Under Pressure

Well, it’s been a long time.

As to be expected, life started interfering with this little ol’ blog around a year ago. And when I say life, I mean the sheer amount of grading I was dealing with on a daily basis. And while I still have a whole lot of grading to deal with on a daily basis, I have managed to discover a slightly better work-life balance over the past year. I’ve figured out how to make time to read (for pleasure), to see friends on a regular basis, and to basically take some “me” time. (And, of course, I continue to have the time to watch the 130454234 shows I’m usually watching on a regular basis, which I always made time for. Priorities, y’all.)

Anyway, to get to the point, I’ve been feeling the urge to write lately. Ever since getting my MFA two years ago, this urge comes and goes in waves. Not being “required” to write for workshops anymore is a double-edged sword: on one hand, I don’t have to pressure myself to finish a story in time for others to read it. And then, on the other hand, I don’t have the pressure of needing to finish a story in time for others to read it…in other words, I have discovered that I seem to operate well under pressure. (Cue Queen.) This doesn’t come as too much of a shock, as most everything else in life that I consider myself successful in involves pressure in some way. I grade on a schedule because my students need their papers back. I run on a weekly basis in order to do well in whatever race I’ve signed myself up for (side note: I’ve noticed that running long races is probably the craziest thing I do). I even turned re-watching “Gilmore Girls” for the 1234983520954 time into a thing of pressure–I pushed myself to re-watch the whole series before attending the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest and by golly, I did it.

Anyway, the point of this post is to be open about my writing and how I find myself yearning to write. I find myself still creating characters and stories and listening to conversations around me for inspiration. However, when I sit down to actually put these ideas on paper (or rather, computer), I face a brick wall. The process breaks down. I don’t feel a sense of pressure; therefore, it becomes easy to continually put off something that is usually such a large part of my identity.

Last Fall, I had pretty much decided that my blogging days were over. Blogging was taking up a chunk of my time and not that many people were reading it, so what was the point? But now, as I harness this desire to write, I see that readership and receiving a million comments is not the point, especially when you are blogging because you love to write. So I’m hoping if I return to blogging, I’ll not only be writing, but perhaps find that sense of pressure that is apparently a necessary part of my writing process.
Plus, at least I’ll be writing in some capacity .

 

 

Looking Back at my 25 Year Old Goals as a 28 Year Old

For the past little while, I’ve noticed that a blog post from 2012, 25 Life Goals from a 25 Year Old, has been getting a lot of viewership. I don’t know the reason for this, because I also don’t fully understand how the internet works. Either way, I thought I’d revisit these goals, written a little over three years ago, to see which ones I’m sticking to, which ones I think are completely bonkers (or don’t make sense), and any new goals I have.

Reading a three-year old post was delightful and entertaining. These goals are definitely the ones of a young, optimistic person. There’s nothing wrong with them, but many of them seem a little too hippy-dippy for my current state. Some also seem crafted and written specifically for a blog post, instead of realistic, true goals. Again, nothing wrong with that, but if I had written this today, I would have surely used different language.

Something I’ve realized in the three years since I turned 25 is that life is magical and ever-evolving. After turning 25, I experienced a life crisis of sorts. In college, 25 seemed so old. I expected to have everything figured out by 25 and that I would basically be a billionaire living on the ocean in an exotic country or something. Since turning 25, I’ve adjusted my worldview and come to understand that life is often a slow burn (in a good way) and that things take time. Also, I’ve realized that age is just a number. Sure, there are certain things that I should be doing by 28–like saying thank you, or doing things I want to do, and a handful of other things on this list–but most of these are just general being-a-decent-person life goals. I set these goals at 25 as a reminder to myself to take ownership of my life, and that mindset is still just as prevalent today. So, in a way, they’re life goals from my 25-year-old self that I can stick to and adapt and mold for as long as I want.

New Goals:

1. Find ways to work on my anxiety. I’ve developed a lot of anxiety over the past year (thanks, fractured leg), and I’m trying to find ways to reign it in.

