Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giveaway Week at the Crafty Crow!

One site I love to visit regularly is The Crafty Crow. It overflows with great ideas of creative things to do with kids (and grown ups too!)

The Crafty Crow is hosting a Winter Holiday Giveaway Week. The sponsors have some really awesome stuff. You've got until Saturday, December 4th to stop by and enter the various giveaways. Good luck!




(If I was really clever, I would know how to embed the image above, so that you can click it and be linked to the giveaway. Sadly it isn't working for me, so you will have to use the links in the text instead!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Knitting...

I finished a pair of socks this weekend:


The pattern is "Totally Tubular" by Samantha Roshak of KnitQuest.
The yarn is Miss Babs Yummy Monochrome Sport & Sock Yarn in the Clematis colorway.

The pattern is a unique approach to knitting socks. You make a very long tube and then add the toes, ribbing and afterthought heels.

I also have a sweater to share, but I need to get it photographed.

Now, on the my 8 year-old daughter. She's been a busy gal these days! Here is a bag she crocheted using vibrant kitchen cotton.



The hat she knit her brother.



The fingerless gloves she knit.



And a shawl she knit in Caribbean colors.


She entered the last three items in the County fair. There were 3 knitting categories for ages 9-18. She won the blue ribbons in all three! (The crocheted bag was not finished at that time.)

Pretty soon, she'll be knitting and crocheting circles around me!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Operation October Boot Camp -- THE RESULTS!



I've had a few folks ask me how my whole self-imposed "Operation October Boot Camp" turned out, so I thought I would share my results.

One of my main goals was:

--Do 30 days of the 30 Day Shred WITHOUT injuring myself.

Just about every morning I hung out with these three gals:




(May I say the move shown at the 50 second spot on the above montage is a KILLER!)

I am telling you, this workout is SERIOUS. It is very modifiable (is that a word?) to suit your current condition. If you are out of shape, don't use the weights and do the moves with less intensity. If you are already super fit, use heavier weights and give it all you got. And if you are like most women and your upper body strength leaves a bit to be desired, this workout is going to make you WORK!

Bear in mind that many exercise experts claim that doing demanding workouts which employ the same muscle groups to exhaustion every single day does not give your body sufficient time for recovery. For this reason, weight trainers will do upper body one day and lower body the next. I managed to do 28 days of the 30 Day Shred workout in the month of October. However, I would highly recommend that anyone attempting this program consider doing it every other day with some walking or running or other light cardio on the days in between. This is how I am now doing it.

So, inquiring minds want to know, did a month of The 30 Day Shred leave me "shredded" and looking like this:



IN MY DREAMS!

But on the bright side, I definitely achieved some significant muscle gains, my cardio and strength improved drastically AND I am now able to wear those jeans that had mysteriously "shrunk" and wouldn't even consider zipping up any more!

My other goals (and their results in parentheses) for the month were the following:

--Walk daily with hubby. (30/31) (It rained one day)
--Eat mostly vegan/raw with LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies daily. (31/31)
--No caffeine, sugar, chemicals or processed foods. (28/31)
--Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. (29/31)

And now we get to the nitty gritty. The part every woman worries about...that dastardly scale. The question on everyone's mind, "What about losing weight?" Well, to be honest, just before starting this escapade, I had lost 8 pounds in September by drastically adjusting my eating habits. I truly hoped I would lose more pounds in October. But the sad fact of the matter is that even with all that exercising and eating like a rabbit, I did NOT lose any weight in October!



BUT, and this is a really big "but" (pun intended), I lost inches!!!

--0.5" off my upper chest (measuring around the chest just below the underarm)
--1.5" off bust
--1.25" off waistline
--1.5" off around the abdomen 2 inches below waistline
--0.5" off my hips at their widest point
--0.25" off each thigh
--0.5" off each upper arm

That is a grand total of 6 3/4 inches GONE from my body without losing a pound!

How can that be? It is simple. While I was losing fat, I was also gaining muscle. Not only does muscle jiggle considerably less, but also a pound of muscle takes up considerably less space than a pound of fat.




