Friday Finds: ECO Lunchbox

If you are like me, you hate the thought of your child's food sitting in a (off-gassing) plastic container until lunchtime. Not to mention, landfills full of plastic bags. Forgive me if my mommy is showing...but my find today is the awesome stainless-steel sandwich bag alternative from Eco Lunchbox.

I love the all-metal construction on these. Similar brands use plastic tops which are albeit easier, but then we're still using plastic. Sometimes if you're going to go eco, you might as well go all the way. 

Washable, durable, sustainable. Love it.


If I Can, You Can Can.

Nary a week goes by when I'm not distracted by yet another challenge. And, in case you haven't noticed, in the summer months my particular bent is toward food - growing, harvesting, cooking, storing, eating. You get the picture.

So, in keeping with summer tradition, I tried something brand new (to me): canning.

Interestingly, when I mentioned to one of my social media acquaintances that I was going to try canning, the response I got was, "I'm not crazy about food kept in cans." Which made me laugh because I'm just homey enough to have an innate knowledge that "canning" means "putting stuff up in Mason jars" - even though I didn't have a clue what the process actually entailed.

What prompted this Little House on the Prairie activity was not Cassandra (heh, heh) but was a trip to my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm for one of the annual U-Pick Tomato events. As part of my share, I got to pick 10 lbs of tomatoes for free and as many additional pounds as I could carry for $1.50 a pound. So, yeah... I came home with 25 lbs of tomatoes along with basil, garlic, and a bunch of tomatillos (which I don't know what to do with). Fortunately, I split the tomatoes with someone. :)

Not really sure what to do with tomatillos other than salsa verde...

Even after splitting I was left with nearly 15 lbs of roma and heritage sauce tomatoes to process. Here's how it went down:

That's a lot of tomatoes!

First, I borrowed my friend's canning equipment (except for the Mason jars, which I always keep around the house). This is a critical step because, if it had turned out that I hated canning, at least I wouldn't have purchased the equipment.

Suzanne's giant canning pot dwarfing my soup pot.

Next, I looked up a good, step-by-step video instruction on YouTube. I ended up following the efficient and no-nonsense Ball Canning's video called, simply, "Canning Tomatoes With Ball Canning". It's like they made the video just for me!

The most crucial step was setting up the various tools needed to do the process. It's sort of an assembly-line thing so it's good to have everything lined up and ready to go. Also, because the canning pot is SO HUGE, you really have to start the water well in advance in order to bring it up to boil. So, I had a small pot of hot water (not boiling) to soak the jar lids in, a soup pot of slow boiling water to immerse the tomatoes in and a bowl of ice water to immediately stop any cooking of said, immersed tomatoes, a cutting board and knife, warmed up Mason (Ball/Kerr) jars and bands, lemon juice, "canning" salt (I just used kosher salt), and, of course, last but by no means least, the giant pot of boiling canning water.

And then we begin:

#1: drop tomatoes into simmering water for 30 seconds
#2: plunge hot tomatoes into ice bath to stop any cooking & break the skin

#3: peel the tomatoes (skin should slide off) and prepare to cut
At this point, you can cut the tomatoes into whatever shape you want to store. I used TONS of diced tomatoes so I did most of mind that way. However, I also put up a few that were just quartered and one 1/2 pint of whole tomatoes (two small, whole tomatoes actually) just for fun.

Put some lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon per quart jar) and some salt into each jar. I only used a pinch of salt based on the size of the jar - a bigger pinch for a quart, a smaller pinch for a pint. I don't like to add too much sodium to anything.

Once the jars are packed, ladle some of the boiling "tomato immersion" water into the jars until there's only a half inch of space to the top of the jar. Then, slide the handle of your ladle or a spatula down inside the jar along the glass. Push the tool in toward the center of the contents to release any trapped air in the jar - working your way around the jar a few times. It's important to note that you can also simply "tap" the bottom of the jar on the counter to remove air but you run the risk of splashing the boiling water and/or cracking your jar(s).

Finally, take a lid from the hot water bath (you forgot about these, didn't you?) and place on the filled jar. Finger-tighten a band on the jar to hold the lid in place. Now, place your jars into the immersion rack.

Ready to take a bath!

In the canning pot
Make sure there are about two inches of water above the tallest jar in your pot. Bring back up to a slow, steady boil with the lid on and "cook" for the correct time for your jar size. In my case, because I did three different jar sizes, I had to remove the half-pints at 30 minutes, the pints at 40 minutes, and the quarts at 45 minutes.

