The Daily Dutchess

an introvert's journey to a new life, one stitch at a time

After once again going through weeks of frustratedly trying to log into my own blog (won’t bore you with the details) I finally stumbled upon a kind spirited online soul who took pity on me and fixed the problem. On top of that, he pimped my little online space to look like it does today. All without so much as blinking, at least that’s what it seemed like to a tech nitwit like myself. Hallelujah.

So a huge shout out to tech god www.zachmorton.com for saving me from blogging doom. You are my hero Zach.

Because of all this login mess, Christmas came and went without me being able to share my musings on it with you, but I am not going to wait another 51 weeks so here goes my Christmas 2016 report.

The last 11 or so Christmases were spent with my exes family. My 2 sisters were always either on holiday or with their children. Our parents are no longer with us so that’s just the way things grew.
Current events forced me to look at the holiday season with new eyes and decide to approach things differently this year.
While still going through some major grieving at times, I was strangely looking forward to Christmas. As it turned out, both my sisters would be home and invited me to spend the holidays with them. Henk, my sisters partner cooked lovely Thai food and we spent the afternoon and evening chatting, eating and celebrating. It was fun, relaxing and a nice change from previous years. I almost forgot how relaxing it can be to spend time with ones own relatives.

Christmas Eve brought another new experience and (I hope) a new tradition. My ex-sister-in-law (who is also still my best friend) lives close to me and we both decided a change was in order.
We invited the lovely neighbors for some mulled wine in the afternoon, to thank them for a year of caring for and looking out for one another. And proceeded to spend the evening in thermal undies and thick layers of knitwear outside in her yard.

Because folks: it was COLD. But it’s amazing what a big fire pit, sizzling lamb chops on the barbecue, hot wine, soup and a dear friend to share it with can do to warm a persons insides. We made breadsticks over our campfire and sang along to Christmas songs from the cd player outside. We had so much fun we completely forgot we also had marshmallows and hot choclate with rum. But those will keep.

Knitting projects went completely neglected in all these celebrations and my whole plan of finishing my WIP’s before the end of the year? You guessed it.

How did you spend your Christmas? Was it all you hoped it would be? was it different/better/worse than previous years? I love to hear how you spent your Christmas and hope it was the best ever!
Merry (belated) Christmas everyone!

xo

M.

I know. It’s been long. Mea Culpa. I know you’ve missed me.

For some reason only the tech gods will ever truly grasp, I haven’t been able to access my own blog for too-long-to-mention. Just like clockwork: du moment I want to pick up writing again, the whole thing had vanished into thin air. What are the odds?
Long story short: it took a whole month but it’s fixed and I am back at the wheel.

So after weeding out over 1000 spam messages and installing almost as many updates, it’s kind of like a new beginning. In more ways than one too. To say that a lot has happened since my last post would be the understatement of the year. When I look back on everything I start to feel overwhelmed and I hate being overwhelmed.
So let’s not go there all in one blog post. It would be a boring read anyway.

To start with the most recent events: after 11,5 years of close-knit-loving-bliss & togetherness-in-good-times-and-in-bad,
The Best Boyfriend did not turn out to be such a catch after all. And that’s maybe the biggest understatement. What are the odds?

The wound is still verily oozing with freshness, so please be gentle with me.
I may or may not bore you out of your mind by going into the how’s and why’s of the whole disaster in months to come. Or not.
Which just about sums up how I have been approaching life these past weeks.
One hour, nay, one minute at a time. Allowing myself to feel or not feel as I need it. And share as needed. Or not.
Being kind to myself as much as possible. And telling myself not to be such a woos the next minute. Whichever I need at the time. They say it’s a kind of mourning. And, knowing a wee bit about mourning, I can say that’s the 100% ugly truth.

The good news is: there is plenty of fun stuff to write about too! Many, many happy events took place while I was out playing and I fully intend to share anything and everything with you.

I am having mega trouble sleeping, so I am due for a much needed nap. Don’t you just love nap time? Almost as good as chocolate. Almost.

Promise I won’t be long!

xo

M.

Soooo you had all these resolutions.. Errr… Goals for 2015?

9th January 2015


Yeah. Me too.

and then this ridiculous horrible virus attacked me and left me bedridden for what is now day 7 already. Meh. I haven’t been sick in years but this one got me good. Bored with it. Worst of all? I can barely knit! Yes. Knit! I love to knit. Hadn’t done it in ages but a pair of coverless IKEA pillows in an odd size made me do it. Couldn’t find nice covers the right size, so I decided to make some. That’s how I roll. And lo and behold knitting is now actually “hip”. Everyone is doing it, bar the odd duck who insists crochet is even hipper. Which we all know isn’t true. Obviously. This just about sums it up. It works.

