Thursday, January 31, 2013

Entanglements, Afghans, and Socks...

Yeah, I know - One of these days my titles may make sense. But I think you'll follow...

So, the entaglements part: I have to think about doing something I don't really want to do. One of the members of our women's group is being a royal pain in the kiester. I mean, really bad, and it's bad enough that some folks are quitting the group. I spoke to one of our long-time members and she suggests that, even though I know Gal A will "deny, deny, deny," it's probably better for the 2 of us to have a sit-down.

Now, given the fact that Gal A has been a witch to me in the past and is somewhat of a bully, I'm truly inclined to let this pass on to the next leader of the group, who is this gal's friend and has no history that I know of with her.

Chicken? Maybe. I'm truly not afraid of confrontation. It's just that I have a lot going on: working on a workshop, starting yoga training, dealing with simultaneous fundraisers from 2 different organizations. It comes down to: What do you want to spend your energy doing?

And I really don't want to spend my energy on someone who has issues about taking responsibility when I know what the conversation will end up being. I have 5 more months to deal with this gal and then I can just be a member of our group. I do think that after this recent issue, the peer pressure will get to her. So many people were appalled at her behavior that even though she's dense, she's gotta see it. I hope. Many of us are doing "damage control" and if it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out. We can't keep people if they're determined to leave, and honestly, if asked, I'd be perfectly fine saying, "So-and-So gave too many members a hard time and they didn't want to be around her." We pay hefty dues, and we don't want to have to deal with that kind of crap.

So, let's move on to something else...Maybe by now Blogger has the pictures working. Whoopeee!!! They work!! So this handsome dude to the right is the hawk that was perched on the power line in my back yard. Hubby caught it with my new camera... He's got a bunch of shots of him, and I'm hoping that the poor fella found his lunch.

And this to the left is a long-ish shot of the orange afghan. No, it's not done yet, but I'm nearly there. I actually put it aside for some socks. I just needed a break from size 13 needles and double-stranded worsted.

Also, please don't give me credit for mitred squares. This is a pinwheel pattern from Encore's "8-hour afghan" series. And I'm here to tell ya - I can't do this in 8 hours. First off, I can't sit and knit for that long - they'd be prying me out of my chair. Second, size 13 needles ('nuf said - knitting with tree trunks). Third, somehow I don't have the attention span. I need to be watching a movie or something and then something distracts me or Tippi wants petting, or the mail's come... (sigh)

I don't have a picture of the socks yet. I will take one tonight. They're a purple heather and I'm knitting them on size 4s, I think. I have to check. It's a tighter stitch than the yarn calls for, but I'm trusting the pattern-maker, who says this means you get sturdier socks. The Van Gogh are now resting, having been frogged because I screwed up the lace. And I figured I should ease into the toothpick-sized needles. FYI, I still love Kollage square needles, but I put the socks back onto wooden needles because the 7" Kollages were giving me fits with their super-sharp tips - I had to wear a bandage on my left index finger as I use it to manipulate the right-hand needle and blood on hand-painted yarn? Not cool.

I can't remember if I posted this already, so if I did, forgive me. This is the headband and the SOAK for Kid #1's girlfriend. She liked it; but was a bit confused; thought it was a hat. But that's ok. Of course, I made it thinking she was blonde - which she was. She's let her hair go back to its normal color, which is kind of caramel. It should still be fine. It's a young girl's item and I think she'll wear it. If only one time, showing me she's using it!

The smoothie thing is going well. It's like a salad in a jar, and I'm honestly full and don't snack. Here's my latest:


3 large leaves romaine                  1 cucumber, peeled                      3/4 c. almond milk
1 handful baby spinach                 1 pear, cored and quartered       2 T. flax seed

Put all that in a blender and whiz up till it's the consistency you like. Oh, and I added about 1/2 t. fresh ground cinnamon.

You don't need any extra sweetener, no other spices...this whipped up and was my lunch the other day. It makes about 20 oz. I store it in a large mason jar and just drink it for lunch or dinner. Cool.  :)

Anyway, that's about all from here. We may have finally gotten "winter" but it's going to fluctuate again. Where's the snow????

