Thursday, November 16, 2017

"But It's Thanksgiving Weekend..."

So I found out that a friend of mine died yesterday. She had been diagnosed with early Alzheimer's and we sang together. While she'd been on my mind a lot, I wasn't in direct contact with her since she went into an assisted living facility. 

I was helping the family get the memorial service taken care of. The date they chose was over Thanksgiving weekend...and I get it. If family is going to be here, that's really a good time. And it's not as if it's Christmas or Easter. I can see that those weeks would be a problem - those are The Big Two in the church. This is Thanksgiving. Not even a "holy day." 

I called around to try to find a priest, since we currently are still searching. I called the Diocese; they were noncommittal and suggested that I contact the "sub list"... I spent 2+ hours calling and leaving messages. Finally, I got hold of a priest who usually subs for us. He couldn't do it, but gave me a few pointers on phone calls to make, which I did. 

At one church (which will be nameless), I spoke to the office staffer who said, "Well that's Thanksgiving weekend; it's awfully inconvenient." After I picked up my jaw from the desk, the staffer went on to say, "Just because that's what the family wants, that doesn't mean it has to happen that way." 

Seriously. A friend of mine was sitting there and she heard it. I was stunned...gobsmacked... Set back on my heels by this response. 

I finally got the situation resolved, but I can't believe that response. True: churches are run by PEOPLE. I don't expect unicorn farts and rose petals. 

What I actually DO expect is compassion and a willingness to at least make an effort. 

Shower Bombs...

Well. The one batch bombed. No pun intended. They were too dry. They just didn't work. This is the result after I stuck them in the jar. The ones in the white cups are incredibly fragile. I think it's the lime juice. Lime juice has significantly less acid in it than lemon juice - and the mixture was not constituted correctly. 

Oh well. Live and learn. I'll use them for foot soaks or something. The essential oils are still good. Just no fizz. 

Fizz may be over-rated. 

My Make & Take has ONE person attending. Oh well. (I seem to be saying that a lot...) It's one person, she's a friend of mine, and I'm looking forward to spending the time. I'll use one of the kits to make my own "toys" and since it's just her, I'll bring ALL my oils and she can pick her own fragrance. 

She may even decide to get a wholesale membership, so I'm cool with that. I was discouraged by the low turn-out on these oil education events, but at each one, I've gotten a sign-up, so I can't complain. As one person said, "If you only had one and they signed up, then you had 100% success." I'm not necessarily in it for signing people up. 

I do believe in the products. I do believe in detoxing your house and your own body. I find myself feeling a lot cleaner - I'm finding that my skin looks better and my hair is nicer. I've cut out a lot of the chemical crap. 

Now, once I get my braces off, I can start eating more healthy as well. It's easy to eat crap when crap is all you can chew!

Studio update...

So one of my teachers came back from Puerto Rico; she went there to live, got blown back by Irma and Maria, and now is staying stateside. She's bored because she's still looking for a job. She reorganized the studio. 

I mean, she cleaned, de-cluttered, reorganized, and designed a display area for us for Christmas. She's very good at that! She also did some flyers for us for online reviews and a few other things. She's a talented graphic designer and I really appreciated her help with the studio. 

It's not that the place wasn't cleaned. We have someone who does that weekly. But sometimes, the "deep cleaning" stuff gets neglected. Hubby is putting up a new gizmo for WiFi. We'll have a nice link, I hope, and won't drop signals every few moments. 

And I'm working on a little project for the spot at the back where there's a 2-way mirror. She tried to use those "neon markers" that work on glass, but apparently, with 2-way mirror glass, it doesn't work well. I'm going to do a sign and call it the "Just Breathe Christmas Wishes" wall. I'm cutting out stars in construction paper and will have them, along with pens, in a basket at the back. As students arrive or leave, they can grab a star, write a wish, and then post it on the window. 

We don't really "decorate" for Christmas, but I will put up a few things to brighten up the space. Winters here are different lately... They're more grey and icky. We need some jazziness to get past the glum days. Hopefully this will work. 


I'd love to show you knitting. However, I haven't done any. Seriously, haven't picked up a needle since my last post to you. I've brought it to work, worked through lunch, worked on my Yoga for Healthy Aging final, worked on church stuff, organized (and continue to organize) my office space, de-cluttered, got rid of magazines...

And haven't knitted a stitch. But I'm told that a friend's mom is going to ask me to teach her to knit. This could be interesting. And I'm not sure where it's going to fit in. But we'll see how this works out. 

I've got a list a mile long for tomorrow. And knitting is on it. Here's hoping... 

Random Picture...

Yes, sometimes I'm running from pillar to post. Sometimes, I'm running late. But sometimes, you  have to stop. This was the view on my way to work the other day. It was freezing cold...the first real cold snap of the season. And the fog on the ground was kind of spooky. And the sun was rising. 

And the picture was gorgeous. 

It's at my favorite early-morning picture taking spot, down by the river and the swing bridge. 

Isn't it beautiful? Isn't the world a lovely place, when we're not busy trying to destroy it? 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kitchen Chemistry, Shower Bombs, or "How to Get Homeland Security to Follow Your Blog..."