2. Get out of my apartment and stop wasting time. I waste so much time, especially when school is out for the summer.

3. Never get tired of my surroundings. DC is a great city, and I never want to feel like I’m just “tolerating” it.

4. Don’t underestimate or undervalue myself. I’ve had a revelation of sorts lately where I realized the reason why I hardly ever spoke in any of my classes as a student was because I was underestimating myself, not the other way around. I’m learning to value my voice more, as well as my own opinion, and finding ways to more thoughtfully engage in conversations.

5. Write write write write write!!!

The Original List: 

1. Write thank you cards. Say thank you.
I’ve done okay on this one. I usually remember to send thank you cards, and try to always say thank you when I feel genuinely thankful for someone’s help, advice, you name it. 

2. Take a moment to calm down when overly emotional. Re-consider your thoughts.
Eh. What can I say? It’s that quarter-Italian in me. My brain has this funny way of going into overdrive when I have something interesting to say, or I’m trying to make it point, and takes over my calm, rational side. 

3. Never make decisions when you’re emotional.
Again, I’ve done so-so on this one. I’m pretty impulsive by nature and when I realize I need to do something, I want to do it RIGHT AWAY! But, I have gotten more practical about my decision making, usually allowing things to sit before completely deciding. 

4. Read books for pleasure.
Yes! It’s a slow process, but I have done this one. When I made this goal, I was in the middle of my first year of my MFA, which required a total of 20 books per semester for the lit classes I was taking. Ah! The back-to-back reading turned me into a very, very slow reader, as I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything potentially important while reading. Let me tell you, that’s not a fun way to read. I’ve been working on bouncing back from that. I have little time to read during the school year because I’m up to my ears in papers to grade, but I’ve managed to read The Secret HistoryThe Girl on the Train, and Station Eleven, and I loved all of them. Just finished Everything I Never Told You, which was amazing. AH-MAZE-ING. This book will stick with me for a while. Do yourself a favor and add it to your reading list now. 

5. Open your windows. Go outside.
This one seems kind of silly, but I am trying to do this instead of lounging on my couch all day…which has happened a lot, unfortunately. BUT I’m finally running outside again, post-leg injury (knock on wood). I also take advantage of the apartment’s pool, as well as walking to the grocery store instead of driving. Even though it’s blazing hot, it’s nice to get outside. Plus, I have huge windows which make my apartment feel luxurious. 

6. Stop making excuses.
Eh. I’ve gotten better at this, but I still come up with the excuses in my mind, even if I don’t use them. Since I’m sort of anxious/shy by nature, I’ll often think of reasons not to do something, even if it’s just meeting friends for a drink. BUT I will say that I didn’t use my broken leg as an excuse to not grade my classes, other than for the day I was actually in the hospital. 

7. Allow yourself to have free time, even if it’s 10 minutes of coffee in the morning, 2 minutes to play Scramble with Friends, or a date with your boyfriend to watch Titanic. Don’t laugh—Rahul and I totally did this the other night.
Free time is my best friend. I probably take too much advantage of it. How else am I going to watch all of my favorite TV shows constantly? 

8. Celebrate something at least once a day, if not more.
This is hard to track. I am trying to get better about focusing on things I DO do during the day–cue Chandler Bing–instead of things I haven’t done. Doing this helps cut my anxiety and also helps me enjoy my days a little more. 

9. Catch up with a different friend once a week.
THIS IS SO HARD and I’m also really bad at it. I’m the queen of texting, but suck at phone calls. I’ve kept up with friends, but it’s more sporadic than scheduled, which is actually fine with me. 

10. Keep your attitude in check, always. Be intentional in what you say.
I’m good about this when talking with my students, but sometimes bad when talking to friends or family. Working on it! 

11.Listen to others. Take notes. Remember.
Again, another one that is so-so. I definitely haven’t taken notes (come on, 25 year old Katherine), but I do try to be a conscious, observant listener. 

12. Don’t be scared of confrontation, when necessary.
Hmm. If I was making this last now, I would change it to “Don’t be scared to hold your ground.” I definitely struggle with this in my teaching–at my core, I want to help each student be their best, but I’ve had to acknowledge and understand that it sometimes just doesn’t work that way. 

