keep for once, and I hope you will share your resolutions with me too!

1. Finish all WIP sweaters. My gauge changes dramatically as the year goes on and I hate having a sweater with different sleeves, or a looser front. So I am picking one sweater WIP a month and trying to finish that up. This does not mean I can't cast on new shawls, socks, mittens, etc. Just no new sweaters until a dent has been made. A BIG dent.

2. Spin more. I really like drop spindling, but it went by the wayside as I got busy. I won't be buying any new fiber until at least may, and I would like some finished skeins to show off before that happens. Goal: At least 16 ounces of fiber spun by May 1.

3. Sew more clothing. The sewing bug really hit me last year. I love making my own clothes, and am looking forward to learning how to sew better. I made several dresses and skirts, and would like to try my hand at some blouses and pants this year!

What are YOUR goals this year?

Until next time...
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