May is for Writing: Week 3

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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I’m going to be honest here. My writing goals went out the window last week. My daily word count was 0 and I didn’t even read any books. Why the sudden lack of progress? Life turned wonderfully sideways. In two weeks I’m getting married and moving cross country. In the mean time, I have to DO ALL THE THINGS! that come with planning a wedding and prepping to move over 2,000 miles west. Any farther and I’ll end up in the Pacific Ocean. 

Ironically, the combined craziness of wedding planning and moving cross country seems like the perfect thing to write about. I feel that that I should be judiciously documenting the next few weeks but I need all the sleep I can get. Ah well. This is what memoirs are for, after all. I do feel slightly guilty about not writing but I am getting ready for a marvelous adventure with my best friend. The writing can wait.

May is for Writing: Week 2

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Writing is hard. Writing everyday is even harder. I’m sorry to say that daily writing wasn’t something I managed last week. Some days my brain was so frazzled I just paced back and forth. Other days, I just stared at a blank screen before being completely unexcited about what my fingers typed up. There were a few good days though when I didn’t have to force the words out my head. 

The days where things were easy, where the words seemed leap onto the screen, were when I tried something new. Instead of trying to force a story or an essay from the ether, I captured my ideas. I wrote about backstory and tried to make sense of dreams. I wrote about questions that I wanted answered. I wrote outlines and paragraphs of descriptions. Whenever I thought something might be great to write about, I didn’t file it away in my brain for later but sat down and wrote everything out. No detail escaped the brain dump. Might not have much in the way of first drafts but I’ve got all I need to write them.

If you’re having trouble writing something new, let no idea escape. Record everything and sort the good from the bad later. After all, you never know when you’ll find that one perfect seed.


May is for Writing: Week 1

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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We’re only 6 days into the month so May is still new and fresh. I’m writing everyday. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. Most of the time, I play things by ear have no idea what I’m going to write until my fingers bungle about on the keyboard for a few minutes. Once the words start coming though, I don’t want to stop. I might take a break for yarn but words keep flowing in bits and pieces. When enough pile up, it’s time to go back to the page. 

The day before this project started I wandering around bookstores and trying to decide between Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I’ve heard amazing things about both books but decided to begin with On Writing. I devoured that book. I stayed up past 4 AM several nights just to finish. The first half of the book and several postscripts acts as a short memoir. The second half contains King’s sixteen rules of writing. Reading about the life and practices of an author I’ve been following since my early teens was a welcome peak behind the curtain.

Rule One: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” 

I’ve already got the reading part covered since I’ve made a concerted effort to read more books this year. My handy spreadsheet, complete with pie chart, tells me I’ve read 25 books this year and that I’m in the middle of 3 others. Voracious reading is there to teach you how to write through observation. I really hope I’ve learned something from the hundreds and hundreds of books I’ve read over the years.

So May is all about working on the writing half of the equation. During the first few days I gave myself 15 minutes but I quickly switched to a minimum word count of 500 instead. Depending on the day, 15 minutes could only see a few sentences or it could see a whole page. Going for a word count lets me ignore the ticking clock and just get some words on the page. They might be horrible but you have to start somewhere. So far I managed to write more than 500 words per day, everyday completely separate from anything I’m working on for the site or other projects.

Writing, compared with last month’s project, daily knitting on the Norma blanket, is so much harder. Last month I had a pattern, numerous charts, and all of my materials. The work - aside from the actual knitting - was already done for me. The knitting could get boring because I knew what was ahead of me. When it comes to writing, I have no clue. It’s a wild and welcome adventure.

May is for Writing

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Lately, the end of the month has been a curious time for me. I’m often staring off into space or making  lots of “hmm” noises. Sometimes, I’m resting my chin in my hand, staring off to the side, and murmuring all at the same time. Why am I acting so weird? I’m trying to decide what I’m going to do for my next monthly Incremental Project. It’s not like I don’t have a list. I just can’t settle on any one thing until a day or two before it’s time to start.

The project for May was obvious but I didn’t realize it at first. Writing. Daily writing at that. There were no less than three things telling me to focus on my writing though there seem a lot more in my head. 

The strongest push came from last week’s 4th Annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week. 7 days worth of blogging about knitting, color, aspirations, and more knitting. I almost didn’t participate but decided to suck it up and try anyway. Last week pushed me to try new things and to think about the blog and my writing in a different way. I made an infographic for the first time and tried a wordless post. The wordless post was the hardest of the whole bunch. I wanted so much to write a few sentences about Trouble the Cat and enjoying curiosity but I let it go for the time being. Not writing made me realize how much I need to write. It’s not a question of wanting to but needing to. 