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Anyway. All those lovely posts I was going to write and schedule and bombard you with starting January 1st? Did not happen. My head was exploding but not with brilliant prose. So that is why I am attempting this little update from my boudoir. Comfortably in my bed with honeyed tea, licorice and Kleenex on standby. Cuz I know you miss me terribly.

Two days ago my cousin Megan in Sydney, Australia had a beautiful baby boy named Hunter! and of course I am figuring out what to craft this lovely newborn! Shhhh!! Under construction.

Because of this flu I can’t go on my next yarn haul. And as every selfrespecting yarnaholic I am getting serious withdrawl symptoms. So I thought I might share my latest project to take my mind off of my misery and my snotty Kleenex.

If you’d like to see what I am up to knit-wise, check out www.ravelry.com/thedailydutchess

Right now I am working on some fingerless mittens. I love fingerless because I don’t need to take them off to scramble for something at the bottom of my bag or using my phone. This particular pattern is called Easy Peasy Mitts on Ravelry and yes they are quite easy to make.

And yet I managed to screw them up in so many ways. Oh well. I have another skein of this yarn to try again. I blame the painkilller-induced mindfog I was under when attempting these. That happens.

Not too frosty for a first mitten project if I do say so myself. Of course one is shorter and slightly (ok a lot) wider than the other but once on I am the only one who knows. And now you do. I’m loving them anyway. Cuz they’re my firstborns.

Funny thing was that, despite their different shape and size, they managed to weigh EXACTLY 20 grams each. Perfection, no? Which means that theoretically I could get 6 mitts out of 2 skeins. Which means I could go into business!! Oh wait. I just closed a business cuz I kinda sucked at that. Must be my fever-clogged brain rambling again.

Anywhoo. Have you been crafty and/or struck with the Evil Flu lately? How did you manage? What did you make? If on ravelry, hit me up and lets knit along! I love that.

Better yet show me in the comments!!

Back after this teensy little nap.

Love you

Monique

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The end of the year is almost here! Have you been thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions? I sure have but I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with them.
Probably because resolutions are mostly about things you should change about yourself and bad habits to break. Like quitting smoking, losing weight, things like that. But if there is one resolution I have made it’s to let go of the negative and focus on the positive.
So nobody’s goin’ to the gym any time soon folks. Just sayin’.

In the past years I have shifted more towards establishing goals instead and in 2014 has been kindof successful. Not sure if those two are directly related but I’d like to think so.

GOOD THINGS THAT HAPPENED

Celebrated my 50th birthday in Ameland. Boy was that a grand weekend.

Finally, finally sold our house in Amsterdam and got out with barely a scratch. Metaphorically speaking of course.

We decided to switch things around and make a dedicated effort to become debtfree as soon as we could possibly manage it.
This involved renting in stead of buying for the next few years and cutting back on our spending. TBBE is very very good at this.
I am still a work in progress when it comes to frugal living. Nuff said.

We decluttered ruthlessly and sold, gifted or downright trashed almost 70% of our belongings before moving.

I managed to phase out a huge part of my medication after consulting my specialist. Such a huge relief to be done with them and doing grand. One more med to go and I will be pill-free. Yay me.

Sold not only the house but also the webstore. This was not an easy decision to make but ince it was done… That sure took a load off. And the revenue made a good dent in our store loans. Not huge but a good start.

We managed to eat clean most of the time. Cook from scratch and cook ahead to make life easier and healthier. Feels incredibly good.

Started and implemented this blog with the help of Jolanda Keizer! Couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you for putting up with my foot-stomping, silly comments and unreasonable demands. You’re a saint.

Took up knitting after a 25 year hiatus. Not only has this not-so-new hobby produced a couple of lovely projects for a friend + a Christmas gift for TBBE, it has also reconnected me with my mom in a new way. Pretty unexpected but very comforting side-effect.

All of this has managed to make me happier in 2014 than I have been in years. And we are going to keep the momentum going!

GOOD THINGS WE WANT TO MAKE HAPPEN IN 2015

Pay off the car ( last payment in January!)

Work on this blog and make clickable links to most of the items above. So you guys can finally see what this was all about.

Make even more lovely knits and zen myself out in the process.

Diversify my portfolio of clients so I can go and freelance properly in 2016.

Put my very frugal craig’s list purchased sewing machine to good use.

Put money away into savings.

Save up for my friends Bianca & Daniel’s wedding in Nassau in September. (She wrote casually)

Soooo far!! Let’s make it through New Year’s Eve in one piece first and see you on the other side!! Let me know about your goals and dreams for 2015 (unless you prefer to party and drink champagne which I can totally get behind of course).
Have a wonderful time!!