If I had only measured myself using a scale, I would have been seriously discouraged at the end of October. The scale can not measure your muscle to fat ratio; and weight can fluctuate drastically from day to day simply due to water retention. Please keep this in mind if you are exercising hard and the scale is not cooperating. I HIGHLY recommend that folks trying to shape up take accurate measurements with an old-fashioned measuring tape which is a far better assessment of your progress. (That, and those jeans that somehow "shrunk" and you can't zip anymore.)

All vanity issues aside, the really, really important thing is a person's overall health. Not only did my strength and cardio ability improve, but the mostly vegan/mostly raw eating significantly reduced the muscle and joint pain I have been living with. My energy levels went up as well. So...

I officially declare Operation October Boot Camp a success!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's on My Plate



I thought since it is Day 20 of my Boot Camp, an update would be appropriate. Above is a photo of my dinner tonight. Let me tell you, that is a HUGE honkin' salad on a dinner-sized plate. I can not believe the sheer quantity of food I am able to consume eating like this. In addition, I ate a baked sweet potato, totally plain. I am really thriving on this whole mostly vegan, mostly raw eating style. I occasionally indulge in some brown rice, or steamed kale, or a baked sweet potato, but the vast majority of what I am eating is raw.

Here's how I'm doing after 20 days of October:

--30 Day Shred Workouts? Yep, 20/20 days. Today was day 10 of Level 2. Level 3, here I come! I've also walked almost every day.

--Gluten free? I had one piece of my homemade bread early in the month. and 2 bites of a pizza that smelled amazing. That's all.

--Dairy free? I've had precious little in just a few things. I would guess a total of 2-3 ounces of dairy in 20 days.

--Vegan? I ate a little homemade tuna salad one night, but did not like how it made me feel. I also ate a few pieces of chicken in some stir-fry I made. Other than that and the small amount of dairy mentioned above, I've managed okay.

--Mostly raw? I would say I am eating 80-90% of my foods raw.

--Caffeine? Zero. Zip. Nada!

All-in-all, this month's Boot Camp is going well. I'm hoping to continue with the plan and finish strong.

Coming soon: knitting update! (I know you are all on the edge of your seats!)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Operation October Boot Camp


If you follow me on Twitter, then you may already know that I have proclaimed this month as "Operation October Boot Camp." Corny, I know, but I'll do go to extreme measures of goofiness if it will help me keep motivated.

Although weight loss will hopefully be a pleasant side benefit, that is not my main purpose in this. I am hoping to improve my health and relieve some unpleasant symptoms I have suffered from. I spent the end of September doing a cleansing fast. The goal of that was to break some bad habits and adjust my perspective towards food. It is amazing how abstaining from food for a while can help cut the cravings for junk. I quit caffeine and have not had a cup of coffee for 16 days now. I have also avoided sugar, wheat, meat, cheese and processed foods. This month in my personal boot camp I am trying to establish some good habits by making myself do them every single day. One of those habits is plain, old fashioned exercise. I have spent a half hour every morning for the last 8 days with my good friend Jillian Michaels.


This work out kicks my tail every time!

I am also working on drinking lots of water and eating really, really healthy. For me that means mostly vegan and mostly raw. Not to bore you with too many details, but here is what a typical day is like for me right now:

--fresh carrot juice first thing in the morning
--workout
--green monster smoothie (juice, fruits and LOTS of spinach)
--raw fruit, raw almonds, veggies for snacks
--maybe some homemade hummus for dipping
--HUGE salad
--homemade veggie soup, or brown rice with black beans and salsa, or more veggies
--walk with hubby

I have lost some weight, but more importantly, I am feeling much better! I am sleeping better, have more energy, feeling less muddled in the head, and some of my joint and muscle pains have abated. Eventually, I will probably experiment with reintroducing certain foods in isolation (like wheat) to see if they trigger any symptoms.

