Mojo Monday Jan 22: Assessing UFOs


This was the scariest part to do, so I decided to tackle it first and get it out of the way.

How many UFOs did I really have lurking, waiting to pounce on me with guilt? And which ones was I committed to finishing, and what would I do with the ones I was ready to pass along?

I dug through my shelves to find every single UFO I could. I'm generally very well organized but even so there were a handful that had gotten stashed in various places and I had completely forgotten about them. 

So, here's my list. I've used "code" names for some of the items below to remove personal identifiers. The parentheses indicate approximately how old the UFO is. "New" means it was created within the last month. I then indicate the stage it's in, mostly listing the next action that needs to be taken. If I've made specific decisions already about what I'm going to do with it, that's listed. If you just see the word "decision," that means I still need to decide what I'm going to do with it--if I want to finish it, re-stash it, trash it, donate it, and so on. For most of those, that means I have to dig into the project itself to see where I left things, how close I was to finishing, how usable what remains is, and so forth. I'll do that next.

By the way, for the purpose of this list, my UFOs aren't only those projects I've already started by virtue of actually cutting into fabric. I also have a bunch of labeled bins on my shelves with collections of fabric and patterns or notes about ideas. They were "in thinking mode," so to speak. Normally I don't count those as actual UFOs but in this case, I want to get anything off my shelf that's not going to actually get done, so they've made this list.

Sorting my UFOs....

Sorting my UFOs....

  1. Lo-Volume Quilt (new): Still piecing. Will finish in time to gift it in February.
  2. Baby Quilt #1 (new): Borders. Finish by March 1.
  3. Shabby Chic Jelly Roll Race (new): Decide about borders. May send out for quilting.
  4. Baby Quilt #2 (6 mos): Quilt. Finish by March 1.
  5. Autumn Jelly Roll Race (new): Decide about borders. May send out for quilting.
  6. Child Pillow Case (6 mos): Construct. Finish by March 1.
  7. Hand-dyed art quilt--flames (3 yrs): Quilting. Will most likely ditch this. It was experimental and I don't feel a pull towards finishing it.
  8. "Vickie's Peacock" (3 yrs at least): Quilting. Will finish eventually--no date set.
  9. Stonehenge Mariner's Compass (3 yrs): Quilting. Had totally forgotten this one and I really like it! Will finish eventually--no date set. May send out for quilting.
  10. Hand-dyed art quilt--circles (2 yrs): Decision: to quilt or embroider?
  11. African Star String Quilt (3 yrs): Quilting. Will finish, no date set. May send out for quilting.
  12. Jelly Roll Sampler (3 yrs): Quilting. Will send out for quilting this spring.
  13. Taupe Guild BOM (3 yrs): Quilting. Will send out for quilting this spring.
  14. Annie Travel Bag (2 yrs): Construction. Will finish this spring if it kills me.
  15. Guild Paper-Pieced BOM (5 yrs?): Decision--continue piecing or just do something with blocks I already have?
  16. Charlotte's Mystery 2015 (3 yrs): Had totally forgotten I'd ever started this one. It was buried under other bins. Decision--finish or re-stash?
  17. Crazy Quilt (in progress): Embroidery and beadwork. Will continue working on it.
  18. Halloween Embroidery BOM (in progress): Will continue working on it.
  19. Assorted Art Quilts: I lumped several bins into one UFO as none of them were actually started. They're in "idea" stage. I will most likely just re-stash everything. If the idea pulls at me enough I can find the fabrics again later.
  20. Pillowcase for DD (4 yrs): Construction. Will most likely re-stash and donate fabrics.
  21. Vicki's Rose (2 yrs): Construction. This was a UFO from a woman in our guild who passed away. I took it when one of her friends was offering her kits and UFOs to guild members. Realistically-speaking, I doubt I'd ever actually get to making it so I will pass it along again.
  22. Graduation quilt (4 yrs): Construction. Will re-stash and ditch the couple of blocks that got made (they're nothing usable by anyone else as I was experimenting with Fibonacci sequences and messed something else--hence the UFO status). The giftee graduated several years ago so this will never happen. 
  23. 2015 Craftsy BOM (3 yrs): Decision. Didn't really love the colorway anyway. Will likely restash it. 
  24. Felted Wool Project (4 yrs): Decision. Not sure it's my style anymore.
  25. Katerina Project (6+ years): Piecing. This UFO is the sole survivor of many "UFO purges." I designed it on EQ and still love the fabrics and love the design, but messed something up somewhere as the pieced borders really don't fit the center. So I need to do some serious problem solving. So this dang thing WILL get finished. I just don't know when.
  26. Embroidery applique (1 year): Embroidery. This was a quick little kit thing I bought and put together at a retreat with the intention of getting it embroidered before Thanksgiving that year. Didn't happen. I still like it, though, so it's staying on my list. 
  27. Tote and Purse bin: This isn't really a UFO, but it's a bin where I'd stored a bunch of fabrics and patterns together. I think I'd rather re-stash the fabric so it's more likely to get used, regardless of whether I make the purse pattern or not.
  28. Cubby in cutting table: Another collection of fabrics and patterns that need to be re-stashed. So #26 and #27 are more organizational notes to myself than UFOs.

So, if you're following along, that basically gives me four projects I want to try to finish in January and February.

  • Low-volume quilt
  • Baby Quilt #1
  • Baby Quilt #2
  • Pillowcase

Very do-able. 

This week I will:

  1. Re-stash everything I've deemed re-stashable. 
  2. Finish piecing the top of the low-volume quilt
  3. Ditch anything I'm not finishing and isn't donate-able.
  4. Decide where to donate what can be donated.

Getting My Quilty Life Organized


Okay, I’m starting to feel like my quilty mojo is coming back. I have a boatload of ideas of things I’d like to do, primarily to use up my stash. Then I have a list of UFOs I know I need to complete. So I’m trying to think through some “guidelines” to set up for myself that will allow me to make progress on the things I want to finish while also have all the fun of starting new projects. Here are some realities I’m dealing with: 

1. I still don’t have a good sense of how much time I’ll have in my life. We have some pretty significant changes happening at work and I won’t know for a few months how it’s going to shake out. I have some travel coming up, but it’s not currently extensive. 


2. I am BORED BORED BORED BORED with my stash. I think I’ve talked about this before. At the moment, at least 95% of my fabrics have been staring at me for at least 8 years, some far longer than that. If they haven’t inspired me so far, they won’t.  

3. My brain is tired. I’ve been going for a couple of years on full mental tilt, so frankly, I just don’t want to have to think about what I’m sewing. So, although I’ve loved doing art quilts and designing my own stuff in the past, right now that just feels too hard and not fun. 

I do know, however, that I tend to be more productive when I have a plan. Not a firm plan, and no rules that will just start feeling like more obligations like “I’m going to sew for 15 minutes a day” or “I’m not going to start any new projects until I have X UFOs done” or “I’m not going to buy any more fabric until I use up X yardage.” Frankly, I’m tired of rules and deadlines and obligations. This girl just wanna have fun.  

I also know that I’m more productive when I’m blogging and/or podcasting my goals. Hence, this blog post. So, here we go....

Plan Component A: Quilt from my stash...mostly.  


Several of the new projects I’ve been looking at are scrappy, fast patterns using 2 1/2” strips. I have a handful of jelly rolls but I also have a boatload of scrap strips from strip exchanges. I had the June Taylor strip-cutting ruler but have never liked it (I inherited it from my mom’s tools), so I just bought myself the Creative Grids Stripology ruler. Same idea, but a stiffer plastic and a ton of really helpful markings. I plan on stripping some of my boring ol’ yardage and making a few scrap tops. 

I’m also seriously considering doing Charlotte Hawkes’ mystery scrap quilt again this year. I’ve not done one since the first one but I love her designs and it may be time for me to tackle another one.  

All that being said, I’m not setting myself any rules on how much fabric has to go out before more can come in. I just want to start turning over my stash. 


Plan Component B: Loosely track outgoing and incoming stash. 

Although I won’t have rules about it, I do want to try to have the balance be on the “out” side. So I will try to start tracking. I generally just do this by eyeballing how big my stacks of the various colors are, but it might be fun to pay attention to actual numbers. 

Plan Component C: Refresh the stash. 

So, yes, part of my plan is actually buying new fabric, and not necessarily just for an individual project. That’s most of what I’ve been doing lately—when I’ve bought fabric at all. It tends to get used immediately and I’m still left with the same old stuff whining at me from my shelves. I’ve subscribed to a couple of quilty subscription boxes to test them out. Both of them have fabric involved, so I can start adding some new-fabric-with-no-immediate plan to refresh my vision. Maybe some of the old fabric will suddenly start looking exciting again when put side-by-side with new. 