Yeah, I bet you'd never have thought of that title!!

So I'm doing a "Make & Take" event for the studio, and I'm working on some door prizes for those who show up (and I hope folks DO show up!). I Googled "shower bombs" and have been playing with different recipes. I wanted to try to avoid using citric acid.

Let me back-track. A "bath bomb" as you may know, is a fizzy thing you toss into the bathtub and relax with the aroma, bubbles, and fizz. A shower bomb is kind of the same thing, minus the bubbles, to a certain extent. You do want it to melt, but fizzing up and creating a massive amount of bubbles isn't the intent in a shower. The citric acid is the thing that goes "fizz." But sometimes, people can be sensitive to it, and in a shower, you really don't need a lot of fizz. You need more "dissolve" than fizz. And also - I didn't have citric acid handy and didn't feel like running to the store to buy a jar. 

So I found two recipes, and I was playing with them. They're drying right now. The first recipe was ok. It used lemon juice + water for the "acid" part (the fizz). I didn't have lemon juice. I used lime. 

Use what you've got...

It also used cornstarch. Various blogs have said everything from "awesome sauce" to "gloppy mess" ... so this ought to be interesting. Both recipes used baking soda and essential oils, just in different ways. 

Recipe #1 was baking soda, cornstarch, water + lemon juice and the oils. You blended the dry stuff together then sprayed the wet stuff till it resembled sand. The original author said to let them dry then drop oils on each one, top and bottom. 

Well, I wasn't using silicone molds. Don't have them (see "use what you've got..."), so I used mini cupcake tins. I layered a bit of the mix, dropped in Young Living Essential Oils, Grapefruit, and then layered another batch of the mix on top. Then put another drop on top. This recipe made 9 little ones. You have to pack the stuff pretty tightly in the molds so it holds together. 

Using a spray bottle helps you control the water. I got impatient toward the end and dumped about 3 tablespoons of what was left into the dry mix. 

It clumped. It turned to fairly squishy concrete, but I could work with it. 

Recipe #2 was almost a disaster. This one had a cutesy YouTube video and made it look "easy-peasy" (my first clue...). This one used coconut oil. I decided to use Elemi, a very nice, rich oil that's often called "poor man's Frankincense." I doubled it (good thing - her YouTube made one big monster bomb...). One cup of baking soda to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. It did not blend nicely. I mean, it blended, but it was still pretty dry. That's when I decided to shake it up. Chemistry, my friends!!

I added a dozen drops of Elemi (let me tell you - standing over a bowl whisking that?? Wowza!), and then mixed the lime juice with a smidge of water (this one wanted you to use straight lemon juice), and spritzed away... Again, I was having trouble getting the proper texture. Initially, her instructions were "pack the sand-like dry stuff into the mold and spritz between layers." 

Ummmmm. No. It wasn't sand-like. It was bone-dry. I have no idea how she got her proportions, but I fiddled with it. (No surprise there, right?)

I packed it into the molds, spritzed between layers, and then spritzed on top, too - and it's also drying. I think this one might be the one I like better, but we'll have to see. This one managed to make the whole tin full. 

I'll tell you what I don't like about Recipe #1 - the oil shows if it's a citrus (which tend to be a little...well, citrus colored) and I don't know that I like it on top and bottom of the bombs. 

I'll tell you what I don't like about Recipe #2. It's too dry. I really had to fiddle with it, so I'm not convinced it's going to turn out. 

The thing is, when these are done, they'll be stored in an airtight container and can be used as needed. So here's how you use them: When you're near the end of your shower, place the bomb at the back of the shower - where the water can hit it but not drown it. If it all works well, you should be able to see the thing fizz and dissolve, and with the steam, you'll get the scent of the oil, and the benefit of the oils, as well. You shouldn't have to worry about slippery surfaces, even with the one with coconut oil, because it's so very little. 

The combinations are, of course, only limited by the types of oils you have. Lavender to support healthy sleep. Eucalyptus and peppermint to support respiratory systems. Citrus for energy and uplifting. Floral scents for relaxation and calm. See? You can add coloring, which I choose not to do. You can also add glitter. 

I shudder at glitter. 

Anyway, I'll report back and let you know how they do. 


I found MELISSA!!! As I was organizing, I found the pattern to go with the yarn. They are now together. And as I saw it, I wondered what I was thinking. You know I love purple in all its shades. But this is rather "Easter Egg" to me. There's nothing I can do about it; the yarn is bought and the shawl will get knitted up. I'm not sure where it's going to land in the knitting list, but I'm determined to knit up my stash. I have no choice. I really do want to use it, so I may as well get my knitting ducks in a row, right? 

It's going to be pretty; and I hope that I love it when it's done. I believe I also have a shawl pin for it, somewhere. I still have to clean the office more - I'm only partially done, so maybe I'll find it, right? 

The Close to You continues. I'm about to start the 15th point. Yarn is holding out. Hands are holding out. I'm telling you - having the past few Saturdays "free" has really moved my organizing along nicely. I do believe I'm going to do another Close to you in that beige/brown/grey yarn. The "nameless" sock yarn from the last blog, remember? I think it'll look nice. 

