Archive | January, 2010

Just plain nifty (via Craftgawker)

29 Jan

This is one of those items that I may not like aspects of it (mainly the color scheme), but the actual design of this is just gorgeous.

Crochet Earthy Delight Necklace

From Lavender Field

Cute Cufflinks

29 Jan

Free Shipping X and O Hugs and Kisses Love Scrabble Deluxe Letter Tile Cuff Link Set

Absolutely adorable geeky jewelry. From Kalika Designs

Yarn Crafts Day: Danger Crafts

27 Jan

While searching for yesterday’s local Etsy shop, I found Danger Crafts, which I thought might be more suitable for today’s post. They mostly sell the patterns to make such lovelies as:

Wasabi the Gregarious Pug Knitting Pattern Pdf

and

Olivia the Audacious Monster Knitting Pattern Pdf

Oh! And let’s not forget:

Greta the Captivating Cat Knitting Pattern Pdf

You can even buy groups of patterns.

All 16 Danger Crafts Knitting Patterns Pdf

So adorable!

Local Etsy Spotlight: My Polka Dot Pottery

26 Jan

Coming in right at the wire – well actually a little past the wire – this week’s local Etsy spotlight.

I like pottery – and I very much wish I had more uses for pottery. But, alas, I have two cats and if I put anything in a vase or bowl, they are all over it. So I’d really only be able to use them to store cat toys – and then I don’t think the container would last very long.

But I can dream of having a use for this:

Or this:

Or this little cutie:

Pink Piggy Bank with Hearts

So adorable!

I really enjoy her sense of whimsy without coming across as tacky. It’s a fine line to walk, and she’s mastered the strut!

Strength Finder: Part 6 of 7

25 Jan

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My fifth and final top five strength is Harmony. This was the most difficult for me to self-identify.

People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict, rather, they seek areas of agreement.

The part that throws me off is constant mention of being a peace maker. I have never seen myself as such, nor have others mentioned this as a particular strength of mine.

However, the following points are very true to me:

  • you do not enjoy conflict
  • you may wait to ask before sharing your knowledge
  • look for the practical side of things – it is the starting point of agreement.

The practical is especially important to me. I find it is the quickest way to solve a problem. of course, solving problems is generally what leads to conflicts – people are usually very attached to their way of solving it and unwilling to consider other points of view. By bringing people back to the issue and the practical considerations, the problems usually just get solved faster – and then we can all go about our business again.

Strengths Finder: Part 5 of 7

25 Jan

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My fourth strength is Responsibility.

People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I also very much identified with this theme. What stands out to me is the idea of taking “psychological ownership”. This is certainly something I do – sometimes to the detriment of my mental well-bring. I take ownership of things that are often outside of my control, and then feel horribly when anything goes wrong. This is, of course, as weakness as well as a strength if not kept in control of rational thought.

The other weakness that this leaves me susceptible to is taking on too much. I have had to learn how to say no more as I get older – less I take on more than anyone can reasonably handle and then berate myself when I cannot do everything I’ve promised.

The other item to focus on is how this ties into values. Because I understand the responsibility for every action I take, I highly value ethical behavior in myself and others. I find it difficult to work for companies who espouse values or motivations that I disagree with, and I find it even more difficult to be around people who have behaved unethically. Of course, intent is a huge part of this and I am much more willing to forgive mistakes and misunderstanding. But if I feel someone is intentionally malicious, or careless when care was obviously needed, it is difficult for me to look the other way.

The list of action items yield two worthwhile bits of advice.

First is to remind people in a supervisory position that I can be trusted to finish a project and do not need constant check-ins. I am not sure how realistic this might be, but I do now that the fastest way to de-motivate me is to make me feel as though I am either not trusted or that I am not unique. To constantly check in is to make me feel not trusted. To have one-size-fits-all checklists or performance matrices gives me the impression that each worker is only a cog or trained monkey, simply meant to perform trained actions without bringing any thought or creativity to their work.

However, goal setting, using clearly defined goals, is something that I am good at and can be very useful is motivating me and moving me forward.

Strengths Finder: Part 4 of 7

25 Jan

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My third strength was Empathy.

While I can see this, I had initial doubts. Quite frankly, I can be rather unsympathetic at times. I thought I might need to refresh my mind on the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy emphasizes sharing distressing feelings whereas empathy does not emphasize any particular type of feeling. The listener using empathy shares (experiences) whatever feelings the talker is expressing at the moment, regardless of whether the feelings are distressing (grief, for example) or pleasant (love, for example).

Sympathy may also involve agreeing with some aspects of the other person’s feelings, beliefs, etc. whereas empathy emphasizes understanding all of them with no interest in either agreeing or disagreeing.

The person using empathy tunes into the entire inner world of the other person whereas the person using sympathy typically tunes into only those aspects with which he agrees.

The listener using empathy usually responds more comprehensively to the talker as compared with the listener using sympathy.

http://www.empathy-and-listening-skills.info/

This was particularly helpful as it clarified what I suspected. It seems (in a simplified form of course) that sympathy involves self-identification with the feelings of others. While I can very often understand where someone is coming from, I certainly do not always agree with them. This seems to be much more in line with empathy than sympathy.

