Sock-It-To-Me-Sam is my new cuddly boyfriend!

I’ve always yearned to make one of those sock monkey dolls—but I have yet to make an attempt since any how-to instructions I’ve found bring back memories of assembling something from IKEA.toy_sock-it-to-me sam1

If it looks like too much work, my lazy ass just isn’t interested.

So when I recently stumbled upon a pattern on Pinterest for a sock doll that appeared super easy to make, my fingers began to twitch. I had to try it.

The pattern calls for just one sock, which is usually all that comes out of the wash after you’ve put a pair in, right? Perfect!

As a result…(drum roll)…I would like to introduce to you…my first sock doll…Sock-It-To-Me Sam!toy_sock-it-to-me sam2 & oats

I have no idea if Sam is a bear or a bunny or an alien creature but he sure is cute so I think I’ll keep him.

Want to try making one of your own? The photo tutorial is so easy, if I can do it, you can do it too.

Here’s the link: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=sock%20bear%20how%20to

You can also find the photo tutorial below (once you get past Sam’s unruly behaviour).toy_sock-it-to-me sam4 mwahh

toy_sock-it-to-me sam3 mooning

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Corporate Survivor

Have you ever noticed the similarities between the reality show Survivor and day-to-day life in the corporate world?beach

In my own experience the only difference between any office and Survivor’s exotic locales is that instead of meandering barefoot along an endless expanse of powdery white sand bordered with aquamarine water, we office survivors lope around all day on ugly grey industrial carpeting festooned with hole-punch confetti and coffee splatters.dirty carpet

In most offices alliances mutate as rapidly as flu viruses. The most lucrative alliances lead to immunity—from being demoted to a level where nobody will loan you a pen, much less make an alliance with you.

crabMuch like Survivor’s wild locales, there are rats, snakes, crabs and other nasty creatures skittering around the office habitat. Their sting can be toxic and survival behooves you to bite back. Win or lose, you will return to your cube with a very bad taste in your mouth; if gargling with an abrasive disinfectant doesn’t help, a huge hunk of milk chocolate most definitely will.

The office piranhas, vermin and serpents are as venomous as the real enchiladas. As a corporate survivor, I’ve learned to tread lizardcautiously. When I see a stinger coming at me, I usually make like prey and run. Thankfully, the most lethal creatures will form alliances with their own kind and keep to themselves unless otherwise provoked.

donna at work2You’ll find clones of past Survivor celebrities in every office. You know—the ones holed up in their cubicles texting all day rather than helping the rest of the tribe…the ones who still haven’t clued in that every hello you send their way is punctuated with an invisible middle finger.

And then there’s the general population—pleasant enough, but as nonchalant as sociopaths about the sprinkles that they leave behind on the toilet seats, about taking the last cup of coffee and not refilling the pot, about “forgetting” to return the stapler (or hole punch, or markers, or ten bucks…) that they borrowed from you.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Office Bitch. Biting back isn’t enough. The Office Bitch brings out the Hannibal Lecter in you. Every nightmare you’ve ever had of this noxious creature involves torture and death.

suit-673697_640Last but not least is the Big Guy at the very top of the pyramid. (I’d like to be able to say “the Big Girl at the top,” but we all know that this is still a fallacy in most corporations.) In this new Millennium, the Big Guy pretends to be current but deep down nurtures his graduate degree from “the old school” with misty memories of his boy’s club days. Though he’d never admit it, he secretly feels bad for Bill Cosby.

Of course, just like the show, questionable relationships between employees are also apt to develop, particularly when both sexes are mashed together for five unbearably long days per week. Though thank God bitty bikinis and naked bodies are not standard office attire.

As for weekly Tribal Councils? Yeah the corporate world has those too. Only they’re called department meetings. Unfortunately, those of us in attendance are not required to cast votes against tribe members that we’d like to see ousted. Instead of people, innovative ideas not conceived by the boss are extinguished as quickly as a torch flame.