I'm still trying to get the Vanilla socks done - the striped ones. I bring them to work but never seem to have time. Though I suppose if I stopped working through lunch, it would help. 


I rarely use candles anymore, since I've switched to the essential oils. But I had this on my yoga altar, and I think this one might stay... It's a beauty when it's lit up. The picture shows just a smattering of the colors. I think it might be nice as a meditation device. The Desert Mist diffuser has changing lights, but there's something about the naturalness of a candle that does something to my meditation. 

I used plain candles, and if I can find some beeswax tea candles that don't cost an arm and a leg, I'll use those. 

While I love crafty things, it's not likely that I'll be making my own candles anytime soon. Been there, done that. About the time I was in high school, to be honest. I have enough to do to get through all the cross-stitch and the knitting, much less anything else. 

Right now, I'm diffusing Elemi + Lemon. I'll find the other candles, get back in the office and get to finishing that job. 


The leaves are falling. They've almost completely finished on the front tree. The colors are late, but brilliant. The front is more yellow, with rust. The back tree is more red and orange. 

Our neighbor's lawn is covered in lemon-yellow leaves. 

It's time to think about Thanksgiving. We hold ours the Sunday before, so that the various family members who have in-laws can do their thing without shorting my mom of the time. As usual, Hubby and I are cooking. Turkey. A vegetarian dish for my nephew. Homemade cranberry relish. Brandied sweet potatoes. Mashed potatoes. 

Other family members are doing some stuff, too. It'll be good. Can't wait!

Random Picture...

This has been in my kitchen for years. Kid #1 wanted to steal it. I threatened him with "motherly revenge" if he touched it. This is the mantra I live by, next to, "If you complain, the next time it's yours..." I'm tired of people griping about stuff other people do. If you think you can do it better - have at it. 

I was talking to my guitar teacher and he mentioned to me that it seems I'm "getting better with boundaries." I think I am. I need to. 

Don't you? I mean really. "No" is a complete sentence. "No, I can't" is even better. We don't have to give an excuse. The fact that we say "no" is enough. 

It doesn't always seem that way, though, does it? It's hard. We want to do things for people and causes we care about. We want to be helpful and we want to be the person who "takes care of" whatever and whoever it is that needs us. 

But you know what? WE need us. We need to take care of our own energy reserves. This is the one thing the airlines have ALWAYS had right: "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others."

Friday, November 03, 2017

I May Have a Problem...

...Or not. Maybe "problem" is too strong a word. I'm cleaning out my office, and I realized I have more books than shelves. 

For a stark moment, I said to myself, "I think I have too many books." Wow... Never, in a million years, would I ever have thought I could have "too many" books. That's just not possible. I mean, how many is "too many" -- I have yoga books, knitting books, writing/editing books, reference books, reading books...

When Hubby put the "office area" together, he lined the walls with bookshelves, as I said before. And I promptly filled them. And then some. He, to be fair, took up a shelf or two. 

Over the years, the area got a bit "disorganized" and it didn't help that the room is at the back of the house. It kind of naturally became a "hiding place" or "dumping ground" when we needed to stash stuff. Right now, I'm in the process of cleaning out and getting things into boxes for the next church rummage sale. 

I'm going to at least categorize the books into stacks and then figure out what to do with them. I started doing that, got distracted, and now - I'm bound and determined to get this office into shape. I want to have a place to actually work... 

My mom has a nice system; she recycles her books at the used book store. They give her a credit and she's able to buy more books, which she turns in and then gets a credit and buys more books... It's kind of like the library without the return dates! I have a lot of paperbacks which I've read a couple of times, so I have no more interest in reading them a third time. I could turn them in to the used book store. I already gave them to my mom and she read them and returned them. So it's time to figure it out. 

I still like a "real" book. I have my Kindle, and I use it a lot, but I need to think about what to do with the fiction that I've been reading. There really are only a few books that I'd keep. I have probably a dozen that are signed by the authors, which I'll keep. Yeah, I know - paperbacks have nearly zero resale value, even if they're signed. But it means something to me, particularly since a few of those signed ones are inscribed to me. Which, I know, makes those books even LESS valuable (seeing as I'm not famous [yet])... 

I know I want the yoga books close; I also have to find some space for the essential oil books. The reference books over the top of my desk can just stay there, but I have to clean up that area. Too cluttered. 

I will have to move the music downstairs. I have the file cabinet room; I can even double-check and make sure the music is out of the closet and in the cabinet. I have to figure out how to get the maximum space and minimize the clutter. 

It's not about "what gives you joy" and if it doesn't, then pitch it. I'm not that much into minimizing. But I do have to watch what's going into that room. I'm on the cusp of something here, and I need to "get my house in order." Perhaps I don't have "too many" books.

I do, however, have too much yarn. I have yarn that I can't find the pattern to. I'm serious, this time, folks. YARN DIET. Speaking of which... 


After finishing the socks, I am once again plugging along on the Close to You Shawl. 

I'm actually in a kind of quiet place this weekend, which I need. I need to finish my final exam from the yoga training, and I need to keep plugging away at the office area. 