Once the time is up, carefully (I cannot stress this enough) take the boiling-hot jar out of the water and place on a towel in a place where the jar can remain undisturbed for at least 12 hours. There's actually a tool for removing the jars from the water. I would highly recommend buying one of these. Once the jars are cooled for 12-24 hours, the lid should be tight and unable to be removed by hand when the band is taken off. Also, the lid should be, sort of, indented and not be able to be "popped" when you push on it.

My first cans!

I actually used some of my diced tomatoes in a crock-pot ribs recipe the other night - so they only stayed in the jar for a few days before they got eaten. What I can't understand is why they don't cook to mush with all the boiling water, but they don't. They were awesome.

The process was surprisingly easy. It's just a little time consuming (mostly the cutting the tomatoes part) and a little messy. Were I to do it over, I certainly wouldn't pick 8pm on a weeknight to start. LOL But, overall, it was a fun process and one that I'm sure I'll do again. And, you know what? If I can can, you can too!

- Alex

Friday Finds: Best.Shampoo.Ever.

I have very thick, straight hair so I don't need a TON of "moisture" in order to keep my hair looking pretty good. But, as I've gone gray (underneath the bottle color), my hair has gotten coarser and tends to look kind of "fly-away" and nutty sometimes.

A couple of months ago, at book club, one of my curly-haired friends showed up with noticeably improved hair. It was MAD shiny and the curls were gorgeous. So, of course, I had to ask...

Turns out she's using a line of "Moroccan oil" type hair products that she got at Sally Beauty Supply. Not being one to fall for the latest fad, it took me until a month later (at our next book club) and another viewing of her amazing-looking hair before I finally got my butt to Sally and bought some for myself.

So, here it is - One 'N Only Argan Oil Moisture Repair Hair Care products:

Turns out that this is a lower-priced version of the more well-known brand called, simply, "Moroccan Oil" brand. I watched some reviews online comparing the two and, as you'd expect, the super-expensive version is often preferred for various reasons - smell, overall quality, etc. However, I can tell you that this cheaper stuff is working wonders for me. My hair has never been as smooth and shiny as his has been since using the shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner.

There's a huge line of products. My friend uses the leave-in conditioner for curly hair and there's a "rejuvenating mask", oil, and a bunch of other treatments. The best part is, everything is $10. That's it. Granted, I bought the giant commercial-sized bottles of shampoo & conditioner so they were about $21 each but they'll last forEVER.

If you're looking for extra moist, shiny hair. I highly recommend this product line. Especially if you're a curly head.

- Alex

My Knitting

I'm not sure if ya'll have noticed, but Alex and I haven't really talked about our knitting in a while. We've shared everything from quilt blocks, recipes, and our thoughts on movies or products...but not much in the way of knitting. Although we have been doing A LOT of knitting, there is actually a good reason for the absence of conversation regarding sticks and string here.

The first rule about knitting designers club: you can't talk about your knitting.

As we've mentioned before, we have a design featured in the soon to be released What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit and two designs in the upcoming Defarge Does Shakespeare. Interesting designs take time so we haven't been indulging in personal knitting for quite a while. So we have been silent on the subject.

But I have been sneaking in a stitch for me here and there. Shhh. It's our little secret.

Remember a while ago I asked for some feedback on which cardigan to knit for myself? Well, between here and Facebook the result was overwhelmingly The Crocus Cardigan. I actually cast this on sometime in May and have picked it up here and there when I needed a break from designing. Sometimes a girl just wants to produce inches upon inches of stockinette. No thinking, just knitting.

I decided to knit this sweater one size smaller than required from my measurements. This notion was born out of the fact that every time I knit myself a sweater, it always seems too big once it's finished. If it works out, great. If not, my smaller daughter can have it, still great.

I am using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in a gorgeous green and brown blend called "Cilantro Heather". Not the most expensive yarn in the world...but it's a natural fiber and sure knits up nicely. I'll be curious to see how it wears. The stripes are leftover Nutmeg Madeline Tosh from my Tea Leaves Cardigan. The green and the gold are really pretty together (in a non-Packer way).

Crocus is a top down raglan. The pattern is well written and the construction is easy. This project is not complete but hopefully I will have the sleeves and the button bands done soon. Just in time for fall!

Now remember, this is our secret. :)


Movie List Follow-Up

A while back, I made my Summer Blockbuster Movie List. This included the big-budget movies that I intended to see between June and September. I got a little heat from a few people because the list didn't include certain smaller, independent movies (some of which I saw) but this was supposed to be "blockbusters" - those movies that make a gajillion dollars in the first weekend and cost even more gajillions of dollars to make. I love blockbusters.

