Category Archives: Blog

Mixed-Stitch Madness

Hi, my name is Katie. I’m a yarn addict, and I’m constantly hooking to feed my habit.

P1020310.jpgBut in all realness… when I look back on the sheer volume of what I’ve crocheted in the past four months, I’m stunned. I’ve completed a total of 3 afghans so far, with a fourth one 3/4 of the way done. And that’s having taken a break to make the oh-so tedious dragon for my Halloween costume. That’s a LOT of crocheting. If I had to make a guess, I’d say that’s at least 40 skeins of yarn (you’re welcome, Hobby Lobby). People always ask me how much time I spent on each piece, and that’s really hard to say. The first blanket took me at least two seasons of House of Cards, plus other miscellaneous time when I picked it up at work or while watching something else. I don’t know! It does make me curious though; maybe next time I start a project I’ll punch in on a timer and see.

Like so many awesome, crafty ideas, mixed-stitch crochet found me by way of Pinterest. A long time ago I stumbled across pictures of the colorful, seemingly random, chaotic patterns that somehow looked so neatly designed. I took a stab at it on my own and failed miserably- the edges were beyond warped, and I put it aside for a while.

I picked it up again a few months ago, this time sitting down with the amazing instructions I found here. Having never mixed random stitches before, I didn’t realize that different ones required different hook sizes to make the edges straight. It took trial and error– and a whole lot of frustration with counting to 24 eight times plus 1– but I finally got it.

12105882_10100165885880739_4457990446597664563_nThe first blanket I made was for Micah, the little girl I nanny. She actually went to Hobby Lobby with me and (with some guidance) helped to choose the colors. When she saw me working on it she would ask, “is it almost done?” which I jumped on as an opportunity to teach her what “patience” meant. I decided it looked best without a border, since the edges were a little off.

To correct for the zigzagging edges on Micah’s blanket, I started using stitch markers to make the counting process a little more diligent and learn how to work each row of stitches onto any other. Once I got it down, the edges were as straight as any could be. The second blanket got a black border on all four sides, which I thought would really tie its color scheme together. I gave it to Jewel 🙂

2015-09-23 21.18.07.jpgThe next two blankets are for me and my dad; I put mine aside to try and finish his in between his birthday and Christmas. I got it done the day after Thanksgiving, so I succeeded! It is extra big, based in greens and purples, and it has a border on the two long sides. He loves it so much he doesn’t want to use it, and freaked out when my dog was sitting on it. Little does he know, Duchess was using that ol’ rag as a bed from the moment it was big enough. But I washed it (even though that freaked him out too) and the blanket is as good as new– and as good as it always will be. It might be the most perfect thing I’ve made yet.

But wait until I’m done with mine!

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The 78704 Roundup: News, Reviews, & To-Dos for South Austin, Texas

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A friend of mine recently moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico into my garage apartment here in Austin, Texas. Excited to show my city off, I made him a list of great places he simply must visit, and things he should do, all within the awesome 78704. I quickly realized that I should expand this into a series, so that’s what I’m doing:

Welcome to The 78704 Roundup, a collection of news, reviews, and to-dos for people in and around South Austin. Even if you’re not new to the area, Austin is full of hidden gems, and there are always new (and old!) things to be discovered. Where are the best places to grab breakfast tacos? Where are the entrances to the greenbelt? When are the farmer’s markets? Where can I grab a drink without fighting the downtown crowds? And most importantly, I’m going to write features on some of the awesome people that make this zip code so unique (starting, of course, with my friends.)

There’s a bumper sticker out there that reads “78704: We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There”… I guess this series will serve to illuminate who, and where, we are 🙂

Mexico Post 3: Family Food & Fun

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Aside from our day on the catamaran and me and Steve’s excursion to the Mayan ruins, we spent all of our vacation time relaxing and wearing ourselves out in Playa Del Carmen. The city is a perfect blend of stuff-to-do and enjoying-doing-nothing, with beautiful weather, great food and friendly people. Vacations typically make me appreciate Austin even more when I come home, like when I practically kissed the ground in the Bergstrom airport after returning from 2 weeks (without vegetables!) in Europe. But after a week in Mexico, coming home to a cold, gray December in Austin was downright Bleak. I understand why birds fly south for the winter, and I want to go back with them…

Here’s a final gallery of photos, enjoy!