On the freebie side, I’ll be able to go to my guild retreat in May, I think, and they’ve started doing a fabric-swap game. People bring fabric and names are drawn and you choose fabric from what’s been donated...or something like that. However it works, it’ll be a way for me to swap some of my old boring fabric for new, interesting fabric. 

Plan Component D: Assess my UFOs.


I’ve done entire podcast episodes on this, so I won’t go into detail now. Suffice it to say I’ve totally lost track of how many UFOs I actually have at the moment. Our guild is doing a couple of different UFO challenges, so it’s time for me to pull every UFO off my shelf, determine which ones I’m actually going to finish and which need to either be trashed or donated (depending on what the stopper was), and then how the finishing process will happen with those that make the cut.  

Plan Component E: Finish at least a couple of UFOs, if not more. (See above. I have to do the assessment first to really know what “E” is going to look like.)

Plan Component F: Write a blog post once a week to keep me on track. 

I am definitely more productive when I’m podcasting and blogging about quilting regularly. After all, I need something interesting to talk about! So each week I’ll do a blog post on what I’ve done that week to further any of the above goals. What should I call it...Mojo Monday? That has a ring to it...

One thing I’m doing right now—while I’m still away on a work trip (I’m writing this from a hotel during a break)—is reading the “Quilt Your Stash” series of blog posts on A Quilting Life blog. She posted them in 2016, but they’re still great reads! 

I get back into town tomorrow night, and then I leave for a long weekend vacation on Thursday, so none of this will start until next week. Meanwhile, I’m watching YouTube videos and downloading Craftsy pattern freebies (and I already marked a lot of jelly roll patterns in my books at home). Chomping at the bit! 

It's Thursday, but It's Wardrobe Wednesday

I got my StitchFix today! Woo! I decided for kicks n' giggles to try doing a video unboxing and try-on, like I see all over YouTube. I'm not making this public on YouTube--don't need the trolls. So hopefully keeping it unlisted there will keep the audience limited to those who are reading this blog. 

Let me know whether you like the video version better than photos and descriptions! 


Here's the list of clothes that I just demo'd:

Leo & Nicole Havana Front Buckle Pullover (the first gray sweater)

Warp & Weft Shealynn Straight Leg Jean

Persie Asymmetrical Hem Pullover (green)

Poppi Textured Pullover (cream-colored really, really soft sweater that I can't stop touching)

Biskra Wool Blend Coat

Thanks again, Kathryn!

Want to check StitchFix out for yourself? Here's my referral link!

Look, Ma: No Boot!

Just got my stitches and most of the rest of the bandages off today. And I am thrilled, elated, and in all other ways so pleased to report that I'm already walking more easily than I ever was after the last surgery. Woo hoo!

I've now been able to expand my shoe wardrobe by a couple more pairs. Still can't wear all of my shoes because most of them will still rub uncomfortably against the surgery incision. That won't fully heal for another few weeks. 

I've been released from all restrictions--I just have to "let Toe be my guide," as it were. I'm already working on retraining my body not to walk with a limp. It's partially still due to residual toe stiffness and pain, but a lot of it is now a year's worth of muscle memory. 

You shouldn't be getting too many more foot-related posts at this point. I think we're well on the way to a recovery!

Food Friday: Terra’s Kitchen (1st Box)

As I mentioned in passing in a previous post, I’m trying out Terra’s Kitchen meal delivery service to see if it helps us eat healthier more regularly. I do great at meal planning and grocery shopping. Where I have difficulty is getting things prepped in advance as my weekend runs away from me, which means I often end up not being able to make the meals I planned as the week starts rolling. Which then, in turn, means I can end up tossing a lot of food that’s gone bad before I can get to it. When I started doing some research and some math (comparing the cost of TK versus what I spend on groceries), I decided it would be worth a try.

Terra’s Kitchen seemed the best option of all the options out there to get healthy meal options that my husband (a relatively picky eater) would still enjoy. I chose to have my box delivered on Fridays because I do my grocery shopping on Saturday—that way I could do my meal-planning around my TK delivery and get groceries for whatever was missing.


I got my first delivery yesterday, and was really impressed right off the bat that FedEx got through despite the weather! The box got to my house around 10a, so I was able to try it out immediately for lunch (stay tuned).

One of the differences between TK and other meal subscription services is the box. Most come in regular boxes with chemical ice packs inside that you have to then recycle, in addition to all the boxes and bags and such that the meal parts come in.

TK, instead, uses a little mini-refrigerator case. Although the meal components still come in plastic containers, those are recyclable. The ce packs in TK get sent back with the refrigerator case—the case and packs all get reused as much as possible. 

The box is an impressive feat of design! These are latches on the front. You break the white wrap-around tabs and then pull up the latch to open the box top. 


Here’s the refrigerator box inside. The box flaps fold back and attach to a little magnet on the sides of the box so they stay out of your way while you’re unloading the case. Genius! 



The top of the refrigerator box lifts off to reveal the drawers with the food inside. Everything is pre-sorted and, in many cases, pre-chopped. When it comes time to make dinner, it’s mostly a matter of opening a container and adding it into the pot or pan. 

Don’t get me wrong—I love cooking...when I have time to cook. But the idea of being able to have a home-cooked, hot dinner on a weeknight and only having to take about 15-20 minutes to get it ready? Golden.


The recipe cards are on a good card stock and three-hole punched so you can put them in a binder. That means the recipes are mine forever, even if I stop doing TK. The instructions (on the back of what’s shown here) are clear, the layout is great and easy to follow, and it includes a list of the other ingredients you’ll need in addition to what was sent. These other ingredients are pretty much limited to water, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 


The ingredient packages are all coded with numbers that let you know which recipe they’re for. his made it really easy to check to make sure I’d gotten all the ingredients, plus I stored them in my fridge and pantry grouped by recipe so it’s an easy grab when it comes time to make them. 

The pre-minced garlic and ginger are handy ut a little smelly in my fridge. 

It’s clear all their recipes are prepackaged at the warehouse as I had two recipes that had repeat ingredients but got two different packages, each with the same ingredient in the amount for that recipe. Again, that’s great for convenience when I go to make it, but I did wince at the extra plastic containers involved. The containers are all recyclable, so there is that.


This first time out, I got a discount on the box, so I decided to go ahead and add a couple of things. They have several other categories from which you can add on: lunches, desserts, snacks, beverages, and then extra proteins or sides. I went the lunch route, and bought soup (they come in sets of two bottles of one flavor), and a salad.  

TK carries the Zupa Organic Superfood Soup, and I got the Carrot Coconut Lime. I also got the Apple Walnut Chicken Salad, and ate that for lunch today. In addition to the apples, walnuts, and chicken, the salad also had shredded carrots and blue cheese. The dressing was a light balsamic vinaigrette. It was quite tasty, and the serving size was perfect. I do salads with chicken breasts all the time but I tend to just dump the other stuff in without measuring—goat cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, whatever crunchy thing I put over the top. That can lead to trouble in WW Points World. This way, everything is pre-measured for me, leaving a lot less up to my whim at the moment. I probably won’t order the lunch stuff regularly because I can definitely do it more cheaply, but it’s nice knowing it’s there if I know I’m going to have a super-busy week. For any of you who routinely eat lunches out at work or whatever, though, I’d say TK’s prices would be quite comparable, and it’s a lot healthier.


And here's our first official Terra's Kitchen meal! I wanted to use the tilapia right away--I don't like having fish sitting in my fridge for too long. My plating leaves a little to be desired--no restaurant-worthy aestethics here, but it was tasty.

When I make this recipe again--and it was good enough that I will--I'll cut the salt back a little bit in the orzo. Other than that, I absolutely loved it. My husband really liked the fish but he's not a fan of pasta so the orzo didn't do much for him. He also doesn't like whole cooked tomatoes, but I love them. He ate some of the orzo and all the asparagus (the one part he did like of the side), and then I have to admit to finishing off his orzo and tomatoes. Yums. I had to tell him that I hadn't realized until I got the shipment that one of our other meals this week has a very similar orzo-tomato based side, so I'll probably be getting a little extra to eat that night too. I guess I was in an orzo mood the day I made my selections.

I had two quibbles with this first TK cooking experience. First, although they expect you to have olive oil in your pantry, they don't require you to have butter in your fridge. They sent me two little pats, each wrapped in a little foil package. I couldn't figure out any possible reason that they would have for not saying, "We expect you to own butter." Butter is probably more omnipresent than olive oil is, and it wasn't a special organic butter or anything. Odd. The second quibble was with the recipe itself: it tells you to cut the lemon in half and THEN zest and juice it. I didn't read ahead or I'd have zested it first, then cut it in half for the rest of the process. Not sure why they decided to do it that way because it's definitely not SOP. Other than those two little things, I can see why this would be a handy way to do things for very busy people or people just starting out. The portions of herbs and pice you needed are included, so no more buying a whole bottle of spices or a big bunch of herbs for the few sprinkles you use for that one particular recipe. (When it comes to summer, I have an herb garden, but I don't have a good window to move it inside during the rest of the year.)

