Saturday, January 14, 2017

Frustration...

...on so many levels.

New Glasses...

I got new glasses. A new prescription and different frames. I love the frames. They're a radical departure from what I've had, and they're a bit larger. So there's more real estate for the Varilux lenses. Swarovski frames, believe it or not... Here's what they look like. I was trying to move away from the purple, only to see that these are called "violet." Guess I can't get too far away from my favorite color, even on purpose!

And I can't find the sweet spot. I can't see in the middle distance unless I tip my head far back. Which we know is unsustainable, right? 

So I can't see the computer screens at work. I can only see the laptop screen (upon which I'm typing as we speak) unless I tilt IT back farther than normal - to keep my chin level. 

I noticed something odd the Saturday I got them; I went to a workshop and wondered why things didn't feel right. Then I knitted a lot - see below - and I looked up every 40 minutes or so, and thought, "What??" Maybe I'd been knitting a long time. Maybe I just need to adjust my gaze. After a week of work, where I have 2 relatively good-sized screens I work with (and which don't adjust well), I came to the conclusion that I need to go back to the eye doctor. 

And that's only the lenses. 

Apparently (which seems petty, I know), the new frames have not registered with most of the people I interact with every day. Only 3 people have commented. I sat in a room full of 35 women the other day - women who'd comment if you wore the same shirt from one (monthly) meeting to the next. And not a peep. 

Anyway, I'm set to go back to the eye doctor on Monday. I tried to work around it because I thought, "maybe the Rx changed enough that I have to get used to it." I could see in the doctor's office, but even though they made me read a little card, I should have thought about looking at a computer screen. 

Hopefully, she can fix what's wrong. Note to self: Don't forget to bring your old glasses!

Knitting...

...and I was at the BIND-OFF on the Shape-It scarf. Then this happened. I swear, I don't know. I don't think I dropped a stitch. Two knitter friends said "just pull it back together with a crochet hook and anchor it with extra yarn." I'm not ripping it all the way back. But I'm unsure how that's going to look when it's blocked. 

Crap. Crap. Crap. 

I think I might have pulled something. I don't think it's dropped, because when you see the rest of it, there's no "runner." It's not like a dropped stitch fixes itself. 

My biggest worry is the blocking and the potential for popping an already weakened area. I've read enough knitting blogs to know the "disaster in waiting" which could happen if it's not blocked properly. Or if it's not fixed properly. 

And as with all good knitting - right now, it's in Time-Out till I can wrestle with a solution. I haven't even bound it off, though I suppose I should do that part, at least. Then I'd at least have a "partial" F/O to work with. 

Oh well. It gives me time to figure out how in the heck I'm going to block it out, too. The rubber tiles are going to take up some room. 

This is its replacement. Another sock! It's a Vanilla pattern, but with a nice variation: 2 sets of 3-column ribbing along each ankle, which keeps the socks from slouching. 

This is kind of an experiment for a couple of reasons. I'm using my 1.5 Cubics DPNs, and Sirdar's "Sole to Sole" which seems a little rough to me. 

The colorway is SH0052 and Lot No. 163089. This yarn is a little rough - much like Opal when you're knitting on it. But I believe it's going to soften up once it's washed and blocked. 

It's a nice self-striping colorway and I think it's going to fit this pattern quite well. The pattern is "Vanilla Socks!" from My Knitted Heart. You can find it here. As you can see, she uses a self-striping yarn as well. 

I'm doing my "patented" (ha) 4-knit roll on the top. And part of the experiment (aside from a new yarn I've never used before) is that I'm doing these at 64 stitches. 


The Sweet Georgia sock was done on 72 stitches, and it's a little too slouchy. So here's the experiment: Is this sock going to be too small? Is it going to fit well? 

I can tell you that my tension is a little...tense. I don't know why; I'm deliberately trying to loosen up. And I think that as I get farther down the leg, it may loosen up. I'm hoping for a 7" leg - maybe 7 1/2" - not sure yet. Depends on if I get bored. I need at least a 7" leg for my own comfort. 

I always panic. I get itchy thinking that I'll "run out" of yarn when I know full well that a 7" leg isn't going to do too much damage with 400+ yards of yarn! But it still freaks me out a bit... This time, I'll try to have more patience. 

Maybe you can see why the 64-stitch size kind of freaks me out: the first few rows looked awfully small! But I think it'll be ok. I've done a couple on 64 stitches, and they've fitted ok. Nothing to do now but press on. 

Essential Oils and Sole...

I'm trying to be a bit more consistent with my use of Essential Oils, and I'm also trying to incorporate a sole (pronounced so-LAY) - a salt detox.

