Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Worn down, but whatever.

Today was a kinda long day. The kids are home on break. I have the lingering effects of a cold. It was not a great combination. Still, I managed to get out and get a walk in, socialize a bit, and get the kids to play at the park for a little while. The lake is not completely open water, but there is a marked decrease in the ice covering it. That wind blowing across it made my hands very uncomfortable as I was trying to do some knitting while the kids played. I guess, however, it was not a bad thing. I mean, shivering does burn calories, right?

I have made some big changes to my diet. I have dramatically cut down how much carbohydrate I have been eating and equally dramatically increased the amount of fiber and protein. This has resulted in my feeling full more of the day with out a huge difference in how much I eat. I am also making a point of cutting out things like processed foods and artificial sweeteners. I don't have much love for plain yogurt, but I am eating it anyways. I am just adding fruit to it. So far, I think the biggest challenge in that area is the fact that the kids have been eating the strawberries I picked up to put in the yogurt.

Still, it is healthy and they're getting good eating habits out of the matter. Honestly, I'll buy more fruit if it means that they are eating stuff that is better for them instead of a ton of sweets. We're still having some fighting over eating dinners that are not chicken nuggets or their favorite sandwiches (PB&J/PB&Nutella for Snuggle Bug and Ham & Cheese/Pizza for Cuddle Bear). I am finding that involving the boys in making dinner is making them more likely to consider eating some of what we make.

Dinner tonight was scalloped potatoes with ham. I used a bacon alfredo sauce in it with a lot of cheddar cheese. It came out pretty good, in my opinion. I made sure to eat only one serving. When I found I was still hungry afterwards, I had the peas left over from dinner last night. (That was hamburgers with peas.) I have been cutting down on the amount of bread that I am eating. It is not exciting. I am not entirely thrilled with having my sandwiches with out bread. I assemble the stuff for my chicken salad sandwich on the plate like a salad, put a big pile of bean sprouts on the side, and then eat the whole with a fork. It is an intermediate step between the salads I was doing last year at about this time and what I was eating for lunches up until this week.

My goal is to get myself back to eating a diet that is more heavily based in vegetables. I am not completely sure how I am going to do so. Portion control has been a big part of what I am doing right now. I am also stopping myself when I want to go get a big scoop of ice cream or something. I ask myself if I really am hungry. If the answer is yes, I then get myself some vegetables. Not as much fun as ice cream, but I want to be healthier. So, I am going to make that sacrifice.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Crafting for Charity.

I am still making preemie hats for the local NICU. (Specifically for the Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong. These people are the ones who took care of me when I was born 3 mo early.) I am excited to say that over the last few months, I managed to learn how to knit the hats.

I was having some difficulty, but after a little work and some patience, I got it so that I could make that hat with out any gaps at the top. One of the ones that I am really pleased with is in this picture. I made it yesterday.

I am excited to do this. There's two reasons for my excitement. First, I want to do something meaningful for my community. Second, I feel like this is completely something that my Grandmother K. would have wanted me to do. She was pleased that I was learning to knit. When I showed her a hat I had made at one point, she was really proud of how well I was doing. I feel like this is continuing on her love into the world at large.

This hat is really, really simple. It is essentially the same as the Umblical Cord hat that you see around on the interwebz. The only difference here is that the hat is small enough you can put it on an apple or an orange. As, that is about the size of a lot of the preemie's heads. They do need hats that are larger, and some of those babies in there are full term. So, my next goal is to start making them bigger with out mistakes. (That is still a learning process right there, but I got the tiny ones right. So there is hope for me yet, right?)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Fiber Fluff

This week, I finished two washcloths. One was just plain single crochet square of 8 in by 8 in. The other Tunisian simple stitch square of the same diameters. I edged them with a bit of multicolored crochet cotton. I'd have posted pictures but I can't remember where I put the blasted things.

