First Lines | The Interestings: A Novel

“On a warm night in early July of that long-evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the first time. They were only fifteen, sixteen, and they began to call themselves the name with tentative irony. Julie Jacobson, an outsider and possibly even a freak, had been invited in for obscure reasons, and now she sat in a corner on the unswept floor and attempted to position herself so she would appear unobtusive yet not pathetic, which was a difficult balance.”

~The Interestings: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer

Advertisements

Eso Si Que Es

I learned that way back when, in 7th grade Spanish, and I think it may just be my aha moment for knitting. But I’ll come back to this thought in a minute. For now, a sock, in progress:

IMG_1410

 

I’m belatedly participating in a Knit Along (KAL) that was hosted by Kristin who beautifully writes about knitting, as well as sewing, yoga, and life in general on her blog K-Line.

I’m using sock yarn from knitpicks which feels nice and soft. There are mistakes galore, and while Kristin says you can knit a pair of socks in one week. I’m laughing hysterically at that!!! Really. It is taking me for-effing-ever! Or at least it feels that way.

But what I’m thinking will be priceless about knitting socks is that I wear socks year round (at least in the house), and handknit socks seem cozy. Plus, these could be much appreciated gifts, I’m thinking, that need minimal fit. And, having multiple pairs of socks isn’t a burden like, say, too many handknit scarves in a warm climate.

This could be the ultimate anxiety controlling project!

Like the title says (roughly translated)… this is it!

S-O-C-K-S!!

Knitting is My Xanax

IMG_1342

I’m an anxiety prone kinda person. I just am, and I’ve had to find some useful coping mechanisms to keep it in check. Plus, I just can’t sit and watch TV in the evening without doing something else. I learned how to knit decades ago when I made a scarf for my then boyfriend (now husband) for Christmas. Only I didn’t finish it until his birthday. The next July. And we lived in Texas. Yeah, not really scarf weather. Whatev. I finished it.

I decided then that knitting was just not for me, until about 3 years ago. Right around that time, Kyle (son) was diagnosed with bipolar I and, yep, I was pretty much a nervous wreck. But when I was knitting, the anxiety just flowed out through my fingertips as I knit.

The problem is just finding the right project. I discovered knitted toys, and they’re a lot of fun. My favorite resource is the book Itty, Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson. This is my latest creation, Mercer Bear. I made him for Kyle, who is a student at Mercer. (If you fall the NCAA March Madness basketball extravaganza then you know Mercer.)

The best thing about knitting toys is that it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, and they don’t have to fit. Also, there are tons of mistakes, (at least when I knit them) but yeah, who cares.

Tomorrow. Socks.

Look at that cute tail!
Look at that cute tail!

Craftsy Teaches Flower Painting: A Review

IMG_1352

I’ve mentioned Craftsy before, back in this post, where I revealed the rose painting, that was created taking the Painting Flowers in Acrylics. Before I get too far away from that experience, I wanted to sum it all up with a little review.

I have no connection with Craftsy whatsoever. The opinions expressed here are completely my own.

If you haven’t heard about Craftsy before, it is basically a website where you can take crafting classes online. Some are free, and some you pay for, but there are topics for anyone who has even the slightest creative bent. The free classes are a great way to give it a try, and that is exactly what the Flower Painting class is. Free.

But free does not mean second rate. The main difference, as I am experiencing it, is that with the free classes you do not get any additional interaction with the instructor, as you do with the paid classes. I’m currently taking another acrylic painting class that I did pay for, so I’ll let you know how that one goes, and if there are other differences.

Back to the flower painting. This “class” had approximately 100 minutes of instruction, just a little over 1-1/2 hours. Once enrolled, it’s yours until, I suppose, Craftsy doesn’t exist anymore, so you can repeat it over and over if you want (that’s true of any of their classes).

The instructor, Micah Ganske, goes over the underpainting, blocking in the colors and layering the colors, and finally, adding the highlights. That’s really a lot of ground to cover, and you are not going to learn more nuanced techniques of mixing your colors, or how to draw the flowers. Painting 101 it is not. In my blog post linked above, I documented my progress, which basically followed the course.

Initially, I tried to paint along with the videos. Um. Yeah, that doesn’t really work. For one thing, duh, they are edited, so he isn’t painting in real time. What I found worked the best was to watch the video lesson all the way through, and then work on my painting going back to review in places that I needed the repetition.

There are questions posted alongside each video that deal with the topic being discussed at the time. In a free lesson, the questions are answered by other students, and I did, in fact, learn quite a bit from my fellow students.

Best tip from a student… use chalk to draw your outline. That technique worked better for me, than the one that Micah was teaching. Which doesn’t his bad, I just didn’t have success with it.