The second push to writing came from ZenHabits and a timely post entitled, “Why You Should Write Daily”. There was just too much sense for me to ignore.

The Alchemy of Writing” and its second half were what first put the daily writing idea into my head.  Tim Ferriss interviews Fred Waitzkin, the author behind Searching for Bobby Fisher, about writing and the creative process. It’s inspiring and makes me want to get typing.

Now that I’ve decided to write, the only question that remains is what to write about. It’s Day One and I have no clue. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. The plan so far is to start with as a warm up. You get one word and 60 seconds to write a few sentences. Afterwards, I’m dedicating 15 minutes to writing...something. Maybe I should just randomly bang on the keyboard and see if something intelligible comes out.

April is for Blankets: Recap


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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When I started daily knitting on the Norma Blanket for April’s Incremental Project I knew I wouldn’t finish. My goal was to just make progress. So I took the blanket on car trips and knit through numerous movies, podcasts, and anime series. Most days I just knit one round. Some days I knit 2, 3 or even 6 rounds. Then there were a few days when I didn’t knit at all. Now that April is pretty much over, there’s definitely not going to be a special twist ending where I’ve suddenly finished blanket in the next 2 days.

Since I’m being honest, I have no clue when I’ll finish this blanket. It’s not called the Couch Monster for nothing. Over 650 yards have already been knit and the blanket is just starting to look squished up on the needles. There are still over 930 yards to go knit. I have this vision of the blanket sitting nonchalantly on the couch and waiting for a victim. Once said victim, probably me, is comfy and distracted by a digital box, the Couch Monster makes its move and completely envelopes his meal in a wooly maw. No evidence is left behind and blanket awaits his next victim. At least I’ll be cozy and might be able to distract the beast with animal crackers.


A few statistics for April’s Norma blanket knitting:

  • Knit a total of 44 rounds with minimal ripping and should add 2 more before the month is out.
  • Worked a grand total of 19,584 stitches so far.
  • Used up over 200 grams of yarn.
  • Add 8” to each ever increasing side. Safe to say I’ve knit most of the blanket this month.
  • Managed to finish the first charts and put a good dent in 3 and 4.


This next part might be a little odd but I’m going to keep tracking the stitch count yardage on a round by round basis. Hear me out. I have a lot more yarn than the pattern calls for and I want to use it all up. Gathering all this data will make it easier for me to chart out more rows and figure out just how large the blanket can get. Spreadsheets are being put to good use tracking yarn per row (the average is 5g at the moment) and the increasing number of stitches per row (currently 508 and growing). Fear not math and data for they will save your knitting butt. 


Now that May and the next Incremental Project are almost here, I’m going to miss knitting on the blanket everyday.  Maybe I’ll keep going. A giant wool blanket isn’t a bad thing to have in your lap when the air conditioner is raging.

April is for Blankets: Week 4


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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3 weeks down with 1 week until May and I’m still enjoying this project. Measurable progress probably helps. Oh, hitting a major milestone every so often is great too. Last week, I finally knit through the entire 465 yards in the first skein of yarn and started on the second 465 yards. Feels good.


I prefer not to think about the fact that after I finish the second skein, there’s still another 465 yards to go. I’m also doing my best to ignore the fact that the final rounds of this blanket have over 700 stitches each. Instead of focusing on the sheer number of stitches ahead of me, I’m keeping what I’ve accomplished in mind. Last week I knit 10 rounds and 4,280 stitches and the week before saw 14 rounds and 5,320 stitches. That’s over 9,000 stitches (9,600 to be exact). All those stitches are adding up. 

Wonder how many rounds and stitches I’ll knit this week. 


April is for Blankets: Week 3


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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And the month is half over already. Funny how that happens. Here I am, just going about my own business, and time is flying by without one bit of concern for any deadlines it’s bringing closer. Ah well. I was able to put some of that time to use by testing out my theory about sneaking up on finished projects one row/day at a time. 

During the past week I knit 14 rounds and the great bulk of the work, 6 rounds, happened Sunday. Managed to get all wrapped up in watching a new to me anime and couldn’t stop until the last episode. What better thing to do with my hands than knit? Somehow managed to not scare away the finished project by knitting so much at one time. Still looking forward to today’s and tomorrow’s rounds so the theory stands strong. Giant, bound off blanket, you shall not escape me.


