Tuesday, November 30, 2010
1. Lick The Sugar Habit, Nancy Appleton - If you want to scare yourself off of sugar forever, than this is the book for you. I picked it up because it was on the recommended reading list provided in the handout my allergist gave me about my yeast allergy. (To be fair, Dr. Fowler told me I really didn't need to do any more research as I'd already read one of the other books.) All I can say is Ugh. I also reread/skimmed The Yeast Connection by William Crook and Bethanny Frankel's Naturally Thin to help prepare for my new lifestyle. My mother - wanting to help - gave me a copy of The Yeast Connection Cookbook, and I've skimmed that one as well. Oddly enough, it was Frankel's 'make your own rules to suit your own body' attitude that has made my transition the easiest, although it certainly helps to have a better understanding of how food allergies work - especially the crazy ones I'm blessed with.
2. The Innocent Mage, Karen Miller - A traditional off-world fantasy (the term given to sword/magic type books in made-up settings), this was an attempt on my part to find a new author in one of my favorite genres. I am quite happy to say that Miller is brilliant with her characters, who were by far the best part of the book. While many of her plot elements could easily have come across as templates common to the genre, Miller managed to keep them fresh and engaging. I'm glad to have stumbled across her books. The bad news is that this is the first of a two-book storyline, and the ending of this book set up a whole lot of really bad stuff to happen in the next book. I understand that that is a necessary plot point...but sometimes it can be a drag, which is why I haven't started the next book yet.
3. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, ed. Kate Bernheimer and Gregory Maguire - Be still my beating heart. I love fairy tales. They are my absolute favorite part of the literary world, and I love to both read them and study them. This book is a collection of 40 new fairy tales - each based on older tales from all over the world. The stories are dense and delicious, and I'm savoring them slowly. I'm only about half of the way through the book...so you'll see this on my list next month, too.
4. Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep and Storey's Guide to Raising Llamas - I by no means read either book all the way through, but I spent a lot of time thumbing through them both over the Thanksgiving break. I was raised with cows, rabbits and chickens...I have no idea how to care for sheep and llamas! Time to learn. I will hopefully pick up copies of both soon.
1. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain, CraftLit Podcast - All I can say is, Thank God it's over. It'll never be my favorite book, and the ending didn't do it for me even though this is the first time I've made it that far. Perhaps if it was half as long as it is? Who knows.
2. Chastened: The Unexpected Story of My Year Without Sex, Hephzibah Anderson - I found this one while browsing the downloadable audiobooks available through my library, the Daniel Boone Regional Library, and thought, 'Why Not?' After all, I use DBRL's audio books as a way to try books I would never otherwise explore. To my surprise, this was more than just an amusing memoir. I found Anderson's commentary on sexuality in th modern world to be interesting and often spot-on. Her take on what it is to be a woman navigating the current social craziness was fascinating...and it made me very, very glad that I've lived my life as I have and that I found my husband when I did.
3. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, CraftLit Podcast - OK, technically the last portion won't be out until Saturday. It's not that long, though, so I'm including it here. Besides, I've heard it read several times before. It's ALWAYS fun!
Monday, November 29, 2010
- I believe I've finally found my heart's desire.
- I am a farmer.
- That's what I want to do with my life....and now I just have to figure out how to make that happen.
The last week has been so eventful that I thought I would change things a bit today. Besides, I'm in a rather quiet mood, and this seems a bit more appropriate.
- I had thought to avoid saying anything more about my cat, but am finding that the grief is such that I can't avoid it. It's bound to color my life for the next few days or weeks, and it would be dishonest to try to cover it up.
- My beautiful Tynan was approximately 18 years old, but up until the end he showed almost no signs of either his age or his illness. Diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago, he defied the odds and rebounded quickly from the few setbacks he had. However, I was fully prepared for his decline, and thought I knew the form it would take.
- Life throws us surprises, though, and yesterday afternoon he threw a blood clot which caused a massive stroke. The only thing unaffected was his heart and lung function, and it was clear he was never coming back. The blessing is that my father had on hand the euthanasia drugs he needed - just exactly enough to ease Tynan's passing.
