52 To Do – Top 10

January 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

When I tell people about my blog they always ask what my favorite week has been. It’s always hard to pick a favorite but I can name my top 10. If you’re looking for some fun, interesting things to try out for 2012, here were my favorites from this past year in no particular order:

1. Learning to roast coffee – If you claim to love or live on coffee, this is something you have to try. Unfortunately for those who live in apartments where it’s hard to get outside this may not be ideal for you (there’s smoke). Sweet Maria’s has a great starter kit for $45.

It will seriously become your favorite cup of coffee. Ever.

2. Ice fishing (or something that seems completely out of your range of possibility) – We spent the day with friends trying something none of us had ever tried before. While we didn’t catch any fish, we did arguably have the best laugh of 2011.

Getting out and doing things I’d never done before to embrace winter made a huge difference living here in Boulder.

3. Researching my ancestry – I definitely looked at my life differently after understanding more about where I came from. Plus it is a great thing to do with your family. I spent the week with my family going through old pictures and hearing old stories, many I had not heard before. It was a nice way to spend time together.

It was good to get my parents to talk about what they remember. I only wish my grandparents were still around. I have so many questions for them.

4. Churn homemade ice cream with friends – I bought a hand churn ice cream maker (White Mountain 4 qt. hand crank) and this proved to be a fun summer activity with friends. If you do get the hand churn one, you pretty much need the extra help since it isn’t easy!

My friend Jess (who also accompanied me on lots of blog adventures) gave me a great ice cream recipe book that did us right. It was a toss up between the goat cheese ice cream and the roasted coffee ice cream (we of course used fresh home roasted coffee for that) as to which was the best.

5. Learning about wine – I owe a huge thanks to my friends at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. James Beard award winner, Bobby Stuckey, welcomed my project early on letting me shadow his amazing crew of sommeliers on what it’s like to live for wine. I’ve made lots of new wine buddies through Frasca and the Boulder Wine Merchant. With more Master Sommeliers per capita than any city in the U.S. Boulder is a good place to be to learn about wine.

6. Hike a 14er – In 2011 I officially became a Coloradan by climbing my first 14,000 foot mountain with my friend Alicia (another partner in crime with many blog projects).

You likely won’t have mountains like that around but maybe there’s another physical feat to try that makes you equally feel a part of where you’re living. Boston marathon? Rowing the Thames? Surfing in Santa Monica?

7. Learning how to knit – This was a favorite for multiple reasons. I gained a new skill that is incredibly relaxing. I made some beautiful cowls that served as well-received holiday presents and to top it off I made a new friend in the process.

I also found a gem of a local store (Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins) where I will continue going for yarn and pearls of wisdom from the fantastic crew of ladies that work there.

8. Shooting a gun – I will likely never own a gun but I am glad I learned how to shoot one this year (target range only). It is an experience you could never understand without actually doing it. I now know just how powerful and dangerous they are.

It was something totally foreign to me and outside of my comfort zone, but I felt like it was something I should try once in my lifetime. Plus it was a great way to spend the afternoon with my husband and his twin brothers in Portland.

9. Pasta making – Pasta is one of those staples around the house and making it yourself is not only easy but worth the little bit of effort. The difference in taste is amazing.

I’ve continued along with it and for New Year’s Day dinner tonight I’ll be making some homemade orchiette I learned to make from Brian, another Frasca friend.

10. Reading about philosophy and religion – One of the best outcomes of the year was learning to think for myself again. It was a great exercise to dust off some books on philosophy and religion and to challenge my thinking in that regard a bit again.

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day issues and worries and can be enlightening to realize we’re just a blip on the radar when it comes to humanity. We are trying to answer many of the same questions people have been trying to answer for centuries.

Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins

December 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

There are yarn stores and then there is Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder. Out of all of the local places I’ve gotten to know this year, I can already tell this will be one of my favorites to visit. This week I had expectations of finding a store for supplies and then figuring it out on my own in front of a holiday movie or two. Instead I hung out and knitted in the store with the help of the gang of knowledgeable ladies who work there (many have degrees in fibers). They are a jovial gang who like to tease each other regularly. Margaret has a wonderful laugh. I even made a new friend in the process who I spent the week knitting with and getting to know better.

I spent much of the week sitting around “The Table”. Situated close to the register it is the place where all knitting problems are solved. There was a constant flow of people coming in to diagnose their situations. They were told to “pull up a seat” and within minutes one of the helpful ladies who work there had established what the problem was and what they could do about it. Some were just what I would call knitting hypochondriacs who didn’t really have a problem but just needed some encouragement they were on the right track. Others had minor issues which just warranted a quick fix or the definitive shrug of “no one will notice that”. Then there were the serious cases that either had to backtrack a good bit or even start over. There was nothing to be done.

I was telling Margaret (above right) that there should be a table like this for life. You just come in, lay the problem out and within minutes you would know what you needed to do about it. While sitting at The Table might not qualify as therapy in the clinical sense, there were pearls of wisdom I walked away with nonetheless. When I was doubting my ability to take on a more complicated project Margaret said to me, “It’s like anything in life. You just have to take it one stitch at a time.” Another time when I wasn’t sure of myself in what I was doing she said “my mother always used to say when in doubt, make it happen.” Her mother was way ahead of Tim Gunn with that one.

I thought I would find a nice hobby out of this week, which I did. Knitting is incredibly relaxing and I was even able to make some beautiful things this week. (can’t spoil the gifts by showing you now) It will be fun to take on more complicated projects over time. The best part of all is I now have somewhere I can go and pull up a seat at The Table when I get in a bind, knitting or otherwise.


Knit Away!

December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Part of the purpose of this year was to get out and try a bunch of stuff to see what I like and don’t like. As an adult it’s easy to fall into the trap of not learning new things because it seems like you have to know everything before you even get started. It feels uncomfortable to be a beginner again; we’re always supposed to know everything.  This year has been fun to throw out the perfectionist, fear of failure I’ve harbored as an adult in exchange for the child-like ability to just jump in and get messy. I’ve learned over the year that I can get in and figure just about anything out.

For those who need a simple project to start with, knitting is the way to go. You literally only need knitting needles, yarn and a friend to show you how to get started. Or if you don’t have any friends or family who knit, you can easily get started through YouTube videos. Today I stopped by a local knitting shop called Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins my friend Faith had recommended to me. What an amazing shop! I will need to write another blog post on the shop alone.

For my first project I wanted to make a knitted cowl (instead of the usual scarf) and I knew I wanted chunky yarn. I picked out the yarn I wanted and with the help of Sara, who has an MFA in fibers, within minutes I was seated at their help table and knitting away, on circular needles nonetheless!

I’m about halfway through my first knitted cowl and plan to head back to the shop tomorrow to finish it off.

I can already tell I am going to love to knit.

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