Sunday, January 21, 2018

They're Done...

Yep. The Dreaded Teal Socks are done. DONE. D.O.N.E.... It's taken me what? 5 years? I finished them the day after my 60th birthday (more on that later). 

It's a long time coming, and I'm so glad they are finally done. I think I broke the "Addicted to Sock Knitting" FB page - I posited a question: Should I spend my 60th birthday finishing these or starting something new?

Well... a couple hundred opinions later, a friend said, "Just finish them and get them off your back." So I did. 

As one comment said, "You must've loved them at one time - the stitches are beautiful and I love the yarn." I did love them. Honestly, my "dislike" happened at the heel of Sock #2 - I lost the pattern, couldn't figure out then which heel I was doing, and ended up totally mucking up the heel of that sock. And I was bored of the ribbing. 

If you look closely, you'll see two things: (1) I was literally 1" from the toe decreases -- far too close to finishing to rip the second sock out. And what would I do with a single teal sock??? and (2) there are two distinctly different heels. One is beautiful. One... Isn't. 

And the second sock is about 1" smaller in the circumference and about 1/2" shorter in length - even though I measured it. I think my tension was pretty crapped up, honestly. I was so frustrated at this pair of socks, it was destined that they wouldn't turn out to be a perfect pair. 

Though... if you think about it, my feet aren't a perfect pair either! And I bet yours aren't either -- most of us have one foot larger than the other by a little bit. And then, as we get older, our feet actually grow. I remember (back a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), when I was in high school. My shoes were size 7. Now I'm a size 9. 

The needles are the Kubics squares. SUPER-sharp, great for lace. But not great for a person who's a "pusher," like me. I push the needle with my left index finger. Yeah, I know - but each of us has our ways. Those needles are extremely sharp, and I've got a callus on that finger now, rivaling that of my guitar calluses. I had to let my finger rest for about a week before I could pick up the Petty Harbour socks again. 

And I have to say, Petty Harbour is starting to get on my nerves. I love the pattern, and I love the yarn. I love the way this is working up. But the purls are driving me nuts. The 4-row repeat is quick enough, but the "sort-of" ribbing look is a pain in the rear end. Then again, maybe I'm spoiled because my last two pairs have been plainer. The yarn had done all the work in those. This one, it's me and the pattern! There's really no discernable progress, so I didn't bother with a picture. In a few more inches, maybe. I'll be working on them tonight. 

ProFlowers Debacle...

So my 60th birthday was just recently. My oldest friend tried to send me flowers using ProFlowers. Well. The first time was a total mess. 

They were supposed to be delivered on my birthday. Which they weren't. They came a day later. And were left on the porch, because of course they were delivered in the 45 minutes that Hubby was out with the dogs. 

It was a "barely-two-ply" cardboard box, with no insulation, and the flowers were bare - no plastic or anything. 

So -- wilted lettuce. Icky. And I know she paid a good penny for them. So she called and they were supposed to be delivered on the next day. 

Which they weren't. I complained on their Facebook page, and they emailed me. By that time, my friend had arranged a refund. They were supposed to send me a "comp" bouquet. 

They finally arrived on the Thursday. Stargazer lilies. They usually arrive closed, so they can open and you can enjoy them. 

I think they are beautiful, except that the scent isn't what I need right now. 

It'll be interesting to see when (or if) the "comp" bouquet arrives. I think I'll be delivering that one to my friend for all her trouble. 

I don't think I'll be ordering from ProFlowers ever. I do order online when I have to, but I prefer to use a local florist; even if I have to ship flowers somewhere else. I think supporting local businesses is important. 

After all, you CAN get yoga videos on YouTube - but I'd rather you came to my studio. I care about my students, and I can't run a studio without students. Local businesses need you! 

60 Years...

So as I noted, it was my 60th birthday recently. A friend has told me this is "the best decade." I'm not sure. I'm feeling weird because I'm now older than my dad - he only lived to 59. I'm not sure how I feel about that, because even though we weren't close - it still stings a bit. 

I would have liked him to know his grandkids. 

I had somewhat of a melt-down on my birthday; miscommunication was rather the order of the day, and that, coupled with frozen flowers? It just sent me over the edge. It wasn't pretty. But it happened. Time to take a deep breath and go at this thing called "life" again. In a way, this IS a milestone. I'm looking at what my life was and what I am now. And what's next. And I'm so unsure. Maybe the insecurity comes first, and then the "best decade" comes later. 

Chicago Women's March...

...Or the march where we showed (once again) that we despise the Mango occupant of 1600 PA Ave. I went with 299,000 of my new best friends... We were 300,000 at Grant Park. This time, Chicago was prepared, and streets were shut off for us to use - so we actually did gather THEN march. Here we are, the three ReSISTERS as we call ourselves. My friend Sue had her artist hubby make her "sign" - and I'm telling you, we were photographed about every yard or so! Her aunt is the one in the middle. It was her first time. 

What I loved, aside from seeing everyone PEACEFULLY protest, from seeing the young as well as old, the diversity, the creative (and sometimes crude) signs, the joy and the common purpose we shared? Was seeing Sue's aunt's face. She glowed. She was overwhelmed by the energy and the vibe that was at the march. 

