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 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."


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 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. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Eve of Christmas Eve...

...and all through the house, I have one dog snoring on the couch, one dog snoring in my room, and one in the kitchen because she's not human yet! 

Watching the Dr. Who marathon, eagerly anticipating the upcoming Christmas special. 

So. So far, I've gotten the items for the Nephew's vegan dish. I've wrapped all the presents. I've given Kid #2 his birthday gift. I've practiced the two guitar pieces and the chant. 

And I made meatloaf for dinner. 

All the cards have gone out. All the social media is caught up for the yoga pages I manage. 

And I started a new pair of socks. I think this time, it's going to work! Not sure how the pattern is going to lay out yet; I'm only half way into the first repeat, and it was a horrendously long cuff in K1, P1 ribbing. Boooooooooorrrrring!!


So there's the sock. Remember, I frogged the last attempt, which was going to be a ripple pattern. Well, that didn't work out so well; I think my SSKs were wrong and I wasn't liking how it was looking, so I ripped it out. This time, I picked Petty Harbour, and I think this one will work. It'll look really nice in this solid yarn, and once I get a few more repeats done, it should photograph better. I'm going to try to do the pattern as written. Yeah, I know - shocking, right? I still did my 4 rows of knitting to start it out - which is also where I think I messed up with the ripple pattern, because it technically had no cuff. You just started in with the ripple. 

Anyway, I need the 4 - 6 rows of knitting so the sock goes over my foot and fits my "biker's calves" better. But that being said, I'm going to try to do the rest of it as written, and I think it's a new kind of heel. That's usually where I stick to the Doris Heel, which I can almost do in my sleep. But I need to branch out and really do something different. 

And I got squishy mail. Expressions Fiber Arts is really, really becoming an addiction... I got two of their Christmas collection, and I've also purchased some of their cashmere blend (yeah, I know: yarn diet, but there was a 40% off clearance sale). In actuality, I had 2 cashmere colors picked but in the time Kid #2 came home and chatted with me, one of them (one I really liked) went out of stock... so I picked another one and it'll work. I'm going to be making lots of shawls. The cashmere is only 300 yards or so, and I've purchased pairs of those. 

These are 400 yard skeins here, and this is the Christmas series. Those will be beautiful and I may repeat the Close to You or pick another small shawlette. I have a couple of books on shawls with sock yarn, so I'm going to root through them over the Christmas and New Years holidays (we have a long weekend for both of them) and see what I can find. All of the stuff from Expressions is too nice for feet. I still have a silk blend lace scarf that I had planned to finish...but you know how that goes. I can also work on that. It's sitting here in my bag. 

I have to remember to take breaks - because I've discovered a "hip thing." The chiropractor thinks it's a torqued hip and I've laid off the yoga for a week. And man, can I feel it!

But sitting and knitting is not cool. I have to remember to stand and walk around a bit more. 

Christmas decor...

Well, we haven't decorated a lot. We haven't decorated a lot in recent years, and this year, I think we're even more skimpy. 

Here's the "grand tour" of what we've done. We have the usual 4' tree on the table. First off, we really don't have room for the large tree. We have a crap-ton of ornaments, and we really need to work on the large wreaths I purchased 8 years ago - to permanently wire those with the ornaments and lights, and then use "command strips" to hang them on either side (inside) of the picture window so that we can enjoy them. 

Right now, we have a batch of "movable" musical ornaments around the beautiful tree skirt my friend "S" crocheted for me. They're all mostly wired in (one is battery-powered) and they're all in the "Frosty Friends" line. The tree, decorated by Hubby, is mostly "Frosty Friends." And this year, I don't think I fiddled with ONE SINGLE ORNAMENT. This is unusual for me. I'll futz with them for weeks. 

I did put up a Young Living ornament with essential oils and reeds; so it kind of smells Christmas-y in the house. As much as I can smell (thank you, lingering cold!). 

This, of course, is not the Young Living ornament. This is our traditional pierogie ornament. Both of the kids have one, and I believe I bought my mother one. I know I gave my brother one, too. 

I did buy the kids two new ornaments, but honestly, I kept the one for Kid #1 - because I have most of his ornaments anyway; he hasn't really settled down, and I don't want a lifetime's worth of ornaments to be left behind somewhere. I know - it's probably silly, and there's no telling what he'll do with them when I'm gone. Maybe, by that time, he'll be settled down and married. Maybe his future wife will want them. Who knows? So what I bought Kid #1 is a "Welder" ornament. And Kid #2 has a red mixer. He's already bummed because when I started the collection of ornaments, Kid #1 got cars, and he got angels.... Hey - there wasn't a whole lot to pick from when he was born!! I probably should have done Santa or something like that. But I didn't. I have no idea why... 