- Much as it hurts - and I do feel like I've been hit by a truck - I recognize that in many ways we were lucky...that this happened at my parents' home where my father could be there and help, that the children didn't see anything, that he was spared a long diabetic decline, that he never suffered.
I'll fess up now. I'm writing this late Sunday night because I can't sleep. With the exception of the one year I lived in the college dorms as a freshman, I've had a pet snuggled up in bed with me every night since I was in the sixth grade....and for the last 18 years that's been Tynan. I tried coaxing my husband's papillon next to me, but her wee doggy body and twitchy doggy dreams didn't help matters at all.
So enough of the sad stuff, let's talk about the good.
- Technically, I hate cats.
- I am a dog person.
- I had a cat because my parents refused to let me take my dog to live with me when I moved into a condo my sophomore year in college. Rotten parents. Stole my dog.
- I got even by conspiring with Dad's receptionist to find a cat. Take that!
- Of course, Tynan was really more doglike than catlike. We are very sure he was at least part Maine Coon. He was always in charge, never ruffled by anything, persistent to a fault and supremely confident. He could scare large dogs without ever lifting a paw (and frequently did to rather hilarious results), had a purr so loud that it could be heard over the phone even if he happened to be 10 feet from the receiver (in his younger years he also trilled) (I'm pretty sure he's caused earthquakes.), never hid from anyone (except if he thought he would have to go in the car), was very hard to ignore, and would sleep on top of me no matter how I tossed and turned, oozing over me without ever once being disturbed.
- Tynan was very much attuned to how I felt, and whenever I would have a migraine he would curl up next to me and purr softly to help keep me calm. Often I would hold him close and bury my face in his fur. As many of you know, I gave birth to both of my children here in my own home, and with both Tynan stayed with me all afternoon through my labors, curled up in my arms on the bed, purring softly to let me know that everything would be ok.
- And that was Tynan.
Returning to the farm thing.
- Anyone who knows me at all will know that the question of what I am to do with myself when I grow up has plagued me for years.
- It's an old, and very complex problem....and I don't think I really need to go into it again. Suffice it to say that I believe I've spent a lifetime denying what I want because it just didn't match up either with what I think others have expected of me or with the pressures I put upon myself to live up to my intellectual gifts.
- Denying one's heart is a very bad thing to do.
- When we were home this last weekend, though, I felt great contentment fill my soul as I would bundle up and head out to the pasture to watch the sheep. There is a clarity that comes to me when I am working on the farm, and a peace that I find nowhere else.
- Realistically, I know we can't go out and buy a farm and just go at it. This is a long-term goal that is going to require much thought and planning, possibly with some other work along the way to make it possible.
- The important thing is that I've finally recognized it fully for what it is.
- I am a farmer, and that's what I want to be.
I imagine you are going to be rather tired of sheep pictures in the coming week, so let me reassure you that I do have crafty goodness to talk about as well. That will include, but will not be limited to:
- The completion of the knitting portion of the girls' Christmas sweaters.
- A new design project...my first!
- My plans for spinning, with an eye towards four fleeces in the spring.
- The finished felt clogs.
- A sock project that a friend of mine and I are contemplating.
- Christmas plans!
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
He belongs to my brother,Erin, and is a fine, proud fellow.
My name is Zeke. I am a yearling 2-horned Jacob ram born April, 2009. I am the Big Daddy and hope to father several lambs for your family. By the time I am 5 years old, my horns should make another curl. I also have a beautiful fleece. Perhaps someday you will be adorned with a wonderful sweater that I have produced. I am also quite gentle and settling into life at your in-laws farm.
Thank you for being my new shepherd.
Love, Zeke and Grandpa
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
In retrospect, I am rather embarrassed that I didn't catch on to my parents' lies. After all, they did turn down a weekend with the grandkids...and that just doesn't happen. The request to call them when we were 30 min. away today was odd, too. It was foggy, and why on earth would my dad, brother and SIL have gone to the next town on such a day? Especially when the Erin's arrived just this AM after very little sleep?