But in the meantime, I really want to work on this shawl. I have about 6 reps of the "points" - which are 7 rows per point. So I'm about half finished, as far as I can reckon. 

I'd truly do this one again. Maybe twice more? 

But on to the "yarn diet." I went through the bags on the office floor. I matched up most of the yarn with patterns, but I have 4 balls of Magnolia (wool + alpaca) that I cannot for the life of me figure out! I mean, I really don't remember why I got it. There's a pattern somewhere...I just have to find it. I packed up a large bag of sock yarn (that's a whole other kettle of fish...) and I stashed the "baby bag" (which has all my yarn + patterns for the "usual layette" already stuffed in there, so I don't have to scramble) above the totes. Somehow, I have a plethora of eyelash yarn...I'm sure I meant it for scarves, and I can easily whip those together - who knows, maybe a fundraiser in there somewhere. 

But yeah. It was brought home very clearly to me that I have a significant stash and I really haven't even gone through the totes in the basement. That is - the totes that survived a cull which resulted in a huge donation to our church's Prayer Shawl ministry. Maybe I have to do another cull, but I think I've actually ditched all the Homespun yarn. I may have 6 more skeins, but that's piddly stuff. I can grab that and bring it for this Sunday - it'll give Judy something to knit with! And at least it's not blue -- she griped that I had given her "too much blue." This is beige. 

Why Is This a Thing...

So one of my friends posted a "three finger challenge" and apparently a number of people had trouble getting their fingers into the appropriate shape.

It must be a specific talent. Anyway, I can do it on both hands. 

But why is this a thing? 

Maybe a bit of a silly escape from all the crap going down. There's grief in the DNC about Hillary and Bernie, which is once again dividing the party. Here's a clue, folks: Get your act together otherwise we're stuck with what we have...

And then Joe Biden called out the Tweeter in Chief and basically said, 'grow up and stop tweeting.' And Joe's not wrong. 

The State of Illinois has failed to pass legislation against bump stocks - you know, those things that make your gun basically an automatic weapon. Heaven knows why, but I want to read up on what happened. That was a no-brainer.

But then again, you'd think reasonable gun legislation is also a no-brainer. And it apparently isn't. 

The threat of firing the special prosecutor kind of pales in the light of the "diplomatic" trip to Asia...wherein Tweeter-in-Chief is not interested in diplomacy, but in "destruction." 

The threat of the draconian (and that's mild) tax "reform" which will pretty much kill off the middle class, but hey - it'll benefit the upper 1%... There's that, too. 

So maybe that's why the "three finger challenge" is a thing. Oh, and I can do the Vulcan salute with either hand, too. 

My Morning Routine...

Every shower. Special thing. Young Living Essential Oils has a really nice shower gel base. You can pick your favorite scent, and add about 15 drops to the shower gel base. Shake it up, and you have a "customized" shower experience. 

I used our Envision blend. Then, out of the shower, you take 3 - 4 drops in your hand, rub the hands together and then massage the oil into your arms, shoulders and the back of your neck. Around your heart center. Across the tops of your shoulders. Wherever you can reach. Then pat dry. 

Oh, and don't forget the "hair diffuser." With that extra essential oil on your hands? Run the fingers and palms through your hair, allowing the oil to transfer to your strands...It doesn't weigh down your hair, and you reap the benefits of the oil - and you smell good! 

I'm doing a "make and take" event, and I'm working on "shower bombs" where, if you don't have a tub you can really soak in, you can put these on the floor of your shower, which will allow the water to hit them, and they diffuse right in your shower. 

These oils have changed the way I view what I put on my body. Being a yoga teacher, I'm already tuned into what I'm putting IN there. What I want to put ON? Just as important. Interested in living a less toxic life, and removing extraneous toxins from your home? Let me know. I'll be happy to walk you through. Doesn't matter if you're in my back yard or across the country. We can talk! 

Random Picture...

The other day, the sunlight came through the church windows so beautifully. I especially liked this center part with the flowers. I needed to bring the "real" camera, so I can zoom in better. The windows are old. I don't think they all survived the fire that nearly destroyed the church in 1903, but they look like someone really tried to replicate them. 

I have to find the church history. We have a piece of the doors from the fire, and the plaque from the family who donated the original doors. I don't know if they were red...many Episcopal churches have red doors. The doors we have now aren't red, but they have stunning iron work on them. I'll have to catch a picture of them for you to see. 

I love the old buildings. They creak. They have character. I'm pretty sure the church is haunted. I've been in there and there've been steps down the main aisle when I've been the only human in the building. 

So, when I'm in there by myself, I always wish "God and the ghosts" a good day. You never know Who is listening! 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Both Brain & Heart...

...are full...

(l-r) Baxter Bell, me, Melina Meza - Yoga for Healthy Aging Training
I've finished my 30-hour intensive; as soon as I finish my final exam (to be emailed to us on Monday or so), I'll get a certification and can market myself as a certified "Yoga for Healthy Aging" teacher. It's a great way to create a longer health span - the time you spend "healthy" in your life, instead of the time you spend sick or affected by some chronic issue. 

