About ceciliairene

American twenty-something who reads, knits, sews, teaches, drinks tea and coffee, and loves Jesus

FO: Reposado

I’m deeply thrilled to have a finished object post to share today. It’s been far too long since I had one. (Since November!) I have been knitting. I’ve even finished three pairs of socks.

But I finished a thing! And it’s gorgeous. AND….it has an AWESOME name.

If you pay much attention to my knitting, you know that I *love* Thea Colman’s Baby Cocktails designs, and I’m always thrilled to have an opportunity to test designs for Thea. I pestered Thea for the opportunity to test one of her newest designs, Reposado-a sleeveless top from her new Tequila Collection. (The Tequila Collection is a collaboration with YOTH yarns.)

Reposado is knit with YOTH’s Best Friend, a fingering weight yarn that is 75% cotton, 25% wool, held double. Best Friend has a delightfully rustic feel to it. I used oyster, which is a creamy white, and I had so much fun just looking at it and feeling it. I also really got into taking pictures of the yarn because winter sun+rustic white yarn=GORGEOUS. The yarn is held double. Thea recommends winding each skein of yarn and then rewinding them so that two skeins are wound together. The only reason that I didn’t do this is that a very wonderful human being wound my yarn for me, and she wasn’t comfortable winding the skeins together.

Overall, I think that the sweater came out quite nicely the way that I wound the skeins. I’m really pleased with this sweater. The lace pattern is very easy to memorize, and I found this sweater made GREAT tv knitting. I watched two seasons of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries while working on this, and I’m now completely convinced that Miss Fisher would definitely wear a Reposado top. But hers would be black or red. Or maybe a stunning purple.

Raveled here.

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You’re Always Reading Something

Every time that I spend time with one of my closest friends, she asks me what I’m reading. A few months back, I paused before answering the question, and she looked at me. “What? You’re always reading something. What are you reading now?”

I can’t remember what I was reading then, but she’s right. I am always reading something. I suppose it’s logical given that my bachelor’s degree is in English language and literature and I always choose “reading” as my favorite hobby whenever I take a BuzzFeed quiz. (By the way, I’m going to get married when I’m 26, I should live in Paris, and my ideal celebrity spouse is Chris Pine. Unfortunately, I’m 29, Paris isn’t even my favorite city in France, and Chris Pine is still losing that “prize” to Tom Hiddleston.) But yes, I love to read.

I was thinking about this as I made my to-do list for a relaxing evening in. I’m a bit stressed these days, and I’m really tired. i decided that my Wednesday night needed to be low-key. I also have a few things that I need to tick off my to-do list however. So I made a list.

  1. Finish reading Horse Soldiers.
  2. Work on test knitting.
  3. Watch something on Netflix so that I can work on test knitting.
  4. Start a new book. Pick one from the stack on the kitchen table.
  5. Clean the cat boxes.

Here’s the thing. If I’m going to finish a book, I have to start another one almost immediately. It’s a thing with me. I don’t want to be without at least one book that I’m currently reading. Also, I have to have some work done on my car tomorrow, so I need to have a book to read while I’m waiting for the work to be done. (It’s a scheduled repair; I shouldn’t have to wait too long.) But I can’t start a new book in a waiting room. It just never works for me. I don’t know why, but I can’t start books in public places. I have to build the relationship privately before the book and I go public together. (Do I sound crazy? That’s okay.)

Also, I don’t like knowing that I don’t have a book that I’m currently reading. There are three books in the stack on table, and three more books in a bag by one of my bookshelves. I know which one I’m probably going to choose, but I’ll have to vet all of my options before I make a final decision. I find it reassuring to know that there is a book ready and waiting for me to just pick it up and read it.

Why do I like to read so much? Why do I always have at least one book on the go? The internet can’t agree who it was, but someone once said that we read to know that we’re not alone. I think that’s true. I find hope in knowing that other people have felt the way that I feel. I find encouragement in knowing that other people have experienced situations like the ones in which I’m living.

But I also read for other reasons. I sometimes read to learn. Let me tell you; Horse Soldiers was highly educational. I read to escape. It’s helpful to run away to Narnia or Middle Earth or the jungles of Africa sometimes. I think that reading enriches the human experience. It connects us with other people. It helps us to learn about the world. And I think that reading is ultimately the greatest way of exploring the world. You can go oh so many places if you read, and I love to explore the world. So pick up a book and find an adventure.

And I’ll do that shortly. But first, I have to clean the cat boxes.

Shirtless Chris Hemsworth

Ha! I got you to click just with that title. I suppose I ought to show you shirtless Chris Hemsworth so you don’t accuse me of false advertising.