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I'm trying.... keep up here. We all got sick over Christmas, one by one. Started with The Kid, then came to me, and now Hubby is the last one standing. Or coughing, actually. He had a flu test, and it was negative. But he's got all the symptoms. So, high-test cough medicine, a stronger antibiotic, and he's sleeping on the couch, poor thing. I'm not forcing him - the cough is just that bad.

I attended a fantastic Raw Food seminar at Just Breathe Yoga, and learned that smoothies can fit into my overall plan of increasing fiber and the "good stuff" and getting all the "processed stuff" out of my diet. Or as much of it as one can in this day and age. So here's my lunch smoothie:

1 apple, quartered and cored
1 large handful baby spinach
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 little knob of ginger, peeled
1 handful almonds
1 cucumber
4 leaves of romaine
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Peel the cucumber if it's waxy. Wash all the produce. Put all this in a fairly sturdy blender and whiz up till it's smooth-ish.

This makes A LOT of smoothie, but it's easy to eat. The other day, I made one with everything there except the ginger and I added a whole avocado (peeled and pitted, obviously). The gal doing the seminar is a certified instructor for raw foods, and she uses a honkin' VitaMix blender. Thanks, but until I blow it up, my Cuisinart will do ok! Can't quite spend $500+ on a blender. Here's her info, if you want; she's at dishonraw and will help you get a bit healthier in 2013.

I'd have put a picture up, but Blogger isn't cooperating! Well, maybe next time.

I started on the lace portion of the Monkey Socks (located at Ravelry), and I managed to mess up one section; so I have to take it to the LYS for a little help. I can already see the pattern develop and it's gorgeous!

I have to finish the baby blanket so I can start on the yellow one.... I set it aside and had committed to having a "Sock Sunday" where I work on anything BUT the baby stuff ("sock" only because I like the sound of "Sock Sunday" - it can be any of my WIPs, but I'm NOT starting anything new. Go ahead. Laugh.). And my week got busy what with the semester starting at work. Haven't picked it up all week, and I'm feeling guilty.

We still have no snow. Nothing. "Maybe" forecast for Saturday, but if it does, I hope it lasts. I have to work, of course, but I'll still be able to enjoy it out my window.

I can't believe I start my teacher training at Prairie Yoga next month! I have already started on the homework, and I realize that I've forgotten everything (or most everything) I knew about anatomy!! I mean, yeah, we haven't grown new bones, so I'm kind of familiar with the main ones, but this training includes some fairly intense sessions on musculature and bone stuff. It's good to stretch my brain - so I'm plugging away.

As far as the health issues are concerned, first off, I don't have to see the cardiologist for a year!! Huzzah!!! Second, I'm kind of hovering at the "lost 30 lbs." mark. I would like to lose about 8 more, but I'm taking it as it comes. I am a H-U-G-E carb fanatic, and I have to say that switching up to include more fiber and more protein has helped me tremendously. I've pretty much conquered my sweet tooth, and that was a big issue for me.

We had our first Tuesdays with Tippi for the semester. The pictures are still on my camera, and again - if Blogger can get its act together, perhaps the next post will be a pictorial.

So how about the NRA? Holy-moley - I'm almost using up my "Shakespeare Insult Kit" on comments about these folks. Between the claims that the whole Newtown shooting was "a set-up by the government and a hoax" to the commercial taking aim (yeah, I did that deliberately) at President Obama's children -- these folks are just poisonous milk-livered boar-pigs. (Shakespeare works!)

We need sensible solutions to the multi-pronged problem of gun violence. And you know what? MORE GUNS is truly NOT the answer. As this unfolds, we'll have to see what the government says and does. Of course, the red states, and even parts of IL are having trouble with what he's already proposed, but the President made an excellent argument:

"We have the right to worship freely and safely - that right was denied to Sikhs in Wisconsin; the right to assemble peacefully - that right was denied in Oregan and Colorado."  This was in this morning's Chicago Tribune. Obama turned on the "professor" mode and pointed out, quite rightly, that "that most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness [were] denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high school students at Columbine, and elementary school students in Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate."