The other thing, aside from the 2017 Kid's Ornaments, is that I dolled up a little plaque that I bought last year in the "Dollar Aisle" in the Target. I think that I'll add more "snow" to it. Since we're supposed to get snow tomorrow, we'll have a "White Christmas" but just in case, I have a "Let it Snow" plaque that I can display on a shelf to fake it if I need to!

So I used just plain glue, and "wrote" on the snowflake and the "snow" word. A little "diamond dust" glitter, and that's all I needed. I put "fake snow" on the top left and bottom right corners, added glue, and a little more diamond dust, and I have "drifts." It's cute. 

I see the other decorations that friends have posted, and yeah - I do wish we'd have done more. But it is what it is. Maybe next year. 

Because seriously, this year it seems like it snuck up on everyone. Everyone I've talked to has said, "What? It's Christmas???" Like we all know it comes around in December, but this year, it seems like time flew even faster than anyone wanted it to fly. 

The Last Baking...

I have to bring something to a Christmas Eve party. So this is the LAST thing I've baked (aside from the meatloaf, but that was dinner, so it doesn't count!). These are Cheddar Meltaways. Kind of a cracker, but not. Kind of a shortbread, but not. Better with sharp cheddar, but all I had was mild. It'll do. 

You mix butter, flour, salt, pepper, paprika and shredded cheddar together. You pray because it seems like it will NEVER come together. But it does. Then you refrigerate it for 2 hour or more. 

Then you take it out and let it rest for a bit (just so you don't break your cookie portioner or bend your spoon!) and then - heat the oven to 350 or so, make these into balls, and put them on a parchment lined sheet. 

Bake them for about 12 minutes. You do not want them to brown. Let them sit for about a minute on the sheet, then take 'em off. One batch made about 45 of them. So I froze them, and when it's time, I'll set them out on a plate, they'll come to room temp. If I was having this party at home, I'd heat them in the oven for about 3 minutes, just to get that "melty" texture back. But at room temperature, they're really good. 

Kid #2 brought over a smaller selection of his cookies, so we have PLENTY of those! Choir members get a bag each, and then we're giving a bag to our substitute priest who's saying the Christmas Vigil service. 

Speaking of church...

Here are the "new" doors. Well, not new. Actually the second set, since the original church burned down to the limestone walls in 1909 or so... These are the "new" from then doors. We had our contractor do a little maintenance on them. They're white oak, and while they last forever, they were showing wear. 

The ironwork is stamped, but the flowers are hand-made. Yes, most Episcopal churches have red doors, but we have these. I'm not sure why - I'll have to ask one of the old-timers. 

We're still working on getting a permanent vicar, and we're getting closer. In the meantime, I'm working as the administrator, and we're working with substitute priests. 

It's been interesting working with the process, and a learning experience, for sure. A lesson in diplomacy for me. And a lesson in patience. 

Yoga stuff...

So, I finally got my Baxter Bell book. But I haven't had a moment to read it. I can't wait to dig in, and I know I'll be using a lot of the information in here. 

Once I get back to teaching. Once the "hip thing" fixes itself. I'm going to do some Yin this weekend to see if I can get things stretched a bit and feeling ok. I do teach again on Thursday, so we'll see. 

It also looks like I'm going to be teaching on Saturdays for a while. I don't like having to find teachers, but it is what it is. I have to balance how much I teach, so that the studio has diversity in the staff. I don't know if I'll be able to find a good fit, but I've really only had a few who haven't worked out. It is what it is, and you have to, as a studio owner, have a sense of "healthy detachment." 

I care about my students and my teachers, but it took me a while to realize that my teachers may love the studio, but they have stuff going on and won't always be as dedicated as I am. I mean - really. I own the place. There's a level of attachment there that's necessary of course. But then as a teacher, you have more freedom, in a way. You have less responsibility, but that's only an observation I've made; since I started teaching, I'd been managing the studio, so I really have "lived" this studio for years. 

This is what I found the other night as I came in for my Yin class. 

A "surprise Santa" left it for me. I suspect it was one of my students, but you know what? 

I don't want to know who it is unless he or she wants to come forward. 

The reason I suspect that is that on one side, it says "peace & all good," and that's what I end virtually every class with. You wouldn't know that if you weren't my student. 

It's beautiful. The pots are filled with dirt and blue/white/grey marbles, and there are solar lights in there. Hubby put it on the front porch, but the local squirrels were eyeballing it as a potential hiding place for nuts, so he brought it into the basement. 