My long term goal is to try to continue in this way of eating for a good six months to see how my body will respond. That is a little overwhelming to think about, so I am taking it one day at a time. But who knows, maybe with the clean food and plenty of hard work...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wishing I was HERE!



We spent a day at the beach last weekend. It was lovely. The above photo is a shot of where we sat as we gazed out over the ocean. Nope, it doesn't get any better than that!

There was a wicked rip current, so playing in the water was dangerous and difficult even in the shallows. After getting exhausted fighting the pull of the currents, my youngest and I contented ourselves just hanging out at water's edge and letting the water gently wash over us.


Here's what happens when teenagers get a hold of my camera:



We walked around a lovely, old historic seaside town and enjoyed the sunset there.



(((sigh!)))

One day was not enough. I want to go back!

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a short video from our day. (Sorry, I can't figure out how to center the silly thing!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finished and Blocked!


May I introduce to you my Twilight Sonota (yes, that IS how the designer spells it) which is knit using a new yet-to-be-released pattern by Kay Meadors.


This is my first time knitting with beads, and I must say this pattern was a good introduction to the technique. There are beads scattered throughout the body of the shawl, which are lovely to see in real life, but don't seem to show up well in my photos, so here is a closeup.


And beads dripping from the lace border.


I am so thrilled that the weather is finally cooling down a bit in the evenings and early mornings. Twilight sits delicately over my shoulders right now. The beads add just the right amount of weight and the drape is lovely.

I applied the beads using, of all things, Oral B Superfloss! Romi Hill has great tutorial demonstrating how to do this on her blog: Rosemary-Go-Round.

Once things turn colder, I will probably wear it over sweaters or turtlenecks more like this:



I wish the colors were showing truer in my photos of the finished project. Here is a more accurate picture of the yarn:



Please use your imagination and picture the colors of the shawl looking more like that! ;-)

All the project details can be found on my Ravelry project page for Twilight Sonota. Here are the basics:

Yarn: Serenity Sock Yarn - 2 skeins in Amethyst colorway (almost 460 yds.)
Needles: US size 7 (4.5 mm)
Beads: approx. 19-20 grams size 6 round seed beads in a assortment of purple shades

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hooray! I won something!


Phat Fiber is often giving away lovelies from their sponsors. I am thrilled to say I just found out that I won the yarn you see above. It is hand-dyed superwash sock yarn made by My8KidsMom whose lovelies are sold at Counting Sheep Farm.

And again I say, "Squeeeee!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More wheel love...


I gave my new baby a spa treatment last night with some Watco Danish Oil, and look at how she glows! I wish I was a better photographer so that I could adequately convey how lovely her wood is. I haven't come up with a good name yet, but she definitely needs a name. Any suggestions?

She is currently set up in double drive, which is new to me. I have only spun in single drive with Scotch tension (Schacht Ladybug, Ashford Traditional, a variety of Kromski wheels) and a little on a Hitchhiker which is direct drive.


And, she is just the right size to proudly sit on our small hearth, ready to spin at a moment's notice.

My hubby even likes her--bonus points!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SQUEEEEEEEEE!


Guess what I got today!

It's mine, mine, all mine! I have been trying for some time now to get my hands on a spinning wheel of my own, but forces have been conspiring against me. I never even dreamed I might have a Schacht Matchless. They are sooo far out of my ballpark. But a friend of a friend is no longer able to spin due to a knee injury. She had hardly used this wheel when the injury happened, so the wheel is practically new, but the price was WAY less than a new wheel. She also gave me a sweetheart of a deal making it within my grasp.

I am so thrilled and so thankful that I waited for the right wheel to come along.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beginner's Luck???


In the last post I showed you my first singles spun on a wheel. Of course, the next logical step was plying. Since I only had one bobbin of yarn, I used my ball winder and wound it into a cake. I then plied by pulling a strand from the inside and a strand from the outside. That was a bit fussy, and may have not been the best way for me to ply for the first time!

After letting the plied yarn rest on the bobbin for a few days I wound it up on a niddy noddy, and LOOK!



