Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Nearly Perfect Evening...

...except for the slightest niggling little migraine... Still here in the "news hole" except for reading the paper... Go Cubs! 

Knitting and Barbara Stanwyck movies. 

I'm not quite sure where I left off, so here's a recap of the projects... Yes, projectS...

The plain vanilla sock goes on. I'm about 2 rows from finishing the decreases and being able to start on the foot. There's about 4-5" of foot then, and after that, I decrease for the toe. 

Measure it up with sock #1, make sure everything works, then it's done and I can wear them. I love having "basic" socks. I love the idea of having a neutral pattern, so even though this may be a little "wild" for a "neutral" - think about it. 

It's a lot more tame than some of the florescent ones I've done! It's not quite as tame as the one pair in the pattern, "Roman Rib," but it's pretty quiet. 

Remember this yarn, from one of my yoga students? It's a sock yarn, but in the "too pretty for feet" category. I was searching high and low for a shawl pattern. This hank is only 400 yards - sock yarn is usually around 410 or 420. So I had to find a pattern that used either EXACTLY 400 yards or even a little less. 

I also wanted something "just a bit" challenging, but not crazy like a wedding ring shawl, particularly since sock yarn is a bit more sturdy. 

This one, "Close to You," is a lovely pattern, and has double yarnovers. I've never done a double yarnover. So I went to YouTube to learn what to do with them. 

Seems like it's pretty simple. And a double yarnover is self-explanatory: Instead of one loop of yarn, you loop it twice. 

The trick is in the return row. You have to knit the first YO and then PURL the second one, since, if you look at it, you actually can't knit both - you'd have a dropped stitch. 

This pattern is really nice. You have the "lace" rows and then a bunch of "ladder" section where you gradually increase, so that it's a bias shawl. And then there's a picot bind off. 

It's a 14-row repeat, and it's scalable - so you can increase it, which is nice. I have a few patterns I'd knit over and over, and this one could be one of them. A hank that's over 400 yards is possible, and the "ladder" sections are fairly mindless. 

The Stanwyck movie this time around is an oldie that I've never seen: "There's Always Tomorrow" with Fred MacMurray. 

After I got home from interviewing a new yoga teacher (yay!), I decided that I really, really, REALLY needed to start this shawl. 

So I put up the swift and ball-winder and started to ball up the hank. I really need to re-think the swift. First off, I need to get a better table to deal with the screw-on bit at the bottom. Hooking it to Aunt Mary's sewing machine is cumbersome, with my hands being what they are. So even if I do get the bottom hooked on, I still sometimes have problems with the part that expands or contracts the umbrella part. Some days, I can't get either of the parts tight enough. 

And then the ball-winder is kind of the same thing. I don't have a really good place to hook it onto, so today, I had to have kind of a death-grip on it, so that it didn't pop off the top of the bookshelf. 

I'm thinking of selling the umbrella part, and getting a swift that's a table-top, so that all I have to worry about are the pegs to distribute the yarn. It would be easier and no screws to worry about. I have to think about it. 

So here's the start of it. I'm done with the first 13 rows, and mid-way through row #14. I repeat that 14-row section 18 times, and then rows 3 - 12 once. At the end, I should have almost 150 stitches. 

The picot bind-off should finish it off nicely. You block the body part in the triangle shape. 

With any luck, by the time I get to that point, Kid #2 will have removed the remaining guitars out of my office, I'll have my "garage sale" stuff organized. I need to put it all in the basement so that it's out of the way. 

Then, perhaps, I can block the thing on the floor. And maybe, too, by that time, I'll have unearthed my blocking pins! That would indeed be a miracle...

Yoga Teacher...

So I interviewed a new teacher. MY teacher had her in class and they talked; it seems she's looking to sub, which is excellent, because the studio needs a reliable sub. 

And there's a class we could fill if we had a teacher, so I've asked her to write up a description and give it a title. We'll see how it goes. 

She fits our general "vibe" and brings her own energy, too. We wanted to have some diversity in our teaching. It's very competitive to have a studio in this area, believe it or not!

So I wanted to have teachers of all levels; from senior to basic to advanced. We usually try and experiment. You never know how a teacher will go over with the students - or how a teacher will fit in. Or if the teacher likes our population! It all goes in many directions. And sometimes, as a studio owner, it feels like one experiment after another. 

Random Picture...

I went to JoAnn Fabric to pick up a circular needle set - I'm pretty sure I have what I need, but I couldn't put my hands on them. Of course, I'll find them either after I've finished the shawl or mid-way through! 

They didn't have exactly what I needed, but close enough. And as I was waiting in the check-out line, I saw yet another sign of the coming apocalypse... Look at the chocolate bar on the left... bacon, chocolate and potato chips. Seriously. 

I can almost get behind the "S'Mores" one on the right. 

But the one called "Pigs N' Taters"??? I can't. I just can't. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Down the News-hole...

 ...much like Alice's "Rabbithole." I've been in a "news-hole." Hubby has had almost 24/7 coverage of both hurricanes and the forest fires out west. Not to mention the daily doings of the crazy mango in the White House... I'm "newsed-out" and I've crawled into a knitting/reading/old movies hole. 