Anyway, I thought I'd give you a brief update on what I saw from that original list and how I felt about them. No big reviews here - just a summary and maybe my opinion of whether or not you should see it. :) So... here we go...

The Avengers

Perfection. Exactly what you want a blockbuster movie to be - action, pathos, action, humor, action, cute boys, action... etc. Joss Whedon's mark was all over this film and the franchise is better as a result. With an intelligent level of humor, he was able to bring all these individual super-heroes together and make one, wonderfully cohesive buddy film.

Men in Black III

I never made it to this one. I don't know what held me back as there were a number of things about the film that appealed to me. I guess, in the end, I felt like it would be fine to see on my TV in HD...

Snow White and the Huntsman

The weakest link in this movie was Kristen Stewart. I really had a hard time envisioning her as "fairest in the land" - especially when her competition for the title was FREAKIN' CHARLIZE THERON. Who, by the way, was exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely evil as the wicked witch. They played fast and loose with the story but it worked fine. The sets were nicely done and the CG was awesome. Overall, I'd say it was one of my favorites of the summer. FYI - this is a dark and evil tale with some seriously scary bits. Do NOT let your children watch this movie.


What to say about Prometheus? I saw it in IMAX 3D, which was stunning. The story was appropriately scary and epic and provided a fantastic "prequel" to the Alien movies. It had a number of amazing actors in it but none were as good as Michael Fassbender playing an android who wishes nothing more than to be a "real boy". So, why was I left a little cold? Maybe it was too serious for its own good. Maybe it didn't have enough resolution. I'm glad I saw it but it was missing something and I'm not sure what.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

WOOT! Fun, fun, fun. I'm a fan of alternate histories and this one is a doozy. The dude who plays Abe Lincoln, when fitted with a prosthetic nose for the role, looks so much like a young Liam Neeson that I actually went online to find out if they were related. They're not. But the kid is the husband of Meryl Streep's daughter, Mamie Gummer. There's your celebrity trivia for today. Rufus Sewell is yummy as the ancient vampire who rules the South. And, interestingly enough, they didn't sugar coat the slavery or Civil War bits. It was a surprisingly well written story and a great rollicking movie.

The Amazing Spiderman & The Dark Knight Rises

Never made it to Amazing Spider-man. Similar to my issue with Men In Black III, there was just "something" that kept me away from the theater. To be frank, it may have been casting Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. I just had a hard time buying him in the role. Anyway, I'll see it on my tv at some point.

On the other hand The Dark Knight Rises was AWESOME. I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this movie. The entire cast was incredible with a special nod to Anne Hathaway as the most stunning Catwoman ever. And the story was the perfect ending to the series. It was beautiful in IMAX and really should be seen that way. Go before it leaves the theater. You'll be glad you did. (I'll admit it... I cried a couple of times.)

Total Recall, The Campaign, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green

These are all still on the list and currently in the theaters. Hopefully, I'll get to carve out some time in the next week or two to see them.

Additionally, I saw Moonrise Kingdom which I give 4.5 out of 5 stars, Magic Mike (don't judge me) which I give 2 out of 5 stars - and those two were just because it was full of half-nekkid, handsome men, and Manos: The Hands of Fate which was done by RiffTrax Live and receives a full 5 out of 5 stars for the shear insanity of it plus the fact that I'd had a GIANT margarita before I went to the event.

Non-blockbuster movies that I've added to my list of things to see include: The Intouchables (UK); Safety Not Guaranteed; Seeking a Friend for the End of the World; Ted; The Queen of Versailles; and Paranorman.

I also read some books but that's another blog post. :)  Hope you all are having a great summer!!

- Alex

Friday Finds: Weapons-Grade Knitting Needles

Granted, we probably don't want to tell the TSA about this if we want to keep our ability to take our knitting on airplanes - which I really, really, really do.* But, ladies and gentlemen, I have found the knitting needles to end all knitting needles. Needles so pointy that no lace-weight fuzzy yarn has a chance. Needles so pointy that, if you really wanted to, you could probably use them as weapons. With head bowed and with infinite respect, I present the best needles ever created...

Knitting Needles from Signature Needle Arts

I'm sure that many of you are saying "Where the hell has SHE been? Living under a rock?" and the answer would be, "In a manner of speaking, yes..."

The thing is, when I find something that works for me, I generally stick with it. I'm not into trying the hot, new thing just to try it. If I have a NEED, that's a different animal, of course.