Feingersh Family Pride

So a picture of my family has been making the rounds on the internet for a while, popping up on lists such as “Hilarious Family Photos from the 80’s” and “The 29 Whitest Family Photos of All Time”. I absolutely do not care– even we still laugh when we look at it. But unlike the props/backdrops that make all the other photos seem so ridiculous– like the family wearing “naked” costumes, or that other family that’s just, well, naked– OUR ridiculous prop wasn’t completely random/stupid.

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First of all, props to my mom for rocking the 80’s shoulder pads and big hair and still lookin’ stylish. Second of all, my FACE! And check out those brick-sized flip phones and that epic pager my dad is rocking… sure it’s laughable in today’s world of smartphones and hover boards (wait, we STILL DON’T HAVE HOVER BOARDS YET?) but we had a reason for it. My mom and dad opened their first business around then, and it was one of the first cell phone stores in Houston. It was called Discount Communications, right across Highway 610 from the Astrodome. They worked really hard and were successful– so as much as it makes me laugh, it also fills me with pride. 🙂

Plus– if you wanted a REALLY good laugh you should have seen the commercial that ran on local ABC 13. It was WAY more 80’s than this photo, and even has Larry talking on a cell phone whilst riding his unicycle. I should really find a way to put that on YouTube…

Team Wendy!

I’ve been a die-hard South Park fan ever since my best friend Melissa encouraged me to watch my very first episode (“Rainforest Shmainforest”, April 1999). I fell in love with the show because its hilarious, satirical, and always an equal-opportunity-offender. Thirteen years have passed since then, and I have both Melissa and South Park to thank for molding my sense of humor into what it is today. (It should also be noted that hardly anything offends me anymore, haha!) Last week’s new South Park episode, “The Hobbit”, was so amazing I just had to write/gush about it. Reprising Kanye “Gayfish” West was more than enough to earn this episode a five star review in my book, but the story and it’s message make me wish I could give it way more stars than that.

410375South Park has received some criticism over the years for it’s lack of female characters, and I get that. It is true the four protagonists (and majority of the peripheral characters) are male, but there are three reasons I don’t take any issue with this (aside from the “diehard fan” thing mentioned above). First of all, Trey Parker and Matt Stone deliberately created the world of South Park to reflect on their own experiences growing up in Middle America, as boys. The best writers write from experience, and I think their intention was to do just that. The second reason I don’t find the lack of female characters bothering is that when gender issues do come up, South Park always sides with feminism, while still managing to convey the depth and complexity of the subject (see: “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset”).

Wendy TestaburgerAnd finally, the third and most important reason I couldn’t care less about the gender gap in South Park is that one character makes up for it all: Wendy Testaburger. She may be the token girl in South Park Elementary, but she’s no cookie-cutter archetype. She’s called “bossy” and a “bitch”, but she’s also Stan’s feminine love interest. She’s a “good girl” who studies hard and does the right thing, but also tough enough to beat the shit out of Cartman if need be. Wendy is just the best.

This episode took on the issue of unrealistic beauty standards put forth by the media, and the effects it has on young girls’ self esteem and body image. They looked particularly at Photoshop, the tool used by the media to craft images of unrealistic perfection. Viral videos and campaigns aimed to demonstrate the powers of photo-manipulation have been popping up everywhere these days (check out a great one here). South Park recreated one of these time-lapse Photoshop scenes in the episode to great effect.

I won’t break down the plot for you here– I highly suggest watching the whole episode— but basically Wendy, saddened to see her peers suffering with poor self-image, sets off on a crusade to expose Photoshop images as fake and take away the power it has. Her plan backfires, as her peers only seem to like Photoshop more. Wendy then gets labeled as being both “jelly” and a “hater”. (On a side note, hearing Mr. Mackey use the term “Jelly” definitely made my night).

