October Crochet – Day 13, Scrambling For Time Today


Yarn Bag

My day was just like this bag… a MESS!

I think the month of October is going to kill me. Princess has Cross Country 4 days a week, including one race each week. In the next 10 days, I have 3 Girl Scout events to prepare for and run. And on top of all this, I still need to make 3 costumes for my two children. Since Pixie is in fourth grade, this year she is participating in the “All Saints’ Day” event at school. She is going to be Mother Teresa for the event. The next day, on Halloween, she wants to be a Sith Lord, because we simply can’t go to one extreme without visiting the other.

Anyway, during all the madness today, I only managed to steal about 15 minutes to sit and crochet. I’m hoping I will be able to steal a full hour tomorrow and make some serious progress on this shawl. And for those that asked, there is a knitting version of this pattern. I will look it up tomorrow or the next day and post the link here.

October Crochet – Day 11, More Nautilus Shawl


Jelly Bean!

It’s Jelly Bean’s turn to model!

This is a real quick post. I got another couple rounds done on the Nautilus shawl today. I ran into a knot in the yarn and had to figure out how to join this kind of yarn. I’m slowly spiraling my way back around to the join, so we’ll see tomorrow how well I did.

Jelly Bean is our Halloween cat and danged if she doesn’t look like a Sears Portrait Studio model in this photo. She’s a mix of grey and orange tabby, a coloration that’s called a torbie or patched tabby because her colors switch back and forth like a calico’s patches. I love how her little orange mask just fades into browngirl  and then grey and black stripes.

I’ve got a lot going on with Girl Scouts this week and next, and I’m going to be very busy preparing for our troop’s Murder Mystery Party. Last year, the girls killed me. This year, we’re killing the Hubster. Fun times.

The Art Of Doodling

last weekend, our Girl Scout troop worked on the art badge. Some of the girls were worried that they couldn’t draw, so I thought we would try doodling instead. I’ve recently picked up a bunch of books on doodling, Zen Tangles (TM), etc. I love to doodle, and I’ve been spending a lot of time doodling lately. I also picked up a bunch of blank cards with envelops for a really good price, so I spent an afternoon working with the girls on making greeting cards as part of their art badge activities. And I enjoyed that so much, that I decided to finish my card up and send it to mym mom for her birthday. Here are some pics of the artwork in progress.



ACW Episode 259 – Relaaaaaaaaaax…


Click on the pic to see it bigger.

I don’t know exactly why, but right now, I’m not that stressed. Cookie season started on January 10th, and so far, I’m feeling… okay.

It may be the meds. Of course, I’ve been taking the same subscription for the last three years. It’d be kind of strange if they started to kick in a little extra after so long.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m scheduling everything and that makes me feel more in control of my time.

Or maybe, I just decided not to get wound up about things this year. Whatever it is, I’m feeling pretty chill so far. We’ll see how I feel in another couple weeks when cookie booth sales start.

Holiday Hangovers. Ugh.

So, how were your holidays?

Me? I ate too much, drank too much, slept too much, watched waaaaaaay too much TV, and in general had a really great time. Not something I get to do very often.

It was a very loud holiday break. Usually, the kids are at school and Hubster’s at his office while I stay home to work. But for two weeks, everyone was home and things were very LOUD and MESSY while we baked cookies and hung ornaments and played video games and tore through our Christmas presents. There was lots of laughing, a bit of screaming, and plenty of farting (I’m not going to say who was responsible for that last activity, but I will say some people are not going to be allowed to eat beans for a loooooooooooong time). All in all, it was a very fun, very noisy Christmas break.

But now it’s the first full week after New Year’s and everybody has gone back to school or work. After being crammed in this house for the last two weeks with three other maniacs, I am now all alone. With everyone’s trash… And their dirty dishes… And their dirty laundry.

Guess what I will be doing this week?

I am very glad to get back to my normal routine, but I really wish I had someone else around right now to help me clean up this place. Or at least listen to me bitch about the mess. And maybe help me bake and eat another batch of cookies.

Which reminds me. Girl Scout cookie season starts this Saturday. Glob help me.

Oh Krampus Tree! A bad poem of misery and woe

I came downstairs this morning, certain something waited for me.
Something bright and festive that made me want to flee.