It's kind of nice to unplug. I've read a few articles on some new yoga techniques, gotten further in a few other books I've been working on, looked at some knitting patterns... It's all been nice to just unplug for a while. 

On the knitting front, I've closed the gusset on the blue/grey sock. It's coming along. I think I'll be done with it in a few weeks. I'm liking the way it's striping, and it's a "fraternal" sock by about a quarter-inch. I really don't mind that they don't match. Apparently, it's a "thing" and besides, if I wanted to match, I'd have to pull yarn and see if I could find the starting point. 

I can barely figure out how much of a tail to leave for a longtail cast-on, so wasting yarn isn't in my future. 

Then, after this sock, on to the next project. I've printed off several shawls, and since I have some beautiful sock yarn (at least 2 skeins that I don't want to put on my feet), I plucked a few 400-yard shawl patterns off Ravelry. One of them may even be able to be used with the rest of that laceweight blue/cream stuff I have. The more I can use up the alpaca, the better I like it. 

I also found that I haven't made as much progress as I though I had on the Sole to Sole. So it's now "car knitting" - which may not work, since I drive myself a lot! But perhaps lunch knitting. I can use the mental break. 

Sign of the Coming Apocalypse...

So not only are people too lazy to put frosting into a decorating tube, but there's the abomination of peanut butter frosting. 

I can't. 

It's as bad as "blue red velvet cake."

Or Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. (Yes, that IS a thing.)

Yeah, call me a baking snob, and I get it - not everyone makes their own frosting. I'm ok with that, though frosting is extremely easy to make. Doesn't have to be fancy buttercream. Find a basic recipe and just keep at it. 

But seriously, even the frosting in the decorating tube. It's not like there's no You Tube or Pinterest tutorial. They're just whacking it on cupcakes. You don't need anything special for that - not even, to be truthful, a decorating tip. You can cut the corner off a zipper-bag and squeeze out a passable decoration. 

How Does My Garden...

Grow? Well, we're in the waning times now. The flowers are all going to seed, so I think that even putting in plants at the vicarage for church won't do for now. I'll save seeds and hopefully, we can plant in spring. 

My little friend at the garden center offered me 20% off on this beauty, but at this point, our front garden area under the picture window is so unformed - unplanned - unimagined, even - that it's best to just wait. 

I didn't realize that this was lighted. I saw it the other day when I taught my garden yoga class. I was even more tickled by it. I wanted the light on it, and I was planning on "uplighting" the front area anyway. So this would be icing on the cake. (ha)

So we'll likely wait. This is the perfect size and I'm hopeful that next year, they can get it for me. I can't decide what I want in the front, and Hubby is still "mulling it over." That could take a while...

There are enough cobwebs on our deck that we won't be needing Halloween decorations! I have a white pumpkin and some gourds, but I think they'll go in the studio instead of at the house. 

I'm hoping to get the ghosts hung out in the trees. I did find them. We badly, BADLY need a basement clean-out. 

New Fave Tea...

So I've had a crud. I don't know where I picked it up, but I'm still working with a lingering hack, almost a hairball. You know the cough I mean, but finally it's stopped keeping me awake. 

I have a recipe that someone posted, and I adjusted. It uses Young Living Essential Oils Thieves blend in the Vitality line. Those oils in the Vitality line are able to be ingested. 

Here's "Thieves Tea" my way...

1 tea bag (your choice - I used black tea, but herbal works well)
6 - 8 oz of water
2 T. full-fat cream (you need it; I'll explain it)
1 - 2 drops of Thieves Vitality
Honey to taste

Bring the water to a boil. While doing that, add the Thieves to the full-fat cream. You need full-fat so that the oil emulsifies in there and doesn't just "float on top." Thieves is a fantastic oil - and it has a spicy kick, so you want it blended in. 

Steep the teabag for 5 minutes or so. Add honey, then add the cream/oil mix. Stir it up. 

Enjoy. Kind of like a chai but better. I bet this would be good with the Celestial Seasonings Lemon Ginger herbal tea. May have to try that soon!

I tried this the other day. I think that I could've used 2 drops of Thieves, but as always, it's easier to start slow. You can always add more. Taking away? Not so much. 

Random Picture...

One of the ladies at church painted this for the Children's Classroom. It's beautiful. No matter what you believe in, this is a lovely work of art. 

Our church is in a unique position because we're poised to grow. And with growth, you sometimes get anxiety. Some folks like things "the way they are." Some folks are all "let's grow!! Now!" And some are "well, let's see how it goes." 

Stir that all up and sometimes you have "conflict stew." Not that conflict is bad. Conflict, actually, can be very productive. It starts people talking, especially when you have a community of people who essentially like each other and enjoy spending time together. 

I think that's the difference. Conflict today can be harsh. It can be hateful. And I'm not saying that it's all sunshine and unicorn farts in church. 

Church politics can be positively awful. Church politics often makes "regular" politics look like a meeting of saints and angels. 

But in our little church, we seem to, for the most part, get past some of the nasty and get to the fact that we basically want what's good for everyone. 

So. We need a reminder. A reminder to breathe. Pray. Meditate. And most of all, trust. 