I tried one of the Zupa soups for lunch to day. A big "nope" on that one. A bit too spicy and strangely sour. I won't bother with those again.

I'll post pics of my other two TK meals later this week on Instagram. So far, I like it, but my jury is still out on whether a meal subscription service is right for us. 

(Later edit: I wrote most of this on Friday, which is why it's entitled Food Friday. I didn't get it finished until Saturday so now it's misnamed, but I'm not going to sweat that!)

Living Somewhere Between Jack’s House and Giving a Mouse a Cookie

No pictures—just a story.

PROLOGUE: We gave my daughter my old car when she went away to college (and yep, I got the new one). Fast forward 6 years. Her car is now 13 years old, has umpteen thousand miles on it, and can be forgiven for the fact that its heater gave out this year.

When I went in for foot surgery last week, I suggested to my daughter that she borrow my car for the period I would be laid up so she could have some heat. She was thrilled.

She called two days after taking my car. It had developed an alarmingly large—and getting alarmingly larger—windshield crack. I suspect the cold. These things happen.

She brought it home, parked it in our garage, and took her car back.

I arranged for a windshield replacement through our insurance company. Because of the holidays, I couldn’t get it scheduled until after my husband would already be back at work. “Don’t worry, it’s simple,” said my husband, who had his windshield replaced recently. “They come and do it in your driveway, it takes about an hour; you probably won’t even have to talk to the guy.” “That’s perfect,” I replied, as I was sitting on the couch with my foot propped up and an ice bag on my ankle. 

Wait for it. 

I get a notice that the windshield guy would be at my house yesterday sometime between 7:30a and noon. I get myself all presentable by 7:30 just in case he does have to talk to me. I stay downstairs on the couch doing some reading because the stairs take me awhile these days and I didn’t want to be ensconced in my upstairs office working on my dissertation until I knew everything was all set.

At 10a, I get a call from the manager that the service person had gotten delayed because of the blizzard starting to move in. “He’ll be there around noon,” I was told. Okay, no worries, I thought: At least I’ll be able to get some work done on my dissertation. I hobbled slowly up the stairs to my computer. Fortunately, the company provides a tracking map so I could pay attention to how close he was getting to the house.

When I could see that he was five minutes away, I hobbled downstairs. Once I greeted him, I took my place on the couch even though he’d assured me he wouldn’t need me until he finished in about an hour.

Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. Mr. Windshield Guy sheepishly informed me that he somehow managed to break something—just a tiny little thing that he accidentally hit with one of his tools while removing the windshield. I don’t even know what said tiny little thing does. It’s a small wire-bracket kind of thing that’s less than an inch long, but somehow he nicked it. And apparently it was important. 

Now my car has to go to a body shop. And it has no windshield in it. So it has to be towed.

Mr. Windshield assured me that his company would take care of everything, including getting me a rental car. Since Mr. Windshield said it could be a few days before I get my car back, I agreed. However, I said, I really shouldn’t be leaving the house with my foot. Could they bring me a car? This led to some back and forth between Mr. Windshield, his manager, and the rental company, while I went back in to elevate my foot again. 

No go on me not leaving. About 45 minutes later, Enterprise sent someone to come pick me up to get my rental car.

I stuff my swollen, sore, bandaged foot into the only pair of lace-up sort-of-winter-footwear I can fit into right now (see a later blog post) and limp my way through the blowing snow drifts and an increasingly slick driveway to climb into the rental van—with a driver who had pulled up too close to the drifts on the passenger side so I was up to my ankles in snow getting in the car. Praying this only pair of shoes I can currently wear was sufficiently waterproof to protect my bandages, I maneuvered myself into the van. Because Mr. Windshield’s truck was in the way, Mr. Enterprise couldn’t use our turnaround so he began to back down our very long, somewhat hilly, somewhat curvy, and fairly icy driveway. I closed my eyes and held my breath because I knew for sure what was going to happen next.

Yep. He got stuck halfway down.

Mr. Enterprise hoofed it back up to the garage to borrow one of our shovels, and Mr. Windshield (probably thrilled to have anything to do at this point) came to help while I sat, Princess-Like, in the front passenger seat feeling completely useless.

Fortunately, about 10 minutes later they managed to get the van un-stuck and Mr. Enterprise slowly made it back out of the rest of our driveway and we made our way to the rental agency without further incident.

The rental agent asked if I had any preferences about cars. “Just something that can handle the snow,” I responded, watching the blizzard get thicker and thicker out the windows. The agent chuckled, but not in a this-is-going-to-be-good-news-for-me way. Apparently the airport had just cancelled the majority of flights so rental cars were suddenly flying off the lot. 

Paperwork done, I’m escorted out to find my rental car in the parking lot.

It’s a roller skate. 

I haven’t always driven SUVs, but even the Renault Encore I drove in college was bigger than this thing. 

Finding the windshield wiper, heat, and defroster controls first, and turning everything up to full blast, I proceed to pull out of the driveway and up the slightly inclined street to the nearest light. Not a good start—Roller Skate has almost no traction and all the pick-up of an elderly turtle. I barely made it up the street and then slid my way around the corner. At least the trip home mostly involves straight roads.

I come around the pile of snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac to see Mr. Windshield still parked in my driveway. As I slowly come around the circle, I’m looking at our long, uphill driveway that I am 75% certain Roller Skate can’t manage. I gave brief consideration to parking in the cul-de-sac and hiking up the driveway regardless of my foot, but decided—with the way my day was going—that the snow plow would probably take Roller Skate with it on its next pass. I held my breath and gunned it.

Roller Skate slowly shimmied its way to the top of the driveway, so rather than doing the maneuvering necessary to get around the Windshield truck and parking neatly, I let Roller Skate do his thing and slide sideways into the turnaround. “I’m so done!” I declared out loud, decisively turning the car off, grabbing my purse, and then (in contrast) slowly, gingerly, climbing ever-so-carefully out of the driver’s seat.

I had a brief chat with Mr. Windshield about the fact that, given the storm, it could be awhile before we saw the tow truck, then limped my way into the house.

If feet could swear, Surgery Foot would be cussing me out but good.

Mr. Windshield finally got permission from his manager to go home around 4:30 even though the tow hadn’t arrived. The tow truck finally got to our house around 6:30. They sent a flatbed. I had just been on the phone trying to call the whole thing off because now it was dark, the snow was a lot worse, and I was really pretty sure any tow truck trying to make it up our driveway would just get stuck. While I was on the phone, though, I saw the taillights of the flatbed as it was slowly backing up our driveway. And sure enough, he started spinning out when he got near the garage where the driveway gets really slick. 

In slippers and surgery boot, I went outside to stand in the garage while the tow truck guy and I conversed briefly about his best options. I’m also now worriedly watching the street for my husband who was supposed to be getting home from work right about then—the major jockeying of cars that was going to need to happen! Fortunately, Tow Truck successfully got himself into position to move my car onto the flatbed and was able to pull back out of the driveway before I saw any sign of my husband. Unfortunately but also fortunately, the snow made my husband’s commute painfully slow for him (a 40 minute drive took almost 2 hours) so by the time he did make it home the garage was ready for him to pull right in. 

It was only supposed to take an hour. And not involve me. And now my car is in a body shop for who knows how long, I’m supposed to drive a Roller Skate that stinks in the snow during a weekend when we get a blizzard, and at some point we’ll have to do the whole car jockeying thing again when I’m able to go get my car back and drop off the rental. Bully. 

I’m pleased to say that I apparently did all the right things yesterday to care for my foot after I was finally able to get back on the couch. Elevation, ice, drugs. For all it hurt like the dickens yesterday, it seems to be doing well today. But my daughter is still driving a car with no heat. She may be pushing up her plans for buying a new one!

Fickle, Frugal, or Factious? Switching Horses on Book Clubs

As I've been putting together my 2018 (first quarter) bullet journal, listing out my monthly/bimonthly expenses in subscription boxes gave me the opportunity to evaluate. I love getting subscription boxes, but were there any I wasn't enjoying as much? Should I do a little more research in some categories?

I've decided that I liked my PageHabit subscription better in theory than in practice. I've gotten three boxes and would've rated all the books I got three stars (out of five) or lower. I wasn't raving about any of them. The author's notes were interesting or not interesting depending on the author and, frankly, some authors have atrocious handwriting and their notes were extraordinarily difficult to read. I also didn't dig the little gifties that come in the box. They weren't at all related to the books and just felt like someone threw them in because they felt they needed to. I began to feel like I was paying for things I wasn't actually getting much out of.

