Productive Chicago Weekend

Gosh you would think I was sitting on top of some hot-burning fire this weekend because I got a lot done. (Does that even make sense? I feel like that was my attempt at some Depression era ‘talk’) I had to go to my local USPS office to find a missing package with some very special cargo in it. Thankfully, my post office is actually super close to my house and the people who work there are actually pleasant… I know right?

that's a whole summer's worth of HK sun protection.
that’s a whole summer’s worth of HK sun protection.

I also took another practice exam for the GMAT and did an astounding 60 points better in just two weeks! I’m very pleased with this progress and know it is just an affirmation that the studying I am doing is really paying off in a big way. After my CAT, I went ahead and ventured into my craft room for some wonderful sewing projects! I just used a basic bias skirt pattern from McCall’s similar to THIS ONE. I did however use french seams and wish I had known about those sooner – I LOVE their finish.

my new gray denim skirt.
my new gray denim skirt.
adorable fox skirt for lovie.
adorable fox skirt for lovie.

I also tried to make a little tepee for the cats, but they were no feeling it. I think I need to make it bigger, they just didn’t seem to think it was very cool. Cats… they love the ‘sack’ of cloth I made for them a few weeks ago, but don’t understand this has potential for the best photoshoot ever!

abandoned tepee.
abandoned tepee.

In pursuit of the cheapskates lifestyle, I decided to price compare Wal-Mart to Aldi on a few items that I consume a LOT of. Basically, I wanted to find an alternative egg/meat source aside from Aldi. Wal-Mart does have organic Eggland’s Best Eggs for $4.98 and a very very limited non-antibiotic/steroid chicken selection. Aldi rotates organic selections based on consumer buying patterns with a ‘features’ program so two weeks ago when they had the Organic Grassfed beef I was so happy but should have bought more to freeze and use later. Anyways, I’m thinking more about the antibiotics thing because my GMAT prep test actually had an article about how the EU has banned antibiotic use, but the USA hasn’t and well….. here we go. Also in my Wal-Mart escapade today I found some awesome products that made me proud to say ‘EASTHHHER IN AMMMERICCHHHAA.’

walmart is a great place.
walmart is a great place.
vanilla creme peep - limited edition. limited lifespan - CHOMP.
vanilla creme peep – limited edition. limited lifespan – CHOMP.

Sunday, I colored my hair, and while that was processing made that fox skirt up above! Then I went to finish my Dunwich Horror with Mister Josh Howard at Pioneer Tattoo. I love it.

josh howard monster
josh howard monster

There was also a Katy Puggy siting… I keep tweeting the real Katy Perry – maybe one day she’ll see.

katy puggy!
katy puggy!

Le sigh Monday….

xxx
GFK

Life Around Here.

the hipsters are restless in Logan Square.

Life has been so busy lately. I’ve been studying for the GMAT, knitting the Heliopath KAL, running/working out, and taking care of my tribe.

First things first, the GMAT. I have to say I’m enjoying working through the workbooks for this exam. I have never studied for a standardized test before so all the strategies and methodologies are fascinating. However, the testing material is intense. Nothing is ‘complicated’, but the way the exam is designed is to make sure you know the basics in-and-out. So I’m re-memorizing my geometry proofs, my algebra rules, basic grammar skills, and reasoning strategies. I have faith I’ll get the score I’ve set as my goal, but these next 9 weeks will be full of practice problems, practice exams, and workbooks.

The Heliopath KAL is coming along – I’m about to start the arm shape-ing. Honestly, I’m pretty tired of the cables so I took a few days break from working on it. Tonight I’ll get one side done and hopefully start on the back-piece/make head way on that. I did however rearrange my entire house/address my clay cat-litter ‘situation’ I ended up switching to World’s Best (again) so fingers crossed my asthma/Boris’ allergies are improved.

DIY face mask I made to clean/rearrange my space. Asthma, suck it.

The gym has been great. I got an outdoor run in on Sunday since the weather was lovely. I also ‘splurged’ and bought new running shoes, which I desperately needed. These New Balances are great. I honestly feel like my momentum and speed are soaring in them!