I’ve managed to to finish the first 2 charts and start the next 2. After knitting 14 rounds, there are 404 stitches on the needles. The grand total of stitches knitted last week is 5,320. There are 82 rounds left assuming that I don’t chart out any more repeats - the jury is still out on that - and not even I am going to bother doing the math about how many stitches are left. That is not information I care to know until after I’ve bound off, blocked the blanket, and am cozy underneath it. Then the stitch count will be a point of pride or insanity. Haven’t decided which. 


April is for Blankets: Week 2


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Thanks to constant rain and all encompassing clouds of pollen, the first week of April has been full of good reasons to stay inside and knit. I did brave the outdoors and cross other things off my to do list but I always made time for a few stitches or a few hundred stitches from the Norma Blanket.

On some days I knit one row and was completely happy with it. On other day I knit 2 rows and that was great. Either way, I’m slowly sneaking closer to a finished blanket. I have this theory that if you try to tackle a large and cunning project all at once, it’ll see you coming and make a great escape; however, if you sneak up a row or two at a time, the wily stitches won’t notice you until they’re already bound off. Then you’ve won and your project can’t escape to the bottom of the work in progress basket for a year or two. 

Testing is ongoing but the results look promising. During the last week, I knit 10 rows which equals 3,320 stitches. The blanket, or the Couch Monster as I’ve started calling it, does not see me coming. 

April is for Blankets


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Well, specifically, I’m only going to be focusing on one blanket this month. No, this is not an April Fool’s prank though I am annoyed that I didn’t remember to come up with one this year. Oh, but my yearly PSA for April 1st still stands, trust next to nothing on the internet today. Not even the Google Nose Beta. Now down to the serious and prank free matters at hand. 

I am really making my Incremental Project for the month about knitting a blanket. The Norma blanket to be exact. I cast on last Christmas as a present for myself and made some good progress for a bit.  I’ve stalled out on on Row 75 of the first chart which means I have a long way to go. The blanket has been sitting none to quietly in its bag and mocking me about it’s unfinished state. Knit me, it says. I have fun lace and long repeats to keep you interested. Knit me before Summer comes and you burst into flames as soon as I’m in your lap. Can’t argue with that logic. 


The plan is simple. Knit 1 row everyday for the entire month of April. That’s 30 days but there are more than 30 rows before it’s time to bind off.  Not a problem. See, this month’s goal isn’t to finish but to move forward. That’s the important part and I’m more than ready.

Anyone else care to join me in tackling a giant project?

March is for Photography: Recap


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Hundreds of photos. Untold megabytes of hard drive space filled. Hours spent reviewing photos. Even more hours spent editing. A few dozen photos that I’m proud to show. My incremental project studying photography in March went pretty much how I thought it would. Except that it didn’t. I thought I’d read up on photography terms, learn about ISO and f-Stops, peruse photography blogs, and study lots of technical details. I didn’t even crack open the manual for my camera. Shame on me. I thought I was going to do all all those things because I thought they were what I really needed to become a better photographer. 


Almost a month later, I’m sure that I still need to learn more about the technical side of photography. I just skipped over an important first step during my planning - becoming comfortable with my camera. I was fine taking photos on the back deck or the porch during the day, areas that I had decent control over, but I was really self conscious outside of those spaces. So, I started hauling my camera around everywhere I went. Didn’t always bring it out but I got used to the idea that I could snap a photo if I wanted to. 


Always having my camera at hand has led to some of my favorite shots. During spare moments, I’d look around for the small details, the Everyday Magic as Tammy Strobel calls it, and try to capture the moment. I started to document my days like going to knit night or doing late night cross stitch. I’m seeing things that were passed over before, like this tiny and therefore adorable pinecone, because I wasn’t paying attention.


There’s still a lot for me to learn about photography but I’m happy with the first step I’ve taken. Maybe I’ll finally get around to studying some of the technical details in these last few days of March.


Previous March is For Photography Posts

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


March is for Photography: Week 3


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Taking a photo a day - especially, a photo I want to show off - is hard. There, I said it. I didn’t start out thinking this project would be a cake walk but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be. A few days into March, I started following the daily prompts from Fat Mum Slim. Some days were easy and some I’m still haven’t figured out. No surprise, I fell behind. I was determined to catch up on Friday so I grabbed my camera and headed outside. The original plan was to take photos to match each of the prompts. They weren’t any easier. Thankfully, I was in the right time and place for the 15th’s prompt - explore. I took it and ran. Those other prompts? What other prompts?