It's a transforming experience. And in Chicago - a place I normally avoid. Not because of crime or anything. Just that I don't like the hustle-and-bustle of the city. I'm not a city person. I'm a slower-paced person who's not always racing here and there. Anyway, on this day, everyone slowed down. Everyone took time. We talked. We chanted. We marched. And we made an impression. Following are some photos; I took nearly 200 of them, and though I deleted about 50 or so which didn't turn out, I had a ton to post on social media. These are just a few of them. Enjoy... 

I made a double-sided sign, and this one quote from Shirley Chisholm is one of my favorites. Elizabeth Warren kind of co-opted it, and her version was on the other side. 
One of my favorite signs. 



My backpack - snacks and a spare scarf, just in case

Truth there!
Love the fighting grannies!


A new day indeed

#Resist

...and he DID think it was all about him!

Wait till we all sync our hot flashes!











Sunday, January 14, 2018

#Sh*thole...

...I wasn't going to go there. I really wasn't. Because everyone else seems to have gone there, I was just going to let it lay. 

But I can't. 

I know that folks who read this blog are bright and intelligent (and must love yoga, cooking & knitting... else you're bored stiff! Oh, and dogs!). So I know that you know the meaning of the word "nadir." 

Let me skip around... I renamed my personal yoga page to include "wellness" in it, and I was digging through the thesaurus (the real one, the book) to find another word for "wellness" because, well...EVERYONE is using "wellness" and I didn't want to get on that train. I ended up using the word, but added another word to it, "essential." Kind of a play on "essential oils" which I use in my own wellness program. 

I didn't look for another word for "nadir" because that's such a cool word that actually fits where we're at, kids. Funny enough - now roll with me here - when you look it up, you find that "nadir" derives from the Arabic word meaning "opposite." 

So. The Hater-in-Chief, "Liddle Twittler," Mr. "All Thumbs," who endorsed a guy who held up signs saying that his wife ought to be raped, the reality star hack who's sitting in the most powerful seat on the planet... THAT guy - has caused us to hit the nadir. The very lowest point. "The lowest point in the fortunes of a person or an organization." The opposite of the word "zenith" - the highest point. 

By the way, the Urban Dictionary defines a "hack" as "a person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work." Well, there ya go. That just about sums it up, I think. 

With his statements about countries and people who live in them, he brought us, a once-respected country, even lower down the food chain than we were when he took office. For Heaven's sake, even Norway is laughing at us... 

Now, you have to understand this garbage. It's clearly racist. Because every single one of the countries he named or referred to? Hmmmmmm. They're all mostly brown countries. And he wants Norwegians. One of these things is not like the other. Hum it with me, if you remember the tune....

There were a lot of politicians who were, rightly, up in arms about the "holes" they came from, though mentioning Ireland is probably irrelevant. Yes, the Irish were treated horribly around here. My grandparents told me stories that would make your hair curl (or straighten, depending on what you've already got). And there were stories about them... Polacks, hunkies, krauts, any slur you want to make about people whose English isn't great. Even though my great-grandmother was fluent in 3 languages, and English was really her FOURTH language, that she learned, on the fly, as an adult in a "total immersion" that even Berlitz wouldn't match. (Google that reference if you don't get it...) So xenophobia isn't necessarily a new thing. Neither is jingoism. 

But now, it's living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And we cannot have that. Seriously, we can't. Historically, it hasn't ended well. 

There are stories out there that say that perhaps this is effectively the end of the Republican Party as we know it. That, because they have appeared to collectively have lost their spine, their courage, their souls or their what-have-you... nobody will stand up and say, "Enough." And Democrats? Well, frankly, we're better at stepping on ourselves and miserable failures in "street fighting" - I don't mean actual street fighting, but in the sense that we don't fight dirty very well. We like to think that if we can just talk about it, everyone will see reason. 


Well. They don't. Though I do find the New York Daily News cover amusing, it doesn't specifically help. 

The categorical denial by Mr. Twitter is amusing, since several people who were there can attest to what he said. 

And yeah - I know. Nobody's perfect, salty language happens, and there were of course Mr. Nixon and Mr. Johnson. Richard Nixon was a vile little man. And LBJ? Aside from showing his appendix scar and lifting a beagle up by its ears (enough in my book to have him horsewhipped...), he was a crude, crude man. But when he needed to be presidential, he was. We got stuff done - BIG stuff. And I'm talking about Civil Rights and the war on poverty and education reforms. Yeah, LBJ is pretty much "invisible" to Democrats now, but take a look.

We can no longer wait for Liddle Twittler to "become presidential." His expiration date has passed. 

Here's a thought: how about we LEARN from history. That would be different. And probably effective. 

Instead, we are once again watching Rome burn while Zero tweets. (Yes, I know it's "Nero," but I'm making a point.)

Retainers...

