Counting Blessings.

The kids and I decorated for Christmas yesterday. I know, I know, it’s early! I don’t really have any Thanksgiving decor though so putting up Christmas felt like the festive thing to do. As soon as I started bringing up boxes, the kids went bananas for it, so it was a total win.

Having done most of the cleaning yesterday, I took an hour or so this morning to dust and give a little shine to my spinning wheels and spindles. My holiday company will start arriving today so this was my last opportunity to do so before things got busy. The sun slowly came up. Big, fat snow globe flakes of snow started to fall. In that quiet moment, I took a deep breath and counted my blessings. I am thankful. For family. For friends. For my home. For the cold November blue skies. For the sun shining. For the big, fat snow globe flakes of snow. For my beautiful spinning wheels. For the friends I’ve made through craft and all I’ve been able to learn from it. For all the experiences of the past year. I’m just so very thankful.

This Thanksgiving I hope that you each get a quiet moment to take a deep breath and count your blessings, too. Some days they are harder to see, some days they are as blinding as the morning sun, but they are there. And they are many.

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Thanksgiving Reflections

A couple weeks ago my husband and I went for a walk in one of our favorite spots. It had just snowed a couple inches and the world had that wonderful stillness and quiet that can only be after a new snow.

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I think the best part about walks like this are that we take our time, looking at all the minutia of the natural world while our ears are listening for the tell-tale sounds of life.

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We see frost on tassels of the tall grasses…

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And we see spent milkweed pods, silk knotted in ice. And eventually, like this day, we hear and then spot a flock of American Tree Sparrows, a Snipe, and an American Pipit all under the watchful eye of two Bald Eagles. We hear coyotes in the distance and even though we weren’t far off the road, nary a car passed. These are the moments that ground me, that get my out of my own head, and that bring me a peace that I don’t know any other way to find. These are the moments that allow me to be brave enough to take on the world. They give me the strength to take on huge things, important things. Things so far beyond my comfort zone that I can’t even see my comfort zone. Things like cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of you will laugh. I mean, I am — as my dear husband would say — “nearly four decades old” (he thinks rounding up from 37 to 40 is endearing) and really it is ridiculous that I’ve never cooked properly for Thanksgiving. I’ve helped Mr Knitting Sarah cook big meals, I’ve helped my mom, and I’ve ordered and heated pre-made heat & eat Thanksgiving meals from the grocery store with a mastery that is rarely surpassed, but I’ve never been the one behind the plan for cooking. Even though it shouldn’t have been, it was a big deal to me, especially because I’m not generally super confidant in my cooking skills. Baking, sure, I can follow any recipe, but cooking… that’s another story.

It was a challenge I wanted to take on though because I’ve been working on expanding my cooking repertoire and — let’s be real — it was time. Nervously, compulsively, I made my plans. First I made a list of dishes I wanted to make. Then I made two columns — one for Wednesday and one for Thursday — in order make sure that I had enough space in the oven and various cooking devices to get everything prepared on time. Then I set not one, but two alarms on my phone reminding me to pull the turkey out so it would thaw on time.

And then Wednesday rolled around. Game on.

It started with a crack of dawn trip to the grocery store. At this point, I’d already been grocery shopping for this meal for a solid week and a half at least and I’d been to the store no fewer than 6 times, but I had a list of last minute additions that Mr Knitting Sarah requested and other odds and ends. I was also grabbing baking items that happened to be on sale in preparation for upcoming holiday cookie baking because, really, why not just add that on top of everything else?

When we got home, I started by setting the kids up to wash and cut fresh veggies and then I started mixing up my first cheesecake, a classic plain one to be served with a choice of cherries or blueberries. It’s an item that is easily in my wheelhouse, so it was a good place for me to start. I whipped it up and popped it in the oven and then got to prepping and boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes. Potatoes rolling, I moved on to cheesecake #2, because let’s be real, how can one cheesecake be enough for 6 adults and two kids? We don’t need to discuss the fact that I also had bought a pumpkin pie.

It was somewhere around the start of cheesecake #2 that my mister texted to say he’d like to invite 2-3 of his co-workers to come to our meal. “Of course,” I said as I worked very hard to not panic. The more the merrier. In the back of my mind, I was hyperventilating at the idea of cooking that turkey while at the same time thinking how thankful I was I’d just thrown an extra load of potatoes in to boil for mashing and mentally upped the ante on the green bean casserole from one batch, to a double.

Even with the additions, I managed my Wednesday list with ease and even got a home-cooked meal for our family and my parents that evening. Sure, the dishwasher was working overtime…

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And there was that moment cooking dinner when there was a lot of smoke and then — as it turned out — a fire engulfing the bottom of the oven, but I got the fire out and everything (and everyone) survived. I even had enough energy to work a bit on my latest spinning project…

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Nothing, just nothing relaxes me like spinning.