It sounds funny, but sole uses Himalayan salt - with lots of trace minerals. Those trace minerals are often missing in our diets. But replacing them can be daunting. The sole uses water that's infused with this natural salt, and you take about 1/2 tsp. in a glass of water first thing in the morning. Helps for hydration, regulating blood sugar and balancing out the pH in the body. I tend toward the acid side. I can take the finish off a sewing needle, and I have to be careful of the metals that I'm in contact with. 

We'll see how this works. I just have to remember to do that BEFORE grabbing my morning tea. And I admit: I'm a creature of habit. I stumble toward my steaming mug of tea each morning, so I have to make a slight side trip. 

As far as the Essential Oils, I've been diffusing Eucalyptus Globulus in my room every night. It not only adds more humidity (and my nose says "thank you!"), but the properties of the Eucalyptus include improved breathing. 

And every morning, I like to add a little Tangerine to my water. When using essential oils in water, you need to use a glass container. Really good - therapeutic grade - essential oils will mess with plastic. So use glass. Reusable, can be recycled, and doesn't hold a "taste." Sometimes, with my plastic bottles, they hold the flavor of whatever I have in there; whether it's tea or water with a cucumber or lime slice, it never seems to come as clean as it could. Glass cleans up much more nicely, too. 

If you're going to use essential oils internally, please seek out a qualified aromatherapist or practitioner. Not everyone should use every oil. Some oils affect people differently, and there are oils which should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Be careful and do your research, with the help of someone who knows what they're doing. 

Just Breathe Yoga Studio...

So we've been doing a little updating at the studio. We took off the old plastic film on the windows, put up new, light-blocking curtains, and got a lovely salt lamp for the space. 


We also have a booster for the cell signal, but we have to ask the landlord for permission to put it on the roof. The reception, when it's inside the studio, isn't much better than "no booster" and we need a stronger signal. 

Oh, and we have a new screen for the front door. That screen is the "signal" that a class, a private session or a workshop is going on. We have (as you can see) no "vestibule" and no "waiting area" - you walk in, you see the entire space. 

It's been fun to see the expressions of some of the students. Much like when we repainted, they come in and look around and pause... "Did you do something different here?" Yep. We did. It's nice to have curtains you can open again, and as you can see from the transom area (above the door), the film has a bit of a haze on it. It's like a greenhouse film, so the condensation will be minimal - if any. And that means the teachers can open the curtains on a nice day and let in a bit of natural light. 

The Burning...

I thought about a Burning Ritual for the New year. I took apart the numerous "weight loss" notebooks. Grabbed a tin tray, a little bit of dirt, a candle and a book of matches. 

The dirt is a safety measure. The candle is in the center of the dirt pile. The tin contains the fire - since I don't have a fire pit or other kind of container. 

Found a spot outside, away from the wind. 

Then I sat down and thought about it. What do I want from 2017? What do I need to release? Am I nuts? 

It took me about 10 minutes to think about it. 

Then I wrote a bit. I arranged my various bits of paper in a stack and tried to get the matches lit. It's not that it was all that windy. Maybe it was that the matches were old. Maybe I've lost the skill of lighting an actual match, now that we use "flame sticks" more often!


Anyway, I'm sure my neighbors thought I was slightly nuts. It was hard to get things going, but the candle did help. Once the candle was lit, it did help the papers catch. I layered them, with twigs, to keep things going. After the lists were burned, as I watched each weight, each step, each measurement - as they folded up in the flames and turned to ash, I thought about the "release" part of it. 

I thought about those bits of paper turning into pieces of carbon, which I dumped into the garden for next year's tomatoes. I thought about what those pieces of paper represented. My ambitions at the time. My efforts. Sometimes the futility. Often, the disappointment. The valuation of my Self as a number. Reduced to the fact of my weight and the number of steps I took. Summarized by the digits on a tape measure, faithfully written down and preserved for posterity. 

Are those things me? They were. Are they me now? I'm not sure. I consciously burned the papers. But did I internally absorb the actual action of burning - of shedding - of releasing the compulsion to document my life in the framework of my weight, my exercise. My concentration on my own physicality. My own obsession with my outward self. 

Not my inner self. My inner self which can be incredibly self-critical, demeaning, judgmental -- all toward my outer self. 

Why do we do that to ourselves? Seriously, I blather on about not dyeing my hair, about not wearing make-up, about not being vain. I'm not a style maven. I'm not even inclined to regard the latest fashions as anything I'd put on my body. 

But not often because of the styles. Often, it's because I think, "Oh, I'm too fat for that." Or "I'm too old for that," though there's some validity in not being mutton dressed as lamb... 

I've thought about what that burning represented for me. I've already re-purposed one of the "Exercise Logs" as a knitting notebook. But I still cogitate - I still roll around in my head what I'm learning about myself, what I feel as I stare down the fast-approaching 60th year of my life. 