Trust a higher power. 

And trust yourself and those with whom you surround yourself. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Russian Connection????

...So every once in a while I check the stats on the blog. Just want to know where my followers and readers are. I've had a consistent, though small, following for a while now, and while I'd love to hear from you, I get it. 

Life is busy. 

So I checked today. Dang. I'll be investigated for collusion with Russia. Twenty-one pageviews in Russia and 18 in the US... What's going on here? Bots? 

Hope y'all like my political rants, reading preferences and knitting. Oh, and cooking... 


Starting off at the top of the list. This was a gift from one of my students. Her sister is the dyer, and she brought it back from the Indiana State Fair. She said, "Tell your Hubby that this is MY fault!" It's beautiful and I think it will be a shawlette. The yarn is too pretty to put on my feet and hide in shoes. 

Just because I could, I joined a Facebook group for shawl knitting. Oy. Probably shouldn't have. Because I'm now in as deep there as I am with socks! 

So many projects. 

And I'm planning on doing as many as I can, while I can. Though I'm going to have to go on another yarn diet. (Go ahead. Laugh. I'm laughing, too.). I really have to get some things done, and I feel good about those things that are really progressing because at least I'm moving forward. 

Today, I should have brought my knitting along. I had some time, and I didn't have any knitting. But I'm at an area with the sock where I need to concentrate, and I figured I could work on it a bit tonight, which I'm going to end up not doing, actually. 

The magic has happened again. The heel turn. This is why I like a traditional heel. This little bit of glee when you can start to see the cup of the heel forming. The short rows, which freak me out otherwise, are my bona fide signal that the foot is near. And where there's a foot, there's a toe. And that means that I'm nearly done! 

I finished up the heel turn and closed the gusset last night. I was going to do more, but as you'll read below...stuff happened, and I went to bed a little early. 

The end-of-summer cold hit at its worst yesterday, and I actually woke up this morning without a voice. Nevertheless - 4 cups of tea later, I could at least speak. A hot shower, and I was off to work. 

I got adjusted by my chiropractor, and while it's not a "cure" it does help. Seems like it got my lymphatic system working. 

Basically - I thought I was going to have all evening to knit because I didn't think I was going to be able to teach tonight. But I was able to. 

Oh, and I spent about 45 minutes ripping out part of a sweater for my friend Roberta. She managed to drop a stitch. Cotton yarn, straight needles. Typically, this is a recipe for disaster, and it kind of was. But I ripped back 2 rows and was able to get her back on track. 

She was clenching her fists and breathing like she was having an asthma attack. And I get it. Watching someone rip your knitting is a little --- ok, a LOT --- painful. I thought I wasn't going to be able to fix it, but I got lucky. Whew!

And I also did stop by Betsy's Tea and Knitting. Picked up more Gunpowder Green tea (love that stuff!) and another package of stitch markers. I swear, they walk away. They up and walk out of my house. 

Them and tape measures. Somewhere in the universe there's a place where all the stitch markers and tape measures go. And they sit there, laughing at us. 


Hubby made this last night. That also helped the cold... Chicken soup with LOTS of garlic in it. And shallots. Lots of them. The chemical compounds in garlic and onion-related veggies are good for your immune system, too. 

It'll be good tomorrow. It's always better when it sits for a day or so. Tonight after class, instead of the soup (which would've been a good idea), I had a grilled cheese sandwich. 

And snapped yet another rubber band. At least this one I didn't swallow. I hate those things, and I'm hoping that at the next orthodontist appointment, I can stop wearing them. 

Something else I've been using to help my wellness is my Young Living Essential Oils. This is this past month's Essential Rewards order. The stuff in the front row - that was free. I use the Ningxia Red every morning. Even the dogs (the elkhounds, at least) get a little bit. Full of antioxidants. For this cold, I've been using a bit of Thieves Vitality oil in there. 

Wowza - that'll open your nose! The items in the front are mainly the entire kid's line of oils. I use them anyway. They're a nice addition to my stash. 

The supplements (in the back) are Sulfurzyme (use it like you would a joint supplement - because that's what it's for), Multigreens (a supplement with concentrated "superfood" green veggie goodness), Super Cal (calcium) and Super B (B vitamins). I buy this stuff at the store anyway, and these are also infused with the essential oils, so for the same price as what I buy in the store, I'm helping myself stay well. 

New Flowers...

I went to repot an orchid I've had for 3 years. Only to find that it died. So I bought another one, but it's supposedly a "mini." I don't know if it needs repotting or if I need to wait till it's done blooming. 

I want to repot it because I want to bring it to the studio, but in its current pot, it's top-heavy. Just what I need is a yoga student knocking the thing to the ground and not only killing the plant, but hurting themselves on the pot shards. 

I rinsed out the old pot and put new bark in it. Also -- this one came in moss. Is that something I need to wash off the roots? Can you mix the media? 

I can't find anything in my "Orchids for Dummies" and there's conflicting stuff on the internet (go figure)... 

I'll take advice from any orchid folks... Chime in! This one is not the same bloom as the original, but it's the same family. Quite pretty, and I'm pleased with how healthy it looks. I want to keep it that way. 

Kindness Rocks... 