Magnolia Cemetary


Last Saturday morning, my mom decided it was time for an impromptu road trip down to Mobile, AL. It only took an hour of frenzied packing and primping to get out the door. The drive was easy and the weather glorious. Nothing like a 4 hour drive south to breezy 74° weather to lift your spirits. 

Part of the reason for our trip was to visit the historic Magnolia Cemetery. The cemetery was originally established in 1836 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. At its founding, Magnolia Cemetery sat on the outskirts of town but is now near downtown Mobile. It was quite the paradigm shift to be standing between graves more than a hundred and fifty years old and seeing shining skyscrapers off in the distance. I walked past the graves of Confederate soldiers, infant children, state governors, veterans, and entire families. Some of the stones were were still as easy to read as the day they were carved. Other markers were cracked, broken, and worn. The names, dates and epithets almost lost to the world. A humbling experience to walk among the reminders of the dead.


Historical information cited from

March is for Photography: Week 2

March 3 - Key

March 3 - Key

The March photo-a-day challenge continues and the challenge part is definitely right. It’s a lot harder than I thought it’d be. Somedays, the prompt is no help - fear, I mean you - and I have no idea what to photograph. Then there’s catching the right light, arranging a nice composition, and the final editing. Never mind any technical mishaps. Maybe I’m just over thinking the whole thing. 

Annoying as they are, the difficulties did lead me to a photography epiphany. Most of the photos I post here and the great majority of photos I take are posed and stylized. For every photo you see, I took at least 5 other variations that didn’t make the cut. I edit and crop and resize them just so. The photos don’t always turn out like I hope but they do get the point across. What’s more, is that I’m comfortable with them. March, I’ve discovered, isn’t about taking comfortable photos. I do want to learn more technical details and better understand my camera’s inner workings; however, I want to break out my box. I want to tell stories. I want to capture the small, daily details. I want to pic up my camera and be spontaneous. Not be chained to the regular, stylized routine. 

I didn’t even realize that I was stuck in a photography rut until I read a post about capturing unprompted moments on camera from A Beautiful Mess. Following other people’s daily photos helped too. The ever talented Leethal has been posting photos on her Tumbler. It’s inspiring and makes me keep trying.

March 5 - Under

March 5 - Under

March 6 - Chair

March 6 - Chair

March 8 - Favorite

March 8 - Favorite

March 10 - I Want

March 10 - I Want

March is for Photography: Week 1

March 1 - L is for...lion!

March 1 - L is for...lion!

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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In like a lion and out like a lamb. We’re only four days in to March and, so far, the idiom stands true. After the outright pleasant Spring-like weather in February, the temperatures dropped and March has seen fit to grace us with snow flurries. Nothing stuck but the snow did it’s best to cling to the windshield while The Bearded One and I were driving around town. I’m hoping that the weather returns to its pleasant self by the end of the month. I’m also doing my best not to get sick. Bring on the vitamins and warm, wooly layers!

Besides from snow, March also brings with it my new incremental project. February was all about yoga which I have come to love and greatly enjoy. Have no doubt, that a daily yoga practice will continue behind the scenes here at Chez Strategos; however, March’s main focus will be on photography. Almost every thing I’ve learned about photography up to this point has been completely through trial and error. Some of my photos, I’m very happy with. The rest, well, I pretend they don’t exist. It’s time to level up. 

March 2 - I Made This

March 2 - I Made This

Usually when I start these projects, I have a decent idea of how I’m going to spend the month and what resources I’ll be using to learn. I’m coming up a little short this month. So far, there’s Shoot It! Craftsy class with Caro Sheridan to learn from. I bought it months ago when it was on sale but haven’t done anything with it. I think it will be helpful but I’m not sure if it’s exactly what I’m looking for. Also on the to-do list for this month is finally reading the manual that came with my camera. 

Know of any good sources to learn photography? I’d love some recommendations.

March 4 - Lucky

March 4 - Lucky

The one thing I know that will help me improve my photography skills is practice, practice, practice. Sunday, I found out about Fat Mum Slim’s March Photo-A-Day Challenge from Leethal. The daily prompts should help me focus and keep me motivated through the month. Now, I’m playing catch up. It was a happy accident that two of the practice photos I took day yesterday - the lion head and my hand knit socks - match the prompts for the first two days.  Hey, Neighbor Cat counts for today - Lucky. This is an unintentional win. The blossoms don’t count towards the challenge but I like them. 

