Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The "It's Too Hot To Do Anything Else So This Is Going To Be A Big List" Book Report

1.  Life After Loss, Bob Deits - I can't say enough good things about this book.  If you've ever experienced a loss - or if you have loved ones who are going through a loss of their own - this is a must read book.  Deits calls upon decades of experience to guide you through the grieving process and help guide you through the emotional work it requires.   

2.  Heart's Blood, Juliet Marillier - I adore Marillier, and I've had this book on my shelves for ages.  Question is, why on earth hadn't I read it yet?!  I picked it up because I needed a good old-fashioned paper book to take to the pool, and was so engrossed that I read it from cover to cover as quickly as I could.  As with Marillier's other books, it's heavily reliant on Celtic mythology/fairy tales.  This time, though, it's also a compelling ghost story.  SOoooo much fun....and when it comes down to it this is exactly the type of book and genre I love best. 

3.  Casket of Souls, Lynn Flewelling - Flewelling is one of my favorite fantasy authors, and I love her Nightrunner series.  At this point her characters are like old friends, and I really enjoy each new adventure. 

4.  Birds & Bees & YOUR Kids, Amy Lang - Yeah, it's time for THAT sort of preperation. Lang's book is actually a workbook that helps guide parents towards how to have those tough conversations with your kids in ways that are firmly grounded in your own belief systems and ideas of morality.  I think this is another must read for parents.

5.  Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller - I have to admit, I have a soft spot for anthing from Ancient Greece.  You do know (nudge, nudge) that I have a minor in the Classical Greek language?  That part of learning said language was that I had to memorize and recite the first 20 lines of the Illiad in Greek?  Ah yes, this book spoke to my heart.  Miller gave a full life and character to Patroclus in her book, and in the process she made Achilles human in a way I had never understood him to be.  It's perhaps no surprise that I'm rereading the Illiad.  Lyrical and fully steeped in the actual mythology, this book is truly something special.  (Thank you BOTNS!)

6.  Crossing The Borders of Time, Leslie Maitland (Audio) - Maitland was one of the BOTNS authors at their Booktopia events this year, and I have to admit that my interest was piqued by her author comments that she shared at the event.  (BOTNS puts those talks out as part of the podcast.)  So here's the thing.  This is an honest to goodness true love story with a happy ending - all set against the background and nightmare of the second World War.  In a nutshell, when her father was ill and dying Maitland undertook a quest to track down her mother's first love - a man she had been seperated from when her Jewish family escaped from Europe.  Maitland's book is meticulously researched (She is an investigative journalist.) and is obviously written from a place of love and respect for all involved.  This is my must-read recommendation of the month.  Just be warned...keep some tissue nearby when you read it.  You will need them!

7.  The Sense Of An Ending, Julien Barnes - Barnes has written a very short, but very emotionally dense book.  (And yes, this is my third BOTNS recommendation for the month)  I find that I keep typing out wee summaries, only to delete them again.  Hmmm....  OK, here's what I want to say:  As someone who has recently begun the process of rereading her own journals and so is keenly aware of how perspective changes with time....of how our knowledge of events isn't truly a set in stone sort of truth...I related quite well to this book.  I also thought the protagonists's emotional discovery process was nothing short of genious.  It's a short book.  It won't take long to read it, but it will stick with you for a  long, long while.

8.  It Starts With Food, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig - Quite simply, this is the best book I've read on the subject of health and food in the last two years.  (And I've done a loooooooot of research!)  If you want to know why and how food can make you ill or can better your health, please read this book.  Heck, read it even if you don't think you care!  The thing I love about it is that the Hartwigs have approached the topic purely from a place of health and science...with none of the (Sometimes questionable) philosophies that surround various lifestyle/health plans like Paleo.  PLUS, they are totally on board with real humans and real behavior.  They make a plan for improving health and then testing to make sure you are doing what is optimal for your specific needs.  I will say that I have chosen to do their Whole 30, and have already had some amazing results.  This has been the cherry on top for me. 
9. & 10.  The Primal Blueprint and the Primal Blueprint 21 Day Solution, Mark Sisson - Truth be told, I mostly skimmed these two.  They were library books, and I wanted to see if there was any further info in them that I hadn't already discovered.  As a huge fan of Sisson's website, Mark's Daily Apple, I had pretty much covered it all, though.  Still, good to have given them a look-see.

