But I wish to be an order muppet

Last week, my friend Cristin ended up accidentally being my chaperone for the day. We had a work date that was split into two parts a doctor’s appointment. Our work date ended in time to head home in rush hour traffic.

The end of our day was poorly timed because I was in charge of the time. I should never be in charge of time.

While we were moving from our doctor’s appointment interlude to the second half of our work date, we talked about the chaos muppet vs. order muppet theory of humanity. I’ve thought about it a lot and if I were a muppet, I would be Grover. My interest in semantics makes any instance involving scalar adjectives a potential nightmare for anyone who wants me to make some kind of decision. If I had a secret identity, it would be semi-secret (a la Super Grover) and I would talk to the narrator (or, I’d break the fourth wall, like Deadpool, who is undoubtedly also a chaos muppet). Grover is a chaos muppet and I am also a chaos muppet.

Grover serves up burgers and laughs at Charlie's Restaurant

But, I wish I were an order muppet. All of my attempts at organizing and keeping myself on the straight and narrow in order to get shit done are my attempts at being an order muppet. This is what makes me a good person for testing out various methods of organization and productivity. They aren’t things I’m inherently good at it, so when something works for me, that’s a pretty good indication that it is, at the very least, an easy system to implement and follow.

Like Grover, I am also cute. Plus, I have trouble sticking the landing.

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Spring Shawls

It’s going to be in the 90s this weekend, so we’ve skipped the spring and gone straight to the summer. But, even the summer sometimes has chilly nights and I am inspired to continue knitting by my newly finished mitts.

When I thought about what to start next, I decided that I wanted the project to use yarn I already had, a pattern I already had, and to be something light and fun for the season. I settled on a shawl. Back in 2016 (or 2015?) I joined the Badass Women’s Yarn Club and I was sure I knew where the yarn was in my stash. There were two shawls designed as part of the collection, and one of the yarns was a nice light linen yarn. That seemed like a good call for summer. I found it right away, but I also found a skein of yarn from a different yarn club that needed to be wound before it turned into a huge knotty mess.

I had a yarn club phase, but that is a story for another time.

So, I wound it. It’s a lovely variegated yarn of greens and browns. I decided that I would use it and some do some other stash busting. So, I picked a pattern that had a easy lace repeat. Nymphalidea is inspired by butterflies, and named after one of the largest butterfly families. It has the feel of a soft wing. What else could say Spring?

The first sections of Nymphalidea

I started it last weekend while on a little road trip. Knitting lace can be very relaxing, once you get the repeat down. The lace colors are leftovers from the hat and shawl and that I finished last year. We’ll see if they will stretch to the length the shawl calls for, or if it will end up a shawlette.

A few more repeats of Nymphalidea

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But I do that

Ulta Beauty posted this to their facebook page a couple of weeks ago and I got a good laugh out of it. I showed it to a few of my friends and they could relate. I really do this. Sometimes, you just aren’t up for the full routine, so you find short cuts. My go-to short cut is to use Yes to Blueberries brightening wipes to clean my face. I cut two or three steps out of my routine. I try not to do it too often, because as nice as the wipes are, they do not have the cleaning power of double-cleansing with a facial brush, but they do a good job. And, I love the smell. The blueberry products from the yes to line are brightening and they have other products if you have other issues you are targeting (if you need something gentle, try to the yes to cotton!)

When you skincare is part of your self-care, it can feel indulgent and unnecessary. But, your skin is your biggest organ and it needs some looking after and TLC. It’s nice to have a backup plan, then, for when you’re feeling tired so that you still take care of yourself.

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White Noise

I’m one of those people that has trouble blocking out sound. Most days, it doesn’t matter how focused I am or excited I am about the work I’m doing, ambient noise easily distracts me. I’ve found, though, that if I can get the noise down (usually with earplugs) or if I can play a little white noise, I can stay focused even when there is stuff going on around me.

One of my favorite things to listen to are sounds from Space. Voyagers I and II recorded electromagnetic waves from planets as they toured the solar system and those waves were released as part of a five volume collection. (You can read more about it here.) So, you can work while listening to Jupiter. It’s so cool.

Below is a spotify play list containing 3 hours worth of space sounds. Let the Cosmos sing to you while you work!

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It’s amazing how fast something can be finished once you have it organized. So, here they are, my mitts. I used self-striping yarn. Few things are as great as self-striping yarn. You get a pattern and you don’t have to do any work. I cast on 60 stitches for each mitt using this sock weight yarn. I used size 4 circular needles. I did about an inch of ribbing on both ends, but other than that, I did a simple knit stitch. I did these without a pattern because, knitting in the round, I could try them on as a went and I make adjustments if I needed to.

I am celebrating this small victory. It feels so good to finish something. I’m now on the look out for my next project. I would like to do something summery, but at the rate I’m knitting these days, I should probably start something wintry so it’ll be ready for the Fall.

