... no feature this Friday - I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow! I was hoping to have a bunch of posts lined up and ready, so I could just schedule them to publish, and not leave the poor blog empty for the next couple weeks. But, it just didn't happen that way... I have a bunch of ideas for posts, and even a few already written, but not a lot of pictures of any of it yet. So, when I do get back I'll have lots of fun stuff to share!

I was even thinking I had so much fun doing my last contest, that I should have another round or two - so if you missed out on the last one, or just didn't win it - you'll get more chances! So, stay tuned for a mystery fabric stash giveaway, a bath & body themed gift-box and maybe more!

A great big thanks go out to all of the wonderful commenters recently! You've all been so sweet, and I haven't had the time to thank everyone personally; but I hope I can remedy that after my trip. So, thanks again! You guys are great!


Feature Friday - I need your features!!!

I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off the last few days, because I'm going on vacation - a week from tomorrow! I can hardly believe it, because it's been about a year since my last vacation! This time, I'm headed on a cruise through the Panama Canal; and my husband and I somehow snagged a table for two at dinner! Score! I'm so excited, but I also need a little help!

So, I need your features and recommendations for Acapulco and Huatulco, Mexico and Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We'll be stopping in a couple more ports than that, but we have some shore excursions planned already - how does a helicopter tour of Aruba sound? Pretty good, you say? Yes, yes.

Obviously then, it's not my first cruise; but it will be my first time in those 3 ports, so I need some help figuring out what to do and eat in those places. Give me a good one, and I might even have to repay the favor and send you a little somthing special... (hey, a little incentive isn't bad, is it? Hehehe.)


Feature Friday - Baggu Bags

When I read about these Baggu bags on Not Martha's blog, I wanted to try them out for myself. I've been wanting to buy a set of reusable bags for quite some time, and the fact that I could pick from such a wide range of colors really sealed it for me. Plus, I got a fun storage sack, too!

They really can hold 2-3 times what a regular plastic bag would, and didn't even snap a thread when I stuffed 2 2L pops (I know, hcfs sucks - that's for another day!) plus 51L bottles of water in one bag! I'm seriously impressed, they hold up superbly, look great; and I thought it was pretty easy to fold them back up to put them in in their boxy pouches.

All in all, I have to give these a glowing review. Except for the fact that the bagger looked at me like I was crazy for having such large reusables; I just thought to myself," if you put things in, in the right way - they stand up on their own just fine!"


How I really feel inside...

I really, really don't like sharing this stuff here, but for lack of a better outlet, here goes nothing...

So, it all started a couple years back when my grandmother died. My mom spent a ton of months taking care of her before that, even though my grandma would say the meanest things sometimes. Now, I wonder if that had to do with some sort of pre-frontal cortex damage or issue - that meant she just didn't have that internal censor that everyone else seems to. That's how my family used to always describe it anyhow. Now, I wonder if it was a scientific part of who she was. Part of me feels bad for not trying to be more accepting of it...

After that, my mom went on a last minute cruise to Greece, which I thought would be great for her, and I think it was, although she won't tell me anything but the good parts... so who knows? Thing is...she left my sister in charge of EVERYTHING. I even offered to watch her dog for her (which would have saved her a considerable amount of money,) and she refused. Even when I offered to drive the 25 miles to her house everyday to check up on the house and dog, she brushed me off like I wasn't capable of taking on the task. That really hurt.

Then, when my step-father lost his glasses in Greece - who'd they call to have another pair Fedex-ed over? Not me, it was my sister. Just like it was my sister who I had to talk to during the couple weeks my mom was overseas. And, I'd have to say, that was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my mom. All my sister would say is how much they talked on the phone EVERY day, and how she felt lost without that. Nevermind the fact that I was trying to do my best to be there for her, and she's never said thank you to me, for that once. Or anything else I've tried to do for her, or my mom this past year.

After that, she got pregnant (my sister, not my mom - I'm turning 28 at the end of the year!) And that was really hard news for me - because it wasn't long before we found out that it was going to be a girl - just EXACTLY what she was hoping for. I even went to Hawaii last year, and had a bit of escape from my family mess, but as soon as I got back, it went straight back into - "Let's put all of our focus on her, and not you." And, I really struggled with that attitude hanging in the air. But no one saw it, or recognized it.

Just to be clear, here - I've been trying to tell my mother these feelings for over a year, in fact, ever since my sister started trying to get pregnant; but to no avail. She dodges my points, makes excuses why she can't be there for me now. The tricky bit is - she was ALWAYS there for me as a younger child, and even though I'm older now, I literally feel like a bird who was just kicked out of the nest, and left to fend for myself. Totally alone within my family unit.

See - here's the other side of the story - my dad was always there physically, but not ever in an emotional sense. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old. That is to say, my visitations with him were sitting in front of the tv, not talking to him at all. In fact, I could say something, and he just wouldn't hear, or process it - to the point that I sometimes wondered if I'd ever said it all. This left me feeling pretty damaged and alone as a child, and the fact that I never felt my sister wanted me as her sister never helped. I just wasn't good enough of a daughter or a sister to either one of them, and I've felt shunned most of my life.

So, when I told my dad just how angry and upset all that crap made me (like at 25, a few years back,) instead of saying, "Kari, I want to have a rational, real conversation with you about this," he told my sister he disowned me. The dickhead didn't even have enough cahones to say it to me direct. He just said "I only have one daughter." - even though we're twins. Great parenting skills there.

So, at the beginning of this year my mom asked me to help plan my sister's baby shower, and at that point - I was just starting to feel like my jealousy was coming from a place of perspective - that I felt like the whole world was saying. "Yeay Jenn, you'r pregnant!" When I didn't have anyone telling me, ""Yeay Kari, you're following you're own path, even if it is non-traditional!" Well, except my husband, and one very, very close blog friends. Thank you both, from the bottom of my heart. You've kept me sane this year, really.

