Although I love knitting very much, I have been trying to get myself into crochet for a long time. I started with a set of potholders, proceeded to learn granny squares and then kind of got stuck there (you can find all my crochet posts here). I did make my father a scarf in a different stitch a few years ago and I enjoyed that very much, but I always got back to knitting.
Since we moved to Curacao, I have been looking at other ways to craft. When you’re in a colder climate only a few weeks every year, it just doesn’t make sense to knit sweaters, hats and scarfs so much. So I have been thinking about crochet, and specifically amigurumi, a lot. And since we knew we had a little grandson coming, the idea of making toys became more and more attractive.
But the thing is… patterns scare me. There, I said it. I can read knitting patterns, but I prefer them in English. Dutch knitting patterns confuse me. And crochet patterns are even worse. Did you know dc is a whole different stitch in the UK than in the US? Yeah, that kind of confusing.
So – you probably guessed where I was going if you’ve been following my blog for a while – I winged it. I mean, how hard can it be?
Meet Cat. My very first crochet toy. There is so much that I would do different a second time, but I also learned a lot figuring out how to make him. It was fun. I’m definitely going to try again (to be honest I already started).
For today I had planned to post a whole bunch of cozy pictures, capturing and documenting the perfect little happy moments of our Christmas days. Sounded like a great plan a few weeks ago. But things worked out a bit differently. I didn’t even touch my camera the past few days and I don’t think there were many occasions to take those pictures I imagined anyway.
We did have a good time though.
I’ve literally been staring at that last sentence for hours, but I don’t know what more to say.
Details? That’s just not how I roll with blogging and family matters. When I start writing diary-style posts, it’s all or nothing for me; I can’t tell my story if I have to skip half the details. But a lot of the details are not mine to share. So it has to be nothing. (I actually wrote a post like that and deleted it)
Wise words? I can’t think of any. I’ve already shared the advice I try to live by in times like these: no (or at least lower) expectations, toss the lists, keep it simple, remember it’s just a date. But I still had sleepless nights and a panic attack on Christmas Eve. So there’s that. Do as I say, not as I do.
We did have a good time though.
Really, we did. We had a messy, imperfect Christmas with ups and downs, laughter and tears, and hits and misses. We tried and failed on a lot of things. But we tried. And maybe that’s all that matters.
And now it’s almost Christmas. Time has been flying these past few weeks. I’m sorry for not reacting to your comments, or commenting on your blogs. I do read (and appreciate!) your comments here and I occasionally visit your blogs, but I have a hard time with sitting down, taking time and find the mental space to really engage. I will pick things up when we’re back home again.
I used to get my expectations up really high for the holidays. You know, plan all the family events, cook all kinds of dishes I never made before (such a silly thing to do!) and hope for blissfull days without any mishaps. Yeah right. That never happened. Over the years I learned to enjoy the process, but also to toss the lists when things weren’t working out. Just being with family is good enough, even when we’re all just human and not perfect Hallmark movie characters.
Last year, we had the worst Christmas ever. In 2021 we had to cancel our trip to the Netherlands because of Omicron. Back then we didn’t know it was a mild form of the virus. We just saw the number of infections rising and rising and made the decision to stay home. I was determined to have a good time though and planned a whole lot of Christmas fun. And then T.’s kidneystones decided Christmas Eve was the perfect night to start acting up, so you can imagine there wasn’t much Christmas cheer those two days.
This year, I went in without any expectations (well, I tried really hard) and things still went off in a way that was very hard for me to deal with. But I think I’m done struggling with all the feelings I have about that, right in time to enjoy the holiday.
Wishing you all the very best of days. Don’t forget to toss the lists when things get too stressful, have a bit of fun and if things don’t work out, remember that it’s just a date. Family bonding, good meals, peaceful moments and all that good stuff can happen any time of the year.
(I’ll be back next Wednesday – December 26th is Second Christmas day in The Netherlands, so I’m going to linger a little bit longer with Christmas movies and family visits)
“May you find peace in the promise of the solstice night, that each day forward is blessed with more light. That the cycle of nature, unbroken and true, brings faith to your soul and wellbeing to you. Rejoice in the darkness, in the silence find rest, and may the days that follow be abundantly blessed.”
