2013 Goals: Year In Review

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When I set my 2013 goals, I had no idea just how much I’d learn from reaching some of the goals on my list and utterly failing at others. We all walk into goals with the best of intentions, but sometimes failing is just as important as succeeding. After all, without mistakes we’d never learn what doesn’t work.

For example, I learned setting sub-goals may be an organized way of thinking, but it doesn’t suit my writing process. My muse did not like the feeling of a micromanager hovering over her for most of the year, so the concept of sub-goals went out the window by June.

While I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, I still consider 2013 a very successful year in terms of writing. I ended up completing the goals that challenged me the most and pushed me to be a little braver.  By the end of the year I had a completed final draft for Novel #2 and I found the courage to pitch it. A few years ago, all of this would have been impossible for me to even consider. I’ve come a long way!

Like last year, I kept track of my goals on a makeshift spreadsheet. Here’s the rundown for each goal:

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I’m already putting together my goals for 2014. While I’m keeping them relatively simple, I’m also making sure they push me to go a little further.

How did you do on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

10 Great Christmas Books

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Every year the bookstore clears a space for Christmas themed books. Some are sappy stories or romance novels, while others are the classics that stand the test of time. I can’t remember the last time I bought a Christmas book, but I do remember my favorite Christmas reads.

The books I read as a child still bring a smile to my face as they are still wonderful stories. I can still hear my Grandma reading the Tale of the Christmas Mouse and I will always love the Grinch. However, as an adult, my voracious need to read finally motivated me to read Dickens’ iconic tale along with historical accounts of the origins of Christmas.

My DVD shelf is loaded with a ridiculous number of Christmas movies, but this year I think I’m going to settle into the couch with a stack of my favorite Christmas books. The thin books worn by years of use will bring back memories of believing in Santa, while those thick with pages will give me something to contemplate by the light of my Christmas tree.

10 Great Christmas Books

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I’ll admit I didn’t read this book until I was in my 30s. Dickens has never been among my favorite writers, but A Christmas Carol is absolutely fantastic. Surprisingly, it is far more intense than most film adaptations.

Tale of the Christmas Mouse by Judith Fringuello

This adorable little book is now out of print, but there are plenty of copies hanging out in the secondary market, (and it should not be mistaken for A Christmas Mouse by Anne Mortimer). My Grandma read this book to my sister and I every year. A little boy tells the story of a mouse who lives under the floorboards of his house. The mouse gets the house ready for Santa’s arrival by cleaning up and trimming the tree. Too cute!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Who doesn’t love that scrunched up face and those grumpy eyes? The flamboyant language of Dr. Seuss and the heartwarming story of a crabby hermit who discovers the joy of Christmas makes this classic a must read.

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

When I was a little girl, my Grandma made a recording of herself reading this poem. She used jingle bells to tell us when to turn the page and she made thumping sounds for the reindeer hooves. This poem along with my Grandma’s spirited version made me believe in Santa.

The Battle for Christmas by Steven Nissenbaum

I first read this book in college and was fascinated right from the first page. Nissenbaum traces the earliest origins of Christmas traditions and investigates how the holiday has transformed over time. Written with an emphasis on social history, it focuses on how people celebrated in the past and how traditions developed into what they are today.

The Origins of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly

What’s Christmas without a little debate? In opposition to Nissenbaum’s social history approach, Kelly traces the history of Christmas from a Biblical standpoint. Between the two books, readers walk away with much to contemplate.

The Smurf’s Christmas by Peyo (Graphic Novel)

Anything with a retro Smurf has my stamp of approval. As Christmas approaches, Gargamel is lurking with his latest evil plan. Along with Gargemel, snow, fun, dragons, and surprises surround the Smurf village as they “smurf” to save Christmas.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert May (author) and Denver Gillen (illustrator)

While the TV special is cute, try reading the original story. It’s just as heartwarming and special.

Frosty the Snowman by Diane Muldrow and Golden Books

Based on the TV special, this cute little book covers the story from to finish – right down to that ridiculous hat!

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

Anyone who searches the tree lot for a Charlie Brown Christmas tree knows the the warmth and joy of this wonderful story. If you missed the televised special, this book will more than make up for it.

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Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

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c.b.w. 2013

Dear Santa …

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Dear Santa,

I write you a letter every year, even though I’m all grown up. This year was full of challenges, but through it all I am thankful to be surrounded by the warmth of family and friends. I wish had words strong enough to say how much it meant to feel supported and loved when everything seemed to be falling apart. Things are better than they were six months ago and slowly that painful weight of worry and stress is starting to lift. For this reason, my list for Christmas is more gratitude than want.

We miss Grandma, but like she promised she is still with us. Just yesterday, I thought of her while wrapping presents. A ribbon she put on my gift a couple of years ago managed to find it’s way onto a gift I was wrapping for my mother-in-law. Then, while making cookies, I found myself using her mixing bowl and spoon. Her ornaments are on my Christmas tree and her love can be felt wherever I go.