And Daily Immunity Challenges? We call them: inhumane deadlines impossible to meet. During these challenges the first team player to bail is actually the smartest. Clever enough to flee when the clock strikes five, this person gains a life. In the office challenge the last one to bail is not necessarily the winner, depending on how you define quality of life. Mind you, my past experience dictates that he or she will usually be awarded the sought-after necklace or statue that provides immunity from the need to develop a meaningful relationship with an employment agency.

I’m a corporate survivor. I’ve been playing the game for an excruciatingly long time. I’ve learned to treat alliances the same way I would approach a person with Ebola.

I’ve honed the skills I need to exist in compatible harmony with everyone from the Office Lazies to the Office Bitches. I have, through trial and error, learned to play nice in the sandbox.

I win all my immunity challenges by meeting my deadlines with a vengeance, thus gaining myself a measure of immunity from the hassle of filling out unemployment insurance forms—for now, anyway.

I’ve discovered only one significant difference between being the last survivor on the reality show Survivor and the longest survivor in my office: Borneo, the Australian outback, Africa, Thailand, Marquesas, every donna at work1inch of the Amazon, Pearl Islands, Vanuatu, Palau, Guatemala, Panama, Cook Islands, Fiji, China, Micronesia, Gabon, Tocantins, Samoa, Nicaragua, Redemption Island, Philippines, Caramoan, Cagayan, San Juan del Sur, the entire South Pacific, and any other exotic locale that Survivor crew and contestants should decide to infest will freeze over before I ever receive a cheque for one-million dollars, now or at any other point in my career.

So until I’ve scraped together enough to finance my retirement, I wonder if management would allow me to string up a hammock between my cubicle walls? It would certainly make my daily survival a lot more comfortable.

 

Another crocheted shawl, y’all!

shawl_peacock1I’m on a roll these days making shawls, just because I enjoy the challenge of watching them evolve. I have to say that so far, this one is my favourite.

I bought the yarn down in Florida at Hobby Lobby and I wish I’d kept the label so I could tell you the name of it. It was one large ball—I’m guessing around 400 yards—and once I’d finished making the shawl and the fringe, there was literally nothing left but a two-inch long piece of yarn. So it was the perfect amount for this pattern.

shawl_peacock2It’s a simple mesh design and the variegated colours remind me of peacock feathers, thus the name of my shawl. I’m finding shawls to be a nice alternative to wearing cardigans; just throw one over your shoulders when it gets cool. And you can drape them in different ways that really look fashionable.

Without further adieu, here’s the pattern:

Peacock Triangular Shawl

Approx. 400 yards of a chenille-type variegated yarn, 5.5 mm hook

Chain 5; slip stitch to first chain to make a ring.

R1: Chain 4 (counts as beginning chain-3 plus chain-1);
1 dc in ring; (ch 1, dc) two more times; turn.

R2: Ch 4; dc in same stitch; (ch 1, skip next ch, 1 dc in next dc) across to last dc; ch 1; (1 dc, ch 1, 1 dc) in top of beginning ch-3; turn.

R3 & remaining rows: Repeat R2. Continue repeating R2 until
desired width. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Make desired length of fringe along edges (here’s a link to an easy step-by-step on how to make fringe: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-add-fringe-to-crochet.html). I cut a 16” length of yarn and folded it for an 8” fringe.
shawl_peacock4

shawl_peacock5shawl_peacock6

If I win the lottery someday, maybe I’ll be able to afford to go and see Van Halen!

When I heard the other day that Van Halen is coming to the Toronto Air Canada Centre this July, I was so excited at the thought of picking up a pair of tickets for an evening that would take us back in time (still am and will always be a rocker girl at heart!). 141071334What really had me stoked was that Kenny Wayne Shepherd will also be playing—I’ve never had a chance to see him live and I’ve been dying to see him for many years now. In my opinion KWS is clearly one of the best blues guitarists ever—right up there with Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. (Check out his amazing guitar riffing during his band’s cover of Voodoo Child here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6N4WbXRu-c)

I LOVE KWS!!!

