Category: Inspiration

Inspiration and expectations, managed.

I woke up to the weather person on MPR saying that today is going to be looked at as when spring began in MN in 2013. What welcome news, because this winter was a DOOZY. I thought it would have been reasonable to expect all the winter-storm-warning-stuff to be done before the end of April (or the middle… or the beginning….), but this year, winter just kept hitting us.

And while I’ve been managing my expectations for this spring, I haven’t completely given up!


These plant babies are really helping me along, even though I know better than to get far too excited about putting them in the ground prior to the end of May (the last chance for frost around these parts). I am planning a major overhaul of the gardens this year. I’ve had two summers of raised bed vegetable gardens now, and I’ve learned things. The most important thing is that one of them does not get enough sun for anything other than lettuces (and cucumbers that hang over the end and really reach for the sun). And while the idea of a 4×8′ lettuce bed is really intriguing, it’s probably not the best use of space, time, seeds, and compost. So it’s gotta move. I’m also pretty interested in doing something more than 15 tomato plants that take up almost all of the space in the front garden that DOES get enough sun (ok, so it was only 8 last year. but you get my point).

I’ve been getting pretty excited about this garden re-do lately. I even borrowed my parents’ wheelbarrow so that I can move the 1.5 tons of dirt and compost from the back garden to the front gardens. And then this weekend, while I was visiting my parents, we were offered some barrels to use to make our own rain barrels. I’ve been looking at rain barrels a lot over these past two years, but they’re expensive! I’m really looking forward to these MUCH CHEAPER barrels, and now I feel as if it is time to get the roof redone on the garage and put some gutters up.

But here’s where I have the biggest problems with all of this. I am SO SUPER INSPIRED by thinking of spring and my gardens and TOMATOES and grilling. But I can’t do it all, so I can’t really expect to get it all done. So what is important here? I get to have rain barrels and I will have a better planned garden this year. What might not happen? the roof of the garage and new gutters. That’s ok, though. They might get done later this summer, but it’ll not be happening before the beginning of the shortish growing season here.

Inspiration and expectations for the garage: Managed. (next: get a grip …. again…. on my knitting and sewing expectations. that’ll be a little more emotionally complex….)


Hooray for Mondays!

We got hit by the big snowstorm at the end of last week, and I was super-happy to be able to use the snowblower. Signe was just happy to plow through the snow gazelle-style. I shared this on facebook too, with the caption “i hope you have the chance to be this happy sometime today, even if it is only for a little bit.” And it holds true today too.

Mondays are great and have just about always been my favorite day of the week. No, I’m not kidding. I like routine, and monday is a return to routine, the end of a weekend in which I try to get EVERYTHING POSSIBLE done.

So happy Monday! I hope it’s a great day! Here are a few things that are making my Monday great today –

  • I got my new carpet installed on Saturday afternoon. I’m writing this FROM MY NEW OFFICE, and I can’t wait to share pictures with you! Importantly, I am reclaiming my livingroom and bedroom inch-by-inch. Not quite there yet, but it’s getting SO MUCH BETTER. I think I’ll be back to normal by the end of this week. Hallelujah!
  • I painted my new office white. and I love it. because now this is an option, though for now i’m leaving it white and am just enjoying the clean look. (found via elise.)
  • While the language used by the writer of this article isn’t exactly what I would use, a great point about the excitement of science is made: let’s stop trying to over-sell discoveries and just be ecstatic about how much closer each little thing we learn gets us to understanding the awesomeness of nature (and, in particular, the brain.) I have a lot of thoughts about this and would love to discuss them, but not here. I actually just deleted about 5000 words summarizing my thoughts on this, because it is monday and I want to keep things light for you. (you’re welcome.)
  • again, the language is a little coarse, but as someone who has participated in the relocation of not one, not two, but three labs (and now my own personal home office), this is something to which I can certainly relate.
  • I wants to spend all of my time with these.
  • I made this over the weekend. It works like magic (I used snow instead of ice and my immersion blender instead of the whisk). Tasted like magic too. And because of dark chocolate’s health benefits, I think it can even be classified under “health food.” No. Really.
  • Gotta find time for making  this, some of these, one of these, and a whole pile of these, with sour cream in vinegar.

Happy Monday!

What you lack, child, is FOCUS.

1. I’ve started to break up my posts on the home page. be sure to click the link at the bottom if you want to see the whole thing (or if you’re an e-mail subscriber.) It’s an effort to streamline the front page. Let me know if you happen to have strong feelings about it. I, for one, love it.

2. enter the prairie boot pdf pattern giveaway here. go. do it. now.

3. I feel torn in about a million directions right now – so much to get done (currently in the OHNOALLMYJUNKEXPLODEDALLOVERTHEHOUSE stage of de-crapping, de-stashing, un-messifying, and re-organizing my house) and so little time. It really makes it hard to pay attention to one thing at a time, and I’m feeling the pull. Once my office is reset, things will be smoother. but until then, I need tangible goals. Data tracking is going well, and I’ve managed to line up a bunch of work to pay the bills, so that’s all squared away. The daily to-do list has stuff like “take a shower” and “drink a cup of coffee” on it so that I can feel some control. But as for my creative time, I need to FOCUS and get something done for real for real. Like COMPLETED done. So it falls to knitting – there are a ton of things on the needles, and a number of them are close to completion. So, in an effort to complete all the knitting projects on the needles, and because I should really get the Christmas knitting done before Valentine’s day (oops…), I present to you the three projects that I must focus on this month. These and no others, until they’re done.

