:12/30:

This past week we have hunkered down and avoided going outside if at all possible.

Yes, I am getting a bit of cabin fever, but at lease I am hunkered down in my own home.

My heart is just hurting for all my fellow Californians who have lost their homes, loved ones, workplaces, businesses, pets, and lives to the fires.

I have avoided going to the news sites to read anything or see any video about the fires. The one time I did so was to be greeted by the grizzly image of a dead deer.

However, I have broken my social media ban to check on people I know. I have quietly gone on Instagram and Twitter to make sure they are OK. Unfortunately, some of those people have lost everything.

Around the homestead, we have let any outside work go undone. We can rake leaves and pick up chestnuts later. The garden won’t suffer any for being mulched a couple of weeks after we had planned. Our lungs are much more important to us. The only real outside time we spent was doctoring one of our chickens. Chewy got attacked by some sort of canine, but Helios and Sol, our roosters fended the predator off and herded the all the girls back to the barn.

I am taking the time to knit like crazy on D’s Chicane sweater. I bought the yarn for him back when B was a few weeks old, so it’s….thirteen years past due. Thanks to the smoke, I have only half a sleeve left, and then I can wet block all the pieces and sew it together.Then it’s just a matter of sewing on the zipper. It can’t be that hard, right?

I’m also taking advantage of the enforced seclusion to put together a curriculum of sorts. No, not for the kids. This one is for me. I went into the garage and dug through our still-packed book boxes to get all the homesteading books I have bought over the years. There are many! Most of them I have read or leafed through, but this winter I am really going to study them.

This is exactly what I need to get me through my long cold winter days: knitting, books and a warm cuppa coffee/tea/apple cider/mulled wine….mmmmm, mulled wine. A kitten sleeping on my lap doesn’t hurt.

 

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:10/30:

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Hiding from the Camp Fire smoke has proved to be productive. On Friday I was able to pick up another cabinet (also free!), this time with a bookcase hutch. It proved to be perfect for organizing my modest yarn stash and crafting books. It was also the impetus I needed to get my spinning fiber and equipment put away in the other cabinet I have out in the living room. The best part was I got to get out the sewing machine I bought years ago and never use. I keep telling myself I’m going to learn to sew. It hasn’t happened yet. Now that the sewing machine isn’t taped up in a box I may actually do it.

:8/30:

At the beginning of the year I chose a word to be my focus: CREATE.

I wasn’t sure quite what I wanted to create. Was is a book? knitting projects? this blog? new habits? new hobbies?

Truth be told I am still not quite sure, but at the same time I am more certain.

I do not have specifics of what I want to create. I just want to be creating.

I think I spent most of my life not thinking of myself as a creative. I drew, but I was no artist. I knit, but I was no maker. I wrote, but I was no  writer.

I wanted to be all of those things, but how to chose? My interests would flit from one thing to another. I would get obsessed with a project, finish it, and decide I wanted to do something completely different next. Round and round my mind would go, never really focusing, never really settling.

Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s just maturity (which is not necessarily tied to age), but I now feel like that’s perfectly OK. Who says a writer can’t be a musician (Stephen King) or an actor can’t be photographer (Viggo Mortensen) or a knitter can’t be an artist (Sina) or a writer can’t be a knitter (Penny Reid)?

I mean, could you imagine telling Da Vinci to stick to just one medium?

So why should I expect that of myself?

Why should I try to pigeonhole myself?

I am not doing this as some career shift (though it would be nice to find a way to make an income from my creating.) I’m doing this because something in the very heart of me demands I let it out, in all it’s various expressions.

 

:7/30:

A super busy day today, most of it spent chauffeuring the kids. Now I’m taking the time to work on my journal. I’m doing my first urban sketch of Uncommon Threads, the local yarn store near one where they have an activity. I get a blissful couple of hours, hanging out with other knitters and drooling over the new shipments. Here’s the unfinished page:

I’ve figured out that I am not going to make it to the end of the month in my current Bullet Journal, so I went ahead and set up my Traveler’s Company notebook. I can at least start the art journal there before the calendars get put into use.

:6/30:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: fall is my favorite season.

There is just something about the colors and the crispness of the air and the the still warm sun that lifts my spirits.

Even before I found knitting again, I have always lived for fall.

We moved to Miami from Philadelphia when I was in fifth grade, and the loss of the seasons made me hide from the sun and the brutal heat. SoFLo has a never-ending summer that took me years to become used to.

Where we live now is at just enough elevation to feel the change of season slightly love than the valley.

It is glorious.

I love the fall.

:5/30:

Good morning lovely people!

This morning I was so excited to get up and play with the watercolor set I got myself. It is the Sakura Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box. I’ve heard it recommended by quite a few planners, art journal keepers and artists on YouTube. The best part was using a 50% off coupon. This one is the 24 color set and it looks to have more than enough to keep me going.

I’ve been using my Tombow markers, but this is something I wanted to learn how to use, especially since it gives me a greater range of color saturation and dilution. I only have three of the Tombow sets and it does limit my color choices.

I took a little time this morning swatching all the colors on some Fariano dot grid paper I have.

Yes, ‘Lanta spends her morning napping in my lap while I do my planning and journaling.

Today is one of my favorite types of days. I get to spend the whole day at home, just working on the property and the house.

I really am a homebody. I swear, if it weren’t for the kids activities, I would only leave to go grocery shop once a week.