My tendency to look for the context of a situation goes hand in hand with this strength. I want to fully understand a situation, which is done best by looking at the history and motivations of those involved. By looking at the behavior of the key players, you can usually understand their motivations and, in doing so, gain valuable insight as to how they will react to a new situation.

One item that stood out to me in the description was:

By nature, you may prefer to spend time with people who respect and approve of your talents. Perhaps you can sense when individuals belittle your abilities or discount your results […] you may be choosy about the company you keep or the people you call “friend”.

This has been very true for me in the past. Often I seek some sort of outside corroboration since I do have a tendency to be a little over-sensitive at times. However, looking at things in this light, I might spend a little more time exploring these feelings before dismissing them.

One “action item” that stood out to me was “Understanding someone’s emotional state does not mean that you must excuse the behavior.” Certainly valuable insight in both professional and personal realms.

Another item that resonated strongly with me was “witnessing the happiness of others brings you pleasure”. This is very true – especially in the realm of gift-giving. I usually take my time finding a gift I know will provoke a strong positive reaction in the receiver. And then i often cannot wait to give the gift! It makes holidays very difficult for me!

Yeast Explained

25 Jan

This week’s Foodgawker find is not a recipe, but an informational post regarding yeast. Mainly the difference between active dry and instant yeasts.

I found it to be very enlightening and certainly something to bear in mind for the future.

Check it out at The Italian Dish!

Strengths Finder: Part 3 of 7

24 Jan

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My second strength was Intellection.

“People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their
intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.”

This result was the theme I most resonated with. I can very easily recognize this attribute in myself. My mind is usually very active – whether watching TV, reading a book, grocery shopping, or trying to go to bed (much to my chagrin). I very much enjoy chatting with people about current events, history, psychology, or even philosophy.

The very little teaching I have done, I have enjoyed. As long as I know what I am talking about inside and out, public speaking doesn’t bother me much. I do value education that teaches understanding and how to use one’s mind over rote memorization of disconnected facts.

When driving, I listen to talk radio because it is able to keep my mind more engaged than listening to music – unless it is music that I am working on as a singer.

I am always researching – whether it is trying to understand the latest up to date info on my thyroid disease, or seeking a more thorough instruction on how to knit or cook. I enjoy connecting the dots and know I retain information better when I do.

Some directives and other interesting ideas from this theme:

  • Consider beginning or continuing your studies in philosophy, literature, or psychology. You will always enjoy subjects that stimulate your thinking.
  • List you ideas in a log or diary (check.) These ideas will serve as a grist for your mental mill, and they might yield valuable insights.
  • People may think you are aloof or or disengaged when you close your door or spend time alone. This is simply a reflection of your thinking style and it results not from a disregard for relationships, but from a desire to bring the most you can to relationships.
  • You are at your best when you have time to follow and intellectual trail and see where it leads.
  • Schedule time for thinking – it can be energizing for you. Use these occasions to muse and reflect.
  • Take time to write. writing may be the best way for you to crystallize and integrate your thoughts.
  • Find people who like to talk about the same issues you do.
  • Encourage people around you to use their full intellectual capital by reframing questions for them and by engaging them in a dialogue. Realize there will be some who find this intimidating.

The most interesting quote was one in which a guy was talking about his need to have the TV on when he was working – this is something I do all the time. TV or podcasts. In my high school English class, I had a teacher who was awesome enough to let me cross stitch in class which helped me focus on listening.

Even now, I have the football playoffs on as I’m writing.

Strengths Finder: Part 2 of 7

24 Jan

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My first strength was Context.

People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching it’s history.”

This did make quite a bit of sense to me. I can think of many examples of times when I looked with the history of an idea, event, or place to feel more at home with it.

The stand out example for me was the two years of Trigonometry I took in high school. The first year (my freshman year) I took a standard Trig class. I did not do as well as I had hoped. I think maybe I got a C – possibly a D, even – which was unheard of for me.

I decided to re-take the class my sophomore year. However, instead of taking the same class, I figured I had something of a foundation to build on, so I took the slightly advanced Trig Plus. This class I passed with solid Bs and As.

The difference was history. The Plus class took time with the theories, giving a little background on who came up with them and what thinking prior to the theory was in place that allowed the next step in mathematical progress.

Some items in the details of this strength that stood out as especially true for me are:

  • seeking out the company of historically minded people
  • participate in discussion groups that concentrate their attention on studying the past
  • some teachers or mentors who befriended you may have encouraged your interest in history
  • you master facts a bit more easily when the teacher or expert cares about you as a human being
  • “Those who can’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
  • build your lessons around case studies
  • use your understanding of the past to help others map the future
  • context talents do not require you to live in the past
  • use fact-based comparisons to prior successes to paint a vivid picture for others of “what can be” in the future. The real-life illustrations you create can build confidence and emotional engagement
  • You recognize the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior
  • Read historical novels, non-fiction, or biographies
  • Compare historical antecedents and situations to your current challenge

One of the quotes from people with this trait was from someone attempting to implement a new system in a company and realizing the need to recognize the history of the current system and holding that as the group moved forward.

I definitely look to the past to understand the future or current events. This is especially true in politics, where an understanding of where parties and movements have come from can very clearly reveal the thinking of the current state of affairs.

I have not thought of applying this much professionally, but it is certainly something to ponder for the future.