I'd also gone through my Kindle to find all the fiction books I've bought over the last few months that I hadn't gotten to read yet, and I've got quite a list. I debated cancelling a book subscription altogether.

On the other hand, I still like being exposed to authors and books I might not normally have read, and I have really enjoyed having a physical book again. It gives me a different feeling to sit in an armchair with tea and an actual book in my hand than it does to have my Kindle. (Don't get me wrong--the vast majority of my books are still Kindle as I like that a lot better for reading in bed and traveling.)

So I did a little more research.

I've now cancelled my PageHabit subscription and have swapped it out for the less expensive and solely-book-focused Book of the Month club

Book of the Month Club sends you an email with five options, and you choose which one you want sent each month. If you don't want any of them, you can skip a month. You can add on another book for only $9.99, and for the add-ons you can either choose from the options for that month or selections from previous months. I like the flexibility on this one, and I love that I'm not paying for useless gifties. I don't need any more bookmarks, thank you very much!

They give you a decent amount of information on each of the five options every month: a brief essay about why the curator chose that book, a synopsis of the book, and a few paragraphs from the first chapter so you can get a sense of the writing style. They also save the books you've gotten to your "bookshelf," and you can do ratings and reviews. I don't see where I can see anyone else's ratings and reviews, but this would be a helpful way to keep track of what I've already gotten if I stick with the book club for awhile and have already sent books on to other homes after I've read them. I do GoodReads but it will be nice if I'm looking for what selections to make for future boxes.

My January box pick is As Bright As Heaven, as it falls into my current-favorite historical fiction category, and it's an exclusive early release for BOM Club subscribers. (It's not available until February everywhere else.) I chose Little Fires Everywhere from a previous month as my add-on--since it's my first month, I get one month free so all I'm paying this month is the $9.99 add-on cost. I've seen Little Fires Everywhere highly reviewed, so I bit. I should get them in a week or so, I'd think. Just enough time to finish the PageHabit book I'm still reading.

BOM can keep its prices low because there are no little gifties included in the box. It's just books. I'm good with that. I don't really need any more tschoske. 

So--I'll keep you posted on how I feel about this one after a couple of months! Do any of you have a book subscription club? Which one? Do you like it? Why or why not? What's your favorite part of having a book subscription?

Have you read either of these books? No spoilers, please!


Tedious Tuesday

I’m bored again, so I may as well write a blog post and make all my readers as bored as I am.


It is a cold, blustery day outside today. From my nest on the couch I can’t easily see outside any windows (I’m at the wrong angle) but I can hear the wind a-blowing. My Accuweather app tells me it’s 19 degrees but feels like -8 (F). I can believe it, based on what I’m hearing. It’s been a good week to be confined indoors next to my fireplace.

Yep, still on the couch. However, I’m pleased to report that in another four hours I see my surgeon again. He’ll likely change my bandages, which based on my “dry run” at this surgery last summer, means I’ll have a slightly less bulky foot for the next week. The total volume of bandage decreases with each visit. I may also get moved to the next stage of recovery, in which I still have to keep it elevated as much as possible but don’t have to elevate at night anymore (which is the best change for me!)  and can walk around the house more. So wish me luck.

I’ll still be mostly trapped indoors, mostly because there’s several inches of snow outside and my foot won’t fit in any boots.  This creates one big issue: My husband and I had a conversation this morning about what to do about the dogs during the day. He’s been home with me all week and, although he’d normally be back at work today, he took the day off so he could drive me to my doctor appointment. I actually drove myself last time I had this surgery but I’m not turning down his offer! In any case, he will have to go back to the office starting tomorrow. Auggie isn’t quite old enough yet to comfortably “hold it” all day, and I can’t walk outside in the snow. DH works a 30-minute commute away, longer if there’s snow on the roads, so he can’t really run home mid-day to let the dogs out. We’re working on creative problem-solving.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to the following week when I get stitches removed and almost immediately have a work trip, I’ve been pondering the whole “foot doesn’t fit in boots” issue. Even though I’ll be pretty much bandage-free at that point, my foot will still be swollen for several weeks. None of my current cold-weather footwear has room for that. Nor will I really have enough time for serious boot-shopping between having stitches removed and getting on that plane. Enter Trunk Club. 

I did Trunk Club last year for three or four shipments but was pretty unenthusiastic about the results. I kept getting sent things I’d already said I didn’t like, and rarely felt like I was really listened to, despite being able to have a lot more conversation with the stylist than I do with StitchFix. Somehow, only communicating once per box with StitchFix, I got a whole lot more I really liked and worked for me than I ever did with Trunk Club, even though I could have entire conversations with the TC stylists. 


But, when one is trapped in one’s house, one starts looking at “How can I try on a few different pairs of shoes without having to walk the malls?” I signed back into my latent TC account and tried again. I have a different stylist this time, but had a similar experience right off the bat. Explaining my situation and exactly what types of qualities I need in a boot (ankle height, no heel, zippers or ties—no slip-ons, etc.), she sent me the email/app post with my trunk to review. The first pair of boots in there was a knee-high riding boot. Umm, didn’t I say I needed exactly the opposite of that? There were another couple of pairs of booties but they were slip-ons. I can’t bend my toes enough for awhile to be able to do that—I really need lace-up or zippers or something so I can just slide my foot in almost sideways. Which I had already told her. Only one pair of booties looked like they might work—the ones pictured here. I have high hopes for them because they’re also pretty dang cute.   

Yeah, they’re pricey. But if they work, it’s worth it to me. Besides, they’re adorbs. I’d wear them a lot. They’re not exactly snow boots for plowing through drifts, but for walking on shoveled sidewalks and on slushy surfaces (what I’ll be doing when I travel) they’d be fine. What I mostly like is that they’re laced all the way down to the toe, so presumably I’ll be able to keep the left one as wide as I need now, but still be able to wear it well after my foot has heeled. And by the way, the folded top can also be worn unfolded, so it covers my whole ankle area if I need. I love that I can wear this one either way—it becomes much more versatile that way. 

The nice thing about Trunk Club is that you do get to review the Trunk before it gets sent, and remove items you don’t want. All the boots except the ones above got ditched, plus a couple of other things she’d added in that I don’t need. I had also mentioned that I don’t have a hat, scarf, or gloves to match the winter coat I’d bought for myself at a big sale (paid $20 for it!) at the beginning of the season. It’s a bright emerald green puffer jacket—the warmest but lightest winter coat I’ve ever worn, and slightly more stylish than my parka. The parka is for sledding. I wear the puffer jacket for everything else, and I’ll be wearing it on this work trip. So, in the pic, you’ll see at the bottom a peek at some of the other options she’s sending—a couple of pairs of gloves, a couple of knit caps, and a couple of scarves. She also threw a couple of sweaters and a cardigan, plus a pair of leggings, in the initial trunk. I’d removed a bunch of things from the review trunk as they were similar to stuff I already owned or really don’t need right now. In the trunk I’ll be getting, she replaced those with some other items that do actually have some possibilities. So we’ll see.

I imagine I’ll be getting the trunk towards the end of this week. I get five days to try things before sending it back. I never took all five days before because it takes me all of about 30 seconds to try something on and know if it’s going to work or not. This time, however, I may have to time the boots try-on for after my stitches are removed, so the 5 days will be helpful. 

We’ll see. I’m still not enthusiastic about Trunk Club because I really had given her enough information that, if she’d paid attention to it, several of the items wouldn’t have been in there. I often felt like TC stylists are given certain things they’re supposed to include in all the trunks regardless of client’s wishes—“Here’s the top we need you to push this week”—or something. But they are handy for situations like this. I’ll keep you posted. 

Quilty Resolutions for 2018–An Explanation


So, some of my long-time readers/listeners may be wondering: What happened to Sandy’s annual Quilty Resolutions challenge? For those of you who are new (are there any?), I’m big on goal-setting in my own life and, ever since I started my podcast so many years ago now (2010, if I recall), I did an annual Quilty Resolutions challenge and giveaway in which I’d give some criteria and invite everyone to set their goals based on that criteria, and then I’d draw a random name and do a giveaway.  I also know I’d made some noise earlier in December about putting out a podcast episode, and I’d thought it would probably be my annual resolutions challenge.

With apologies, that just all feels a bit beyond me right now.  

2017 has been a heck of a year for me and has sort of wiped me out. To be honest, I’m a bit existentially tired. Right now, my own goals for 2018 are simple: heal my foot, graduate, and get some semblance of a personal life back. As far as a quilting goal goes, I just want to actually get back on my sewing machine in some sort of a regular basis, but what that means really remains to be seen. I have a lot of variables in my life over the next several months and the only thing I can do is just take it one week, sometimes even just one day, at a time. 

