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Martha and Mary

So much to do - and a dwindling amount of time to do it in. We traveled Thanksgiving week, Brooklyn and I spent 24 hours in Fayetteville this past weekend, there are a few things left as far as holiday preparations are concerned, and I've still been having twice-weekly doctor appointments. In an attempt to stay alert while driving (without resorting to caffeine) at one point last week, I went through a copious amount of minty lip balm (which was surprisingly effective - I'd usually go with a pack of Doublemint or Winterfresh gum, but stopping with a toddler for the sake of a thirty cent purchase takes the convenience out of convenience store).

Sunday night, tired though I was, I laid in the dark and just kept getting awaker instead of sleepier, so at the end of an hour (which is my limit) I got up and made my to-do list for the week, then knitted until I was wound down and able to fall asleep. Some life seasons resist simplification, and sometimes peace and preparation seem mutually exclusive.

I try to make a list for each week - on one side, it has groceries (things from Whole Foods differentiated from Kroger items by a small star) and on the other, tasks. I write down appointments and deadlines, things-that-need-to-be-done, and make sure to include naps and at least one "jammy day" per week. The number beside each thing corresponds to a day - 1 for Monday, 2 for Tuesday, and so on - and I try to divide the tasks out evenly, that way I won't feel overwhelmed at the beginning, or end up with a ridiculous amount undone at the end (some weeks this works better than others).

The List helps me keep within our grocery budget, saves me the stress of forgetting about something until the last minute and then having to rush through it, and also reminds me that things like rest are important, too. There's a balance to be had, somewhere between getting the busy bossy to-dos to-done and tossing the list to the wind in favor of spontaneity and freedom - and in that middle ground lies calm and order.

Like Sunday - Brooklyn and I went to Whole Foods after church, armed with our list (she carried it, and allowed me to consult it at intervals) but we deviated a little and got a snack to leave in Adam's truck, since he was going to be at the Armory all day for Drill (and because it was the anniversary of the day we met). Like planning for a Sabbath, a nap, or a hot bath, sometimes morale becomes a priority.

The best things are the ones that are both productive and peaceful. Last night, Brooklyn and I ate dinner and I gave her a bath - and then I dressed her in jammies and a jacket, and we went on an adventure. They had a Christmas shopping event at church from 6 to 8, so we spent a little time browsing all of the buy-once-give-twice options and perching on a couch near someone with an acoustic guitar, and spent a little money for the last few gifts I needed. She thought it was a grand adventure, and it also accomplished the double purposes of making a long Adam-less evening go more quickly and enabling her to stay up happily until he got home.

That means that the only gifts remaining are handmade - one knitting project that I hope to finish today or tomorrow, and fire starters that I'm going to have to spend now-'til-Christmas working on, because I can only make them as quickly as we produce dryer lint and empty toilet paper tubes. (It's not very cute right now, I'll admit - but the final step is wrapping it in paper and basketing it neatly, so don't let the slightly lumpy appearance put you off!)

Then comes wrapping - I love that part. I'm going to use inside-out brown paper bags as wrapping paper, supplemented with upcycled gift bags and whatever tissue paper I can find lying around, and I have visions of tassels dancing in my head (totally The Nester's fault). Washi tape will probably also be involved... and I have the fun of matching tags/Christmas cards to the perfect recipient (since, partly thanks to several years of collecting, I finally have an assortment of both). Just a few more weeks to go!

How do you simplify the dichotomy of preparation and peace?


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31 Days of Unraveling Designs

It's that time of year again... the 31 Days writing challenge starts today! Bloggers from all over will be writing every day of the month of October on the topic of their choosing. This will be my fourth year participating - the first year I did 7 for 31, and spent a month going through Jen Hatmaker's book 7. The second year I did 31 Days of Sustainable Dwelling, and wrote about local and fair trade living. Last year I was busy but still wanted to participate, so I went the easy route with 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful.

This year I'm diving into my greatest passion: knitting! I'll spend this month looking at past designs and talking about the inspiration behind them, so there will be plenty of regular life mixed in with the stitching - and there may be discount codes for the patterns that I write about. You'll just have to read and see!

Pattern index:

Pageturner Mitts
Hogwarts House Tie
Urban Artemis
Graffiti for Humanity
Love Out Loud
Strange Jacket


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really…


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.
I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?
But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.
So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empt…