I'm not sure I want to leave it outside at the studio. I mean, so far, nobody's nicked a potted plant, but there's really no way to secure this thing, and I don't want it taking a walk. I hate to have to think that way, but we're kind of in a hole, and someone could walk off with it without being seen. Don't you hate to have to think that someone will take something? 

Random Picture...

So Tippi and Quinn got into their Christmas antlers. And for once, Tippi was ok with them, and Quinn wasn't jazzed. Usually, Quinn is pretty happy with a hat. For some reason, this time around, not so much. 

I don't bother with Raisa because she hates hats and gives me a stink-eye that makes me glad she still sleeps in a crate!

Of course, Quinn got the antlers with bells, so perhaps she didn't appreciate the music? Never know. But she was happy to get her little venison treat afterward. 

Merry Christmas to each of you! And whatever you celebrate - be there. Turn off the social media. Set your phone down. Be. Be present. Be mindful. Be there. Because it's that important!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

I Should Be Knitting...

...and watching "The Princess Bride." Which was the initial plan for tonight. 

Instead, I just ate a half of a jelly sandwich and I'm warming my hands on a cup of chamomile tea. I even skipped a conference call I was scheduled to attend (along with about a dozen others, and I basically lurk - I won't be missed). 

Today has been kind of a hot mess, and I blame most of it on the cold I got last week. I was fine (seriously) on Thursday morning, and then practically as I got to the office in the afternoon? WHAMMO - I got hit with a head cold. It was that fast. Spent the weekend (mostly) resting, hydrating, neti-potting, and not talking. 

Good news is that I finished another knitting project. Bad news is that I ripped out TWO socks... And I fell flat on my face, breaking my glasses, AND I'm still fairly snotty. Awesome. 


Fuzzy small scarf
Well, one done and two frogged. Out of the "stuff in the room," I had plucked this scarf. It's done. It's actually not long enough for a "real" scarf, but it's a small-ish, "could be a cowl" thing. It's that "fun fur" yarn, held double. No idea the color. Size 9 needles. 

And the socks... I pulled the Sole to Sole sock out of the bag, and one of the needles came out of one side. I put the stitches back on, but I must've screwed something up because there were too many stitches on the needle. And so, in a fit of pique, I frogged it. It's in time-out. 

I also frogged (AGAIN) the St. Charles sock. I didn't like the way it was turning out on the size 1 needles. So it's also in time-out. Again. It'll eventually be socks. I know it. But for right now, I don't want to deal with it. The yarn needs to breathe, and so do I. 

I've started another pair of socks. It's a pattern called "Peaks & Valleys" from the "Knit Socks!" book - it's a hard-cover book shaped like a Christmas stocking. The pattern is basically a ripple, and I'm using Cascade Heritage Sock in colorway 5610 - which is a camel color. I think that'll pop nicely with the ripple pattern, and even though it goes down the whole foot, I may leave it at the leg only. I'll have to see. 

That being said, I've gotten 3 rows done so far. I've been trying to get to it, but everything else seems to get in my way. 

The Meltdown...

So, falling on my face... As I raced home Tuesday, trying to beat the "leaving school" traffic, I had in mind the zillion things on my list(s). I needed to finish the 2017 ornaments. I hadn't yet started any baking, but Hubby was doing most of it. He's a good baker, but it was annoying because I do love to bake, and it seems like I just haven't had time to do much lately. 

Still need finishing
I set up the laptop and prepared to finish up a project for church. As I knelt over the arm of my knitting chair to plug in the charger, Quinn had stuffed herself under the chair. Well, rather than ask her to move, I stretched a bit more. And then I slipped. My face hit the glass table, my glasses broke, and I lost my temper. 

Back up a bit. I'd also been to the orthodontist that noon, and had a ligature placed on my front lower teeth, and had actually had the orthodontist pulling the teeth together. It was quite painful - Lamaze-breathing painful, and I'm still wired up so that the teeth get to where they need to be so that I can get my braces off next month. My face hurt. 

Lucky for me, the space where my chin would've hit the table was actually just air... I mean, my upper chest hit the arm of the chair as my right eye and nose hit the corner of the table, which is glass. 

Which, if I hadn't had glasses on, would've done a huge number on my right eyeball. 

My frames didn't snap, but the right arm of the glasses bent at a pretty nasty angle. Hubby made a remark about setting up a docking station on this little tray-table I'm using till I get my office in order, and honestly? I lost it. 

Hey - I was in pain, and upset. And I'm human. I snapped, stormed off to the eye doctor to see if they could repair my glasses, and wondered how I'd explain the black eye I was sure I'd given myself. 

