The season of get-togethers is here. Last week we traveled home to Ohio and spent a whirlwind two days with his family, two days with mine. Tucked into every gap were lunches and dinners with far-flung friends.

Dan’s aunt’s splendid Thanksgiving table

Now back in California for the month before Christmas, we’re accumulating plans to meet and make merry, whether it’s a company gala at a bayside hotel or a tree-trimming party in someone’s apartment.

With all this getting together comes tons of talking. I recently read something (can’t remember where) that has stuck in my mind about the art of conversation. The writer claimed that conversation is less artful now than in the past because we have all been trained to express ourselves rather than exchange ideas. That to do your part in a good conversation, you should make more questions than statements.

Ever since, I’ve been paying more attention to my conversations. And it’s true! In fact, when people get close to debating ideas, they often back quickly away. Is that your experience?

So I want to start improving my part of the conversation. Sharing ideas with others is one of the true joys in life and I don’t want to let it slip.


Learning to crochet

In college, my friends were obsessed with crochet and knitting. They used it to relieve stress from studying and also to do good — one friend even started a chapter of Warm Up America, the charity that collects homemade blankets for those in need. But at the time I was majoring in art so I didn’t feel the need for extra acts of creation in my day. The most involved I got was to make this photo of my friend in all her yarny glory:

Yeah, it was pretty nuts.

Fast forward eight years from that photo, and I got the itch to find a portable handcraft to keep me occupied during holiday plane travel. So I decided to learn crochet. Sadly none of those friends live near me anymore so I relied on amazing internet tutorials (here’s the article I found most helpful). After lots of false starts, I made a good sample!

What to do next? I wasn’t confident enough to jump into a big project, so I looked around for ideas. This adorable little snowman was the winner: it uses only single crochet stitches, and it links to a great tutorial for starting a round object with a magic ring.

And I actually did it! It looks kind of like the pattern photo!

I learned that I stitched it inside out, which causes those diagonal ridges. And I really need to work on the embroidery — the features look kind of like an 8-year-old did them. But I have to say I’m super proud of my first crochet project! I even started a Ravelry account because it gives access to tons of free patterns from generous people around the world.

Brain on tilt

When things get overwhelming at work, this blog is apparently the first thing to give. Producing my company’s Thanksgiving cards for clients was a big part of the stress (not my artwork — wish I could claim it).

If I spend 10 hours slaving away at the computer, can you blame me if I avoid it during what’s left of the evening? So until I recover enough brainspace to do more regular posts, here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to.

Taught myself to crochet…

And knit (not as successful, yet).

Cooked an Indian curry.

Sewed a secret project for a friend’s upcoming baby — more photos later!

Explored the Balboa Park cactus garden on a sunny Saturday.

Baked my family’s carrot cake recipe for Dan’s birthday, and shared it with friends.

Climbed Cowles Mountain with no trouble…

But had great difficulty hiking Three Sisters Falls (which were dry by the way — bummer).

Made (and loved!) a salad based on raw shredded brussels sprouts. My eight-year-old self is terribly concerned that I’ve gone off the deep end with that one.

Got a haircut.

What have you been up to this November?