Later today I’ll be setting up the next blank notebook in my bullet journal series to take me through the first quarter of 2018. Normally, I start the new year all gung-ho with mindmaps and areas of focus and very concrete things I want to accomplish. I’ve gotten very good at SMART goals and setting up action plans and, most of the time, do pretty well at achieving what I set out to do. This year, right now, I’m feeling a bit on hold. I’ve taken a couple of stabs at doing mindmaps for 2018 this week, but I’m finding that there’s a voice in my head saying, “Just wait. Give yourself some space.” I was focused for so long on school that, now that it’s drawing to a close, I’m having difficulty focusing on what might be next. So I’m waiting. And giving myself space.

I do have a word in mind for 2018, though. This year, the word “Purpose” has been stuck in my head. I’m still pondering why that word might be there. I haven’t fully sussed it out yet, but I’m pondering while I have one foot propped up with an ice pack and can’t go anywhere anyway. 

I am curious, though—what goals do you have? What words are you focusing on? No challenges or giveaways...just conversation.  

I succumbed again...


So laying on a couch with not much to do can get you in trouble with Internet shopping. I wasn’t actually shopping. I was thinking about quilting and how I could get myself back into it in a way that would be workable with my usual travel schedule. I recalled seeing a subscription box that was a project every month so I went searching. I didn’t run across that box again, although I did remember that when I looked at it last time, I had doubts that I would actually want to make several of their projects. In today’s search, however, I ran across Cotton Cuts. I explored its several options—it’s a bit more customizable than many of the quilty boxes and did focus almost exclusively on fabric rather than notions. That one seems like a great option if you’re looking to build your stash, by the way. 

However, what intrigued me most is their Puzzle Quilt option. With that option, you choose your colorway (and they have a bunch), and the size of finished quilt you want to make (there are two size options), and then you get pre-cut kits for each month’s part of the puzzle. It’s basically a mystery quilt without any of the cutting. Sold! The picture on this post is five of the twelve possible colorways you can choose, although a couple of them are already sold out. I chose the Portofino right at the top, listed as Low Inventory—which means it also is getting close to being sold out. I love the color and print combination. The other colorways cover everything from modern to traditional, including Milan which is for you all-solid-fans out there. I’m doing the smaller version of the quilt to try to keep it more manageable time-wise.

It says that each month can be accomplished in 2-4 hours. Surely I can find 2-4 hours each month. 

Famous last words. 

I think the first shipment isn’t until February, so it’ll be awhile before you hear from me again on this one.  

Nesting for Recovery


As I said to the doctor when he checked in on me pre-surgery, “I like you and all, but we really have to stop meeting like this.” It’s definitely helpful when you have a doctor with a sense of humor. He’s a good guy. 

Once he got in there, he was able to see what had happened. Suffice it to say that my bones liked the original implant a little too much.  Yes, officially it’s termed “rejection,” but to me it sounds like way too much acceptance—the implant had sunk down into my toe bone, leaving nothing between the two bones in the joint. Gee, no wonder it kinda hurt. I’m one of the less-than-10% of people who have had problems with the new implant materials. Aren’t I just special? 

I’ve now got the traditional titanium implant, the one that’s been in use for the last few years and has a proven track record. This one ain’t getting absorbed by anything. I told my family that the convenient thing is that I’m sure that titanium implant has a unique serial number so when my body is found burned to a crisp in a field the forensic scientists will still be able to identify me by my big toe. These are the kinds of comments my children love me for making, LOL. “Wow, Mom—that went dark fast.” 

And, of course, the anesthesia in the foot wore off around 2:00 a.m., and it was too dang cold (and complicated) for me to get myself out of bed to take more meds, so I had a fitful night’s sleep. However, losing sleep didn’t bother me too much because, hey, what am I going to be doing today, anyway, except stretch out on a couch under blankets?

Anyway, now we’re just into recovery. Fingers crossed.

Recovery Reading:  


I got my PageHabit delivery yesterday—very well timed, thank you, Book Gods. My genre of choice is historical fiction and I was really pleased to see this month’s book is Jennifer Chiaverini’s Enchantress of Numbers. I enjoyed the first couple of books in the Elm Creek Quilt series, although eventually I stopped reading them as they began to sort of fizzle out for me. However, I liked her writing style well enough, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she does with a “weightier” topic. This book is a fictionalized account of Ada Byron King, “Lord Byron’s daughter and the world’s first computer programmer.” King was a brilliant mathemetician who came up with algorithms that would have been computer programs had computers existed yet. Or something like that. I’ll let you know once I’ve read the book. 


One of my clergy-colleagues is the Executive Director of the Susan B. Anthony House here in Rochester, so I’d sent her a message last week explaining that I’d be laid up for awhile and would be enjoying some reading: I asked for her recommendation of her favorite book on Susan B. She recommended Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words, by Lynn Sherr. I bought it paperback rather than Kindle because I suspect it’ll have an image gallery in it, plus it felt like a “keeper book” that I’d like to have on my shelf. 

I’d also decided to re-read the Wrinkle in Time trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle, given that Disney is releasing a movie based on the first one this spring. I’ve already read Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, and am partially through A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I’ve found, sadly, these books haven’t aged well for me. I enjoyed them when I read them as a kid, but I’m struggling with some of the characterizations and dialogue now. The gender roles are particularly hard for me—they’re very enmeshed in their time—even though L’Engle is trying to write strong women characters they’re still somewhat dependent and expected to be homey. In that regard, I’m really looking forward to what Disney does with that because I strongly suspect they’ll bring the gender roles into the modern era. Apparently L’Engle had written two more books in the series at some point after I’d read the original trilogy. I bought both books when I got the trilogy because they were all on sale in Kindle that day, but I’m not sure I’m going to force myself through all five. They’re young adult novels so a pretty fast read, but still—I have a LOT of books I really want to read, so even giving up a few hours to books I’m iffy about and am only reading because I have that annoying need for wholeness and completion...I think I’ll work hard at getting over myself, just finish Planet and move on.


I’m not set up to do any embroidery yet—that may come in the next couple of days. Right now I tend to doze off at random moments and don’t want to do that with needles and scissors in hand. Meanwhile, there’s this face wanting some attention.

Any favorite books you’ve read lately? 

(P.S. I’m writing this blog post using the app on my iPad. The photos are looking funky when I post them, but hopefully it’ll look okay once it’s delivered. I can’t be on my computer right now so I can’t do anything to fix it. I’m sorry if it’s wonked!) 

The Day Has Come (but Plans for the Future)

I’m about two hours away from heading for the outpatient surgical center for the re-do foot surgery. I’m trying to distract myself from not being able to eat or drink anything—even water. I had to cut it off at midnight last night. Consequently, now that it’s mid-morning, I’m a little hungry, very thirsty, and seriously missing my morning coffee.  

I’m also awaiting UPS to bring me my Amazon shipment of a foam mattress pad to make our couch more comfortable for my prone days, a molded cushion to keep my foot elevated more easily than last time, and a cast-cover for the shower so hopefully I won’t have to take 10 minutes to prep my foot every time I want to get cleaned up. Best laid plans, anyway. I’ve also already set up my “nest” with all the chargers and plugs I’ll need to keep my electronics going all day, a few books, and a comfy quilt. I’m ready as I’ll ever be.

We had a wonderful, if very quiet, Christmas. This was the first year both of my kids stayed in their own apartments on Christmas Eve and came over Christmas morning. They got to our house around 8a and we had a few hours of gifts, my traditional cinnamon quickbread Christmas breakfast, and just catching up with each other. Then both kids left again to go back to their apartments to relax and get ready for our big family gathering in the afternoon at my brother- and sister-in-law’s house, so my husband and I had a few hours of quiet reading and hanging out with the dogs. (I was also chopping veggies for my contribution to the party, but I wasn’t doing anything terribly complicated so I mostly relaxed.) We went to the in-laws mid-afternoon and got home pretty late. It was fantastic seeing everyone and we had a great time playing “Heads-up” with the crew. Our Christmases are distinctly different now that we have adult kids (and all their cousins have grow’d up too)—We miss the “magic” of Christmas that exists with little ones but I have to say it’s a whole lot less exhausting! 


So—in an optimistic fit of hope for more time to sew in my future (once I can be back on my feet again), I finally succumbed to the lure of yet another subscription box, but this one with fabricy-goodness involved. I looked at a few but decided that Fat Quarter Shop’s Sew Sampler box probably fit where I was now the best. We’ll see. It’s hard to imagine I need any more notions, but my fabric collection could use updating since it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten fabric for anything other than specific projects. Frankly, I’ve been sorely tempted to just off my entire stash and start over. I have a lot of fabrics that have been on my shelves for a long, long while. At some point, I may just decide “if I haven’t found the right project for them yet, I probably never will,” and sell them at a stash sale or something. Meanwhile, I do want to keep things fairly fast and simple for awhile until I’ve well and truly gotten my quilty mojo back, so doing the Sew Sampler box with its monthly block pattern and other project suggestions may be a good way for me to get the wheels oiled again.