So I'm wearing the retainers about 20 hours a day. One can't wear them 24 hours, because one has to eventually eat and drink tea. I'm only allowed water while wearing them. I foresee another bout of weight loss, because they're kind of a pain to get in and out. They look like "invisible" retainers, and the other night I was seriously questioning my "purity" in not wanting permanent retainers glued behind my teeth. 

But then I thought about it. Never biting into an apple. Never crunching on a carrot. Celery would also be off the list. Not that I'm that pure... I'd also be in trouble with my caramel addiction. 

So. One month of "all day/all night" wear, then wear them only at night. And my dentist reaffirmed this, strongly. I know it's worth it. I've gotten compliments when people have actually noticed the braces are off. 

But I still talk like I have a mouthful of polenta! Oh, and the orthodontist cut down the top retainer because for some reason he thought it sat too high, and now there are "spurs" on part of it... Thankfully, I still have orthodontic wax. I'll have to have him trim it a little bit, kind of bevel down the sides. 

Knitting...

Well. All I have to report is - ZERO. Nada. Nothing. Nic. Nichego. Not a stinkin' stitch. It's been that kind of week. I set the Petty Harbour sock on my table. I swear I'm going to knit tonight. And then something else happens. 

I need to get it moving so that I can work on another shawl, or a singleton sock or something - the February Lady Sweater comes to mind, as a UFO. Also that scarf that I started in that bulky alpaca - since it's bloody cold outside (again) and I'd like to wear it this year. 

I need time. And of course, I know that all I have to do is settle myself and MAKE the time. It only happens if I get to the point of making it happen. 

Reading...

Just finished a remarkable little book. Well, it's not little in the sense that you can shove it in your purse; it's a full-sized book. Called "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir" - it's a debut novel from Jennifer Ryan. 

I really enjoyed the story and I loved how she wrote it. Taking a page (ha - see what I did there?) from "84 Charing Cross Road" (another FANTASTIC book, if you're interested), she wrote it in a combination of letters and diary/journal entries. It's really a charming story with multiple plots going, and spots where you just shake the book, and say, "WHAT??? What???" 

I really like that. I don't always want predictable. Yes, there are times when my brain is tired, when I want to practically write the end of the story because it's so obvious. 

But other times, I want the story to unfold. This was one of those books where I didn't want it to end. I could've used another 2 or 3 chapters, just to finish off some things. She resolved everything, but I wanted to know more about a couple of characters. 

Pick it up. You'll love it. 

Random Picture...

Saturday, I made two things: a tortellini salad full of veggies (which I should have brought home; at least a portion!) and Chrism (holy oil) for a baptism at church. The bishop blessed the oil, which I was happy to have him do, and we baptized a new young child into the church. 

And then we fed everyone. We feed people really well. We had sandwiches, meatballs, cheese, fruit, salad, more salad. Then desserts. LOTS of desserts. 

Anyway. I digress. The oil, if you're interested in ever making it, needs to be stored in an airtight dark bottle, though the bishop's secretary told me she's seen it in a pickle jar... Anyway, it's extra-virgin olive oil, and I added Frankincense, Myrrh, Spikenard and Galbanum. This was an older bottle; it's not manufactured anymore - at least Young Living Essential Oils has stopped making it because they can't get the plant anymore. 

See, this is why I love this company. If they can't get the real product, they don't go synthetic. They tell us that they can't get it. I was happy to get my  hands on it, courtesy of a friend who wasn't using hers, but I know I can't get any more unless I find someone with a stash!




Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Good News!

...I got my braces off!! A few days shy of a full year, I'm going tomorrow to get my retainers (the top one doubles as a bite guard, since I'm a "clencher" as opposed to a "grinder.") and I'm now free of wiring! 

I'm trying to discern the wisdom of my orthodontist giving me a large "sippy" cup which is filled with chewy candy. 

First off, I usually don't eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I don't like them; I prefer Justin's - the dark chocolate, thanks. The peanut butter is creamier and the dark chocolate? Well, I have no real vices (except a wicked yarn addiction). I don't drink. I don't smoke. I have never done drugs. I don't even swear. So. Dark chocolate... 

Second off, "Skittles"?? Really?? Yuck. Just yuck. Now, the KitKat I might eat. But I have never liked Skittles. M & Ms, yes. But not Skittles. Too gritty, too sweet/sour. When I eat candy, I'm craving sweets. If I want sweet and sour, I'll eat Chinese. 

Finally, it's a great marketing gimmick. The cup is a nice size and I'll certainly use it. And it's branded with his name and logo. I still don't fathom the candy, though... 

But anyway, it was very odd having them taken off. The technician, a lovely woman named Winnie, did the basic removal, and my teeth hurt for a few days. I'm getting used to chewing again. And I'm happy to be using my whitening toothpaste again. 

Essential Oils and Cats...

There's been a FB post making the rounds, where a woman claims that her cat was poisoned by "essential oils" that she bought off Amazon and diffused for "4 days straight." Well, there's a bit of Swiss cheese in her post and there's a LOT of misinformation. 

