Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best of 2009 - Music Edition

Let's begin with the greatest rock band of all time. Think I'm exaggerating? Then you've obviously never experienced Muse. I discovered Muse 10 years ago when John and I were dating in San Marcos. A little song called "Muscle Museum" was played mostly just on the college radio station, and I fell in love. Their music is epic; a little bit Queen, a little bit Depeche Mode, a whole lot of awesome. So my pick for the best album of 2009 is Muse's "The Resistance." From start to finish, the listener is in their world, a dystopia of Orwellian fascism and revolution. And apparently, teddy bears.

And in no particular order b/c it's impossible, the rest of the best.

Florence and the Machine. What's not to love? Kickass redhead. Check. Voice so powerful it could drive you to tears. Check. Lyrics so beautiful it makes it hard to breathe. Check. Her album, "Lungs" is one of those albums you put on repeat on a bad day, a good day, during sex, during a fight. You get the point. I've said "Cosmic Love" is probably the most painfully beautiful songs I've ever heard, and I stand by that statement. Judge for yourself.

Bat for Lashes. If you, like me, like science fantasy books, love "Lord of the Rings" and just in general wish magic was real and sometimes want to escape into a fairy tale, then "Two Suns" is the album for you. Ethereal, whimsical, enchanting, haunting, this is an album about lost love, a love torn apart by distance and is split between Natasha and her alter ego, Pearl. It sounds a little weird, but it worked for me and other whimsical fairy-tale loving geeks like me. My favorite - "Glass." It's just very sexy and striking.

Gossip. "Men in Love" No list of the best of anything would be complete without my darling Beth Ditto. In my richest fantasies I could never be as badass as Beth. Watching her sing live was one of the highlights of my year. Her voice has a lioness power to it, and listening to this album makes me miss my old club kid days where I could drink and dance until 4am, go to work, and then repeat as needed. Best songs are "Heavy Cross," "Vertical Rhythm," and "2012." If you like a good bassline, glitter, glam, and excess in every way, please do enjoy.

There are a lot of decent honorable mentions that are still far superior to most of the crap out there.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "It's Blitz" It's good, not great. They're still one of my favorite bands, and I'm tickled pink by Karen O's adorable "Where the Wild Things Are" soundtrack, but this album was kind of a disappointment. Again, still better than most. "Runaway" "Heads Will Roll" "Zero" - all highly recommended.
Tori Amos "Abnormally Addicted To Sin" Hate to say this, but again, not great. There are some gorgeous tracks here like "Give" and "Ophelia" but for the most part, it's just okay. She hasn't been able to touch "Scarlet's Walk" and likely never will. She's still a goddess and should be worshipped accordingly
Imogen Heap "Ellipse" I was really looking forward to this one b/c her last album was breathtaking, but this one I just haven't been able to get into as much.

Next year is looking to be great in music. Interpol and Sia both have albums coming out in the next few months, and I hear rumor of a Maynard James Keenan project - probably Puscifer.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

30 Day Shred progress

I started Jillian Michaels 30 Day shred on Thur, so today I'll be doing day 3 of Level 1. I'm going to track my daily progress here to urge myself on.

Day 1 - I pushed through the entire workout without any breaks, but I was ready to die by the end of it. Was massively sore in the thighs and ass the entire day.

Day 2 - I really didn't want to do it b/c I was still really sore and hobbling up and down my stairs, but with John's motivation (Do it!) I muddled through it taking only a couple of 5 sec breaks to catch my breath. Took a long hot soak with epsom salts and crashed.

Today I'll be doing Day 3 even though I'm still really sore.

My goal is 10 lbs or at least a few inches off my waistline for Kelly's wedding on July 29 in Vegas. No more muffin top!!!!

I am knitting but with all my stress and my obsession with a new vampire novel series, I have been slacking a bit on that. I never really knit much in the summer anyway. Slowly and only when I really feel like it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Don't go in if you are abnormally attracted to sin

Ah, the fabulousness of the great Tori Amos. While I'm not going to get into a full review of her latest album, "Abnormally Attracted to Sin," I will say it's the best she's released since the masterpiece that was "Scarlet's Walk." That one simply cannot be beat. I've been one of those insanely loyal Tori fans since 1996, when I was a moderately melancholy high school senior desperately trying to find myself amidst the fiercely conservative small town in which I was raised. Tori helped me immensely, and for that, she can do no wrong. Well, okay, "The Beekeeper" was slightly wrong, but I can forgive her for that. :)

In knitting, I've mostly finished Morgan's dress - just sewing on buttons left to do. I'm being rather lazy about it too, since it'll likely not fit her for several months.
What I've really been working on in my little Tucker factory are my own designs for my little slice of the etsy pie. I have in my mind all these really cute and maybe slightly left of center design ideas for kids, and I've been sketching and devouring awesome cables and embroidery options. I just received some business cards that I designed myself that will mostly be for my friends and family to hand out to peeps. Also, it really helps for mom networking to have something with your contact info already on it so you're not digging around your purse trying to find a pen.
So, here's a little sampling. The background is from an actualy celtic cable I knitted.