My new New Balance Carnival 574s
Logan Square. 5K Sunday Run.

The Ugly Tribe. I spend so much time at home, these guys really make me so happy. Although during my first full length practice exam on Saturday, Vladimir would not leave me alone and would not stop fussing with stuff in the kitchen. I don’t think the GMAT people had a pesky sphynx in mind when they designed the exam. I may start going to the library to take those exams since I had to get up three separate times to sternly warn my eldest cat to GET THE EFF OUT OF THE SINK / QUIT KNOCKING OVER CLEAN BUT DRYING DISHES. Anyways here’s some photos of my weekend with them.

Boris waiting for some string cheese.
dont’ go run mom, just stay here and hold me.
you gonna share that mom?
pug – spooning.
lay with me you little sh%t.
I take nap here. zzzz.

ONWARDS.
xxx
GFK.

Humpz Dayz

Is it just me or is this week kind of dragging? Maybe because it’s supposed to be Spring, but the weather still stinks? I mean I can’t complain that much – it’s been above freezing in Chicago so that’s like heat wave status.

Anyways – I’ve had a pretty great week so far albeit a little quiet and slow.

First: Been really enjoying my gym time. I go 4-5 times a week now and just feel like I’m killing it there. I’m still amazed that I have lost no weight, but the overall shape/tightness of my body is radically different. Don’t believe? oh look a before and after! My favorite! (haha). I have been going between 2-4 miles a day and as of last weekend have been using intervals and inclines to keep me on my toes.

after on left 3/14 – before 12/24 on right; same weight 160.

Second: I FINALLY found a great dentist here in Chicago. I had avoided the whole ‘check up’ thing since I moved. I take insane care of my teeth now (after root canals, LANAP surgery) and so I knew I wasn’t going to have any cavities or major plaque issues. I did have a consult done on my ‘root canal-ed’ teeth that are in the front. I’m nervous, but incredibly excited to move forward with that. To say that I have adjusted my lifestyle and smile to accommodate my always graying teeth would be an understatement. It’s a major bummer to look at photos and have it make my teeth look misshaped or worse look like I’m missing teeth! So that’s an endeavor I’m about to journey through and am excited to move past.

Third: I scheduled my GMAT exam. I know what you are thinking “Brianna, you just graduated with your MA last year.” Well, you all know it’s a goal to get my PhD and this stage of my life would be the best time to just ‘get ‘er done.’ So I have 9 weeks to study my face off. I’m not too concerned about finding time and I bought the Manhattan study prep kit so I think I’ll do just fine.

Fourth: I beefed up my sewing skills with a simple skirt class. The highlights were learning the ‘french seam’ and some nice hemming techniques. I’m excited to begin sewing more especially since I’m at the size I want to stay.

pattern and fabric.
little ‘faux fur bag’ i made the cats. the safety pins make the cover/lining removable (i.e. washable) they LOVE it. both fight over it.
adorable yarn draw string bag i made. i actually did the inside with french seams and practiced my casing skills haha.

Fifth: GREAT progress with the Heliopath KAL with socalmeaghan. I’ve seen quite a few followers/fellow KAL friends are WAY ahead of schedule. I am right on track. It’s taking me about 4 hours (!!!!) to knit the 16 rows of the cable lace pattern over 151 stitches. (That’s 2416 total stitches if you wanna think about how much work in a different sense). The pattern is easy, but tedious and as soon as I start getting tired I have to stop because I start fumbling and it gets scary with all the YO / K2TG / P2TG and cables.

4.5 inches of pattern / 2 inches of ribbing. sigh.