Anyhow, when I went online to order tickets I almost flipped over backwards in my chair. A decent pair of tickets were $250.00 EACH!

Am I out of touch with reality or is that freaking expensive?!

A LOT of folks out there must have a LOT of money flowing like lava out of their glutes because how the hell else could they justify paying five-hundred dollars for a three-hour concert?!

Yes I know I sound like an antique when I say, “What has this world come to? I remember when I paid fifty bucks for a concert ticket and thought THAT was a ripoff…” (Hey, I guess I am an antique since I can remember paying FIFTEEN bucks each to see an Aerosmith concert!)

After checking to see what else might be available, I found that the cheapest tickets for Van Halen and KWS were $100 each, but we would need the Hubble space telescope just to get a glimpse of the dust-mite-sized band members onstage. We’d probably also get altitude sickness.

2265329-Eddie-Van-Halen-Wolfgang-Van-Halen-music-dads-617-409So overcome with disappointment, I had a good wrenching cry while I smashed a few Van Halen CDs against a wall and threw darts at a picture of David Lee Roth tacked up on my dart board.

I think I’ll celebrate the fact that I’ve just saved myself $500 bucks by getting out my earphones and listening to some old VH and KWS tunes on my Walkman.

Every life has a story. What’s yours?

An acquaintance of mine recently lost her mother. Her father had passed away ten years before. None of her parents’ friends were still living, nor were any elder relatives on either side of the family. When she lost her mother, she also lost her last chance to document the stories from her family’s past that hadn’t yet been told. She used to feel that she had all the time in the world. Now she regrets that she didn’t make more of an effort to interview her parents and relatives so she could have her parents’ memories on record for future generations to enjoy.

journal writingTake a look at today’s hottest-selling books and you’ll realize that a large number of them are memoirs. No wonder—we human beings are fascinated with lives lived by other human beings. We’ve become a reality-obsessed society with an insatiable appetite for connection through learning about the tribulations and triumphs of others: sad times, happy times, crazy times. We are particularly intrigued if we can relate any of it to our own personal life experiences.

We each live a life as unique as our fingerprints. You may believe that you’ve led a relatively uneventful life but if you take a look back at the many things you’ve experienced, it’s a sure bet that a certain percentage of the population would find some if it interesting and perhaps even meaningful. You have acres of memories warehoused inside your brain that your children—and their children—would someday enjoy reading about.

We all have stories. It’s time to tell yours.

Think about all the years that have passed since the day you were born. A lot has happened since you entered this world. Your years are a kaleidoscope of experiences, more than you are even capable of remembering. Think about all the people you’ve known, the places you’ve been, the lessons you’ve learned, the times you’ve laughed or cried or been scared, the hopes and the dreams you’ve had, the goals you’ve achieved. Your life is made up of all this and so much more; the life you’ve lived so far deserves a page of its own in your family’s history.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to create a journal of your life. If you can type at a keyboard or write longhand on paper, you are capable of documenting short stories about your life that you can eventually share with your loved ones, or simply document them for your own personal enjoyment.

You are unique; there is not another person on earth quite like you. No other human being shares the same story as yours. Even identical twins don’t share identical stories. Memories fade and that’s why it’s so important to preserve your life stories for generations to follow.

How do I begin?

My own preference is to keep a journal because writing in longhand gives me a feeling of going back in time, when we wrote our school assignments in blue-lined notebooks. Pick up an inexpensive hardcover journal at any discount store (hardcover, because it feels more like a real book) and tuck it away in a handy place. Choose the same time every week—or every day if time allows—to devote your attention to recording memories from your past. You can set a specific length of time that you’ll write, or you can simply write until you feel like stopping. Whether you write a couple of sentences, a paragraph, or several pages, turning it into a habit is key.

If you’re more comfortable writing at a keyboard, set up a journal file on your computer and add to it regularly. Again, training yourself to write on a regular basis is essential to turning it into routine behaviour.

Where do I begin?

There are several ways to kick-start the process.