I use and distribute Young Living Essential Oils. I use them on me, in my home and on my dogs - well, on 2 of my dogs. See, the thing with animals is, they're either ok with them or not. And the husky is not. Of course, some don't care either way, but Raisa definitely is not a fan of oils applied to her. So she does get exposure because I wear them, and because I diffuse them, but I don't apply them directly. And anyway, the reason I use them on the elkhounds is mainly because they get a little freaked out at thunderstorms and fireworks. The husky? She's all, "What's the deal, people??" 

So - the issues in this woman's story:

---"I bought them off Amazon." You can get lots of stuff off Amazon. And sometimes, the Young Living products you find there are counterfeit. I'm not blaming Amazon or accusing. I'm telling the truth. Some folks can re-bottle the oils and re-cap them. You can tell a "real" YL oil by the label (which shows that it was manufactured in Utah, not Asia!), and the cap with the "teeth" on it. 

And she doesn't specify which brand she bought. Young Living has a "Seed-to-Seal" program encompassing sourcing, science and safety. We have specific protocols for making the purest therapeutic-grade oils on the planet. We are stewards of our planet. We make sure everything produced is safe and pure - no fillers, no adulterated materials. 

That being said, there's a lot of product out there that's not what it purports to be. You can buy oils in the supermarket and at specialty stores. Doesn't mean they're pure. When I was buying oils that weren't Young Living, I noticed, for example, that every "Lavender" smelled different - even though the label always said "Lavender." Hmmmmmmmm. That's an issue. 

With Young Living, I have a Lot Number. I can call the main office and say, "You know, Lot number XYW123 is not right..." and they'll replace it. They'll investigate what I send them back and make sure that it's not a quality issue. And if it IS a quality issue? They fix it. 

---"I diffused the oil for 4 days straight, day and night." Well - that's a problem in itself. Oils need to be diffused properly. Four solid 24-hour periods? That's a lot. And she doesn't mention the number of drops she used - how concentrated was the oil she was diffusing? 

If, as she claims, it was in a closed room and her 16-year-old cat was sleeping in there, that's a lot of oil for one little cat. Cats have a peculiar physiology - they can't metabolize certain chemicals. This cat WAS over-exposed. And regardless of which oil, it was too much for the cat. 

And there are oils which cats can't tolerate. She didn't know that the oil she was diffusing was harmful when diffused where the cat was exposed to what seems to be a pretty high concentration. Because she didn't do her research and she didn't ask anyone. 

I took a course with a vet in Chenoa, IL, and she posted a video about how she uses oils in her clinic. There's a link here which I encourage you to watch. Dr. Susan knows her stuff. 

---The cat was 16 years old. Now, I'm not saying anything about how this woman kept her cat, but a 16 year old cat is old. And when you bring something new into the home, like a diffuser, you need to know what to do with it when you have animals - regardless if they're kittens or elder-cats. Or kids or elder-humans! 

Seriously, my mom has emphysema. I would only diffuse certain oils around her. Others could be harmful. It's called common sense. I've already researched oils that are ok for her to be around, so if I know she's coming to the house, I have a choice: I can choose to diffuse the stuff that's ok for her, or I simply shut it off while she's at my house. 

Anyhow, watch the video. Ask questions. Contact me if you have any questions and I'll either answer or find someone who knows the answer if I don't. 

Get the best for your pets and yourself. You both deserve it. 

Christmas again...

So I got this lovely pot for Christmas. I needed an in-between size, and this is it. I took this picture, very proud of my new pot, and I was, at the time, making steel-cut oats. 

About 5 minutes later, the entire thing boiled over and nearly drowned the burner... My "new" pot wasn't so new anymore! 

I quickly turned off the burner, moved the pot to the trivet alongside the stove, and sopped up about a cup of water + oats... Dang it, I was looking forward to those oats!!

Hubby was kind enough, after giving me a little crap, to help me clean it up. 

This weekend, I'll try the steel-cut oats again - and this time, it'll be the "watched pot that never boils" so I don't ruin them again! 

This pot will be very useful for small batches of jam or preserves. Maybe even marmalade. I'd like to try a marmalade soon. I love orange marmalade. 

WTForecast app...

So I've been looking at the funniest posts of weather. As you may know, many of us are getting clobbered. Either dumping snow, freezing weather, ice storms...It's all happening this winter in various areas. And folks have been using this app, which can be decidedly "work unfriendly" by the way, because of its witty and snarky comments about the weather in your area. 

I put it on the studio phone, because of course it's not available as a Windows app...I swear, I love my Windows phone but I wish it wasn't treated like a cootie!! 

I haven't figure out how to "dial down" the snark setting, but this is at least mild enough to share at work with those who have the appropriate sense of humor. Some of what's been posted on FB has been downright foul! 

We're in the midst of a "fog storm," and the temperature, within 24 hours has gone from -10 or so up to about 50 degrees. Yeah, with flu peaking and temperatures fluctuating, it's definitely "pneumonia weather."

And then it's going to freeze again. Frankly, I'll take snow any time. I can walk in it and I can drive on it. Ice? Not so much. And everyone here forgets any basic driving skill they ever had. 