I'd recommend doing a burning ritual once at least. Try it with something you need to release. It certainly has stuck in my head and has given me a lot to think about. 

Random Picture & Political Commentary...

Raisa. When she hears the Cheetoh Troll. Just kidding... She does this quite often. 

Though I'm really not kidding about the Cheetoh Troll. That scares me. I'm not sure where our nation is headed and I'm not liking what I'm seeing so far. From the number of people who don't know that the Affordable Care Act actually IS "Obamacare" to the dismissive and dictatorial way the Cheetoh Troll handled the first-ever press conference. To the refusal to release tax returns. Twitter. The outright, blatant and accepted lies. The obvious, salivating, nearly-wetting-their-pants eagerness of Congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA and cause untold damage not only to our economy, but to the lives of the millions of people who are covered. 

The oldest, whitest, most male Cabinet in history. Or as my mother calls it, "The Cabinet of the Walking Dead." 

The specter of the disappearance of everything we as a society have fought for. That some have died for. That the young women coming after us will not have the rights and opportunities we've had. 

I'm not going to "get over it." And I'm not going to "give the benefit of doubt" to a pathological liar with obvious urges to be Dictator-in-Chief. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do yet, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines.

Or hide my head in the couch. Can you?











Sunday, January 01, 2017

A Radical Act of Compassion...

...maybe.

Or maybe a Radical Act of Self-Realization. 

I was doing some puttering around and came across 4 notebooks. And it hit me with the force of a physical blow. 

These notebooks chronicle my long, long, LONG fight with my body. Otherwise known as "My Attempts to Lose (and keep off) Weight." I've done it all. Weight Watchers, Adkins, Cabbage Soup, No-Carb, Lo-Carb, Sugar Detox, Metabolism B (which worked a treat, except I ate no fruit for an entire year and got "derailed" by eating a banana...)... 

I've exercised. I've had pedometers. I now wear a Jawbone Up! fitness band. 

4 notebooks
And I diaried each thing. Each step. Each workout. Each bite of food I put in my mouth. What hit me were the days where I put little "frowny faces" on the entries. 

Look, I'm not aiming to get to where I was pre-kids. I'm not an idiot. I need to be healthier, but more and more, it feels like I'm losing that battle. 

I am looking 60 in the face soon. I have heart issues. My family has a history of awful cholesterol numbers. I had gestational diabetes with Kid #2. My younger brother is already on cholesterol meds and my sister has a slew of conditions including IBS among other things. 

My brother is the one encouraging me to try (yet again) - Whole30 this time. Which, normally, is nearly how I eat anyway. The holidays and the crazy-stress-full-time-job have caused me to not only "fall" off the wagon, but leap. I eat when I'm stressed. 

I sit here, staring at those notebooks. Wondering. Trying to discern the message they're obviously sending me. 

Strangely enough, I got 3 different journals for Christmas this year. What's the message there, do you think? 

I'm not whining. Realistically (since I know this vessel in which I live and I know its capabilities and restrictions), I need to lose about 20 lbs. I need to exercise more. I need to do a lot of things...and life gets in the way of the plans I have for myself. 

It could be a lot worse (which, I'm told, is self-defeating - not acknowledging the reality of MY reality). I need to do something, and what I'm thinking about is fairly radical: I'm thinking of burning the notebooks. 

Well, I don't want to waste the unused paper, so tearing out the pages relating to weight/exercise/eating. And burning those pages. Starting 2017 off with the realization that "I" am not my "body" but that I do need to take better care of that body if I want it to continue to serve me. 

It's windy today and we don't have a fire pit, chiminea, or burn barrel. So maybe tomorrow is Burning Day. Thich Nhat Hahn says: "If we face our unpleasant feelings with care, affection, and nonviolence, we can transform them into the kind of energy that is healthy and has the capacity to nourish us." 

So it's time to look up Burning Rituals and get my stuff in order. Maybe that's a way to get 2017 in order. 

Knitting...

Pumpkin Layette
Baby Knitting 2016 is DONE. It's all complete, I even bought the bag and card and wrapped it up ahead of time. And I put the gift where I know I'll find it... Don't laugh - you've probably done the same thing. And if you haven't? You will at some point. 

Goals for 2017 include finishing a few WIPs. So last night, I began working again on the Shape-It Scarf. I have about 1" to go on the "wings." The challenge here will be how to block it, because it's going to be rather large. I need floor space. I have the blocking wires (yay! gift to self!) and the foam lock-together tiles. I just have to figure out where to put it away from the dogs. 