I found it on my kitchen table, as artificial as my hair.
Its pink and spiny branches caught me unaware.

But worse was him who brought it, this awful Krampus tree.
For Santa doesn’t bring such things, they only come from likes of he!

He looked just like Tom Hiddleston, which really ain’t so bad,
until I caught a whiff o’ him. That smell would drive you mad.

He stank just like an aged camel, a geriatric steed
that on prunes and beans and rotted fish too eagerly did feed.

“What horror have you brought me? Oh why this Krampus bush?!
Haven’t I been good this year?! Haven’t I busted my tush?!”

“Oh yeah, you’ve been all kinds of good,” the old goat said and farted.
“But I really like to pick on folks, and be honest, you’re black-hearted.”

“Not me!” I cried in my defense. “I’ve been good this year, I swear!
I swear it on my mother’s grave and the color of my hair!”

“Don’t lie to me,” old Krampus said. “I know just what you did.
You’re a Girl Scout cookie mom. Who are you trying to kid?”

“I didn’t kill no Girl Scouts! I didn’t threaten their mums!”
Then I sighed and confessed my sins. “Maybe I broke some thumbs.”

“But there were extenuating circumstances! Cookie payments were due!
I had seven thousand boxes stored in a garage made for two!”

“So I threatened all the parents and I broke a couple thumbs!
But they finally sold those cookies, each and every one!”

“A few fractured digits does not a Krampus coniferous merit.
Take this horror away from me. I swear I cannot bear it!”

“Nah, broken thumbs is no big deal,” Krampus did agree.
“But I don’t like you anyway, so you get the bloody tree.”

And then he started to sing. Oh gods, he sang a song!
It was all about the Krampus tree, and I had to sing along…

“Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
You are so pink and creepy!
Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
The sight of you brings weeping!
Your branches hold such awful frights!
For horror-days and horror-nights!
Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
You are so pink and creepy!”

“There!” he smiled and patted my head. “That wasn’t so bad now, was it?
It’ll be much worse tomorrow,” he added as he farted.

He put a finger up his nose and waggled his left thumb.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, with some deco-ra-sheyuns!”

Then off he flew with a belch and a fart. I wished that I were dead.
Instead I’m stuck with this stupid tree, and a creeping sense of dread.

What horrors will tomorrow bring? And how long must I bare
This miserable Krampus tree? Life is so unfair.

Krampus tree!

Oh, the horror.

Evil Crafting – OMGPERLERBEADS!!

When I do crafts, I always make sure they’re evil crafts. Especially when I’m doing crafts with kids. The one thing I hate about having kids is that no matter where they go – school, church, the local Y, a community fair – there’s always a table set up with “crafts for kids!” Those crafts are always crap. Coloring sheets, cotton balls stuck to popsicle sticks with cheap glue sticks, and those glob-awful craft bits of “craft” foam stuck to paper plates colored with washable markers to make what I think is supposed to be some sort of puppet but ends up being a snack for my cats that eventually gets thrown up all over my carpet.

So yeah, I hate lousy kid crafts.

As I am a Girl Scout troop leader, and as such, I am expected to be an expert in crafts and to share said expertise with the girls. So when we have troop meetings, I always try to come up with something good. Or rather, something EVIL.

One thing Girl Scouts do is make SWAPS. SWAPS stands for Some Whatchmacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere. At least I think that’s what it stands for. Girl Scouts make and trade these things and I’ve seen girls with vests and sashes and hats and shirts just covered with little pinned-on doodads. Some are fantastic! Some are… eh. I decided this year my girls were going to make the “fantastic” kinds of swaps.

So far this year, we’ve made a flash-light swap that actually lights up (and you can replace the battery and bulb when needed!). We experimented with lenticular portraits, but it’s really hard to make those small enough to be wearable, if you do them the old-fashioned way. This past troop meeting, I decided we’d do one for the winter holidays.

For the winter holidays, I wanted a way to make little snowflakes that the girls could pin on their vests. I wanted the snowflakes to be durable, so paper was out. I also needed to be able to teach the girls how to make the snowflakes quickly, and the process had to be fairly simple to follow. After browsing through the craft shop for a while, I stumbled across the Perler Beads display, and a little light bulb went on over my head. I was able to get a big bucket of beads for a low price, along with the plastic peg boards, and I went straight home to research snowflake patterns.