I mean, even this morning, in a rather pea-soup fog, people were driving without lights on. At 7 a.m., when it's still kind of dark out. 

I can't wait to see what it says about tomorrow...

THIS is a yarn-bomb...

Crochet gone amok... I saw this and posted it to our knitting page. All of our Knitsters were pretty agog at this work of, ummmm, "art" I guess??

I suppose, if you were inclined to use up your "spare bits" of yarn, and you lived in one of those climates now experiencing the dire cold, this seat arrangement would warm up your body's "spare bits" nicely. 

But I wonder how far down the toilet cover goes. And I wonder if, when the seat is lifted, the rim is also covered in crochet. And I wonder if, just in case your aim is off, guys, you can get the crochet off to wash it. And I wonder how you then get it back on. And I wonder why you'd have crocheted the covers for the flusher and the pipes. Unless, of course, you do live in that cold area and you want your pipes AND your tooshie kept warm while you're doing your business...

Lots of wondering along with the sheer curiosity of where this might be and who did the needlework... 

Birdhaven Greenhouse...

The other day, I was on the way to lunch with a friend, and I had some time to spare. I was hoping that the Birdhaven Greenhouse would still have their Christmas display up. They did, but someone was having pictures taken. 

I couldn't get to the part where I wanted to take pictures so I wandered through to the back where they keep the succulents. The cacti looked sad. Which you can imagine since it was all of about 24 degrees on Sunday!! And it was ice-raining, which made it even more fun. 

As I was going through, I stopped at the koi pond and waterfall. There were some beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers, but the only way I could've shot them would have been to include the water pumps...not the image I wanted. So I came around to the front of the waterfall and caught the koi. They thought that I might have food, so they all started heading my way. I was just taking pictures, fishies!! Sorry about that! 

Birdhaven has a beautiful wildflower garden alongside the greenhouse, which borders a walking path. In the summer, the place is absolutely overrun with birds: chickadees, finches, hummingbirds, cardinals, jays... And of course, the occasional hawk swooping in to filtch a finch off a feeder. It's the circle of life, folks!

Random Picture...

No, I didn't make this. But I'd sure like to! Obviously, the skein of yarn is fondant, but thankfully, the rest of it is just plain frosting. And I think I'd use a real crochet hook. And a real yarn label, for that matter. 

I haven't done many cakes lately, though I did do one for our pastor's retirement and cupcakes for my mom's 80th birthday. 

There's not much call for home-made cakes. Most wedding venues have just about tromped us out of the market. We have to have a health department licensed kitchen and even then - for my nephew's wedding, the caterer, who had a deal with the hall, said they'd "throw in" the cake if they booked a certain number of people. 

"Throw in" was about the quality of his wedding cake. He had wanted my mom and I to do it, but they wouldn't allow an "outsider" to bring in the cake. 

Anyway, I'll still bake for birthdays, when people want them! 











Saturday, January 06, 2018

More Things "Done"...

Starting 2018 out with a burst of activity, I finished Mom's hat, finished a pair of mitts for myself, and blocked the "Close to You" shawl. 

Whew!! 

I also changed themes on the blog, which I've been doing every year or so. I'm going to try this one out. The background picture reminds me of Mont Blanc, and it's one of my favorite places. 

So we'll see how it goes. In order to make it readable, I have to do the font in the background in rather a lighter shade, and we shall see if my eyeballs like this. If not? Hey - it's a blog. It's not "Tale of Two Cities" in paper. 

So the mitts were crocheted, in "urchin" stitch. I've worn them almost every day since the weather is bone-chilling cold. They're crocheted flat, and I stitched them up with deliberately different thumb holes, since my left thumb is fused and needs a little more room. My mom got me a pair of gloves, and I'm not sure how they'll fit "Lefty" since she doesn't move! 

Anyway. The other day, I was in the sweater I am modeling here, with the shawl, and the mitts. I did feel "swathed" in knits, which was nice and cozy. 

I got a lot of compliments on the shawl, and once I figured out how it wore best on me, I did enjoy wearing it. Again - just enough. I would have done a couple more rounds and I should have. But I can make this again. I have stash that will fit the bill for this shawl with no problem. And now that I've done it, I kind of know my way around the pattern. I know how far I can push it. 

And "Petty Harbour" - the sock - is coming along. You can see the pattern and I think the yarn was the best choice - the single color lets the pattern pop. 

I'm looking forward to finishing those, even though there's a ball of Opal sitting here staring at me. First-of-the-year "startitis" is strong. I have to resist.

Yes, I could whip out a pair of vanilla socks. Yes, I'd wear them. Yes, I "need" them (inasmuch as anyone needs hand-knit socks). But I can wait. I must at least get this sock to the heel. And I really, really, REALLY must finish the "singles." I said that was going to be my resolution. 

I'll tell you what... these will be my "traveling" socks. I'll keep them in my bag, and do lunch-time knitting. That way, I also hit another resolution: trying to limit screen time. See? A solution always presents itself, right? 