Do you see what I see? The yarn is balanced! It is not twisting and curling all over itself as I expected. I confess to being a TOTAL novice and pretty ignorant about spinning, but I THINK that is a good thing! Experienced spinners, please let me know!

Here's a close up. You can see the inconsistencies. I am thinking that some of that would be due to the fact that my very first spinning (beginning of the spun singles) is plied with the my very last spinning (end of the strand). I'll just think of it as adding "character" and "charm" to the yarn. As a commenter said in the previous post: "...if you want smooth perfect yarn--buy commercial!"

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Spin Pic


Here is a picture of my first spinning. My friend gave me some Corriedale to practice on with first. I like how it spins, but I think the fiber would benefit from a little carding or combing. The fibers are not all lined up well and sometimes that leads to small fluffy bits in my spinning...or maybe it is because I am a TOTAL novice and don't know what I am doing! But generally speaking, I am happy with my singles.

Next thing to try: plying!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Spinning!


Sorry. Can't talk now. I'm too busy playing with this:



I have a fiber friend who is getting married and spending her honeymoon cycling in Italy. Yes, you read that right -- a honeymoon in ITALY. Let's all breathe a collected sigh of pity for the poor gal. ;-P

So, she is letting me "babysit" her Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel while she is gone. Wheeeeeee!

I tried to make myself watch the whole how-to video first, but after about 15 minutes, I just dived right in. The fiber you see on the bobbin in the photo is what I have spun so far.

I'm hoping that after having a wheel for almost a month I will get thoroughly bored with it and kill the desire to have my own wheel...

Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA! Ha! hA!

Yeah, right.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Letter


This morning I stumbled over my running shoes and workout clothes sitting in the middle of my floor. I don't remember putting them there. How did they get out of my closet?? Then I noticed a piece of paper sitting on top the exercise gear. Much to my dismay, the following words were scrawled across the page:


Dear Self,

You know, for a pretty smart cookie, you sure can act dumb sometimes! When are you going to learn that you just can't eat and act like "normal" people and feel "normal?" How many times do we have to go through this cycle of feeling totally crummy before you are going to get it? I know it doesn't seem fair, but face it, Honey, life isn't fair. So what if other folks seem to be able to eat junk and get along fine? I can't do it. I am special and you have to take better care of me! I'm the only body you've got.

Remember last year when you were eating clean and working out hard? Remember how great we felt? Ahhh, good times! Yeah, yeah. You hurt your back and that was a royal pain, but that's no excuse for totally throwing in the towel. Besides,that was months and months ago. What's your excuse now? Time to move on from that. I know I may sound mean, but I think it is time you had a little tough love and faced the facts:

--Notice how our clothes seem to be getting tight on me? Yeah, I put on weight when you don't make good food choices.

--And what's with the lack of exercise? Look kiddo' if you don't take me out and work me hard a bit, we are going to end up with a horrible middle-age spread.

--But let me be frank, gaining a little weight and our vanity is the least of our problems! Let's talk about allergy symptoms, muscle knots, sore joints, lethargy, muddled thinking, yadda, yadda, yadda...you know I am not functioning optimally. You know you can't get everything done when I feel like I have the flu. Don't make me use the "fibromyalgia" word!

Oh, please! Stop whining and feeling sorry for yourself! This is the way it has to be. You know the drill, but I'm gonna' tell you anyway:

--Get back on your mostly-vegan, mostly-raw eating regimen. It works for you. It isn't the easiest or most convenient, but put on your big girl panties and do what you know is right for you.

--Drink more water.

--Cut back on the coffee.

--Get plenty of sleep.

--Get up and get moving more. I don't care what you do, but since you haven't been behaving like the brightest bulb in the box, I will list here some ideas. These won't cost you a penny because you already have all that is necessary to do them:

Couch-to-5K
30 Day Shred
Tae Bo
Tabatas
The New Rules of Lifting for Women
Jumping rope
Walking
Biking

Or any combination of the above. As the famous ad campaign says, "Just do it!"

