Fer da Pup

So . . . I have a little "grand-pup" . . . and she is about the cutest thing ever.

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Her name is Ferda (after an oft-used phrase in the TV series "Letterkenny" . . . "fer da boys" . . . hockey humor). (Also, I am not recommending this show to y'all. Unless you like your humor rather obscure and of the hockey locker room variety. Then go for it.) Brian and Lauren adopted her as a little pup a couple of months before the pandemic arrived. I've not seen Ferda nearly enough . . . sigh. Anyway. Ferda has . . . a personality to match her cuteness! She is full of energy and curiosity and eagerness. She is a bounding, joy-filled pup.

She also . . . likes clothes! (And comfort.)

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When Brian and Lauren first brought her home, it was winter and very cold. And she was a skinny, sick little pup. They put her in little dog sweatshirts to keep her warm in their drafty old house. She likes wearing clothes now -- and has a growing wardrobe.

But she doesn't have a handknit sweater from her "grandma."

Yet!

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She will by the weekend, though! 

I'm knitting Ferda the Lucky Dog sweater (Ravelry link here). I did a lot of researching dog sweaters before I landed on this one, because dogs? They're kinda hard to fit, y'know? What I like about the Lucky Dog design is . . . ribbing in the "undercarriage" area, where dog sweaters tend to pull. And short rows through the chest to accomodate that chesty "dog shape." I'm knitting Ferda's sweater in Teflon-coated (not really) Encore Tweed (mostly acrylic, but also some nylon and a touch of actual wool) because you need something sturdy and washable for an active pup.

I'm nearing the end (quite a bit farther along than the photo I took yesterday), and I may even get a chance to try it on her this weekend.

That Ferda. She's one lucky dog!

(And if you want to see more Ferda, you can check out her Instagram account @the.ferds here.) (Because of course she has her own IG account.)

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How about you? What'cha making?

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If you want to read more Unraveled blog posts today, hop on over to Kat's for a link-up.

 


Getting at My Roots

"Fortunate are the people whose roots are deep."
--- Agnes Meyer Driscoll

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This month, I decided to do a little digging to check out my roots: The Roots of Me. I wanted to start looking for answers to questions like  . . .
Who am I?
What roots me to my environment?
How can I create healthy growing conditions so I can thrive (especially as I age)? 

In the garden, I'd just take out my little shovel and take a look at a plant's roots. Not so easy with . . . myself. So I set up a little exercise. Early in the month, I started an open list in my journal where I could jot down random things as they came to mind that might help me build a picture of . . . who I am . . . down at the roots.

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It was kind of fun, actually . . . to start really thinking about I AM. (And, yeah. The Who song ran through my head all month long. It was my constant soundtrack.)

I listed things that are easy, "label-y" kinds of things . . . 
woman
mother

knitter
friend

I included various personality "categories" . . . 
INFJ
Enneagram 4w5
Questioner (who tips Rebel sometimes)
Aries sun, Sagittarius moon, Gemini rising

I listed things I like . . . 
"I could eat cheese every day and never tire of it."
"I like appetizers better than dessert."
"I like checking things off my to-do list."
"I love poetry."

I listed things I don't like . . . 
"I hate to be misunderstood."
"Things I hate: small talk, manipulations, deceit/lying, chaos, rudeness, cruelty, and compromising my values."
"I don't like stories where animals are at risk. And I am not a fan of stories set in prison. Or torture. Also war movies are not my genre."

I listed my tendencies . . . 
"I'm always trying to figure myself out. I'm very introspective."
"I get done what I set out to do. Eventually."
"I'm not a perfectionist, but I do have high standards."
"I'm an introvert, for sure. But I'm an 'extroverted introvert.'"

I listed things I'm good at . . . 
"I'm good with creative problem solving."
"I see the forest AND the trees."
"I'm good with color and proportion."
"I'm comfortable with ambiguity."

I included things that . . . well . . . probably bug other people . . .
"I can be stubborn and a little impulsive."
"I'm not fun to be around when I'm hungry."
"I'm not a fan of confrontation, but I can be very direct."
"I'm bossy and I like to take charge if allowed. If not allowed, I'll step back. But I may not engage. And don't expect me to take orders."

And I listed goofy things about me . . . 
"I like to plan parties and give them, but I'm always worried no one will show up."
"I'm one of those people other people stop to ask directions of. Even as an American . . . traveling in Europe."
"I don't mind knowing what happens beforehand in books, movies, and TV shows."
"I don't mind public speaking."

Over the weekend, I typed up my list and printed it out. In the end, I had come up with 99 things that answered the question . . . Who am I? I had Tom check it out, and he thought I'd created a pretty thorough and accurate list for myself. (And he knows me better than anyone so I think he'd know.)

