Friday, August 30, 2013

I French Braided My Dog's Tail

Because 1) I was bored and 2) He let me.

My husband's reaction? 

"We better [eventually] have a girl."

*No dogs were hurt in the pursuit of this whimsical activity*

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Food for Thought

Quite literally. Over the last few days, I've watched three documentaries on Netflix:

  1. Hungry For Change
  2. Chemerical: Redefining Clean for a New Generation
  3. America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments
Hungry For Change focuses on food additives and how they effect the body. Food companies, in the interest of maximizing profits, add compounds to food that extend the shelf life of the product, that create a desire for more in the consumer, etc. A longer shelf life reduces waste and the accompanying loss; to a business, especially in food, waste is money in the garbage. By creating a desire for more, consumers keep coming back for more, they keep eating more and buying more so the company makes more money. The example that really struck me was the combination of aspartame and caffeine in diet soda. Until recently, I could easily down more than 40 ounces of diet soda in a day. I loved the stuff. Well, that wasn't entirely my own doing. The combination is addictive. As it leaves your system, you want more of it. 

Chemerical focuses on man-made chemicals in every day products, the combination and concentration of which pollutes the air in your home. It can have an adverse effect on individuals with asthma, and there are even some people who are so sensitive to chemicals and fragrances that they cannot lead a "normal" life. The documentary follows a family of five as they make the change to natural cleaners, dominated by white vinegar and baking soda. They progress to making their own personal hygiene products, too. After one month, the air quality in their home is measurably better, and the entire family reported feeling better. 

America The Beautiful focuses on our society's obsession with weight and dieting, and looks at the health aspect. This one is hard to summarize, because it doesn't really find it's direction until the end. It argues that you can be both healthy and overweight, that losing weight may not eliminate all of your health problems but it may eliminate some, and that you can be both unhealthy and thin. It also debunks the BMI as something a mathematician (with no medical training) made up to express a population's average weight and height (as opposed to that of an individual, which is how it is most commonly used). 


The first had me window-shopping for juicers and organic produce, the second made me want to toss out the rest of our cleaning products (I already use vinegar and baking soda for some things). The third had me reconsidering both. Are these extremes? Are they taking it too far? Do they take it far enough?

I do want to be healthier, and I am heavier than I'd like to be; despite the Biggest Loser contest at work I haven't been as diligent as I should. We are hoping to expand our family, and so a healthy body and a healthy home are both important. But too much of a good thing isn't good. 

So, my takeaways:
  • We're going organic
  • We're adding more vegetables to our diet
  • We're steering away from processed foods
  • I'm going to replace store-bought cleaning products with homemade, natural ones
  • I'm going to exercise daily
I am NOT going to:
  • I'm not going to obsess over every single calorie
  • I'm not going to exercise multiple times per day
  • I'm not going to make myself feel bad after enjoying a treat

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mini-Cheesey Pepper Bites

Super-easy snack/appetizer. I had it for lunch today; the first time I made it to take to a friends house for game night.

Start with Mini Bell Peppers and Mozzarella String Cheese.
Or you can use cheese blocks or shredded cheese. String cheese requires less prep than the blocks, and shredded cheese can get messy; so I like string cheese best.

Wash the peppers. 

Cut off the tops.

Split them down the center.

Cut the cheese! (Sorry, I had to). Cheese slices should be about 1/2 inch. 

Stuff the cheese into the pepper halves, put on a baking sheet, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Pop them into the oven, 20 minutes at 350ยบ.

Ta-Dah! Let them cool slightly before serving, but remove from the pan while they are warm. Some of them may have tipped over, some cheese may have overflowed, that's fine. It's easier to get the cheese off the pan before it's cooled down too much. 

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Roommate!

We have a new roommate!

I named her "Imelda." I don't know why, it just came to me.

My mother-in-law rescued her from a thrift store. She needs a little TLC, in the form of Febreeze and dusting and a couple tiny bolts that need to be replaced, but she was a great buy–just $50. New dress forms usually start at about $150.

I'm looking forward to figuring out how to use her!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stash Busting Update!

In updating the blog over the last few weeks I realized I've made a lot of progress in my stash busting efforts. I'm not normally a numbers person, but my Dad was an accountant, and I must be channeling him a bit because I throughly enjoyed putting these numbers together.

Pre-Stash Bust (March 2013): 7.1418 kg of yarn / 19,077.49 yards

     That's 15.7 lbs of yarn. Unwound and laid end to end, the yarn would cover 10.8 miles.

As of August 2013: 4.3572 kg / 12,915.4 yards

     That's 9.6 lbs and 7.4 miles laid end to end.

I have used 2.7846 kg (6.1 lbs), or 6,162 yards (3.4 miles).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bringing Home Baby Kit

No Mom, I'm not pregnant. But baby projects are great stash busters!

