Where Have I Been?

I feel like it’s been ages since I posted, and even I’m wondering Where Have I Been?!

Where Have I Been?

Well, I’ve succumbed to the Beading Bug, and am trying the art of beading in order to create some new knitting.  I have bought / read a slew of beading materials and have been learning basic beading as a means to enhance my knitting.  I want to go beyond what’s out there and my mind is swirling with possibilities to test.

I’m only posting a few pictures today to show you my first trial of knitting with beads that I learned in my class at VKL this past January.

I had bought this sparkly yarn from Holiday Yarns at the VKL Marketplace and have knitted and ripped and tried different patterns out. I bought some beads and completed a (self-designed) pattern, deciding not to frog it as it’s a perfect weight for a spring scarf.

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

The Princess Boa also included a beading technique of applying the bead (bell) during the knitting instead of adding them all to the yarn before knitting and then sliding them up for the necessary stitch.

Where Have I Been?

I am quite thrilled with all the new possibilities ahead and race home each day after work to try something new.

So much fun!  More reports to  come…

  
March 2015 Reading

March 2015 Reading

My March 2015 Reading report looks like I went a little crazy with the book buying, but Amazon had another one of their Sale Days when a multitude of Paleo e-books were not only on sale, but free! What a deal!

Books Bought March 2015

TitleAuthor
Death in Sicily: The First Three Stories of the Inspector Montalbano SeriesDamon Runyon
The ItaliansJohn Hooper
Paleo Gluten Free Slow Cooker RecipesBeth Gabriel
The Flavor Bible: Paleo Sauce and Dip RecipJ.S. West
10 MInute Paleo Slow Cooker CookbookDerek Doepker
Paleo BreakfastAngelina Dylon
Paleo CookiesAngelina Dylon
The Art of Frugal SimplicityJessica Jacobs
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha Drummond
Death at La Fenice: A Commissioner Brunetti MysteryDonna Leon
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGabrielle Zevin
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca Makkai
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian StoriesHenry Whittlesey

The sale was also good timing with Passover right around the corner. I find that many Paleo recipes are perfect for Passover since they avoid flour all together. Paleo Cookies has many good recipes, but I haven’t made any yet. (I ended up making Paleo Fudge Bites for Passover, which were delicious!)

I looked through the Paleo Comfort Food book because I made the worst meatloaf ever the other night!  I used almond meal instead of bread crumbs and while I did eat it that night, I could not bring myself to eat the leftovers.  It usually tastes better the next day…not this time! Too bad, how disappointing! I am hoping for a better bread crumb replacement from this book.

Books Read March 2015

TitleAuthorRating
The ItaliansJohn HooperDid not like; Did not finish
Paleo CookiesAngelina DylonWill come back to make the recipes!
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha DrummondGood selection.
Death at La FeniceDonna LeonFair to Good
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca MakkaiStill Reading
What Alice ForgotLiane MoriarityTrite. Could not get into it.
The Girl in the Flammable SkirtAimee BenderDisappointing
Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian LifeFrances MayesOkay, did not finish.
All my old knitting magazinesVogue, Interweave, KnitSimple, etc.Great!

My friends and I are planning a trip to Tuscany in the Fall so that led to a renewed interest in Italy-related books.  The Italians was disappointing. The description “John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover,” sounded so engaging, but so far I haven’t made it past the 40th page!  I will try again later.

March 2015 Reading

Death at La Fenice was good even though I guessed the answer around the middle.  This is the first in a series, so I think I will read more and hope they will get harder to solve.

Every Day in Tuscany is the sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I couldn’t get through the first but decided to try the second book anyway. Same result.  They’re just not that engaging.  A friend and I are going to have wine and watch the movie before we go to Italy. I think the wine will definitely help!

Another friend has asked me to knit her a poncho/ruana so I have been looking through  my magazine and book (and of course online) materials to come up with ideas. This has given me the opportunity to also bookmark other exciting patterns.  Even patterns from magazines that are ten years old (or more) would be so pretty with the luscious yarns available today!

March 2015 Reading

I am two-thirds of the way through The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, the author of The Borrowers.  I loved The Borrowers when I was young! I would say that even though I haven’t finished it yet, I liked The Hundred-Year House best of my March selection.  It’s about the inhabitants of a house, and how their stories evolve over the years. It’s told backwards which is kind of annoying, but also makes me think about the story when I’m doing something else. When I get to the end, I wonder if then I’ll have to re-read the beginning?

  
3 Patterns

3 Patterns

I set a goal of “3 Patterns” for the past 6 weeks. It was a bit vague, but I think I really meant it just to spur my creativity and branch out. It could have been read 3 Patterns, write 3 Patterns, knit 3 Patterns, crochet 3 Patterns…just do something with 3 different Patterns!

