Friday, January 11, 2019

Hygge Fever (To the Tune of Boogie Fever)

Has anyone else noticed that hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is freakin' everywhere this winter? It's not the first year I've heard of it, but 2018-2019 is the winter of white people loving hygge. If you've been in a cave (or not on Instagram), hygge is a Danish word used to describe a cozy, charming, or special feeling. #hyggehome #hyggelife #hyggestyle #hyggelifestyle #hyggehomeschool #hyggehygge (those are all honest to god from Instagram, the last one has been used over 9000 times.)

Ok I'm being silly but honestly, who doesn't love coziness in the cold and dark months? I absolutely hated winter when I worked in an office, but now that I'm self employed I am ALL OVER this hygge business. When I was picking out yarn for my second annual attempt at a temperature blanket, I kept going back to the Red Heart Hygge yarn, because it's just so darn soft and cozy! 

The idea behind a temperature blanket is that you crochet (or knit) a row every day that corresponds to the high temperature for that day. I started one last year or the year before, and the major mistake I made was thinking that I live in a temperate climate with a clear "rainbow" of temperatures from winter to spring to summer to fall, and I picked a literal rainbow of yarn. The problem is that I live in St Louis, where January is mostly in the 40s, with some snow, but we could have a cold snap below zero, and some 60-70 degree days in the dead of winter. Using a selection of yarn that looks lovely as a rainbow looks UGLY when you're mapping St Louis temperatures. It was really awful.

So I abandoned that approach and decided that I would also work out a new "temperature gauge" this year, with less colors. Here's a screenshot of my spreadsheet (thanks to my friend Jennifer for the build): 

The other issue I ran into the first time was that I was using too many colors for narrow temperature ranges, and the turns/color changes were making the ends really fat. I think having one color for everything "below freezing" and one for everything "above 90" and then everything else falling into 3 groups is going to greatly improve the aesthetic. The ONE other piece of advice I have for you, if you're going to try this, is to check your gauge and do the math on blanket size. I already had to start over after week 1 because I realized I was going to have a 3'x8' table runner. 

Now I just have to keep up with it all year! And plan lots of vacations for those purple stripes!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Missouri Botannical Garden on the Go Pack

Check out what we found on a quiet day at Brookings Center! Usually Lilly is too busy playing with kids for us to get into a lot of the learning stations, but yesterday it was DEAD. I guess everyone thought it would rain all day, but the afternoon was gorgeous. We were talking about cacao, which is in the Climatron, and looking at seeds and a seed pod on this desk, and we noticed these cool backpacks! We took the Art one out into the garden and had a great time hunting for sculptures.

This pack had a guest book (we added our interpretation of the Chihuly sculptures in Climatron), an activity book with writing and drawing prompts, a set of laminated color cards, and a set of laminated cards about the art in the garden, as well as crayons, colored pencils and markers.

There's enough activity in the bag for multiple trips with a small fry like Lilly, and a solid afternoon or two with older kids. The folks working in the Kemper Center had never seen them before, but the guestbook in the backpack had entries going back a couple years. So, I'm not sure if these are NEW new or if they just got new bags recently. In any case, we look forward to many more afternoons of exploring!

Monday, January 7, 2019


This morning I woke up from a weird dream I don't remember now. It was 6:30 in the morning, a rainy Monday, and the house was so dark and still. Francis was probably at the gym.

I thought about picking up my phone.
I thought about how much work I could do before Lilly woke up.
I thought about how I could be productive.

But instead I told myself that I don't have to be busy every second of the day! I'm self-employed, not a slave.

Cosleeping is definitely my favorite parenting choice I've made so far. It makes me all Care Bear Tenderheart and the hearts just shoot out of my belly. A rainy, dreary Monday is the best time to snuggle up with a toddler who will spend 12 hours talking singing once she wakes up. So that's what I did. <3

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Year, Fresh Start!

I am not a New Year's Resolutions person and believe there is no time like the present to make a change, but this year I had some personal revelations that happened to coincide with the New Year.  At the end of 2018 I realized that Facebook had essentially become a replacement for smoking, which I quit 6 years ago. I was just a little mouse in a Skinner box, hitting the bar for a pellet of attention or amusement. Most of the time I was reaching for my phone for reason at all, interrupting all of my productive activities. I know a lot of people who know me will be like, "ya think?" Shut up, I'm admitting it.

Honestly, I have really missed blogging but I was so in my own head about "fixing" this blog. This is the same thing that messed up Craves, Caves, & Graves for me, and I've been having a lot of  conversations with myself and others about why that is. No matter how good or bad I am at web design, I've always had blog followers. Sometimes a lot of them! So I must have done something right at some point, right? My "resolution" is to just to do what I love with this blog, love myself as I am, share what I want to share, and not fuss about how it looks or how many people read it.

Here's where we are for 2019: We want to downsize from Franceth Manor to Franceth Cottage or Franceth Bungalow. We want to learn more about sustainability and urban farming and the ultimate goal (maybe not in 2019) is a net zero house. I have a goal to earn my Ruby Team Manager rank with Jewelscent, and I also want to earn my IATAN card for my travel business. We are learning about homeschooling! And in general, we just want to learn new skills, learn to support ourselves, and share our knowledge with others. So that's the Franceth Manor blog mission statement!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thanksgiving Challege, Week 1 - Ditch the Disposable Swiffer!