11.  Santa Olivia, Jacqueline Carey - Carey is another of my favorite authors, but I admit I had held off on this particular book because I wasn't so crazy about the blurb on the back of the book.  However, when it popped up in iBook's discount section I decided to take a splurge.  To my pleasant surprise, I found it to be a lot of fun!  Picked up the sequel and everything.  Kind of interesting tie in with the current Olympics as it centers around a girl who boxes!

12.  Dragonfly In Amber, Diana Gabaldon - I'll admit, I started reading this book years ago after I fell in love with Outlander.  I managed to get ticked off in the first couple of chapters, though, and threw it across the room never to read again.  Ahem.  I'm glad I got over that. 

13.  Voyager, Diana Gabaldon - So, quite naturally as soon as I finished Dragonfly I started Voyager.  I imagine I'll take a break from Jamie and Clair for a bit, though.  After all...these books weigh in between 800 and 1000 pages apiece, and there are other things I want to read.  Maybe.  Jamie and Clair are awfully fun....and Gabaldon has done such an amazing job with the storyline and the history that you can get away with feeling like you have read something other than just a great romance....

PS.  My spellcheck has failed - so you're just going to have to put up with it!

Monday, July 30, 2012

At Long Last








Pattern By Sivia Harding
1 skein silk laceweight from Jennie the Potter from her Homebrew series in Lager
Addi Turbo, US 5 / 3.75 mm, 36 inch
August 12, 2010 - July 27, 2012

Notes:
  1. There were a LOT of errors in the chart for the center portion....but nothing I couldn't easily figure out for myself.  It is, after all, a very symmetrical design.
  2. I wound up using a much longer needle than I usually would have....and so when I worked on the side pieces I ran the needle through the shawl so as to keep the cable out of the way.
  3. It is extremely unusual for me to leave a project lingering for so very long on the needles.  Usually if it makes it more than six months without seeing some progress than there is obviously a problem of some sort and I'll frog it.
  4. I'm super glad I didn't do that.  I was never able to let go of the idea of this particular shawl with this particular yarn and the matching beads.  It is gorgeous, and I can't wait to wear it this fall!
  5. Having said that, I really don't like knitting rectangles.  Super boring.
  6. Also, As much as I adore the yarn and bead combo, the beads don't pop that much.  I need to start using a lot more contrast when I match beads to yarn and projects.  (Important to point out, though, that once it was blocked they do stand out enough to have made it worthwhile.
  7. The yarn did bleed color quite heavily when I washed the finished project.  It softened the color - and took out some of the slight green cast it had.  I still absolutely love it, but I wish it hadn't bled quite so much.  This is the risk you run with hand dyed yarns!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Relief


The dog is 16, the cat is 2.
Both were disgruntled, but neither one was willing to budge...so this is what happened.