Which is kind of what I've been saying: When does YOUR right to carry a gun interfere with MY right to go about my business without fear of being collateral damage when the bullets start flying?

Of course, Republicans insist that "Second Amendment rights were non-negotiable."  You know what? So are the others. So what kind of country do you really want to live in? I'm not cool with the "live in fear" thing.

Honestly, call it crazy, but my friend and I went to see Les Miz (the movie) and I got jumpy when some folks moved around down in front. I'm not living my life that way. It also appears that even reasonable NRA members are embarassed by the current web commercial (I think it was already taken down but you can surely find it on YouTube), and many folks who are prominent conservatives are backing away slowly (seeing as the NRA is armed) -- because they jumped the shark by not only having a new "app" which is "suitable for 4 years and up" whereby kids can shoot at coffins... Yeah, I'm not kidding ... but also, that commercial asking "are the President's kids more important than yours" and ...wait for it... The NRA says that ad "wasn't aimed at Obama's children." Really?

I don't think I could belong to an organization which thought I was that stupid.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

This is all HUBBY'S fault...

Ok. You read it here first. I was NEVER going to put games on my phone because my phone is my phone, though I do love the calendar feature. And I got it because I was tired of coordinating three or four calendars (work, volunteer, personal, family) -- it didn't work, no matter what system I used and I always missed something. I have a Nokia Lumia running Windows and I couldn't be happier. Or at least that's what I thought. Both kids and Hubby have games on their phones, but me?????? Noooooooooooo - not for me. Ha.

But Hubby knows how much I love Scrabble. Love it. LOVE it. So he finds me a free (!) Scrabble knock-off. And loads it on my phone. Oyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!  I'm now addicted to "Table Tiles." Addicted. Yeesh. His fault. Entirely.

"Table Tiles" has different rules than Scrabble. You can use slang. You can use some foreign language words, though it seems to be fickle. The phone gets to use them, but I am told "not a valid word." Hmpfh.

So that was my big nit to pick was that Hubby now has me stuck on this game.

Other news: 

1.  Both sweaters are done. Just need to be seamed. Will do that and photograph it.
2.  I started the orange afghan. I bought the Encore 8-hour afghan books. Yes, it's size 13 needles with doubled yarn, so I feel like I'm knitting with tree trunks, but the patterns are lovely and I'm looking forward to getting through them quickly. No, it won't be 8 hours!
3.  I'll intersperse this afghan stuff with smaller stuff - like socks.
4.  I got a gorgeous Siberian Husky calendar for Christmas. Yes, I still miss River.
5.  I also got a phenomenal camera, a Canon EOS Rebel. It's way more whiz-bang than my small Canon "pocket-shooter," which has begun to eat batteries at an alarming rate. And it's tons lighter than the Canon 5D that Hubby uses.

Since Hubby is a professional photographer, he's very comfy with using The Big Camera. I have always been a little skittish of it, though I'm competent with it. Now, though, I have a "mini-me" which, even though a Rebel is idiot-proof, has enough stuff on it whereby I can actually learn to take better pics.

Male cardinals in maple tree
So Hubby had to play with it (of course). Here are some of his shots of the birds who came to visit us this New Year's. As you can see, we have a decently diverse batch of birds, but we are missing some of our "usual suspects." No Blue Jays in a while. Also, we didn't get any shots of the Nuthaches, because they flew away. No doves, either, but some folks actually consider them an annoyance.

And we missed the biggest, fattest brown squirrel you ever saw! We have greys, and we've seen the browns, but seriously - this guy was the size of the back-door neighbor's Chihuahua!!

Small Woodpecker

Large woodpecker
We did get both kinds of woodpeckers. Now, I just have to take Whiz-Bang Camera to Starved Rock so that my friend Susan and I can get the Pileated Woodpeckers that live there! He had to sneak up on the little stinkers, because the bigger one is more shy than the smaller one. The smaller one? Doesn't care. He's eating. Leave him alone. Here's the little guy, on the right. Isn't he cute? He's got lots of personality, too. I've seen him chase off the "scavenger" birds like the grackles. He's fearless when it comes to his suet.