Oh, my mom wore the hat to the grocery store and got several compliments on it. A few women asked where she bought it (!) and she told them, "My daughter made it for me." They asked, "Does she make them to sell?" and she replied, VERY firmly, "NO." She thinks I do too much. And anyway, I wouldn't want to knit only those hats for the next few weeks. I don't want knitting to become a chore. And also - it's a short term stream of income, provided I could actually make any money. Between the yarn and the time? I doubt I'd make anything near a profit. 

My Car...

...Is clean for the next 24 hours, at least. It hit 11* outside, and it was time to "take a layer off" before the next wave hits. I went to The Promenade" to return a pair of boots I'd purchased. My calves are about 15 1/2" around (biker calves). I saw "15 inches" on these, and didn't realize that there was an "XXL" next to it. The boots are 15" tall. Not the calf width. I could fit TWO legs in the XXL leg...Even stuffing my most bell-bottomed jeans in these wouldn't fix it.  Technically, The Walking Company didn't have to take them back, because I bought them online on clearance with a very clear "no returns" policy --- lucky me, the style is in high demand, so they were happy to have my return. I should have gotten a brown boot, but ended up with a lovely pair of Dansko boots - not "quite" what I wanted, but enough to last me and I can deal with them. Stuffing my jeans into my boots isn't a style that I'm into anyway. 

So - I passed a car wash on the way in, and I thought, "I need to do this..." By the time I got out of the store (which took me, by the way, all of 20 minutes). the line for the car wash was around the block... So I went into Joliet to get the car washed. Still waited 20 minutes, but it's done and voila! The car is green again! And I have boots... 

I got a great gift from my friend and fellow oiler: a car diffuser. Not a plug-in one, but one that goes on the vent! 

There are about 6 or 7 pads, different colors, and you can add the oil to the pad. It stays for about a week; the pads are felt, and so far this has lasted longer than anything else I've tried. I have the black pad in there, and "Envision" oil on it. I can get a nice whiff of it when I get into the car: the rose overlaid with the other favorites of mine: geranium and sage, with orange, lavender and black spruce? 

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Instant bliss. I diffuse this blend, and I wear it as a perfume. It makes my car smell nice. My commute can really suck. But this helps. And I love the "tree of life" design. It's subtle and it sticks right there in front. 

Yes - it's 8* in that picture... It's winter, it's Illinois. It happens. And it will continue to happen for another several weeks. As long as you dress sensibly, warm up your car and have a scraper (and know how to use it, please!!), you'll be fine. 

Speaking of "knowing how to use it," WHEN IT'S SNOWING OUTSIDE, SCRAPE YOUR CAR! And not a port-hole - a whole windshield's worth of scraping. It's good exercise and warms you up. 

Speaking of Oils...

I usually have an oil that I use first thing, right after a shower. As I'm kinda damp, I can put 3 drops of the "oil of the day" on, and it goes a long, long way before you dry off. Today's blend was Melrose and Copaiba. Melrose is an excellent support for your skin. And Copaiba is an amazing oil... it acts like an "enhancer" or "amplifier" for other oils. And besides, it has a nice smell! 

I love to work on combinations of oils, and while Young Living has amazing blends, sometimes I like to play around with the singles myself. It's fun to experiment. 

That being said, one of my favorite blends is "Stress Away" - notes of vanilla and lime, with a remarkable ability to calm you down. I mean, it's a cross between spicy and "a cookie." I love it. I wear it a lot and I diffuse it with Lavender to start my "winding down" routine. 

I also like Peace & Calming. And I ended up with several bottles that were "mostly" empty. Young Living has really efficient "limiters" on the bottles, allowing you to dispense 1 drop at a time, and toward the end of the bottle, you have the opportunity to repurpose the bottles. I remove the limiters and drain the last few drops - usually into either the diffuser or my latest project: bath salts - or in my case, a foot soak. 

The bottles are upside down in the epsom salts, and they'll stay there for a day or so, to completely drain. Then I'll shake the heck out of the bottle, to mix it up, and if I need to add a few drops, I might do that. Put the lid on the bottle and then I can put the empties in a bowl of boiling water to remove the labels. 

The small bottles make excellent sample bottles, or you can add a roller-top fitment. That makes it easy for me to take blends in my bag or when I travel, since they're tiny bottles (5 ml or about .17 oz). You can also put a small spray top on it for "Oopsie-Poopsie" bathroom spray. You know - just in case you need to NOT leave a bad impression in a bathroom!

Slippers...

So along with the boots that weren't quite right, I got myself a pair of slippers. I had hinted (strongly) that I wanted a pair for Christmas, and I don't want to sound ungrateful. Actually, I'm glad I was able to get these on sale, too! They're "mules" - still flat, but leather, and sheepskin with a memory foam insole. Nice arch support, too! 

And the're TARDIS blue! What are the odds? As a dedicated "slipper gal," I'm not quite used to the open back, but they do keep my toes toasty, so I'm fine with it. It just fees odd for now, as I walk through the house. 