And in this week, I not only have half a notebook of notes, picture upon picture of sequences (easier than writing it all down while doing it), and some excellent notes for future reading, but I HAVE SOCKS...


I finished the blue self-patterning pair. I was kind of a "hit" at the training because (huzzah!) I wore hand-knit socks EVERY day of the training. Of course, you can't practice yoga in socks, unless you're doing everything on the floor. But the weather has finally "found" fall, and the studio was cold. Which was fine with me. Rather cold than warmer. 

The blue pair are another "fraternal" set. I'm going to be jazzed if I get a matching set, but so far, unless it's a variegated yarn or solid, nada. 

Everyone was amazed that I was knitting during lunch. Hey, that's my meditation...and I was so close to finishing that I really was motivated to get them done. 

The St. Charles socks are moving along; I'm at the cuff ribbing. The size 0 needles are...interesting. We'll see how this goes. I think it'll be fine, but I'm a bit worried they'll be too big. But I think casting on 64 would make them too small. So I went with 72. I've done several in that size before. 

This is the next yarn up, but you know...I'm not sure. Well, I know it's sock yarn, but I can't find the label. And looking at it, I'm wondering now. Would it make a beautiful shawl? It's soft enough. But then it's neutral enough for a very nice pair of socks. I have to figure out what I did with the label. If it stripes, maybe it's destined for socks. But if it pools and puddles? I could live with a shawl in this yarn. 

Or I could do the shawl and give it to someone. I wouldn't have a problem doing that. 

It did come out of the "12 bags, a pair a month" tote. I haven't been in that closet lately to see how many more bags I have... But "too many" might just cover it. And that's not counting the bag of sock yarn in my office. 

Speaking of which, I've done a little planning.

The Office...

As I sat in a moment of "potty break" in the training, I started thinking about the office area (a/k/a The Dumping Ground). I've started to clear out the crap. Kid #2 has finally, I think, removed all of his stuff, from his recent change of house. 

And I was thinking. I need space for my yoga mat and preferably also the meditation set-up. But we have an oak rocker in the basement that's just sitting and doing nothing. I could get cushions for it, move an Ott light from the dining room (don't ask) and stick that near the window. Then, remove my computer from the front room, putting it back on the desk, where it belongs. Move the file drawers back UNDER the desk, eliminating a hiding spot for Quinn where she gets tangled up in wires, and giving me a touch more floor space... I'd probably get more done that way... 

And a little rug under the rocker. The music stand and guitars. And I thought I could make all of that work. It's a small bedroom, and Hubby did me a huge favor by lining the walls with bookshelves. Though it does make some inverted yoga poses a bit of a challenge. But I really need to cull through things. Perhaps put the fiction books down in the basement on the bookshelves that used to line the hallway. We moved them to gain more space in the hall and hang up a bunch of needlework and photos that I'd done. Which I like, but then I had to put the bookshelves somewhere. And in the basement they went. 

It's a work in progress and I'm going to be fiddling with it for a while. I just need to get back to having a dedicated space to write, plan my yoga sequences, and have a "she-room" since we don't have room for me to have a "she-shed." Now THAT would be ideal...Hmmmmmmm. 

Baking Again...

Not like I had nothing else to do, but in a moment of weakness (or maybe ego?), I volunteered to do the cake for our vicar's retirement. Tomorrow. Which means, yes, after a solid 30-hour intensive yoga training, I headed to the church office where I'm the Administrator, and put in another 4 hours getting things in shape for Sunday (I'd already done the church bulletins on Tuesday for the vicar's review), and drafted and mailed a newsletter. And so I made a cake. 

We're holding a luncheon for the vicar. I'm on the Bishop's Committee and we have a present for her. The congregation is also getting her something - no idea what... but we do know how to put on a feed. I was watching one of the gals dress up the tables. Of course, it's all a fall theme. 

So of course, my cake is pink and green. See, I have this theory. Retirement is a change. I love autumn. I do. I just think that it's depressing as a colorway for a "retirement" cake. "Autumn of one's life" and all that. I kind of like the "jazziness" of pink and green. This is tinted burgundy, and so there's probably more "rose" than "pink" in it. And I had some edible glitter gel, so I put some "squiggles" on the cake. Anyway, my point with the colors was that I wanted it to be more like, "Wow - retirement opens up possibilities! You have a Third Act (or maybe Fourth Act?) Who knows WHAT could happen?" I wanted it positive and joyful. And to me, pink & green exemplify joyful colors. I do have orange, but I thought orange and green were too Halloween... 

I was messing around with the Russian frosting tips again, but I got the frosting too soft. It's going to be a work in progress to get the texture right. On my mom's birthday cupcakes it was too thick. This was too thin. I have to figure out what's "just right."

Here's the thing. I'm about done making wedding cakes. Most halls or banquet venues have stopped allowing "mom-made cakes" and you have to have their nasty stuff. (Sorry - I am a consummate cake snob.) When my nephew got married, I was going to help my mom make his cake, but he wasn't allowed, unless we were "licensed and bonded." Crap - we're RELATED. Not like we're gonna skip out of town!