Ages ago, I put a reminder in my phone that it should show me pictures of shirtless Chris Hemsworth whenever I’m having a shitty day. It never follows through on it, but the reminder’s existence in my phone never fails to make my day.

It’s actually kind of funny because Chris Hemsworth isn’t really “my type.” I can freely admit that he’s a handsome man, and his kids are adorable. He’s in some good movies. He seems like a nice bloke. But he’s not really my type. (If you need a refresher on my type, please click here.) I just don’t really go in for the muscly blonde dude type. Regardless, one day, I clearly felt that he could make my bad days better. And the thing is that a random thought I had one day continually brings a smile to my face weeks and months after I had put that random thought into my phone.

And that’s the real point of this post. I’ve been thinking lately about how the little things in life can be the most important things. The little things in life can end up as the ones that bring us the most joy or have the most value. Shirtless Chris Hemsworth was a thing that I wanted once, but that one-time desire has turned into a long-term source of amusement. It started as just a little thing on a rough day, but now it’s a delightful source of amusement.

In my experience, that’s how life works. Little things appear inconsequential in the moment, but they end up being so valuable. Small comments can make more of a difference than big comments. Friendships are often built through the little things rather than the big things. Small shared interests can be the bedrock of important relationships. Miracles are found in the mundane more often than in the grandiose.

That means that we have to keep our eyes open. We have to look for the shirtless Chris Hemsworth moments in our daily lives. If we’re not looking for them, they’ll float past us unseen and unnoticed. So keep your eyes open; you never know when you might see a shirtless Chris Hemsworth.

My Love of Indie Bookstores

Last Friday, I went to my favorite local bookstore in pursuit of a specific book. I also planned to browse, and I wasn’t limiting my book buying that particular book. But I wanted the book.

I went downstairs to the basement where nonfiction lives. I found where I thought the book would be, and it wasn’t there. I poked about for a few moments but quickly decided that they must not have it. I’d ask at the desk about it when I checked out, but I wasn’t terribly upset.

As I started to walk out of the basement, I ran into one of the store’s owners. She asked me if she could help me and I told her what I wanted. She immediately walked over to the correct area (ie not where I’d been looking) and found the book. I took it, thanked her, and bought the book-along with a few other items.

This reminded me of something that I love about independent bookstores. The stores are about the books. They want to foster community and literacy AND be a part of the community. (There’s nothing quite like chatting with a bookstore employee about a book you both love as you check out) I love going into bookstores and seeing recommendations or reviews from the employees. A few indie bookstores I frequent feature areas dedicated to books that the store’s employees recommend. This isn’t just about what publishers recommend or what is hot on the New York Times book list; this is about what other people who live in my city like. These are people who are my peers.

A few years ago, I had a delightful chat with a bookstore employee about the time she met Julia Child. I love to cook, and I love Julia Child. Hearing about how Julia Child had been so interested in computer and the internet, that just made my day. It fits with everything that I know about Julia Child, and I loved learning more about her from someone who had met her. That sense of relationship draws me back into the bookstore.

Even when I’m in a hurry, it’s hard to avoid a conversation in the bookstore. I dashed in today to quickly grab two books that I need to teach a couple of lessons this week. (The library couldn’t get me my books in time for my lessons, so I had to suck it up and buy the books.) But then I found three more books that I’d been thinking about buying for my classroom library and…down the rabbit trail I slid. As I checked out, the clerk and I had a conversation about how much we both like B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures. It was brief, but it was a reminder of why I love that shop.

I’ve ranted before about my dislike of Barnes and Noble becoming more of toy stores than book stores. I love going to indie bookstores because they are not a toy store. I won’t find puzzles or dolls in my local bookstore, but I don’t need those things. I need the sense of community and relationships that can only be built by people who love reading and great literature. They’re there primarily not to make a buck but to share books with fellow book-lovers.

Make It Last All Year

As the twelve days of Christmas draw to a close, this song is on my mind and my lips. My Christmas season began in the heat of Arizona and is ending in the bitter cold of Michigan. This Christmas hasn’t felt quite right to me, but I’ve come to realize that is more my fault than it is anyone else’s. I kind of forgot what Christmas is all about.

Christmas isn’t about gifts or where you are or who you’re with. Christmas is about love. The other things are wonderful, and they help to make Christmas what it is. But ultimately, Christmas is the season of the spirit, as the song says. It’s about your heart. It’s about love. The first Christmas was far from ideal by almost everyone’s estimations. But it was beautiful. Love came down, and love is the focus of the holiday.

One of the things that I most love about The Muppet Christmas Carol is that focus on love. Let’s make like the Muppets and carry that love beyond the Twelve Days of Christmas and out into the rest of the year.

“It is the season of the heart
A special time of caring
The ways of love made clear
It is the season of the spirit
The message, if we hear it
Is make it last all year.”

