Favorite Thing Friday


The school the boys attend does a little clay project for Mother’s Day in Kindergarten and First Grade.  In Kindergarten, it is a little pinch bowl. In First Grade, it is a turtle.  Yesterday, Wyatt brought home his turtle for me.

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It is the one on the right. The one on the left is the one I got from Logan three years ago.  He was so excited, he simply couldn’t wait for Sunday!  He had to give it to me.

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So, today was a little photo shoot. Then he made his way to his “forever” home on my bookshelf!

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I love these little reminders of my kiddos while I am working.  Looking at them throughout the day reminds me that I am loved. It also reminds me of why I do the work I do.  I am doing what I can to make the world a better place for those that I love.

I love podcasts. I listen to them in the car and while knitting. Sometimes I listen to them at work in the background.  Nearly all of my podcasts fall into two categories: books and crafts.  Recently, I found video casts. I love to watch them when I eat lunch in my office or when my husband is watching tv I don’t care about.  Here is what I am listening to/watching!

Book podcasts:

  •  Dear Bitches Smart Author (DBSA podcast):   This is by the ladies at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Dear Author. They review and talk about romances. The most recent episode is about knitting and romance (a cool cross over for me)!  It is not kid safe or safe for work.
  • Book Riot: This is a podcast about news in the publishing and the book world. They have a more literary focus, but I find it fun and interesting.
  • Read it and Weep:  They describe themselves as a good podcast about bad books, movies, and tv shows. Each week they read or watch something bad and make fun of it. It is not kid safe if you listen with littles. Nor is it safe for work.
  • Bookrageous: This is like listening in on a book club. They spend the first half of the show talking about what they are reading and the second half discussing an assigned book.  One of the hosts from Book Riot is a host on this show. It is also more literary.

Crafty podcasts:

  • Knitmore Girls: I love listening to them talk about knitting and their lives. It is like hanging out with a couple of cool knitting friends. I have been listening to this one since about 2009 or 2010.
  • Stash and Burn:  This is another “hanging out with cool knitting friends” podcast. It is also another podcast I have enjoyed since 2009 or 10.
  • Subway Knits: This is a new one to me, but I love listening to Maria talk about her projects.
  • Doubleknit: This is another one I am fairly new to. This is a set of twins talking about life and knitting.
  • The Savvy Girls: This is another set of sisters talking about knitting. They also do “tidbit” episodes about random things. I enjoy the slice of Canadian life!
  • Knitting Pipeline: This is one I am fairly new to. I love to listen to Paula talk about knitting, but I also love her nature notes segments. I have learned so much about birding from her!
  • Knit Picks Podcast: This is put on by Knit Picks. I have listened on and off since the beginning.
  • Knit One, Geek Two: I love how they talk about knitting and geeky things.
  • Never Not Knitting: This is a podcast I have listened to since it started.  I love listening to Alana’s stories!
  • Commuter Knitter: Jen podcasts on her drive home. I just love listening to her talking about her knitting. I am often driving when I listen. I feel like she is in my car!
  • KnottyGirls Knitcast: I love listening to Jen and Laura talk about their lives, knitting, and geek culture.
  • Twinset Designs: Another set of twins. I love when they talk about life on the farm and design stuff.
  • CraftLit: This is a book and craft combo. I love listening to Heather talk about books. She finds the best readers! It is a dose of classic lit class with knitting! The book right now is Sense and Sensibility!
  • The Yarniacs Podcast: This is brand new to me, but I am enjoying it.
  • Mastering the Knits: These ladies are working towards being Master Knitters. I love hearing about the process.

Video podcasts (all crafty):

  • Geeky Girls Knit: I just want to hang out with this mother/daughter combo all the time.  They are adorable and so fun!
  • Yarngasm: I love listening to Kristen talk about New York and her knitting.
  • Knitting in Circles: this is a husband/wife team. I love listening to them talk about their adventures.
  • Minerva Turkey: Shannon has been an online friend since 2009. She is new to video podcasting. It is fun to watch her in person.
  • Gnome Acres: I love listening to the Lego talk and other geeky talk.  Plus, the yarn is soooo pretty!
  • The Fat Squirrel Speaks: This podcast is so much fun. She is the fun friend we all love.
  • Must Stash Yarn: This is another fun friend podcast. I love feeling like I am hanging out with these ladies.
  • Suburban Stitcher: This is another podcast where I feel like the Dianne and I would be friends in real life. I love looking at her projects!
  • I have two podcasts I am going to start watching: Susan B. Anderson and A Homespun House. I have heard so much about them, that I want to watch!

That is a lot!  I am about a week behind in most of the weekly podcasts, but I still keep finding more! Listening to and watching podcasts makes me feel like I am at knitting group! They are a source of inspiration, motivation, and information!

As you might have guessed, I kind of love gnomes. They make me so happy. My grandma is from Norway, so they are kind of a family obsession. My mom had big ceramic gnomes all over our house growing up.  They were our doorstops and toys.  I have them all over my house too.