So, right now I'm in the beginning stages of being a designer. For my shop, I'm going to have ready to wear pieces, but also have the option of ordering something custom. And eventually, I'll work towards writing out patterns. It's a start.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In the springtime of his voodoo

Spring has finally sprung in Chicagoland. I'm giddier than a school girl. I've been communing with nature in hidden places in the wilderness, soaking in the beauty of the green under canopies of trees. Oh, and I've been getting craftier than I have in a long time.
Here's a peek

This is a little cardi I'm knitting for one of my dearest friend's baby, who is due this summer. Boheme by Allegra Wermuth. It's a free ravelry download, super cute.

Next, I've been experimenting with headbands. I had these elastic headbands sitting around, and I thought it'd be cute to glue some flowers on. See, I've got mega spring fever, and my obsession with flowers has taken on a life of its own.

I plan on making some more with smaller ponytail holders, barrettes, and different styles of headbands. Now that my hair is longish, I've been learning how to style it since I've had a pixie cut for the better part of 3 years. So...more to come.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Feb Lady Sweater Part 2 is complete. She's actually been finished for a week, but I've been super lazy about pretty much everything.
Mods are really simple - short sleeves obviously, and 4 buttons instead of 3.
This is probably my favorite style of sweater ever b/c it really hides the muffin top that I've been growing for the last year. I'm furiously trying to get rid of it b/c I have to wear yet another bridesmaid dress in August. And by furiously, I mean really half-assed, which consists of going for fast paced walks or riding the elliptical 3 or 4 days a week but still eating burritos at Chipotle on Friday night with the boys. Life is too short for no burritos, damnit!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have the facts of life

Things haven't been so blissful in the Tucker realm lately. And it's all this shit in my head swirling around, that inner critic that insults my every move, the daily frustrations of being a stay at home mom, and the 5 month long winter that may be finally coming to a close. I realize logically just how lucky I am; I have a supportive husband who has a great job in this terrible economy, I have a lovely home that I'm having fun slowly decorating and personalizing, and I have a great kid who warms my heart and puts a smile on my face with his quirkiness and flair. So I won't begin to bitch and moan about the little things that add up to take me out of the grateful comfort of this quiet life and make me want to claw my way out of what can, at times, be slightly less than fulfilling. Instead, I will just say that I am working on silencing the negativity and breeding some more creativity. With that, here are a couple of progress shots from the 2 knitting projects I've got going.

Kelso Lace Cardigan

I had intended to rush through this for my trip to TX, which was 2 weeks ago, but I got a little frustrated with the raglan decreases within the lace repeats, so it's on brief hiatus while I finish up my 2nd February Lady Sweater

February Lady

I wear the warmer version all the time, so I wanted to create one that I can wear in the spring and part of the summer. Short sleeves, which I have bound off already but may pick up and lengthen just a little b/c they flare out strangely right now. Shorter body, maybe 1 or 2 fewer repeats.

Both sweaters are made with Cotton Ease, which is quite possibly my favorite yarn to knit with.

So, more of life as usual.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Evs

I finished the big cables sweater a couple of weeks ago. It turned out beautifully and horribly gigantic on me. I don't know what happened there b/c I knit a 37" bust, which is 3" smaller than I am. Oh well. It'll be frogged for next winter. I'm done with wool for the next several monthsThis is my newest project. The Kelso Lace Cardigan by Suzanne Frary I downloaded from Ravelry.

It's knit in one piece from the bottom up, which I've never done before, so it's interesting. I'm using some light grey Cotton Ease, which was on super sale at Michael's last week, so I stocked up for the spring. I got some light pink as well for a possible 2nd February Lady Sweater with shorter sleeves.
I also finished Entwined from Knitty for my friend Emily. I used LB Homespun in a gorgeous color called Painted Desert, which actually reminded me of sunsets in Phoenix when I was a kid. She loves it.

In actual life news, the last few months have been extremely stressful. We're trying to figure out where Perrin will attend kindergarten next year. He's doing really well in the small, contained classrooms that are solely special needs children b/c he gets the one-on-one attention he needs to learn. Our options seem to be to throw him into a classroom with 30 students and hope he's not distracted enough to have a hard time focusing. The school doesn't have adequate sensory supports, and if he's disruptive, they don't really have much in the way of help for him. The other alternative is to put him in a school that has a class that is much more restrictive; it's solely special needs kids with behavioral problems. This year there are 4 kids in that class, and the ages range from 6 to 10. Perrin would likely be the only kindergartener in this class, which raises the issue of adequate socialization. But it is the better of the two options, so it looks like this is what we'll have to choose. For such an "affluent" community, there don't seem to be a lot of options here for children with disabilities, and that's incredibly frustrating. He's back in private occupational therapy twice a week, and we're going to get him started with therapeutic listening, which is supposed to be very helpful for kids with attention problems. This has been a very emotional roller coaster, and we're always trying to do what's best for Perrin, but it's very hard to know what that is at this point. I guess we just make a decision and hope for the best.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bow down before my face

