Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Grandpa's Socks

 Let me set the scene for you: It's the first day of autumn in the colorful Midwest. Trees are just faintly showing traces of the splendor to come. The wind is blowing the smell of dry grass and apples around. The cornstalks shimmy against each other in the breeze making that 'dry bones crackle' noise. It's warm still. The kind of sunset-glow-warm that summer gets as it fades to fall. Warm enough still to wear tennis shoes and no jacket. Warm enough to have ankle socks on.

Enter: Grandma's house. Your face is rosy cheeked from the wind, not the cold. You have no sniffle of the nose from the slight chill. You are the picture of comfort and contentment. You pop your shoes off in anticipation of some cold apple cider and a doughnut. Skating carelessly across the linoleum in your ankle socks, you hear a gasp.

"Why...CAROLYN!! You aren't wearing any socks!!!"

Grandpa stares wide-eyed at your "bare" feet as you pivot to face him.

"I've got socks on, Grandpa."

-insert indignant 'hrumph' here-

"They are socks, Grandpa!!"

"You are going to catch a cold."


"It's nearly winter."

(It's August 1st.)

"I'm fine. I swear."

"I'm getting you some socks."


Grandma gives you a knowing, 'let him go' eyeroll and gets you some cider. Grandpa returns with a pair of his plush, deep-woods, electric orange-topped hunting socks.

"THESE are socks. Put them on."

"Okay Grandpa."

"Isn't that better??"

"Yes, much better. Yes. Thank you."

He smiles, shakes his head, and retreats to His Chair to watch the news again.

How many times has that scene, or a variation of played out in my Grandma's kitchen? Countless. My cousins, my sister, my friends, even vague acquaintances have had "real socks" lovingly but forcefully applied to their 'bare' tootsies time after time. My Grandpa is very adamant about the virtue of socks. I do not disagree that socks are lovely, in fact, I probably wear socks more frequently than most of my relatives (sparing Grandpa, Sock Police Chief). But there is just something so touching about Grandpa forcing you into a pair of his socks in the dead of summer. Something that says, "I am incredibly stubborn about how much I care about the warmth of your feet." It's silly. It's sweet. I love it. I just do.

Since learning to knit I knew it was required that I make Grandpa a pair of real wool soldier's socks. Months ago I finally set to it: picking a pattern, researching Civil War era socks, learning magic loop, and, at last, knitting them.

I didn't finish them in time for Christmas, but I'm almost happy that I gave them to him late. They weren't lost in the shuffle of other gifts. We were able to have a special moment. Last weekend I stopped over to his house. I had just grafted the toes that morning. My heart always fills when I get to bring my son over to see his Greats, but that day it was about to burst with anticipation of giving the gift of warm socks.

How many pairs of his was I instructed to take home over the years? How many times was I chided for going bare footed? I contemplated those things with each stitch. Delighting in the simplicity of the pattern and awaiting the joy of handing them over to him. When I finally did, the reaction did not disappoint.

"You MADE these!!!"

"Yes. I did."

"And they are...are they? Real? Wool?"


"Well I-" he stood to pull his slippers off, "I gotta put them on!!"

Later that night he called me to tell me he was still wearing them. "If you've got warm feet, your whole body is warm!!" He said they were the best socks he's ever worn. Allow my to have a moment to recollect myself. 

"You gotta make yourself some!! So your feet are warm. You need some of these. You do!!"

 This is why I knit and crochet. To be able to return a favor done to me over so many years. To show care, compassion, and just...that heart thudding stupid-smile-on-your-face feeling of giving someone something you made and having them feel so blessed by it. When it happens, it's so real. So perfect.

I am so happy that I got these done and didn't wait for next week, next month, next year. It would have been horrible to procrastinate on these socks and have Grandpa never be able to enjoy them. Share handmade love while you still have time: don't regret that unfinished object.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gluten Free Fridays: National Pizza Week #GFF

This post is part of a series I am doing. Each Friday, I explore gluten free options at various types of establishments. I'll be reviewing local, regional, and national eateries as well as offering some tips on surviving various gluten-y situations. Welcome to Gluten Free Fridays!

Thanks to the internet, I was made aware that this week is officially National Pizza Week here in the US of A. Beautiful, right? Dedicating an entire week to the celebration of one food group. Because pizza IS a food group. Ask my dad. He is a bonafied Pizza Master. He has told me on a number of occasions that if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life, it would be pizza.

It is a family tradition that has gone on for two generations now that Sunday night is Homemade Pizza Night at my parent's house. Heck yes, it needs to be capitalized! It's pretty dang important!! I mean, it's not every Sunday, but it's pretty frequent. We even do homemade pizza for birthday parties with my mom's side of the family. So you can imagine my level of distress when I was diagnosed with Celiac.

"But. Homemade pizza...."

I may have actually said that after getting off the phone with my doctor. I'm sorry I'm not sorry. I love pizza.