When I first married my husband, he was freaked out by gnomes.  All of my gnomes were forced to live outside or in boxes. I very slowly snuck them in one by one.  He gradually got less freaked out and realized living with me means living with gnomes.  Now, he buys them for me and knows they will be everywhere!

The only problem is that I didn’t have any  in my office.  The other day, I went to the Dollar General to hunt for Cadbury Creme Eggs.  While I was wandering in the Easter candy aisle, I spotted some little, tiny gnomes. They were perfect for my office and only $1 each!

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You have seen this little guy before.  He lives on my standing desk.  He has a sweet little bunny and a spade!

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This little guy and his froggy friend live on my file cabinet next to some wedding and family photos. He has a basket of apples and a few little mushrooms.

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These two little guys live in my window sill among pictures of my kiddos. One has a basket of apples and a little bird. His brother has a bunny and a little net.

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My newest addition is a bookmark on my bulletin board from my boys. All these sweet little gnomes make my office feel like home!

I have never really been into roll playing games (RPGs).  I just didn’t really “get” them.  I also am not really good at establishing habits. My attention span is shorter than the time it takes for habit to really form.  I always have good intentions, but end up forgetting or losing interest.

This year, I decided I wanted to be more intentional about my goals and keeping up with tasks that I need to do in my life.  I looked and looked for a way to keep me motivated and to keep me on task.  I found HabitRPG.  It is a roll playing game (although I still feel like I don’t really get that aspect of it) that turns your tasks and habits into a game.

You divide your goals and tasks into three categories.  Habits are things that you want to repeat (or don’t want to repeat). Dailies are things you do every day. To Dos are one time only type tasks. For example, one of my goals was to keep up with my correspondence.  One of my habits is write a letter.  Another goal was to cut back to only one soda per day, so a negative habit is drink coke (if I drink more than one, I click it and it “damages” me).  I also wanted to be more active, so I put my step goal in for a daily. If I meet it, I check it off. I also wanted to be better about doing a daily load of laundry (we have 5 people in our house, one of whom is in cloth diapers).  That is also a daily task for me. Some examples of one time only to dos are to do a memory book for Logan’s 10 year adventure that he took earlier this year. Another one is to use the Magic Eraser mop to get the last of the hairspray residue off of my bathroom floor.

As you do good habits, daily tasks, and to dos you move up in level and accumulate “gold”. You can use those for rewards (like armor for your avatar or rewards you set up on your own).  You also get eggs and hatching potions as random rewards.  My favorite part is collecting the “pets”.  I have no idea why this is so motivating to me. It probably says something about me that a virtual “pet” would be more motivating than good health or a clean house, but it is the truth.  I think this makes doing a lot of things that I don’t love to do fun, or if not fun at least they are tolerable. It keeps me on task and motivated.  I have moved on from any of my goals three months in (which is amazing). I have added new goals and habits as I go along. Anytime I have a task at work or home that I just don’t want to do, I add it to the game.  It motivates me to do it and do it much sooner.

As you progress through levels, you can also do things like quests and challenges.  Those are fun. I am only now starting to figure them out.  They add a whole new layer of motivation in that others are relying on you to do your tasks to help out the team.

HabitRPG is best on the desktop platform.  There are mobile apps, but those mobile apps are just for keeping track of things on the go. It is really best to log in on the computer.  Try it out! It is a lot of fun.

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One of my current favorite things is my Fitbit!  I have the Fitbit Flex.  It is worn on the wrist. I have a number of bands for it.  Pictured is my lavender band. I also have a pink, slate, turquoise, and black with white polka dots. I wear the polka dotted one almost all the time because it matches my work wardrobe.  I also made myself a Fitbit Pocket.  I use this when I am going to walk at my standing desk while typing or if I am going to push a stroller or shopping cart.  I found that the Flex was not picking up steps when my wrists were stationary (not really a surprise given that it is on my wrist). Because I wear nursing bras, it just hooks on to the top of my bra cup. I have found it is pretty accurate this way.

This is one of my favorite things because it really motivates me to move more!  When I got it, I discovered just how sedentary I had become.  I wore it for about a week before setting any goals or making any kinds of changes.  I got it for Christmas, so I decided January was a good time to start with any goals or changes anyway.  I was regularly getting around 2,000 steps a day!  Embarrassing to say, but that is the way things had gotten! The only days that I moved more than that were the days when I was in court (and on my feet all day).

After my week of assessment, I made my new goal 5,000 steps a day. I have increased it regularly since then.  Right now, my goal is 8,000 steps. I had planned to increase it to 9,000 for March, but then I had several weeks of bad respiratory illness that triggered my asthma.  I had about 9 days where I couldn’t really walk across the room without stopping to catch my breath, so I didn’t increase my goal. I am getting back on track now.  I will probably increase my goal again at the beginning of April.  Yesterday, I had my best day ever. I walked more than 12,000 steps. I was on a field trip with Wyatt and walked all over the zoo all day!