Ok. Well. The eye doctor had just ordered a spare pair of my frames, and was able to replace them. They still need a bit of adjustment over the right ear, but I can run up there on Thursday or Friday to have them tweak it. I don't have a black eye, but my eye socket is a tad tender. And my face still hurts from the orthodontist. But I'm not mad at Hubby. 

And I'm still behind on the zillion things I have to do. This weekend, I'll be on a baking marathon to finish up about 4 different batches of cookies. Hubby is finishing 2 batches tomorrow. 

Sometimes, I do really dislike the "busyness" of the season. 

The Mosque...

This picture is from the mosque in a town nearby. I found that the quote on the sign kind of hit me. So for all the talk about "those terrorist MOOZLIMS" - you see this. 

A reminder that God's mercy is indeed great, and available to all of us. I don't get all preachy, and I don't mean to wave a Bible or Q'ran at anyone. All I'm doing is pointing out that this quote seems to me a very strong reminder that if you do worship God, then He (or She) is a being whose mercy is something offered to all of His (Her) children, no matter how badly we behave. Of course, this means that the Mango Moron who's driving our country into the sewer is also going to be forgiven in The Grand Scheme of Things. But maybe God has a special place for predators and those who think that they themselves are God... For example, according to a recent Chicago Tribune story, his own lawyer says he can't be prosecuted because he's the President. 

Ummmmmm. No. That's not how that works. One branch of government is not more powerful than another. They're all checks and balances on each other. 

But then again, you'd have to have a working knowledge of basic civics to understand that. And it's hard to do when you believe you're the Emperor. 

Super Moon...

Seems like all the full moons lately are called "super moon" and I'm not quite sure why. So the latest full moon was called "The Last Super Moon of 2017." Well, it wasn't as huge as some Harvest Moons we've seen, but for December, and the clarity of the sky? It really stood out. 

And it was a beauty. As I left my Yin class, I turned to get into my car and saw this. It was too perfect - a beautiful, huge full moon right over the top of my studio. I sent this out on my studio's Facebook page, and lots of folks loved it. 

This is one reason I love where I live. There are a lot of reasons to hate it. We're near a transportation hub, and the traffic and the semis are both horrendous. It's Illinois (that's usually enough of a reason...). But... We're nearly in the country. In one hour, going north, I can be in Chicago if I want to be. In one hour (or less) going south, I can be in the middle of corn fields. And we have walking/biking trails that are amazing, two rivers, lots of open space. 

It's a blessing to be out here in the 'burbs. 

The Orthodontist...

So my orthodontist has a heavy hand. I mean, I'm kind of seriously dreading the removal of the braces. But it is what it is. I know he knows what he's doing. However, that ligature thing the other day? I was nauseated. 

He was recommended by my dentist, and I trust him (my dentist, that is), so I'm sure my teeth will turn out fine. 

You know that "Elf on the Shelf" thing? Well, it creeps me out. That, however, is what the orthodontist's office is doing for Christmas. They're calling it "Doc on the Shelf" and they've pasted a picture of his face on the elf's head... 

It still creeps me out. But in a way, it's really funny. He's got a great sense of humor, and it seems like everyone enjoys their job. I love my technician - she's a hoot and has been a boon to me in terms of information on questions I have. I will miss seeing her. But I won't miss the tightening and the wires. 

Oily News...

There's a great Young Living Essential Oils blend called Christmas Spirit. It's spruce, orange and cinnamon, and it's quite lovely. In my last shipment, I got Pine...and I thought, "Hmmmmmmmmmm." So I added some tangerine and some peppermint, and I got a different kind of "Christmas" scent. It's really quite nice, and I'm glad I thought of it. I can't smell much of it yet (head filled with snot...), but I'm told it smells really nice. 

While I love the blends Young Living already has, I do enjoy making my own. I think it's the cook in me. I love to experiment. Some of my blends have been unqualified FLOPS. But many of them seem to be quite nice and I use them almost daily. 

And I like their single oils, too. Tangerine is one of my favorites. It's "orange but soft." It's "lemon but lighter." I love it in water and in my Ningxia Red supplement every morning. I also love it in a smoothie. 

And here's another "life hack." I'm a bit traditional...when people talk about "hacks," I still think of hacking into a computer... 

Anyway - my sister gave me a very nice black leather bag. But she smokes. And it reeked. She said she'd only used it once, and had tucked it away for me. But it still reeked. 

So here's the "hack" for un-stinking a purse or other object. I took a custard cup, put in 3 large cotton balls, and dropped about 8 drops of Purification blend on the cotton balls. I sealed them up (custard cup + balls) in each of the purse's 3 compartments, for about 6 days each. 

The other day, I thought it had "cooked" enough, and of course, still unable to smell, I said to Hubby, "please smell this and let me know what you think."