I would rate this course advanced beginner, and I would definitely recommend it. It was great for trying out a online craft class platform, without making a huge investment or either time or money.

Keeping in mind that it is free, if you only learn one thing (and I definitely think you will learn more), it is worth a try.

 

 

Looking Skyward

IMG_1371

Dropping off today’s artistic accomplishment. More of a palate cleanser after the rose picture which took more than several days. This one just took an afternoon. Of course, it shows, but sometimes you just gotta paint. When I was in the backyard the other day, I took picture, looking up into the trees, and wondered if I could recreate it.

And I did semi-successfully. Perfecting painting techniques from mixing colors to figuring out the best brush to use takes some practice, so I’m chalking this one up to practice, and the odds are, I’ll just paint over it one of these day.

So here it will live on, in all its glory.

I hope your skies are sunny and blue.

True and Company, a Review: Not All Bad, Not All Good

My Photo StreamRecently, my young, hip daughter introduced me to a new way to buy bras through a company called True and Co. I was curious, but when she sent me a promotion* to try it, I decided why not. Bra shopping, for me, is tedious at best, and the opportunity to try on bras for free seemed ideal.

Their gimmick is “no fitting rooms, no measuring tape”, and the first step is to guide you through a “fitting quiz” to determine your best size using, I’m sure, complicated algorithms to determine said size. This is all well and good, but one of the first questions asks what size your favorite bra is, and the manufacturer of that bra. Not surprisingly, to me anyway, the size that True chose for me was the same one. Hmmm.

OK, I’m still game, so the page for bra selection pops up, and, as directed, I choose 3. The company bra choosers select 2 more for you (which is kind of like Christmas!). And they send you the package. You do enter your credit card info, because if you don’t send back the ones you don’t want in 5 days, they are yours! I certainly don’t have a problem with that. Because you know that going in. Don’t try this kind of shopping experiment when you don’t have time to follow the rules. It’s as simple as that.

The real fun starts when your box arrives. I’m not going to go through how I felt about each bra, because that isn’t my point here. Suffice it to say that I did keep one, and sent 4 back. The one I kept was, for the record, one that I chose. *about that promotion… read the fine print… it was for $25 off my purchase of $100. oops… i didn’t meet the $100 threshold. i wasn’t going to buy more just to save $25 though.

Did the method work? Well, sure, it worked for me. I’ve read some other reviews, and bloggers loved it or they hated it (and when they hated it, they truly bashed it). There are 2 main problems, as I see it, and the first is not really a “problem” but rather a company limitation.

1. Their size range is limited to average sizes. In response to criticism, True and Co now says something to the effect, if you are out of their size range, “I’m sorry, we don’t have your size, check back later because we might get a larger range.” I don’t know the exact wording because I do happen to be an average size, but you get the gist. Apparently, in the beginning, they tried to “suggest” a size in the range they carried, even when it was clearly not right for the customer. Oops.

2. You really can’t fit a bra properly without using a measuring tape at least once. Those numbers associated with bra sizes? They are derived from measurements. Cup sizes, ditto. It’s a great starting point, and if your favorite bra is not the right size, all the algorithmic calculations will really be meaningless, IMO.

Will I shop there again? I guess that’s the bottom line for any company. To get return customers. I might. How’s that for noncommital.

Should you try it? Yeah, if you are fairly confident you are in the right size to begin with, and you fall into the average range of sizes, i.e., what you might find at your major department store.

Happy Bra Shopping!

The Jar Of Positive

IMG_1353Do you ever think of yourself as being one way, and then someone points out that, more often than not, you are acting the completely opposite way? I mean, if you asked me, I would say I am a positive, optimistic person. But last year, Roland would tell me that more times than not, when I came home from work, I would only relate all the bad things that happened that day.

He said that’s a real drag. Not very attractive, and didn’t really make him want to even ask how my day was.

Ouch. But, yeah, I have to admit, there was more than a little truth to that.

The fact is, I don’t really like my job. OK, I actually hate it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find positive things about it.

January 1 is, of course, the chance to start over, wipe the slate clean and for me, an opportunity to change my attitude. I can’t take credit for the way I am choosing to accomplish it, however, because I’m certain that I saw something at least a little similar on pinterest.

But there it is. My jar of positive. The idea is that every day, I take one of the little slips of paper, and write about something positive that happened that day.

Not gonna lie, I haven’t done it every day. Sometimes I don’t, simply out of laziness (yes, I know it only takes a minute or so). Sometimes I don’t because I’m too caught up in the negative-ness of my day, and I’m just having a little pity party.

But there it is. On the kitchen counter. To remind me that I have so much to be grateful for. To remind me to just get over myself, and be thankful, positive and optimistic. To let go of the bad, and embrace the good.

I need to go write something about yesterday.