I use the Fitbit app throughout the day to see how much I have walked.  It really keeps me on track.  I take frequent walks around my office. I park farther away. I have also been walking at my standing desk (although slowly while typing)!  This is my standing desk that my husband made me:

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I just love seeing the bar move from red to green!  I don’t really use a lot the other tracking aspects of the app. The only other things I track are my weight, my water intake, and my sleep. I have found that the sleep tracker is pretty accurate for me (I know that isn’t true for everyone).  Just being aware of my sleep helps a lot.  I noticed on days when I got less than normal sleep, I ate a lot more. Now, when I see that my sleep was terrible the night before (and lets face it, with an 19 month old who still nurses at night that is often), I take more time to evaluate why I am eating. Often it is just that I am sleepy, and I can avoid eating a bunch of junk by being aware.  Eventually, I may use it to track food intake, calories burned, and the other awesome things it can do. Right now, I am just focusing on moving more.

I have a friend, Sharon, who has used her Fitbit to lose a lot of weight. Here is her blog post about it.  It is a great read!  She is such an inspiration!  One of the things that she notes is that pedometers worn on the wrist are the least accurate. This is a totally legitimate criticism.  I look at it this way, I am trying to monitor my activity not my specific steps necessarily. By using it everyday and wearing it consistently, I can see patterns in my activity. Even if it is not precise, I can see whether I am doing well or not. That is what I need to know.  If someone is really interested in their steps specifically, the Flex isn’t a good choice.  I used to have a pedometer that I wore on my waist. I stopped wearing it because I was forever bumping it on stuff. I also sometimes wear one piece dresses. The pedometer made a huge lump on my waist.  I didn’t like it. I think that the new pedometers are pretty small, but I know that was why I stopped using mine before. I didn’t really want that to happen again. Also, I do love my pretty bands!

Some people find that it counts steps when they drive, knit, or crochet. Mine does not count steps during any of those activities.  I have noticed that my calories burned goes up during each (although, not by a lot), but I don’t really use that feature anyway.  It may be because I knit continental and wear mine on my left wrist (which doesn’t move at all while knitting). I hold my yarn the same way to crochet, so again my left wrist doesn’t move.  A lady at my knit group said she had a lot of trouble with getting a large number of steps while knitting, but she is a thrower and moves her hands.  I talk with my hands a lot. Keeping an eye on the number of steps being logged on my phone app, I have also noticed that it doesn’t pick that up as steps either.  It freaks me out a little that it knows when I am walking and when I am just gesturing!

The Flex is scary smart!  I cannot figure out how it knows the difference between walking and other movement. I also cannot figure out how it knows the sleeping stuff. It is super accurate on when I am awake and when I am restless.

Since I began wearing it, I have lost nearly 10 lbs. I put two back on during my illness, but that is pretty understandable. In addition to not moving, I had to take prednisone which makes me eat like crazy!  Had I not had that bout of illness, I would have broken the 10 lb. loss mark.  Not too bad!

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My favorite candy of all time is a Cadbury Creme Egg! Last year, Millie was allergic to dairy. I couldn’t have chocolate at Easter. I was super sad about missing out on Creme Eggs. I know that they are kind of gross, but I love them so much! The overly sweet filling with the super sweet chocolate is just my favorite! I also love the little mini eggs. The candy shell and super sweet chocolate are so good. They are like M&M’s with extra chocolate! Since I had to skip them last year, I am making up for it this year! I know lots of people who hate Cadbury’s Easter candy, so I will just eat their share!

Haldecraft soap

This Friday’s favorite thing is a wonderful handmade soap.  I bought this soap on Etsy from Haldecraft.  Haldecraft is a store run by Lorena from Hanks.  I have bought Lorena’s soap before.  I always gave it as a gift or included in swap packages.  Everyone who received it raved about it.  I kept buying more planning to keep it, but it always went to someone else.  Then, she posted on her blog some of her new items.  Those included the soaps in the picture. The firetruck shape caught my eye.  Wy loves firetrucks.  When I clicked on it, the scent name made it something I couldn’t pass on. The scent is “Monkey Farts” (I shudder to think about what kind of searches this blog post will come up under now).  My boys are obsessed with “bathroom humor”.  Monkey farts doesn’t sound appealing, but it is very fruity (banana, strawberry, etc).

I ordered this soap on Sunday (late). It was mailed on Monday, and I got it on Tuesday (really fast shipping…yay!!). The boys took a bath with it that night (and have begged for baths every night since…some nights we have to settle for washing our hands with the soap). They love the shape, the smell, and the fact that they can use the word “fart” repeatedly without getting scolded!

I love that this soap is soft and gentle on my boys’ skin (and maybe mine, but I will not confess to having used firetruck soap in the shower).  I also love that it smells so good. My whole bathroom smells like Monkey Farts (I can’t help myself…my boys are a bad influence)!  I have smelled other scents that Lorena offers, and this is a universal trait. They all smell good! The other thing that makes this soap my favorite thing is that it makes bathtime fun (and even washing their hands).  My boys want to be clean (actually, they want to smell like monkey farts so that they can say that to everyone)!

Since I love this soap so much, I am going to be ordering more for myself (maybe chocolate scented soap…yum)!!

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