I met my goal and tried 3 knitting patterns, completed 2, 1 was a success. Smile. I am more about process than results, so I am happy that I did 3 Patterns. Never mind the results!

1. Winter Hat with variegated yarn intarsia pattern.
2. Started the Summit Shawl.
3. Made a very long boa scarf for a 5-year old princesslittle girl..princess.

1. Winter Hat


This is the Neighborhood Fiber DK in Victorian Village and a variegated pink DK that I bought on Etsy from Mothy and The Squid. I also used a gold strand with the Victorian Village outside of the ribbing. What fun colors!

I really need to read other winter hat knitting patterns, because once again, the final product turned out too big…but pretty!

2.  The Summit ShawlMandie Harrington is a genius! She created this beautiful shawl, and as I knit it, I continuously marveled at how brilliant she is to have created this pattern.

summitALT2

I started mine in a fingering yarn, and it was turning out nicely.  However, I decided to use the yarn for something else, so frogged it.  I think that I will use a DK instead of a fingering yarn when I do this pattern again.

Summit Shawl

3. Boa scarf. I was asked by this little princess to make a scarf.

3 Patterns

I used a pink fur yarn, a variegated pink/purple fur yarn, a deep pink strand, and knit in bells at each end!

I think I loved it more than the recipient!  Though she had fun with it too.

 

  

Procrastination Counts

Procrastination Counts

I am a procrastinator.

I like the process of planning things.

I like the process of doing things; I’m not that interested in the finished product.

I like beginnings but not endings.

I think these innate traits make me a natural procrastinator.

Procrastination Counts

However….

Lately, I’ve been wondering how many times do I need to think about doing something before I’ll actually do it.

Like, empty the dishwasher, take the garbage out, move the papers to the recycle bin (ugh, all cleaning activities!).

Procrastination Counts

Before, the count (of how many times do I…) was a solid 5.

Now, it’s about 3.

The other day, it was actually 1!

Crazy.

  
February 2015 Reading

February 2015 Reading

Summary: My February 2015 Reading Results were better than January’s, but not where I want to be.

Bottom line: I really need to get to the gym more often.

I station myself on a treadmill, set my kindle on the book rack, and let the book “take me away” while I walk.

Really, if I have a good book I will go to the gym more often and walk as long as possible. As long as possible = Given that my gym is at work, the more I walk the later I will end up working.

The only time this strategy did not work was when I was reading The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  I had high expectations and did not want to get caught up in the story and then have to drag myself away in the middle.

Books Bought February 2015

TitleAuthor
GangsterlandTod Goldberg
Leaving TimeJodi Picoult
The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkins

I had read about Gangsterland in the NY Times Sunday Book Review, and had recommended it to my Temple Book Club. As with The Grifters, again from the NY Times Book Review and a recommendation to my other book club, I just went ahead and read it on my own, without waiting for the others to join me.

February 2015 Reading

I wouldn’t say that I loved Gangsterland, but I would say that I loved certain parts of it…especially when the Rabbis were portrayed irreverently!  Some of my friends say that they choose a temple based on the rabbi, but I have never liked to give the clergy that much distinction.  I choose based on the community because I feel I would spend more time with the other members than with the clergy. (And between you and me, I rarely pay attention to the sermons because I often feel that they are sanctimonious, and I have no patience for that kind of attitude.)

So a story that has an American-Italian mobster impersonating a Rabbi was highly enjoyable!

February 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
GangsterlandTod GoldbergGood
Leaving TimeJodi PicoultFair
The Girl on the TrainPaula HawkinsGood!!!
The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town that Raised ThemAmy DickinsonDid not finish
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the LineMichael GibneyNot interested
Fall of GiantsKen FollettHave not finished

I wasn’t sure if I should put Fall of Giants on the list yet. A friend has lent me the hardcover, and I also borrowed the e-edition when I went away for a weekend.  But I’ve barely cracked it open, and have only read through the family listings before the story begins. BUT…I have heard rave reviews, and it is on the To Read list, so alas, it is included.

Sous Chef is about how a restaurant kitchen operates over the course of 24 hours.  Turns out I wasn’t as interested as I thought! And I was disappointed in Amy Dickinson’s book, and I hate to say that because I love her on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

As of February reading, I was biding my time to sink my teeth into The Girl on the Train.  It is now March when I’ve finished it, so I will be quite proper (Downton Abbey-speak!) and wait till next month’s post to give you my review. (Sneak Peek: if you are thinking about reading it, do so!)

