Saturday, January 30, 2016

It's Pretty Pathetic When...

... I have to practice putting on make-up. Well, not even make-up, but tinted moisturizer. 

It's this way - there's an event coming up and I really should wear make-up. I don't. I have a good moisturizer and some nice lip balm. Otherwise, nothing. 

I even went so far as to order a new outfit, and I'm hoping it comes to the house in time!

That being said, makeup makes me feel claustrophobic. Even sunscreen on my face can cause me to feel as if my skin is "closed off" and I can't breathe. So I'm very careful with what I put on my skin and use on my face. 

I hate it. I'm ready to go scrub my face off... The things we do...

On the Bandwagon...

Finally, I got on the "fitness band" bandwagon. But I didn't want a FitBit or that big clunky thing that Hubby is always playing with. I didn't want email, a watch, texting, etc. I just wanted something easier to wear than a pedometer (I don't always have pockets) and a little more accurate. And I wanted to torture myself with confirmation that I don't always sleep as well as I ought to. 

So I ended up with an UP fitness bracelet by Jawbone. I really like its discrete look. It's extremely simple. You don't have any flashing lights, or screen to read, or anything like that. It syncs with my Android phone and I think the only thing I have to complain about is that I'm not sure whether it'll work when I'm biking. 

When I said to Hubby, "Well the FitBit commercials show these folks riding bikes and jogging with strollers," he just said, "don't believe everything..." because apparently, you can "cheat the system" by moving your arms. 

I've been told that I walk "with my whole body." I think it's a polite way to say that I waddle a bit. I would think that any fitness bracelet would take that into account. We shall see. 

And I'm starting back on a sugar detox. I've really JUMPED off the wagon on that. Kid #2 and I are headed back to Oxford this summer, and THIS year, I want to be fitter. I was having a hard time last year, and he and I both want to go into the caverns. I couldn't do much walking last year, and this year, I want to be able to do more. 

My plan is to take the steps at work, working up to doing all 5 flights daily. Also picking up on my yoga practice. Of course, I have no idea how to make all this fit into an already packed schedule. But that's a minor detail.

So I'm good to go. Now I just have to -- GO!


One sock down, 2nd sock in progress. I don't remember if I posted this. This is one squishy sock. I'm anxious to get its mate done. I did this one in 3 weeks. I'm hoping for a quick second sock. 

Then it's back to the baby sweater for a bit. I'm told "it's a boy" which is cool. The black and white will be sharp for a little boy!

Next will be the solid purple sock yarn. I think I may do a pattern with the yarn the kids got me for Christmas.

I did get my order from Craftsy. I have a couple of shawls and a hat to do, but I have to figure out how to go back and download the patterns. I bought the "kit" but I don't think I downloaded the patterns. 

While I'm still participating in the "Knit from Stash KAL" I'm going to be realistic. I'm not one who wants to knit only socks. I want to work through stash for other projects. I want to stash some baby sweaters + hats. There are some fingerless mitts I want to do, and a couple of scarves, believe it or not. 

And I have the pure wool to do a felted cloche for next winter. I figure that if I can find an awesome vintage pin, I can use that along the side. It'll be a "church hat" if I can get it right. 

I love felting. I think it's an absolutely fantastic technique. I have a couple of bags that I want to do, and at least one hat, maybe more. 


Isn't so inevitable. I'm not happy with the shenanigans of the DNC. I think we should have more debates with our candidates. And I'd really like to hear more from O'Malley and Bernie. I don't like Hillary 24/7. 

I don't like coronations here in the US. And I don't like that the DNC apparently feels like they can tell us who our candidate is. I get politics + money = "the way things are done" but we can't have that both ways, either. We can call for a revolution, or we can just roll over and play dead to the corporate overlords who've bought and paid for our political system. 

But don't bemoan "low voter interest" when you've already mandated who our candidate is. You did that to us. And I don't like it. 