So, at knitting group a few weeks ago, one of our ranks was knitting socks with these gorgeous needles I'd never seen before. Since they were double-pointed, she was able to hand me one to look at. Now, I'm a wood-needle girl at heart but holy-crap these were the most beautifully weighted, comfortable and pretty needles I'd ever touched, bar none. And, to top it all off, they were SO FREAKIN' POINTY! I couldn't help myself - I kept poking the tips of my fingers with them. On purpose. Because I couldn't believe their pointy-ness.

I may not have been quite so enthusiastic about them except that the current bane of my existence is this mohair scarf I'm working on. I NEED weapons-grade pointy for this thing.

One word of warning for those of you who may be inclined to run right out and buy some on my recommendation. These babies don't come cheap - and rightly so. So, I'm going to start a wish-list on their site and ask all my relatives for gift certificates for Christmas (and maybe my birthday). I'd love to have many, many, many of these - if just for the shear joy of how beautifully they're made. And, of course, the pointy-ness. :)

Oh! I forgot to mention that you can MONOGRAM your needles too. How cool is THAT?

- Alex

* During that period when knitting needles were banned from planes, I had a 7-hour flight to Europe. Let me tell you... I NEVER want to have to fly for that long without my pointy sticks ever again. *shudder*

When Good Crafts Die

Mighty Distractible isn't just a clever name. Call it what you will - ADD, short-attention-span, etc. - but there's a reason that Cassandra and I never stick with one thing for too terribly long.

Now, that's not to say that we don't work on things for a long time (or, at least, until we feel a satisfying skill level with the craft), but both of us tend to get tired of doing the same thing over, and over, and over, and over... you get the picture.

I'm always impressed with, and a little jealous of, people with a clear, singular passion. We follow a number of crafters who are dedicated to one thing (for the most part) and are head and shoulders above our skill set as a result. I'll never achieve "master" status with any of my crafts because, once I'm satisfied that I can suss out all but the most difficult patterns, I stop immersing myself in it.

One craft that I'm particularly sad to have ditched was jewelry making. And, when I say "jewelry making", I mean bead work. I never welded anything or pounded metal into a shape that I needed. I bought the bits - beads, wire, silk, notions, etc - and put the elements together in a (somewhat) pleasing manner to make a wearable item.

The first necklace I ever made. Moonstone & silver.

Beyond my normal "I'm really sick of this craft" issue, my biggest problem with jewelry making was that I don't really WEAR a lot of jewelry. So, I'd make all this stuff (that I actually liked a lot) and then it would just sit in a drawer. So, I started giving tons of it away as gifts - expensive gifts, I might add, since I'm sort of a jewelry snob and would only use sterling silver and semi-precious stones. Eventually, all my jewelry gift-giving opportunities were overwhelmed and I had to stop.

To this day, one of my faves. Freshwater pearl & pineapple jade. I designed the flower.

On the flip side, the thing I liked best about making jewelry was that it was relatively mindless and sort of soothing to do. Much like I'm finding embroidery to be. And I think the finished products were always pretty beautiful.
I stole this turquoise lariat design from a magazine cover.
This was from my Swarovski Crystal phase

So, I still have a big box of supplies and an itch to not let it go to waste. I may have to resurrect this particular "dead" craft from my arsenal and see if I still have some skill. I think the key is to push the craft beyond what I'd been doing before and come up with something new... If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears (and idle-ish hands).

- Alex

One of three boxes of supplies - waiting patiently for me to renew interest.

Cream Puffs & Mad Marketing

Last Friday I took the day off for a visit to the Wisconsin State Fair. As you can imagine, we in the dairy state have the usual fair attractions: animal barns, thrill rides, deep fried anything, and the bizarre shopping experience. But there is one, glorious item that sets us apart from all the other state fairs in this great country - cream puffs.

Look at that beauty.
The cream puff building (yes it has it's own) is a destination. Fresh baked puff pastry and lightly sweetened cream straight off the farm are combined to make a the freshest dessert you've ever tasted. So simple. Not too sweet and super light.

The cream puff was born at the Wisconsin State Fair and actually has quite a history that you can read about here.

Needless to say, most fair goers want one so the lines are insane. This is where the brilliance of the State Fair organizers comes into play. They have an assembly line process that gets you through that disturbingly long line in like 5 minutes. It's amazing. Here is a little trip through the line where you can see this operation in progress:

Freshly baked puffy goodness.
Who wouldn't love working the cream puff line?
Getting the cream ready in the pastry bag.
Stop smiling for the camera and fill those shells man!
The people who work in this building are the happiest folks ever!
You'd be crazy not to maximize your dollar with the 6-pack.