Recently, my furkids both got pretty sick and gave me quite a scare. I remember thinking and wishing for one simple thing – another Christmas with both of them. I like to think you were listening and decided I was a good enough girl to get my wish. Both of my boys are happy, healthy and will be with us on Christmas Day. One wears a scar and the other is slow with age, but their tails are still wagging. Honestly, I consider this the best Christmas gift ever. Thank you.

With Christmas Eve upon us, we are having a family get-together. We didn’t have one last year, because it just didn’t feel right after losing Grandma just two weeks before. This year, however, she is here in spirit and we are ready to celebrate. Here are a few shout-outs to those I hold dear:

  • Husband – We made it through quite a storm, didn’t we? You’re an amazing person and I wish you’d believe that more often. I’m looking forward to your Shepherd’s Pie this year.
  • Mom – You’re probably going to feed my dogs people food when you think I’m not looking. Just remember the little one has no teeth. 😉 And, I think you are an incredible person.
  • Sister – I bought the Christmas pickle gift just for you, so you better find the pickle! On a serious note, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
  • Dan – Try not to smirk at the sections of my DVD shelf that are not alphabetized. I’ve been busy. And the bookshelf is a mess, too. I like it that way.
  • Grandpa – I hope you like our new, comfy couch. I’m so glad you’re coming to celebrate Christmas with us, even though you’d rather be alone.
  • Grandma – We know you’re here and playing Bingo even though we can’t see you.
  • Dad and Sophie – Christmas just isn’t complete without you here. One day, perhaps, we can all celebrate together.
  • Jan and Jerry – You give us more than we deserve and I am so thankful for all your help.
  • Mike – You make my sister so happy, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
  • Baxter – I’ll make sure you get your meds before the party so you can play all night.
  • Winston – I’m making you wear the ugliest sweater ever, but know it will make your mother very happy.
  • Peanut and Bunny – Can you guys get along for just one night? No fighting.

Santa, this year Christmas is all about my home and the people in it. You don’t have to bring a thing. I’m good.

c.b.

p.s. Okay, so maybe a Pink and Pretty Barbie would be pretty cool. I’m still hoping! 😉

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c.b.w. 2013

More Knit Happens at Christmas

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Christmas is almost here!  In my last Knit Happens post, I shared all the hats I made for friends and family, so now it’s all about non-hat knitted gifts.

While I made loads of socks last year, I couldn’t fully escape making more. However, I’m not complaining because I love to make socks! Along with socks, I made dishcloths and fingerless gloves for those who are not into hats.

Once again, friends and family should stop reading. You’ve been warned – don’t scroll down unless you want to spoil your Christmas present!!

I mean it, no peeking. Santa is watching.

As for everyone else, keep scrolling to see some cute knits!

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Last year, there was one friend who did not receive socks. I simply ran out of time! This year, I put her socks at the top of the list and made them first! These socks are made from Paton’s Kroy Socks FX in Celestial.

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Interrupted Rib Socks

Pattern: Basic Sock

Over the summer, a family member wanted socks so much she picked out the yarn while we were out shopping. It’s hard to refuse a hint like that! However, I added  a second color so she’ll have a little surprise when she opens her socks.  These socks were made with Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend in Whimsy and Pale Aqua.

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Warm and whimsical!

Pattern: Basic Sock

At Thanksgiving dinner, a family member hinted that she really wanted another pair of socks. She’s done so much for us over the last year, I decided to whip out a last minute pair for her. To make things fun, I decided to use this opportunity to practice making straight needle socks. They turned out pretty good! I used Red Heart Fiesta in Harvest to make these socks.

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Straight needle socks in progress.

Pattern: Your First Socks

Over the summer, I got a little addicted to knitting cotton dishcloths. Luckily, two of my family members prefer them over sponges. I made a total of 5 dishcloths in a variety of patterns and colors using Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton yarn. Here are my two favorite:

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Diamond dishcloth on the needles (it’s since been finished!)

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A good scrubber!

Patterns from: Nifty Knit Dishcloths

I’m probably most proud of this final gift set. Instead of hunting down an easy pattern for fingerless gloves, I created my own pattern. I combined garter stitch borders with  2×2 ribbing  for the body of the glove. Then, I used a technique I learned from making straight needle socks to run a decorative seam up the side. The result is a pretty cute fingerless glove! This pair was made with Red Heart Shimmer in Plum.

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Glittery gloves.

Pattern: Check out my notes on Ravelry.

I was so thrilled with how the fingerless gloves turned out, I made a matching headband/cowl to go with them. Knitting in the round, I used the same garter stitch and 2×2 rib combination.

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Both a headband and a cowl!

Pattern: Check out my notes on Ravelry.

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Happy Christmas everyone! I hope you find something homemade under your tree this year. 🙂

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c.b.w. 2013