:: listening to the “top 4000” on our favorite radio station. This is a yearly compromise in our house. I’d love to be full on Christmas music right now, but I don’t think T. would be able to tolerate that. Also, I love hearing all those great songs (most people voting have more or less the same taste as we do) and we will have Christmas music when it’s actually Christmas.
:: not sure what to think of the weather these days. When we arrived in The Netherlands last week, it was extremely cold for the time of year. We do have periods of -10 degrees C (14 F), but usually not until the end of january. Christmas is often warmer then Easter (really, not joking), so the whole country was actually getting excited about skating and real winter stuff. Well, it’s raining now and it will be +10 C (50F) tomorrow and the rest of the year. Oh well… For us it’s still cold anyway.
:: looking forward to seeing R. (not disclosing his full name, sorry) again tomorrow. He’s so beautiful and cute and I’m so grateful that we were able to visit him when he was only one day old and will be able to see him a few more times during these first weeks of his life.
:: still struggling with jetlag, or maybe just with my “normal” fatigue and insomnia (I got sick the month before we left and never fully healed). It’s frustrating, but I’m trying to fully enjoy the short time we have with our family. If that means I have to live on chamomile (at night) and coffee (during the day), it’s okay for now. I’ll deal with the aftermath when we’re back home.
:: promising myself to fully focus on my health when we’re back home.
:: hearing the rain on the roof
:: feeling grateful to have that roof over our heads. It’s not home, but it is ours and that takes away a lot of stress. When we were renting, I was always a bit OCD about other people’s germs, but also very scared to damage something. Also, it’s so great to just know where everything is, both in the cabin and in the village.
:: thinking about Christmas Eve. We’ll probably go to the new parents’ home, but I promised I’ll prepare and cook diner, and we’ll all chip in to get things cleaned up afterwards. I’m not going to make it complicated, just simple food we all love. Thinking about doing veggies and potatoes in the oven, but I need to ask if they have sheet pans. Or just buy them. Add some nice meat (the new mother is very excited to be able to eat red meat again) and find ourselves a gluten/dairy/soy/nut free dessert (ha! that’s impossible, but luckily I’m the only one that has all those allergies, not to mention overreacting to sugar – I usually skip dessert). No matter what, it will be great to have Christmas dinner together again for the first time since 2019 (I hope I didn’t jinx it by writing this) and that’s what’s most important.
:: wondering if I’m finally learning not to stress about things like that, or if I’m just too tired to worry.
I was working on this knitting project a bit yesterday when I realized that I’ve had this on the needles since late August. I think I cast on for it right after we got home from our summer in The Netherlands. Since then, I finished a baby blanket, a baby vest, a baby cardigan and six hats. But I never finished this, even though I work on it regularly.
Usually I’m a one-project-girl; I finish the project I’m working on before I start anything else. Even when I allow myself a bit of startitis because of all the online inspiration and all the ideas in my head, I always end up finishing them one by one.
But this one seems to be different. I pick it up when I finish one project and then abandon it as soon as I feel ready to dive into something new. First I thought that maybe I should just rip it out. Clearly it doesn’t excite me all that much. But then I realized that it’s something else. Just a simple, soothing project that helps me to move on to the next exciting new one. A palate cleansing, that’s what it is.
I’m actually almost done with it. It’s close to ten rows of ten squares, but I have enough yarn to do twelve rows, so I think I’ll do that. And after I finish it? Well, there’s more boring basic yarn in my stash, so I may just cast on and start knitting something similar again.
Oh… you might wonder what it is. Well, to be honest: I don’t know. It’s a very soft cotton, it’s too big to be a dish cloth, but too small to be a baby blanket. Maybe a dish towel? I don’t really care. I’m sure I will find a way to use it one way or the other.
I am reading a book. Well, I am reading many books. Most of them just simple novels that I fly through in a few days (I love “paranormal cozy detectives” and luckily my ereader subsciption has a big supply of those). But this book, I’m just reading slowly, one chapter at a time. I’m not going to tell you what book it is, because that would kind of force me to write a whole lot of words about what I think of it and frankly, I’m not sure at all if I like it or not.
But in one of the very first chapters, the writer mentioned that we live our lives in cycles. Not just our hormonal cycles, but in many, many ways, far beyond that. She then proceeds to compare those cycles to the moon cycles and the seasons. I can relate to moon cycles, but I really don’t like that most books with nature based philosophies assume everyone lives in a region with real, distinctive seasons – I never did and a lot of of us don’t. But I digress.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. You know, I have this image in my mind of how (or who?) I’d like to be. And sometimes I am that woman. But other times, I’m not. I always blamed myself for not being consistent, for “falling off the bandwagon”. But life is not static. We move in circles. Or ideally in an upward spiral, evolving and growing each time we go around, but I guess it takes a lifetime to really see that growth.