And my friend Doris had asked me to make her granddaughter's wedding cake. We just had this phone conversation because I told her there was no way I was going to get my kitchen inspected randomly by the local health department, and I wasn't going to spend all the money to get certified as a commercial kitchen. It wasn't worth it. It's probably all for the best. 

But it's nice to know my church will let me bake for them any time I want to! That being said, this recipe looks like a good one to try for the next coffee hour. Though Heaven knows we don't need more sweets. I love baking cookies and it's nice that, with the braces, I can't eat half of what I'll be baking this Christmas. 

It's really time for a sugar detox. Hubby got me the stuff for smoothies, and even though it's colder outside, I really do need to get my sugar addiction under control. Because it's wayyyyyyyyyyyyy off the scales. 

Random Picture...

So our church is almost 200 years old. And it's haunted. I went in today to drop off the bulletins and some other stuff, and said hi to God and the ghosts. I had to turn up the heat because we'd just had the organ tuned and it was too cold. 

Well, my phone was acting up and kept shutting off. And it's nearly November, so it gets darker early and I was having trouble seeing the thermostat, but too lazy to turn on lights. 

I was all, "Ok guys... quit spazzing my phone out..." and I finally wrapped everything up and got packed up for home. The light was beautiful. It's a lovely building. 

As I took this, my phone took another dive. But THIS time, I saw the message on the screen... 

"Battery critically low." 

Some days, it's not the ghosts. It's the battery. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Toe Decreases and Yoga Intensives...

Believe it or not, those two things have something in common. 

I'm in the near-middle of the week-long Yoga for Healthy Aging intensive - it's a 30-hour training, and I'll get a certification out of it. It's in Lisle. I've had to take the week off, which has thrown things into a tizzy. I got a sub to teach my classes, which was a good thing, because my brain is kinda mushy from all the stuff we're trying to cram into it. 

My students are going to hate me. Well, no. They'll love what I'm learning. Just that I'm so excited about it. I bought 2 more books dealing with yoga modifications and variations. 

No. Much like yarn, you can't have too many yoga books, especially with regard to those on sequencing and modifications. See, my classes are mixed level. Yogis of all levels attend, and the ages span at least two, sometimes three generations. I have to be prepared for the 20-something who's blown a knee to the 30-something who wants to get stronger, to the 70-something who can't balance. All in one class. I need modifications and I've almost given up planning sequences. You know that phrase, "You plan, God laughs"? Well, it apparently applies to yoga teachers too... 

I plan a sequence on shoulders. At least one or two students come in with active shoulder issues. Pfffffffffffthhhhhh goes that sequence. I plan a class around legs. I'll get a fake hip or a fake knee. Pfffffffffffffffffffffthhhhhhhhhhh goes THAT sequence. I've gotten pretty good, if I do say so, about modifying on the fly and offering alternative poses. 

Certainly tests my equanimity. 

Anyway, how does this apply, you might ask, as I drag myself back to the subject. Well. The studio is a bit chilly because the weather is dreary, rainy and grey - you know: fall. So I'm wearing my hand-made socks. And I finally got it in my head to bring my knitting. 

Socks, of course. At first, I brought the beginnings of the St. Charles socks - Vanilla Latte is the pattern. But I didn't want to deal with them because right now, they look like nothing. 

So I grabbed the Blue Self Patterning, which are on the verge of being done, and I really want to get them on my feet soon. This picture is dated by about 2 or 3 days. I'm on the toe decrease now and everyone was ooohing and ahhhing. One person asked me if I sold these in my studio. 

I suppose, if I wanted to, I could sell the "yoga socks" version (no toes, no heels - just the short-ish leg and instep). I could do that, but who'd pay for a sock with no toes and heels? And besides, it'd have to be something like $20/pair at least. The legs would be no taller than about 5" if that, because I don't want to knit that much for people who may not buy them. You don't need long yoga socks anyway. Though they could be pedicure socks. Could be S-M-L sizing. I definitely have enough sock yarn, and the trend is mis-matched socks...

In my spare time. 

Garden Yoga...

Is done for the season. We were being pelted with Honey Locust leaves and it was a very brisk 67* at the last class, but it was worth it. I purchased a bush called Amethyst Beauty Berry. Hubby wasn't necessarily pleased, but it's in the northwest corner and will be gorgeous. Pink flowers in the spring and a "fountain shape" that doesn't require pruning; now, though, it's got beautiful purple berries on it. Tomorrow, if it's not pouring, I'll get a picture of it. 

So this tree, two weeks ago, was just turning color. Last Saturday? This was it. Bald, with very little to tell you what it looked like earlier. It's a beautiful tree - I love the trunk and the shape of it. 

Fall hit sort of late and it's wet and gloomy so far. 

The brightest spot in the garden last week (aside from the mums and the Amethyst Beauty Berry) was my mat!

The berries are just a tad more purple than my yoga towel/travel mat thingie here. It's advertised as a "travel mat" but it's very thin. I use it over my regular mat, because, aside from the odd hot flash, when we were practicing in the hotter weather, I'd slip. 

Rule #1 in teaching yoga is to be human. But Rule #2, at least in my book, is to try not to face-plant in front of your students. Seriously, you can really hurt yourself, so I got this to help keep my hands and feet sticking where they needed to stick. 