Our New Year's Day? Well, we got a lot done. I finally have an office where I can lay out my yoga mat! I didn't take pictures, though I should have, right? And yesterday, I did my "First Practice." I intend to do one a day, even if it's 10 minutes. Oh, and I'd better figure out my yoga timer! It did time, but it didn't chime.

Most of the stash is organized. The desk has been configured a little differently, and I'm hoping it's more efficient. The Catholic music has been moved downstairs. I don't want to pitch it - there's a ton of it. But I don't use it anymore since we are attending an Episcopal Church across the river. But I also needed the room, so downstairs to the basement it went.

The floor is swept up, the corners are vacuumed, the guitars are put away, and my meditation altar is changed up a bit. I just need to reinflate my balance ball chair, and I'm good to go. Out of the 12 things I had on my to-do list for vacation, I got all but 2 of them done. Success!!!

Hubby baked bread. He does know how to bake, and he's good at it. But he did need a little help because this recipe was a little garbled when it came to the second rise and putting the dough in the pans. Unfortunately, I'm off bread for a while, but I can tell you the smells and visuals were extremely tantalizing! Enjoy, but please don't drool on your keyboard or tablet. You've been warned....

Final rise
Yes, that's a cast-iron loaf pan. It bakes up the most wonderful bread. We use it for everything from sweet nut breads to these whole-grain breads -- and even meatloaf. And yes, it weighs a ton.

Fresh out of the oven
This recipe was one he found online. Our outlet bakery closed, as part of the Hostess fiasco, and he's having "sticker shock" at the cost of bread from the supermarket. This isn't our first go-round with baking bread; I actually enjoy baking it anyway, but usually it's during the colder months. This recipe uses Bob's 7-grain hot cereal, so it's a little heavier than I'm used to working with. It gave the Big Mixer a workout, that's for sure! I thought he was going to blow it up. Wouldn't have been happy about that, for sure! 
Out of the pans

The directions did say to roll the entire loaf in oatmeal, but I prefer it just on the top. With the cast-iron pans, there may be a tendency to scorch, and that would've been nasty. On top looks pretty enough anyway.

And now comes my "artsy-fartsy" shot. I love this. Even Kid #2 said, "Oh, it looks like something out of a Panera display." I guess that's good.   :)

"Glamour shot"
I had to kind of shoot it blind, since I'm short, but this is one thing the Rebel does - it makes you look lots more arty than you may actually be! Hubby has already sliced the loaf and toasted it. He said it held up well. Sometimes, the homemade breads can be a little wonky when you try to toast them or use them in sandwiches. I like a hearty loaf like a potato bread because it holds up well. Maybe one day when I get to eat bread again.

I'm not griping. Yes, I put on about 4 lbs. over Christmas, having lost nearly thirty this summer/fall. I need to get those pounds back off, and I will. And I'm not crying about "never" having [insert food here] ever again. It'll come. It's like anything - a work in progress.

Speaking of which, I do have a few resolutions: daily yoga, blogging here at least once a week, and reintroducing myself to my "elliptiKILL" machine in the basement. Barring any weird health things, I should be ready to get back into the regular routine.

My yoga teacher training starts in February, and that's a year-long process. That will help me with one of my goals, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Always the perpetual student, I guess. Ha - that means I have to put down "Word Tiles" to practice! 

Happy New Year from Quinn
In the meantime, here are the girls, enjoying New Year's Eve with a Himalayan Chew, available at Fun Time Dog Shop. Don't forget, this is an online store that donates all its profits to rescues, and you get to pick the agency on their list. It's a great place to get really good stuff for your dogs. The treats, toys, etc. are all tested by those monsters, the Elkhounds, and if they can't destroy it, you can bet it's sturdy!

Yes, I do dress my dogs. And yes, they usually tolerate it much more when they have a yummy chew. Tippi was savoring hers. Quinn was destroying hers! I did take them away after a while, but that's just so they last a bit longer.
All the best in 2013, from Tippi!

My wish for you and yours: Peace and all good for 2013.

Do something to challenge yourself. Even a small step is a big thing.