One other totally unrealistic and unrealizable ambition? To have a "real" debate. I mean, seriously. Dispense with the advance notice of the questions. Give the candidates a vague idea of what they'll be debating. Then ask the questions and let them think on their feet. 

None of this pre-determined, studied talking-points crap. A good, honest "let's see what you know" debate. Sure, Hillary will probably be better-versed on international issues. But I can't imagine that O'Malley and Bernie will be slouches. 

God knows it's got to be better than the last pile of toddlers on the Fox stage calling each other names. 

Random Picture...

Last night's sunset. As my friends and I celebrated a late birthday dinner, I caught this on the way in. It doesn't really do the colors justice, but the rosiness just made me feel better after a long and crappy week. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is It Rude When...

...a friend asks you to go to tea for your birthday, and the first thing that pops into your mind is, "Wow - how much knitting time will that cost me?"???

Anyway, it's a moot point. I'm sick. Again. So I made it through Christmas - barely. And by New Year's Eve, I was sick. Doctor diagnosed a double ear infection + sinus infection. And I had an antibiotic which (not to put too fine a point on it) gave Hubby really bad runs. I wasn't looking forward to it. But it wasn't too bad for me, though it did mess with my stomach a bit. 

Fast forward 3 weeks. The infection never really quit, and the cough got worse. Back to the doc on this past Sunday with a diagnosis of bronchitis. Yippee. Another antibiotic, plus an inhaler. Not thrilled. So I'm on the phone with my primary care doc because the inhaler has some serious side effects -- for which I already take medication! Thanks but the wheezing isn't all that bad, and the inhaler is not to be taken with beta blockers. Tachycardia - gotta love it. 

The lesson here is simple, and two-pronged:

1.  If you have "the crud" that's going around, get to the doctor. It's not going to just "go away." 

2.  Read your pharmaceutical materials. It's important to make sure you're ok. Doctors are great, but YOU are your best advocate.

I'm waiting on the doctor to call me back. I am usually compliant - I take all my antibiotics, I make sure that I do what they want me to do within reason. But I'm also my own best advocate. We shall see what he says. 


So I'm back in the "Knit from Stash KAL" and being sick did have its advantages. I sat, hydrated, and knitted. A lot. I'm doing well on this one. It's a variation on Vanilla Latte - I'm only doing the pattern on the leg, not down the instep. The yarn is SweetGeorgia tough love sock, and the color is "chai spice." Of course... It's not as bright as this looks; I used a flash. It's very autumnal and there's a lovely swirl to the yarn. I cast on 72 stitches (biker calves) and I'm doing somewhere near an 8" foot. The leg is just over 7" high, and I have a 6-row rolled edge, one of my signatures no matter what cuff I do. 

I'm doing Eye of Partridge heel, which isn't one of my normal ones, but this is the year I expand my horizons. 

This is the year that I also set realistic guidelines. I'm aiming for 3 more pair of socks (finishing the two "singles" will help a great deal), and to get at least 6 - 12" on Kid #2's afghan. And finishing one baby sweater by June. 

These are the choices for the 3 pairs of socks. At the left is the SweetGeorgia I'm working on right now. At the right is a Lorna's Laces in "robot overlord" and the bottom is one that the kids got me - a plain purple, natural dye. That one might be a different kind of pattern for me, since the yarn is a bit more rustic than I'm used to. 

By the way, I seem to have lost my Opal "watermelon" socks. I'm sure they're shoved in a drawer somewhere, just not sure how they got to be missing...

The baby sweater is my stand-by pattern. This is in Cascade 220 handpainted. I love the edgy colorway. The mom-to-be is an earth-mother-crunch-granola-but-edgy kind of gal. She's going to be a great mom! By "edgy" I mean that she's fashion-forward and the kind of person who's not a "pastel baby" sort. I have some nice bright red buttons that will go with this yarn. It's superwash wool and so she can wash it; it'll hold its shape; and it's a 6-months size, so it should fit nicely. I really like how this is working up. I bought 2 hanks on clearance and if I have enough left, there will be a hat to match. 