He said, "I think it smells like Purification." Well - props to him for getting the oil's name right, and recognizing the scent! And thankfully: the purse doesn't smell like smoke anymore. I can now use it. He's even more sensitive to smoke than I am. I think that, since I grew up with my dad smoking, I do have a somewhat "nose-blind" spot. I mean, we don't smoke in the house - or rather, nobody in my house smokes. So I am aware of it. But his nose is a bit better than mine. 

And I'm happy to have a second nose on board. 

Random Picture...

This is serious "yarn chicken." I thought I was playing chicken with the Close to You shawl. Well, p'shaw... I had OODLES of yarn with THAT project. 

The "rule" is that it takes roughly 3 times the yarn to bind off. I mean, you measure three "rows" of yarn across your project. So I did that. I even fudged with extra. 

And this is what I ended up with at the end of the project. Not even enough to put into my knitting notebook.

Well, there it is, kids. Another night with no knitting - worked through lunch, too, so no knitting there. And once again, I didn't sleep well (snot and sore face). So I'm going to sign off, wishing you an amazing evening, and a great day tomorrow morning. 

Find some time to do something you love. Just for YOU. Spend the time. You are worth it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Things Done and Things Left Undone...

Well, it's been an interesting several days. Things got done. Some things got left undone. Some things ended. Some things started. And some things got re-started...


The most stuff happened in The Knitting. So I'm pretty traditional in my bind-offs. I usually do a regular old bind-off and nothing fancy. Not the super-stretchy one, not a tubular, nothing complex. I could bind off in my sleep, as a matter of fact. 

Well. The Close to You shawl (on Ravelry if you're a member) has a picot bind-off. And I'd never done one. And according to my "Cast On Bind Off" handbook, there are TWO ways to do this. One is relatively easy. One is a major pain in the kiester, involving flipping your work twice for each picot. 

Can we say, "I'm gonna screw this up royally"??

So I chose the first one, the easier one. It's still a pain in the butt. I can now cross this off the "if I never do it again" list. 

That being said, I will want to knit another Close to You because it's a marvelous pattern, and without working on this full-time, since I have 3 jobs, it only took me 2 months to finish it. In my next version, I'm going to "biggen" it. I had 400 yards of hand-dyed, which was given to me as a gift. And this pattern takes 399 yards. 

I'm not one to enjoy a game of "yarn chicken" and I was playing it. So I left it as its regular size, and it's not even blocked yet. I'm told it'll be a nice size when it's blocked. Hubby thinks that, in its current state, "it's really tiny." He doesn't get the Magic of Blocking, but that's mainly because I don't block baby clothes or socks. 

So, meet Close to You, done in Rembrandt Yarns sock yarn. It's the "West Coast Swing" colorway. I did this on size 6 bamboo circulars, with a 24" cable. The pattern specifies a 32" cable, but I couldn't find one in that length... and this worked fine. I had plenty of room to maneuver and the bamboo was nice to hold. 

Stitch definition is great with this yarn; it's sockweight, and honestly, I thought it was "too pretty for feet." I wanted to do a shawlette and I looked around for a semi-lace pattern. I didn't want a lot of lace, but I wanted a little bit - a little splash of zing, if you will. 

This pattern has actually been done with beads in the lace part. I'm not there yet. Don't know if I will ever be, but I have other shawl patterns that use beads and I'm fine with that. 

So that's finished. 

I've been doing the "Swedish Death Cleaning" and pruning my yarn stash. Not necessarily ditching things, but there are some yarns that were definitely "what??" purchases, that will end up in the church rummage sale. I have a partial scarf in - honestly - some really cheap yarn, and I'm going to pull it out, donate it to the Prayer Shawl group OR - stick it in the "rummage sale" bin and let it go somewhere else. So THAT will be a project that is UN-done. And happily so. 

And then I found some partially completed patterns, like the Chandelier Lace scarf, which for some reason is on TWO circular needles... I have to figure that one out. And this little gem was in the bag with the scarf... 

Remember "fun fur" or "eyelash" yarn? Well, this is actually pretty. It's held double, so I've got a fairly hefty scarf going here. Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I don't need a fuzzy scarf, so I could give it to someone, or again donate it to the rummage sale. Or I could hold onto it for an "emergency gift." It's always nice to have a stash of pre-knitted things and this would appeal to a couple of folks I know. 

It's a little passe in fashion, but for the right person? It could work. I have a "fun fur" shawl - a HUGE one - that was gifted to me (discussed in my last post) which is going to be re-gifted, and I think that's ok. I think that if it'll be worn, I'll be happy. I'd rather it be worn than it sit in my closet. 

No. I'm not going to give this to the same person. That would be redundant...