Last week, I talked about how convenience (and mom brain) has made it hard to think clearly when it comes to self-sufficiency. I challenged Francis to one year of blogging weekly tips for cutting waste, saving money, and helping the planet. But you know, none of that crunchy liberal hippie shit, just practical tips from the Olden Times. ;)

Let's talk about disposable cleaning products for a sec, shall we? I think many of my weekly tips will probably be on this topic. Disposable cleaning products may be convenient and reduce the ick factor (I get it, I have two big and rowdy dogs), but they don't breakdown in the landfills, nor can they be composted. Plus, every single box you buy is unnecessary packaging, shipping on trucks, etc. I'm not saying you have to throw away your Swiffer mop if you already have one, but consider some more environmentally friendly alternatives to those cloths. Contrary to marketing, they are not magic. A microfiber cloth or a crocheted reusable cover will do the job just as well.

If you are crafty, there are many patterns online for Swiffer Sweeper covers, and I even found one for the Swiffer Duster! If you're not very crafty but would like a reusable Swiffer Sweeper crocheted cover, I can hook you up! Just email me:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Challenge

Yesterday was one of those days that is depressingly common this past year, where the news just gets to be too much. We dropped Lil off at my parents and went out to dinner, and our discussion of gardening and landscaping plans for 2018 turned towards making our whole house and property more sustainable. We talked about hydroponics and aquaponics, vertical gardening and keyhole gardening, rainbarrels and ponds, extending our backyard fence to make room for chickens, solar for the garage to power the electric car. 
Fast forward to today. It's Thanksgiving, we don't have plans with family today, and there's plenty of food in the house but we didn't really plan ahead for lazy snacking. We have dip mixes but are out of mayo, I'm sad I didn't buy anything to make a pie, we don't have any frozen snacks besides Costco pizza rolls. HEIGHT of privilege happening in this house right now. Francis says, "Well, Target is open." Y'all, I love Target and I do give them a huge chunk of our monthly income, but no, I can't support being open on Thanksgiving. I just can't. Not because I need chips.

"Not because I need chips." That thought actually did go through my head and yet. AND YET. I thought about our conversation last night, and what would happen if there was a global catastrophe and I couldn't go to Target at the drop of a hat. We really like salty snacks in this house. What would we snack on that we could grow ourselves? Could I make crackers and chips? Yes, be embarrassed for me that it didn't occur to me for like 5 minutes that we have a bag of baby potatoes and yes, I can in fact make chips. Mom brain, it's no joke.

As Francis and I sorted through the bag of forgotten potatoes and sliced them for chips, I told him we should challenge ourselves from now until Thanksgiving 2018 to write a blog once a week about replacing one of our lazy or wasteful habits with a new sustainable skill that will save money and help the planet. I hope we can show others that anyone can learn these things and do better!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mom Awakening

Lately I feel like I've come out of a mom fog and I wonder if this is common when your kid turns two. I feel like most people I know have another baby at this point, or are about to, and maybe they struggle longer with finding or retaining their identity. We are "one and done" and this month has been a big month of personal growth for me, which seems to hinge on the fact that Lilly is old enough to ask for what she wants or needs. Hugs, milk, snack, Sophia the First. Her needs are simple.

Since she has turned two I've been trying to maintain more of a schedule as we explore the idea of homeschooling. I'm not trying to be Rick Moranis in Parenthood, but I've been keeping a journal of what we are doing with our time, just to see if I, personally, can maintain this kind of discipline. The side benefit to this is that I'm much more aware of how I'm spending ALL my time, and have been working to find a balance when the scales are tilted. Being self employed requires an enormous amount of discipline as it is, but when your hustles are GemstraDisney vacation planning, and social media in general, it is super easy to slide into unproductive internet time.

So now I have this semi-independent child and I've just been feeling like I need SOMETHING. Maybe it is reading Harry Potter again and maybe it was the eclipse, but I started thinking about how I used to always meditate with the runes on Monday mornings, and I haven't had time for THAT in two years. It's an awkward thing to attempt when your "me time" tends to be from 11 to midnight, to be shuffling a bag of rocks when your spouse is trying to fall asleep. The set of runes I have from college feels like it's from a different lifetime, so I keep procrastinating while shopping for a new set.
This weekend Francis gave me the gift of an entire day to work in a silent house, and I found my old rune set and old journal, and did a reading that was very familiar to this impatient and ambitious old Slytherin. For me, the runes are a mediation tool that enables a conversation with myself, but it's always kind of uncanny to draw the same ones over and over, year after year. "Settle down, Beavis," is my most common theme. I get anxious, I get impatient, and I need to remind myself not to be the farmer who tugged on his new shoots to "help". The very next day I saw a new situation emerge as a result of taking a step back to evaluate my goals.

I think my Mom Awakening might need a night in a hotel to catch up on all the things that have been dogging my progress in the past six months or so. I need to start with a clean slate and remember my why: that everything I do is for more TIME. More time with my family, more time for myself, more time sharing happiness. I really feel like sharing joy is living my best life, and I can be more focused in my intentions if I just have one 24 hour period to clean out the digital and mental clutter.