Yippee, skippee!  Today is a great day, so here goes!
  • We had an honest to goodness rainstorm this morning for several hours.  It was amazing! 
  • You don't always realize how much you love something until it's gone.
  • I woke very early in the morning....after only a few hours of fitful sleep (stress), and the sound of that storm was so amazing that I stayed up and listened to it until morning.
  • The source of the stress was an appointment that I had this morning with a podiatrist. 
  • YES, I was TERRIFIED!  
  • Why?  Well my parents (who were very wrong) have been telling me for years that I needed surgery for my bunions.  Also, the pain in my foot has been getting steadily worse all summer...to the point that it was more than just a vague annoyance, especially as it was disrupting my life.  (I had to stop exercising.)
  • Nutshell - I had NO sign of past or current fractures, no arthritis, and my bunions were so small as to be irrelevant at this point in time.  (Although down the road...hopefully in the far future....they will probably have to be dealt with.)  The problem was 'just' soft tissue inflammation.  The doctor gave me a steroid shot, set me up with an NSAID prescription, gave me instructions as to how to tape my foot for some extra support and relief, and told me to stay off of it as much as possible for a month.
  • And I'm so damn happy that it's not worse that I have been grinning like a madwoman since!
  • In other health news, I've done pretty well with the paleo thing this summer, but as I haven't been fully compliant I decided to do a Whole30.  (More about the book in the monthly reading list. For now, just know that "It Starts With Food" is amazing!) 
  • To do my Whole 30, all I really had to do was drop a couple of last food items (dark chocolate mostly) and rearrange my meals as they suggest.  To my great and utter amazement, this has been the last little thing I needed to make my body happy. 
  • Can I just say that this is the first time in probably 25 years that I don't know exactly what I weigh and feel fabulous about that?
  • In fact, I'm feeling pretty darn good most of the time.
  • Can you just imagine how fabulous I'll feel when I get to start exercising again?!
  • Let's see...kid news.
  • The girls are in VBS this week, and as usual it's an amazing experience.  We're really grateful to Christian Chapel church for opening their doors and their hearts so that my kids can experience the type of marvelous VBS that I remember from my childhood.
  • Even better, they've been a bit clingy this summer - partially, I'm sure, because they've picked up on Daddy's grief and Mommy's stress levels - and all it took was one day at VBS to return my kids to their normal, happy selves!
  • We've not been going to the pool so much....it's too hot.
  • Gillian has demonstrated several instances of being a very mature, very thoughtful girl lately...and we couldn't be any more pleased about that.
  • Makes me feel like I'm doing something right!
  • The kids are desperate for school to start!
  • Miscellaneous other:
  • I will be finishing the long-suffering Tibetan Clouds stole this afternoon.  It's a very good feeling.
  • I'm regretting that I haven't been able to experiment and play this summer as I did last year...but c'est la vie.
  • My poor dog is ancient, and it's been hard to watch her this summer struggle with her age.
  • I really, really want some time to do my annual summer basement clean-out.
  • I've a pretty big decision to make soon, and I'm terrified.  (No family and friends, this is NOT something you should worry about.)
  • I have some really cool embroidery patterns...and I want to get to work! 
  • Must finish my Green Man Under the Hill before I start anything new.  This is not a craft for multiple works in progress.
  • I have absolutely no need or desire to buy yarn, fiber, or any other craft materials.  It's pretty cool to feel so satisfied with what I have.
  • I would, however, like to take a trip to the Yarn Barn soon.  Doesn't make much sense....and would be ridiculously tempting, despite my current opinion on the state of my supplies.
  • I need to do the finish work on the Princess. 
  • Sigh.
That's all for now! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wishful Thinking

 Yesterday I started a new shawl.
 The yarn is the second half of a cone of Zephyr....nothing special, a workhorse sort of laceweight.  The pattern is an Ann Hanson design which I've long admired.

Truth be told, I have a bunch of other knitting I 'should' be doing instead right now...various gifts, lace already started, etc.  So why this one?
Because it was 104 yesterday, and those wee motifs that you see beginning to form are snowflakes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back In The Saddle

 You may have noticed that it's been a while since I knit any lace.  Truth be told, I think I had a minor flame out when I finished the Princess.  Well, that and school got out for the summer, lots of traveling started, tragedy in our circle struck, etc., etc.
 Lately, though, I noticed that I was starting to feel the urge to knit lace again.  You may remember that recently I spent some time doing the prep work for a bunch of projects.  I wanted something simple and elegant to ease my mind back into that particular type of knitting.
 Which is why I fell so hard for my friend Bonnie's new pattern, Streusel.  It was just exactly what the doctor ordered.  Even better, having recently realized that I don't care if I ever knit another 'fancy' sock again (preferring plain socks with fun yarn) I had lots of yarn in my stash I could use.
 I made mine with one skein of Madelintosh Sock in Grove with size 6 Addi Turbo circulars. Grove proved more difficult to photograph than I had thought.  It's a quiet green with a sort of tan background - semi-solid - perhaps the color of a forest just before it starts to turn for the fall.
 Technically, the work started on June 23 and finished on July 16th, but in reality I did the prep work on June 23 (finding the right size yarn, doing one or two repeats to learn the pattern) and then knit the shawl from July 12 - 16th.  It was a very quick knit, especially once I memorized the pattern.
I did make two small modifications.  First, with an eye towards the postal scales, I was able to add four plain repeats in the center of the shawl for a touch of extra fullness at the widest point.  Second, to more closely mirror the decreases to the increases, I moved them from the first to the fifth row.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my Streusel.  I love this type of shawl/scarf, but I already have several that I wear quite a bit.....and have more planned that will be better matches for my wardrobe (such that it is).  For now I'm going to put it in a box to be used as a present sometime.  Perhaps it will tell me at some point who it wants to go home with.

So yes, this was a case where the process was considerably more important than the product.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the finished scarf. It is without a doubt a beautiful thing.