I'm "feeling the Bern," but I'm vastly disappointed in the media. I do not want to support Hillary. I just think that she's too corporatist, and we aren't a monarchy. Neither is any politician "owed." She's not the right person right now. Bernie is. We need a huge overhaul and he's the one to do it. 

There's something that I have to say, and it's not related to any particular party. It's up to us to get involved. So many people have said, "If so-and-so isn't the delegate, I'm not voting at all." 

Well. Stupid. If you WANT "so-and-so" to be the delegate, get off your butt and work for that. Yeah, I know - too often, it's who's the most bought-and-paid for. Ahem - HRC... But we can make a difference if we choose to. We can sway popular opinion. The vocal minority (which is what the ultra-cons are, really, statistically) are only vocal because they have a platform. 

We need to participate. Either by donating, or walking the streets, or working a campaign - whatever it is, sitting on your hands is not acceptable. You don't get to whine if you haven't participated. 


No, not "gotcha" journalism. This is Raisa's 2nd "gotcha" day. We had it one day off, and she had sardines yesterday. 

It's hard to believe it's been 2 years. Things are calming down; she and Quinn are playing. Tippi has ensured that Raisa understands that Tippi is indeed the Queen and will remain so. 

Raisa continues to be a "husk-cat" with all the sneakiness (I'm telling you - for a 60-lb. dog, she's a ninja when she doesn't want you to know what she's up to!) and contortionist behaviors of a feline. She loves to get into these weird positions and seems to be perfectly comfortable, even though I'm thinking, "Wowza, that must hurt!" 

She's a joyful pup, and I'm very hopeful that she'll mature into a lovely therapy dog when the time comes. It'll be a number of years yet; Tippi's not ready to retire, and Raisa needs to mellow a little more!

Random Picture...

The most recent snowstorm in downtown Joliet. I'm happy to have a window in my office. I wish the view was a bit more picturesque, but I'm not The Big Cheese. Right now, it's a -16* windchill and the wind's coming out of the northwest. The wind is brisk. It's too brisk for me! 

The dogs, however, are of course excited by the cold. Hubby is taking them for a walk. I'm nursing a cup of tea, and will go finish my socks...

What are you doing in this cold weather? 

Friday, January 01, 2016

You Thought I'd Forgotten...

...Well, I haven't forgotten. I've just been nuts. 

I'm back. It's 2016. I'm making a promise to be here more frequently, and hopefully with content that will make you want to share this blog with friends. Selfishly, I'd love to grow my readership, but realistically - you gotta write to get readers!

Christmas And Post-Christmas Sick...

Well, I managed to make it through Christmas without getting sick. I mean I just managed to make it through Christmas. 

My mother called me 2 days before Christmas and told me she'd injured herself, and it was up to Hubby and me to cook Christmas Eve dinner for 20 people. Oh, ok. No problem. Except that I was already starting to feel something coming on, but I wasn't going to freak her out. 

Christmas Eve dinner this year was as follows:

  • Roasted balsamic & garlic chicken
  • Pierogies
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Salad
  • Glazed carrots***
  • Parker House Rolls
  • Cookies and Potica

***There's a story on the carrots...***  So as I'm in the kitchen at my mom's house, I mentioned to my sister that "the last 3 hours have been the most insanely crazy of the season." A relative who shall remain nameless (we have a small family) looks at me (from a seat on the couch...) and says, "Why? What have you been doing?"

Yep. I looked at this relative and paused for a nanosecond and then said, "Only cooking the entire dinner. That's all," and then I stomped into the kitchen to cut up the potica. As I'm wielding the knife, I'm muttering something along the lines of, "For God's sake, does that idiot think this all happens with unicorn farts and fairy dust???" As Kid #1 comes in and hears me, he tells me to chill. He's right. Said relative is a moron. 