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This was a really interesting exercise. By taking a good look at the roots of ME, I feel like I'm in a good place to move forward . . . strengthening my own root system, figuring out how to create an environment where I can thrive. I'm not trying to change anything, really. Just trying to understand myself and take care of myself.

As any gardener knows, happy roots = happy plants.

(And aren't you glad I didn't make you read that whole list!!!)

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Carolyn is hosting a monthly one-word link-up. Click here to see what other bloggers have to say about their words this month.

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If you want to follow along with my word journey this year, you can click here to find all my posts related to "root."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Old Dogs, New Tricks

A couple of months ago, Vicki told us all about this very fun online cooking class she and her sister took together. And that got me thinking! My sister's birthday was coming up (at the time; it's a month passed now) . . . and maybe I could give her an online cooking class that we could take together! Wouldn't that be fun?

So I got more information from Vicki . . . and started digging around. Now, New Orleans style cooking (the class Vicki and her sister did) probably wouldn't appeal much to my sister. While she likes to cook, that's not really in her wheelhouse. I needed to cast my net a little further. . . and then I found that Sur La Table has a huge selection of online cooking and baking classes.

BINGO!

My sister loves to bake -- so I signed us both up for a 2-session croissant baking class. My thinking was that neither of us would attempt croissants on our own. They're technically difficult and the recipes/directions are totally intimidating . . . so it seemed a class setting might be the best way to learn how to make them. Plus . . . croissants immediately remind us of our travels together (and our shared love for Louise Penny's "Three Pines" book series).

We had our class this past weekend.

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It was really fun! The advance materials were good, and we were able to get ourselves prepped and ready to go before the class started. (Reading too far ahead, though, was still totally intimidating! Laminated dough is not for the weak of heart . . . ) The pacing was good, so we were able to keep up with the steps along with the online instruction.

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The tips and tricks were invaluable. And for me, the professional tips on rolling out dough . . . worth the price of admission right there!

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And by the end of Day 1, we had laminated croissant dough proofing in the refrigerator . . . 

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. . . all ready for Day 2. Which was all rolling, cutting, and shaping our croissants. More proofing . . . 

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And finally . . . baking!

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And, in the end, we each had a delicious batch of croissants!

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They were seriously GOOD.

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And I feel confident enough to make them again . . . on my own!

My sister had great success with her batch of croissants, too. It was a lot of fun to take the class with my sister. Although we couldn't see each other during the class (neither of us turned our cameras on), we texted and shared photos with each other throughout both sessions. Maybe I'll be able to talk her into another baking class soon . . . French Apple Tarte Tartin, maybe? Or Raspberry Macarons?

You really can teach old dogs new tricks!

 


Quick Reminder

Just a little Friday reminder here.

Our next Read With Us book discussion is coming right up!

Read With Us

First, the book . . . 

Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. If you haven't had a chance to read it, you still have plenty of time. It's a quick read and quite a page-turner! (The tricky part is getting hold of a copy, if you're relying on your library. It's a popular book right now, and wait times can be long.)

Then, the discussion.

We'll be talking about the book on Tuesday, March 2 -- both on our blogs and with a Zoom meet-up. 

  • Bonny, Carole, and I will each post a different discussion question on our blogs on Tuesday, March 2. Feel free to post your thoughts about the book by commenting throughout the discussion week.
  • Later that same evening, we'll be hosting a Zoom meet-up at 7:00 pm to discuss the book "live" and in person. (Yeah, I know there are limitations with the timing, especially if you're on the west coast. But Bonny, Carole, and I are all in the Eastern Time Zone . . . and we turn into pumpkins if it gets to be too late.) If you want to join us (and we hope you will; we all had a lot of fun with our last Read With Us Zoom), all you need to do is . . . let us know! Just RSVP by leaving a comment on any of our blogs beginning today -- or you can send us an email. I'll be sending out the Zoom information prior to the meet-up -- AND I'll be sending out some background information about the book and the author that will deepen our understanding of the book prior to the discussion.

If you've read the book - or are still planning to - we hope you'll join us for the discussion on March 2.

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I wish you all enjoy a restful weekend, with plenty of time for reading.

 


Tending

I love the word tending. As in . . . to care or look after.

It's such a gentle word.
So soothing.
It just exudes love-in-action to me.

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I think about the word tending most often when it comes to gardening. I love to . . . tend . . . my garden. I like to care for my plants. I'm one of those gardeners who actually prefers the tending kinds of tasks - weeding, deadheading, picking off pests - more than the planting and harvesting kinds of tasks.

That's what I miss most about my garden in the winter: Puttering around and tending.
(Well. That's not really true. I mostly miss just seeing it all unfold and being IN it.) (But tending is a close second.)