We are still in the thick of harvesting chestnuts and cleaning up the fall leaves. The trees are only half through shedding and the it is a daily job keeping up with it. To top it off, the wind has really kicked up over the past week.

What we need now is some rain. There is currently a 17 acre fire burning on the other side of the range from where we live. Even a heavy fog would be welcome at this point.

What about you guys, have you had a good fall? Have you started something new? or is the approaching holiday season the only thing you are gearing up for? Please post to the comments. I’d love to hear how others are spending their fall.

:3/30:

One of the new things I have decided to do is to begin sketch journaling. There are a few things which prompted me to start one. I have always, always, always been fascinated by journals which include drawing. I love seeing those old travel journals and artist sketchbooks of victorians. I love sketchbooks that incorporate ephemera and photographs in with the writing. But I really do not consider myself an artist.

To say I was never really encouraged to express of pursue any kind of creativity is an understatement. Coupled with an almost crippling self-doubt, I never did the things I wanted. It took decades and an uber-supportive husband (and watching my Breezy blossom as an artist) to give myself permission to try.

I also found this amazing artist. Her name is Samantha Dion Baker and she is a graphic designer and illustrator from New York City. I first found her on Pinterest. It turns out she is mostly on Instagram (Yes, I broke my self-imposed IG ban to look at her work!) It was beautiful. I also found out she has written an inspirational book on starting sketch journaling. I ordered it right away. It was so worth it!

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This book has prompted me to start sketch journaling in my bullet journal. I had finished the lined journal I was using, So I jumped into it on November 1st. Here are the first two pages:

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One of the things that really called to me about how Samantha Dion Baker does hers is that she focuses on the beauty of the mundane in her life.

At that point I decided not to just draw random sketches, but to use the pages to draw a true record of my life. I thought, Instead of writing out my day for may journaling practice, why not illustrate it?             (Draw Your Day, page 3)

She can turn a piece of fruit or a tin of tea or a the bodega on the corner into a beautiful record of her life. Her book took the intimidation out of sketch journaling.

I also realized that the long-hand written journals I have are not anything I want my kids or Doug EVER reading. They are filled with a log of anxiety and worry and fear and anger. Page after page of it.

I have ordered the three of them to burn any handwritten journals they find, unread upon my death.

Pretty grim.

I don’t even want to ever read them again. Those books represent hours of my life, and I am ashamed to share them with anybody. 

I know now I do better focusing on positive. Plus I really do want a record of my life to pass down.

So now I am going to throw myself into documenting my days in my journal. Doug got me the a brown Traveler’s Company notebook. I’ll be moving my planning over to it in December (though it is already here and I am so tempted to start now!) I have a few pages left in my current bullet journal, so I will finish out November there. But I am on day three of art journaling, and really, really loving it.

:1/30:

Day one is proving to be not what I wanted. Today I was all set to start my day by blogging. Alas…

Well, I am doing this just for me. This blog gathers dust and the guilt of it eats at me. I have half a mind to just micro-blog on Instagram once my year of self-imposed social media exile ends.

But something in me just loves blogs.

I love reading them, and I love finding new ones.

I’ve heard the blog is dead. They also say books are dead.

I have a hard time believing either statement.

Maybe I’m just in denial.

:NaNoWriMo 2018:

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I’m going to be a rebel this year!

I am not writing a novel.

I am not writing fiction.

I am not hitting 50,000 words.

Nope.

Instead I am dedication the month of November to posting daily on my blog. It’s a blog I’ve had for years and have sadly neglected. It just sits gathering dust and taunting my wallet. So, I decided to commit to daily blogging. I will publish one post every day, maybe more than one a day (ah…the magic of smartphones!)

Why is this a priority? Well, I feel like if I can’t do this, then I need to just let it go. Maybe blogging is just not for me. Really, though, I just want to get into a rhythm, like I do with my writing.

So, there won’t be any validating, but I will be updating my daily word count.

Good luck to everyone else doing the full NaNo! (Including my daughter!)

:haven:

Growing up, I have always re-written stories. Long before I knew what fan fiction was, I would close the book on the last page of a story, and imagine myself into that world. I was a princess, befriending the dragon everyone feared and ultimately saving the kingdom. I was the young girl crossing the American west into a brave new world full of hardship and discovery. I was the space pilot, stranded on the enemy ship and trying to find a way back to the rebellion. Those stories shaped me more than anything else in my life. Through books I have lived thousands of lives. I have saved planets, vanquished villains, found my true love, and found my purpose. 

There is nothing I like more than a good book. 

I’m one of those people who walks into a used bookstore and feels better just breathing in the smell. I can spend hours and hours just drifting along the stacks. I love to touch them. I love the feel of them in my hands.

If I was ever the last surviving human on earth, I would be happy as long as I had books. 

As a child, I was shy, painfully so. It was almost debilitating. Books were my refuge to another world where I was brave and beautiful and had a ton of friends. Where I had a sharp and witty comeback to every taunt, and were bullies always lost. My sister, the gregarious one, was my buffer. I always had a book on me, and social discomfort usually found me retreating to a quiet corner and escaping into another world. 

I am so grateful for books, in all their forms and genres. Maybe that is why I have long wished to write my own. I am working on that now. I started my first attempt with winning NaNoWriMo last Year. Now I’m looking ahead to Camp NaNoWriMo in July. 

Maybe one day my own story will be among the others on the selves.