February 2015 Reading

Since I have so few books on my list this month, I would have to say that the one I recommend most is Gangsterland.  It has interesting perspectives on modern mobsters, religion, and relationships.

 

  

Whole 30 Results

Well, I made it through the Whole 30!  It was easy in the beginning and then the middle dragged on, and then it was over!  I know you’re wondering about the whole 30 results. I have to tell you that I am feeling way better than the  numbers reflect.  I’m actually a little disappointed with the numbers even though I keep telling myself that this was only 30 days!

The Numbers

  • Lost 7.6 pounds
  • Lost 2 inches in the bust (& in a bra hook)
  • Lost 1.5 inches in the waist
  • Lost 1.5 inches in the hips
  • I did not measure my thighs but my pant legs are looser too.

The Health Aspects

  • Sleeping better – what does this mean? I fall asleep pretty quickly but that is nothing new. I sleep through the night.  That’s not really new.  I sleep down and out, a good solid sleep.  That’s new.
  • I feel the need to move around.  This is very new. I have always been very happy being sedentary. Now I feel restless if I have a more stationary day. These Work From Home Snow Days have proven this, unfortunately (because of the multiple snow days) again and again.
  • BOREDOM. Well, this is a negative way of reflecting upon the lack of indecision or distraction.  When I used to have spare time, I would get so excited and overwhelmed with the choices.  Now, or in the last 30 days, I am very calm and focused.  One thing at a time, all in order and still time to spare.  So much time!  To spare!
  • FOCUS. This is a partner to the above paragraph.  Clear thinking. Focused. Get things done quickly.  BORED.  But calm.
  • Thirsty.  I think giving up any in-between meal noshing has made me realize that I might have had a snack before instead of a drink.  I am not a big water drinker, but now I actually drink seltzer or water instead of eating.
  • Cravings. None.
  • My skin is brighter.  It’s hard to describe because I didn’t take notes on this facet beforehand, but I can tell you that my skin looks healthier than I think it looked before.
  • Energy Level. Up.  (Repeat of 3rd bullet point?)
  • More decisive. (Repeat of 4th bullet point?)  I’ve cut the cord of a certain online dating site that has not been successful, speak more of my mind (hard for some of my friends to imagine!), and don’t put up with as much BS as before.
  • My fingernails are stronger. (I still bite my nails, but noticed that I do it after I eat too much fruit! I always knew that I bit my nails after eating unbalanced or unhealthy food.)
  • My stomach is not bloated. I knew before that gluten products made me bloated, but now it appears that other foods have the same effect…foods that I cut out during this whole 30 day period.

Other

  • Food is boring now. Sure, there was the exciting lemon curry cauliflower recipe (pictured below) in the beginning, and I know there are other good recipes out there, but I am bored.  When I was writing this I could hardly remember what I had for dinner (grilled shrimp with mild kimchi and red peppers, with an orange and sunflower seeds for dessert, and water).  Not very memorable and I like being excited about food.

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  • I also found that I enjoyed being super picky and having food the way I wanted it in a restaurant. I’m usually resigned to having outside food served a way I don’t like or with ingredients that I avoid at home. Doing the Whole 30 allowed me to be really specific without apology.  Even choosing to not have the gravy because it has flour in it made me feel good.
  • I hosted my Book Club and served cookies, cheesy popcorn and chocolates (Hershey’s miniatures and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) and dried apricots.  I was not tempted and threw out the cookie and popcorn leftovers right away. Believe it or not, the chocolates are still sitting on my coffee table and are not even vaguely interesting.
  • I seem to have a reaction to too much ghee or maybe it’s just rich foods? I ended up with a stomachache after adding too much ghee to the pan to cook my eggs, or on top of some veggies.  I always knew that I was somewhat lactose-intolerant, but this really surprised me because ghee doesn’t have lactose.  Luckily the next step of this diet allows me to pinpoint how different foods affect me.

 What’s Next?

Now is the Reintroduction period where one slowly incorporates previously restricted foods. It’s recommended that one food group is done at a time, over a period of 3-4 days, so that any reactions can be detected and traced to the particular food.

I thought I’d start with sweets, but don’t have a plan yet.  I’m going to stick to most of the Whole 30 for a little while longer.  The best advice about finishing is this –

So what should you do?