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm being hard on you, but these things needed to be said. We're a team and we've gotta' work together. With a little will-power and self-control on your part, and some hard work and sweat on my part, we could be so much better. Whaddaya' say?

Signed with much love and a swift kick in your ever expanding pants,

Your Body

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Knitting Lace


(Just to clarify, above photo is not my work. More info below)

My blog has been quiet lately, but my life has NOT! In the last few weeks two college boys have come home and my oldest daughter has graduated from high school. That means I have successfully home schooled 4 of my kids from the very beginning all the way through. Only 3 more to go! My hubby says that if you added together the 12 grades I taught each of those 4 kids plus the 10, 8 and 3 grades of the three not yet graduated that would be a total of 69 years worth of school I have taught (and we won't even bother counting kindergarten)! I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

I have had something new and a bit challenging on my needles lately: knitted lace! The photo above is from the Rose Leaf Trellis Shawl/Wrap pattern by Janet Barton. It is available for FREE on Ravelry.

I have knit lace stitch patterns before, for example, the simple feather and fan pattern that is on the border of the Multnomah shawl. (Pattern available for free at Hello Knitty.)



I recently knit this for my mum and sent it to her for Mother's Day.



However, I have never actually knit with lace weight yarn. The fiber I am using is called "Merino Lace" by Skacel. How strangely different it feels! The yarn is thin, like thread, but it does not have the body or weight or drape of thread. It is light and airy and it takes some getting used to.

Here is a picture of what it looks like on the needles:



Not too attractive, is it? But that is part of the magic of knitted lace. It looks very unimpressive on the needles, but when you block it, your hard work shows up and you have a thing of beauty.

Here is my work stretched and pinned out a bit to give an idea of what it will look like when it has been finished and blocked:



Sorry to say, finishing will probably be a while from now...I am pretty slow at knitting lace!

So, every now and then I whip up another dish cloth just so I can feel I've finished something. :-)



Oh, and by the way. Should you want to join me on my lace knitting adventure, there is a knit-along group on Ravelry working through the Rose Leaf Trellis Shawl/Wrap pattern together. Feel free to join us!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just Call me the Dame of Dish Cloths!


I have a few other projects on my needles, but right now, my main obsession seems to be the lowly dish cloth. So quick and colorful. The crocheted cloth above reminds me of a bright beach ball. You can get all the details here.

All the following dish cloths will be linked as well. If I do this correctly, the links should take you directly to my project pages on Ravelry. Even if you do not have a Ravelry account, you should be able to follow the links and view all the gory details: pattern used, yarn, hook, needles, etc. If there are problems or questions, please leave me a comment.

The Mosaic Dish Cloth is knit, and it takes considerably more time than the crocheted cloths. Purple and gold are the colors of our local university.



The next one I made is a pattern called Fire Blossom. Sorry the photo is a little faded looking. The red is more saturated than what shows here.



The Quick Dry Dish Cloth crochets up soooo fast! I made one on a Friday afternoon and then promptly gave it away to a friend who had us over for dinner that night. Then I crocheted another late that evening before retiring.





And here is my latest. I used yellow and white and call it my Daisy Dish Cloth.



These make great gifts! However, I have had another thought rolling around in my mind: Do you think I could sell them? Bear in mind that all the above finished cloths are just prototypes and have not been washed or blocked. In other words, they were new patterns to me and not as "polished" looking as they might be. What I would like to do if I sold them is to give all the proceeds to various missions projects. I personally know several people who are long-term missionaries as well as several young folk who are doing short-term mission work this summer. In addition to that, our AWANA group supports some AWANA programs in Nepal.

Whaddaya' think? And what do you think would be a fair price for hand-made cloths?


And now, a special non-dish cloth bonus feature!


For Saint Patrick's Day, I used green thread and crocheted a shamrock and a 4-leaf clover to wear as pins. By the way, I really am of Irish descent!


And, a few days ago, my daughter asked me to make a flower to go on her hat...the hat that SHE crocheted herself! (((proud mommy))) So, I whipped up this flower.


I think the button she picked out of my button box was a nice added touch.

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