As we're at the table, I say to Hubby, "We forgot the carrots." Of course, there's enough food to feed an army. Life goes on. So does dinner. When we're packing the car up to go home, we find the carrots - still wrapped in their lovely bundle and relatively warm.Oh well. We were able to parcel them out to various folks who wanted leftovers. 

I started to feel crummy the Sunday after Christmas. That Wednesday, I went to the doctor. Lucky me: double ear infection, sinus infection and swollen glands. I've been living on squishy food and lots of tea. I'm floating in tea, actually. I'm on an antibiotic that had (let's just say for politeness) "adverse effects" on Hubby's digestive tract, but so far, other than a tiny bit of tummy upset, I'm ok with it. 

I spent part of the night on the couch, hacking up a storm, and I'm valiantly trying to stay awake. Hubby has run out to do some errands; I'm on a doctor-imposed (and honestly self-imposed) weekend of "rest, drink tea and shut up." 

So after Christmas but before I got really sick, my mom and I talked about it. Let's face it - she's near 80 and for the past 20 years, Hubby and I have been carrying the load. WHICH WE DO NOT MIND. Except that all the nephews are old enough and I do have siblings. And as my niece-in-law AND my kids have said, "It's really now time for us to do more." 

Next holiday, we're going to try a new system. And people are going to have to get off their duffs and pitch in. I really don't mind doing the cooking, but I can see that it's like learning to make potica: this year, the boys and the fiancee did more of the process because that's how you learn. 

Oh, recipes!!

                                  ROASTER CHICKEN:

Marinate your chicken parts (we used thighs, drums, and breasts) in a basic Balsamic Vinegar + olive oil + garlic + parsley marinade for 24 hours. 

In one of those ancient roaster thingies (seriously, this is what ours looks like - it was my dad's) -- or a large crock-pot, put the chicken and the remaining marinade. 

In the roaster, arrange as much as you can on a rack and with the pieces mostly in 1 layer. 

Add about 1 cup of water. Clamp the lid on and leave it at about 325* for about 1.5 - 2 hours. 

Our roaster is ancient. So we put it in the bathroom so we wouldn't blow a fuse. That's the best the bathroom had smelled in a long time...

The balsamic almost "pre-browned" the chicken. The garlic got sweet in the roasting, and the parsley gave it a bit of a peppery bite without being overwhelming. 

Of course, you use a bit of salt & pepper to taste. It came out tender and juicy, and unlike a crock-pot, it didn't fall off the bone. 

                                    ROASTED POTATOES:

Take the appropriate number of baking potatoes and, after washing them, slice them lengthwise into something resembling wedges. Toss these wedges with salt, pepper, olive oil and Italian Seasoning. 

Spread them on a foil-lined rimmed baking pan. Cook at 375* till fork tender. About 15 minutes into the cooking, move the wedges around on the pan. 

                                    MAPLE GLAZED CARROTS:

I used garden carrots for this and I did it in a large saute pan.  Melt about 2 T of butter in a saute pan on medium-high heat.

I used about 2.5 cups of sliced garden carrots - you can substitute baby carrots, halved lengthwise, if you prefer. Put the carrots in the pan, and add about 3 large pieces of candied ginger, diced. 

Add just a dash of salt. Swirl this around in the pan, keeping everything moving so nothing scorches. Make sure that the heat stays high enough to caramelize things, but not burn the butter. 

When the carrots are fork-tender, shut the heat off. Add about 1/2 tsp. of Saigon Cinnamon and about 3 T of pure maple syrup. Stir all of this to coat. Serve warm. 

Don't leave them in the car... Just a little piece of advice...

So I mentioned that we did potica, right? Well, we ended up with 5 loaves. Here they are. One was sold. We did a single batch of dough, and a double batch of filling, so it was a bit more "wet" than we're used to. I think we've just about got the ratio right. We're not sure, but maybe Hubby and I will do another single batch for Easter. 