The most striking moment of the episode to me was at the very end. There have been a handful of South Park episodes in the past which could be described as melancholy, but rarely if ever has an episode ended with such a sad scene. Wendy, having fought a futile war, gives up against Photoshop. But she also loses a battle with herself. Despite how opinionated, dedicated, and strong Wendy Testaburger was, in the end even she could not withstand the pressures coming at her from every direction. She puts her own picture in Photoshop, and after a few mouse clicks no longer recognizes herself. With tears in her eyes, she sends the photo. I won’t lie– this made me tear up. If you want to shed a tear for Wendy too click here to see a clip of the ending.

I related to Wendy in this moment. For the other girls in her class, having a highly-edited photo of themselves was a boost to their self-esteem. For Wendy, giving in and manipulating her photo was a blow to her self-esteem, and her self-respect. Wendy valued herself not by her outward appearance or how other people saw her, but on the quality of her character. I feel like I’ve been caught in this dichotomy in my own life. Many times in my life I have felt, and complied with, the pressures in society to look or act a certain way. Every time I give in, I stop myself and say “Come on, Katie, you’re too smart for this!” It’s a pattern of me criticizing my appearance, and then being harsh on myself for doing so because I “should know better”. But as Wendy learned too, society can get the better of us sometimes no matter how smart or aware of it we are. This world’s a tough place to be a little girl– hang in there, Wendy!

And on an unrelated but completely awesome note, there was also this:

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Blog Updates & Art Gallery

pink-hairI haven’t been posting much lately, but I have spent a bit of time on this blog in the past few days. I finally got around to tasks I’d been putting off, and even a few more. I’m studying about how to host a WordPress blog independently; apparently it provides way more opportunity to mess around and tinker with the layout. Hosting it on your own opens up the door for plugins, and there are literally so many of them its incredible. It all seems very open-source and democratic, and I really want to dive in and see what it’s all about. My own blog is simply a hobby, and I never needed more than the free services provided. Luckily I’m helping to create a WordPress website professionally now, so I’ll be able to sink my teeth into all the details. Who knows- if I really love it I may not be able to resist self-hosting my own blog… 🙂

I’ve finally added a few pages to the site– still no “About Me” section though, I just can’t seem to get started on that one at all. I added a category tab for chickens, which will pull up all posts related to the big, fat, flightless birds. I added a page with a link to all my recipes. I also added galleries: my Instagram photos, by month, as well as a few scans of artwork I’ve created over the past couple of years. I hope to add more to them in time, but this was good enough for now.

Katie: A Life-Long Book Worm

At the end of June, I declared a blogging resolution– that I am running this blog for myself and will do what I want with it. Powerful stuff, sure- but I never quite specified what it was I wanted to do. Though I’m not sure of all the directions this blog will eventually wander in, book reviews are a thing I have intended to add for a while now. Literary critiques are extremely subjective/biased forms of commentary. Two intelligent and well-respected critics can hold completely opposite views on a particular title. This means when looking for good reviews, knowing who the reviewer is can really matter. Since I will only be reviewing the books I want and choose to read, you might want to know a little bit about me as a reader, and my particular taste in books.

Hello, My Name is Katie & I’m Addicted to READING

I have been a book worm since the day I was born. My parents read to me constantly as an infant, and as soon as I learned the skill myself I was unstoppable. I was that kid who brought a book to the dinner table. My first ever act of defiance as a toddler was to sneak out of  bed after “light’s out” to retrieve a book from my closet and continue reading by flashlight. I never got away with this, but my mom was always more amused than annoyed when she caught me. She was especially tickled one morning to find me asleep in bed, with The Velveteen Rabbit still propped open in my hands.

c4041In my middle school years I read at school, in between classes and during lunch. I was lucky to have a few good friends who did the same.My idea of after-school fun was to ask my parents for a ride to the local bookstore- and beg them not to pick me up until they closed. By the time I was 15 I had read my way through the entire YA section and my interests began to wander. My most fond memories of reading during that time of my life were at summer camp. Every summer before heading up to Echo Hill, it was tradition for my dad buy me a stack of “camp books” to take with me.  