I've posted a few of the pictures on Instagram, and it's been a learning curve to figure out what's going on with that program. I feel like a dunce, but I'll get the hang of it eventually. 

As you may recall, the Shape-it Scarf is a take-off on a Sally Melville design. The lady at the Wool & Co. store (before it changed owners) suggested the "cobweb" yarn that I'm using, which is baby alpaca lace. 

I will have a literal half-ball of this stuff left over. It's over 800 yards. So my next task will be "what to do with the rest of it??" There are a few little shawlettes on Ravelry that I think I can wing out of this. Even a teeny little ascot would be cute. 

I think I can get this done by the end of this holiday period. Then I'll start to finish the mates to the singleton socks. And then I'll work on more socks. Dig out the February Lady Sweater. Root through the closet and see what I've got stashed. 

Kid #1 brought me yarn and a pattern with cables. That's on the list. Not sure how that'll work - my experience with cables is approximately --- well. None. But how hard can it be? I'm told it's a piece of cake, so we'll see how true that is. 

Essential Oils...

Last night, I achieved, with the help of two team members, a new rank in Young Living. It looks like this is going to be the year for this business to expand. So I'm doing some "envisioning" and using the YL "Envision" blend, which is really quite lovely. 

I sell these through the studio, and I can ship anywhere. So if you'd like to learn more about essential oils and how they can enhance your life, let me know. 

And that's the extent of my "sales pitch." I can't sell ice to a person in the desert. But skeptic that I am, I'm telling you - I really do enjoy using the essential oils. I like knowing that this company uses sustainable sources. I like knowing that, with their "Seed to Seal" process, everything is 100% therapeutic grade, and not mixed with fillers or other oils. 

I used other oils before. I love blending them for sprays in my yoga classes. So I was re-mixing a spray which had Rose essential oil. I grabbed the bottles that I used last time, and opened up the Rose. Wheeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww! Unbeknownst to me, the Rose wasn't really "rose." It was only 5% rose. Five. Percent. The rest was grapeseed oil. Which turned rancid. 

It was nasty. Tossed the whole thing in the trash. Young Living's Rose oil is 100% rose. One hundred percent. 

It's that kind of quality that I appreciate, and enjoy bringing to my students. Like I said, if you're interested, check here, then send me a message. I'll be happy to help. Do your own research. I'm not going to twist anyone's arm. Quality is as quality does. 

Tippi...

I'm so pretty!
Tippi is a goofball. She "dressed" for the occasion of both New Year's Eve and today, her putative birthdate - and "gotcha" date. Last night, she sat with me while I sat up watching the Twilight Zone marathon and waiting for the inevitable fireworks/noise/hoopla that brought in the new year. Quinn headed for her crate early. 

I diffused Peace & Calming oil and rubbed a bit of Lavender on each of their heads. Not Raisa, though - she wants nothing to do with essential oils, and scorns the elkhounds' fear of the noise. She was just more or less satisfied with settling in to sleep it all away...

So Tippi also did her "Norwegian Couch-hound" impersonation... She doesn't get up on the couch a lot. She did as a younger dog, but lately, she only goes up once in a while. She prefers to lay alongside my knitting chair, since it's MUCH more convenient for her to beg a belly rub from me. 

Norwegian Couch-Hound
Last night, though, in a break from knitting and TV-watching, I got her up there and was able to at least brush half of her. She loves being brushed - no worries there - but was comfy, so I didn't flip her over. 

I ended up going to bed about 11:30 or so...I probably should've just stayed up since the usual woofing, snorting and barking ensued at midnight. But I was tired. 

Woke up today at the usual time, and for a Sunday, remarkably, decided to not go to Mass. Kid #1 and I will go to lunch, probably try to visit my mom (unless she's somewhere else...) and then come back here. I've cleaned off my "junk table" and put away many of the Christmas gifts, so it's one of those days to just check stuff off my list. I did some stuff for the yoga studio, prepared "New Years" cards (for those late-arrival Christmas greetings), and renewed a few magazine subscriptions. 

Work is done for a bit.

Random Picture...

From today's comics section in the local paper. Ready or not - we're in for an interesting 2017. 

I'm not sure what it'll bring. I'm hoping for peace and a sense of safety. I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure about much. But all I can do is go forward. My friend Joan (who gave me the three journals) gave me a mug (Hubby loved that - not)... It says, "Don't look back. You're not going in that direction."

May all of us face forward, square our shoulders and move on. We're maybe not sure where we're moving on TO, but moving forward is our greatest strength. We shouldn't forget...we should move in a positive direction. 







Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...BABY knitting! 

So this got done... I'm working on the booties now. This hat went like a dream. It's an adaptation of a simple rolled-brim hat. I felt like an I-cord. And this is about 3.5" of I-cord, simply knotted. The decreases went easily, and in the pattern, the crown is flat. I just wanted a little extra zing for this little one coming along. 