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The mother of all needle rolls.


Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the prairie boots pattern here!



The New Needle Roll

In an effort to finally corral and organize all of my knitting accoutrement, I have crafted (what I believe to be, in my own humble opinion) the most amazing of all amazing knitting needle rolls. Let me first give you an idea of what I was dealing with before I made this thing: needles everywhere, floating around my knitting basket(s) and in just about a gazillion different locations.

The internal monologue went something like this (and played out at least four or five times a month) –

Hey. where’re all my crochet hooks? I think they’re in a drawer somewhere. what drawer? well, I saw them last week, I think, and I’m pretty sure it was in a drawer. Great. Ok. Let’s check all the drawers. 
Ok, so what about my US3 sock needles? Well, I think they’re in the basket I only see 4 of them. where’s the 5th? It’s not in there? Well, no. I don’t think so. Are you sure? did you check the pocket? Oh, yeah. THAT’s where I put my 42″ Circulars!

Aaaand so on… Riveting, I know. So for the next step in my “Organizational Resolutions” goals, here’s where all my knitting tools are going to live from now on! (and as a bonus, I got to use up a ton of the marimekko scraps that i’ve been hoarding!)

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A simple plan for February.

Month two of the year of simple. I thought a lot about living a simple(r) life in January, and some things worked out well, but others didn’t.

I am a goal-oriented person. I like to see my results. and I love data. My Garmin GPS watch is great for this, because it provides me with a ton of data for every run. That alone is motivating for me – enough to get me out of the house, because I know I will see my results, for better or worse. That’s how I know I didn’t do as well as I had wanted for running in January.

But the other things were harder to track. Part of that is that “get my brain, body, life, and house more organized” is a little less concrete. The plan for February is, therefore, to quantify some of this, to see what sorts of patterns exist in my life. Once I establish my “baseline,” it’ll be much easier to keep track of my progress.

Like just about everyone else who makes new years resolutions, mine include some weight loss (included under the broader “body organization” category). It’s another easily-trackable piece of information, so every day in January, I weighed myself. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t all that encouraging to see little to no difference (and even a lot of increases) from day-to-day. But then I graphed it and could see what was really happening.


See that red line? When I look at the 5-day moving average (i.e. the average of the previous 5 days, the blue line), I see progress towards the green goal line! That’s exciting! And even better than knowing the progress that I’ve already made, I’m now feeling motivated to continue. For me, this motivation makes sticking to a plan, a goal, or a resolution a simple task.

So February’s simple plan is to log all the data I can about my life. This might sound not-so-simple to a lot of people. To me, though, this sounds like fun. And it’s ingrained in me to collect data and crunch numbers and to look for trends and patterns (I am, after all, a scientist!) It’s a bit of extra work, but it’s work that I can do.

I’ll keep track of my time (and how much of it I’m wasting). The miles I run and the speed I run them at will be easy to log. I’m going to continue with the weight goal. And I want to very clearly document projects that need to be done (and the completion of said projects). My thinking is that, once I know my baseline, I’ll be able to find ways to make the improvements that I want to make – to identify where my time is wasted, what my trouble-spots are in my house (for organization) and to see that I am making progress.

So whaddya think? Does this sound like a nightmare to you? If it doesn’t (or even if it just sounds like a tough but manageable project), would you join me in keeping track of some behavioral goal for the month of February? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, and I’m excited to see what happens over these 28 days.

(Don’t forget about the Prairie Boots Pattern Giveaway!  Enter the drawing here)


**I’ve been using the free Loseit app on my phone for daily calorie logging, with a 1-lb weekly weight-loss goal. I haven’t really stuck to it 100% every day, but it’s helping me be mindful of what goes into my body, and I’m re-learning portion control. Good things, without being restrictive. The habit of paying attention to what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat has been helpful as I work towards happy food and a simple life. **

Things I made for Christmas, Volume 1

It’s a little late, but I have to share something I made for Christmas. It’s one of my favorites.

A lot of years ago, my dad bought a scanner and scanned a whole ton of slides from when he was growing up. He scanned them at some obscene resolution so that we could actually see everything, and then he gave his siblings all a number of cds with all his hard work. It was a ton of fun to see the pictures and think about my dad as a child (always a funny mental exercise!) on the farm.

Years have gone by, and our cds got stowed away somewhere where all the pictures were never seen. It’s a common problem, I know. But with all the great options for photo books out there, it’s a shame that we haven’t had the pictures out on the coffee table. And that’s what I did for Christmas for my dad.