angusOne year, after I had carefully made my selections for camp, my dad insisted I take this other book too, because some bookstore clerk had highly recommended it. He bought it for me and I begrudgingly agreed, lugging the hard-bound book with me to camp along with all the ones I had chosen. I read every one of my books before I finally got around to the one dad had made me bring. I examined it skeptically- it was a kid’s book, with a juvenile cover, and the font was way too big for me! (I believe my thoughts at the time were, “Whatever, Dad!!!”)

 imagesBut then I finished all my other books. And with nothing left to read, I opened up the silly kid’s book anyway- and that was the moment Harry Potter entered my life. It immediately became my favorite series of all time. I became a real fan- short for fanatic. Just ask my parents- who shortly thereafter received a letter from their little daughter at camp, who was DEMANDING that the second book be mailed OVERNIGHT to me at camp, OR ELSE. They obliged (thanks mom and dad!)

Harry and I were both 11 years old when his first book debuted. When he was 13, I was also 13. But as the years between each book release grew, I slowly became older than Harry. It all culminated on the night of my 21st birthday. Rather than celebrate I sat at home, slowly savoring the final tome The Deathly Hallows with tears in my eyes. I wouldn’t have spent that birthday any other way– and the series could not have had a more perfect, beautiful ending. 

200px-River_Out_of_Eden_CoverAside from the final Harry Potter books, I found myself completely over fiction by the time I was in college. Stories were stories- and after a while, the narratives began to repeat themselves. An old story told in “a new, fresh way” is still the same old story. I became somewhat burned-out on all the make-believe. So as a curious, liberal-arts student with an insatiable desire to learn, I abandoned fiction entirely to focus on facts. I started reading more books on sociology, history, anthropology, and my favorite of all, the sciences. These books were no longer the same old stories- they contained knowledge and wisdom. New things that people are learning and discovering. Different ways of thinking about common concepts and ideas. Academic insight into past and present cultural events. Non-fiction books left me with the satisfied feeling that I had learned something- and I like learning things. 

philip-k-dickAt the end college and in the one year since, I have broadened my horizons a little bit. I’ve slowly I allowed fiction back into my life- with a strong inclination toward that of the “science-fiction” variety. I have also expanded my “non-fiction” repertoire beyond just hard sciences with everything from sociology and psychology books to memoirs and comedic non-fiction. My biggest broach back into the realm of storytelling has been the Game of Thrones series- which I have been thoroughly enjoying and will definitely write about here. Watch this space!

June Resolutions

Why wait for the New Year to make a few resolutions? The year is halfway over, so June seems as good a time as any to make some positive changes. I’ve loved the process of making this blog so much– but lately I have found myself sort of stuck. What started as a blog dedicated to raising my chickens has become a gangly combination of topics from chickens to food to gardening and other random blurbs. It feels so… scatter-brained and messy. The only thing that binds all of these topics together is that they are filtered through my personal experience. So I finally decided to go ahead with what I once felt so uncomfortable doing: I’m making this blog about me.

I (proudly) consider myself to be an introverted person. And while I lack the shyness typically attributed to introverted people, I do have the expected aversion to self-promotion. I don’t want to sell anything at all, let alone myself. Even job interviews can feel like shameless self-promotion to me. This same fear carries over to into my blogging practice. I’ll have an idea for a post then quickly decide, “who cares about this/me?” And since only a handful of people read my blog anyway (due to said lack of self-promotion) often feel like “oh, what’s the point?”

But maybe that is the point. Only a few people read this blog, and that’s because they want to read it. If someone finds what I post to be trivial or stupid, then  they just don’t have to read it. I didn’t start this blog for other people. The bottom line is, I started this blog for me. And so with that in mind, I will now be operating my blog in the spirit of Eric Cartman, who once uttered these immortal words:

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