So I'm biding my time until garden-season by tending to my little indoor garden for now . . . 

First, there's my Aerogarden. Which is really coming along nicely!  Not much tending to do with this one, actually. It really is a Just-Add-Water kind of thing. But fun to watch all the same -- and soon I'll be able to harvest fresh herbs for my cooking.

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Then, there's this first-ever possibly-re-blooming amaryllis bulb. This is very exciting for me. I've never been good at saving my spent amaryllis bulbs from one season to the next, but last year I followed Bonny's instructions . . . and look!!! A green shoot! (I stuck it next to the Aerogarden, so maybe the light is helping it come back to life?)

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And then, there are tulip bulbs that I picked up at Costco last week. They don't require much tending, either, really. Another Just-Add-Water project. 

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But a winter delight for this gardener all the same!

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Are you tending any plants in your indoor garden this winter?

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Be sure to visit Carole for other 3-0n-Thursday posts today.


Cut and Paste

If you've ever joined Ali Edwards for her One Little Word year-long workshop, you know that February . . . is vision board month. Some people really enjoy making vision boards; some people hate it. Me? I LOVE it! (I make little vision boards for myself all the time, in fact.)

There is nothing I find more centering . . . than sitting with a pile of magazines in front of me and a pair of scissors in my hand. Just clipping out images and words that resonate in some way. 

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It's not about your "word" (if you have one) - or any other "goal." It's just about choosing what inspires. Words that speak to you. Images that appeal to you. It's a way to . . . see what pops up.

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I ended up just creating my vision board this month right in the pages of my word-journal. 

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I really like the way they turned out. A little introspective. Quiet. Kind of grounded. The way I want to feel this year.
(And - bonus! - I have plenty of extra clipped images to make more pages later.)

How about you? Do you like to cut and paste? Have you ever tried making a vision board?


Sometimes Mondays Are for Questions

This year, I came up with a few things I wanted to "explore." And by that I mean . . . Consider. Learn about. Chew on. Maybe even fold into my life in some way.

And one of those things is . . . ritual.

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(Does "ritual" have anything to do with that photo? No. It does not.)

(And does "ritual" have anything to do with my one-little-word for the year? Not on the surface. Although I'll probably find some connection. Because that's what tends to happen.)

Anyway.

I've decided to explore . . . ritual. And, so far, here at the beginning of my exploration, I'm asking a lot of questions. Yesterday, I decided it might be interesting - and maybe even fun - to throw a few questions out into the universe and see what YOU think.

So here are a few basic questions I'm asking myself right now, as I get started down this "ritual" path. I'd really like to know what you think, so I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts in the comments.

When you hear the word "ritual," what do you think?
How is a "ritual" different from a "habit?"
Or is it???

And there you have it.
A few questions . . . on a (cold and snowy) Monday morning.


Love in Action

Love Week continues.

Love week

My mom was not a forceful woman. She was quiet. Very loving. She laughed easily and often. And she was very, very kind. To my sister and I, for sure, but to all the people she interacted with. This didn't mean she liked everyone she interacted with. (Because she didn't.) But she was always, always kind to people. 

She used to say two things over and over (and over) as I was growing up:

Treat others like you want to be treated.

You catch more flies with honey.

Oh, how I hated it when she would repeat these mantras. Because as a middle-schooler (for example), I didn't find them to be true. I WAS nice. People weren't nice back. (Such is the way of adolescents.) But I did listen. And although I had hurt feelings a LOT of the time as I was growing up, I did embrace her mantras (even bestowing them on my own children when the time came). I tried hard to be kind. I still do.

Because that's what my mom was talking about.
Simple kindness.

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Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people (even strangers) and help us have more positive relationships with our friends and family, too. I'm sure that's not news to any of you who regularly read along here. It's common sense; it's life sense. (And I'm betting my mom wasn't the only one with those mantras, either.) But did you know that acting with kindness . . . is also good for your health?

  • Kindness releases feel-good hormones. When you do something nice for someone else, you get a little hit of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being). Kind of like when we work out, altruism releases endorphins . . . so we feel better emotionally when we do something nice or helpful for someone else.
  • Kindness helps ease anxiety and stress. I don't know that an act of kindness can stop a panic attack, but it has been proven to ease social anxiety. A study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that participants who engage in kind acts displayed significant increases in "positive affect" (positive moods like joy, interest, and alertness). The study found that even small gestures can make a big difference when you're feeling a little anxious. Additionally, helping others helps us take a little break from our own life-stressors.When we can get "outside ourselves" - even for a brief period - it helps us build coping mechanisms for dealing with the stresses in our own life. "Prosocial behavior" (any behavior that builds your relationships with others) is an important component of coping with stress.
  • Kindness is good for your physical body. Sure, acting with kindness can "warm your heart," but it also turns out that it can affect the actual chemical balance of your heart. Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin, and according to Dr. David Hamilton, "oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a 'cardioprotective' hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure)." Oxytocin also reduces inflammation in the body, which is associated with also sorts of health problems. Studies have shown that you're at greater risk of heart disease if you don't have a strong network of family and friends in your life. When you're kind to others, you develop more meaningful relationships and friendships . . . which, in the long run . . . can help you live longer.