  1. Continue eating Whole30-ish every meal, every day, as long as that feels good to you. (We say “Whole30-ish” because added sugar may creep back in, like ketchup with your burger. That seems reasonable to us. If ketchup is the worst thing in your diet, you’re doing okay.)
  2. When something comes around that is too good to pass up—too special, too sentimental, to important culturally, or simply too darn delicious—make a conscious, deliberate choice as to whether or not you are going to indulge.
  3. If you choose to indulge, take your time. Savor it. Eat consciously. And eat only as little as you need to satisfy the situation, your experience, or your taste buds. Maybe that’s a bite, maybe it’s the whole cookie, maybe it’s 6 cookies—just make sure you don’t fall into automatic consumption.
  4. When you’re done, move the heck on. No guilt, no shame, no remorse. You made a conscious decision to eat something you deemed worth it. Good for you. Now let’s move on back to our normally scheduled healthy meals.

You may find that you indulge once every few weeks, because nothing really amazing comes up in between. Or you may find that you indulge every day for 12 days, like on a vacation in Europe. Both are okay, as long as you are following this protocol. Conscious, deliberate decisions. Honest evaluations of “worth it.” And then a return to your normal healthy habits, no beating yourself up.

  

January 2015 Reading

I’m late to report on my January 2015 Reading!  That’s because there wasn’t much reading going on. I was trying to remember what I did instead of reading, and all I could think of was knitting the Iodine Cowl.

A friend recommended that I listen to books instead of reading, so I can knit and read at the same time, but I just really prefer to read than be read to…unless I’m in the car (driving or not!).

January 2015 Books Purchased

This would have been zero, except that a book that I back-ordered arrived this month:

200 Fair Isle Motifs, Mary Jane Mucklestone

January 2015 Reading

Well, if I had to buy a book in January, this was a great one!  Each pattern is shown in at least two color diagram choices (like cross-stitch) and then with a chart to follow. There is always a knitted sample of one of the designs at the top of the page.

January 2015 Reading

I already have a project in mind that will use at least two of the designs, which I hope to share the end results with you soon…

January 2015 Reading

Again, a small list.

First, I have to say that I don’t see the appeal of Mary Kay Andrews’ writing.  After two chapters, I couldn’t bear to waste my time anymore and returned it to the library ASAP.

I have no idea why I wanted to read The One and Only, but it had been on my Read From The Library list for awhile.  It’s about a young woman who likes sports, and her best friend’s family, where the father happens to be a college football coach. There’s obviously a lot of sports talk, which is not that enlightening to me, but the relationships are pretty believable, which is why I made it to the end of the book.

The Betrayers and Leaving Time were the selections for my two book clubs.  I read through each of them, not really engaged in either.  The Betrayers, at a high level, is about an Israeli political persona who basically runs away with a (younger) mistress to a Russian seaside town where he and his family visited when he was a child. After our book club discussion, I had a little more insight into what could make this book more interesting – the history of Jews in Russia, the Russian equivalent of the McArthur era, and even some insight into Israel.

Leaving Time was my first experience reading Jodi Picoult’s writing.  Interestingly enough, it was about elephant relationships and human relationships, and sometimes a elephant-human relationships.  I say “Interestingly enough,” because I have always been fascinated by elephants, and also have donated money to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee which was the basis for much of the book.  I was not captivated while reading the book, and had to push myself through certain parts.  However, by the end and when it was over, it gave enough to leaf back through it, looking for hints of what I missed to bring it to its conclusion (which I now understand is typical of her stories).

I would have to say that thanks to my book club discussion, The Betrayers was the most interesting book I read this month.  I’m sure if I had been more prolific, my choice would be different.

January 2015 Reading

 

 

  

Offensive Celebrities

I never really thought that Jerry Seinfeld would fall into the offensive celebrities category, but unfortunately he has now entered that world.

When a celebrity does something offensive, there is the risk of making him/her more popular by pointing a finger at it.  Publicizing the work makes the view count rate go up, thus perhaps making the celebrity’s work more profitable.

However, the backlash toward Brian Williams’ helicopter confession has made me stronger to publicly take a stand.

I have enjoyed the first 2 or 3 seasons of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee web series. I recently watched the episode with Jon Stewart, and felt very uneasy about their casual conversation about concentration camps  (at the 7:40 mark).  The remarks and their own laughing were about the title “concentration camps” and whether or not this wording is accurate.  I find this conversation and their own subsequent self-amusement to be in extremely bad taste, and I certainly would never accept the reasoning that it’s okay because they are Jewish.  I would say because they are Jewish, that makes it even worse.

Offensive Celebrities
http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/jon-stewart-the-sound-of-virginity

Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart are solid pillars of the Comedic Industry.  They’ve expanded their outreach beyond my generation to my children who also enjoy their work. They are reaching a wide audience.  They should know better than to joke about this.  They have crossed the line, and I hope that the younger generation also feels that this is not right.