I've been planting my rocks all over. Waiting for someone to find them. This one I left outside my church, on the concrete bench. "Be a Nice Human."

Easy enough to say. Hard to do, right? It seems that we have a lot of challenges. I try to be cool, calm and collected. I try not to say things that are nasty. I try to be good to everyone. Or at least nice. 

But. Then there are days. There are times when "the stupid" is so strong that I can barely stand it. It's amazing how dense some people can be. I mean, even in regard to the most basic of things, people don't think. They absorb whatever's shoveled at them, and I've come to see that, whether true or not (a) if it's in print, people tend to believe it, in spite of all the "fake news" crap floating around; and (b) if you say something often enough, with enough authority, you have believers. 

So if I say the world is flat often enough, and with authority, there are corners of the internet -- dare I say "corners of the planet"?? -- who'd believe me wholeheartedly, in spite of pictures or science -- or pictures AND science to the contrary. 

I swear that if one more person posts something stupid about the hurricanes being God's vengeance or the fires being retribution for something, I'm going to punch someone. I'm not convinced God is mad at us. 

Mother Nature, on the other hand, has a LOT to be peeved about. And she's not above showing it in a manner obvious enough for even us humans to get it through our remarkably thick skulls. 

Steampunk Lincoln...

Outside Betsy's, I saw this and stopped dead in my tracks. First off, Mr. Lincoln is missing a leg. Not sure if it's supposed to be missing or it just wasn't shipped with the rest of it. 

And second... Is this steampunk? I mean, he's half in armor, and he's got gears and a chimney coming off his chair. And there's that one leg thing. 

I've never seen anything like this. And I don't remember anything in the local paper about it. 

The plaza is a nice area to sit in, though it's kind of close to the Amtrak tracks. It would be cool to ride past this and stop for a break. It runs alongside the old I & M canal, and is part of a really nice trail system through the historic area of Lockport, Illinois. This part, in particular, is across the street from "Lincoln Landing" - which is a relatively new "installation." It used to be a batch of historic structures known as "Symerton." Which was once a small settlement here. But they moved them up the road a bit, and restored them. And where Symerton once was, they redid the landscaping and put enormous chunks of local limestone in. 

Which, because it's Illinois, cracked, and they had to do it over. 

Anyway, Lincoln Landing is on the other side of the big bridge, and still has part of the canal system there. We used to bike it a lot, and we haven't done much of that this year. Between the busy-ness of my schedule and Hubby's shoulder bothering him, it's hard to get time in for a ride. 

No Picture...

...but the promised story. Last night, I was on a conference call. Lucky for me, I didn't have to do anything but listen and take notes. I was already in my PJs at 7:30 p.m.!

I can't smell anything. I have a stuffed nose, a semi-productive cough which keeps me up at night, and I want to take my eyeballs out and freeze them till December. 

I smelled skunk. I mean, it caught in my throat and penetrated the stuffed sinuses. 

In walks Hubby in disgust and he puts Raisa in her crate. Raisa is licking her chops and has a funny look on her face. 

The stupid dog launched herself off the deck at a rather large, and then peeved, skunk. The dog got skunked and Hubby barely managed to get out of the way of a blast. 

He made up a batch of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and doused her. She got mad. Tough kibble, you moron!! 

This morning, we re-washed her with a blend of Thieves cleaner, water and Purification oil, which I had diffusing all night (the oil, not the cleaner). And he took her to the groomer for yet another bath. 

I think she's ok, though if you get really close, she still stinks. Even the elkhounds were disgusted. 

Though I'm not sure they'd ignore a skunk either... 

Tuesdays With Tippi...

We're in year 5 or 6 of doing this. I can't remember, but I think we're closing in on 6 years. Tippi loves it still, though now I have to lift her into the truck. Our goal was to walk more and get her to lose some weight, but again - busyness and then it got hot -- or at least hot if you're a 9-year old dog with a double coat. 

I'm going to start walking her more now, though. The weather is changing and she really needs to move. I lift her in and out of the truck, because I've noticed she's a little stiff in her hips. 

I'm giving her the Ningxia Red, some turmeric supplement and will start her on Sulfurzyme, too. It won't hurt her, and it could help her mobility a bit. Of course, getting at least 10 lbs. off her wouldn't hurt. That's going to take a while though. 

We'll keep you advised...

Random Picture...

Lately, the sky has been fascinating. Whether it's because of the huge hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Juan and Katia) or the change of weather or the wildfires, everyone's been commenting on the striking clouds and sky. 

This was a little chunk of it outside my office yesterday. Tonight's sunset was hot pink, turning to purple. Hazy - what with the smoke we're getting. Even though we're 3,000 miles away, the fires are immense. We expect to feel the ramifications of this weather and these fires for quite some time. 

Someone in class told me tonight that Irma could reach, theoretically, into Indiana and Ohio. 

Think about that. Hurricanes in the Midwest. Still think global warming is a hoax? 

Saturday, September 02, 2017

And Another One Down...