I also finished a crochet wall hanging. It was very simple. I can't really call it much of a sampler. The starting chain was crochet around a 3 foot length of wooden dowel that is 1/4 of an inch in diameter. After this, I did single crochet for two rows. Then I did double crochet for three rows. This was followed by a section about six rows wide of linen stitch. I got bored of this and did another three rows in single crochet. Then I started a different pattern with it. Using single crochet and a contrasting yarn, I worked up rows alternating between the contrast yarn and the main color base on the Fibonacci sequence. I ran out of contrast yarn by the time I hit the section that would have required thirty five rows.

So, I did a few rows in the main color to create a visual divider. At which point I did alternating rows of shell stitch with the main color and a different contrast yarn. I got bored doing the shell stitch when I was at seven rows in. So, I did another section of single crochet with the main color. Then I worked a ripple stitch for about twelve rows. By this time, the whole project measured 3 feet by 2.5 feet. I decided it was about the length I needed for the spot on the wall beside my side of the bed. So, I fastened off my yarn and wove in my ends. When I hung it up, it looked... ok. The main color was royal blue yarn I had left over from Beloved's sweater vest from the year before last. And the contrast yarns were stuff I had left over from other projects. I lean towards declaring the thing somewhat ugly, but it wasn't supposed to be pretty, just something to keep a cold draft off of me. It seems to be serving that function fairly well.

Now, there is one thing that I am pleased with. And that is the bonnet that I'm going to share below. I made this in memory of Stargazer, one of my best friends from college that died a few years ago. I made it in two of her favorite colors. And, I gave it to someone who was in need, which I knew she would have wanted.

Here's the pattern.

Use a small amount of sport weight baby yarn, a size H crochet hook, and size 3 double pointed knitting needles.

Crochet portion:
Foundation: Chain 14 stitches plus one to turn.
Row 1: Single crochet into each stitch, work three single crochet into the end stitch before working a single crochet into the back of each stitch. Chain one and turn your work. (30 Stitches.)
Row 2: Single crochet into each stitch, at the first of the three stitches at the middle of your row, work an increase of one. single crochet into the center stitch, then work an increase of one before doing single crochet into each stitch to the end of your row. Chain one and turn your work. (32 Stitches.)
Row 3 - 8: Repeat row two, increasing in the stitch immediately before the center of the row and after it. (R3: 34, R4: 36, R5: 38, R6:40, R7: 42, R8: 44)
Row 9 : Change color. Single crochet into each stitch, turn.
Row 10-15: Single crochet into each stitch, turn.
Row 16: Change color, Single crochet into each stitch, turn.
Row 17-22: Single crochet into each stitch, turn.
Row 23: Change color, single crochet into each stitch, turn.
Row 24: Single crochet into each stitch.
Row 25: Crab stitch into each stitch.

Knitted portion:
Pick up 4 loops across the edge of final colored section. This should include the working loop from the final crab stitch, the two edge loops for the section and the first edge loop of the previous colored block. Knit 4 stitches. Turn work, knit 4 more. Then proceed to knit an i-cord that is 8 inches long. Bind off knit wise. Weave yarn end in. Make a simple knot in the end of the cord.

On the opposite side, pick up 4 loops across the edge of the final color section: the first edge of the first crab stitch, the edge of the final single crochet in that row, the turning stitch of the previous row and the edge loop of the final row of the previous colored section. Using the same color as what was worked for the final colored crochet section, knit 4 stitches. Turn work, knit 4 more. Then knit an i-cord that is 8 inches long. Bind off knit wise. Weave yarn end in. Make a simple knot at the end of the cord.

I think that my total spinning time this week was a half hour. I didn't get much done. I was too busy running around and doing stuff. I am going to try to get more done over the next week. If nothing else, spinning guild is coming up soon.