Oh yeah, and even though I stifled all of my feelings until after the baby shower, because i wanted my sister to have an enjoyable one, no matter the relationship we share - here's the kicker... my mom left for a week's vacation the day after the baby shower - without telling me she was even going. I had to find out from my sister - who I certainly didn't feel comfortable sharing those negative feelings with, especially then (she was 7+ months pregnant!) I really needed to be able to share my feeling with her (my mom,) that week, and she made it perfectly clear through her actions, that she wasn't interested in listening to them. Then, or now, (it's been 6 months since the shower.)

But, it doesn't 't help alleviate the pain I feel that my family thinks baking a baby is more valuable than trying to define for my OWN self what's going to make me happy. Can't I be my own person, with my OWN desires and goals, and aren't they just as valid as everyone else's???

Maybe, it will be a child someday, I can't say it's something I'm totally disinterested in; but after this experience, with my family that I get to say on paper is my family - even though I barely ever felt, and now I totally don't feel - a part of them, in any way. I've said to my mom that I feel extraneous and worthless, in my role as her daughter, and she won't/ or can't address it as a point - which makes me feel like my feelings are completely invalid, and wrong.

She wants to talk in person or on the phone, and basically said that she doesn't think we can work on anything regarding our relationship through email. But, I'm a very guarded person with my feelings, and if I keep trying to share them with someone who I don't feel is listening, or really hearing what I have to say... I don't know any other coping device than to shut down, and pre-reject them all, because rejection is all I've felt from them for years. My dad, sister, and now - most painfully of all - my mom.

Mom - I can't see you, or talk to you on the phone right now. I NEED it to be through email, because I'm so hyper-sensitive to everything you say, and every inflection in your tone and body language. I know you're not trying to take your life stresses out on me - but that's what it's felt like for a long time. You always made a point to make the other twin feel special when something great was going on in the other's life... but where are you when I need you? When the whole world is cheering her on for something almost every woman on the face of the earth is doing - whilst I'm toiling, trying to find my own meaning of happiness and fulfillment. Why is that less valuable to you? Why can't you show me the support I need, especially right now? And, especially in the way that I NEED it, instead of just the way you're willing to give it to me...


Feature Friday - Planet June Amigurumi

I might be biased, because June's a very good friend of mine... but I just can't help but include her blog & store in my Feature Friday posts. She's a very talented crafter who makes things out of lots of different materials (a crafter after my own heart!) But, her main focus is crochet patterns done in a certain style, called amigurumi.

Aren't these guinea pigs adorable?!!!

There's lots of people who make amigurumi, but I'll tell you why June's patterns are different. First off - some are in fuzzy/fizzy yarn which lends such a wonderful finished effect. Not many people tackle this kind of novelty yarn - especially in crochet! Secondly, her instructions are clear and concise, with lots of pictures (which is my preferred learning method.) And, the range! She's published so many patterns, and she's only been crocheting since 2003! I find that pretty inspiring and amazing, and I hope you do, too!!!

Please do go check out her pattern store, she's just updated with these Halloween themed cuties! She has such a wide range of animal patterns available, though - there's enough there to please anybody I'd bet!

My favorite is the Polar Bear, they're so endangered and special - they may be gone in as little as 60 years! (I have to say a very close second goes to AmiDog Shiba Inu. June was sweet enough to make me one to match my Shiba Inu, Ginger. Trust me, having a cute little dog that doesn't poop or talk back, is awesome! Hehehe.) She has many more breed styles as well, though.

*All images are copyright June Gilbank, and used only with her permission.


Rip It... Rip It Good!

These days I find myself needing to rip back large portions of a knitting project, for one reason or another; and I thought I'd share what I've learned (so you don't have to spend hours untangling an unholy mess of one ply lace weight wool. ugh.)

Tiffany Skinny Empire - ripping back
I'm not even done ripping yet... I'm going all the way back to the armholes!

I use this technique when I'm mid-project, and don't want to rip the whole piece out, just a large enough section that would undoubtedly tangle, were I not to utilize this simple method. In fact, it's just a piece of card stock (letter sized, 8.5"x11"",) rolled into a tube and taped shut. I place a cut on one end to hold the end that's closest to the ball, that's not being ripped, to hold the yarn in place.

Then, I just rip back and wind the loose yarn onto the tube, being careful to pull tight enough to slightly pull the curl out, but not so tight that it actually constricts the tube. I try and start at the end of the tube closest to the ball. I work my way towards the other end of the tube as I go, so when I knit it back together, I can just pull a few loops off the tube at a time. Jeez, I hope that made sense! If you have any questions, or just want to call me wordy - feel free! And wish me luck while you're at it, I still have a ton left to rip out!


October, already?!?!?!?!

I can hardly believe it! Partly because I'm going on a cruise in a few weeks, and partly because by the time I get back, it's going to be the holiday season again! Ack!

So, does anyone remember my contest? Well, I still haven't heard from one of the winners - Vickie S. who's blog is Red Hot Polka Dots. If you don't email me by the 8th, I'll have to redraw another winner.

Tsumami Kanzashi Flower Snap Set

I want to be able to have all my contest winner's packages out and on their way before I go on vacation! So - anybody craving a cashmere tsumami kanzashi bracelet, or a pair of tree branch earrings - stay tuned! If I haven't heard from Vickie in a week, I'll put up another contest post and redraw another random winner.

Where did this year go, I mean... I know it's mostly gone - but damn! I wanted to get so much more done already by now. So many goals and ideas just floating in my brain, getting crammed into little corners here and there. I really hope I can get more of them out of my head and into reality from now on...


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