Chain the width + 2-ish "unplanned" project was completed today. Yay! Love the almost-instant gratification, though I've been thinking about this a lot for the past few weeks. For my outside yoga class, I thought I'd grab the tingsha (chimes). I was using a chime with a wooden base, and I didn't like to do that because sometimes the grass was still a little dewy - and besides - those chimes were a little too soft for outside. 

Remarkably, inside, the tingsha sound kind of harsh, and "clangy" - too sharp. Students actually said they felt "startled" when I used them inside - and I would mainly use them to "call to attention" when we had a workshop - that's the kind of tone they have. But outside? They ring. Beautifully. Go figure. So I stuck them in my bag. But I didn't want to just haul them around, and didn't want to keep wrapping them in a microfiber towel, because I knew one of these days, I'd yank the towel out to wipe off my glasses or something, and the chimes would go flying. 

So I'd been thinking about what I wanted to do to house the tingsha so that they would be padded and easy to carry. 

Today it hit me. I keep an "oddments" bag of yarn that's leftover - not enough for a big project, but perhaps a little something. Like a mala bag or - hey - a tingsha bag! I grabbed some variegated blue 100% wool and a crochet hook. Normally, I prefer to knit, but I'm a fairly wicked-fast crocheter, so I chose that because I wanted the project done quickly. 
Two part construction with center sleeve pad

Well, I exceeded my own speed... I started this after I came back from my 10 a.m. class. It being Labor Day weekend, it was an odds-on chance either a dozen people would show up, or nobody would. Nobody did. Oh well. It's a risk you take as a business owner. And I'm only 8 minutes away. Anyway, I finished this tonight at about 6:30 p.m. 

As you can see here, it's a long rectangle with a smaller square in the middle. I attached the middle square separately. Then, I fiddled with a flap, and a button. I seamed the whole thing up the sides, and sewed on the button. 
Seam 3 layers together

The tingsha fit in the sleeves, and the cord hangs out the one side. I sewed up the sides; I could've made this fancier by doing a crochet picot edge, but I didn't really want to get that jazzy. 

This yarn is something I've used for a hat - a regular beanie-kind of hat; and I have enough left so that I could technically do a mat sling or a felted bag. I got this on clearance, and I thought at first I'd be doing a felted clutch of some sort or perhaps a hat that I'd felt, kind of like a psychedelic fedora. I used what was left over from the hat for a cup cozy... It's 100% wool - wears like iron!

All in all, this took me about 4 hours to do. I took breaks for my hands and to eat dinner, and I also puddled around with a few other tasks. But in essence: 4 hours, start to finish. 

It's single crochet. You can do one for yourself easily: measure your tingsha, and chain that amount plus 1 or 2 more. Single crochet a square that looks like a "coaster" for the tingsha. That's the center sleeve. 

Then crochet a longer rectangle - the size will be whatever folds over to be about 2 rows longer than the tingsha. Try to make it an even number of rows - so I had 36 rows before I started the flap. 

At Row 18, I placed the "coaster" inside sleeve, and sewed it in there. 

I marked where the top of the envelope would be, then crocheted 10 more rows. 

There were 16 stitches in my chain, so at stitch #8, I chained 8, then proceeded to stitch #9 and completed my row. That gave me a loop for the button. 

Seam up the sides, stick the chimes in. Button it up. And when you toss it to your Hubby for him to look at, warn him, "It's heavy!" and then remind him when he fails to catch it and it whomps on his tummy! 

I suppose I could put the chimes in with the flat sides facing out - it would be less lumpy. But as an instrument, I feel like the striking sides should face the padded center, and not face out. I don't want them to dent or chip. 

I have a beautiful "singing bowl" in my studio, except, because it was dropped, it won't "sing." They don't sing when they're dented. I use it to end the class, so I can still get a lovely tone with the striker, but I can't get anything else out of it. So I want to protect the edges of these chimes. They're ready for next week's class! Now, all I need are students!

Busy Week...

I baked Thursday night for Friday morning. Scones. I made a simple scone recipe, and added breakfast sausage, Italian Seasoning, black pepper and Asiago cheese. 

I have to say it was a tad sweet. Even though the recipe suggested breakfast sausage and sharp cheddar - there was 1/4 c. of sugar in the dough. That was a bit much. I have to figure out how to change that (or find another recipe for the savory ones!) because the sweetness would be phenomenal with fruit or nuts - but with sausage and cheese, it was a little disconcerting. 

The folks at work liked them, so there you go. I liked the speed at which they went together - I mean, I can totally see making these before church for coffee hour. So it's an option when the weather gets cooler. 

These were made with biscuit cutters; I didn't do the traditional triangles, though I can do those. Maybe I can do a lemon one? That sounds like a good idea!

Speaking of Cooking...

Tonight for dinner, Hubby was making chicken breast. That gets in my braces and messes with the wires, no matter how much I chop it up. And after a point, it gets ridiculous - like I'm eating mush... 

So I thought I'd re-create a pasta salad that I did for my mom's 80th birthday. Instead of the feta cheese, I used a "brick" of frozen chopped spinach, and added kidney beans for a kick of protein. I did add some sharp Italian cheese, after it all cooled off because I didn't want a melty cheese thing going on with a chilled salad. 