It's a good idea for travel anyway, because if you do yoga somewhere (like I did once, in a conference room), on a grungy carpet when you're not quite sure when or if it was ever cleaned? You'd like something like this under you. Let's just say that Downward Facing Dog was as close as my face got to that carpeting! 

Anyway, we'll start up again next summer. I think we rushed it this spring, and the weather in spring was as odd as the weather in fall -- like Mother Nature couldn't decide. 

One thing Mother Nature HAS decided on was that, lately, the skies at night have been stunning. We've caught a few sunsets and sunrises (this is a sunset last Sunday at Yin class) that were pretty spectacular. She knows how to put on a show when she wants, that's for sure. 

Random Picture...

I think someone let the air out of Quinn... This is the infamous "Norwegian Flat-Hound." Used to be an Elkhound when it was blown up... She does tend to really sleep when she wants to sleep. Didn't blink an eye when I took this shot. 

She's a patchwork puppy with all the surgeries, which is why she's still in a thunder shirt. Hubby has "diapers" (as you may be able to see) still around her neck so her collar doesn't irritate the skin till a little more fur grows back from her recent surgery. Unfortunately, she's got more cysts growing. The vet doesn't know if we'll be able to ever find out why or if they'll ever stop. 

But she's a snuggle-bunny and my fierce protector-beastie. Scared of her own shadow, but heaven help you if she doesn't know you and you knock on the door! You'd swear the Hound of the Baskervilles lived here! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

This Just In...

...I'm knitting again. 

Well, it's been quite hectic here, and because of a few things that went a tad pear-shaped, I hurt my left thumb. Not badly, but enough so that I didn't want to practice for the upcoming Christmas service, nor knit. 

But I'm back. Finally. I'm almost 6" into the foot of the second blue striped sock, and so of course, I set aside the shawl and the sock and started...another sock. 

This was in time-out. For about 3 years now. I was nearly done with the first sock with this yarn, back when I was doing the iron infusions (that would be FOUR years ago, actually). When the nurse called me, for some idiotic reason, the yarn slipped right off one needle and raveled irretrievably. It was a ribbed sock. I mean, I was truly about 6 rows from the toe decrease. 

I was so upset that I frogged it and set it aside. For a long, long time. So of course, I started again. This time, I'm using size 1 needles, which is a bit different, but I think the yarn can take it. I'll know in about 2" or so. The yarn is Lorna's Laces in the colorway St. Charles. It's so "fall" that it just about smells of pumpkin spice. As I recall, it whorls around nicely with the colors. I'm doing a 2x2 rib on the cuff, and then a 6x3 rib on the leg. I've cast on 72, figuring that with a size 1, I needed the circumference without stretching too much. 

Will try a new heel, maybe. Not sure. Maybe Eye of Partridge or maybe I'll take a fly at the Strong Heel again. I don't know. I'm very attached to my double-knitted heel. It wears well and it's almost where I can do it in my sleep. 

My goal is to be able to knit a pair of socks on auto-pilot. I'd love to have that skill in my bag. I'm quite close. Maybe a few more pair.

The Theatre...

Why do production folks feel compelled, in an acoustically perfect environment, to crank it up to about 40??

My sister and I took my mom to the Paramount Theatre in Aurora to see "Million Dollar Quartet." It was a great show. And yeah, I know - rock n' roll is supposed to be loud. But this was pretty darned ridiculous. 

We weren't supposed to take pictures, but I'm such a rebel... The actors were really playing their instruments, which was cool. And the speaking was at the right volume. But the music - the instruments in particular - was wayyyyyyyy too loud. Even my mom, with her hearing aids, was a little blown back in the seat. 

And why is it that short people are ALWAYS seated behind huge guys? Who are then compelled to "bop along" with the music, so you're swaying back and forth like a crazed pendulum just to see the show. 

I enjoyed the play, all that aside. And the migraine I had... Which wasn't helped by the incredible volume. 

We'll find another show and do that again. Found a great pub to have lunch in, and maybe next year, we won't be dodging raindrops. 

Speaking of acoustics...

Our church hall is getting new windows. These are them. They're actually a 2-part thing. At the very front of the hall, on either side of the front door, the BOTTOM part of the windows is what you see. Which is fine. Otherwise, they'd have had to cut the wall up. 

But this variation is along both sides. It's a nice window, and you can tilt in the bottom part to wash it. 

The contractor and I had a long discussion about politics. He's not extremely conservative, but believes we need to "give him a chance," and I do not. This isn't a job you can "intern" at... And I don't think he's qualified to do what he thinks is "presidential." What he IS qualified to do is just what he's doing. 

Wrecking the country. 

THAT is going quite well. The politics are so corrupt that it's almost unfathomable. This is how a Democratic Republic ends...not necessarily with a bang, but with a whimper from the people who really do care, but are so overwhelmed that they can't function anymore. 

Keep us occupied with the tweets. Keep us occupied with everything scurrilous and heinous that he's doing or has done. That keeps us distracted from the budget just passed which (wait for it...) gives tax breaks to the 1%. And guts Medicare and Medicaid. 