Perhaps it should have been a red flag that my Aunt and Uncle were here - and my uncle had his camera on the ready. (He's a professional photographer.)
But I was clueless.
The fact that they had decorated for Christmas quite frankly didn't even register.
When we arrived on the farm around 2:30, I quite naturally fell into my typical routine of getting the kids inside and the van unloaded. It can be a big task, and I usually have tunnel vision until it's done. Our things safely stowed in the upstairs bedrooms, and first hugs haven been shared, I was surprised when my Dad ordered us to sit down on the couch. He then gave the Princess a card to read.
Christmas was going to happen at Thanksgiving this year. Our family had a very special gift, and each of us had a string to follow in order to find it. Also, we would each need a guide.
Now the string guide for Christmas gifts is a very old tradition in our family. Items that are too big to wrap are hidden somewhere else in the home and are attached to a string that leads back to the Christmas tree and a card. Past examples include my mom's horse cart, Gram's kiln, my brother's rabbits and my beloved Westie. It's ALWAYS exciting and there's always at least one present with a string.
We were sent out one by one. First, my husband with my Mom. The Princess went next with my SIL and the Pixie was sent shortly thereafter with my brother. My Dad held me back for a while, and we both watched the others as they wound all over the yard and towards the barn. (My husband had to climb hay bales!) My Uncle was out there, furiously snapping pictures of everyone, and it was clear that everyone was very eagerly awaiting our discovery.
I wasn't too surprised when my string went to the barn. It is, after all, a nice big place to hide things. I opened the side door to find.....
No, not one, a flock of FOUR SHEEP!
OK, I admit...I started jumping up and down and screaming like a four year old. I think I might even have stopped breathing for a while. Heck, hours later I'm still grinning like a fool!
Our little flock of four are Jacobs, and they are the most beautiful sheep in the world. (I promise pictures when I'm back at my own computer!) Jacobs are smallish sheep, with either two or four horns and glorious spotty fleeces.
My husband was given the Ram - Zeke - a fine fellow with huge curly horns and a mild disposition. My Dad matched the Princess with Katrina, who is the dominant ewe who likes to take charge. The Pixie received Danette, who's rather reserved at this point. These three were all born in April of last year, and hopefully the two girls are expecting.
My beautiful girl is Willow, born this last April. As the youngest she is on the low end of the flock's totem pole, but Dad says she's slowly starting to hold her own. Dad picked her for me because of her absolutely gorgeous fleece. Even though she's still a bit skittish, I had her eating out of my hand before we turned them loose in the pasture.
On top of this bounty, my brother and SIL were given a pair of llamas. JoJo and Josie are as sweet as can be - both absolutely loving attention. Believe it or not, these two will be protecting the flock. Josie was already on the job, and was making sure the dogs stayed well away from her charges!
I'm not sure who's happier about all of this - me or my parents, who are clearly enjoying all of the new animals. My dad - who had convinced me that he hated sheep - has been surprised at just how much he loves having them around. Then again, his father had sheep when he was little. Mom has wanted llamas forever, and so for her this is a dream come true.
I'm sure tonight I'll be dreaming of sheep...and fleece...and spinning...and sweaters.
And my Dad will get the very first one.
PS. I will admit that when I started following my string I had two thoughts. The first - spoken out loud to Dad - was, "You know, the best gift I ever got was on the end of a string. No gift has ever matched BB (the Westie). To myself I thought, "Maybe Dad got me that sheep finally, Ha ha. Because that'll never happen." When I post pictures I'll tell you that story.
- My husband and children who have given me more than I had ever imagined possible.
- A comfortable home.
- Good friends - especially the women in my life.
- Excellent schools with teachers my children love and respect.
- Doctors who have given me answers.
- The supportive community that I've found in my gym.
- My extra kids, who bring smiles each time they are with me.
- The ability to create.
- My husband's employer - who has helped to make him very happy.
- The potential to build whatever future I would like.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.
