Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Hangover

Thanksgiving was exhausting! College boys all came home. I spent most of my time in the kitchen cooking and baking and cleaning. It was nice to see family. I am totally bushed!

Would I change a thing?? Nope!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New Laptop and Finished Socks

Yes, after all the angst and indecision, I am happy to announce that I am typing this on my NEW laptop! I will brag because I think I got an awesome deal!!

--Acer which gets pretty good customer ratings, Aspire 5517
--15.6" HD LCD screen
--250 GB hard drive
--3 GB memory
--AMD Athlon duo core processor
--Windows 7 (which I can attest is soooo much better than icky Vista)
--runs smooth and FAST!

And the best part???? It was on sale at Staples for $350. Yes, that is not a typo. At that price, I could not resist giving it a try. Maybe someday I will have a Mac of my very own, but I could not justify paying 3 times as much to get a Mac...I'm not on the computer enough.

And I recently finished my "Schroon Lake Socks."

Cast on, back in June during a road trip to upstate New York, they languished in a basket much of this summer. And even when I picked them back up, I was not very project monogamous. There were prayer shawls to knit and other things to do! But I did finish them. The cooler autumn weather motivated me. One can never have enough hand-knit socks when things start to get chilly. Especially someone like me who gets cold feet!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Computer decisions.

I need a new laptop. Remember, my Sony Vaio was stolen by the dastardly thieves who broke into my house. I can not decide what to do. I want a Mac. But do I need a Mac?

I hate making major decisions about spending money. I get this paralyzed feeling. I think the root of the problem is this: I don't have a lot of money. In fact, we live on a very, very, very small income. (I am not complaining. We may be "technically" living below the poverty line in rich American standards, but we live very well compared to most people on this planet. I have a nice home, food, clothes, shelter, running water, etc.) Back to my point...I don't often have discretionary money. Spending more than $50 is a big deal to me. When I have to make a major purchase (appliance, furniture, etc.) I want to be absolutely certain that the money is spent wisely. Whatever I choose is going to have to serve me well and last me a while. It is not as if I can replace it a year from now if I hate it, or it turns out to be a lemon.

So, back to the big decision...what's a girl to do? I have never met a Mac-user who didn't love their Mac. As one of my son's recently said:

"If you have a PC you are more likely to have repairs, you are more likely to have problems, you are going to have to deal with viruses. These things can be dealt with. Keep in mind that most PC have terrible inherent problems where they just crash for no reason and certain things won't work at all or whatever.

If you get a Mac you have a piece of equipment that you know will be useful for 4+ years. So you are making an investment. There are still nice functional macs from 2000 that are great. PC's from 2000 are delapidated and hideous. I would not get another PC to save my life at this point. I vote mac for reliability and peace of mind. But I am not the one to say that spending twice as much is a good idea."

And there is the it really worth twice the price to get a Mac? You know, if I bought a cheaper PC, I could use the money not spent on a Mac and get a spinning wheel.

But, if I buy a PC, am I buying a headache? Argh!!!

Oh, and just to tempt me further, yesterday Apple announces updates and improvements to the Macbook...all without raising the price!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

In which I complain (again) about aging...

Ack! I am more and more having to face the fact that my body is aging. I don't think of myself as old, but sometimes when I look in the mirror, I wonder, "Who is that person looking back at me? That's not my face!" Recently, I hurt my back and I walked around for days like a crotchety old lady. They think it is a bulging disc and it has pretty much put an end to my workouts...bleh. Another constant reminder that the old grey mare just ain't what she used to be is my eyesight, my perfect eyesight! It isn't perfect anymore. Distance vision is great, but it gets harder and harder to read and distinguish things up close. I have glasses that I used to wear as needed when reading or doing needlework. I am finding I need them now for just about everything! The world is getting blurry! What is even more frustrating is when I need them and I can't find them. Grrrr. Once, a few years ago, a friend of mine posted a photo on her blog of a lovely beaded chain she had made to hang her glasses on. Maybe that's what I should get? However, it must be a young, hip-looking eyeglass chain lest my ego be totally crushed by the fact that I am reduced to looking like an old spinster librarian!

Okay, so my whine is over. I haven't posted photos lately, so here are a few pics for your viewing pleasure.

Progress on my current sock project:

Schroon Lake socks progress

A prayer shawl I am knitting for a lady I know who is battling cancer:

Here is the lovely view we had a week ago at the river.

Daughter sitting on the pier.

The end of the day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sanctuary violated!!