 It's just that this time what I found pleasure in - what I honestly needed and craved - was the simple act of creating lace.

Onward.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Because I Know Better

 Thank to make socks for one without also making socks for the other!
Basic Socks, Ann Budd
The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Opal Schafpate, 3151
Knit Picks Harmony DPN's, 2.25 mm
60 stitches around, 50 rows 2x2 rib in leg, 40 rows foot
July 11-20, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Proof Positive That She's Mine

 Look who finally asked me to teach her how to knit!
 She LOVES it!
 She's also surprisingly good at it.  I say 'surprisingly' because this particular child has never really been crafty, or shown much interest in much handwork.
Meanwhile, I hope to soon share with you this one's first non-scarf project.

It's been so hot that we've had many mommy-daughter knitting parties in the living room lately. 

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seeking the Quiet

Not going to lie....this summer has been particularly hard on my introverted self. Even the Green Woman is chafing a bit under our crazy schedule and the fact that we've had precious little time to ourselves.

I need quiet time alone every bit as much as I need air to breath. Without it I tend to wither...and here lately I can feel myself wilting more than a little bit around the edges.

And so I'm trying to carve out as much peace as I can from our hectic summer. For the last few days that has meant knitting. I'm trying to lose myself in color, in pattern, in repetition, and in action so familiar that my hands can take over while my mind can go free.

It's not quite enough...

But it is helping.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ransom

 About a month ago, this rotten child stole a pair of my socks and decided to keep them unless and until I provided her with a pair of new handknit socks of her own.

Ahem.

As I was fond of the pair of socks she managed to get ahold of...and as I worried about what the damage a 9-year-old might do to said socks....I capitulated.

I had actually already purchased yarn to makes socks for my girls, feeling slightly guilty about not giving them each a new pair last year.  They typically only get one pair of socks/year since they grow so fast....but that one pair of socks is always well-loved and well-used.
With Love:
Basic socks (Ann Budd, ditto yesterday's pattern)
Opal Schafpate, 1 skein of 3151
Knit Picks 2.25mm DPN's
June 31 - July 10, 2012
68 stitches (She likes them loose.)
60 rows 2x2 in leg, 50 rows in foot

I should add two things.

1.  My apologies for no links.  My time is very short this summer, and I've linked to these details a million times before.
2.  Honestly, I don't have the brainpower for much more than socks right now.  This summer has been - as you know - incredibly taxing on my time, energy, mental capacity and emotional energy.  Until things calm down a little bit you just might see a parade of socks and equally simple items.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For A VERY Special Woman

 When someone who does so very much for so many other people - who has, in fact, made a career out of compassionately loving and caring for those around her who are in need and/or are sick and dying - finally admits in a small voice that she might like a pair of handknit socks....

YOU GIVE HER AS MANY SOCKS AS YOU CAN!
Having consulted with a close friend of Aunt Lee Lee's about color, I custom made this purple pair to her specifications.  The yarn is actually an old favorite of mine that I've really struggled with over the years.  I tried a shawl and several other pair of socks.  Honestly, they just needed to be plain socks because they color is pretty enough to stand out on it's own!

You should know this by now, but:
Basic Sock Pattern by Ann Budd
in The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
2.25 mm Harmony DPN's from Knit Picks
Pagewood Farm Denali Sock Yarn, 1 Skein in "Passion"
68 stitches - 55 rows in leg of 2x2 ribbing, 44 rows in foot
June 21- 30, 2012

The one thing I will say about Pagewood Yarns is that if you see a color you like - GET IT - that same colorway will NOT look the same again if you try to order it down the line.  Dye lots are very different.  Other than that, it's a really spiffy yarn to work with!

As you can see, I also sent Aunt Lee Lee home with the Classic Kilim socks I made last year.  They turned out a wee bit too small, so I never actually wore them.  Also, much as I loved them - and they were a joy to knit - they just didn't scream "KRISTIN!" very much.  When Aunt Lee Lee asked for socks I instinctively knew that they were meant for her.  As I've said time and time again, sometimes my knitting speaks to me about where it's to go, and I make SURE to listen!

We Love You Aunt Lee Lee!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family

Sorry to be absent for a few days.  We've had a very, very special visitor, and we've been busy enjoying her company!



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello July!


Our lovely cabin at Camp Woodland Hills for Reunion last month.  The girls and I will be going back this month so that they can attend Primary (Tanith) and Junior (Gillian) camp.