We generally hit this building on our way out where we can grab a 6-pack of awesome to enjoy later. If you are lucky enough to live nearby State Fair Park in Milwaukee, you can even call ahead and have a box ready for you to pick up at their DRIVE THROUGH WINDOW. You could do this every day for 2 weeks if you wanted to. It's a State Fair miracle.

The other thing that rocks my world at the State Fair is the expo center. This is where vendors from all over come to set up a booth and sell their wall hangings of kittens polyurethaned to a piece of wood, roach clips with feathers on them, and pickles as big as your head. And, perhaps even more enticing, there are people who do demonstrations. They are really the best. It's kind of like a live, right-there-in-front-of-you infomercial!

These are the folks who burn an egg on a non-stick pan and show you how it slides off. Or maybe they shine up an old piece of silver in seconds. They are rock stars. Sponsored by a large direct-marketing company, these booths are usually slick and tacky all at the same time. Be still my kitschy graphic design heart.

Here are a few feasts for the marketing eyes:

You can actually smell the poly fabrics as you walk by this booth.
German Glue...sure, why not?
Still mad at the hubby for not buying me this.
Wow! Look at that shine!
So hi-tech!

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will not be surprised, in the least, that my focus at the State Fair was cream puffs and tacky marketing.  :) I can barely wait until next year's fair.


Crafty Weekend

Last weekend was craft-a-palooza with my cousin and my grandma. The three of us worked hard sewing, supply shopping, and cooking for 3 days. It was so much fun that we already have a time set for our next crafty weekend.

Spending this quality time with Grandma reconnected us in a way that day-long visits just don't accomplish. You see, I grew up in my Grandma's house. My mom worked long hours so it was up to my grandma to take care of me. I tagged along wherever she went, watched her knit and sew, and helped stir the pot at dinnertime. We were like peas and carrots.

My Grandma with Grandpa and my mom and my cousin's dad.

I know what you're thinking....oh, she must have taught you how to knit and sew. Yeah, no. Let me tell you something about my Grandma, she has no patience to formally teach those things. I watched her do them and that is about it. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I learned those skills from actual teachers in a classroom. It was probably a good thing for keeping the household peace because as I've mentioned before, my mom wasn't a fan of women doing such gender-assigned roles.

This past weekend I was reminded of Grandma's abundant energy. The woman is 87 years old and can go-go-go. She wakes up daily at about 5:30 a.m. and doesn't stop until 11 or so. When my cousin and I were pooped at 10 p.m. on Saturday night, she was grabbing a basket of laundry to fold and telling us to do the next step on our project. We did as we were told, without question. When Grandma is in the house, she is the HBIC. And it somehow feels right.

I know I promised to share with you what we made together during our crafting frenzy but I've changed my mind - and I hope you'll understand why. This Craft-a-palooza wasn't like our previous ones. Normally my cousin and I tackle quick and easy projects. However, when Grandma arrived, she brought a VERY interesting (old and tattered) item she made 40 years ago. So, we ripped it apart to make a pattern. We were so pleased with the final product, I've decided that I want to "formally" release the pattern sometime in the future. I really think it's unique and interesting enough to warrant a little fanfare. So, mum's the word for now!

As I ripped the seams to deconstruct that old project, the precision of my grandma's stitches set me back on my heels. Top stitches were perfectly aligned, every raw edge finished beautifully. And yet, I wouldn't call her a perfectionist...she does her work quickly but with a relaxed ease. She doesn't labor over every stitch like I do, the perfection just seems to flow naturally. I think I still have a lot to learn by watching her.


Yesterday's Dichotomy

Here at Mighty Distractible, we like to keep things crafty and (relatively) light. We talk about knitting, sewing, embroidery, cooking, books we've read, movies we've seen. But, every now and again there's a story of cultural relevance that we feel the compulsion to comment on. Today is one of those kind of posts.

My dear friend, John, captured it beautifully.
As most of you know, we live in Wisconsin. And, as if the political events of the last 500-odd days haven't been enough to keep us on our toes (and more than a little bummed out about the state of our lovely state), yesterday we made history with one of the most heinous shootings in recent memory. Hot on the heels of the mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater, our "event" had the added poison of being a hate crime. The shooter attacked a Sikh temple - killing six and wounding three, including a police officer who was trying to help a victim.

Seriously, what the F*CK is wrong with people?