I don’t feel that I am usually a high-and-mighty or holier than thou kind of person. I prefer to think that while others may do things that I don’t agree with, as long as it’s not hurting anyone, I can just leave them alone and go my own way.

Regardless, I must stand up against this 2 minute conversation. It should have been edited out.

  

Swiftly learning the Swift

I ended up not purchasing a swift in the VKL Marketplace because I didn’t need nor want to spend the money for a top-of-the-line handmade maple one.  A friend helped me pick one online at JoAnn’s, which also happened to be having a 40% off sale when we were looking.

Last Saturday, I focused on putting it and the ball winder together and testing it out.

This swift tightens its size by pulling in the pole rather than pushing out the stopper like an umbrella. The screw in the vise is tightened when the pole is pulled in at the right place.

Here is the yarn that I used. It may have been a mistake to use sparkly yarn in the trial run.  The sparkles made the yarn stickier and was catching on itself as it was being pulled.

Swift

2015-01-31 15.07.58

I had the ball winder to the right and the swift was moving counter-clockwise.  It wasn’t working very well.  I reversed the yarn and then also moved the ball winder to the other side of the swift.

Yes, I know. It doesn’t really make sense. I should have done one or the other, but not both.  Where are those mathematically-adept people who understand angles and geometry when I need them?

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Now the skein was moving clockwise but since I had moved the yarn, the loose end was no longer on the outside.  I had to pull lengths of the yarn out and crank the ball winder.  Then, since I was holding the yarn, it kept getting caught up either in the crank part or the yarn was coming out of the guides.

I told myself to Breathe.  And Focus.  And not think about how much time this was taking and is it really easier than just wrapping the yarn around one of the living room chairs?

Then. Finally!  We got to the part of the skein where the loose end was on top.  Let go of the lead. Crank the lever.

Voila!

Swift

 

 

 

  

Doin’ the Whole30

I started the whole30 food regiment a week ago.

Established by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.

During the holiday season I introduced myself to a guy at work because he runs this very active MeetUp group for singles aged 45 and beyond.  In order to avoid the “don’t I know you from somewhere” conversation, I decided to talk to him first.

Well, he found a friend in me.  He set up time for us to walk together and he shared with me his varying diet plans, potions and pills.  I shared the links to The Weston A. Price Foundation and Mark’s Daily Apple and lent him my Primal Blueprint book.  I casually! mentioned that he might want to try the whole30 food plan AND that I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to give up the cream for my coffee.  (I know, Flimsy Excuse, right?!)

He talked me into doing it with him.  He feels like he has a partner in this mission. I don’t.  We are on two separate planets.  He told me that someone told him to drink tea with lemon. He reached to show me the lemon at his desk and it was the plastic ReaLemon.  I do hope I didn’t roll my eyes.  Forgive me, but I was expecting a lemon.

I didn’t even attempt the processed food conversation.

But..enough about him.

The Whole30 Rules

For 30 days, DO Eat Real Food – Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

DO NOT Eat

  • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
  • Alcohol in any form, not even for cooking.
  • Tobacco products
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • All forms of soy
  • Dairy with the exception of clarified butter or ghee.
  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
  • Do not try to re-create baked goods,  junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients.
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program.
Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.

How’s It Going?

Very well! I have received compliments that I look good.  I don’t press for details. I just say Thank you!
Meals are actually pretty easy.  I’m drinking tea (Double Bergamot Earl Grey) instead of coffee. Whole30
Even though I do like cream and sugar in my tea, it’s just as easy and tasty to drink it on its own.
I did have some black coffee the other day…interesting!  It definitely needed at least some sugar, but I didn’t partake.
Here are some photos from my first bulk preparation. I find that it works better for me if I cook a large variety or batch of food at once, so I have it for subsequent meals and different combinations thereof.  My whole30 meals are not much different from others  that I’ve posted…except no honey or maple syrup, no butter, no cream, no quinoa, no gluten-free treats. LOL, well, maybe a little different!

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I came up with a wonderful dessert – sliced peeled apples and chopped dates sauteed in a little ghee with a sprinkle of sea salt and a pinch of baking spice.  A very filling  and delicious way to end the meal!

Whole30

It truly has been 8 days since I started.
  • My clothes are looser.
  • My skin is clearer.
  • I am sleeping really well.
  • My nails are stronger.
  • I have more energy.
  • I am more focused, less distracted.
  • I am getting up earlier.
  • I am having some crazy dreams, or maybe it’s just that I’m remembering more of them.
  • I am better physically balanced.
  • My hair is not coming out as much.
  • I am satiated throughout the day without a need to nosh (most of the time.)
  • I am thirsty!  (A good thing as I never felt the need to drink water before.)

More to come…