Using some Malabrigo Worsted left over from Uhlan, I made Snug As A Bug Sleep Sac and a hat to match. Tomorrow, watch for an update on the stash bust!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Uhlan Cap

When I saw Uhlan in Knitty (Deep Fall 2012), I wanted to make it for my hubby. It's the perfect thing to wear when you're snow blowing! He even was kind enough to model it for me.

He doesn't especially like modeling. 

I did need to make some adjustments to fit his giant head, and picked up stitches for the ribbing around his face I made sure that they matched the neck ribbing. Because things like that bother him. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Cowl

This is the last cowl for a while, I promise.

This one is Elis, which happens to share it's name with my middle school, except it's missing an "l."  This was another stash buster, featuring Knit Picks Galileo in Nebula. I got one skein a while back to hit the $50 free shipping threshold. By the way, always worth it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Multiplying Fingerless Mitts

I made some fingerless mitts! Six of them, to be exact.

I didn't plan to make six...After I finished the first two, it looked like I had made two left hands. I set them aside for a long while, and when I came back to them I thought they were right hands, so I knit a left hand. Then I put them on, and realized all three were left hands. So I knit three right hands. Only then did I directly compare a right hand to a left hand; they aren't perfect mirror images of each other. It's only noticeable in the buttons, they aren't in exactly the same place. Had I realized it earlier, I could have modified it, but at this point it's not worth it. It would bother me, but someone else may not notice. They'll be gifts for somebody, someday.  

The pattern is More Time for Egg Nog Mitts, the yarn is Cascade 220 leftover from Katell. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Collapsable Shopping Bag

I made this collapsable shopping bag, from One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins.

I'm still learning to sew, but this was probably the easiest thing I've made yet, despite the fact that it involved French seams. I didn't need to rip out a single stitch! Minor victories, they matter.

I used this white-on-gray flowered print I got at Crafty Planet years ago, which, coincidentally Hoskins is co-owner. These were originally make-shift curtains in my first apartment.

Make-shift because there was no curtain rod, and it's really hard to put holes in a brick wall. I ended up attaching them with Velcro: one side on the top of the fixture for the blinds, the other side on the curtain. Thankfully, my landlord didn't notice the added velcro when I moved out so I got my full deposit back.

Somehow, every time I hand my husband the camera, pictures of our dog *magically* appear.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Biggest Loser: Week 1

I lost a 1.5 pounds this week. I keep reminding myself that that's a healthy, normal amount of weight to lose in the span of one week, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.

I vegged out on Sunday. There wasn't a special event or anything, it was just a weird day. I had a headache severe enough to keep me from doing anything but watching tv and eating. All I can do is accept it and make better choices today (and tomorrow, and the day after that). I'll update this post with a picture once my photographer husband gets home. Picture added.


I intended to give this as a gift to a family friend who is expecting in September. However, I forgot it was a size 12-18 mos (I usually make a 6 mos), and I really love it. I think I'll save it for my eventual children. (No Mom, I'm not pregnant). 

I used Knit Picks Palette in Turmeric, which I had originally intended to use for Color Affection. I had picked out three colors for CA, but once they arrived I didn't like the combination. I liked all three colors, I just didn't like them together. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

I jumped on to the train...

... the Color Affection train!

I think just about everybody has knit this, or knit two of them, or plans to knit it one day. At one point, at least three of the ten knitting blogs I follow had Color Affection on the needles. 

I love it! It was a nice, easy, fast knit. With the color changes, you see how much progress you're making. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mitered Square Blanket

This partially-finished blanket had been languishing in the bedroom closet for a long time. When I started it, I intended to throw it on the couch in the living room to tie everything together. However, at the time I was single and living on my own in a tiny apartment. It was tiny, but it was cute and it was mine. I loved it. It was July 2010.

I moved out of that apartment, and moved again after that. That living room didn't exist anymore. When this stash busting project started, I picked it up again. I had I think 5 completed large squares, some of them were sewn together, others weren't. I found my notes (I made a smaller version), and started cruising. My husband fell in love with it, and insists that we save it for our eventual children.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tripple Cowls!

Quite a while ago (last fall), I knit a  Bandana Cowl  in Knit Picks Cadena (in Locus).

 And I loved it. The yarn is super soft and squishy and it felt amazing in my fingers. I wore it a lot over the winter, while I froze at work. Not that I work outside, not that the building doesn't have adequate heat (it does, this is Wisconsin), I'm just one of those people who was always cold. And I loved having something I could throw on around my neck when it was too warm to wear a sweater but too cold to go without.

I made another one to eat up the rest of the Gloss HW left over from Array.  This one is a little taller than the it's pink twin. I also used a less-elastic cast-on this time around, which backfired a bit. It still fits over my head, but it's a tighter squeeze.

The third cowl, Present, was made with some Malabrigo I had picked up because it was pretty. I try to avoid buying yarn without a project in mind, but I couldn't help myself.  I'm not totally thrilled with this pattern, but whatever. I still have at least half a skein, so I wouldn't be terribly upset if I needed to frog Present in order to have enough yarn to complete another project.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beast of Burden

I fell in love with Array last summer, when it was advertised prominently on Ravelry. I ignored the fact that there was a lot of purling and slipping and moving the yarn from front to back on everything single stitch, until I actually had to do it. It was awful.