I was thinking of all those folks who wear that brand where they theoretically go barefoot because "they're so warm you don't need socks." I've heard a lot of good stuff about that brand (which my slippers are NOT), but I've also heard that those things can get a little rank... Sweaty feet and all that. On top of that, think of it: if it's a mid-calf boot kind of thing, how does the air actually get to the foot part to freshen it? I'm not sure how that works, but I think they're overpriced anyway. And with my high arches? I probably couldn't get into them anyway. 

Random Picture...

My Tippi. She turned 10 yesterday. I missed the sardines, because I was on the phone. I'm not pleased - I wanted to give her her birthday fish! Lucky me, I did get the fish burps and fish farts later, though... 

I've had a lot of dogs. I've had 2 that I consider "heart dogs." Dogs that crawl into your heart and stay there, long after they're gone. Dogs that leave a lasting impression on you, and who embody what "dog" means to you forevermore. 

And usually, you're lucky to have one. I've had 3... Tippi has crawled into the space in my heart - never replacing Topaz or River, but joining them. She's a wonderful dog. She's a well-loved therapy dog, and she's a well-loved family member. She turned out to be our "surprise super star" because she could've been totally psycho, given her rough start. Luckily, her heart is as big as the universe and she's a friend to everyone. 











Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mom Wants a Hat...

...So Christmas has come and gone in a whirl and we're on the verge of the New Year. We really have to do something about the chaos that is Christmas Eve around here. Seriously, it's getting to me in all the wrong ways. 

Too many places to be in too short a time span. This year, we didn't have to do as much of the cooking, which was actually kind of odd. I'm used to it, and I honestly would've preferred to have done it. But it's done and over and all enjoyed it, I think. 

I know my nephew enjoyed his vegan casserole. I ended up with a melange of spaghetti squash, small zucchini squash (I mean little ones, not the fancy "baby" ones - I sliced them and sauteed them), baby portobello mushrooms, shallots, small tomatoes, and roasted garbanzo beans. I also wilted some kale and used that as the base. Drizzled with infused balsamic vinegar and olive oil, it went over well, but I should have put it all in a chafing dish. 

And when I make it again, I'm adding cheese... Not that it wasn't perfectly fine without it. And the V & O drizzle was, if I may say, an inspiration. But I could do cheese and it might be a little more hearty. 

Roasted garbanzo beans, by the way? Yowza, delicious! So easy: take a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drain them and rinse them. Toss them with olive oil and lay them on a parchment-lined jellyroll pan (they roll...you need a pan with a small lip). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and your favorite herb blend. I used Penzey's Spices Mural of Flavor salt-free blend, since I'd already salted the beans. Oven at 400* and bake for about 10-15 minutes. They'll shrink up a bit, and brown slightly. 

So, two things you can do with them: eat them right then and there, or use them in a casserole. Well, three things: you can chill them, and use them as "croutons" for your salad, when it's salad weather. 

I've been in a cooking mood, and with the holidays, I've had time to indulge. Cornbread was on the menu the other night; usually it's in a cast-iron pan, and I should've stuck with that! Anyway, this is my "salmon loaf" pan. 

I also baked some banana/flax/oatmeal muffins. And I started some turkey broth for soup. 

We had a couple of turkey carcasses in the freezer, and Hubby had initially pulled out two bags - with 2 carcasses each...That would've made a lot of broth, which we can freeze, but he decided to just do one bag, which was fine with me. Leeks, garlic, carrots and celery. A little salt & pepper. 

I also added 4 cubes of Knorr vegetarian broth. That adds a little more depth of flavor. Simmering for a couple of hours, the house smells "homey." I mean, I love my essential oils, but there's something about just really nice home cooking to bring that smell and that feeling to a house. I have egg noodles that we'll use in the soup -- and I told Hubby (boy, I'm ambitious today!) that if we didn't have noodles, "I can just make them."

Which I can. Egg noodles are easy. I haven't done them in a long while. I even have a pasta maker, which hasn't seen the light of day in many a year. Honestly, to do the noodles, I'd have done them like my granny did: rolling them out and cutting with a knife. 

The muffins are my new plan: I need to eat breakfast. Lately, the days get away from me, and I find myself starving. And then, of course, I eat ALL the wrong things. 

This isn't a "punish myself" thing. It's an honest reflection on what my days have been like lately, and I know I need to do better. A muffin, particularly a home-made one, is better than just drinking tea. I used a muffin recipe and - of course - added stuff. So there's about 1/4 c. molasses in this one, diced candied ginger, clove, fresh ground nutmeg, and a handful of flax seed. That should make them fairly "beefy." I don't like sweets in the morning. I probably should've added some chopped dates, but there's enough in there. I added 1/4 c. of unsweetened applesauce to the mix instead of oil, so that took the fat down a notch. I froze half of them, and have the other half in the fridge so I can "grab and go."

Knitting...

So my mom wants a hat. She expressed in no uncertain terms that she'd even take one from the dog-hair yarn. She can't seem to keep a hat on her head, so she wanted a "hat-band" kind of device. And of course, I couldn't find a pattern. So I made one up. 

I used Cascade 220 superwash wool, and I held it double. I was originally going to do the whole thing in one piece, with increases on the one end and decreases on the other. Instead, I decided to split it in half. So it's garter stitch (straight knitting) and apparently, to do a grafting on garter is something odd...

