Much to report on my 365 Somethings Project this week! It was a very good week for discovering small ways to be creative in an otherwise crazily hectic week.
First, Mom’s scarf is coming along nicely. I think I have enough yarn to finish the color pattern and repeat it one more time.
Mom’s Scarf 3
Second, I am a huge fan of Taproot magazine. This weekend I decided to make a couple of dishes out of the Hearth issue. All I can say is that I hardly had time to get photographs before both dishes were gone.
Taproot’s Mushroom Stroganoff
Taproot’s Raspberry Clafoutis
Yesterday, we had a lovely, sunny day here in Seattle, so we took the boys for a two-and-a-half hour walk in the Lake Washington area, which gave me a great opportunity for some lovely spring photographs.
Cherry Tree with Pond
Branch of Cherry Blossoms
Seattle on a Sunny Day
Finally, I have been establishing a simple routine at night where I write from a prompt in the revised Writer’s Book of Days and draw from a prompt in The Creative License for just five minutes each. It seems to be working well for me, and I think it’s something I can stick with on even crazy, exhausting days.
So, I’m calling this a good week in terms of creativity!
This week brought a realization that the times they are a-changin. (Sincerest apologies to Bob Dylan.) A month or so ago, my middle son, the naturalist, was accepted into the Beach Watcher Program. Because said son is too young to drive and I’m passingly fond of him, I applied and was accepted along with him. Our 10-weeks training consisting of “80 hours of university-caliber training involving field trips and lectures from over 35 local experts on topics like salmon, water quality, ocean acidification, intertidal life history, coastal processes, native plants, youth education techniques, and so much more” begins this week. The course comes complete with heavy reading assignments, group projects, and tests. After we complete our training in May, however, we will volunteer 80 hours over the next two years on various citizen science projects in our area.
Of course, all of this occurs in the midst of an otherwise full life of homeschooling and hobby farming. Spring has sprung here in the Pacific Northwet, and with it comes an onslaught of necessary house and property projects, which blossom as fast at the ever-encroaching blackberry canes in spring light. Furthermore, fate has deigned to flood all three boys with wonderful opportunities of late, all of which seem to involve applications, deadlines, and interviews over and above their normally, mildly chaotic schedules. At the same time, my spouse has been busy planning several family vacations this summer (thanks in part to expiring frequent flier miles and companion fares), both in and out of the country. His itineraries have given rise to a need (read: mild panic) to get in shape so I can keep up with him and the boys this summer. Last of all, before all of this came to its full, glorious fruition, I registered to take a poetry class from the wonderful instructor and poet, Kevin J. Craft, which starts in two weeks and runs through mid-June.
Suffice it to say, quiet hours hibernating in my office out of the cold, wet winter are long gone. And yet, I want to keep going with my 365 Something Project, in some form. Clearly, writing new poems will be creative, but I’m never willing to post those here. Also, I want to continue working through the stash of projects in my office. Now, however, they are going to have to be portable and easily accomplished. So, I think I will focus for the next couple of months on smaller knitting projects, A Writer’s Book of Days journal writing prompts, and Danny Gregory’s The Creative License art prompts, all of which can be easily stuffed in a bag and taken with me to use in those brief moments of opportunity.
Planning completed, I turn to this weeks’ progress. Between the dawning realization about the coming weeks (which resulted in a flood of book review posts to clear my shelves) and another son’s bout of pneumonia, all I wanted to do was curl up and knit. So, I did exactly that. Mom’s scarf is turning out nicely. I think I’ll repeat the pattern at least once more and possibly twice.
Tonight, I’m getting down to brass tacks fast as I’m tired. The good news, however, is everyone is well, and I made pretty good progress on my 365 Somethings Project this week.
1. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: This week’s project involves adding water droplets and background and requires eleven steps. I got about half of them. I’m pleased with it so far, but it will look radically different next week.
Color Workshop’s Water Droplets Project, part 1
2. Knitting: I decided to shelve the Onami Cowl briefly and make a scarf for my mom instead. I’m using leftover yarn from a afghan I made for her in her favorite colors and making up the pattern as I go. This should be really fast, and I like it so far.
Mom’s Scarf, part 1
3. Beading Kit: I finished my last beading kit!
Vintage Garden Bracelet
4. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: This week the challenge topic was “story.” I’m pretty pleased with my entry.
I think this is next on my fiber agenda, if only because I need the bright colors at this time of year. I picked this kit up a few years ago at Knit Purl in Portland, but I’ve been a bit intimidated by the pattern. However, the time for intimidation is over. Besides, what’s the fun of a project without a bit of a learning challenge?
Onami Cowl Kit
2. Beading: I swapped the Color Workshop this week for two beading kits that I had tucked away a year ago. They made a nice change of pace, and I have one more to complete, but I think I’m ready to start creating my own bead combinations.
3. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: This week’s challenge topic is A Face in the Crowd. Truth be told, I’m not thrilled with my entry. Then again, I can say that people never figure in my art or photography. So, I think mediocrity was probably my fate on this one. 🙂
I’m pretty happy with my progress this week, so let’s get right into it.
1. Ashley Cowl: I think I see the end in sight, and I like what I see! (And I can legitimately start pondering the next project. *she types with a happy gleam in her eye.*)
Ashley Cowl progress
2. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: This week’s project involved stippling, or taking a gel pen and dotting the page until you start questioning your sanity. Truth be told, I’ve never been a real fan of pointillism, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m not fond of stippling. Bottom line: I completely agree with Rachel’s comment that it provides a nice texture for the mushrooms and I see that it provides a great deal of control for both mixing colors and creating lighter and darker areas. I’m glad I understand the technique, but I’m pretty sure it will make rare appearances at best in my work.