Let me know: Do you get a quilty subscription box? If so, which one and why did you choose that one? What’s been your experience? 

So here’s a twist to my holiday celebrations...

I just had an appointment with podiatrist this afternoon and after establishing that I’m just so DONE with all this foot cr*p, we’ve scheduled a re-do on the surgery for next week, between Christmas and New Year’s. I wanted to have it done before the end of 2017 for insurance purposes, plus there’s no really good time this spring in which I can be laid up for a few weeks at a time. Even now it’s cutting it close as I have to be on a plane MLK Jr weekend, but it’s a direct flight so the fact I’m in a boot won’t be too much of an issue in the airports.  

Here’s the kicker. If you recall, the joint replacement implant I had done in July was a new type of implant that had rave reviews. My doctor said he’d researched it thoroughly again after our last appointment and I’m the first one he could find any evidence of who has not had a good experience with it. Bully. I normally like being a ground-breaker, but that’s not the kind of ground I’d like to break. Oh well—I’ll consider myself as blazing a trail for other unfortunate souls for whom this particular physical technology may also not work in the future. When we re-do the replacement next week, we’ll be going back to the traditional method that has a more established track record. 

Meanwhile, my kids and an entourage of friends will be here New Year’s Eve. I’d planned on cooking. Instead, I’ve let them know it’s going to have to be pot-luck, as I’ll be on the couch with my foot propped on pillows, and quite possibly celebrating the New Year on Percocet.  

Here’s hoping this time it sticks. 

Sundry and Such

Just a quick post because I WILL be doing a podcast and/or blog post about some...get ready for it...sewing! Woot! But I need a little more time to put that together than I have this afternoon so I'm just providing a bit of a mean teaser for now and writing this quick blog about something completely unrelated.

So, my husband's office party is tonight.

I've now gone through the process of buying three different possible outfits--each seemingly more expensive than the last--to find something that would (A) be appropriate for not-quite-black-tie-but-more-than-normal-fancy, (B) look my age rather than 20 years older or younger, and (C) work with flats because I still can't do heels. One of the first three outfits got ditched because it visually added a few pounds--not something I need at the moment; the other two got ditched because it looked a bit too senior for me, so to speak. I tried a few on in dressing rooms that looked a bit too junior. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out how to dress in your 50s. 

So, what outfit was finally the winner? Black velvet Juliet pants from Chicos (no longer on their site--glad I bought them when I did!) with a royal blue top from Dress Barn for about a third of the cost of what I was paying for outfits one, two, and three. I'll be doing some returns tomorrow. Go figure--the winning top from Dress Barn does have cold shoulders, which I've never liked on me, but in this case it actually works. And the black velvet pants are insanely comfy and I'll be able to wear them to a couple more holiday gatherings with different tops, or just going out to dinner with my husband after the holidays. I'm in love with them, and I never thought of myself as a velvet pant kind of girl. 

But here's the real kicker. I was trying to figure out what "fancy dress" purse I could use that would link to my shoes, since I wanted to wear the ones I'd gotten from Stitch Fix back in November and needed a way to pull the silver from the shoes into the outfit--I've got silver, sparkly jewelry so that does most of the "blending" heavy lifting, but a lighter, sparkly bag would work better than black. I only have one dress bag (bought for last year's office Christmas party), so I was contemplating making yet another run out to the mall to see if I could find something that worked better.

Suddenly I remembered. Somewhere in my basement I had a bag of vintage and antique purses my mother had given me years before she passed away--they were from her mother and grandmother, if I recall. I did a little digging around and found the bag of bags--woo!


They're all in remarkably good shape except the oldest looking mesh bag with the rose on the front. The hinge clasp is broken. Plus, it's way too antique for me to feel comfortable carrying it anywhere--I'd be afraid of losing it. 

For tonight's gig I'm thinking either the navy blue crochet/beaded pouch or the silver mesh clasp purse on the top. Either works well with the outfit. Meanwhile, I'm liberating these bags from the basement and will be keeping them up in my closet. I don't do fancy dress that often but what fun it is to have great bags to use when I do!

So--just a fun little find for the day. Now I need to finish reformatting my computer (don't ask) and touch up my manicure at the same time. Party on!


Wardrobe Wednesday (and Thanksgiving Prep)

It's StitchFix Day again!

This month, I'd asked my stylist, Kathryn, to take a swing at putting together an outfit for me that I could wear to my husband's office holiday party in December. It's a cocktail party and dinner and most people really dress up, some to the nines. It's not black tie, but it is fancy. Because I still can't wear heels, I asked Kathryn to find me something I could wear with flats, and to feel free to do the whole nine yards--accessories, shoes, the works.

This month, we hit three out of five. It's the day before Thanksgiving and I'm still working as well as doing Thanksgiving prep so I didn't have time to do the whole modeling-in-front-of-a-camera thing, so I'm just showing you the clothes laid out on my bed. It's also really dark and rainy out so the lighting stunk. It is what it is. 


First up: A really pretty blouse. It's a black blouse even though it looks charcoal gray in this photo. The print doesn't stand out nearly as much in person--it's a pretty subtle overall look, but very luxe. I also loved the neckline--the collar hit at just the right place and the keyhole opening wasn't too low.

In theory, I loved the crochet details across the yoke and the arms. In practice, however, they didn't work. The crochet around the arms was a bit on the snug side and made the whole sleeve pull every time I moved my arm. Plus, the blouse was cut straight on the sides and I'm a bit more curvy than that, so although it fit nicely in the top half, the bottom half was snug on the hips. It fit, but it pulled every time I moved. If I were maybe 10 or 15 pounds smaller, this would've been a win. Verdict: RETURN


Next, the pants that she sent to go with the blouse. These are actually a very deep burgundy, not orange as the photo makes them look. The darker parts in the shadows are much closer to the actual color. I really apologize for the bad lighting!

In any case, I'd suggested a wide-leg pant. I was thinking more palazzo. These are bell-bottoms. These are Kut from the Kloth, a brand I frequently request from StitchFix because typically I absolutely love them and they fit me perfectly right out of the box. These were a pretty big miss. They're described as wide-leg and the picture online makes them look more evenly wide all the way down, but they fit my upper leg like a glove and then get really, really wide at the bottom. Plus, they were a good six inches too long. With most pants, hemming isn't a problem, but with these, that much of a hem would mess up the proportions and, frankly, on my body the whole balance was off anyway. They were comfortable, they fit well in the top half, they just weren't a silhouette that works well on me. Verdict: RETURN


Now for the unexpected top. I pulled this one out of the box and my first thought was, "Meh." I figured I wouldn't be keeping it. Once I put it on, though, I was pleasantly surprised. It's too casual for the office party but will be great for other events over the next few weeks.

I'm not normally a blingy-clothes person. I don't like sequins and I don't like to be overly bejeweled. But this shiny top is fun and can be toned down a bit with the right scarf, if I feel the need. The shirt is super comfy, and has a little bit of a high-low thing going, plus it's a good length to wear with leggings. Although it's long-sleeved, it's a lightweight material which is perfect for winter parties. People's homes tend to get overly warm when crowded with bodies so this will work well for that. I already know two events I could easily wear this to, as well as date nights with my husband. Verdict: KEEP


Kathryn hit the nail on the head with the earrings. These look great on me--they're the perfect length and are visible against my dark hair, but they're still really light-weight. I immediately put them on with the sweatshirt and lounge pants I was wearing yesterday and ended up wearing them all day because I forgot I even had them on. Now THAT'S an earring I can love!

And yes, they look good with the shiny top, above.

The hammered look makes them just a little artsy, but they're still pretty subtle. I love these. Verdict: KEEP.



Finally, the shoes. 

I love these shoes. I'd been holding off asking for shoes ever since before the surgery because I have to try so many on before finding some that fit. I figured it was too much of a long shot that she could send me a pair that would work.

I should've trusted Kathryn.

These are wonderful. They're gray velvet with a nice silky rope trim. They can dress up or dress down easily, and--the most important thing these days--they don't hurt my feet. They've got enough room in all the places I still need a little extra room due to swelling, but they don't slip off my heels when I walk. I could be in these all night at the holiday party and won't want to throw them across the room two hours in like I usually do. Verdict: KEEP

Indeed, I loved the shoes so much that I went online last night and found an outfit for the party that goes with the shoes. Talk about dressing from the bottom up. I should get the outfit in a few days. If it fits, I'll give you a sneak preview then.

I'm going to an every-other-month delivery for StitchFix for awhile as, since I regained some of the weight I'd loss with this whole foot business, I'm still the same size I was last winter/spring and likely will be for awhile during the "regaining lost ground" process, so I have plenty of clothes. I'm just using StitchFix to fill in some gaps here and there. So, other than the holiday party end-of-story (if there is one), you won't see a Wardrobe Wednesday again for a little while.