Onward to better photos!



February is for Yoga: Week 4


With three weeks down and one to go, learning yoga this February has been a success so far. I’m stronger. I’m more flexible. I’m more aware of how I move and how I breathe. When I started the month, I was looking forward to all of those things; however, what I didn’t expect was how much of an influence yoga would have on me. When I step off the mat, I’m not packing up my practice and putting it away for the day. The thought and the focus travel with me. After I climb out of my car, I do a quick check to make sure I’m standing up straight with relaxed shoulders and not hunched over. Hello, Tadasana. Sitting at my desk, I’m constantly relaxing my shoulders since they tend to tense and creep up when I’m knitting or perusing the web. Before yoga, I never really noticed what my shoulders were doing. Just that they were tense and needed some love. I love this newfound awareness and control. 

In this last week of February, I hope to keep this awareness going strong and continue my daily practice with gusto. I’m going to keep learning. I’m going to keep pushing myself. I’m going to keep breathing. Though March is fast approaching and I’ll be picking a new incremental project to focus on, yoga will continue flowing through the background.

Yoga February: Week 3

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Two weeks ago, I packed large duffle bag and took to the road for some much needed fun and time in Atlanta. The weather was nice and the traffic light during the two and a half hour drive. Still, I was thrilled to get out and stretch my legs after being in the driver’s seat for so long. Last month, before my daily yoga practice, “stretching my legs” amounted to plopping into a different chair and stretching my arms and legs out as far as possible while looking for a tv remote. The process didn’t really work but at least I wasn’t stuck in a car anymore. Now that I’ve got a few different yoga postures, asana, rattling around in my brain, I put them to use and actually stretched. Child’s Pose, aka Balasana, did wonders for my back and relaxing in Corpse Pose, aka Shavasana, eased away tension. It was nice to feel refreshed after a long drive instead of longing for a nap.


I kept up with my practice while I was in Atlanta. After following along with different flows, I practiced individual postures daily. It’s been great getting to know the specifics and figuring out the proper way to do and which muscles to use for each pose. Every day I’d pick 2 or 3 poses to practice so I could put them to good use later. After watching tutorials on different postures, I can tell you that there is so much more going on than what meets the eye. It’s definitely worth the time to learn the postures outright and you’ll get so much out of your own practice once you do. I’ve learned a lot from YogaWithAdriene and really enjoy her videos. 

I’m back at home this week and yoga practice continues. I’m still focusing on learning the individual postures but I’m also going to try learning the proper sequences of Ashtanga yoga. Maybe this is the week I’ll finally remember how to do a full sun salutation.

Yoga February: Week 2

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Really, we’re on week 2.25 of February, instead of Week 2, since this month just had to start on a Friday but lets not get caught up in technicalities. With the exception of this past weekend, which I took off from yoga to give myself a chance to recover, I’ve done yoga everyday this month - 9 days. Doesn’t sound like much much these little steps are combining into larger things.


For me, a daily yoga practice goes something like this:

  • Dig through the folder of links to youtube videos of various yoga flows
  • Move furniture out of the way so I can see my laptop screen from the floor
  • Consider vacuuming...eventually
  • Yoga!
  • Return furniture to it’s original starting position
  • Back to the daily grind

While the routine stays the same, timing varies. Sometimes I’ll start yoga when I wake up and sometimes in the afternoon after I’ve run errands. The actual yoga part of the routine can last 10 minutes or 40 minutes. Depends on my mood and how many other things are on my to-do list. I’ll also randomly add on extra stretching that focuses on my shoulders, arms, and wrists to prevent any knitting or spinning related mishaps.

Even after just 9 days of a daily yoga routine, I can already notice a difference. Yoga isn’t just about stretching or increasing flexibility and mobility though it certainly helps. Practicing yoga trains you to be more aware of your body and the way that you move. For example, I thought I was standing and sitting up straight. In reality, not so much. There were a few days of soreness as my back finally got with the program and stopped slouching.