Overall, I feel like I accomplished something this week, and it does seem the challenge keeps creativity in the back of my mind throughout the week. Probably most important to me, I’m noticing that, whenever I’m working on something for my challenge, I generally have a feeling of satisfaction. That’s good information to have when planning the rest of your life. 🙂
2. Hoisin Pork and Vegetables from Prevention’s Ultimate Quick & Healthy Cookbook: I bought this cookbook not long after I married, and it quickly became a favorite before we had children. After that, the recipes seemed a bit labor intensive and the quantities too small for the time I had to cook and number I had to feed. This week, however, I found this recipe. After changing the proportions to twice the meat and noodles, three times the sauce, and at least three times the vegetables, it turned out really well, and I have leftovers for another meal.
Hoisin Pork and Vegetables
3. Ashley Cowl: Okay, we aren’t going to discuss this one, let alone photograph my progress this week. Let’s just say I learned that, as much as I’m determined to make progress, it’s better to stop when I’m tired or distracted. :/
4. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: This week, the topic was silence. I’m still a bit on the fence about my photo, but I suppose it sometimes counts just to show up.
I’m toying with adding a daily or weekly writing prompt from one of my writing books and/or carrying a small sketchbook with me so I can doodle or make a fast sketch when I get a moment away from home. I think there is a balance to be found between being spread to thin among various endeavors and having different avenues of creativity for whatever circumstances I am in.
As I’m continuing to progress with this challenge while the rest of my life as a homeschooling mom of three on a hobby farm returns to our typical, chaotic pace, I’m slowly convincing myself that I can in fact complete this challenge. I am definitely enjoying the process at the very least. If I can just complete two more weeks, I will feel more than ready to commit my project goals and parameters to blog post and not look back.
This week, it feels as though I am getting in just under the wire. However, that’s still getting in, and I’m going to take that as success. My progress this week is as follows:
1. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: Last week’s start on the burnishing project went from:
Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop Burnishing Project in progress
Finished burnishing project
This project taught me about layering color with wax-based pencils and, less directly, about creating a color palette. Overall, I’m pretty pleased.
2. Ashley Cowl: I have to say this one was more of an exercise in patience this week. I was so delighted with my progress, only to look down and notice a glaring error which required laboriously removing about an inch of rows. As of tonight, I’m left with this, which I suspect is a zero net gain, but the error’s been corrected and shouldn’t recur. Truth be told, I learn so much more from my mistakes in knitting and crochet than I do from the parts that go seamlessly, so I guess that’s some consolation.
Ashley cowl – week 3
3. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The challenge word this week was “weathered.” I struggled with this one, but a quick walk out to the pastures on Friday to see if a predator was making our animals restless revealed ample subject matter. 🙂
4. Writers Happiness Challenge: A friend and I have agreed to support each other in this 30-day challenge, which takes just five minutes a day. The attraction for me is that this will allow me to create my perfect balance. I’m testing out a theory that I am happiest and most creative when I multitask between art, fiber art, and writing, rather than focusing exclusively on one. I am toying with the idea that multiple outlets helps to spur creativity in each.
Tonight, as I’m reviewing this week, I’m feeling a sense of frustration. I don’t feel like I’m creating anything of my own. That said, I am learning techniques and creating important habits, which should eventually lead to my own original work. I suppose a bit of patience is required.
(I’ve decided to post the purpose and parameters of my Project 365 Somethings when I’ve reached week 6. That way, I can refine the details and confirm my commitment to myself before announcing it here. However, if curiosity is killing you, I can say that my fellow blogger, Ihanna, suggested the challenge, and you can head over to Sweden and read what she proposed here.)
This week, I set a couple of goals for myself to have opportunities to infuse creativity into my day wherever I am.
1. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: When working on this project, I discovered that I like to focus with good light and few distractions. Therefore, working at home in my office makes the most sense. Unfortunately, two-thirds of my homeschooling sons returned to their normal schedule this week, so I had far less time at home. That said, I still accomplished a little. I worked on Rachel’s burnishing project:
Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop Burnishing Project in progress
At first, my internal critic immediately piped up that I hadn’t accomplished enough for this week . However, some of this challenge for me is about enjoyment, and, although I’d like to finish everything, I enjoyed what I did and I’m going to make the choice to focus on that.
2. Ashley Knit Cowl: If the Color Workshop is best accomplished at home, this little cowl project is perfect for portable creativity. It fits neatly into my backpack and the pattern is simple enough to accomplish in a noisy, distracting environment like my sons’ alternative school. Best of all, I get a lovely sense of achievement and the tactile and visual joy as the yarn runs through my fingers.
Ashley Cowl in progress
3. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms: I decided an easy and useful way to add a bit more creativity to my week could be as simple as dusting off one of my numerous cookbooks and trying a new recipe. This week I chose Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms, which was fairly quick and easy. I intended to take a picture of it when it finished in the slow cooker, but, with two male teens and one male preteen in my house, I was too late. Then again, I think that might say enough in itself. I did manage to get a photo before the adults took their portion, so I suppose that is something.
Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker
Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker: Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms
Whenever I make a new recipe, I follow it exactly the first time. After that, however, I can’t help but start making it my own. In this case, I would switch from a whole chicken to chicken breasts to lower the fat and add broccoli florets and diced bell peppers in various colors to increase the variety of vegetables and add some color.
4. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges: I decided to join the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges because it nudges me to play with my Nikon D5000 and a handful of lenses. The topic of the challenge this week was growth, and I was pleased with how my entry turned out.
Overall, I’m generally happy with my progress this week, and I think happier for the 365 project overall.