Because, you know, poor and elderly people can just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Just like he did. With his daddy's money. 

I don't have any answers. But I do know we need them now. 

Don't think they meant this...

So I was in the post office the other day. Of course, it's October, so everything's pink. I'm pretty sure that the placement of the balloons wasn't intentional. 

Or maybe it was. But they distinctly look like bosoms. 

I'm almost certain that, once you see this, you can't un-see it. 

I know they mean well. And for what it's worth, it was my "laugh of the day."

It's Howl-O-Ween...

Tippi entered the contest for Howl-O-Ween, the annual fundraiser for the John Nelsen Moosdog Rescue Foundation. She's got quite a number of votes, and I haven't even put my votes in. This isn't the costume she entered with. This is her at her last visit to Lewis University. Not "last" last... just the most recent one. 

I have to send her paperwork in to TDI. I saw that the vet now has her on the "elderly" vaccination rotation. Thankfully, TDI allows the vets discretion because our vet believes that as dogs get older they can space out the vaccines for distemper and rabies. Which is nice. 

I'm not "anti-vax" but I do worry about the flea protection and heartworm, because I believe that in some instances, it's a toxic overload for the dogs. No matter that it's dosed according to size. 

When Hubby has to tell me, "I've just put flea stuff on, so don't pet them," it bothers me. 

Start my morning...

This is how I start my morning every day. A shot (about 2 oz) of Ningxia Red with a drop of Carrot Vitality oil. It gives me a nice burst of antioxidants and tastes good, too. 

I'm trying something and I'm not sure it's going to work, but I think it's worth a shot. As you know, I get migraines, and I think they've been exacerbated by the braces on my teeth. So perhaps they'll be going away when the braces are done. In the meantime, for several years, on the advice of my neurologist, I've been taking magnesium. Since I'm on a prescription for GERD, which tends to deplete your magnesium levels, I've been doing that, and it's helped to mitigate some of the migraines. 

Well. I've been reading that coconut water is high in magnesium and potassium, which is good for you anyway. It's pricey, but if you shop on sale, you can get these "terra packs" and they last nicely. I buy the unflavored stuff, and I've finally found a brand that I like. So I stick a little bottle in the fridge and drink a couple ounces a day. 

I'm also trying the CORE water; more balanced pH. So far, aside from taste, can't tell the difference...

End my day...

Tonight, I didn't feel like leftovers. So Hubby ate the last of the chili, which is fine with me. It was good chili. I just didn't want it. I'm getting toward the end of my "food tolerance." I can go for long periods of time, and eat the same thing over and over. 

The weather is starting to get more seasonable, so tonight, for the first time this season, I made oat meal. I don't do instant, unless it's an emergency. These are the Old-Fashioned oats. Golden raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, three slices of candied ginger, diced. And a banana. With a little Montana honey. 

It was pretty good. I have to get some golden flax seed, which I like on oatmeal. Also, sometimes I put in a chopped apple, or some unsweetened applesauce. 

Oh, and I forgot: I stuck some unsweetened coconut on top, and stirred it in. 

That was how I ended my evening, and I'm finishing up my chamomile tea. It's a nice way to just have a "ritual" to signal that the day is done and I can get in my jammies and wind down. 


So today we had a sub for the doc in the office, and it was my turn to bring muffins. It's been insane, so I didn't bake (which I usually do). I went to Dunkin... Anyway, it was "zero dark:thirty" and the sun was barely up. My new favorite picture spot didn't disappoint. 

This was sunrise. 

Sometimes, in our busyness, we don't stop to look at where we're at and the beauty we're handed each day. Not that I like getting up that early, but on days like this, Mother Nature rewards me. 

Autumn in the Studio...

I took my African Violets home; I have to repot them, and I'll end up lopping them off and re-rooting them. They'll look ragged for a while, and if they survive the lopping off, I will bring them back to the studio. But till then... I have autumn in the studio. 

The color of the salt lamp plays off the baby pumpkins and the yellow/green gourd really well. And it mimics the shape of the ghost pumpkin. The knobby gourd on the middle shelf just adds texture. 

I didn't want to do anything insane for Halloween. I mean, we've only got the Great Pumpkin on the porch, yard flags and the bat wreath on the back door. I should probably have stuck up a few more decorations, but it just didn't feel like it was going to happen. It's not only me...even the folks who usually go all out? This year, they're not. It's a phenomenon I've seen a lot this year. 

We're all hunkering down and trying to get through whatever lunacy is hitting us. 

Random Picture...

So I've been missing a capo or two. I absolutely couldn't find one, and my guitar teacher tore apart his studio. I'm still missing one. As I was reorganizing my office for the zillionth time, I glanced at my Sigma...

Apologies to Clement Moore:... And what to my wondering eyes should appear? 

My capo. On the headstock. Just where I left it. 

One down. One in the bag. Now I have to find the other one. 

I texted the picture to my guitar teacher and said, "Where would YOU expect to find a capo?" He thought it was funny. I'm still looking for the nice slim one. 

Tomorrow: tackle the music bag and the spare guitar case. It's gotta be there somewhere. They don't (usually) just get up and walk away.