I did some research and came across a Youtube video on Norwegian knitting and purling. Instead of moving the working yarn from front to back, you move the needle position. It definitely helped, and I'm glad I found it, but still. It had been months, I was bored and sick of it.

So I set it aside for several months. I eventually came back to it, but couldn't remember where I had left off in the pattern. When I did pick it up again, I started in the wrong pattern row but stubbornly continued. I tried to ignore it, and I did for an inch and a half before I decided I had to rip back. Fixed that, re-started in the correct row, but now my tension was different. You can see it in the picture below.

I gave up. Bound off, I'm done with it. It's an inch or two shorter than the pattern, but I never want to do that again. Ever. Ever.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Diet, Day 2

As part of this diet, I'm quitting Diet Coke. It's been two days since I last had a drink... Okay, no more AA puns.

It's hard because Diet Coke is was my go-to drink. I dislike most juices, I dislike just plain old water, and I can't just drink milk straight. I grew up in the midwest, which means I had a glass of milk (or two) with every meal; however, now I can't stand the taste by itself. I put milk in my cereal in the morning, but I can't just drink a glass anymore. Unless I add chocolate syrup. Not diet-friendly, not at all.

Thing is, I like the way drinking a cold beverage feels on my throat. Cold Diet Coke can be found just about everywhere, including the cafeteria at work for $1.25 a pop. When you drink 2 or 3 a day, that really adds up.

So I'm looking for alternatives. I can get ice and water (for free!) at work, and I've been adding Black Cherry Mio to it for flavor (and caffeine!). It's been good to be so far, but I am going to get tired of it at some point.

Due to various food intolerances, almond milk and soy milk are not viable options. Anything that contains banana is out for the same reason. I cannot stand orange juice, or juice medleys/shakes that contain orange juice. Beyond that, I'm open to suggestions! Hit the comments below to share your favorite drinks!

Baby Surprise Jacket

Continuing the tradition of knitting a sweater for when friends and family are expecting, a friend gave birth to a boy early in July. Continuing the tradition of using up stash yarn, I used leftovers from a sweater I made for an expectant cousin two years ago, Garnstudio Drops Merino Extra Fine in 09 (brown) and 15 (light blue). I made Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket.

I did run out of yarn before I was finished, and I didn't have anything on hand to substitute that wouldn't look like I had run out of yarn, so I did buy another skein of the brown to finish up.  

The pattern was interesting in that I couldn't really figure out how it would all come together. I followed the pattern blindly, and it only really made sense after I had cast off. I wish I could explain it better, but once you bind off, the jacket wants to fold in a couple places and then it all works. Up until that point, I kept my fingers crossed. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Starting Point

I've struggled with my weight off and on since my teenage years, and it's on again. My struggle is my own, and I'm figuring out how much I feel comfortable sharing here on the blog. While I'm not obese, I am plump. I am not comfortable in my own skin right now. I'm bigger than I was a year ago, I currently have two pairs of pants that can zip. I could continue, but I'm choosing not to. It wouldn't be productive.

Work is hosting an optional Biggest Loser competition, starting today. I'm opting in. I'm hoping that little bit of structure will be the motivation I need. When it comes to doing things I don't like doing, I am better if I have to "report" to someone regularly. Even if it's just a weekly weigh-in with the Biggest Loser "Chair."

Additionally, I am going to take my measurements weekly. In the past, I've gotten discouraged and fallen off wagons when the scale didn't move, even if it was because dense muscle tissue had replaced body fat. This way, I'll still see measurable (pun intended) results even if my weight doesn't change.

I've put a lot of thought into how much to post on the blog. This is a personal matter, and while I am taking it public by writing this, that doesn't invalidate my right to privacy. I've decided not to post my actual stats, but I will share the changes. In other words, you'll know how much weight I lost in a week, but you won't know my starting and ending weights. I will post weekly pictures, but I'll be wearing jeans and a tank top. This is my body, this is my comfort zone. I'm not passing judgement on anything else, this is just what feels right for me. So, here we go!

Bobo is already "over it."

It's been a while

Wow, I knew I hadn't blogged in a while, but I didn't realize it had been nearly 5 months. Here is Day 1 of my August resolution to be a better blogger!

When I left off, my husband was fighting an infection (a complication of diabetes) and we were spending a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms. It eventually required minor sugery, but that took care of it. During that time, I finished Cerisara.


My swatch grew in length, so I made some adjustments to account for that as I went. The body worked out exactly as I had hoped; however the sleeves didn't grow in the same way, especially after wearing it a few times. They're more or less bracelet length, but I like it. I used Knit Picks Swish DK in Velveteen, it's very warm and soft. It pills, but not terribly. I do need to shave it periodically. I've gotten a lot of compliments on it – non-knitters can't believe that someone could hand-knit this!