If you are newly diagnosed with Celiac or are new to a gluten free life, I'm guessing you know that feeling. That pit of your stomach panic that you will never enjoy pizza in any form again. I tell you, I've been there. And I'm here to tell you, my friend, there is hope.

There are tons of at-home methods for making yourself some yum-o pizza crust that wont make your guts try and kill you. But today (as much as I enjoy homemade pizza) I want to talk about the possibility of being able to dine in or carry out some awesome GF pizza. Shall we explore some regional options?

Most people from the greater Rockford, IL area know about Lino's. It has been a Rockford for over 40 years. They have the most amazing "Special Salad" which is gluten free if you order it sans croutons. They do also have GF pizza crust (for an extra couple bucks) and most of their toppings are GF. I have never gotten and cross-contamination sickness from Lino's, but they do make their pizzas in a shared kitchen. This place is my dad's fave carry out pizza. In case you were wondering.

Here's a fun find from our time out in Salt Lake City: The Pie Pizzeria. This place has several locations throughout the Salt Lake valley and is absolutely amazing as far as their cross contamination prevention practices go. They have a whole separate kitchen for cooking their GF pies in!! Though there were a couple times their homemade crust got a little too crispy for my liking (it's very very thin) I was never disappointed with The Pie. My fave? The "Mini MEat". Bacon, pepperoni, and ham. YUM. You just really can't beat that peace of mind though, knowing all your food is prepped in a self-contained GF kitchen.
 And to round out the "local pizza places from regions of the country in which I have lived", I have to include this Minnesota place: Pizza Luce. I first went the Pizza Luce in Duluth years ago before I was diagnosed. More recently, I've been to a couple of their Twin Cities locations. I love that they not only have GF pizza, but also GF hot wings (another love of mine). Their food has always been quite safe for me too. Never had an episode from Luce.

So, there you have it friends! Three great gluten free pizza locations at which you can celebrate National Pizza week with joy and peace of mind!!

Do you have a fave local pizza place that caters to gluten free needs?

Disclaimer: Though I have Celiac disease and may have not had reactions at any of these restaurants, cross contamination practices may not be up to par at every single restaurant you visit. Please proceed with caution and use your best judgement. If you see blatant gluten dangers, don't just trust that because I was okay you will be too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Restful Week

We have been having an enjoyable, albeit snowy week here in the midwest. I've been blessed to be able to spend some time with a good friend. Even got to teach her to sew! Yes, that is a chemistry themed apron she is making. Yes, she is making it on a Hello Kitty sewing machine.

Simple pleasures.

One of the cuter moments today: Mr. E fell asleep to the sound of the sewing machine. My gosh, how cute!! It just made my heart melt. I remember doing the same thing when I was a kiddo. Listening to the methodical hum of the machine and drifting to dreamland. So lovely.

I am getting ever-closer to finishing these man-socks. I need to have them done this weekend. They are for my Grandpa and are already an incredibly late Christmas gift. I was so overjoyed when I turned the heels last week. It felt like a mega accomplishment!! Because it kind of was. I guess.

Stay warm friends!! It's cold and snowy all over, it seems!! Stay inside, drink hot cocoa, and craft up a storm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Planner 2015

Last year around this time, I made my first custom planner. After having used through all of 2014, I am ready to review my own work and reveal to you my 2015 planner.

But first I'd like to note that I have edited my 2014 blog post a wee bit.

When I first made some of these pages (as proud as I was of them) I was offering them as free downloads. You lovelies have now had one year (actually, one year and five days if ya wanna be sassy) to capitalize on the freebies. After re-working and adding to the planner, I've decided to offer it as an instant download via Etys for a couple of dollars per PDF. The great news is, they are still super, mega-way, one-billion-percent cheaper than the planners you buy in big stores. Trust me, I was just shopping for them like a week ago. As an added bonus, I'm throwing in free peace of mind with every download: you know you are shopping small and supporting a nerdy girl when you buy the pages! As opposed to shopping big and supporting, ya know, China. Good vibes! Start your New Year by shopping small!!

Let's get on with it. The 2015 Planner!!!

This year I opted for a pretty, girly cover. Not usually my style, I know, but the birdies on this paper glitter. I cannot say no to glitter. Plus, my friend +Pyper Jean gave it to me when we made our planners together.

  I also opted for a clear plastic cover this year. Last year I went white, but since I have the cute paper this year, I had to show it off. I am a little concerned about the clear cover holding up, but we shall see!!

 I used the same Blank Month Pages as I did in 2014. They worked well, so I felt no need to change them. As you can see, I have January all filled in. Look! There's even a birthday recorded at the top. What a good girl I am.

For my weekly schedule, I opted to keep using Joy Kanani's freebie pages. I did make my own Week At A Glance page as well. The Week at A Glance page shows the week spread across two pages and has room to plan 6am-6pm for each day. Personally, I didn't need that in-depth of a schedule for my week. But now, as I'm typing this up, I'm kind of wishing I had put it in my own planner. Ah well, next year.