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Digital to-do list

I’ve been trying two different productivity/team management apps to manage my to-do list after I’ve done my planning for the week. As a mentioned earlier this week, I don’t like to carry my physical planner around with me, so I keep a digital backup. The two apps I’ve been working with have been trello and asana.

They both have similar features. I can invite other people to be part of my team on projects or boards, depending on the app. This can allow us to manage a list and assign tasks to specific individuals and give things due dates. I started using trello, but I found that I wasn’t keeping it up to date, so I decided to give asana a try.

Asana is my go-to for the weekly checklist because it created a “my tasks” list in which I could see, on one screen, everything that had been assigned to me and the dates that they were due. the app works on my phone so I can see that list in my home screen. It’s nice that it can be on the home screen because then I don’t have to unlock my phone and possibly mess up a tree I am growing in the forest app, which, as you know, is important to me.

Trello just introduced a new feature called the home screen which is similar to the “my tasks” list. So, I’m going to try that out for a few weeks and see how it works for me.

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Spot-Treatment Sundays

Two posts in one day! Unheard of!

Since mentioning my skincare routine, I’ve wanted to talk about it a little more. It brings me joy to go through the routine. Calmly and simply washing one’s face wouldn’t seem like something that could make someone happy, but I am so pleased to have found that it does.

One of the things that I have started doing on Sunday afternoons is something I call Spot-treatment Sundays. It’s fun to do targeted masks. I have some blackheads I’m trying to get rid of, and it started with that. I use Mario Badescu’s silver powder on my nose and chin. After doing that for awhile, my routine has grown. I now also do an eye mask, a lip mask and starting tonight a hair mask (my hair has been so dry this winter and spring!).

I’ve been trying these hydrogel eye patches for twenty minutes and this Yes to Coconuts lip mask. I think the lip mask really makes a difference but I’m still not sold on the eye masks. I think I’m going to need to try them a few more times.

The hair mask that I am trying today was a total impulse purchase. The hip chic sleeping hair mask goes on dry hair and is washed off in the morning. I hope that it works. I found a few online reviews that were positive, so I am excited to try it.

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Two and a half years ago I got into weekly planning. I needed to get better at time management and I wanted to have a way to see goals and track my progress, so I found a planner that was organized around breaking jobs down and getting them done. The first year using it was a mess. Like with meditation, there was a steep learning curve and I stumbled a lot at the beginning. Last year was better and this year has been pretty good. At first I was writing down everything I thought I could get done in a week, but I’ve transitioned to setting 3 or 4 big goals for the week (that often have multi-step parts).

I then set goals for everyday. I write it all out in a physical planner, but since I don’t like to carry a planner around with me, I’ve also been keeping, or trying to keep, a digital to-do list. But, that’s difficult, too, because I’m easily distracted and electronic devices are the biggest distraction of them all. I don’t like to carry around a planner, but I do carry around a calendar in my everything notebook, so I’ve started copying the to-do list there. I set goals for every day there and I check things off my digital checklist every night.

I’ve started to realize how complicated this all is and I have been thinking about how to cut down on some of it. I am Spring Cleaning, after all.

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Two at a Time

I like to knit socks two at a time. It sounds crazy. I know. But, it has its benefits. I can’t lose the pattern between sock 1 and sock 2. I don’t have to remember if I added a row here or there on sock 1 when I’m making sock 2. I don’t have to wait for a second sock to wear my first sock. It takes a little getting used to and you have to spend some time on set up, but once you get going its not any harder than knitting socks one at a time.

Here’s a tutorial, if you are interested in the technique.

So, two weeks ago when I talked about knitting I mentioned that I had started a pair of mitts last year. After writing that post, I dug them out to look into why they had been abandoned. and, it turns out, I put them aside because I was trying to do mitts two-at-a-time but I hadn’t got the setup right.

So, I tried to fix the set up. Then, I tried to fix it again. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it to keep trying and that I would just do them one-at-a-time. Since then, I’ve gotten in at least 20 rounds on each mitt. I’m happy to say that both of them now have thumb holes. It feels very good to have gotten them out and gotten back to knitting a bit. And, I couldn’t have picked a better time to pick them back up. There’s playoffs basketball and hockey and baseball on, so there’s plenty of excuses to sit and knit.

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I used to knit about twelve projects a year. I liked knitted socks and shawls. Occasionally I’d toss in a hat or a pair of gloves, maybe a scarf. But, for the past three years or so first the number of projects I finished went down and then the number of projects I started went down. Last year I finished two things (a pussy hat in time for the Women’s march and a shawl that I started in late 2015) and I think I started three things (the pussy hat, a pair of mitts, and a cowl made on massive needles with massive yarn).

I miss knitting.

There is something to be said for a little social time that involves crafting. I no longer have a knitting group and maybe that is why I now make fewer projects. But, even just unwinding at the end of the day, listening to a chapter of an audiobook, getting in a few rows by yourself can be nice. Or, watching an episode of something and getting in a few rows. I dug one of the projects I started last year out and I put it by the chair I sit in when I watch TV with my family. Perhaps I can get back into it.

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