However, THIS project will be done. And then next, the Chandelier Lace scarf, since it was supposed to be a Christmas present. Three years ago. 

2017 Christmas Baking...

Hubby started the 2017 Christmas baking tonight. He made the peanut butter kiss cookies. About 125 of them. A/K/A "Peanut Blossoms." 

Here's my hint for a different twist on these traditional cookies (not traditional as in "granny made them" but in fact, my granny DID make them years ago). The recipe isn't as old as my grandma's Kolachy recipe, but I do remember her making them when I was in high school and college. 

Anyway... I add about a tablespoon of cinnamon to my sugar. You know you roll the peanut butter cookie in sugar, right? Well, I added the cinnamon a few years ago because to my mind, cinnamon + chocolate = THE GREATEST TASTE EVER. 

And I'm not fond of peanut butter cookies. So this hit of cinnamon kind of takes the peanut butter down a few notches. 

Here's the list. Potica is on it, but only as a reminder that we're bringing it to Christmas Eve dinner... I don't have to make that till Easter. 

Nobody has ordered any, so I'm not going to make it unless we have a day that we have perfect humidity and weather. Yeah, the dough is THAT finicky. 

But mostly, we're doing some old favorites, and keeping it simple. And as you know, the list will change! It usually does, though Kid #2 and I have pretty much coordinated what we're doing so we don't duplicate. 

I'm sure I'll dig out an oldie (like the Kolachys or maybe strabas) and do that, just because I'm the only one who does the old-time cookies. 

Over the weekend, I'll start on the Annual Ornaments while I do my part of the baking. I found a source for the plaster ornaments, since Michael's doesn't carry the variety I like. They should be in my hot little hands in a few days. Oh, and I'm going to clear off the dining room table to block Close to You. I don't have enough floor space -- at least not where the dogs won't bother it. 

16 Days of Activism...

So we've been hearing a lot about the groping/sexual abuse allegations. Even Garrison Keillor's been fired for groping...except that his victim answered an email saying "think nothing of it, I forgive you" -- then she got a lawyer. There are layers here, and I'm not judging. 

That being said, our women's club, The Zonta Club, is doing an activity for the 16 Days of Activism with "Orange Girls." One of our club members dressed these gals up and we've placed them around town. You have to take a selfie with them, and the person who gets the most selfies wins a prize. This project runs November 26 - December 1 and it's an international activism event to bring to light gender-based violence. 

Technically, we don't know who's got the posters. But I'll tell you - and we'll see how many locals read my blog! This one is at my yoga studio, Just Breathe Yoga Studio, in Crest Hill - just outside Joliet, actually. So - if you're local, come out and take a class, and take a picture with the Orange Girl. 

And an Ending...

So that funeral I was working on took place. It was beautiful, and the family loved what we did. 

It was important for us to get this right. Not just because it's the proper thing to do, but because so many of us were close to Judy, and we wanted to make sure her send-off was as perfect as we could get it. 

And it almost was. Well, actually, the service went off without a hitch. The music was nice. The readings were great, and the message from her daughter was beautiful. 

But I forgot to get a check to pay the priest. Now - wait... priests are often underpaid, especially in small parishes (which we are) and sometimes, people think that doing these things is "part of the job." And they are...when you're the permanent priest at a church. 

But when you're a sub, you have to get paid. Yikes, I felt like a fool! But we have it all taken care of and I can breathe now.

Judy will be scattered. She always loved to travel. Rest well, my friend. 

Random Picture...

A nearly-full moon. From my phone, so you really don't get decent definition. I swear, my OLD phone had a better camera. This phone is supposed to be "new and improved" but the camera? Not so much. 

Anyway, it's incredibly bright, and for the past few days, with the spring-like weather (and yes, it's late November...very strange), the skies have been clear. 

Tonight, it's a 3/4 moon and stunning. I don't know what it is, but I'm fascinated lately by the sky. 

Maybe because I'm worried that with all the crap going on with the Mango Moron, we won't see the sky. We'll be obliterated by a random (or not so random) nuke from North Korea... 

Anyway, enjoy this picture. I'm going to brush my teeth and toddle off to bed. Tomorrow is Thursday, and frankly - the worst day of my week because it's where I hit ALL three jobs in one day. Good night, and sleep well! 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

...well, I'm actually blogging on the day of a holiday. I'm usually elsewhere and the laptop is no where to be found! 

This year, we had two Thanksgivings. Kid #1 was planning on bringing his girlfriend to visit; they live out of state. Seems like a Big Deal - and I was looking forward to meeting her. However, she had a last-minute business deal come up. Stuff happens, and in this business climate - as a small biz owner? I'd have done the same thing. 