The booties are going remarkably swiftly. It's the "Easiest and Fastest Baby Booties Ever!" pattern, on Ravelry. 

Truly, that's the name. The pattern calls for stripes, but I'm doing all orange - I thought I would do something different, so I do have some brown super-wash wool, but this is so stinking easy! There's no need to complicate it. I've already finished one bootie. It actually only took about 4 hours of total knitting. FOUR. HOURS. Period. There are only 35 rows in the entire pattern. 

I may start adding these to my stash. Great idea to get some stashed leftovers taken care of. I'm making the 3 - 6 month size. I don't want to make anything larger because they're actually slippery for little feet to walk in, so I'll stick with the "pre-walking" stage. 

So they're on size 5 needles. Knitted flat. See the rubber bands? I'm using the DPNs I used for the hat, but I didn't want to chase stitches. So I stuck a couple of rubber bands on the ends. Point protectors would also work well, but of course, I don't know where mine are. 

Till I'm done; then every point protector I have will show up!

Christmas...

So here's the Official Potica Plate in action. As you can see, it worked quite nicely. Once our associate gets over the flu and stops barfing, I'll share this photo with her. 

Not sure she'd appreciate it now, being as she's been sick for two days. 

Kid #1 is now home. He just had his Christmas. It was "sock-a-palooza" for him. Yes, they were on sale. And yes, he got a lot of them. I also got him a blue Columbia pullover, and he put that right on... We'll be visiting my mother sometime over the weekend. 

Thankfully, I have Monday off, so we'll be doing something special. Not sure what. However, since he says he lives "in the boonies," he did mention he wanted tacos. This could be interesting. 

Midnight Mass was a trial. Well, it was lovely, but it didn't help that my "Silent Night" got even MORE silent. While tuning the guitar, I popped the low E string. Which takes some work. I knew it was going to happen...the strings should've been changed, but I got distracted, and ZING. Just a pain in the rear end. 

The Christmas Proclamation went well. And Tom's brother showed up. Tom, our organist, has been dead for 3 years. It was really tough on Mark. But he's at least back in church. It's a start. It's hard. But he's doing ok. 

This is The Door. Ever since I was a kid, we've hung our cards on the back of the front door. This was foreign to Hubby. And for a while, we just put our cards in a basket. But this year, I went back to The Door. I like it. It looks like Christmas. And since we didn't decorate like we used to do (which means my December Snowman is already stuck in the closet for another year, as is my "Santa's List" cross-stitch...) - well, we decorated the door. 

Instagram...

I was invited to join Instagram. I know - you don't have to be invited. But I did it. I'm still figuring it all out. But this was the first thing I posted. It's using one of their filters, but for the most part - call me a crazy person, but I prefer my pictures the way I take them. 

I think Hubby ought to be on it. He's a REAL photographer, and his pictures are stunning. But he's not much for social media, except for Facebook. 

So I'll just be on there on my own, and see what I can do. I'm trying to promote the yoga studio as much as I can, so perhaps this is a good way to do it. 

I've been talking about having him shoot some pictures of me in various yoga poses (believe me, I'm no "backbend in a bikini" yogini...), but first I'm working on losing the 20 lbs. I've gained. 

Whole 30...

Speaking of which... My brother suggested I try Whole 30. I've bought the book. I'm not jumping in on January 1, though. I haven't read all of it, and I want to see what I'm getting myself into. I've done a Metabolism B kind of program, which was basically a strict sugar detox. 

My problem with THAT program (though I lost 30 lbs.) was that fruit was a no-no. I'm all about balance (being a yogini, that is...) and I couldn't see me not ever eating fruit again. 

I'm sure it'll be blog-fodder when I start, so we'll see.

Random Picture...

The Changing of the Strings. This was Christmas day. Half-way through. I don't play a lot, so I can change my strings only a few times a year. I take the time to clean my guitar and polish it up. 

I use Elixir strings, and I find that they do last a good long time. I also have a metabolic problem with metal. 

I tend to corrode metal. I joke with Hubby that what that means is that I need GOOD jewelry. But what it means is that my skin is acidic. I will corrode most metal (I've taken the finish off more than a few needles in my day), and silver turns black on me in a matter of a few hours. 

The Elixir strings have a nano coating on them and they tend to last a bit longer for me. My guitar teacher changes his strings monthly. And he said, 'daily when I'm recording.' 

I'm not recording. So I take my time and get my wear out of the strings. 

I'll post later when the booties are done; in the meantime, have a happy, safe, and promising New Year. 








Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays...