You may notice, I didn't use tabs for the months this year. They ended up getting caught in stuff a lot, so I just left them off for 2015. I've been doing just fine with my binder clips. I did add in cardstock dividers between each planner section. In electric green, naturally.

I was re-reading my 2014 blog post about my first planner last night and found something quite funny. One of the things I ended up HATING the most about the planner was the thing I was looking forward to using the most back then. Oh poor naive child! I was giddy about having my shopping list and meal plan "right on the same page"!! How great, right? Nope. I do love having my meal plan and shopping list near each other, but the shopping list from last year's planner was not cutting it. Not at all.

You see, I'm OCD about my shopping lists, and for some reason I thought that little neat column on last year's meal planning page would be fine. But do you know what I did? Every. Dang. Time. I'd write out my meal plan. Fine, good, yes. Then I'd make my shopping list. Randomly, of course, as I was thinking of things or remembering we were out of something or being advised by my husband or changing the meal plan entirely. So my shopping list would be a mess and I was then faced with two choices: try and read through the chicken scratch or re-write the list (in grocery departmental order) on a new paper.

I usually opted for the latter, leaving my planner a mess and practically pointless. So this year I did some major editing.

There is my sweet precious: an organized shopping list that I don't have to rewrite. I just sort my list as I go, random as it may be. It's beautiful. And brilliant. And I already adore it.

The meal plan section is largely unchanged. Just a lil bit bigger. Like my plan for New Years Eve dinner? "Something Fancy." So clever. We ended up having a delicious roast beef, so I guess that worked out.

Another section I majorly revamped is my social media/blogging section. I was wayyyy too cramped in my old one by the end of the year. So BAM. A much more roomy week-by-week social media plan page. I left it pretty vague because as my media plans change through the year, I don't want to end up committing to a planning page that might not grow with me.

Another page I pretty much left alone: my Project Notes Page. I really adore this section of my planner. It served me so well last year. I love having the crafty record right there with me where ever I go! I also made a set of pages for Pyper's planner that I didn't include in my own: Gratitude Journaling Pages. I have my own separate journal for that, but I love the idea of being able to have a positive space within your planner to remember what is important. Planning can get hectic and overwhelming, so that little positive reminder to focus on the blessings is great.

And that's all! Da back cover. Yes, I managed to already get a crease in my back cover. Opps. It'll be fine though. I have faith in it. If not.....I'll cry maybe. That's logically the best reaction. Because I have so many feelings about this planner.

And yes, that is a stitch marker tagging along there. Never know when you'll need one!! Hehe.

Happy planning, friends!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Custom Order: Mini Plush

I've said it before and I will say it again: I love taking custom orders. Especially from my friend Kataoi. She always has the nerdiest and most fun projects for me to work on. Here's the latest: some stinkin' cute mini plush of her friends' fave characters. She gave them as x-mas gifts.

Ned the Pie Maker from Pushing Daisies

Three Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor plush

Two Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker plush

And Kirby
They were quite fun to make. I may be working on the patterns for these if I can decipher my own handwriting. I'll keep you updated!! Who wouldn't love some sweet instant gratification nerd-plush?

Stay warm kids! It's like a billion below zero here. BRRR.

Monday, January 5, 2015

100th Post and a Sad Story

 So, this is my 100th blog post!! I kind of feel like I need to jam out about this for some reason. Even though my posts have been very very sporadic and I know fo sho I ain't krumpin' yet.

As the title states, I have a sad story to relate to all ya'll out in blogland. Once upon a time I felt really spiffy and on top of stuff. I had all these posts scheduled for the week before Thanksgiving leading up to a grand rendition of #GlutenFreeFriday in which I was to discuss all of the various ways to make your Thanksgiving meal safe for Celiacs. It was all typed and had pictures and a slideshow and a jet fly-over and glitter and yes. It was scheduled. I swear it was scheduled! But then.


For some reason I went back in to the post to edit a picture. After editing, the post unscheduled itself and went to draft mode. And I didn't notice until, oh...Thanksgiving Day. Oops. Big old fail. I was so bummed and distressed by this turn of events that I decided I was clearly to distracted to work at the blog until the holidays were behind me.

And now they are. So. Here we go! New year. New adventures. That's going to be my theme for the next year, I think. Trying new things and pushing forward into new realms. Blah blah blah feelings.

In other news, The Narwhal Hat continues to be my most popular pattern in the shop. Who can resist this dapper fellow??

This particular hat was made as a custom order and just finished up yesterday. I really never get tired of making these for people. They are so fun. Even though my shop only had instant download patterns right now, I am always open for custom orders of finished objects. 

Oh, another sad thing: Sewinique Boutique is no longer opened on Etsy!! My label maker that I raved about. Guess it'll be time somewhat soon to find a new one. Shoot me some reccomendations, if you have them.

Pensive about the year ahead, a girl and her Narwhal Hat inspect the snow.
Hope your holiday celebrations were lovely and full of joy. Looking forward to another year of crafting with you!!