Anyway, we usually celebrate the Sunday before, so we can have other family members do their thing, go to the different in-laws, etc. But since Kid #1 couldn't get here by then... we just finished "Thanksgiving Lite" at my mom's house: turkey, "funeral potatoes" (shredded potato casserole - you've eaten it!), veggie, stuffing, and apple pie. The Kid doesn't eat much - never has, and as he's gotten older, I've been concerned -- he has a very physical job and he's got to keep up his nourishment. 

It's nice to have both kids at home. Tomorrow, I've nagged them into taking a picture with me. I don't have one with both of them, and with both living away from home, and one out of state? It would be nice. Just to have proof that I have kids!


So my phone is acting wonky - it doesn't see the laptop, or the laptop doesn't see it. It's difficult to share pictures. Hubby found that I'm almost at the limit of my memory capacity, so he's cleaning off the pics. I do have some I want to share with you, but for now, the camera is working in the background and I'm hoping to have some to show you soon. 

Gotta love technology. I've updated the phone a couple of times; it's a Windows phone, and actually I love it. But the updates can be frustrating because occasionally, things aren't where they used to be. 

But all in all, it's a nice sturdy phone, so I can't complain too much. I have a Galaxy S-4 for the studio and I don't particularly like the Android OS. It's do-able, and it's the only phone I can put my heart monitor on, so I'm kind of stuck with it. 

Lucky for me, I'm of the generation that's comfortable with technology, but we don't live with it. I mean, I'm almost 60 years old. I caught the beginnings of Windows and I'm comfortable in the realm of tech. But I'm not like those folks who do EVERYTHING on their phones. I do as little as possible on mine. Phone calls, texts, emails and pictures. That's it. No games. No purchasing. No banking. No FB messenger. 

Pretty stripped down, right? And I like it that way. Oh, I do use the maps sometimes, but I have a GPS in my car, so I really don't use that feature a lot. But I see folks who bank, who shop, who do it all. And I worry, because if they lose their phone or if it gets stolen? Wowza - their whole life is on there. 

Not for me, thanks. I've got enough on my hands without risking that. That - I suppose - is an advantage to having a Windows phone. Nobody wants them! 

So after all of this, Hubby will figure out what's up with my phone and laptop not playing well together. It's strange: you sometimes think that things in the realm of technology are "bottomless." That there's "endless" storage. But there's not. 

And with all of the talk about ending net neutrality, it gets even more confusing. Here's an article from Fortune. I've read it. I'm not an idiot, and I still don't understand it. As with most things these days, it seems that it's a political hot potato. It remains to be seen if the Big Boys (Google, AT & T, etc.) will REALLY be in favor of "equal access" or whether they'll cave in and let themselves be led by God-Knows-Who and start to restrict who sees what and how much they pay for it. 


So the "Close to You" shawl is coming along nicely. I'm going to confess something... I was told by Kid #1 that the girlfriend "likes clothing she can wrap herself in." So I have a shawl made from eyelash yarn that I was given. And I have a poncho-like thing that I was given - which I'll never wear. Sooooo - creative re-gifting. I don't mind doing that because (a) I have no time to knit her something; and (b) she apparently loves vintage clothing. The shawl is a good-sized one, able to wrap multiple times around the neck and it's in lavender, her favorite color. The poncho-like thing is red and white. So they won't match, but then hey: she has two things she can wear separately. 

As far as socks go, I've made what may seem to be a foolish commitment. I want to knit 15 pair of socks to make a dent in the stash. I am vowing (I'm TRYING THIS) that I'm going to get through that "Twelve Months" box so that I can use the tote for something else, and then get through another 3 or 4 skeins of sock yarn. I have to look into how much is in the 12-months box; I do believe it might be 10 skeins - in which case, I need to use up 5 more hanks. 

And yeah. I have that much. And yeah, I've got to start knitting it up. I do want the socks, and it's doing no good just sitting there. 

I need to separate the "wheat from the chaff" -- the stuff that will be good for socks, and the stuff I'd rather do shawls with. 

My Office...

My office has once again turned into "Christmas Central" and I'm still trying to get it organized. I'm going to dash down to the basement and see if there are a couple of totes that I can grab to dump in some of that spare yarn. If I can drop that into the basement or into the closet, I can get floor space. Hubby is also talking about reorganizing the closet in Kid #2's room so that we can pack up stuff of his, and then I'll have more space. 

Every year, my office gets the "Christmas" stash - or at least it's done so since the kids moved out. Before that, it was my closet in my bedroom, and that wasn't always working well. 