Now that I’m experiencing yoga’s positive effects, I’m looking to learn more. I don’t want to be blindly dependent on youtube video or podcasts. The two can be great, helpful sources but I want to practice yoga somewhere where I don’t have to move furniture around, in places without wifi, where I don’t have to look up at a screen, or worry about following someone else’s pace. I want to learn the individual poses and the proper form. I want to move through my own flows. I want to be able to do a Sun Salutation all the way through without looking up what comes next. Looks like the rest of the month is going to be fun.

February Is For Yoga


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Halfway through January - the month of boring but utterly necessary de-cluttering and cleaning - I started wondering what the goal would be for February.  Cleaning will continue since it creates the ever important mise en place for doing great things; however, cleaning is now a routine and not the focus of the day. I kept trying to think of potential goals, none of which sounded appealing, but it wasn’t until I was finding a spot for my new yoga mat that I decided. Of course, yoga. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Insert face into palm.

I’m not new to yoga. I’ve done the DVD thing and the Wii Fit thing and even the occasional class but nothing serious in the past year. The urge to learn and practice yoga seriously has been growing in the back of my head for months. The Bearded One only encouraged this thought by getting me a new mat for Christmas.


Part of my preparation for daily yoga has been hitting up the internet for a little research. I had no idea there were so many branches and variants. My previous conceptions of yoga were of something slow, quiet, and meditative. It was really exciting to find examples of strong, vigorous, and active yoga practices. I’m really interested in Ashtanga Yoga but I’m also going to try the other branches to see what works best for me. Regardless of what I choose, if the last few days are any indication, February is going to be a great month for yoga. 

Incremental January: Week 5


Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Last December, I received a package from a good friend that was full of all sorts of wrapped goodness. The first gift I opened was this cute little octopus. He still doesn’t have a name but he’s taken up residence on the dresser and protects my stuff from marauding pirates. Doing a pretty nice job of it too.

While the Octopus has been on guard, I’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering for my January Incremental Project. Over the past month, I’ve donated, traded-in, trashed, and hacked my stuff. My space is cleaner and more organized. I can easily use, admire, and enjoy what’s important to me - the land-lubbing octopus, for example - which was a big reason for the clean up. Now it’s just a matter of keeping things neat. 

During these last few days of January, I’m focusing on building, refining, and keeping routines to stay organized. I’m using the magic of schedules and recurring tasks to keep me on track. All the annoying but necessary stuff - vacuuming, I’m looking at you - goes into my task manager. The current program of choice is Firetask. Each annoying little chore gets a due date and is scheduled to appear on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. If need be, I can adjust the timing or delete a task entirely. Creating a timeline for all the little chores makes it easier for me to focus on the big stuff because I don’t have to worry about the underlying routine. Plus, I get the satisfaction of checking something off my to-do list everyday. 

With January’s cleaning finished, it’s time to decide what to focus on in February.  I’m looking forward to learning and leveling up.

Incremental January: Week 4

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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Last week was all about clearing up the digital clutter - no more unnecessary emails, unsubscribing from overwhelming RSS feeds, and gaining more hard drive space - but I’m back to the physical world this week. I’ve sorted and donated and trashed a lot of stuff to meet my January goal of de-cluttering and prepping for the rest of the year. Lots left to do but the list is shorter.


Now that I have less stuff to worry about, I’ve started thinking about how to hack the stuff I have to work better for me. I encourage you do this too. One, you get to make things. Two, you can personalize and upgrade your space. Three, you get to have some fun. 

Over the course of a day, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer which means I spend a lot of time at my desk. It’s a nice desk with lots of drawers, space for all my tech, and enough room to make something when I feel the need. There’s even a raised section with two more drawers and two open spaces that I barely use because they are not drawers. Well, I’ve fixed that.


I’ve made drawers for my “Things” and for my “Stuff”. The drawer of things holds all the crafty stuff I need on a regular basis: scissors, buttons, a knitting needle gauge, a tape measure, and random tapestry needles. The drawer of stuff keeps pens, pencils, hair ties, lotion, lip balm, and a needle felted heart. You know, the necessities. Everything I need is at hand and easy to find.


To make the drawers, I measured the dimensions to be filled and adapted this handy stiffened felt box tutorial from How About Orange to fit. Next, I drew up the cross stitch charts, stabbed the necessary holes in the felt, and got to stitching. The last step was gluing the sides together to finish the boxes. As a bonus, whenever I move to a new desk, I can just make lids for the drawers and use them a boxes instead. Win win. 

Just in case you feel like labeling any of your possessions with a bit of cross stitch, here’s “Stuff” and “Things” to the rescue.