There is no rule that says you have to write in any particular order. You can start with your earliest memories, or you can start writing about something that happened yesterday. As you get into the groove of journaling regularly, you’ll find that new memories will pop into your mind without much prompting.

If you need a push, try flipping through old photo albums. Think back about the events that took place in your life when specific pictures were taken. What emotions were you feeling at that time? Let your memories guide your story.

Think about a particular year and try to remember events that took place during that year. Or think back about single important world events and where you were at that time in your life. Ask just about anybody what they were doing when 9/11 happened and they’ll remember right away.

While you write, try to use descriptive words that will help the reader visualize the scene you’re describing. For example, you’re writing about a family picnic at the beach. Along with the events that took place, are there certain smells that you remember? Sounds? Emotions? A bit of dialogue will also add interest to your story. Did your dad say something funny that day? Did your mom issue one of her famous “warnings” to one of your siblings?

And don’t waste time worrying about your spelling and grammar skills; you can go back and fix up the mechanics of your story once you’ve got it all down. Aim to write in the same voice that you would use if you were talking to an old friend.

Ready to start writing your memoir?

Here are some prompts to get you started.

  1. When and where were you born?
  2. Why did your parents choose your name?
  3. Have your parents told you any stories about yourself as a child?
  4. What is your favourite family recipe?
  5. Did you have a childhood pet? If so, what was it and what did you call it?
  6. What was your favourite childhood toy? Why?
  7. Did you have a childhood hero?
  8. What school subject did you dislike? Like?
  9. Did/does your family have any special traditions?
  10. Is there a lesson that stands out most clearly when you reflect on a particular incident from your childhood?
  11. Is there a world event that had an impact on you while you were growing up?
  12. What fads do you remember from your youth?
  13. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  14. What was your very first job? How much were you paid?
  15. When did you realize that you were a grown up?
  16. You most memorable vacation?
  17. This song immediately takes you back in time…
  18. Talk about your hobby.
  19. How is the world different today from how you saw it as a child?
  20. Of all the lessons you learned from your parents, which was the most valuable?
  21. If you could do one thing differently in your life, what would it be?
  22. What are you most grateful for?
  23. What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
  24. What would you like to be remembered for?
  25. Have you wished for something that came true?

Happy journaling!

Easy crochet projects to whip up during your “me” time

While I was on vacation in February, I completed a couple of fast and easy bag_drawstring lavender & lilac1crochet projects perfect for working on when you don’t have a ton of time and would like to see quick results.

I had some leftover lavender and lilac worsted weight yarn from the hat I made (in an earlier post), so I did some crocheting in the round with the intention of making a little pouch for carrying change or sunglasses or car keys or whatever.

bag_drawstring lavender & lilac3I just made it up as I went along and never did write down the pattern. But if you can crochet in the round, then you won’t have any trouble figuring it out on your own. Here’s a basic description:

R1: chain 3; 5 dc in third chain from hook; slip stitch to close ring.

R2: 2 dc in each dc around; slip stitch to close.bag_drawstring lavender & lilac2

R3: alternate 2 dc and 1 dc in each stitch around; slip stitch to close.

R4+: either increase one more round if you would like it wider, or continue by repeating 1 dc in each stitch around until it’s the length you want. If you want to change colours, you can do so after about three rounds. Once the pouch was long enough to hold a pair of sunglasses, I finished off the top edge with 1 sc in each stitch around then fastened off.

Next I used sc to crochet a narrow carrying strap, about the length of a lanyard strap, then weaved it around the top of the pouch for pulling closed or loosening to open. I wore it around my neck and never once lost my sunglasses! A miracle! 🙂

I also had some very soft, pale pink baby yard that I thought would look nice worked in a delicate, lacy pattern. So I made an infinity cowl by following a pattern that I found in a back issue of Interweave Crochet. If you like the scarf_cowl pink lacepattern, you can still buy it at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/alpine-frost-scarf

The cowl turned out as expected—very soft and delicate looking. A lovely accessory to go with a spring coat/jacket.

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