Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cabin Fever

Well, the excitement of Christmas is slowly dwindling away. All the gifts have been exchanged, all the feasts have been eaten, not quite all the candy has been pigged upon.

As usual, the girls are the big winners in the gift department. Santa (and parents, of course) bestowed lots of books, games, puzzles, and toys. Eldest, being 9 1/2, is at that awkward age where she is slowly leaving toys behind and is becoming more interested in things like clothes, jewellery, and books. Youngest, at 7 1/2, always follows her sister's lead and is a bookworm as well. She is also really into art, so the grandparents got her a sort of grown-up sketching set. She loves it. The grandparents also got both girls (and us) some gift cards for Chapters, so everyone got to pick even more books they were looking for.

Besides the satisfaction of seeing everyone enjoy the handknits I gave them, I got a new hand-made jewellery box, a funky doll from an artist/craft sale, and a gift certif. for what will be my new local yarn store when we move. Every year, K. gives me a gift certif. and every year the first words out of my mouth are "is it real?". This is because one year he thought it would be really funny to make a fake gift certificate just to play a joke on me. He thought my reaction was hilarious. I was not amused. I have been suspicious ever since.

Now that all gifts have been examined and all Boxing Day shopping is done we are just hanging around at home. It would be really relaxing and peaceful except that, quite frankly, its starting to wear thin. K. has been home since noon on the 23rd and won't be at work next week except for 2 days. The kids have been out of school for a week and still have another to go. We have been doing very little in all this time except hang around and enjoy each others' company. The weather has been beautiful and sunny, but we haven't been really out to enjoy it due to the girls having bad colds. It's getting increasingly harder to stave off boredom at this point. For some reason, I always feel really pressured to come up with entertainment for everyone. Silly, I know, but they all seem to look at me for fantastic ideas of places to go or stuff to do. It's slowly getting harder to remain cheerful when I'm used to spending large chunks of the day alone instead of hearing the girls bickering in the other room and K. snoring beside me during one of his many naps.

In an effort to retain my sanity, I decided to start a quick little project. Just to take the edge off before I get back to the sweaters I currently have on the go from before Christmas. I dug around and found a couple of skeins of Lamb's Pride Worsted in Tornado Teal to make a little doggy coat for Tango. The pattern is from a Patons dog sweater booklet and is pretty quick to knit. I could have done the whole thing in probably 4 hours, but I've been pacing myself.

He doesn't really need a coat, mind you. The weather here is pretty mild and he has an abundance of long, sheddy hair. But I think it is a matter of knitterly pride that he should have his own handknit sweater to show off during walks around the park. Besides, its just his colour.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making Christmas

At last another Christmas is almost upon us. I am just finishing up the last pair of handknit socks. All other gifts are wrapped and under the tree. Stockings are hung for the girls and their lists have been shared with Santa and many family members. K. is off work for a few days and we are leisurely awaiting the family dinner with his parents tomorrow. Perhaps we will watch Polar Express and take a driving tour of Christmas light displays this evening.

I used to be one of those people who took the holiday season far too seriously. Being a crafty sort, I always made huge lists of things to make for gifts. Absolutely everyone on my list had to have something handmade. I would spend hours working my fingers to the bone, often staying up until the wee hours in the final week just to get it all done. I would worry and obsess and stress until the whole idea of fun and relaxation was very far removed from my reality. Finally I hit breaking point a few years ago. I realized that very few people truly appreciated those gifts that I sweated and labored over. In fact, most of the time they were just tossed aside with a token "oh, isn't that nice" and never mentioned again. I vowed to never make any gifts again except ones for people who genuinely appreciated them. So now I make a few things..a couple of pairs of socks for various people that I know actually wear them, a few fun things for the girls, something for K. who always proudly displays his handknits whenever we go to any yarn stores.

I have taken the same approach with other aspects of the holiday season as well. I stopped doing the big dinner thing after a memorable Dec 25th that was spent making around 7 or 8 different dishes, along with appetizers and dessert for K's family to partake in. When they arrived, they looked at all the dishes of food and declared themselves "Not really that hungry, thanks" and only nibbled on a few things. Never again! This year it is just K. and the girls and I for dinner on the 25th (his parents serve dinner at their place on the 24th). We are going to keep it real simple and just have a few of our favorites..grilled garlic prawns, orzo, salad, sweet chili peppers and snow peas. We plan to spend the rest of the day helping the girls with their new games and craft kits and just having quiet family fun.

And after the big day, we are going to do some Boxing Day shopping, eat left overs, and play with all the various goodies. I have a few gift knits that I just didn't have time to work on, so I will finish them up and gift them in the coming weeks. No rush, though, I'm too busy relaxing and enjoying the holidays like I never have before.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Absence of Stuff

We are moving at the end of January.