What I discovered, however, was a new crafting addiction!

You see, when I went online to look for Perler bead patterns, what I discovered was that Perler beads are a great way to recreate 8-bit graphics. As a digital artist of a certain age (I’m 45), I cut my teeth on 8-bit graphics, and seeing all those Perler bead patterns made me giddy like you wouldn’t believe.

But then I saw the patterns for 8-bit versions of my current favorite cartoon characters (Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball) and suddenly I was ecstatic.

And when I saw the Perler bead patterns for 8-bit kawaii cookies and donuts? You could have heard my screams of glee in the next state.

Here is a quick sample of what I made.

Perler Beads


As you can see, I made a snowflake, an 8-bit shrimp sushi, and a kawaii cookie.  Those 3 snowflakes on the bottom are a little experiment.  I popped a couple handfuls of the beads in a silicon cookie tray and baked them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I had to flip the snowflakes over in the tray a couple times to get the melted beads to even out, but I liked the results.

My iron doesn’t heat evenly, so I’m going to replace it before I do any more Perler beads. But in the meantime, I’m already planning an evening of making Minecraft Perler bead ornaments with the kids and some of their friends. Oh, and the Girl Scouts LOVED working with the Perler beads. Some of them made the cookie I made below, some of them made snowflakes, and some of them made a blocky version of Olaf from “Frozen.” But they all LOVED working with the beads.

I have a few other evil craft projects in the work at the moment. I will share them with you as soon as I can get some good photos of the work in progress 🙂

Move It Mama Monday! Yes, Girl Scouting Counts Toward Mordor

This is just a quick update for today. We had another Girl Scout troop meeting yesterday, and once again, I was on my feet from the moment I got up until a couple of hours after the last girl headed home. It was an exhausting day, and in spite of my intentions and my efforts to get out the door for just five minutes to walk, IT NEVER HAPPENED.

But I was on my feet all day and constantly moving, and I have been walking every day for the last two weeks (I even took a nice long walk with the Hubster on Thanksgiving — in a GRAVEYARD!). So I decided that working hard all day on Girl Scouts, whether I’m inside or outside, counts as a successful day in the Walk to Mordor.

So there.

I’m hard at work on the next episode of the webcomic, so it should be out in a couple days. It’s another long one, but I’m working on it as fast as I can. You should see it soon.

ACW Episode 256 – Don’t tell me which way to lean


Click on the webcomic to see it full-size.

The above webcomic is not about Girl Scouts. Or rather, not just about Girl Scouts. It’s about all the organizations and groups I’ve volunteered with over the last several years. I’ve had conversations about leadership and “leaning in” with all of them. Some of those conversations were subtle suggestions that I might take on more work. Others were outright demands for my time and energy. In the worst cases, people simply refused to believe that I do not exist just for them. So what if I have two kids, a husband, parents, and friends who need me? That’s not their problem. They don’t care that I have my own work that I love to do and don’t get nearly enough time to spend on it. And forget trying to tell these people that just like everyone else in the world, I only have a limited number of hours in the day.

“Get up earlier!” one person barked at me. “Then you’ll have more time for our organization AND your work. Sleep is for the DEAD!”

The problem with that, however, is that if I give up sleeping to do more volunteer work, I’ll be dead sooner rather than later.

I don’t want to die soon, and I don’t want to give up everything in my life to BE A LEADER AND SAVE THE WORLD. So when people who want to fill up all MY TIME with THEIR PRIORITIES tell me that I need to “lean in,” I remind them very firmly that I am leaning in, every single day. I lean into taking care of my kids, spending time with my husband, helping out my family and friends. I lean into drawing webcomics and digital art. I lean in like a BOSS when I sit down on the couch to crochet. Just because I choose to make my priorities MY PRIORITIES, that doesn’t mean I’m not a leader and I’m not leaning in.

It just means I choose which direction I lean instead of giving up my life’s direction to someone else. And that is the very definition of being a leader.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Lean back, relax, and enjoy the holiday.

