November 25, 2014

Self-discovery



Lately, I've been drawn to books about achievement, self-control, and organization. I just finished listening to How Children Succeed - a book I thought would be applicable to raising our one-year-old, but that turned out to be an enlightening study of mostly teens and young adults coming from privileged and less so backgrounds. Now I am engrossed in The Organized Mind, and am steadily making my way through a book about Montessori principles, which I read in small bits when I am in the right mood. 

My interest in these books is not coincidental. For a while now, I have been thinking about my life, my goals, my true interests and passions... and what I am doing about it all. That is, nearly not enough. It is not a recent realization, really. I am generally satisfied with my life: I have a loving husband, a wonderful, healthy daughter, a home, the means to buy what I need without counting pennies. D and I have always wanted for me to stay home with the children while they are small and I am loving (almost) every day I spend with N. And yet... I want to do more. And I know that the only thing stopping myself from doing - being - more is myself. Shocker, right?

A recent post by Drea of ohdeardrea has really gotten me thinking about what exactly in my personality and behavior is hindering my progress in life, and I have identified some key points that I need to address and work on to begin moving forward.

I am afraid to step out of my comfort zone
This has always been one of my major struggles. I am an introvert by nature, which makes me somewhat stressed in situations where I have to interact with strangers, ask questions, and be heard. I tend to fall into familiar and comfortable patterns, re-reading books I like and re-watching my favorite shows. It takes me quite a while to adjust to big changes in my life, no matter how much I wanted them in the first place. I need to remind myself to take more chances, seek out new experiences (small things, I'm not talking about bungee jumping here), and be more proactive in social situations. 

I pity myself too much
Days with a toddler are not always easy, no matter how lovable they are. I feel like collapsing by the end of the day - and I often do! - but, really, I know that I perhaps exaggerate how exhausted I really am. What I need at the end of the day is a break from N... and I get it! D plays with her from the moment he comes home until her bedtime, while I often use this free time to read a book or catch up on blogs (or Pinterest, ahem). Sometimes, however, I do dishes, clean up, and prep food for next day meals, leaving the hours after we put N to bed to relax and catch up on leisurely activities. And I like the second scenario much better, of course, but...

I have poor self-control
I will eat those cookies if they are left in plain view and I will finish that open bag of chips. I have started and failed to maintain exercise routines multiple times and I have resolved to blog more often time and again. I need to come up with ways to keep myself in check... but I pity myself too much! It's a vicious circle... that only I can break, I know.

I am waiting for (divine) inspiration
I often think to myself: "If only I knew what my calling in life is... everything would be so much easier." I am stopping myself from moving forward by hoping to get inspired. Any day now... right? It's as though I am waiting for my life to begin, to take a new turn... But really, this is it. I am a grown woman. I have a degree. I am married. I have a child. How more real does it get? Maybe instead of waiting for inspiration to find me, I need to search for it myself by taking all kinds of different paths.

I take on too many projects at once
I love crafting. I love homemaking, cooking, reading, planning. These are all good interests and ambitions, but I tend to get caught up in beautiful, bright, shiny ideas (thanks, Pinterest) and drop what I was already working on half-way to begin something new. I am working really hard these day on finishing what I started. In fact, I stop myself from buying new project supplies until I use up what I have.

I expect easy success
This has been said multiple times now: the onslaught of social media these days makes everything seem so effortless and accessible. It is easy to get lured into this trap, to believe that bloggers just breezily write about their lives, that their casually snapped photos of their spotless homes and angelic kids just happen to catch the best light possible, that anything is attainable right now. It is easy to forget that real success takes work when in fact the opposite is true: it takes a lot of work to make it all seem so easy. I need to remind myself of this more often.


Wow. All that makes me sound like the laziest person on this planet doesn't it? I actually quite like myself most of the time (hence the self-pity!), but the above points are some that I really want to work hard on to become a better person. I am hoping that blogging can help me to achieve that. Because, who am I doing this for if not for myself? (This said, I love love love comments, dear readers... hint hint.)

Please, let me know: have you ever struggled to overcome some of your character flaws? How did you get around to doing it? Have you already found your calling or are you still searching, like me?

July 11, 2014

Of bare bottoms and German lessons



This morning, I violated my number one rule of day-to-day parenting: never let the nine-month old go bare-bottom in the morning. And boy did I pay for it.

Wait. Wait, you're saying. I thought this wasn't that kind of blog. Well, I guess it is a little. Because when you spend almost every minute of every day hanging out with a baby, some topics tend to crop up more often than others.

I wish I were posting about a new crochet pattern or a fabulous recipe I've come up with, but the reality is that I just spent an hour cleaning poop out of the carpet. Yee-haw.

But wait! It's not all that bad, because I did it while listening to German lessons. See? Combining the mundane (and slightly icky) with the intellectual.

Have you ever heard of German with Michel Thomas? It's great! The Michel Thomas method is based on learning through listening to an audio recording of a teacher (Herr Thomas himself) and two students, without writing anything down or memorizing. So far, it's really interesting and engaging. Granted, I have taken a German class previously, so the material is not completely new to me. I wonder how it would work for someone who has never learned anything about it before.

Happy weekend!

Photo of my flying daughter by me

July 10, 2014

Use-what-you've-got embroidery thread cards

organizeembroiderythread_main

Over the years, I have ended up amassing quite a collection of DMC embroidery thread. Thread, it seems, much like yarn and headphones, comes out to party when you're not looking and soon turns into a big tangled mess. Then, inevitably, the little paper band with the colour number gets lost. Am I alone in this? Anyone?

I have seen beautiful examples of storing thread wound around clothes pins before - and Pinterest is full of great ideas! -  but I didn't want to buy clothes pins just for this and I thought it would take up too much space (I really do have a lot of thread), so I opted for floss cards instead. Now, I didn't want to buy the cards either, because... why would you buy cardboard when you can have it for free? In my case, I used paint chips to make the cards. Ready for a super-easy, diy floss card tutorial? Turn your favourite programme on, 'cause you'll be here for a while.

organizeembroiderythread_tut

  1. Grab some cardboard or thick paper. Here, I used paint chips in neutral tones, but your possibilities are endless: cereal boxes, old calendar pages of greeting cards, pretty cardstock... whatever you have on hand.
  2. Cut your paper of choice into rectangles. Mine are roughly 4 x 5 cm (1 5/8 x 2 inches), but they're all slightly different, which doesn't bother me.
  3. Use a 1-inch (2.5 cm) circle punch to punch out semi-circles on either side of the rectangle. Using scissors, make two cuts to secure the end of the thread (see in next step).
  4. Wind up your thread. Don't forget to write the colour number in a corner! Repeat 100 more times and enjoy!
organizeembroiderythread_res2

Some further ideas and suggestions:
  • I created an Excel spreadsheet to catalogue my stash as I was going through it. This way, next time I'm about to begin a project, I will know what colours I already have on hand.
  • For now, I'm just throwing the wrapped cards into a shoebox. You can most certainly purchase a nice storage box and organize the threads by colour. How pretty would that be? I need to get on it.
  • The link above also has a great tutorial on how to wind your thread using a drill and a special tool (appropriately called a bobbin winder). I have also seen genius tutorials on how to do the same using a sewing machine. Maybe next time, when I'm tired of my current set-up. :)

So. How do you satisfy your organizing itch? What have you untangled/put away/colour-coded lately?