13. When you make a mistake, never, ever blame it on someone else.
I’m pretty good at this. I had a teacher in college that would never take the blame for mistakes he made (i.e., we would put something in the newspaper because he said we could, and then go back on his word, etc), so I vowed to never be like this because it’s so disrespectful and wishy-washy. 

14. Laugh at yourself.
Um, yeah. All the time. 

15. Do things YOU want to do.
Also all the time. Stay tuned for my coffee shop series to see an example of this!

16. Don’t say sorry when it’s not your fault, and do say sorry when it is.
This is a hard one, especially since I say sorry all the time for stupid reasons. 

17. Engage.
What? As in get engaged? Okay, yeah, I did that. : ) 

18. Talk to strangers, or someone you wish to get to know better.
HAHA! I’m definitely the type to have few, close friends, instead of a 1,000 friends. Of those people, I try to ENGAGE and get to know them better. I definitely don’t talk to strangers. This was definitely written by optimistic Katherine. 

19. Do things that remind you of what you love in the world.
I really try to stick to this, especially living near such an awesome city! Since writing this blog, I’ve traveled to some beautiful places (India, Paris, London, New Orleans, Provincetown, just to name a few), which definitely reminds me what I love in this world. Visiting and doing things in DC allows me to take advantage and enjoy a city I love, even if it’s just driving to the Trader Joe’s on U Street. 

20. Try new things. My recent fascination: baking and cake decorating. Sorry, Mary Beth, but I’m probably going to ask to use your kitchen a lot this summer.
Mary Beth, do you remember if this happened? I don’t know. BUT I did get into a serious baking frenzy after moving to my new apartment. My masterpiece is banana chocolate chip bread. 

21. Don’t bullshit. Ever.
I’m pretty good with this, but this is also so broad. Don’t bullshit about what? I’m not sure what I was thinking here. 

22. Embrace who you are, even if you sometimes don’t like who you are.
OH BOY. I’ve had some ups and downs in the past three years. I’ve had many moments where I didn’t like myself, and many moments where I did. However, I think that’s natural for most people. Regardless, I am working on embracing the parts of me that are inherent, and changing the things I can change. 

23. Tell people what you think of them at every chance you get, whether it’s “You’re a rockstar” or “I appreciate you” or “You inspire me” or “I love you.”
I do try to do this! If it’s my students, I let them know when they’ve done good work. I tell my family and Rahul how much they mean to me and how much I love them constantly (so they don’t forget, haha). When someone helps me out, I try to say thank you or that I’m appreciative. 

24. Don’t waste a day with a bad mood. Find things to cheer you up.
I wish I knew what this video was, but the account has been deleted! oops. But I do try to do this, although when I get in a REALLY bad mood, it’s hard for me to come out. Usually it’s because I’m freakin’ stubborn and want to sulk. 

25. Love.
Yes! 

And an extra one because I have problems with limits (even when they’re my own):

Don’t complain about things you can control. This is a MAJOR one to remember for me as of late.
OH MY GOSH, I still struggle with this SO MUCH. The kid taking too much time at the water fountain, the traffic on the way to school, you name it. I’ve really tried to work on these things and let these complaints go, because, when I do, I feel lighter and happier. But sometimes I just want to be mad at the world. 

When did I become the Late Girl?

This may come as a shock to friends and co-workers of the past 2-3 years, but I used to be extremely punctual.
OK, now that I’ve given you enough time to get your laughter out of the way, I’ll continue.

I was raised by one parent who is punctual to a fault–I’m talking punctual as in we leave 30 minutes before a showtime for a movie theater that is five minutes away–and one parent who is well-practiced at navigating traffic to have us arrive usually right on time, if not a few minutes late. To continue the movie theater analogy, this parent typically shows up 10 minutes after the movie has started. Together, you have the perfect mix of I-can-enjoy-my-coffee-because-I’m-ready-to-leave-30-minutes-in-advance and running-out-the-door-coffee-in-hand-to-make-it-maybe-on-time. You would think this would produce the right amount of punctuality, right?