I tried several times last month to write one of my newsy posts with bullet points.  Ordinarily, those posts are among my favorites to write....but last month I just couldn't manage it.  To be perfectly honest, despite some of the really good things that happened to us last month I was just too sad to write because of the tragedy our friends were facing.  I'm still very sad...but it's time to start living a normal life again. 

So here goes:
  • Having embraced the Paleo Lifestyle, I am happy to say that I've not only found happiness with food again but I've also managed to get back on track with exercise.
  • I am following Mark Sisson's Primal Exercise plan, as outlined in the free ebook I received for signing up for his e-newsletter.
  • What does that mean? 
  • It means that I am walking early in the mornings for at least 30 minutes.  It's brisk enough to get my heart rate up....but I am NOT making myself nuts by pushing like crazy.
  • It means that I am going to start lifting weights at home again two or three times/week. Rather than focusing on single motion machines I will be focusing on activities that use large groups of muscles or the whole body. 
  • It means that once in a while I'm going to do some sprint work. 
  • It also means that I'm trying to have fun through activity - often including the whole family - making it more a part of regular life than a formal gym thing.
  • Primal means a more active lifestyle in general, but it also means more efficiency and smarter training.  Once again, with what I've learned over the last few years it makes complete sense to me, and I'm really excited to implement my new plan. 
  • It should be noted that my new plan is not THAT different from what my fabulous trainer taught me....and is very similar to what my husband does quite naturally on his own.
  • AND, we are going to be dumping our gym membership at the end of the summer.  Much as I have loved my gym, it's time to move on and do something different.
  • Who would ever have thought I'd be excited about getting a pull-up bar?!
  • Of course, the kicker is that just as I'm getting excited about exercise again my feet are throwing fits. 
  • The damage that I've done to my right foot (You might remember I dropped a van seat on that foot shortly after I had my surgery.  I'm 99% sure I broke it, although I never had it checked out because I didn't want anyone telling me it was broken.  We'll discuss my stupidity later.) occasionally flares in a bit of stiffness or discomfort. 
  • More worrisome is that I have started having problems with pain in my left foot, running horizontally through my foot just under my bunion.  Typically it flares when there is any sort of pressure on the inside edge of my foot - but it can also be quite random.
  • I have an appointment with a podiatrist at the end of July.  I don't mind admitting to being worried. 
  • And I didn't walk this morning because that stupid foot bothered me all night.
  • Moving on to other things....
  • We do have some exciting things to look forward to this month.
  • My husband's Aunt is coming to stay with us for a while.  She hasn't seen the girls in a few years - even though she spoils them rotten - and we are all very excited about her visit!
  • The girls will be attending their camps.  This is Tanith's first youth camp experience (Her's is only 24 hours, and I will stay with her.) and Gillian's first stay at camp without me!
  • Actually, the entire month is so busy that I am hoping we escape without the typical summer boredom blues that drive me and the girls crazy each year.
  • We're also going to try to fit in VBS at the end of the month.
  • Yet more stuff....
  • The pool is sooooo much more fun now that I can just find a chair in the shade and read.  I might admit to even liking to go to the Beach Club so that I can move a chair into the shallow end so that I can splash my feet a bit while reading. 
  • Sean says this is what a beach is about. 
  • I am still dubious. 
  • It is about a gazillion degrees here, and dry as a bone....but I'm NOT going to complain this year. 
  • I've let the girls sleep as they will...which means they are stying up until at least 10 and sleeping in until at least 9.  We're going to try to fix that in the next week. 
  • I'm happy to report that JoJo the llama is doing MUCH better this summer.  Having learned a very great deal last year, my parents were prepared for the heat and for JoJo's needs in advance.
  • While I've cut back significantly on fruit, I am allowing myself to eat as many fresh peaches from the farmer's market as I want.  I think super-fresh and local is fair game!
  • Yesterday I had my first acupuncture treatment in almost a year.  As usual, it was incredible.  As an awesome bonus, it was obvious to both my acupuncturist and myself that my body was much healthier than it's been in years.
  • Really, I went for the treatment becasuse I wanted some extra support given all of the stress we were under last month.  I've made some really great progress towards my health goals, and I don't want to lose that or compromise it.
  • My eldest child is still holding hostage my monkey socks.  I am casting on a pair for her today.
And that's probably enough for now! 

Hope you all have a great week!