So there was the weekend/first half of the week. I’m ready for spring. I feel lonely and whiny. Lois is coming to visit Friday so I’m really excited to be around family.

xxx
GFK

Burda-spiration

Well after my Amy Butler Gumdrop Pillow , I’ve been inspired to sew some things. I did a small pair of shorts, I’m going to make some jersey tees for the cats (since one of them *ahem* VLADIMIR *ahem* always takes his knit sweaters off). Anyways, if you aren’t familiar with Burdastyle, it’s a wonderful sewing website with patterns, inspiration, seminars, classes, and forums. I have recently found some amazing patterns that I think would be perfect for me to gain more confidence in garment sewing. Shall we take a look? *clicking on the photos takes you directly to the Burdastyle pattern page*

Cape 01/2010 – always a classic.
Empire Waist Dress
Knotted Dress – VA VA VOOM.
Elasticated Dress
Double Layer Dress
Keyhole Dress
U Neck Dress

Foot down, pedal to the metal.

xxx
GFK

Fair Isle Goat Pillow DONE

Well, it’s done. It only took total 10-11 hours which is not that bad considering it was my first real Fair Isle project. I’m really pleased that I did NOT try this as the glove. I think it would have turned into a AMF knitting project (angry mofo), if I had tried DPNs with my first time Fair Isle. Anyways, there’s a few mistakes – it happens. I really dig this as a pillow and will be doing more pillow/tapestry designs in the future. I will however go a step further and knit in the round next time. All my mistakes were on the purl side (WS) so being able to see the knit side the entire time would aid in banishing those little flubs.

Finished pillow front being 'blocked' it's acrylic so it's not like that did anything.
Finished pillow front being ‘blocked’ it’s acrylic so it’s not like that did anything.
added some 'french knots' to cover up a missed black perrie. oops.
added some ‘french knots’ to cover up a missed black perrie. oops.
i really like the split in the goat.
i really like the split in the goat.
finished pillow. pug mildly impressed.
finished pillow. pug mildly impressed.
shhh mom, just shut your mouth.
shhh mom, just shut your mouth.
new sweater blaster - embroidered 'B" for the baby boris.
new sweater blaster – embroidered ‘B” for the baby boris.
one half of hall and oates. this is what i do on saturday nights people.
one half of hall and oates. this is what i do on saturday nights people.

Adventures in Fair Isle

Before the holidays, we had a secret santa at my work. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a Mastering Colored Knitting book for my gift. I still in fact have no idea who gave this book to me! They won’t fess up, but when I finish my more intricate pattern I’ll send an email thanking/inquiring again. Anyways, I’ve been just practicing a few little projects and I love it. Just like most knitting techniques, I’m mad I didn’t learn this sooner. SO FUN.

Just a simple one peeries for practice.
Just a simple one peeries for practice.
First heart project on modified sweater (no cable obviously) for Boris.
First heart project on modified sweater (no cable obviously) for Boris.
Baby B likes his sweater.
Baby B likes his sweater.
Gloves have inspired a pillow 'flat/larger' project.
Gloves have inspired a pillow ‘flat/larger’ project.
Slowed down by headache/cat kisses.
Slowed down by headache/cat kisses.
Almost done. Still have 15 rows to go - adding inverted cross to top right design panel. Red to left crisscross pattern as french knots too.
Almost done. Still have 15 rows to go – adding inverted cross to top right design panel. Red to left crisscross pattern as french knots too. I’m hoping some of the gathering goes away with blocking/pressing. Damn you tension.
Valentines Cards? Can I Fair Isle this?
Valentines Cards? Can I Fair Isle this?
This is for a child. I'm thinking it would look awesome as vest. (no one wants to knit sleeves - especially for my ape like arms)
This is for a child. I’m thinking it would look awesome as vest. (no one wants to knit sleeves – especially for my ape like arms)

Pet Projects: The Animal Knit Bible

After my ‘finishing faux paw’ (harhar) on Boris’s new sweater of sewing the arm holes closed I realized I’ve knitted too many pet sweaters to be making such a silly mistake! So I’ve been inspired to share a few of the patterns I’ve made here.

a cat straight-jacket is okay with me too.
a cat straight-jacket is okay with me too.