Monday, November 22, 2010
- I'm knitting dangerously today.
- By 'knitting dangerously' I mean, 'praying I won't run out of yarn for these two Christmas sweaters because it's going to be really, really darn close.'
- Speaking of the Christmas sweaters, can I just tell you all how much I love and adore colorwork?! Seriously, I could spend the rest of my knitting life knitting nothing but lace and fair isle and be completely happy.
- Along with this interesting revelation comes the additional dawning of the fact that I really don't enjoy cables. They're kind of dull.
- I know, I know...to each his own.
- And speaking of lace, all of you who have an opinion on such things, please speak up. I have enough of my recent handspun to make a shawl. Should I do one of my favorite patterns or design something of my own?
- Inquiring minds want to know.
- I only have two things to say about the allergy diet this week.
- Number One - The benefits far, far outweigh the inconveniences.
- Number Two - Last night I survived my first public outing. Suffice it to say that I am going to have to plan better. Much, much better.
- In exercise news, Boot Camp is over - but several of the girls and I are planning on continuing to work out together. Win!
- My Boot Camp results were excellent! Yay me!
- Right now the only problem seems to be that I can't sleep worth a darn. I have a call in to my doctor to talk about my medications because insomnia is a side-effect of both. I kind of wonder if my body chemistry hasn't already changed enough to have pushed that particular problem to the forefront.
- Oh, and I do have an appointment on the books for the girls and I to establish care with a new GP. I'm kind of excited about that! She came highly recommended by my allergist - who knows the doctors I've had in the past and could give me the name of someone she felt I would get along with.
- We're looking forward to Thanksgiving with my family.
- We're not looking forward to the problem of who sleeps where.
- We're hoping to convince the girls that camping out on an inflatable mattress in the basement is really, really fun.
- Can't wait to see my brother! and my SIL!
One last thing - too cute to be a regular bullet-point. I went to use the little notepad in my knitting bag the other day and discovered that the Princess had written a little letter in it. It says, " Dear God and Jesus, Please take away my sins and give me love. Love, (Princess) (May the force be with you."
Have a great week everyone!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
As hoped, I did finish the Princess's sleeves last night, which meant that I was free to focus on the Pixie's sweater.
Before I picked up the needles, I spent some time with the schematics for both sweaters, making plans for the changes necessary to convert Julia's Sweater from a pullover to a cardigan. Those changes will include the addition of a front steek, slightly longer sleeves with a slightly wider top and a shift in the placement of the armhole steeks. Easy as pie!
For no good reason, I decided to start both a sleeve and the body....and for no good reason I fumbled with both trying to make them work according to my wishes. We'll blame it on trial and error and slippery needles. At any rate, I now have a plan in place and am happily on my way to another beautiful sweater!
Friday, November 19, 2010
At any rate, I thought I would make up for my lack of blogging this week by doing a workbasket review. This particular workbasket is the Christmas edition, which means that -
this (my 50th pair of socks)....
The Pixie's sweater so that I can do it all at once.
PS. No, I didn't notice that my pictures of those felt kits were wonky until after I had imported them to blogger. Tough.
Monday, November 15, 2010
- I am quite happy to report that my sugar withdrawal phase is now OVER.
- Let the healing begin!
- I have always hated the phrase, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. " I think, perhaps, it just misses the mark a bit by focusing on looks. If you tweak it a bit to read, "Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels," than you will understand where I am right now and why I am so perfectly at peace with my current dietary restrictions.
- Besides, I realized yesterday that I don't think about food all of the time anymore, and that this diet has already given me a better understanding of how to listen to my body's needs than anything else I've ever done. Those are definitely good things
- Who knew? A trip to the allergist is giving me answers to 20 years of problems.
- AND, I'm not feeling so crazy anymore.
- My energy level - while still not great - is improving, and I was able to get a lot of stuff done this weekend.