Sure enough, it does. For years, I balanced in the middle. A type-A person who likes order and schedules, I love knowing exactly where I need to be somewhere. At the same time, I am a serious lollygagger with even more serious time management issues, in the sense that I lie to myself almost every day about how long it typically takes me to get ready. Balanced together, you have a person who scheduled lollygagging time in order to leave with enough time to spare, whether it was for work, to meet a friend, or just for a run to Target. This system lasted me for years.

Then something happened. I moved into a fraternity house.

OK, so I can’t blame my lateness issues on the fact that I lived with fraternity men for three years (although it seems like a pretty convenient excuse). For some reason, I became lax with my timing and now, voila, I am incapable of leaving for anything, anywhere, ever, on time.

So I ask myself, again, the question that’s been running through my mind for the past several months: When did I become this Late Girl? Was it because of a lack of rigid schedule during grad school? Was it because I worked in an office where someone was always running late, taking the pressure off my own punctuality? Was it because I tried to cram my days with too many things? Was it because the lollygagging part of my day became so enjoyable that I didn’t want it to end?

It’s probably the last one. I’m still searching for the perfect answer to this question.

My coworkers in Greek Life at UMD are very familiar with this bad habit of mine. Since we all lived together on fraternity row, we would usually meet up together anytime there was an office meeting. But somewhere in my 3rd year at Maryland, I stopped caring about super-on-time-punctuatlity and changed my conception of time from “meet outside at 9:50 to walk to the 10 o’clock meeting” to “meeting at 9:50ish to get to the meeting at 10ish.” Even when I scheduled the meet-up time, I was usually the last one to arrive, my co-workers standing in a huddle, patiently waiting for me. I would casually walk out of my house, hear the usual “oh, it’s about time” sort of jokes, before walking to wherever it was we were headed.

After a while, it became a joke; a funny quirk about my personality. “Oh, we’re going to Looneys? Well give Katherine an extra hour to arrive…” “You’re meeting us now? See you in 30 minutes.” One time, I was so elated to actually be running on time, I ran out of my house to beat everyone else to the meet-up location, just for that fleeting moment of victory.

Rahul knows about this problem better than anyone. His rule, now, is “don’t tell me you’re ready to go until you are ACTUALLY ready to go.” He is well practiced at waiting patiently as I say “Ok, let’s go,” then grab my jewelry, “Ok, let’s go,” and then put my purse together, “Ok, let’s go,” and then use the bathroom, “OK WE REALLY HAVE TO GO NOW” to which he reminds me, kindly, that he has been ready and waiting for several minutes.

However, now that I am working at three different schools, and am generally running around all the time to get from one place to the next, my lateness has passed being a “quirk” to just downright annoying. I get physically irritated with myself when I set a leave time of 8 AM and roll out of the house at 8:20, frantically navigating interstate traffic to make it to my 9 AM class on time. Even with things I enjoy, like running or TARGET RUNS, I’m heading to the door anywhere from 10-30 minutes after I told myself I would. My scheduled personality has crumbled in on itself. I’m made peace with the “I told myself I would grade 5 papers today and I only graded 3” part of my scheduling, because I know I’ll get the grading done anyway, no matter what, but I haven’t made peace with the fact that I am ALWAYS. RUNNING. LATE. Even when I prepare my  coffee the night before, pack my lunch, and assemble my outfit, I still find some way to leave 10 minutes after I meant to, which means I’m scrambling to find parking, running to my class to make it on time, apologizing to my students for the 2-minute delay (although they don’t really seem to care), running out of time to make all the copies I need, etc etc etc. My lateness isn’t so much fun anymore; not only is it causing unneeded stress, it’s irritating the hell out of me.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time (ironic, isn’t it), but I’m glad I waited, as Rahul and I saw Mike Birbiglia this weekend, where he started his show with a diatribe about his distaste for late people, whom he calls “Lateys.” In fact, one of his first lines was, “I would have started on time but about 100 of you were still making your way to your seat,” before launching into a rant about why late people are the worst. He talked about how you can be early for hours, but when you’re late, you’re late forever.
Things could be worse, right? 

You know, I get it, though. I’m currently on my way to becoming that family member you lie to about what time dinner starts (“oh, it’s at 5,” because you know they actually won’t show up until 6, when the thing really starts) and I don’t really want that.