But the point is, it’s not wrong to have ups and downs, it’s part of the cycle. Like dark moons and full moons, like ebb and flow, and – okay – like winter and summer.
So now I’m trying to accept that, and I’m striving to understand my cycles. In all aspects of life.
Energy levels for instance. That’s a big one for me. I have very active days, but they are always followed by days of exhaustion. People tell me all the time that I should spread my activity, but that just doesn’t work. Or they just think I’m exaggerating my being tired, because the other day I was fully capable of doing so much. And then I feel frustrated being so “weak”. But since I’m trying to incoorporated this idea of cycles in my life, I am slowly learning to accept that I have these tired days (sometimes weeks). Because now I have hope. The active days will come again.
Herbs are a big part of my life, but sometimes I’m almost obsessed with studying and using them, and other times I’m just drinking my chamomile tea and leave it at that. And it’s the same with my other interests and hobbies; knitting, sewing, writing, reading, gardening, photography… I always feel like I should stick with one thing and immerse myself in it every single day. But my interests come and go, and come again. I’m not inconsistent, I’m just moving in cycles.
This way of thinking actually helps me to understand myself better. And more importantly: to finally accept myself for who I am.
And that’s why I’m sharing this. Because maybe you need to hear it too. It’s normal to have lesser days. You can’t always be a full moon, high water, or a summer. Sometimes you need to take a step back. And that’s okay. Time will turn and good days will come again.
I’m still not sure about these posts, but I like them too much to stop doing them (and also, if I would stop posting everything I’m unsure about, this blog would be dormant again). So let’s just go ahead. I do want to write a little disclaimer in advance though: this is just an impression of what we eat, not a day-to-day log. I also tend to forget to take pictures when I’m making something special. But I guess that’s when I’m really “in the moment”, so I’m not going to feel bad about it.
Yes, yes, we have soup for lunch every single day. I have a few recipes that I love (the not so attractive looking brew on the right is actually a delicious lentil soup), but I also tend to just add water, salt and some herbs to leftovers and eat that as soup. Works wonderful.
I bought those pickles mostly because I wanted that big jar to store herbs in. It was on sale and we both love pickles, so I thought it would be a great deal that way. But I didn’t read the label. Hot ‘n spicy. Or maybe I did see it, but I didn’t think they really meant hot ‘n spicy. In our experience American food isn’t as spicy as they want you to think. Well… this was spicy alright. Way too spicy in fact. Not edible spicy. I can’t imagine that this is normal. Maybe those jars have been in a hot storage too long? Heat tends to intensify hot spices.
Anyway, I decided to try one thing before throwing it away and used a food processor to make them into a “hot sauce”. We’ll see if use it up that way.
Um, these are the only dinners I took pictures off… Oh, well. Yes, we love stir fry. A lot. Not just how it tastes, but the whole process of making it. No recipe, just use the meat is thawed (we rotate between chicken and minced beef, with the occasional beef strips mixed in), selecting some veggies from the fridge, maybe a can of beans or corn the pantry, add some herbs and spices and voilá, another lovely meal (most of the time – some experiments taste better than others)
Onions are such a staple for us I think there doesn’t a day go by without them. Do you cry when cut you them? I have had contact lenses since I was fourteen and they somehow protected my eyes. But I stopped wearing a lense in my right eye, since aging is tipping the balance over to an almost perfect eyesight (for now – I guess I will progress, or rather regress to needing reading glasses for that eye). So now I’m crying from one eye when I have to cut a lot of onions. And that still makes me smile, because it’s so silly.
(I’ve also be doing a bit of herbal crafting in my kitchen, but I’ll share that in a seperate post)
And here’s the last one (for those of you who didn’t read the other posts: I decided rather last minute that it would be nice to give our three girls, the two son-in-laws and our soon to be born grandson hats for Christmas).
I made it semi-matching with the father-son hats, since this is for the mom-to-be. I ran out of the dark blue yarn, but I thought these eyelet holes are similar to, but also a nice change from the stripes. I actually really like this one.