- Most importantly, we did a small bit of furniture rearranging. My barrister's bookshelf is now down in my little corner, my knitting books are once again safely installed on its shelves, and my sewing desk is now sitting beside my bed. My 'office' in the basement feels complete, and I now have shelving for all of my non-knitting craft books/materials/misc. stuff on my old bookcase. (You may remember, I had intended to put my knitting books in that bookcase, but the shelves weren't wide enough for most of them.) Even better, our bedroom no longer feels or looks cluttered, and my sewing desk isn't hiding behind the door that leads to the bathroom.
- I also completed some Christmas gifts. Yay me!
- And I went through my stash page on Ravelry, completely updating it. To my shame, I don't think I've entered anything into my stash page since I first set it up. Whoops!
- In the process, I nixed a couple of small knit gift projects. The recipients wouldn't have cared, and I realized I didn't want to do them.
- Barnes & Noble...here I come. You are my favorite place to buy gifts, after all.
- By the way...no new projects are going to be allowed until AFTER the Christmas gifts are done.
- Cupcake is on the floor next to me, practicing new sounds with her voice. Today's sounds include funny bird squawks and buzzing gurgles.
- Babies are funny.
- Next odd job...going through all of my magazines. Ridiculous to hold on to so many!
- Did you know that Starbucks has plain green tea? They do, and I recently discovered that just being there for a few hours to relax is a heck of a lot more important than what I am drinking!
- Although I would like a peppermint mocha....
- I would also like a maid, a chef, my personal trainer, a wardrobe full of fantastic clothes, anything other than my van to drive, a fancy camera, a new bedroom set (or at least a new mattress and pillows), and a farm on which to live out my country dreams.
- By the way, the Princess's day of knitting and spinning had the rather curious effect of making the Pixie realize that SHE wanted to be a knitter and a spinner too. Up until very recently she's not shown any interest in arts & crafts, and her new found interest in the fiber arts was thrilling.
- Not so thrilling was how she wanted to knit. 1. She would grab my knitting so that she could work on it for a while. 2. She wanted her own scarf to knit.
- You must understand that by "Knit" what I really mean is that she was moving the stitches back and forth from needle to needle, occasionally stopping to randomly poke the needle into the fabric or make loops with the yarn.
- Can we say, "Hot mess?"
- Ah well... the Princess's own early forays into the world of fiber arts were much the same.
- Thank goodness I don't currently have a spinning project on the wheel. That could have been ugly.
- This is my last week in Boot Camp in the gym. I'm actually going to miss it - a lot! This particular group of women has been been fun, supportive and absolutely lovely in every way.
- Speaking of Christmas gifts...I need to get to work!
Have a great week everyone!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
These are quite lovely socks, and the yarn is fantastic. The pattern is my basic Ann Budd pattern, the needles are Knit Picks Harmony 2.25 mm needles, and the yarn is Leili from The Unique Sheep (which I purchased when it was still Liisu Yarns). They are made for a custom fit for my husband - which means they are composed of 80 stitches around with 80 rows in the leg and 60 in the foot using 2x2 rib to get a cozy fit.
And once again, I would like to say that it's a delight to knit for someone who appreciates his socks so much!
I also finished up six more mini socks. I only have 10 to go before I'm completely caught up with the Wee socks, but 5 or 6 is usually as many as I can make at a time before my attention is drawn elsewhere. I AM thinking of an art project so that I can put all of my minis on display somewhere in the house - most likely in my little corner of the basement. The only problem with that plan is that I must admit that I do enjoy handling them..
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
- I finally bought some plain white tea and some plain decaf green tea today. I might survive the allergy diet after all.
- My Pixie took a drink from my Kleen Kanteen after eating her lunch. When I next took a drink I tasted peanut butter and honey and chocolate......
- Note to self, do not let children share Kleen Kanteen.
- Speaking of children, the Princess started piano lessons last week. Her teacher is one of my P.E.O. sisters, and I couldn't be happier about the whole situation! My girl has diligently - and with enthusiasm - practiced every single day, and she was extremely disappointed to discover that she only got to go once/week.
- Meanwhile, my 4-year-old has officially found her terrible twos, and is also not using words very often. Very strange.