"Home." It conjures up images of family, laughter, baking bread, refuge. It is a place where a person can feel safe. There are some things we tend to take for granted until they are taken, life, safety. While my family was away form home Sunday night, someone smashed in our back door and robbed us! I still can not effectively put into words how this makes me feel. "Violated" is as close as I can get.

They stole some money and my laptop. Yes, my laptop with all my files, downloaded patterns, bookmarks, addresses, and many photos. (((sigh))) However, the thief took away a lot more than some cash and a computer. They stole from me and my husband the illusion of peace and safety. I know that it is a bad world OUT THERE. But here, in my home, I am supposed to feel safe! I can not tell you how creepy it is to think some stranger was wondering through my home, going through our stuff.

Ah well. What is a girl to do? I can tell you what this girl is doing...first, I am counting my blessings:

--No one was home when it happened
--No one was hurt
--Although they got away with some stuff, there was much they did not take (it truly borders on the can not help but wonder if God intervened and blinded their eyes so that they did not see certain things)
--The thugs did not go through my home and trash it

I am doing my best to remember that God is my refuge and my strength. Ultimately, I have to trust in His protection.

I am also sleeping with a big baseball bat under my bed!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thinking about minimalism.

Been thinking a lot lately about stuff. How much do we really need to be happy? I can remember when my kids were little. The more "stuff" they had to play with, the less content they were. Clutter really makes me feel mentally agitated and unable to be productive or function well. I certainly have a hard time being creative with my artistic endeavors when surrounded by clutter. Don't even ask me to cook a meal or bake something unless the kitchen is clean! Truly, I get great pleasure from a tidy closet, an organized drawer, an uncluttered flat surface (counter top, coffee table, dresser, etc.)

The irony of all this??? I have a hard time letting go of stuff. I think a lot of that stems from being on a very tight budget. "What if I need that later? I can't afford to replace it!" I am not an obsessive hoarder, like some folks. However, I will admit to having clothes in my closet that don't fit nor do I really like. I have yarn stash that I am not using, and I don't know if I ever will. Ditto on fabric. I have bottles, jars and tubes of beauty products and skin-care items that I don't use, but I hate to throw away because that would be "wasteful." We won't even talk about the kitchen.

What to do? Well, for starters, I am going to read more inspiring articles and books on the subject. I have Leo Babauta's book The Power of Less on hold at the library. I am going to look around my house and ask myself, "What do we really use? What do we really love? What makes us happy?" The rest is just excess cargo and can go! I am going to go on a crusade with my closets, cupboards, and drawers, mercilessly purging the unnecessary. I am going to stop and think long and hard before I bring anything else into our home. I am going to encourage my children to do the same! The advertisers are wrong. "Stuff" does not make us happy. It just weighs us down! I want to feel FREE.

Freedom is not having everything we desire. Instead, it is being able to be without the things we desire and remain truly content.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

REAL Food.

Have you noticed how much of what we Americans eat is not really food? I mean, look at the ingredients on a loaf of bread in the grocery store...what IS all that stuff??? I make bread. It's simple and easy...whole wheat flour, water, honey, oil, a little yeast, and a little I said, SIMPLE. The ingredients are real. Not a lot of chemicals, preservatives, colors and flavorings. I am amazed at how much junk, mass-produced and manufactured stuff we put into our bodies. Don't let me get started ranting about the sodium levels and evil high fructose corn syrup!

And I find that REAL food is more satisfying. Tonight for dinner we had grilled chicken kabobs (seasoned with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper), fresh corn on the cob, fresh picked green beans, baked potatoes (with real butter) and a salad. We were all sitting around afterwards saying to each other, "Man! That was GOOD!" My body feels like it has not just been filled, but it has been truly fed.

Oh, and for dessert? I've got some homemade scones baking in the oven to go along with fresh strawberries and whipping cream (not the fake stuff). Good old fashioned strawberry shortcake. Yum!

Another Quote

Kids were watching "Martha Speaks" on PBS this afternoon. Apparently a character in the show had been severely embarrassed and was now afraid to try anything new and her friends were trying to help her snap out of it. As I walked into the room, I heard the following:

"You can't let a little thing like public humiliation come between you and a good time!"

The truth of that statement made me laugh! Some people take themselves too seriously and worry too much about what others might think. Being able to laugh at yourself is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Quote(s) of the Day...

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

--Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 01, 2009

What's for dinner tonight?

Tonight's menu: taco salad topped with fresh homemade guacamole and pico de gallo. Perfect on a warm southern night.