Thursday morning we awoke early and the kids, my mom, and I did a 2mile walk to benefit the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club. I was anxious about getting home to get the bird in the roaster, so I walked like I have rarely walked before. I am by nature more of a stroller than a walker, but I hoofed it to that finish line for the sake of that turkey. And then, we went back to the grocery store. I just went in for paper plates and disposable flatware, but wound up with a full cart. I think that’s what happens when you have 4 people “helping” you shop. But I digress.

Thanks to the obsessive planning and work ahead, Thursday was a breeze. The turkey was in in plenty of time and even though I was the only one interested in the squash, it was done just the way I like it. There was plenty of room to heat everything up and it all came together right on time. We shared a good meal, a lot of laughs and all in all, it was one of the most memorable, feast-like Thanksgivings we’ve had. I made way too much food…

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So we will be eating iterations of it for the next week or two, but I don’t mind. It was pretty good and it’s a meal I’m pretty proud to enjoy… even if I’m enjoying it multiple times!

The downside of making too much food, of course, is that few had room for cheesecake…

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They weren’t super pretty, but turns out cheesecakes don’t have to be pretty to taste good. Yum.

I fell asleep Thursday night too exhausted to really consider that I’d actually survived and had fun doing it, but I did go to sleep happy.

I awoke to this view from my window…

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Another beautiful, still, quiet moment before the family and the trees and the world woke up. It was just me and the waking sky and a bit of time to reflect on this lovely event that I was fortunate enough to host. And while it’s true that I am mindful of and thankful for this charmed life I lead every single day, this Thanksgiving was a wonderful reminder that even the challenges that feel insurmountable are a gift for which to be thankful. These opportunities change us, reminding us that we are capable of more than we realize. Even at nearly four decades old, you can indeed learn to cook a turkey, make a multi-day meal prep plan, hoof it 2miles in record (for you) time, find time to spin a little yarn out of wool, and make not one, but two delicious cheesecakes – to look ahead and see the little minutia in big (at least to me!) event. Indeed, it’s never too late to quiet your mind and see all those details and remind yourself that you are more capable of putting it all together than you may think. Along with everything else, I’m thankful for that, too.

Kindness, Thankfulness: It’s Catching

There has been a whole lot of negative floating around in the ether for a good long while now. I’m afraid that on this Thanksgiving day there are a lot of people who woke up this morning still overcome with fear or worry or anger. We live in tumultuous, impassioned times. Usually I would take time today to tell you how thankful I am for my family, for all the little blessings that I count every single day, but today I thought I’d share something else I’m thankful for this year.

There have been all sorts of reactions and emotions and actions and feelings and words that have been shared during the last month. We’ve seen it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. And as I was squinting to see the silver lining in all the negative, in all the conflicting news stories that abound, out of the blue I got a note from a spinning friend. We’ve never met in person, we live almost 1000 miles apart and we only “know” each other via email and a common spinning group as she helped me with some spindling questions I had early on. In any case, this fellow fiber artist sent me a message saying something to the effect of, “I know you’ve been interested in trying one out, so I’d like to send you a supported spindle. I have many and I’d like you to have one.”

I hadn’t been looking or asking. She just knew I was interested and, as she put it, she just wanted to do “a good deed.” I replied that I would love to make it a swap, so that she could experience some happy fiber arts mail, too. About a week later, she got a package bursting with fiber (and a few extra little treats) and I received these beauties in the mail…

spindlesTWO wonderful spindles — one Tibetan and one Russian — and a spindle bowl. I’m speechless! And as many of you know, this delivery held are more than spindles, this is a whole new adventure for me as I learn this new skill. For someone like me, it’s a really big deal — kind of like being given a plane ticket to an exotic land. It was an act of graciousness I will forever attach to these tools.

Shortly after, another spinning & weaving friend, offered to send me her mini boat shuttle that she didn’t use anymore. We’d talked about it previously and when I said I was ready to buy, it was in the mail straight away.

shuttleAnd in just a few days it arrived. She sent it, no payment payed yet, but knowing and trusting that I’d get her back as soon as she found the fiber she’d like in exchange. This little shuttle is made of cherry and it’s just beautiful. It’ll be perfect for scarf projects with my new loom. Knowing that I was interested in using it with my next project and getting it to me so swiftly right as the holiday was coming up on us was just so incredibly kind.

If this wasn’t enough, I got a notice the other day that another online spinning friend had nominated me for a Pay It Forward giveaway event in the Maliha Designs Group on Ravelry. And just a day or so later, I had a new pattern in my inbox as our names had been drawn. Sand Layers was the pattern that was selected for me and I am so inspired to spin for it.

And yesterday. Can you believe there is more? There is.