I made an oil & vinegar dressing, added some salt and pepper, and a little Mrs. Dash. If you were to make this strictly vegan, you wouldn't use the cheese tortellini or the cheese. You'd use some sort of vegan pasta. 

This is technically vegetarian. The oil & vinegar I used was the stuff I bought last year from J. Olive in Oxford, MS with Kid #2. 

I used a can of Lindsay olives (green) - if you can find them, try them! They're very nice and "buttery" tasting. 

I thought it wasn't as good as I was imagining it would be, but perhaps it's because I didn't let it cool enough. Maybe tomorrow it'll taste better. Sometimes it needs to sit a while so everything melds together more completely.

The O & V flavors were gremolata and a white balsamic with apple notes. Maybe that's the issue. The "fruity" combo may be throwing me off.

For some reason, I'm unable to find my nutmegs. I'd have used that for the spinach. I always like to add a hint of nutmeg to spinach, and I have a grater. Just lost my nuts... 

First World Complaint...

So this afternoon, I ran out to the local Jewel. I brought two bags; one of them was a "thermal" bag that I use for stuff that's chilled. The other was a plain bag. I organized my stuff on the conveyor and told the checker, "I have bags, and I've set aside the cold stuff. Please put that stuff in the black one."

The bagger begins to bag. Putting the soup cans and curry packets in the black thermal bag. I stopped him, and said, "Please put the chilled stuff in that bag." He gave me a little side-eye and then repacked it. 

Look at the photo. See the purple thing, right and center-ish? That's the top of bananas. At the BOTTOM of the bag. Under 4 boxes of soup, 2 jugs of yogurt and 3 packets of curry. 

Seriously, I do know there are larger things happening in this world. More important than my potentially squashed bananas. And I probably should have been paying more attention. 

Or should I have been? I mean, it's a job. Notice what's going on and do it correctly. It's just as important to pay attention to bagging groceries as it is to do anything else well. 

Hubby can bag groceries like a puzzle he's putting together. I'm good, but not that good. But good enough to know that bananas don't go at the bottom of a bag, and cold stuff goes in the chill bag. 

Tasks Accomplished...

I thought I'd lost my knitting notebook with all the notes on the plain vanilla sock. I'm just about 1" from the heel flap, so I needed the notes! Hubby found it on the table, which is where I thought it was - quite frankly, I was just too tired last night to dig up the table. Thankfully, I can now continue my sock. 

I made a task list for the weekend, and I'm part of the way through it. I love crossing things off! It's a good feeling to check it off or scratch it off. I thought at first I was going to whiz through the whole list, but then I thought: Why? Take your time. 

I unexpectedly sold 2 tickets to a fundraiser which I thought would remain unsold! Yay! My friend G had indicated that she was "interested" in the event, which was on FB. I posted a note and asked her if she wanted tickets, and she said yes. Which is nice. I won't be attending the event because I'm teaching, but Hubby will go - to keep her hubby company! It's a nice event - a "tasting" of various restaurants from the community. I told Hubby to be sure to visit the potica lady and give me feedback. I'll have to remind him to keep his opinion to himself that evening; as you know, potica is a personal thing...Maybe I'd better tell him to skip that one.

I washed Tippi's bandanas and hung them up to dry. Have to iron them next, but that means cleaning off the ironing board...

I also emptied out and cleaned my oil spray bottles. These were bottles where either the spray mix didn't go over well, it was nearly empty or I just needed to re-do the mixture. I'm using the small ones for my "Oils and Dogs" class. They'll be door prizes: "Handsome Hound" spray and "Pretty Pooch" perfume! When you mix these up, you use the oils you wish to use, distilled water and you add a few drops of witch hazel (this is something I learned recently) - that keeps the nozzle from clogging up. 

I sent two get-well cards to yoga students. 

I emailed payroll to the studio teachers. 

I tried to re-pot an orchid, only to realize that it was dead... So I have a pot - just need a plant. I'll get one at Menard's or maybe risk another trip to the Jewel... I know there's a huge orchid place up north, but I don't want to drive up there. I'm not that big of an orchid person. The other one I have, from a friend, is repotted also and doing well at home, so I don't want to take it to the studio. I hope it re-blooms, and it just might! 

I have a few more things on my list. Kid #2 took some of his stuff out of the house to move to his new place, so I can start on the "office" (a/k/a Pit of Despair)... I'll probably do that on Monday, since it's supposed to storm. 

I also have Tuesday off, so I have a chance to kind of relax. It's a therapy day for Tippi, so it was rather important that I get her bandanas spiffed up for her. I'll have to see if she fits into her pumpkin one - she's a little stockier than she was when I made that one for her. 

Random Picture...

Today, while I waited at The Fields, I noticed the shape of the flower buds on the hostas. The place is awash with them, and I only now noticed the star-like shape of the budding flowers. 

The hostas are in various stages of bloom, and I was able to sit quietly for about 6 or 7 minutes and just observe. I was using a mudra (hand position) and was able to close my eyes and just listen. Feel the warmth of the sun, the slight breeze, hear the sounds that were just "there" - birds, cicadas, the odd truck passing down the road, the voices of customers buying plants... 