- I can't believe how much a simple cup of tea was able to elevate my mood today!
- Bring on the cranky preschooler!
- I finished a project today...and there will be a post tomorrow.
- Rather than move on to IMPORTANT knitting, though, I may have been temporarily distracted by my mini-socks....and some rather - ahem - (fill in the blank with the rude term that means "obsessive-compulsive")ly thorough listing of all of my socks and mini socks, complete with cross check to see which socks I still need to copy in miniature form.
- Yep. I'm nuts.
- My mini-socks are quite important to me, which makes it all the more annoying that I still haven't located the first 25 of them. You may remember me kvetching about this before. I normally put them up on my personal Christmas tree (celebrating all things handmade), and after Christmas they would go into a plastic bag in my sewing desk. Two years ago - for apparently no good reason - I decided to put them somewhere safe because I had been getting increasingly nervous about misplacing them. You guessed it, that bobble in my routine was a huge mistake, and to this day I still haven't figured out where that special "safe" place was.
- The 7 that I still have are now pinned to my cork board in my office space...where I can enjoy them...
- While I start to make more! I have 16 to go to have made one for each pair of big socks.
- Also, I am going to make it a point to make the mini as soon as I finish the regular socks from now on. Seriously...it only takes about an hour.
- Enough of the minis.
- Other things on my mind.....hmmmm.....
- Nope, stuck on the minis tonight.
Have a great week everyone!
An hour later... I JUST FOUND MY MINIS! YEAH! Random idea popped into my head as I was walking through my room, and - sure enough - they had fallen BEHIND the big drawer of my sewing cabinet.
I am now happy.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
- That inner peace over my required dietary restrictions? Well, it's for the most part holding up. It is, after all, quite a different thing to be told that you MUST avoid something because it is making you sick.
- However, my roast beef made me sad tonight because it just wasn't what I wanted and I didn't feel satisfied after I ate it.
- I also admit to crying on at least three occasions over the last week - including Wed. night, my Mommy's Night Off, when I normally would have been holed up in a coffee shop.
- I think the reality is setting in, and this upcoming week is probably going to be tough.
- For the most part, it's not too hard to eat this way....with a couple of exceptions.
- My meat/veggies/fruit diet does get - well - boring.
- I really hate facing a slab of meat and a pile of veggies every morning. Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day, but this is downright irritating. Honestly, I'm starting to dread that first meal of the day.
- The three things I miss the most are coffee, oatmeal and chocolate.
- The only problems at this point are more social in nature. The Mommy's Night Off I mentioned? I literally don't have anywhere I can go now to get away, and that's going to hurt for a while.
- By the way, I HATE having the Halloween candy in the house right now, and I REALLY hate the fact that I have to help the Pixie open her candy.
- My mood has been stable all week, which I'm very grateful for. We had honestly expected a lot worse.
- I started this diet Monday, and at 2:00 (my normal chocolate break time) that afternoon I completely crashed. By the time my husband got home from work I could barely function....and I haven't had much energy since.
- It's actually a struggle to get ENOUGH calories every day under this diet, and so I imagine for a while I'm going to be working to find the balance between calories in and exercise out.
- Now for the good stuff.
- Must say that it's kind of nice to be able to eat whatever I want within my restrictions. I guess if I needed help in fully letting go of my anxious need to track my food, than this is it!
- I haven't had a single tummy ache since I started this diet, which is amazing. I've had tummy issues for 18 years now, at times severe, and I thought I was going to have to live with them forever.
- My digestive process is quickly straightening itself out, which is also blowing my mind a bit.
- My face is starting to clear up.
- I'm never, ever hungry.
- I'm dropping weight. (Yep, I'm weighing myself. I have to admit that I'm curious.)
- My husband and children are being super-supportive, which means the world to me
- Also helpful is the fact that when I sat down to talk to my parents about all of this on Halloween my dad completely got it.
So there you have it. One week down, a whole bunch more to go! I promise I won't do this every week...it'd get old to me, too....but I've had so many questions and long conversations this week that I thought it might just make things easier if I wrote it all out.