These people are not the enemy.
My heart breaks for the dead and for the surviving families and friends. I can't imagine what their life must feel like today - how confusing the world must look to them. And for the rest of us for having to know that this kind of insanity is happening all around us - seemingly more and more often. Am I getting older and noticing it more or is our world becoming more fractured and violent every day?

I spent a good portion of yesterday asking myself this question.

Deserved celebration.
Then, a funny thing happened on my way to depression. NASA landed a rover called Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Almost 70% of previous Mars missions have failed and, against all odds, this amazing team of scientists managed to fling a car-sized mobile lab onto the surface of the planet - and not break anything. Within seven minutes of landing (smoothly, I might add), the rover started transmitting. We received transmissions with only a 14 minute delay. (There's a nine hour delay to see Olympic events... I'm just sayin'.) This was, undoubtedly, one of the most amazing and successful scientific events of my lifetime. And the whole damn thing only cost $2.5 billion dollars. I think it's time to start siphoning off some defense money and giving it to NASA. Seriously.

It's hard to stay sad when something so miraculous happens.

So, that was the roller coaster that was yesterday. And, while the success of the Curiosity helped off-set my completely crushed heart about the shootings at the temple, I simply can't get over the state of our world today. If only every event could be a Curiosity.

Chins up, all.

- Alex

Friday Finds: Sal Suds Cleaner

I am a huge fan of Doc Bronner's Magic Soap. It is literally the best thing since sliced bread. Organic, fair-trade, and works up into an amazing lather. Plus you get the added benefit of reading the odd (but yet peace-loving) rantings all over the label.

Then, at the co-op the other day....I saw it on an end cap. Doc Bronner's Sal Suds All Purpose Cleaner! Snapped that bottle up quick as lightening and put it in my cart. I have been using it for a few weeks now, and let me tell ya. I know I am already a fan of the brand, but holy smokes this stuff rocks the house.

All powerful and grease-cutting!
Sal Suds can be diluted into a bucket for floor scrubbing, used straight on a rag for tough spots, and the best thing ever is diluting it with water in a spray bottle. Completely replaced the Method Bathroom Cleaner I had been using. After looking online to compare the two products, I was shocked to see that the Method has 11 mysterious ingredients and Sal Suds has only 6 (3 of which are water, fir-needle oil, and spruce oil). And, it works better!

The 16 oz. bottle I bought cost roughly $10. I have used it many times since purchasing and I have hardly put a dent in it. Another reason to love it....economical!


Reading, Writing, 'Rithmatic

It's possible that I've written about this before. I have a vague memory of it but, regardless, I think it bares repeating...

I suck at math.

Here's how badly I suck at math:

  • I failed Algebra 2 and Trig - twice.
  • I never went past Geometry in high school math (except to fail Alg2/Trig).
  • I never took a standard college-level math course.
  • The only time I ever came close to being fired from a job was because I didn't understand budgeting.

So the Universe decided to play a wicked joke on me and give me a boss (for NINE YEARS) who is all about numbers. This guy can make numbers do miraculous things. He makes them sing. He's the one that nearly fired me for not being able to budget. But, nice guy that he is, he taught me what he could so I wouldn't face unemployment - and then he gave me a job that didn't require a whole lot of arithmetic.

The funny thing is, even with all this help, I'm still uncomfortable having to do calculations. Beyond basic adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing, I'm pretty lost. I can do basic percentages but only because I worked in restaurants for years and needed to know the difference between a 10% tip and a 20% tip. Which brings me to my point...

You learn the math you need to in order to live your life and/or do the things you love that require it.

Guess what math I'm enjoying these days... (note the word "enjoying") Knitting math!

Yes, ladies and gents, I'm doing knitting math and I'm kind of loving it! How crazy is that?

Knitting math is a complete necessity when one is designing a pattern. Definitely when you have to size up or size down a pattern but also to simply understand the relationship between rows when you change stitch patterns.

The thing that astounds me most is that, while I'm sure that I'm doing my knitting math in some wonky, back assward way, the fact is... I can figure out what I need and it's RIGHT. WOOT!

So, to all you math teachers who rolled their eyes at me over the years; to my patient boss who still rolls his eyes at me when math is involved; to my grandmother (wherever she may be now) who teased me relentlessly about taking after her in math proficiency; SUCK IT GUYS! I'm doing knitting math and not making mistakes!

I guess you just need to have an application you actually care about in order for it to make sense. Hmmmmm... interesting concept.

- Alex "Just Call Me Archimedes"