...to you! (the song, folks...) Bing Crosby. The movie. 

And besides, I've said "Happy Holidays" for about 20 years now. Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, there are at least a dozen different holidays that are actually celebrated? So, there's no "War on Christmas" unless you listen to a certain television/radio station. 

And the kids working the cashier stations in town? Give 'em a break. They're TOLD how to greet you. It's a holiday gig. Show some true holiday spirit...

OK, as I gingerly climb off my soapbox, I do wish you all a great holiday season - celebrate SOMETHING. 2016 has been a rough year for so many, maybe celebrating the fact that we're all still here is enough. 

Knitting...

So, let's go here first... Knitting on Baby Stuff continues. The hat - a super simple rolled brim, is coming along fine. Right now, I'm at about 3 1/2" and I have to be at 5 1/2" before I start the decreases. I may bring it to Christmas, but I don't know how much time I'll have to work on it. Definitely tomorrow, though. I think I can get to the decreases by then. 

You can find the pattern here:  Simple Baby Hat - and it's from my favorite knitting shop in Oxford, MS - Knit1! Of course, it's all on Ravelry as well. 

Once again, old reliable Cascade 220 Superwash - my baby wool of choice. The colors are sophisticated and if you wanted, you could go "traditional" with them if you want. 

When I knit, I do "untraditional" - as untraditional as possible, if I can. Remember the last baby sweater I did, in a "zebra" print? The little monster is already out of it, because he grew like a weed! Which is exceptionally good, given that he was 11 weeks EARLY. 

And then there's the "foofies." That's what our choir calls them. You'll remember, maybe, about 4 years back, I got the zany idea to knit the ruffled scarves that were all the rage - but for the women in our choir. Today being Christmas Eve, and this being our big Midnight Mass, I brought the "foofies" (as they were christened by a soprano) home. The closet where we keep our robes has an area that's apparently lined with cedar. And the scarves stunk. 

Seriously, cedar is amazing for storing your heirloom knitted projects. Keeps the dreaded M***s away (the beasties about which we do not speak). But it does smell. And I didn't think I could go through a Mass with that smell up in my face. 

I took my Woolies, large wool balls, and dropped 12 drops of Young Living Essential Oil, Lavender, on each of 3 of them (I use 6 balls in my dryer). I took the scarves and tossed them in there, set it for half an hour on "delicate fluff" and let 'er rip. 

There are 10 scarves. This is what they look like... And yes, BORING to knit. But if you remember, at some point, anyone with a set of needles was knitting these things or the ribbon-yarn-stuff that made even more outlandish fluffy scarves. 


I'll never do this again. Seriously, the only knitting I will never repeat. I really didn't like doing the project, though I love the way the scarves look. Our robes are "Cubbie blue" and this white + gold scarf is really sharp. We use them at Christmas and Easter. 

They came out of the dryer in a tangle, of course, and in the process of de-tangling, I found this... a snag. I pulled out some white thread, and made kind of a hash of the repair, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't going to run like a stocking. And you really won't see it in all the fluff. 

So they're all back in the bag again, and ready for tonight. There are far fewer of us in the choir, but that's ok. We'll look spiffy and I'm glad we have them. I'm also happy that they took to the dryer so well. They smell lovely - a hint of lavender that makes them feel as if they're just off the needles rather than having sat in a bag in a closet for a year. 

Christmas Eve...

Kid #2 had a great idea. He said, at Thanksgiving, "Let's let the kids do Christmas dinner." OK. Great idea. Execution was a little rocky. The Kid is a huge control freak (ahem...no idea where he got THAT) and one of the cousins likes to fly by the seat of his pants. That didn't help. 

I was talking to my mother about 2 weeks ago, and hyperventilating about the whole thing. She said, "Don't you dare bail them out. If we eat Ritz crackers for dinner, they'll have learned about planning."

So yesterday she called me. Hyperventilating about the whole thing. Of course, I said to her, "Don't you dare bail them out. If we eat Ritz crackers for dinner, they'll have learned about planning."

Man, my mother doesn't like her words tossed back at her... 

They consulted with me, and we decided on a quasi-"southern" theme. They asked me to make my "world-famous" pulled pork. Then the brainstorming began. The "southern" thing is nebulous... But here's the menu:

Pulled Pork w/buns
Chicken 'N Spice chicken chunks (my mom's idea and a good one - they're a Joliet institution)
Baked Beans
Homemade pickles
Cole Slaw
Mac & Cheese
Salsa & chips (see???)
Cookies & Potica

Maybe potato salad will show up. Not sure yet. 