Meanwhile, this happened in my house today.

Picture 1: Prepping egg sandwiches for my breakfasts for the rest of the week. I got a great idea from my WeightWatchers coach when we were talking about my tendency to carbo-load when I'm overtired (read: big ol' bagels slathered in butter), which I will be after hosting two Thanksgiving get-togethers back-to-back on Thursday and Friday. I was actually more concerned about going overboard on breakfast on Saturday and Sunday than I am about Thanksgiving dinner--but now I'm ready. I ate one for breakfast this morning, then will have one ready for every day through the weekend. Yay! 

Picture 2: Pie crusts waiting for (1) pumpkin that I'll make this afternoon and (2) chocolate cream that my husband will make tomorrow. My SIL is bringing an apple. I confess to using Pillsbury pie crusts, LOL.

Picture 3: a slow-cooker cranberry chutney recipe from WW. Normally I like the cranberry sauce in the can a whole lot, but I'm the only one who does. That means I end up eating all the leftovers as well. That's more WW points (translated: calories and sugar) than I'm willing to spend on cranberry sauce. I want my points for stuffing and dessert. I'm not a big fan of homemade cranberry sauce, honestly, but it seems like it should be on the table. This is a very easy recipe that sounds tasty, can be made ahead, and if I do decide I like it, it's much less "expensive" points-wise. Meanwhile, those folks who do like homemade cranberry sauce will be happy. Fingers crossed. (It smells amazing, though!)

More prep later this afternoon, but most of that won't be photo-worthy, LOL. How many peeled potatoes do you really need to see, anyway?

Side note here: For those of you who may be thinking, "It's just one meal! Don't deprive yourself," I'm not. I do very much believe it's just one meal and I'll thoroughly enjoy those things I only get once a year (like stuffing! like chocolate pie!). I don't deprive myself because that always backfires. However, I'm not going to waste the points/calories on things that aren't special--that I can get anytime, like bread--or I don't particularly like. Mostly, I want to be right back on track afterwards. Hence the breakfast sandwiches.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 



Fight the Funk Friday


Haven't done one of these in awhile and this one will be short, but just wanted to give a quick update on the foot.

And it's not a good one.

I had another follow-up with the podiatrist this week and he's really not happy with my healing progress. Apparently, I should be totally back to normal by now. I'm not. There's still some swelling, still some bruising, and still a-whole-lotta room for improvement in the range of motion and level of pain. 

You may recall that I have a new model of joint replacement that uses the same material as contact lenses. I agreed to using it as there were all sorts of good reasons why it sounded great as he described it, and it's supposed to last a long longer than the traditional joint replacement material. 

Until it doesn't.

His exact words this week were, "It's not the first time one of these types of joint replacements has disappeared on me." Bully. I don't blame him at all. Now that this type of joint is starting to be used in a wider population than when it was under testing, these types of issues are more likely to appear.

This is why I'm generally not an "early adopter." I prefer to wait for version 2.0 for all the bugs to get worked out. Dang. 


He raised the specter of possibly having to re-do the surgery. So, while I've only barely begun to get back into normal shoes, it's starting to look like I might have one of these in my future again. 



Starved for Fiction Reading

I've been so immersed in school-and-work-related reading lately that, now that I'm nearing the tail-end of my thesis process, I suddenly had a trigger-reaction about wanting fiction books. I've been reading fiction at night right along--a few pages every night before going to sleep. But it's been a l-o-n-g time since I've had a rainy weekend morning in an armchair with something fun to read. Rainy weekend mornings have been spent either at my computer or reading...well...other stuff. 

So, in a moment of late-night weakness recently, I did some research on book subscription services and chose PageHabit. I'd done Wordy Traveler for a couple of boxes and, although I enjoyed the first book, I only finished about half of it. The second book was equally big and daunting, and equally nonfiction. Don't get me wrong, I love good nonfiction and do often choose to read it recreationally. But at the moment, I'm a bit nonfictioned-out. I decided to cancel that subscription for the time being--I may go back to it at some point in the future because it is intriguing--and find something a little more fun and lighthearted.


PageHabit offers the opportunity to select your preferred genre from among several options. I've chosen historical fiction because I enjoy being immersed in different periods and getting a sense for them, even if its a fictionalized sense. It's sort of a nice bridge between my enjoyment of nonfiction books and wanting recreational reading. (I'd mentioned on Instagram that I thought I'd selected two genres--that's not right. It's just one. You can add a book from a second genre to your shipment at an additional fee. I've done that for my next one with the optimistic hope that I'll have more time to read next month. Ahem.) 


This month's book is Wiley Cash's The Last Ballad. As I read the book description, I thought, "This is exactly in my wheelhouse!" Although it's fictional, it's based on a real event and real people. From Amazon: "The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice." Okay--so it's still not all that far away from the nonfiction I read for work (women in the face of oppression and injustice), but still.


The cool feature about PageHabit, though, is the author's annotations. The book comes with a letter of introduction from the author, explaining his inspiration and a little bit about his own connection to the story. 

Throughout the book there are sticky notes with the author's annotations, as well. Right off the bat, within the first few pages, I've read annotations about recurring themes or motifs to watch for through the rest of the book. As a former English Lit, major, that seriously jazzes me. I'm forcing myself not to flip ahead to read all the annotations first! Some of the annotations are nice little personal connections, too, like a charming note about a song included in the story, and the author pointing out he sings that same song to his own young daughters at night.

I've never heard of Wiley Cash before, which is exactly why I'm trying a book subscription service. Like most people, once I find an author I like I tend to read everything by that author (topic withstanding). Then, once I'm done, I feel at a bit of a loss until I can find the next author. My hope is that, by doing a book subscription, I'll be introduced to all sorts of cool new writers and my horizons will be expanded. I'm an avid user of GoodReads, of course, which does help--but it still tends to depend on what I actually search for, which again leaves it up to my somewhat "getting-in-a-rut" style of reading. 


There's also a short story commissioned for PageHabit. It doesn't give a whole lot of information about this one--no annotations, no explanation as to why this story was chosen. I’ve read this already and wasn’t really jazzed by it, but no biggie. The nice thing about short stories is that there's not a huge time requirement.

As with most of these book subscription clubs, the book comes along with a few related gifts. As opposed to Wordy Traveler, in which the gifts were related (mostly) to a particular area of the world, in PageHabit--at least with this first shipment--these were just general bookish and holiday themed gifts. 

The box included a bookmark with a quotation from Albert Einstein. (See the picture of the book above. The bookmark is on top of it.) Since I'm a Kindle girl usually, I've long ago lost most of my bookmarks so it's handy to have one now that I'm reading the occasional physical book.

It also included a little Halloween-themed keychain that lights up and makes noise. Cute, although it'll get donated now. (I took a video but I can only post videos from YouTube on this blog post and it doesn't seem worth the effort.)


Finally, this box included a fun pillowcase that I could see myself using on quilt retreats. It seems like it's made of a nice cotton. It's in the wash now so we'll see how soft it is once it comes out. 

For every shipment, PageHabit donates to a children's literacy project. Each month they partner with a different organization engaged in helping children read and/or having improved access to books. 

So--for my first shipment so far, I'm enjoying it. If you're interested in PageHabit, here's the usual referral link!


Life Update and Wardrobe Wednesday (It's Stitch Fix Day!)

Life update first.


I'm writing. 

The only update here is that I've got four out of five chapters done rough-draft-style. I'm taking a few leftover vacation days here and there to help me in the process. I have to have all five chapters to my advisor by November 1. Ahem. I'm burning daylight, here. October was mostly travel, complicated by a case of bronchitis that knocked me down for several days, so I've not been as productive as I'd have liked. Oh well, it'll get done!


My podiatrist did follow-up x-rays at my appointment earlier this month and wasn't altogether pleased with the progress, so I'm doubling-up on my at-home physical therapy (bending my toe as much as possible). He also gave me a cortisone shot to help with the swelling and stiffness, so I should be more comfortable doing the PT and my workouts. I've gotten permission to start doing my walk/run routine again and ended up buying yet another new pair of sneakers: Hoka One One (pronounced "oh-nay"--some Polynesian term about being fast or something like that). This one finally seems to work well.

Look at that sole. Yikes. They look orthopedic, but the website proclaims that marathon runners love them, so I prefer to think of myself as in the company of amazing athletes than the one of people-with-bad-feet. The toe box is a little wider, it's pretty stiff, and although it's not technically a rocker-sole, it does help roll you forward so the injured toe doesn't have to bend. They're highly recommended for runners with foot issues like mine. I have to say, they do seem to make a huge difference. I can now do my walk/runs with just a little discomfort compared to the distinct pain I had before in my other (also very good) sneakers. I still can't do much without a lot of bruising and swelling but my doctor has assured me I can't do more damage--it's just a matter of what I can handle and getting my foot back into shape. It feels so good to just be doing something again! 