Bottom line?
My mom was right!
It's simple: Treat others like you want to be treated, and you catch more flies with honey.
Kindness . . . is love in action. So . . . 

  • Be kind to yourself. (We all make mistakes and take missteps.)
  • Lead with compassion. (Recognize our shared human condition.)
  • Choose kindness. (We can't control others, but we can control the way we respond.)
  • And remember that kindness begets more kindness! (Be a good example.) (Which was another of my mom's mantras, actually. . . )

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
 --- Henry James

Have a great weekend, everyone. May it be filled with love and kindness!

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In my research for this post, I discovered that February 14-20, 2021 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. You can learn more about the week by clicking here (Random Acts of Kindness Foundation). The site includes several ideas for specific acts of kindness you can plan for the week, including writing "love notes" (thank you notes) to people who have changed your life for the better and creating "blessing bags" to distribute when you encounter someone in need (filled with small items that might be useful to someone temporarily displaced from a permanent home, for example). 

 

 

 


Love At the Movies

Love Week continues!

Love week

When I was in sixth grade (1970), the movie Love Story came out in theaters. It was the TALK of the sixth grade! Of course, at age 11, none of us had seen it, nor were the chances good that any of us would be allowed to see it. But Sharon Jenkins had an older sister who did see it, and she shared ALL the details with us. I remember just being shocked by the sucker punch of an ending. Shocked. Because love stories could have sad endings???? (Oh, my tender 11-year-old heart. . .)

I didn't see the movie until several years later. Back then, you couldn't just grab a VHS and watch when you wanted, of course. If you missed a movie on its theater release, you had to wait until it showed up on TV at some point. (Bleak times for movie viewing, for sure.) And by the time I did see the movie, I had read the book (all in one day, ending up with a tearful session reading under the covers with a flashlight late at night) -- and had already cycled through "the poster" that hung in my bedroom for years. (I thought the movie was okay; nothing can compare to Sharon Jenkins describing every detail at recess -- and the book was better.)

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So. Movie love stories. Do you prefer tear-jerkers like Love Story? Or are you more a fan of the rom-com . . . where eveything eventually "fits" in the end?

When I started thinking about love story movies earlier this week, I figured I would come up with my best three movies about love . . . and call it good for a Three on Thursday post. But the more I thought about it, the longer my list became! Ultimately, I've got a list here that can't even remotely qualify for a Three on Thursday post. (Three-Times-Three-Plus-One On Thursday?) (How about that, Carole?)

So, here you go. My Three-Times-Three-Plus-One list of favorite movies about love . .  

  • Amelie
  • Something's Gotta Give
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Brooklyn
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • The Big Sick
  • The Holiday
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Bull Durham 

I could add more . . . but I decided to stop with my top 10. 
What about you? What are your favorite movies about love???

(And did you have that same Love Story poster hanging in your room? It was ubiquitous in my 1970s world.)

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"Life is one big love story with hundreds of little love stories within it."
       --- Ram Charan

 

 

 


Just An Old Fashioned Love Song

Love Week continues!

Love week

Click here for a little soundtrack for today's post (worth a click for the little trip back to 1975).

I kinda got into a little knitting obsession last week . . . 

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I had just finished my Weekender sweater, and I was waiting on some yarn to knit a dog sweater for my grand-pup, so I thought it might be fun to knit up a little heart in the meantime. Y'know . . . a little "palette cleanser."

And, well. It was kinda like when you hear an old (fashioned love) song . . . and it gets stuck in your head . . . and you keep singing it over and over and over.

Because . . . before you know it, I had seven little hearts!

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Some of them have been drafted into Valentine-duty and are now traveling to destinations across the country. The rest of them will just sit around, adding a bit of whimsy here and there in my living spaces this month.

You know how it goes . . . when you start knitting up some LOVE!

You'll swear you've heard it before
As it slowly rambles on and on
No need in bringing 'em back
'Cause they've never really gone
Just an old fashioned love song
Coming down in three part harmony
 
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"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold."
    --- Zelda Fitzgerald

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(You can find the details for my little hearts on Ravelry here.)