At our Christmas party at the office yesterday, I got a lovely gift from our young associate. It's now the "Official Potica Plate" because amazingly, it looks like it'll fit an entire loaf of potica on it. Isn't that adorable? It's Fitz & Floyd, and at first, I admit I thought, "I have a bazillion Christmas plates." But NONE of them are long. They're all round. This is perfect. 

Kid #1 won't make it out for Christmas. I'm sad about that. I mean, it really hit me hard. I'm a "raise 'em to go out on their own" kind of mother, and I honestly thought I was ok with everything. 

I'm not. He called me last weekend to tell me. I didn't cry. At least while I was on the phone with him. But I was depressed the whole weekend. Like, I wanted to sit in a corner and weep depressed. Didn't want to eat. Didn't want to do anything. Wanted to sit and cry. Even to the point of not wanting to knit, read or do anything else. 

That's a very strange feeling. It's taken me a few days to pull my head out of itself, but I think it's ok now. We'll see. 

Random Picture...

Will show you this then I've got to go practice and knit some on the hat. Also gotta get the pulled pork rolling soon. 


For over 30 years, I've collected the Hallmark "Frosty Friends" series. I've got enough of them to actually cover a couple of large wreaths. Since we don't put up a huge Christmas tree anymore, I can quite easily cover one small tree with these. This is just a smattering - and I must be overwhelmed, because I can still see "tree" greens. I usually cover the tree from top to bottom. There's too much green showing!

Do you have favorite ornament that goes on your tree every year? What is it? Share your favorite and its story...I'd love to read them! 

Happy Holidays to all of you! 









Friday, December 09, 2016

So I'm Sitting Here...

...with 2 dogs (Quinn on the couch, Raisa alongside/behind my knitting chair), the Christmas tree lit up, Star Trek (the original) on the TV and about 3 days' worth of papers to read. 

I normally wouldn't tell you this, but what the heck...Hubby is on a plane to MT. MIL's house sold in what I think is record time for a tiny town just south of Canada! So he's doing a few things, and packing up what's left of his stuff for temporary storage. He'll be back Sunday night. I hope. 

I say that because there's a winter storm watch set for our area from Saturday to Sunday. It's freezing cold and you can feel a storm in the air, if you know what I mean. 

So it's "just us girls" for the weekend. And I'm a bit miffed because it's not a "relaxing" weekend. And also, by this time, I'm usually in my jammies! Hubby takes the girls out for "Last Call" in about an hour and tonight, it's me. I'll survive! 

The Great Cookie Bake...

Snow on the Mountain
It is done... I'm finished for 2016. We do have some filled cookies and date balls that Hubby whipped together. I found a couple of old lists in my little notebook, and the list is much the same, with a few newbies thrown in each year. A favorite cookie was christened "Snow on the Mountain" by the kids. It's a fudgy cookie you can roll in either cinnamon + sugar or in powdered sugar. 

M & M Cookies
Since Kid #2 is doing a "hot" version (with a tiny pinch of chili pepper, since chili pepper and chocolate are a reasonably delicious pairing), he's doing his rolled in plain sugar - so we can differentiate them when we do the cookie platters for Christmas. 

I've already given out a platter to my guitar teacher. He's crazy about the Honey Cookies, or as Hubby refers to them, "the Jewish Cookie." He's correct: it's a Jewish cookie. It's definitely a keeper now... 

Granny's Crescents
The M & M cookies are my sister's. She calls 'em and she -- well, she demands them every year. In a nice, sisterly way, of course! So I bake them. We found a good recipe which makes a thicker, more chewy cookie. I had been using the old "Toll House" kind of recipe, and they always flattened out and got too crispy, no matter what I did. But this one is good. Only thing is, the recipe calls for making them in QUARTER-CUP scoops! Too big. Really. There is such a thing as "too big" for a cookie. 

I save the hardest for last. Well, not hard, but fiddliest. These are Granny's Crescents. You have to chill the dough at LEAST 6 hours, and I like to do mine overnight. So this takes some planning. You divide the dough into smaller balls - a little smaller than a tennis ball, but not as small as a golf ball. Each ball is about 8 cookies. 

I make a double batch, because THESE are my brother's. He gets a bag. A double batch, just in case you're wondering, is about 160 cookies. ONE. HUNDRED. SIXTY. 

So This is Christmas...

Rowan Oak
These are a smattering of the ornaments on my tiny (4') tree. We've had it on the dining room table forever, and that seems to be where it'll stay - at least till we're dogless. And at that point, we may be too old to WANT a larger tree, though it's in the basement. 