Obviously I knit a lot. I knit for people and of course animals. I have talked a little bit about the knitted items I’ve made for the animals before, but without a doubt all the patterns are from Pet Projects: The Animal Knit Bible. I can’t even tell you how many sweaters I’ve made for mine and others’ pets, but here are a few of the patterns and a lot of sweaters I have made from this book. (PS If you click the book link it takes you to the Ravelry page with other knitters’ works too!)

Despite his grumpy demeanor he's warm.
Despite his grumpy demeanor he’s warm.
This was for a furry friend. Too short for Vlad.
This was for a furry friend. Too short for Vlad.
All dressed up and no where to go - also ever since I took this photo I've wanted to make an all grey 'knight' suit for Lee.
All dressed up and no where to go – also ever since I took this photo I’ve wanted to make an all grey ‘knight’ suit for Lee.
My first sweater for Vladimir then it became Leopold's.
My first sweater for Vladimir then it became Leopold’s.
Although short, he prefers this sweater because he can run around.
Although short, he prefers this sweater because he can run around and you know grab a cup of coffee.
Pet bed, perfect for two.
Pet bed, perfect for two.
Vladimir's favorite summer spot.
Vladimir’s favorite summer spot.
"The Anti-Firework" Balaclava..... aka "The Laugh Hysterically at Your Animal Hat"
“The Anti-Firework” Balaclava….. aka “The Laugh Hysterically at Your Animal Hat”
Again "Laugh Hysterically"
Again “Laugh Hysterically”
I modified this hat to make Lee transform into RASTA PUG MAHN.
I modified this hat to make Lee transform into RASTA PUG MAHN.

They have a LOT of wonderful color pattern knits in this book too. I think I’m gonna turn the page from the sweater section and start making a few other fun animal items. Coveting it now? Buy it here.

2013 In Picture Collages

Let’s see… 2013 was a HUGE transformation year for me. From weightloss, to choosing a clear path, embracing my hobbies, adding to the tribe, ditching booze, finding a job, and traveling to Thailand – it was a year full of experiences and fun too.

Here are some picture collages to show case a very very few of the THOUSANDS of moments I caught on camera.

select crafts of 2013 (all from december)
select crafts of 2013 (all from december)
Knits/Sews from the last half of 2013
Knits/Sews from the last half of 2013
Tattoos of 2013. Josh Howard, Arajan Bpom, Artbrutis, Alisha Rice, Dusty Neal.
Tattoos of 2013. Josh Howard, Arajan Bpom, Artbrutis, Alisha Rice, Dusty Neal.
The new addition (his first two days with me)
The new addition (his first two days with me)

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The Christmas Round-UP

Surprise Surprise I blew the 12 days of Christmas blog challenge. BUT – as soon as I landed in Denver, I hit the ground running. It was the most filled, fun, and best holiday I have had in years! Roll the Photos!

Worst flight out ever.
Worst flight out ever.
Biggest Gingerbread house EVER.
Biggest Gingerbread house EVER.
Filled in that Dragon by Alisha Rice @alisharice
Filled in that Dragon by Alisha Rice @alisharice
MMMMM. Green Chili.
MMMMM. Green Chili.
Moar Gingerbreads.
Moar Gingerbreads.
Even MOAR Gingerbreads.
Even MOAR Gingerbreads.
Dim Sum with ma bhuds.
Dim Sum with ma bhuds.
Afternoon Tea with Dad and Cym
Afternoon Tea with Dad and Cym
Tea Roof.
Tea Roof.
Arizona Ricecakes in the fur and blood. @arizona_ricecakes
Arizona Ricecakes in the fur and blood. @arizona_ricecakes
Krampus Tags.
Krampus Tags.
Blitzkrieg & Me.
Blitzkrieg & Me.
Making mints with Lori.
Making mints with Lori.
Nita's Mass Book.
Nita’s Mass Book.
Look I got my Wish!!!
Look I got my Wish!!!
Fammmmily.
Fammmmily.
Palestinian Eggs.
Palestinian Eggs.
New running swag.
New running swag.
New pics + new LG photo printer.
New pics + new LG photo printer.

BEST HOLIDAY EVER!

XXX
GFK