Found this great website, via Friendly Atheist, where you can create your own miraculous image on a pancake. I fully expect to be worshipped now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best YouTube videos I've seen this week

Seriously, I've watched these a gazillion times, and I laugh my ass off EVERY time!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The search is over. Love of cables continues

After days of agonizing scrutiny of every pattern under the sun, I found exactly what I was looking for. Something with the ease of February Lady but with interesting cables. The original plan is to knit this in the round as a pullover, steek it, and knit on some buttonholes to make a kicky cardigan. I love working with the Wool of the Andes; it's just the right sproinginess, and it's just flying. This is the funnest project I've had since the Bubble Pullover which ended up being a bit of a frumpy pink mess.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Proof I AM knitting

Pattern: Petal by Stefanie Japel
Yarn: 3 1/2 skeins Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Emporer's Robe
Needles: US 6 for body, 5 for edging
This baby took forever b/c of endless stockinette stitch and the eternal edging, but I really like how this turned out.
I found some darling buttons with cutesy faces on them, but I can't seem to get a decent closeup shot of those.
I am now off to the library to spend hours rummaging through pattern books to find the perfect sweater for some Knitpicks Wool of the Andes I just bought.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

If you like fabulousness

Do yourself a favor and watch this amazing performance from this weekend's SNL. The band is "Fleet Foxes," and they blew me and John away. Rocked my socks! Reaffirmed my belief that we are in a magical time in music. Every member of this band sings in perfect harmony with one another, and it is sublime. You have no idea.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President, for including me.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.”

I nearly wept at hearing myself, and many wonderful fellow non-believers, included in Barack Obama's inaugural address. Most of the time, we feel overlooked and deemed less than American (for example, George Bush saying that we were "unpatriotic" b/c of our beliefs..or lack thereof I should say). I can't fully express how it warmed my cockles to hear him add us onto the list of all of those who shape this nation. We are your friends, your coworkers, your sisters and brothers. We are the same as anyone else and deserve recognition as Americans, and it's about damn time someone had the courage to say it. Thank you, Mr. President, for adding those simple words that will bring a sense of comfort for many atheists, agnostics, and humanists of this country.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A new edition to the blog

Up to now, this blog has been mostly fluffy knitting stuff and the occasional cutesy kid story. And with all likelihood, the only people that ever read it are my blood relatives. Hi Mom :)
And while creating a new blog to delve into deeper subjects would probably be more appropriate, I'm super lazy, and it's just easier to dump everything into one blog. So from now on, all kinds of crap will be on here. From book, TV, and movie reviews, to my views on religion, morality, politics, and feminism. I'm a fairly well-rounded individual, and I believe that I'm quite capable of mingling my thought-cicles (more 30 Rock ridiculousness) along with the pictures of fluffy sweaters.

So, just to top things off, here's my current favorite quote, via from the incomparable Rev Al Sharpton.

"There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you. It amazes me," he said, "when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."

I could not agree more.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My love affair with hats continues

I present to you my favorite of the bunch. I've been cranking out hats like a crazy person, and this one is hands down the cat's pajamas.

Side Slip Cloche from "Boutique Knits" I want to make everything from this book and might eventually do just that.
Cascade 220 - less than 1 skein of this gorgeous purple/blue I got from Ana years ago.
US 5 needles
Verdict - to say I love this hat is putting it lightly. In the words of the great Tracy Jordan, "I love it so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Shoe fetish

I have no idea when this started or how or why, but I'm now madly in love with shoes. I think it may have sprung from my lust for the particular brand. T.U.K. which birthed both pairs of my "cat shoes."

The left is a hard leather mary jane with a bit of a heel. The right is a sneaker with a velcro face, and they're totally beat up b/c I wore them daily for 3 years (and all 9 months of pregnancy). T.U.K. shoes will last an eternity and are comfortable from day one.
And here are the ones I just got today in the mail. T.U.K. has a line of "Emily the Strange" shoes. You've probably seen some of her clothing at Hot Topic; it's adorable and slightly disturbing.

I psychotically love these shoes. They're slightly roomy, but with my mom's handknit socks (that she actually made for my hubby, and I stole) they fit like a dream.
Next, 2 pairs of shoes I bought from Payless b/c I'm not made of money, ya know. One day I said to myself, "Self, you need a pair of red mary janes." So I scoured the pre-Christmas sales and found these for less than $15. They are fabulously cutesy. The black ones I bought ages ago, and they aren't the most comfortable shoes around, but I do like that they are shiny and simple.

I will delve into my newfound love for fashion in the next post. This one got a little heavy on the pics, so I ran out of time.
In knitting, I'm almost finished with the side slip cloche from the marvelous book, "Boutique Knits." I want to make virtually everything in that book, but right now am sticking with just all the hats.