Frosty Friends
This one is the first one I bought on my first Faulkner Pilgrimage. It's the front of Rowan Oak (which at first, I thought was "Roanoke" like the town in Virginia). It's his ... well, I guess "plantation" is as good a word as any. It's his home, at any rate. Maybe he'd be peeved by my referring to it as a plantation, and prefer to call it a farm? Don't know. But I like "destination ornaments"  so I got this one for myself. I also have a few from friends: one from Colonial Williamsburg, and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in Indiana, and a few from my bus trip with my mom: Hilton Head and another one. I got Hubby a "France 2013" suitcase keepsake ornament. Where we were, they didn't have ornaments; we took pictures instead. 

Elkies and Snowman
Next up is the Frosty Friends. I've been collecting these for 30 years. We have several of the larger ones which sit next to the tree, and they're animated. Cute, but I think they're a bit noisy!

The heart-shaped one is a hand-painted one with our Elkhounds as the theme. This is done by Amy Bolin, and you should check out her stuff. She does beautiful work and a lot of her items are used as fundraisers for rescues. This one works for me not only because of the Elkhounds, but because there's a snowman on it. I have a collection of snowmen that my kids are going to regret when I'm dead... 

Presents?
And finally, Hubby helped me "wrap presents" for under the tree. No, not really! I buy toilet paper for the studio and this time of year, I like to wrap it in seasonal tissue paper. I buy a large economy-size package, and I don't like to have unwrapped rolls sitting around in the studio. There's also no storage, so I bring them in by the half-dozen. The students laugh, but it's a nice personal touch. 

I do have a few more spots on the tree - Hubby says I load it down, but I say "that's the point."

One year, for some reason, we didn't put any ornaments on the tree at all. That was odd. Oh, I also have to paint "The Kids' Ornaments." Every year, I do a set of them, and I'm pretty sure that I have pictures in a couple of these posts going back a few years. That's one of my tasks this weekend, if I can get to it. 

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is going to be such fun. The dogs will get me up at dawn, because that's when they're used to getting up. Then, at 8 a.m. I have to get a temporary crown. Then, my church friends and I serve lunch at Morningstar Mission. THEN - I go home and hunker down, waiting for the snow. 

Maybe I'll order Chinese for lunch. I rarely eat it, so I should treat myself. 

I have to remind myself to get the TP to the studio! This is a shot just before one of my classes. Not sure, with the weather, if (a) Hubby will get home on Sunday afternoon; and (b) I'll teach Sunday night! Snow forecasts are mixed, but there's also a strong indication that we're far enough south to get "freezing rain." 

Thanks, but I'd rather have snow!

Reading...

So this happened - I "accidentally" got a signed copy of a book! I was at Centuries and Sleuths, and this author was recommended to me. The book, by the way, is really good! I plucked this off the shelf - it's the author's "stand-alone" book, and the suggestion was that I read this, and if I like it, work on his series. 

Look what I found! A signature! C & S, a small bookstore, has an amazing niche in mysteries and Chicago-area writers. They have a constant stream of authors coming in to do book signings, and occasionally, they "blind sign" books. I happened to get one signed by the author and it was just sitting there on the shelf. 

I'm told by my friend Sue (who's related to the owners) that a signed book that's personalized isn't as valuable as one that's "blind signed." Well, unless it's someone like William Faulkner signing one to John F. Kennedy - but you know what I mean. For those of us who are mere mortals, it's not as precious in the long run. 

However, this is only a paperback, so I'm not sure that it's valuable in any case, unless I keep it in pristine condition - which I usually do. I will be happy to loan you a book. But it had better be returned in the same condition as it was when I gave it to you. Or else. Just sayin'...

Knitting...

Pumpkin sweater
And here it is! Finished! I've already started on the hat - a simple rolled brim beanie. I'm told it's a boy, so that's nice. The color would've worked either way, which is why I stick to these non-traditional rich tones. I like a sophisticated baby. 

Hat started
There's really no easy way to take a picture of a square with arms...so for now, this is the best I can do. When I finish the ensemble, I'll stage it better. 

The hat is a simple one - knit in the round for about 6" and then start the decreases. I'm going to add an I-cord, and then tie it in a small knot so that the hat looks like it has a "topper" on it. I think it's going to be cute. 

If I have time, booties are also on the list. I'm going to see if I have some brown worsted weight; I think I'd like to do the bootie cuffs in brown, to match the giraffe buttons. 

Random Picture...

Tippi for President
Which also may be a political statement. The wonderful folks at Lewis University gave me a stunning portrait of Tippi - which I'm going to have framed! And Tippi got a stocking full of toys. And the assistant librarian made me these buttons. As I said to them, "Tippi would be the only SANE candidate." 

She still loves her therapy work, and I'm hoping that we will continue for several more years. 

We had a great visit for Super Study, and now we have a little break. She's snoozing behind me. Which reminds me -- my 8 a.m. dental appointment will come pretty quickly, so I'd better hit the hay. See you soon!