I also had my massage therapist work on my toe a bit at my last appointment and it's amazing what a difference that made. I think she must have broken up a lot of scar tissue or something. So I'm trying to mimic some of what she did as best I can at home. Hopefully within a few more months I'll be back to full movement (and no pain!) again.

Wardrobe Wednesday

I missed posting my August Stitch Fix. If I recall, that one was five-for-five but I don't remember now what all was it in it. Sorry! My September and October Stitch Fixes were both five-for-five--woo! I'm now sticking with stylist Kathryn. She's fantastic. It helps that she spells her name the same way one of my sisters' middle name is spelled; it's an unusual spelling so it it feels like a little bit of home. 

September's Stitch Fix in this collage: I didn't have time when I got it to model anything. It's all already gotten worn quite a bit.

The cardigan and jacket both had to be exchanged. The cardigan had a little pull in one shoulder so I did a "damaged" exchange. The jacket fit just exactly perfectly...if I didn't want to wear anything bulkier than a tshirt underneath it. I exchanged it for the next size up so I have a little more breathing room for long-sleeve shirts and such. Let me tell you, that jacket is a serious win! I love it SO MUCH. It looks great on, and it's a wonderful stretchy material so it never pulls across the back or in the elbows, even though it is fairly fitted. Even my husband commented (unsolicited) on how nice it looks on me. I've worn it pretty much every day since I got it. I had asked for another structured tote that was a little more professional to use during my work events, and I love the bag they sent. It has a zipper closure which makes it perfect for travel, and it holds its shape well. I'm not sure I'm in love with the very long tassels but those are easily enough removed. The black pants are just a replacement for a pair I'd received in a box last winter and somehow managed to lose. I still think they'll show up in my daughter's laundry at some point. In any case, it's nice to have them again. I was so happy that Kathryn was able to find me another pair. (Yes, they're $78, although since I bought the whole box I get discounts, plus they're seriously worth it. They fit beautifully, they're extremely comfortable, and they don't get baggy at all, even wearing them three or four times between washes, like I did when I was on vacation.)

Stitch Fix's exchange process worked beautifully, by the way. Couldn't have been easier. I just clicked the right buttons in the check-out process, sent the two I was exchanging back in the envelope provided, and received the replacements within a few days. Easy Schmeasy.

October's Stitch Fix:

Another five-for-five! This time I'd mentioned that the holidays were coming up and I'd like something that would be appropriate for family holiday 'dos. I also asked for a smaller shoulder-bag of some sort, as most of my bags are now tote-sized. They do so well at purses and totes for me, I kinda want to keep them coming! Other than that, I left it pretty open.


I think we're hosting my husband's family, or at least part of it, at our house for Thanksgiving. I usually wear nicer jeans or leggings, but I like to wear a more festive top. However, I'll also be in the kitchen so I don't want anything too fussy or hot. I think this blouse will be perfect--although I'd have to watch those bell sleeves in the gravy. I think they're high enough up my arm, though, they shouldn't be much trouble. It's an embossed velvet, and has a built in cotton cami. It's loose and cool, and I think it'll be great for the day. I haven't decided what necklace I'll wear with it, but I like the concept.

Kathryn said in her style note that she decided to "push me" a little out of my comfort zone with this one and hoped that it worked. Work, it does!

(The jeans are from a prior Stitch Fix--one of my most-often worn jeans nowadays.)


This is a two-fer: I'm modeling both a sweater and some skinny jeans. 

The sweater is fan-freaking-tastic. It's cotton and loose but not dumpy. Kathryn noted the slightly artsy take on the angled hem. (I'd said in my style notes that I tend to be more classic/casual but love stuff with an artsy/boho flair). In my request for this box, I'd mentioned that I like the look of blouses layered under sweaters but hate the constricted feel of the sleeves when I do that, so thought maybe a looser sweater might work. I think this one could layer easily, although I'll probably mostly wear it on its own.

The pants are getting exchanged. They're black skinny jeans, with the emphasis on SKINNY. They've got some give to them so I can get them on, and even walk around fairly well. Sitting, however, is a bit of an issue. Although I could hang onto them as aspirational, I'd prefer to exchange them for the next size up and actually be able to wear them comfortably the next few months until I re-lose the few pounds I re-gained during the foot debacle. Even too tight, though, the pants were remarkably comfortable. I can't wait to get the pair I can actually wear. I think these may well become go-tos. 


I took this second picture of the sweater so you could see the nifty sleeve detail. (And it's soft! No scratchy or stiffness in that elbow at all!)


Finally, this last picture includes a scarf and handbag. I had let Kathryn know that I'm a fan of scarves so she can pretty much never go wrong tossing one in the box. This one is fairly large, and I'm not always a huge fan of geometric prints, preferring abstract, organic, or floral. However, in this case, and for fall/winter, geometric works fine, as does bulky. I'll be thrilled to have this once the temperature starts dropping. And this is one seriously soft scarf. 

Who knew I really wanted a yellow shoulder bag? I didn't, until I opened this up and fell in love. It's a great hobo-style bag, with all sorts of pockets. It'll be my daily bag now.  In fact, I already switched out of my other bag and into this one and will be taking it with me when I head over to my MILs for dinner tonight. The mustard yellow is perfect for fall, and it'll go great with my olive jacket from the last Fix. 

I didn't realize I had a thing for purses and totes until very recently. And now, with Kathryn doing so well at getting me ones I love and can really use, it's hard for me not to want one in every box! I have clear memories from childhood of my mom "changing purses" every Sunday and thinking how silly that was. Now I'd say "I'm turning into my mother," except that train left the station years ago. The purse thing just confirms it. 

In my requests for my next Fix at the end of November, I told Kathryn that my husband's office party is in December. It's a dressy affair, but there's a wide interpretation of what that means for women, so I'm thinking I'll do some sort of pants outfit this year as I doubt I'd be able to be in heels yet. I gave Kathryn some parameters and let her know that if she wanted to try to do the whole party outfit, clothes to accessories to clutch purse, she could go for it! It'll be fun to see if she comes up with something. She's been dead-on-point every time these last few boxes, so I have high hopes!

If you want to check out Stitch Fix for yourself, here's my referral code!

Going non-verbal for a bit...


I've well and truly entered into the writing phase of my thesis. Which means that, by the end of the day, I can't really put two coherent thoughts together to keep up with the blog. It's quite likely that there will be mostly radio silence from my end for the remainder of my sabbatical, which ends after Labor Day. I'm one chapter down, four to go, and have a very limited time left to get it done! 

I'm also trying to up my activity as stress relief and as occupational therapy for my foot. Auggie and I got in over a mile on the canal yesterday when I finished writing. I decided today that I've got to stop comparing how my foot feels with how it felt last fall before all the nonsense began (IOW, when it didn't hurt as all) as that just brings me down. Instead, I'm going by a new benchmark which is how it felt when I came home right after I had surgery. Using that one, it's getting better. I did have a fantabulous session with my personal trainer today and probably won't be able to lift my arms by Saturday. So there is that.

If you're on Twitter and Instagram I'm still present there, because I can manage the occasional 140-characters. And pictures of puppies. And such.  

This will all be over soon enough! 


Fight the Funk Friday


So, this week is all about getting back into habits. 

I'd like to blame it all on the foot surgery, but the fact of the matter is that I've been slacking for some time on planning my meals, tracking what I eat, and being consistent with paying attention to my FitPoints and such. I've also not been keeping up my meditation. It shows in that I haven't lost any weight in about three or four months. It ain't a plateau unless you're actually doing everything you need to do. And I'm not.

Now that the foot surgery is over and I'm on an upward trajectory (a slow one, but a trajectory nonetheless) , it's time to pull it back together.


I'm proud of myself today, though: We had thunderstorms moving through in the morning and in the late afternoon, but we had a few hours of heat and brilliant sunshine around lunch. After I'd spent most of the morning thinking, "Sheesh--I hope it doesn't start raining when I'm done with my school work this afternoon so I can do my pool aerobics," I realized... "Wait! I can set my own schedule! I'll take a break and get in the pool now and then go back to school work!" Sure enough, after lunch I was able to get a full 30 minutes aerobics session and another 20 minutes of yoga while the sun was still shining. About half an hour after I'd showered, changed, and gone back to work, the heavens opened up and it was pouring again, and continued for the rest of the day. (Those towels had been left out there from previous days. I got everything pulled back inside when I went inside for the afternoon.)

Farmer's market tomorrow morning, which means I'll be spending the afternoon prepping veggies. Always a happy day.