You can watch a version of his diatribe on the Jimmy Kimmel Show here:

My favorite line? “What late people don’t realize about us on-time people is that we hate them.” So, I do apologize to all my on-time friends for the many minutes you have wasted waiting for me. I’m trying to get better, I promise…

Rahul and I, taking pictures on our new phones before the Mike Birbligia show at the Warner Theatre.

Rahul and I, taking pictures on our new phones before the Mike Birbiglia show at the Warner Theatre.

Speaking of his show, that was our Saturday night, preceded by an afternoon at the Apple store getting the iPhone 6! I’ve never had something so soon to its release date and I feel so fancy. I feel like the “early adopters” Simon Sinek talks about in his “Start with Why” video (I know my fellow UMD Greek life employees will understand what I mean here). But seriously, it’s a very nice, big ass phone, and I’m just waiting for the day when I inevitably drop it or damage it somehow…when I do, I promise to post about it.

 

The Comeback Kid

It’s my one year blogiversary…of not blogging.

I’ve been thinking of starting my blog up for a while now, and when I saw that the last post was June 27, 2013, I decided to make it a clean year in between posts. That way it would seem like a more momentous celebration of something when really it’s just me starting back up my personal blog.

There was a time when I was very dedicated to my blogging and set aside time every week to writing entries. And even though I really wanted to blog over this past year, I dedicated any writing time I had to writing something much more important: my MFA thesis.

I entered into my third and final year of my MFA last fall, also known as the THESIS YEAR. I had to complete my thesis no matter what. There was a time toward the end (somewhere in March) where I really wanted to jump ship and was having dreams about writing ANYTHING other than my thesis. Some authors that visited our MFA program talked about how they take breaks when working on longer projects to write short stories and I thought HOW LUXURIOUS YOUR LIFE IS but stop rubbing it in my face that you have all this free time to write whatever the hell you want. And then I also reminded myself that they are published authors with nothing else to do than write, where as I am (or at least was at the time) a 5th year grad student, a teacher, a fraternity House mom, a student, and a whole host of other identifiers. The writer part of me was sharing time with a 1,000 other things and it was the least I could do to finish my thesis without wanting to plan some horrible death for all my characters and call it a day.

Okay, so I’m being a little bit dramatic. But my time and thoughts were consumed with writing a novel-length piece that I actually love very dearly and have been working on for over a year now. When I turned in the for real-real copy, I ate a lot of sushi, drank a lot of wine, and went to sleep early. In other words I:parks-and-rec-treat-yo-selfI also started teaching at a local community college, continued to work as a house mom for my dear fraternity boys, and took my LAST CLASSES EVER as a graduate student.
People keep saying “don’t say you’re done with school, you never know,” but I do know. I. AM. DONE. (a sentence which would surely horrify my AP English teacher, who reminded us countless times—when we said “done!” at the end of a practice test—that we are not done, we are finished. Potatoes in the oven are done, students are finished.)

So now that my MFA program is completed, and summer is upon us, I have a little more time on my hands. Some exciting changes are upcoming: even though I am really sad about having to move out of the fraternity house and leave my boys behind, I am really excited to no longer be a student/house mom/teacher but just be a TEACHER. Part of the reason I decided to get my MFA was so I could teach, and I am excited to embark on this next part of my life as I leave the student identifier behind and can focus solely on teaching (and writing, of course). While I obviously loved being a House Mom, and a student (most of the time), I am REALLY really looking forward to not splitting my time so much. It’s exhausting.

Many exciting things have happened over the past year: other than finishing my MFA program, I saw Rahul many, many times, reconnected with some old and dear friends, spent quality time with family, developed a J.Crew addiction, applied for a 1,000 jobs, hung out at the White House, ran two long races, attended the weddings of two close friends, attended the graduations of my sister and my oldest best friend, spent weekends in New Orleans and Minnesota, read much YA fiction, and went apartment hunting with my mom and sister after deciding to stay in the DC area for at least another year. That’s right, D.C.! You’re not rid of me just yet!