I hope to have everything organized by the end of the year. I'm working on it, and I think it's coming along nicely. A lot of the piddly work has already been done, and I've got a strong idea in mind of how I want it to look. I'll get you a progress shot soon.

16 Days of Activism...

Our local women's club is doing a great project - a "scavenger hunt" kind of thing with these ladies. Thirteen of them will be placed around the area, and I just (ahem) might know where at least one will be -- let's just say a certain yoga studio... These posters point out the 16 Days and how important it is to advocate against domestic violence. In this current climate of enhanced gun violence and other forms of abuse, it's even more important that we do more than "social media" activism. There's more than #metoo. I'm not disregarding it, but I'm saying that we need to do something more. We need to be visible and vocal.

Speaking of "visible" - one of our members thought that the posters were nice - and they are. But they're flat. So she dressed them up. Each has its own personality. Our Service and Advocacy committees came up with the scavenger hunt idea. People find the ladies, take a selfie and post with hashtag...the one who finds the most gets a one-night stay at a local hotel, dinner included. 

I was going to try to get one into a local popular restaurant or the Menard's - but I ran out of time. If I get a chance on Friday or Saturday (Saturday is actually the first day of the 16 days), I'll still try, but I figured that enough of my students were hyped up about the idea, so perhaps if the committee plants clues, more folks will come to see her. 

The Studio...

Speaking of which - the studio, I mean - I held a Make & Take with a few friends. It turned out nicely, and I'm going to make up a few of the gift packages for Christmas giving. 

I used the Young Living DIY kits, which have supplies for 6 crafters, and each crafter can make a lotion, spritz and lip balm. You provide the crafter and the oils, and the kit has the lotion base, witch hazel (for the spritz) and lip balm base. Since we had a small group, I let loose with the oils - not only using some of the recipes in the DIY kit, but having them make their own and I threw in a little 'spiff' and had mason jars with epsom salts for bath or foot soaks. 

I'm going to do foot soaks for each kid, using Young Living's Purification essential oil or maybe tea tree - particularly for Kid #1 who's a welder and spends a lot of time in welding boots. The Tea Tree is a nice one for a foot soak. And Kid #2, a teacher, can use something soothing for the end of a long day in the classroom. 

On the one back wall (I'll be showing you a picture), I've got a "Just Breathe Yoga Studio Christmas Wishes" display. I have construction paper stars, and I will put them in a basket for the students and teachers to write a wish and tape it to the window. It should be nice and festive. 

I usually hang a wreath there, but I think this will be nicer - more participation, if you know what I mean. I don't decorate a lot in the studio -- floor space is important, and for some classes, we need every bit of it. 

On December 15, we're hosting a Winter Bazaar for the Southwest Suburban Activists. We'll have 10 vendors, and hopefully, lots of folks will come in and not only buy stuff, but see the studio. 

Hubby will put a tarp down because if the weather is crummy, we want to keep the floor nice. Even if the weather is fine, people usually walk around barefoot in the studio and I want to keep the floor in good shape. 

I'm looking forward to that. I think it'll be good exposure for the business. 

Therapy Dog...

Tippi had her last visit of November at Lewis University. There's only one visit in December, and I told the kids that I'd bring ALL of her Christmas hats and they can try to get selfies with her. She doesn't know this yet...

This is her Thanksgiving attire...She was a good sport about this one, but the full-fledged turkey head dress? Nope. Lasted 5 seconds. 

We'll have December and January off, for the most part, and then when school resumes, she's back on duty. Working this past Tuesday was a nightmare - I had to dash home, barely had time to change into "therapy gig" clothes, and take her out to the campus. 

That's ok - we stayed till just before 8 p.m., and she was looking for her favorite Brother. She hasn't figured out that he's retired and will only be coming back when he's up to it. I felt bad for her, but one of the students got a selfie of her and sent it to him. I hope it made him laugh. 

Random Picture...

I've been working on a special project, and I was at our church after our therapy visit. I noticed that one of the spotlights was out at the front of the church, leaving half of it in darkness... but I thought this was an interesting shot anyway. I did talk to our maintenance person and he's going to look into it. 

Our church was built in the 1860s - and it's a historic structure. It nearly burned to the ground in 1903, and was rebuilt. It's a beautiful old building. The acoustics can be a little touchy, and there are "sound holes" but it's still a place where a note can hang for a bit. 

And yes, in case you're wondering. I'm pretty sure it's haunted. More than once, I've heard footfalls, and I've been the only one in the sanctuary. And our organist said the same thing. A few folks who've been there for a long, long time also agree with me. 

So every time I go in there, I wish "good day" to "God and the ghosts." What the heck...I don't know for sure. And it's not scary. But I will cover my bases. What harm can it do?