Move It Mama Monday! Walking To Mordor

One does not simply walk into Mordor…

Except that one does. Well, Frodo and Sam certainly did. I think Gollum sort of slunk or slithered his way in.

But to get to the point…

Last month I signed up with Nerd Fitness Academy. NFA is a website that offers advice, informatin, and motivation for people looking to get into better shape. It’s set up like a traditional RPG for the most part, allowing users to choose a character class – warrior, assassin, ranger, and ninja – to help people set fitness and health goals and achieve them. The more goals or “quests” you achieve, the more points you accrue on NFA, and as you accrue points, you level up. The program makes good use of the nerd/geek theme to motivate users, I think, and so far, I’ve had fun following the various parts of the program and working on quests.

One of the quests I’ve been working on is the “Walk to Mordor.” The goal of the Walk to Mordor is to get into the habit of walking daily. To complete the quest, you have to walk for at least 5 minutes a day for 2 weeks straight. I’ve been working hard at this one for over a month now. Sadly, I have not yet achieved that goal.

Why? Why can I not manage to get in at least a 5-minute walk every day?

Well, it all comes down to priorites. Most weeks, I have been able to walk at least 30 minutes every day for 6 days straight. Then the 7th day comes along. The 7th day is usually the day I have a Girl Scout event to run – a troop meeting, an outing, a certain murder mystery party, etc. Girl Scouts usually takes up one full day of my week, every week, in addition to the 1-2 hours I put into volunteering for Girl Scouts everyday.

I have come to realize that 6 out of every 7 days, I can and will make walking a top priority. As soon as I get up on those 6 days, I will put on my exercise clothes, lace up my sneakers, and head out the door. I will walk 3-4 miles a day during those 6 days. But come that 7th day, my priorities are very different.

On the days that I work Girl Scout events, my only priority is Girl Scouts. I am up by 6:30AM, sometimes even earlier. Chances are very good that I was up until after midnight the night before, preparing for the event in question. So I’ll be a little low on sleep. But I will be up early because I need that time to clean my house (if the event is at my home), prepare a meal and/or snacks for the girls, double-check paperwork for the event, set out supplies for activities, check email for any last-minute communications from other volunteers or parents, drive to the event if it’s not at my home, probably pick up some Girl Scouts along the way who need a ride, gather and store receipts for anything we purchase that day (because I have to account for how the troop spends its money), check in girls at the event, run and/or get through the event, surpervise the girls in their activities, lead the activities, supervise clean-up after the activities, check the girls back out when their parents come to pick them up, drive home any girls that came with me, file the receipts and paperwork, etc., etc., etc.

On days when I do Girl Scout events, I am on my feet all day long. I do not go out for a walk, but I do not stop moving until the event is done and the paperwork is taken care of. And on some days, I don’t even manage to finish that final paperwork before I collapse into bed and pass out. Those days are busy and exhausting. Going for a walk, even a 5-minute walk, doesn’t even enter my mind.

So how can I complete this quest for NFA? Tomorrow, I know I will get up and get out the door and take at least a 3-mile walk. I’ll easily walk more than 10,000 steps (the recommended daily step count) before dinner. And I’ll do the same the next day and the day after that for 6 days straight. But on the 7th day…

I have a Girl Scout troop meeting scheduled. It will run from noon to 5PM. And I guarantee you I will be up by 6:30 that morning to cook, clean, prepare for and run that meeting. I will be busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest until that meeting is over, and then I’ll be deader than a zombie who hasn’t eaten her daily alotment of brains. And I probably will not have taken even a 5-minute walk that day. I will have been moving all day long, but that isn’t part of the qualifications for the “Walk to Mordor” quest.

What to do? Should I get up just a bit earlier so I can take that 5-minute walk? I’ll probably be low on sleep that morning, but I could try it. Or maybe I should adjust the goals of the quest a bit? Instead of walking 14 days in a row, set the goal of walking 6 days a week for 4 weeks straight?

I don’t know. I’m considering posting the question on the NFA forums to see what people think. In fact, that’s probably exactly what I should do. And maybe I will if. Unless, of course, I choose to use that time to go for a 5-minute walk instead.

Like I said, it’s about priorities. And choosing how to spend 5 minutes can make all the difference in the world when you’re trying to achieve a goal.