Lucky for me, it was a beautiful day, even though it was barely 70 degrees outside. I got to walk past the fountains and day-dream about what I wanted my garden to look like. I eyeballed the large pots they have on display and wondered what I'd do with something like that (mostly, per my student "D" -- you fill it with some sort of support and plunk a potted plant in it -- that way you can bring the pot inside during the winter so it won't crack). 

It seemed like a stroke of good luck to be able to sit and be still. I don't do that often enough, even though I preach it at every class. Perhaps the teacher needs to heed her own teachings. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Reading and Knitting Up a Storm...

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you're reading a couple of books concurrently and there's just a synchronicity about them? The books dovetail and you find more depth in the one book because you're reading the other. 

Well, that's going on with me. Remember, a blog post or so back, I was reading "The Cloister Walk" and then I said I was reading a book about congregations in conflict? Well - the more I get into each of them, the more parallels I find. It's like Kathleen Norris (Cloister) is helping me walk through the book on conflict. 

That's not something that happens often, and I'm really rather relishing it. Has that ever happened to you? If so, let me know - I want to know if I'm alone in this quirky thing.

Peace Rocks...

So today I planted another peace rock. This one was at Turtle Lake. I went from work today and drove out to the park. I needed a "piece of quiet" (to steal a phrase from Mary Engelbreit) and I sat on the bench, read a little of an old Time magazine and just kind of gazed. Meditated. Enjoyed the sounds of nature, and what the sky was doing. Then my phone beeped. Seems that funnel clouds were going to be developing. But, per the message, "nothing to worry about" --- because they didn't think they'd reach the ground. 

Illinois. August. Tornado season. Yeah. 

Thanks to global warming (or climate change - but I prefer global warming, thanks - it's more accurate), the weather this summer has been, shall we say, ODD. The month of August in Illinois is traditionally the hottest. 

Not this year. We haven't broken 80 degrees all month. That is not normal. As I was sitting on the bench, I remembered that I had the rock, so I grabbed it and stuck it near the bench. It's posted to Kindness Rocks Will County, so I hope someone finds it and then passes it along. 

Anyway, I then decided to take a small stroll around the area. The light was different, that's for sure. Not quite stormy, not quite bright. It was about 75 degrees but humid enough to feel like it was in the higher 80s - at least to me. 

Though my temperature sensor left the building a few years ago, so I have trouble with hot/cold. 

I took a bunch of shots, and I have to fiddle with them a bit. Turtle Lake is a nice place. We really should go back there to ride the trails. It's near a preserve area where part of it is shut off for certain segments of the year because the birds are breeding. Herons, cormorants, the odd pelican -- it's a beautiful spot. 

When we had decent winters, it was a great place for cross-country skis and snow shoes. 

Anyway, I came back home figuring that if funnel clouds were to appear, I should probably not be near water or an open area. I'm a little superstitious that way. 

Knitting Up a Storm...

After doing a couple of chores and waiting for the aforementioned non-existent funnel clouds, I set about putting a few more rows on the sock. 

I seriously thought about bringing out the scarf, or pulling out the sweater, but I want to get these off the needles and move on, so I figured this would be mindless enough so that I could watch TV, stroll around the internet and just kind of zone out. 

Knitting, for me, even with a complex-ish pattern, is meditation. And I figured if I was going to meditate, I may as well get socks out of it. I do a 7" leg, then I'll do the heel flap and finish it off. 

I should really try a new heel. On the next pair, maybe I'll attempt the Sweet Tomato heel. But when I'm doing a plain vanilla sock, I tend to keep it all fairly ... well, plain. I want to get to a point in my sock knitting where I truly can just whip up a pair without too much bother. I'm good with the cast-on, the ribbing, and the leg. Gotta work on the heel, the turn and then the toes. Everything else is pretty much gravy. 

Random Picture...

All I can say is "Thank goodness for yoga!" What, you say, does this picture have to do with yoga?

Well. Let me tell you. 

As I strolled along the bank of Turtle Lake, I was met by a plethora of grasshoppers. Quite a few dragonflies, too. Many of which were mating. 

Well, I'll leave you two alone, ya know... I didn't see a whole lot of different butterflies, which was kind of strange. The area is surrounded by milkweed, thistle, goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and any other number of wildflowers and native plants. I kind of thought I'd see at least one Monarch, or maybe a swallowtail. I saw lots of the white "cabbage" butterflies. And then I saw this little fellow. 

He didn't like me following him. But I managed to sneak up on him without casting a shadow (which was the part that freaked him out, I think). That's where the yoga comes in. 

I took a large step forward with my left foot, bending at the knee. I had my right leg behind me, about 4 feet back, with my foot turned out about 45 degrees. My weight was distributed along the legs, with my feet rooting into the ground, with my trunk over my hips. 

As I leaned forward to position the phone where I could take the picture, I laid my left ribs along my left thigh. I had my phone ahead of me and pointed downward toward the little butterfly. I took an inhale, held it, snapped the picture, and then exhaled. I rose up on the next inhale, hopped my feet together and proceeded to clamber back up onto the decking area where some guy was fishing. 

Photo in high lunge... Oh, and did I mention I was totally unprepared. I was wearing Dansko clogs at the time... 