Who knew? But anyway, I managed to graft it together, and then used some leftover Cascade 220 superwash (from a baby sweater) and did 2 rows around the whole thing. Then, I crocheted two chains (3 strands - 1 of the multi-colored, and 2 of the brown), and attached them, using buttons as an accent, and I tried it on myself. 

I wasn't sure of the dimensions, and I frankly guessed! But it should be ok, and I told my mom that if it was too big, she could just pin it under her chin - OR - tie it OVER her hat. 

She wants to have something to cover her ears, so I hope this works. She's coming to pick it up today. We shall see. 

If it works for her, I may make myself one. 

This is going to be a knit-heavy post! Finally, I got around to blocking my student's shawl. Honestly? If you're going to give someone a knitted object, unless it's socks (which I don't think really need to be blocked), block it!! 

This shawlette wasn't blocked and it was far too small. So I blocked it for her. I don't like blocking someone else's knitting. I think I did it right, but it wasn't the dimensions according to the picture she showed me. But it's better than it was. 

I hope she likes it. On tap this weekend, I'm going to block my "Close to You" shawl. Can't wait to see that finished and can't wait to wear it. 

Yarn held double
But...in the meantime, I started some crocheted mitts. It's cold and my fingers don't want to work. I'm using the same yarn as my mom's hat-band, but held singly. And the stitch is called "Urchin Stitch." It's the only stitch I can read in the crochet reference book I have! Aside from that, it's really a sweet scalloped stitch. So the part of the mitts that will show will be ruffled and hopefully pretty. I'm doing them flat, then I'll seam them up. I may add buttons for a little pizzazz, but I'm not sure yet. 
Yarn held single

I started them with yarn held double, but I had two problems: (a) only 2 partial balls left; and (b) they were too big. So I frogged them, and re-started, holding the yarn single. I think they'll be more comfortable, and I'm likely to be using the yarn more efficiently. I do have enough of the baby yarn to use in a pinch, but I'd rather keep these a solid color if I can. The flat construction is good for me - first off, I've never been able to crochet any other way than flat. And second, I can adjust the thumbs better. Since my left thumb is fused, and a bit shorter than my right, it "sits" differently on my hand. 

By creating the mitts in this manner, I can make the left thumb fit the physical limitations I have. I actually crochet faster than I knit, so we'll see how much progress I made. But that being said, holding the crochet can tend to cramp up my left hand, so I have to take breaks.

For Christmas Kid #2 gave me this book - which I initially read about in Jean Miles' blog. I didn't really give it a second thought, but then it turned up as a gift from him! 

It's gorgeous, but it's all charts! I don't know how to read charts, but I guess I'd better learn. 

If nothing else, it's eye-candy. The cover knitting is amazing because it's very reminiscent of the churches we saw in France and Switzerland. I love architectural knitting - at least in the sense of the fabric having an architectural aspect. 

I do not like "architectural" knitting where a pattern isn't symmetrical. I know it's supposed to be a "design element," but I get the distinct feeling that if I showed up for work in a sweater that I'd knitted with a "staggered" hem, I'd get a bit of side-eye and there would be questions as to whether I actually knew what I was doing!

I get it - I see the patterns in Vogue and in some of the "runway" pictures in the paper. I just don't like it. I'm cool with a ruffle, or certain details - which, ultimately, can hide some knitting flubs. But when I see a sweater where the right front, left front, and back are three different lengths? Nope. Can't do it. 

Mother Nature's Circle of Life...

Hubby filled the bird feeders and put extra suet feeders out, since we have trouble with the woodpeckers - they seem to want to poke holes in our house! Today, I also tossed out some bread for the birds - right or wrong, I had some stale bread that was going to be pitched anyway. The birds might as well enjoy it. 

I was on the phone with my mother, and all of a sudden - WOOSH -- a hawk flew by. Scattered the birds. He landed on the evergreen next door. 

I've seen them snatch a sparrow off a feeder, and this time, he was just scouting. I haven't seen him since, and the birds are back, chowing down. 

Random Picture...

One of my Christmas gifts was Opus! I've wanted one for a while, and this is apparently the newest version. He's pretty huge, actually. 

When I opened it, Raisa was sitting next to me, and the look on her face was amazing: "Wow, is this MY toy???" 

No. It's not. I pet him every once in a while. He's sitting and holding court on the dining room table, next to the tree. 

We've taken down the lights on the gutters; figured we'd get them down before the true deep-freeze hits for the next several days. I hate the look of the post-Christmas season. I get so used to the beautiful lights - and now everything is naked. 

We still have the deck decorated and then left the garland on the porch rail. At this point, everything's frozen anyway. We've had a few days of really, really cold weather (double-digits below zero), and the garland would snap. More importantly, the lights on the deck are wound kind of tightly, and when Hubby was taking the gutter lights down, he commented on how frozen the cords were. 

So I'll have my pretty lights up for a few days longer, and I'll enjoy them. Now, it's back to see about skimming the broth, and working on those mitts.