Love
Monique

Christmas has come and gone and as long as it took to prepare for it and actually get there, it was over in a jiffy.
Over here in The Netherlands, we call December 26th Second Christmas Day. It’s not Christmas Day. It’s not Boxing Day (which had a purpose in the old days). No, it’s just another day to add to the Christmas cheer. A day of convenience really, because how else are we going to celebrate with all of our extended families. Christmas Day is spent with family. Second Christmas day is spent with in-laws. Or the other way around on alternate years. Just so everyone is kept happy and content. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be I guess. Even though most of us are already way over the holiday spirit by the time Christmas Day rolls around, and ready to leave the house, hit a pub and see some friends to take a load off.

I pondered which part of the Holiday season actually is the most important for me personally, and honestly, it’s Christmas Eve. And maybe Christmas Day morning/early afternoon. The reason for that is that when I was little at our house we would “do” Christmas Eve properly. My grandparents went as far as trimming the tree on that evening and not a day sooner. And then on The Eve, the (real) candles were lit, with my grandfather keeping a bucket of sand AND a bucket of water on standby incase the tree needed err.. attention. It never did burn down, but oh my it was exciting!
After the candles had finished burning and were carefully extinguished, the adults would go to mass, and then come home to a buffet of warm rolls, coffee, hot cocoa and all that good stuff.

The next morning, presents were opened and played with all day long, only interrupted by a good long walk in the woods or the park to get some fresh air. I can’t ever remember it being about tons of food, drinks and passing out in front of the telly until years later. Anways, the perfect Christmas? It’s what you make it.

The Best Boyfriend and I decided to keep with our frugal goals for this year (and the next) and extend them somewhat into Christmas. We did do presents (I even knitted him a scarf!! more on that later) but we decided to not only spend less, but also earn some extra cash in the process. So we both opted to work afternoon/evening shifts at our jobs, which typically pay better due to the holidays than regular shifts.

That left us with ample time in the morning to have breakfast/lunch and upon coming home (typically after midnight) we pulled out a bit of Christmas cheer with some good champagne, a cheese and nuts platter and our favorite series of the moment. Outlander. Just started it, highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

All things considered, this was a very Zen Christmas. Virtually stress-less, relaxed and enjoyable. We had a lovely loaf of raisin bread and good coffee. Called the parents and sisters while still lazing in bed. We spent our free time doing whatever we felt like doing. Granted, the food at work could have been better, and it’s not very cheerful sitting alone on a empty and DARK floor at work. But, with one’s knitting in hand and a glass of red to sip from while keeping one eye on the Christmas movie du-jour it was completely bearable.

Now show me the money. J/k. No not really. Show me.

Kidding aside, I hope you all had a great Christmas that brought you all your wants and needs.
Time to focus on getting the new year off to a good start. Let’s do this!

Love

~Monique

is for this first-post-writers-block to stop already.

No just kidding. But even though I have multiple posts lined up, for some reason I feel the first should reflect that it’s.. the first. Or something to that effect. Which I can’t see to pull off.

So I am just going to go ahead and write down the thought I woke up with this morning. It’s the day after Sinterklaas (dutch holiday for kids and pranksters and no I don’t care for it one iota).
All the kids are playing with their toys and getting sick and cranky on the chocolate and candy that were left at the door yesterday and all I am thinking is:

Did I miss something?? How is it only 3 weeks till Christmas all of a sudden??
Between Halloween and today there was supposed to be a whole month right? I think it’s called November but I have only a vague recollection of it.

Even though Christmas is fast approaching, this is the year of NO deadlines. This year there will be no pressure to get the house Pinterest-perfect and the food planned meticulously and made from scratch right down to the mulled wine and chocolate truffles. Because that would be me to a T for most of my adult life.
Only perfection would do even if it killed me. And it almost has on more occassions than I care to reminisce on.

But getting older has it’s advantages. I’ve learned that less-than-perfect can be ok. I’ve learned that it’s ok to chill the heck out. Well most of the time anyway.
The world will not go to hell if store-bought hors d’heuvres are served on non-matching plates with paper napkins. You may laugh but that is actually kindof a huge deal in my world.

So as the old familiar panicky “oh-no-its-almost-Christmas” rush came over me this morning, I almost instantly relaxed and realized that this time around there is only one thing that is important..

Our peace of mind.

The house may not be deep cleaned but it will be decorated. and peaceful.
The tree will be trimmed with all the familiar ornaments my mom and my grandmother used over the years.
Hot chocolate and good food will be served and candles will be lit.

We will spend time together, eat, drink, watch some cheesy Christmas movies and throw in some work for good measure too. We will have to wing it here and there but its going to be fine.

In fact, it’s going to be perfect.

 

 

 

Christmas Rules