Yesterday as I came back from walking the dog I noticed that my mailbox had a squishy package in it. I immediately felt a mild concern because I wasn’t expecting anything. Could I have ordered something and forgotten about it? That would be worrisome. I opened it and and found a gift wrapped in bright yellow tissue paper tied elegantly with a simple string with a note attached that read, “Just because.”

img_5299How can one person be the recipient of so much kindness? So much thoughtfulness?

The most amazing aspect is that my stories are not outliers. These are just ones that have directly touched my life. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen loads of pay it forward giveaways and programs meant to touch the lives of one or two people at a time. What amazes me about this community of knitters and spinners that you & I belong to is that it’s not just one or two people who are being generous, it’s hundreds, maybe thousands of people who have come out with similar random acts of kindness. This amazing group of men and women seem to grasp intuitively that by taking a step here or there to touch the life of one or maybe two others is all it takes to have an impact in this world. And the kindness, it’s catching.  Through these small acts, lives are connected, good things are shared, and silver linings are rediscovered. These are the small acts that — whatever your point of view — you can’t deny is the type of warmheartedness that helps to make the world a better place, to heal rifts, and to help us all move forward together.

So when I sit down to Thanksgiving with my family this year, of course I am thankful for them, for everything that they are, for everything that they do.They are, quite simply, my everything. But I’m also thinking of the incredible people in the fiber arts community. The friends I’ve made over the years, the kindness in their hearts, and the collective spirit we share always undaunted and working to actively make the world a better place one small act at a time. I am so thankful for the consideration of others and I’m so proud and humbled that the fiber arts community consistently steps-up and proves that this kindheartedness is steadfastly present through it all. For all of my knitting, spinning, and weaving friends, thank you for you and for all that you do!

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!

Some Days, Every Day

Sometimes all the appliances break at once. Some days homeschooling feels like an uphill battle. Every once in a while I have a super epic meltdown with Mr Knitting Sarah that starts with an argument and morphs into sloppy tears that last for a couple hours. Some evenings I go to pet Moose only to find he’s broken out in some new mysterious rash. Some days the computer’s keyboard craps out and the backup external one we have has a sticky shift key. Sometimes I print out 5 knitting patterns because I’m getting desperate to finish the project I’m on and somehow
I’m convinced printing patterns will expedite the process. Some days it gets exhausting trying to explain to the children what is going on in the world when so many headlines are scary and tragic.

Some days feel harder than others.

Every day, though, I count the long list of things for which I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for my husband who works so hard to support our family and always challenges me, supports me, and makes me laugh.

I’m thankful for my children who are brilliant and strong and healthy and the kindest souls I know.

I’m thankful for my parents who’ve always been there.

I’m thankful for my in-laws who have always been an active and loving part of our life despite the distance between us.

I’m thankful for my Moose who taught me how to love and trust (wo)man’s best friend again.

I’m thankful for my friends, near and far, who I never see enough, but are each extraordinary human beings.

I’m thankful that we have a house to call a home and plenty of food on the table.

I’m thankful for the million little conveniences we have that (mostly) function to make my life and chores easier.

I’m thankful that I’m able to knit and spin because it makes those days when my body is struggling a little easier.

I’m thankful to have time to spend with those I love and to do the things I love.

Some days it’s easy to get caught up in all the things that aren’t quite going my way. Some days it feel hard. The truth is, though, all it takes is a tiny bit of perspective to recognize that we are so lucky. Every day.

And I am so thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!

xo,

Sarah.

On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. It’s the day we take some time out of our busy lives to share a meal with loved ones. We take a step back and appreciate all that we have. I have to admit, I try very hard to live everyday thankful. It doesn’t always work out — like when the furnace breaks down or the car starts making a weird noise or the kids are especially challenging to get studying or the dog’s allergies are raging. It’s hard to stay positive in those moments. But at the end of most days, I make a point of going to sleep thankful.

For my warm blankets.

For my sturdy little house.

For the two brilliant little people sleeping in the next room.

For the wonderful husband who never stops believing in me and supporting me and who is never afraid to be honest with me.

For the crazy dog sleeping on my legs.

For my parents who have always been there.

For a sister who still tolerates me even though I was not all that nice to her growing up.

For in-laws on all sides of my family who are really kind & generous people.

For friends near and far, old and new.

For the gift of my craft that brings me a lot of joy & peace & allows me to meet so many wonderful people.

For my stash, because, you know, it’s awesome.

For all the knitters and spinners out there who I’ve connected with over the years who never cease to inspire me.

For the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.

I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had and all the ones yet to come because they are the building blocks that make this wonderful little life that I get to lead.

I’m thankful for this life and I’m humbled that I am lucky enough to live the life I do everyday.

When I fall asleep tonight, when I fall asleep most nights, these are the thoughts that are running through my head. I am thankful today on Thanksgiving. I am thankful everyday.