2014 has shaped up to be a pretty awesome year so far, and I’m excited about the months to come, which you can read about here. I know you’ve been missing my random ramblings on movies, coffee shops, and life in general, and I’ve missed taking time every week to jot down the goings on and other nonsense. So don’t fret, dear readers: Wordifications is officially making a comeback.
First official random rambling, as it has to do with MFA programs: are we really supposed to believe that Hannah Horvath was accepted into the IOWA WRITER’S WORKSHOP!?!? I know this is old news, but give me a break. Let’s just hope if she actually attends the program it will make her less insufferable rather than more. 

 

 

Instagramming India

Last time I was in India, I failed to update my blog on a regular basis with updates and pictures about our adventures. I promised this time that I would be better about updating and, well, you know how those … Continue reading

Swanson’s Got Swagger the Size of Big Ben Clock

This past Thursday, I was able to spend ten glorious hours in good ol’ London town. My last flight to India was direct, but this one had a layover in London. And I have to say, I give a big … Continue reading

India, Here I Come!

The countdown is on. I leave for India in 15 days. Actually, the countdown has been on for quite a while, I just haven’t gotten around to sitting down and writing this post. I meant to do it a month … Continue reading

What Happens When You Lose Your Blog Password: A Study in Laziness

So there was a time when I was really good about posting on my blog on a regular basis. I made blog writing and posting part of my weekly routine–treating it just like a homework assignment–and was very religious in ensuring I always had something fresh for my readers.

Ha! That time has passed.

Over the past few months, there have been many different reasons for why I’ve found it hard to keep my blog updated. At first, it was adjusting to a new schedule and a new school year. And then it was because I ran out of things to write about and didn’t want to share my dumb life with strangers. (disclaimer: I don’t actually think my life is dumb.) And lately? Well, to be honest, I forgot my password and, after changing my password a handful of times because I kept forgetting it, and kept forgetting where I wrote it down, I just gave up. It would have been easy to change the password again, but I wasn’t feeling it.

To sum up: I’M LAZY.

But as the semester draws to a close, I finally decided to embark on the dreadful task of changing the password and here we all are. It’s springtime outside (and actually feels like it today) and with that comes new possibilities.
I could write inspirational cards, don’t ya think?

Exciting things that have happened in my (dumb-not-so-dumb) life lately:

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

1. I’m making a quilt and also going to finish a quilt my grandmother started decades ago and never finished. My amazing and talented friend Anna has been the inspiration behind this. If you are a quilter yourself, please check out her blog!

2. I’m staying for a third year to complete my thesis for my MFA degree. My thesis currently looks like this: ASDMKLASDJLWEJKWJK INSERT AMAZING SMART WONDERFUL BRILLIANT AWARD WINNING WORDS HERE ADJKASLDRJWELRKJQWELRKQW.

Happy!

Happy!

3. I saw Rahul over Spring Break! I also got to see my family, pets, best friends, Sonic, favorite sushi and Mexican restaurants.

4. A few friends and I pulled a pretty epic April Fool’s Day by putting googly eyes on EVERYTHING in their office.

5. Kid President is from Tennessee. Not just Tennessee, but like 20-minutes-from-where-I’m-from in Tennessee. Okay, this isn’t MY life, but it still feels pretty important.

6. The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler is in two days. The longest I’ve run in preperation for it? Six miles. Here’s hoping for a miracle….

7. There may or may not be a rat infestation under the PSK house.

And three of the more interesting things I’ve done lately….

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

8. Got to go INSIDE THE EISENHOWER EXECUTIVE BUILDING. Felt like a legit bad ass and also like Leslie Knope, except Joe Biden wasn’t there.

9. Attended an event about the documentary “No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII” at which SOLEDAD O’BRIEN was the panel moderator. And I’ll tell you something: she is SKINNYTINYSKINNY in real life!

Hey there Soledad O'Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

Hey there Soledad O’Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

10. Attended the 42nd Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, held every year by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Who was the 42nd lecturer? Just this dude, Martin Scorsese. NO BIG DEAL.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn't get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn’t get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

I will try to do better to keep this guy updated as the semester ends. But I can’t make any promises….