I brought some to work, and everyone proclaimed it "really good" with another person saying that she might have me make her one for next Christmas. 

The thing is, the dough is fickle. You really have to have the right conditions, and you really don't know how it will react till you're in the middle of it. But that's part of the challenge. Now that I've done it for a number of years, I'm not sure how my dad managed to do it. Every. Year. For years. We sold them out of our house, and I think we sold 30 or 40 of them a year. It was insane. 

The Knitting...

I had gotten so overwhelmed that the knitting went to the wayside for a number of months. Too many months. I have a few projects on tap, and a resolution to myself for 2016: to knit more. 

I have a baby jacket on the needles; my "standard" easy jacket that I use almost every time. It's in Cascade 220 hand-painted, and yeah, it's not exactly "typical." Picture this with the huge red buttons I bought. It's going to be classy. The person who's the mom-to-be is kind of an edgy person - she's far enough along that I feel safe in knitting this for her, and I think she'll like the more sophisticated look. The yarn is wool, superwash, so it's good for a baby with a mom who's both fashion forward and a crunchy-granola kind of mom. 

Kid #2 got a few more rows on the afghan. He's pleased and he's anxious for it to be under the tree next Christmas. It could be done...

And I started a new pair of socks. I have 2 singletons and THE DREADED TEAL SOCK to finish, but "Bowties are Cool" is on the leg, I believe, and Opal's Watermelon is started. This one is in Sweet Georgia, Tough Love sock yarn, colorway "chai spice" and it's a Vanilla Latte pattern available on Ravelry. It's a simple rib. The yarn feels "busy" to me, so I didn't want to have a complex pattern that would be buried, but Opal Watermelon is plain, so I wanted a little something spicy there. This suits the yarn, I think. I wasn't sure how the colors would lay out. There's no pooling going on, as far as I can see. It does look fall-ish, but I'm going with it. The 6-row curl on the top actually seems to be too much this time around, but I'm going to make the second one to match. 

My goal is to have 4 more pairs of socks - PLUS finish the singletons and THE DREADED TEAL SOCK. I'd like to do more, but we'll see how it goes. A pair a month isn't going to happen with my schedule. 


Tippi and I have worked out a schedule with my former employer to continue to visit the folks at the university. It's bittersweet. I'd love to be back there, but life goes on. We're now visiting the library, and it's a great place to meet everyone. 

This is how Tippi rang in the new year. I wasn't too far behind her last night. Hubby cashed it in and hit the hay about 8:45 p.m. (which is what happens when you get up at 3 a.m.) and I was up till the fun hour of 9:30. But then I was up at 1 p.m. and "sleeping" on the couch, as my cough shook the house... 

She's going to be 9 years old in a few days. I look at the grey she's acquired on her muzzle. I look into her eyes and I see how she moves a little more slowly. And it scares me. But I have to breathe and enjoy her. Elkhounds, barring illness, live up to 15 years old. We have no real idea if she was 2 or 3 when we got her; we have no idea of her bloodline - any hereditary problems or the like. So we have no clue. 

But if you think about it, that's like us. As humans, we've got a fair idea of how our family's chronic ailments will or might affect us. But still - none of us has the number of our days. I guess that's our clue to live each day mindfully. You'd think as a yoga teacher and practitioner I'd already do that? Well, I'm as human as everyone else... Sometimes I do, sometimes a week has whizzed by and I couldn't tell you how. 

Random Picture...

This is an old abandoned church in downtown Joliet. I snapped the picture on the way to a meeting. And then I played around with the phone camera's features and did some sepia tinting. 

My goal is to bring the "big camera" to work one day and take a walk at lunch. The city has some architectural gems. You just have to give it a minute and look. 

Of course, the local preservationist wags would say, "Look quickly because they're tearing things down." And to an extent they're right. But there are still some good old buildings left, if you use your eyes. 

May your 2016 bring you health, happiness and joy. May you find the joy in unexpected places. And may you find the happiness in yourself. Every day.