The family photos (this one is from dad’s older brother’s wedding) are great! And this is the first in a series of “Growing up Bergstrom” books – I found several more cds when I was home over Christmas and I hope to put together “Growing up Bergstrom, Vol 2” and “Growing up Bergstrom, The Next Generation,” because we also found the cds of slides from when my sister, brother, and I were growing up.


There’s dad. It’s funny, because I can very easily see my aunts and uncles (the way I know them, as adults) in their baby pictures. But my dad looks very different to me as a baby and child than what he looks like know. I wonder how much of that is just because he is my dad.


That’s grandma and grandpa. My Grandma looks like such a film star in all the pictures I found! Perhaps it’s the glasses? Grandpa died when I was younger, but I’m glad I knew him – and amazing to see things I remember about him even in the pictures from when dad was young.


I like the farm pictures a lot too. One of my favorite parts about Bergstrom get-togethers is listening to the stories about the tractors and all the farm work (raking hay in road gear is my favorite from this summer’s get-together!), and I love that picture of one of the girls on the tractor.


I loved doing this project. I got a 7×7″ book through, with a hardcover. The print quality is awesome, and they have an e-book/pdf option that I got as well, so dad can have it on his ipad as well. I’ll be doing more of these, and can’t wait to get the next one in my hands!

but most of all, I love looking through the pictures. I wasn’t there when they were taken, but I love seeing these people who are a part of me and my history. It is, indeed, my favorite christmas present project of 2012.

Making it public.

Break it down.

A. Simple. Life.

Simple is the resolution. The rest are all goals, and I’ve given myself some win-win, can-and-really-should-do, and boy-that’ll-be-difficult-but-it’ll-be-worth-it-in-the-end goals. And apparently research has found that one is most likely to attain goals if they are made simple and public. Simple is… well, the goal, so here’re some of my public goals.


For the win:

  1. Keep Running and Run Faster. I’ve started by doing some pace work in a couch-to-10K program – after all, if I want to run faster, i’ve got to train faster, right?. After 2 months of 30-40 mins/3-4x weekly, I’ve noticed a definite improvement, and, most importantly, I’ve already made running a priority (which I’ve struggled with before.) It’s also been GREAT for Signe and gives her an extra chance to get the crazies out. And honestly, there is no better therapy for a sluggish brain or body than a good run. Now to keep this momentum, because the TC marathon is only 10 months away!!!
  2. Continue with the yarn and fabric pledge. Last year’s fiber moratorium was a good thing for me, and I even did pretty well, especially with the yarn. The tally for yarn for the year (outside of 10-12 balls of yarn for birthday/Christmas gifts and 6-8 balls of yarn for classes) was 2. Two balls of yarn for a hat, which I made right away. So even though I added something in the neighborhood of several thousand yards of yarn to my year, I worked almost all of it up and even busted out a few projects using stash yarn (still need to finish that afghan…) I count that as a success, and I want another year of this type of a pledge. I think it’ll be a great part of my simple life resolution to continue to de-stash and not add to the mess. (True Confession: now that I think of it, I did buy 5 skeins of lamb’s pride bulky over Christmas – I need new slippers. so the total is 7 skeins of yarn. not 2. ah well – I have this year to do better!)
  3. Finish some lingering projects. Like painting the trim in my living room and kitchen. Really, it’s just simple stupid stuff like that, and it’s always so satisfying once these things are done, especially since that’s when I realize a) how much they had been bothering me and b) how happy I am to not be bothered by them any more.
  4. Continue to choose happiness. My choices are my choices, and I can’t blame anyone else for my choices, just as I cannot be responsible for the choices that other people make. Before a significant bout of anxiety and depression during grad school, this kind of thinking was foreign to me, like the world revolved around me and everyone was making choices in response to or to influence my actions. But after a lot of hard work and a lot of love from others and from myself, I have come to know and celebrate that there is not much outside of myself (and the thermostat at my house) that I am really in control of. But I can choose happiness, and I can continue to choose to be happy at least a little bit (or a whole ton) every day. This doesn’t mean that I choose to keep sadness, anger, frustration, and even boredom out of my life, just that, if I have the option to find the sunny side of things, I’m going to choose that (and to keep my thermostat set at 63.)
  5. Keep crafting. Sewing. Glittering. Knitting (still working on Christmas knitting here!) Mostly, I just want to keep being creative. And I really want to post more crafty posts here. but that’s really a goal for a different list. Stay Tuned.
  6. Turn 31 and Celebrate another NEW YEAR! Yep. Gonna make this one happen for sure!

I like to think about these goals as sure things. I think I’ll mostly be on autopilot for the most part, and I like that idea. I like to set myself up for success, so that when I succeed, I have the motivation and sense of ‘can-do-it-ness’ to work on the harder things on the list (coming in another post later this week) with the understanding that I can accomplish goals I set for myself. Other people might not get the same kind of satisfaction from achieving a goal that they already know they will achieve, but for me it’s kinda like writing a to-do list and adding things to it that i’ve already done (or stuff like showering, because that’s an easy one).

So those are 6 of the things on my “for the win” goals list. They all, in their own way, contribute to my simple life, and I can’t wait to see how mindfulness of that contribution will continue to encourage me to