Gettin’ Crafty With It

I’m not the most artistic person in the world. As of late, I have begun painting my nails with some interesting and fun designs, but I don’t really think that counts. Two Christmases ago, I painted a pretty spectacular (as in my definition of spectacular) painting of a tree at an Art by the Glazz class. And I think that I have put together some pretty crafty gifts for Rahul, but for confirmation on that, you’ll have to talk to him.

So when my friend Anna offered to teach my other friend Rachel and I how to quilt, we took to the idea quickly. Anna taught herself how to quilt over a year ago, and now makes an impressive amount of quilts, pillows, gifts, and more. The girl is an impressive machine when it comes to quilting, and makes some really beautiful stuff. So who better to learn a craft from than from someone who knows it backwards and forwards, and won’t get frustrated when you accidentally de-thread her sewing machine a thousand times. I’m not saying that was me, but….

Anna, Rachel, and I before participating in a Case Study Competition last week.

Anna, Rachel, and I before participating in a Case Study Competition last week.

The trip to the fabric store was completely overwhelming, but we left with some beautiful fabrics for our quilted pillows, which was our first undertaking. Rachel and I picked some pretty complicated patterns for our pillows–well, complicated for first-time quilters–so the process is still in the making. We had to make 64 half-square triangles for our pillows, which involved a lot of cutting, pressing, and matching. But, even though the process is long, being able to witness a creation come together–and know that you’re the one making it–is an experience unlike any other. Take that, store-bought pillows! You have a new competitor in town.

My first fabric purchase!

My first fabric purchase!

The chevron design I am using for my own pillow.

The chevron design I am using for my own pillow.

My fabrics cut into squares!! The process has begun!

My fabrics cut into squares!! The process has begun!

Meet Jane, Anna's sewing machine!

Meet Jane, Anna’s sewing machine!

After sewing a color piece to a plain piece, the pressing comes next!

After sewing a color piece to a plain piece, the pressing comes next!

Cutting the pieces into smaller sizes.

Cutting the pieces into smaller sizes.

And voila, the pattern begins to take shape!

And voila, the pattern begins to take shape!

More of the pattern.

More of the pattern.

The patterned rows sewed together!

The patterned rows sewn together!

Our next project, after the pillows are completed, is the Giant Star quilt. Check out Anna’s blog for this pattern, as well as her wealth of other pictures and design tips. She is definitely the expert here! I’m excited to take on this next step in the learning process, and have the fabric ready to go. Picking eight fat quarters from this selection for the quilt is not going to be easy….

Fabrics galore.

My latest fabrics purchase. So pretty!

My latest fabric purchases. So pretty!

Fabrics galore!

Quilting fun.

Quilting fun.

A Tale of Two Li’l Sebastians

One Li'l Sebastian + One Li'l Sebastian = TWO Li'l Sebastians!

One Li’l Sebastian + One Li’l Sebastian = TWO Li’l Sebastians!

No, you’re not seeing double. There are two plush Li’l Sebastians in that picture.

Let me explain…my boyfriend and I love the TV show “Parks & Recreation” and watch the new episodes together when they are available. So, when our 2-year anniversary rolled around, I was looking for things to get him that would be representative of our relationship. Since we have given TV-show themed gifts in the past, I decided a “Parks & Rec” gift would be a perfect idea. So I ordered him a Li’l Sebastian and had it delivered to my house. Only to find out…

Enjoying some downtime under some lovely plant shade.

Enjoying some downtime under some lovely plant shade.

he got the same thing for me! So now I have two Li’l Sebastians. We have our theories for why one is a little darker, scruffier, and thinner than the other, but so far they seem to enjoy spending time with each other and haven’t caught on to the fact that they’re exactly the same.

In their free time, they enjoy touring around to small towns to participate in county fairs and have people fawn over their size and adorableness.

Watching some "Parks & Rec" together.

Watching some “Parks & Rec” together.

In other news….

  • A new school semester has started,
  • I saw Barack Obama at Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson’s concert in front of the Capital Building,
  • The guys are back in the house, making their presence known through leaving the TV on 24/7 and turning the dryer buttons to the noise level,
  • I saw Silver Linings Playbook twice and now wish I had written that story.

Happy end of January, y’all.

IMG_2541

Which one is scruffier…..

My new BFF's.

My new BFF’s.