I can not tell you how many people have raved over my pico when I take it to parties and gatherings. Now, here's my homemade pico is actually made with Rotel Tomatoes! They are so yummy and the "original" version has just the right amount of green chiles in them to pack some punch. I drain the extra liquid and chop them up in a mini food processor. Then I add fresh cilantro and chopped onion. That's all it takes. If I feel like it, I might add a squeeze of lime juice. But gosh, it can't get much easier than that! I now have a hard time eating store-bought salsa; this homemade pico tastes so much fresher!


Ever found a piece of fabric you love, but there isn't enough of it to actually make anything that would fit a grown woman??? Well, I have found the answer. It is easy, cute, thrifty, and just plain ol' brilliant!

Today I found a tutorial that teaches how to make a cute skirt out of just one yard of fabric. Yes, it really, truly only takes one yard of fabric!

Thank you, Darling Petunia, for posting this tutorial on your blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another FO!

These were called my "Autumn Socks" because they were optimistically going to be finished in time for Thanksgiving.

So, May is a little late. Okay, stop laughing! I finished them in plenty of time for Thanksgiving...2010!

Actually, I don't think I will be wearing them for any Thanksgiving. As soon as I finished them today, my 16 year old daughter snatched them up. Her legs are longer than mine, so they don't quite reach the knees. However, her legs are also thinner than mine, so the pattern looks nicer on her...I guess I will let her keep them.

Here, little sister wants to get in on the photo action:

Free Pattern: Double Eyelet Rib Toe-up Socks by Wendy Johnson
(Pattern is not for knee-socks, that is my personal preference.)
Yarn: Ditto by Universal Yarns
Raveled here.

It is my goal this year to make a pair of socks for everyone in the family. One pair down, seven to go!

Monday, May 18, 2009


I have been working hard to turn my UFO's (unfinished objects)into FO's (otherwise known as "finished objects.") First up is a scarf. I managed to complete it this winter before the cold weather was over and I like it a LOT. It was knit using Patons SWS (no Noro in my basket) and Jared Flood's Noro Stiped Scarf pattern.

I was so happy with how it turned out, I made a Calorimetry to match.

I like the Calorimetry since it keeps my head and ears warm like a cap, but I can still wear my hair up in a ponytail if I want to. Here it is modeled by my daughter...

Next up is a cap I knit to send to the troops. A group of ladies in my community knit 100 caps to give to soldiers soon to be deployed. The first one I made was just plain old brown knitted in the "London Beanie" pattern using Patons wool. I decided a soldier might enjoy a cap with a little more umph, so I took the graph from "We Call Them Pirates" and modified it a bit to work with the pattern. And here is how the 2nd one looked:

And last, but definitely not least, do you remember this I showed you a year ago?

Well, it is almost completed!

Doesn't he look comfortable lounging on my bed?

Sorry for the poor bunny photos...dreary day, bad lighting, yadda, yadda. But you get the idea. He is just waiting for a skull to decorate his shirt front and a knitted cap to match his striped sleeves. The pattern is from Amigurumi! Super Happy Crochet Cute by Elisabeth Doherty. He is a graduation gift for my third son who will be off to university in the fall.

There is even more to show off like the knitting bag I designed and sewed, and those "autumn" socks that are almost completed, but I will save those for another day!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Creative Cravings

I feel it coming on. Soon it will be too strong to resist. I will have to give in and start some sort of new project! Being wife and mom can often leave little time for ME. As a result, I can only take on limited "personal" projects. As I pursue one obsession, others must be neglected. For the last few months, most free time has been spent on fitness and nutrition...reading about it and doing it. Knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing machine, musical instruments...all have laid pretty dormant. However, I feel the urge bubbling up inside. I can't explain it, but I feel the need to create!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Update on My Life...

Consistency in blogging is not my strong point. It ebbs and flows with the tides of my life. Those who are closest to me have an idea of what I have been up to for the last 6 months or so. My poor internet friends get left hanging. Sorry. So, for your reading pleasure, a brief update:

  • Home-makeover was completed and we moved back in. Just as I feared, all projects not finished before move-in are still waiting for me to finish! I have lots of little touch-ups, and small painting projects waiting for me to find the motivation and time. (Maybe this summer.)
  • College son #1 is doing well in school. He may be changing his major to engineering. He has been investigating the possibility of doing a SEND International summer missions trip to Alaska.
  • College son #2 is also enjoying his time at a university in the mountains. He is participating in a 5-6 week STIM missions trip to China this summer. His plans are still to go to med school after finishing undergrad work.
  • Son #3 graduates from high school soon. He has been accepted to same school as son #2 and is very excited about living in the mountains too.
  • Oldest daughter completed her junior work and is currently working hard to finish her home schooling high school requirements a year early. If she does, she will be attending the local community college for her "senior" year. She is planning on spending her summer working with kids at the Word of Life family camp located in upstate New York. This is not a paid job, but she will earn scholarship money towards attending Word of Life Bible Institute which she wants to attend after high school.
  • Son #4 has turned 15 and is doing great. His skills with the guitar have increased and he amazes me with his ability, especially considering he has never had lessons. He plays each week with the praise band at youth group.
  • Daughter #2 will turn 13 this summer, but she already looks and acts like a teenager. Where did my little girl go? She is still playing piano and does so beautifully. She also has a lovely voice and sings with the praise band weekly at youth group.
  • Daughter #3 is may be the "baby" of the family, but she is no baby! Now 7 years old, she is reading well and shows a good head for math. This year in home schooling we have completed1st grade and proceeded to 2nd. She has also taken up the violin and definitely has an "ear" for music.
  • Hubby has changed jobs this year and is now working for the local university (can you say "vacation, sick leave, and health benefits?") In addition to working full-time and supporting this large family, he is pursuing his Master's Degree in Library Science and hopes to someday work in an academic library or some sort of archives.
  • I am still doing all the "mom" jobs around the house and homeschooling the 5 kids not in university. I have found a little spare time to knit a few things this year. I may start going to school in the fall part-time to pursue a nursing degree. I never finished my degree years ago and 20 years of being "mom" does not exactly give me a "marketable" skill. We do not know what the future holds and I am not promised that dear hubby will always be here to provide for me (although I pray for us to both grow old together!) I have no plans to abandon my children for a full-time job. However, it would be nice to be able to contribute to the household budget if the need should arise.

I guess that will get you up to speed on my world.

Oh, and just to explain the posts below from the last two days...I had a small "fitness" blog to track my progress as I attempt to eat healthier and get fit. I found the blogging software at LiveStrong greatly lacking, so I have moved those posts to my blog here. I have been tracking all my food online at The Daily Plate and exercising regularly. I have been learning alot about health and fitness and now know that the scale is NOT an accurate measure of "fitness" since a person can weigh less, but be less healthy and have more body fat. My goals now have to do with strength, endurance and bodyfat percentage.

Monday, March 02, 2009

My Current Workouts

The following was originally written 2/6/2009 in a "fitness blog" I had elsewhere. However, that software is lousy and I will be posting here instead! For continuity, I want all my older posts available.

Almost every day I start with a 30 minute bellydance work out. It is my wake-up, losen up, get ready for the day thing. To be exact, I am using the Veena and Neena Bellydance Fitnes for Beginners Basic Moves and Fat Burning Video. I do the Basic Moves portion. It does a nice job of working my core and arms. I have seen a drastic improvement in my posture since I have started this workout. I think that it is helping to strengthen and losen up my core and it has some moves that are really demanding on my shoulders.

After the 30 minutes of bellydance I usually do either 55 minutes of TaeBo Advanced or Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred workout. TaeBo has a lot of squats, kicks, punches, and a full 25 minutes of floor work doing abs and glutes. It is a killer. The 30 Day Shred works my upper body well. There are presses and rows and in level 2 there are lots of exercises in the plank position.

In addition to those things I walk regularly. I was doing the Couch to 5K schedule, but indications of shin splints made me set that aside for a while. I also find myself throughout the day randomly doing things like push ups, planks, wall sits, etc. I think this exercise stuff is getting addicting!

Whine! Whine! Whine!

The following was originally written 2/6/2009 in a "fitness blog" I had elsewhere. However, that software is lousy and I will be posting here instead! For continuity, I want all my older posts available.

Today, I feel frustrated. There are two issues getting me down.

One--I am wishing for more "instant" results. Yeah, yeah. I know that I am getting fitter, and I am thankful for that. But after a month and a half of eating carefully and exercising hard, I just wish I would shrink a little! Why is it that some folks seem to drop pounds and inches at a time, and I am working like a dog to stay the same size?? Whine. Whine. Whine.