Merry Christmas!

Why I Wear Makeup

Over the years, I’ve heard various arguments in favor of and against wearing makeup. I think about it every now and again because I wear makeup pretty much every day. It’s just a part of my morning routine.

But why do I do it? Why do I take five or ten minutes almost every morning to put on foundation and eye makeup? Well, it’s simple. I do it for me. I like the way that I look when I wear makeup. It evens out my skin tone, and I use foundation with a built-in sunscreen. (That sunscreen is crucial for protecting my fair skin.) I like wearing eye makeup because I think that my eyes are my best feature and I like drawing attention to them. Also, I think that eye makeup makes me look more like an adult and less like a teenager. I get asked if I’m a teenager more than you’d expect from someone knocking on the door of thirty.

I’m not doing it because someone else expects it of me. I had to go bare-faced for a week earlier this fall when I had pinkeye, and almost no one noticed the difference. One of my coworkers commented (knowing of my frustration with wearing my glasses and bare face) that she thought I looked cute. Cute is okay, but it’s not what I usually strive for. I usually aim for sophisticated or lovely. That’s my personal preference.

I don’t think that everyone needs to wear makeup. I don’t think that anyone needs to wear it. I wear it because I think it’s fun to put on. But at the same time, I like knowing that I don’t have to wear it. I like knowing that I wear it by personal choice and not by outside mandate. Above all, I think that each person needs to make his or her own decisions about physical appearance rather than being fussed about what other people think about their appearance.

The Holy Transience of Baseball

A good subtitle for this post might be “What Baseball Has Taught Me About Heaven.”

I love baseball. Those who know me well know that I dearly love the Detroit Tigers. I freely admit that watching a game at Comerica Park (on a summer evening with a Detroit craft brew in my hand) makes me happier than few other things in this world. Like any good baseball fan, I have my favorite players. For several years (with a particular emphasis on 2012-2014), Rick Porcello was My Tiger. He wasn’t the best player on the team, but he was often a good player. He seems like a good man. This game on my 26th birthday was particularly awesome.

And then about three years ago, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. I still like Ricky P. But he’s not My Tiger any more. J.D. Martinez became My Tiger. And then he was traded. Before I could really attach myself to my next prospective My Tiger, Alex Avila was traded. And last night, Ian Kinsler was traded.

Now, you will tell me (and rightly so) that such is the nature of baseball. Gone are the days of a player staying with his team for an entire career. This is true. I will find a new Tiger next season. I will love him until he leaves, and then I’ll find a new My Tiger. Porcello will always have a special place in my heart as will Martinez, Avila, and Kinsler, but they’re not Tigers anymore. Baseball is transient.

So is life. We are not made for this world. As St. Therese of Lisieux reminds us, the world is our ship and not our home. We were not made for this world. We were made for heaven. Like baseball players, we are not meant to always be here. We are meant for something greater. We cannot stay in one place and never move forward, never improve as Christians.

“If we are created for royal glory, royal glory will fulfill us.”

-Dr. Peter Kreeft

We were made to be saints. Just as baseball players are meant to play their best, work together as a team, and win championships, we are called to live lives of holiness. This means that we need to move beyond those things that hold us back from God, that hinder us from holiness. We need to lay aside our earthly care and fix our eyes on the King of Kings.

Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:13-14

Is this easy? No, it is far easier for me to let go of J.D Martinez as my Tiger than it is for me to let go of long-held patterns of sin. That doesn’t mean that I can’t let go of those patterns. It simply means that it is hard. I used to hope that J.D. Martinez or Rick Porcello would come back to Detroit. I had loved them while they were here, and I wanted them to come back. I wanted them to be part of bringing a World Series championship to Detroit.

 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

-Philippians 4:8

But their time in Detroit has passed. This is not their place or their home anymore. I have to let go of them. I can support them where they are now, but I can’t try to hold them back. (Not that I ever had any real power to do so anyway) Similarly, I cannot hold on to things that keep me from pursuing God’s call on my life. They might be fun, but I cannot surround myself with things or people that are not life-giving, that do not tend to sanctity.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…

-Philippians 3:8-10

Now this isn’t some great announcement that I’m leaving something big behind. Rather, it is a reminder that there are things here and there within our lives that keep us from pursuing God with our whole hearts, with our whole lives. I’ll have to find a new My Tiger soon; I have to lay aside my dreams of Porcello or Martinez in the D. (I also have to lay aside my dreams of marrying Rick Porcello; that was always a ridiculous hope.) This is not their home; this place will not help them to become the best baseball players they can be at this point in their careers. They need to seek to be the best athlete that they can be. I need to seek to be a saint.

If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.

-Colossians 3:1