Thank you, yoga training! 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Modeling and Modeling...

Like 99.9999% of women, I hate having my own picture taken. I can find flaws which leap off the picture. I am envious of those who are comfortable in front of the camera.

And while I'll preach the Gospel of Body Acceptance in every yoga class I teach, and while I'm perfectly happy about how my body does what it does on a yoga mat, I'm not jazzed at my shape. Even though I know I'm more lucky than most. For the most part, my body works. With minor complaints, it does what I need it to do. I'm relatively healthy - and for my age, I'm not on a lot of prescription meds (actually, 3 to be exact -- I have friends who are on twice that, so I thank Heaven daily). Still, I kvetch. Human, I guess. 

So Hubby took pictures of me modeling the Shape-It Scarf, and while I'm not happy with the body upon which the scarf rests, I'm rather pleased at the scarf itself. I did some judicious cropping, which helps me... and I think shows off the stitching in the scarf. Maybe it could've been blocked differently, but this is my first attempt. And yeah, like Nora Ephron, I'm not fond of my neck... 

I kind of thought this would have more of a "halo" but it doesn't. Maybe upon wear, because right now, it's fresh off the blocking boards. It doesn't pop against the blue yoga shirt...but I figured I wasn't going to change. 

I'd totally make this again, in a different yarn - maybe sock-weight. Maybe that sock weight which I have where I absolutely can't bear it as a pair of socks that'll be shoved into clogs because it's so pretty. 

It was, after the triangle, a mindless knit, and even with a slightly heavier yarn, I could see either enlarging or shortening the triangle, and widening or lessening the "wings." Also, I'd make the wings a bit longer, so I have more to drape. 


So Tippi and I do therapy work at the local university and we're stationed in the library. They graciously gave me a library card (to which I was entitled as an employee years ago, and as a multiple-degree alumna, but not so sure otherwise...) and I was able to take out this book.  If you love words, you need to read this. 

I'm a dunce at poetry. My clumsy attempts are met with kindly by Kid the Poet, who generously critiques my work and desperately wants me to understand the beauty of the metaphor and the poetic form. 

And I still resort to prose. I can sling a metaphor in a sentence like an old-time grill cook in a 50's diner slinging hash. But in poetry? I'm lost. I don't know how to read it, I don't know how to write it, and I'm uncomfortable with the structure. My few attempts at poetry in this blog are childish in their structure and clumsy in their phrasing. But if I want to call myself a writer, then maybe I need to do what I've told Kid the Poet:

"Put the crap on the page and then edit." 

Anyway, this is an excellent foil for a book our rector has us reading about conflict in congregations. Church politics (not Church Politics as an upper-level construct but "pew politics") are the worst politics. Congregations have conflict. Humans make up congregations, and humans involve themselves deeply in their religion, whether or not their butts are in the pews. Religion is a flash-point for a lot of things and people hold their religion deep in their hearts. 

So congregational conflict is kind of normal. Sometimes, though, when there's a Big Thing going on, the conflict can create anxiety and it's best to head it off at the pass. So we're reading a book about congregational leadership in times of conflict. It's very interesting and it dovetails nicely with the Norris book. 

I recommend the Norris book. You'll enjoy her prose and it's not "preachy." Unless you want to read into it that way. 


This is now the fountain I want. It's small, but not as stubby as the one my friend "A" bought. It's a nice bubbler, and I think it'll work well in the front yard. Now - convincing Hubby... 

As we work through some unexpected expenses (Quinn's surgery for 4 - yeah FOUR - nasty cysts and the fact that I'm going to need 4 new tires before winter), I know realistically that the fountain is a "want" -- very much a "want." So maybe not this year. But this is what I'm looking for: compact and able to host a wide variety of critters. The smaller birds can perch on that raised dragonfly (you can sort of see it at the upper left of the round surface on the fountain) and the bigger birds can perch on the rim. The water isn't deep at all, but it's enough for a drink and thankfully, the bubbler moves things around so that we don't have to worry about mosquitoes. It's maybe 3.5' tall. No lights that I can tell, but that's ok. 

I had several solar pumps for the various bird baths, but as the front maple grew to encompass just about the entire front yard, it's not totally shady - but enough that the "solar" part wasn't working well. I didn't want to stretch the cords across the lawn because that's a tripping and mowing hazard - but in order to get the light and energize the pumps, we'd had to have put them in the middle of the sidewalk. 

Not a good look. 

I'm going to re-pot an orchid when Tippi and I get back from our therapy gig. Then I'm going to assess how the front garden looks. We have work to do - but not sure how much we'll get to. 

Random Picture...

This was Wednesday - Tippi was out among the students at "Welcome Days" and we ended up back inside when she was totally disregarding her training and searching for "the wild hot dog" -- too much food and too many distractions. No, nobody fed her, but she was thinking about it! 

We're going back this afternoon for a few hours, so the kids can find us and we can remind them that "The Furry Flyer" is back in the house. 

One of the gals in this picture wondered if they could have Tippi come in to replace "Bed-Check Charlie" -- the university's mascot. She said "Charlie creeps me out, and I'd rather see Tippi!" What shall we call her? "Twilight Tippi" perhaps?