Two--I am having a hard time eating enough calories! Yeah, who ever thought that would be a problem??? I changed my weight goal at The Daily Plate to be just 1 lb. a week because 1.5 lbs. is more than 10% of my current weight and I read you should not try to lose more than 10% per week. What a laugh! Who's losing any weight around here?. I figure if I am working out hard -- and I am -- that I need to give my body adequate nutrition. Truly, truly, I am not depriving myself. I am not going hungry. I am just trying to eat healthy, and I am consistently eating at less than 1500 calories a day, which is not enough. If I was losing weight, I would not worry about it. BUT, I am not losing weight, so my fear is that my body is holding on to the extra fat because I am not taking in enough calories. Some folks call that "starvation mode." What's a gal to do? I refuse to eat junk just to increase my calories. Many calorie-dense foods are high in carbs and/or bad fats. I am eating nuts daily. I have added cheese and meat to my diet again to add more protein. I don't know what else to do.

Come on, body! I am feeding you healthy food. I am giving you good exercise. Now shape up!!! (((I think I will just go take out my frustrations with some push-ups and see how you like that!)))

EDIT: Well, I DID go do push ups, and timed my wall sit which gave me the best time yet! Then I worked out on the step for 10 minutes to get the heart pumping. Then I shut myself in my room with some happy music on my ipod and danced my heart out for 15 minutes. Have to say that made me feel MUCH better!

Fitness, Not Vanity

The following was written 2/3/2009 and was published in a "fitness blog" I had elsewhere. However, the software is lousy and I will be posting here instead! For continuity, I want all my older posts available.

You know, I keep telling myself that my focus is on fitness and strength and endurance. This is not about numbers on the scale or jeans size. And yet, I keep weighing myself and feeling just a little sad when the scale does not reflect all my hard work. Soooo, I think I will take a break for a while from the scale and the measuring tape. That way I can truly focus on what is really important...that is, not how I look, but how I FEEL. Funny thing is -- I am pretty certain that if I can keep eating healthy and working out hard, eventually it will be reflected in the measurements.

Some Amazing Math!

The following was written 1/29/2009 and was published in a "fitness blog" I had elsewhere. However, the software is lousy and I will be posting here instead! For continuity, I want all my older posts available.

I just started logging in my eating and exercise at The Daily Plate on December 28, 2008...that would be 32 days ago. So, on a lark I went back and added up all my minutes of exercise and the grand total is 2583 minutes. Yes, that equals 43.05 hours of activity for 32 other words, 80.72 minutes per day. WOW!!!

Here's just a little break down of the majority of what I have logged:

25-30 minutes of belly dance almost everyday...a great warm up, good for flexibility and my core.

30-90 minutes of brisk walking almost daily

55 minutes Advanced TaeBo workouts 2-3 times a week

25 minutes of torture, ahem, I mean Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred (usually 3 days a week)

A little running as I have begun doing intervals ala "Couch Potato to 5K" and "Podrunner Intervals" workouts.

I have to admit I am proud of myself for working so hard...especially when the scale refused to budge for days at a time. I'd say that deserves a pat on the back and a celebratory glass of wine!

Progress Report

The following was originally written 1/30/2009 and published in a "fitness blog" I had started elsewhere. However, that software is lousy and I will be posting here instead! For continuity, I want all my older posts available.

One month of working out and eating healthy and here is my progress so far:

-Clothes are fitting better.

-I am sleeping better at night.

-Joint and muscle pains associated with fibromyalgea are almost nonexistent.

-More energy.

-Muscles in legs and arms are visible.

-Flatter tummy.

-Workouts that were almost impossible are now enjoyable (in a sweaty, work-my-tail-off sort of way.)

Statistics below do not show any sort of drastic, miraculous progress, but I know that I am gaining muscle and losing fat. And, the scale and measuring tape can not measure determination and the sense of satisfaction and well-being that comes from pushing myself and working hard. Would it be nice to go from flabby to fantastic in one month?? Yes! Of course it would, but that is so unrealistic and would require drastic measures that would be unsustainable. I've said this before, I am in this for the long haul and I am "okay" with the fact that this will take time.

I will end this with something that ballcoach67401 posted on the fitness forum at The Daily Plate:

There is truth in the old adage, "It is the climbing that makes the man. Getting to the top is the extra reward.'"

The benefit is in giving your best to this lifestyle change. It is in the self-discipline that we learn. It is in the numerous private victories that we have each time we exercise or eat clean. Remember, private victories must precede public victories, so if we concentrate on chalking up those little private victories (eating intelligently, working out when we don't feel like it, choosing our snacks wisely), eventually we will see a very public victory (desired weight loss or body change, i.e. smokin' hot body).


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