This came about rather suddenly due mostly to a local mini real estate boom in November. We are moving from a 1200 sq ft 2-bedroom condominium in the city to a 2400 sq ft 4-bedroom townhouse in the 'burbs. There is nothing really wrong with our current place other than is in a fantastically convenient location for shopping and schools, it is two levels with bedrooms upstairs, there is a wood-burning fireplace, it has a nice little garden patio leading out into the common area fenced courtyard, it is all owners - no renters. It was the best we could afford at the time, being first-time buyers and all. has been progressively driving me crazy. Besides being just too small for 2 adults, 2 children, a cat, and a dog, the building is run by a rather scary dictorial council of older people who are constantly on the look out for any infractions of their rather restriction bylaws. They also seem to get their jollies from watching everyone's comings and goings and gossiping avidly about other residents' lives. I know this because I used to be on the council before I became thoroughly sick of the politics and back-biting. There is no privacy in this building. There is also no quiet. There is constant ambient noise from various ventilation fans around the building, noise from other units, people talking in the hallways, traffic noise from the nearby busy intersection, etc. Big deal, right? That can all be easily ignored if it weren't for the neighbor bordering our bedroom that likes to make alot of noise every night between 11pm and 5am. Why not complain, you might be thinking. Well, unfortunately, this neighbor is the head of the current council and a complete jerk to boot. I have no doubt that any complaints by us would directly result in a rapid influx of "bylaw infraction" letters from council. We already had one run-in with him that put us on their "radar" and led to a bunch of notes about things we were doing wrong (along with many others in the building, most notibly council members).

So, after much thought, I determined that we needed to move. Because we are owners, moving is more than finding a new place and giving notice. Once the decision was made, mountains were moved to catch the afore-mentioned real estate boom. In the space of one week, we painted, had the carpet cleaned, did minor repairs, cleaned everything from top to bottom, rented a truck and storage space and shifted probably half the stuff out. We have lived here for 6 years and have alot of stuff. Most of it is mine, I must admit. I like yarn and crafty stuff in general. Alot. So I have been slowly accumulating stuff to support my hobbies until it was to the point where every hiding place in this apartment was crammed full. And I had a storage locker full of yarn, fabric and craft supplies. I probably have more yarn than most small yarn stores. I know that it is excessive and most of it was purchased as a way to alleviate my boredom and depression and to get that rush of finding the perfect "deals" on the internet. I have tried over the years to prune it back to a reasonable level without much success. My stash provides me with creative stimulation and lots of happiness. It also provides me with alot of guilt. Mostly because of how much money I've spent on stuff that is not getting used. Constantly being surrounded by bags and bins of yarn has often given me a sense of urgency to use it all up and stop being so darned materialistic. And often this leads to horrible feelings of inadequacy because there is no way I can use it all in this lifetime.

But, for now, the stuff is all gone into storage. Besides 90% of my stash - all my books and patterns, my main computer, all the dvds, most of the kids toys, lots of kitchen stuff, and several pieces of furniture also went. The place feels practically spartan. There is an echo. You can open any closet and look under any bed without seeing a jumble of dust and crap. It is incredibly freeing. It feels good to not be constantly weighed down by stuff. Cleaning is so much easier without having to shift mountains of crap from one place to another. It is very relaxing. The real payoff is that we were able to get our place looking really good for the first open house and we got two offers for our asking price almost immediately. The downside is that I am cut off from one of my main sources of happiness. But it is just temporary because, once we move, there will be ample space for all..and my own craft room! In the meantime, I have been consoling myself with a few "pretties" here and there. Little luxuries in the form of one or two skeins only.

There is some Merisoft Handpainted (teals/purples), Handmaiden 2nds (brown/rose), Punta Mericash (cashmerino in oranges), Yarn Candy (silk cashmere in plum), and DIC Starry. There is also some Malabrigo lace in the top picture with Furry Bones.

Just enough to fondle and dream about until the great stash and I are reunited in a month or so.

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Which I Re-invent Myself...

Today is the first day of my new blog. I don't expect anyone out there notices or cares, but I do. About myself: I am rapidly approaching my 40th b-day. I am a stay at home mom of two small girls. I like to knit, cook, read cheesy historical romances balanced with sci-fi, watch movies, go for walks, and contemplate life's idiosyncrasies. I am actually quite boring but I am hoping to change that in the coming months. This blog is the first step after a long period of mental assessment and questioning "where the hell did I go wrong?".

Goals for 2010: I need more creativity in my life. I don't feel I'm setting a good example for my children right now and I want them to grow up to be dynamic individuals instead of boring sheep. I also need to find more inner peace. Last year was a culmination of angry self-recriminations and internal disappointments. All it served was to make me lash out at my family and endlessly obsess about how much I hate my life. Enough, already. Time for some positive action.

Wow..I feel like I have just introduced myself at an AA meeting for manic depressives! Don't be scared unknown readers! It won't always be like this. I expect mostly I'll blog about my various knitting projects, things I've cooked, raising children, observations on human oddities, and other shallow stuff. Maybe in a while I'll have more of a theme going on here, but for right now I just am me.