Aside from a bit of mending, I really haven't done any sewing. I have, however, started work on a needle book for A. I am using up scraps of yarn from previous projects. I will post the chart for the front and back covers once I have them drawn up. Everything is very simple. I am completing it in tent stitch. While the designs do not look as polished as they would in cross stitch, it makes it easier to have the color runs of the variegated stuff I'm using for the background look nicer. I'll post a pic of the project when it is done as well. (All things considered, I think I may have it done by next Wednesday at the latest.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Friday Fiction: Reign Tenné et Or

The story I tell you now is false. It is pure fiction. An invented bit of fluff to entertain you for a moment while you pause in your viewing of the destruction of other things, unsure if said destruction is entertainment or threats. I cannot say if the destruction is either. It is not my place to do so. Nor would I wish to, for I am but the teller of simple tales. I lay before you the tale of a kingdom once known for peace but now is bedlam. No, no. This kingdom is not an analog for Nova Roma. Do not think such a thing. Nova Roma is a Republic, hale and strong. This kingdom is but the fruit of an idle mind, as all such stories would be. And it is proper, I suppose, for only idle minds would dare such a thing, yes?

Once, in a land most distant in geography and time, there lived a king. This king had a great voice that could be heard in all the halls of his land. He would speak and his servants went among the populace to spread his wisdom. Liveried in or, tenné, and argent, they were a people who were feared. They bore with them white wands tipped with gules, the ensign of the king borne upon a device of a noble cockrel, that bird of great courage in battle. What, you ask, is the ensign of the king that the gules cockrel bears? This, my dear friend, is one that indicated great humility in this king of a thousand tongues. The humble ass in argent lays lodged sinister upon the tenné field. a band of or chief upon it. The arms of this king, this famed king known in many lands, spoke of one who was humble and slow to anger. The tenné field bespoke of his storied travels through out the known world, for the color of the field was exotic to his lands where only the colors of gules, argent, and azure were known. The band of or denoted his noble head, where upon the crown of rulership rested on his glossy, brazen colored locks.

The king was a man of great wealth. As all men of great wealth, he feared that enemies would come to steal it away. Daily, he sent his servants among the people. Part of the reason for this was to make known that this king cared for his populace and part of the reason was to quell any speech that spoke against this king. Thus did the early days of his reign pass. His grand proclamations that were designed to quiet the troubled hearts of the people were spoken daily. Each day, the proclamation was greater than that of the day before. He set many to work upon ventures that he insisted would strengthen the coffers of the kingdom, that would bring prosperity to the land. He called for a great wall to be built upon the kingdom's southern border, where the lands he decried as lawless lay. He spoke of raising up the clergy to higher stature, so that they might guide the people into greater wisdom.

At the same time, however, the king raged when his servants spoke of the people who mocked him. He flew into blind wrath when he learned of troubadours who sang popular songs that disdained him. His rage was terrific to see and his servants feared him greatly. All but for one. Behind the king, there stood a man with a long, sharp knife. A blade that cut in more ways than through flesh. Even as the king sent this man hither and yon to quiet the dissent, the man plotted in the shadows. He laid quiet seeds to drive the king into greater frenzy, to push him into madness. As this man, the king's closest counselor, waged his quiet political war to undermine his benefactor only enough to allow him to keep the king as a puppet, the servants of the king feared him and did not speak against him. They hurried to do as the counselor commanded, thinking it was the word of the king himself.

The king's situation, however, was not one plagued by but one man's evil. For, the king had stolen the throne from the one who was chosen by the high council. The petty kings of the land came together to choose their overlord. This king, who held but small lands despite his vast wealth and cadre of loyal servants, fought bitterly with the petty kings. They who labored beneath the other petty kings found themselves deceived by the honeyed words of the servants. Thus, they began to rise up in protest when the other kings tried to put forth a queen to reign above them. In some of the petty kingdoms, there were those who were devoted to the queen whose arms were azure and had an argent tear upon the field. There were also those who had put their hearts behind a grey bearded king of a small land who was known for his devotion to his people. The queen, however, pointed to the wizened old king of the north and stated how his experience was only with his small kingdom, where as she had stood shield-side to the overlord who had brought great prosperity into the land.

The king that sits upon the throne contemplated banishing the azure queen. Instead, he called upon the age old mistrust that was held against women of some power. Thus, the petty kings, save the grey bearded one of the north, turned their faces towards him. The seeds of discontent, however, were sown and as the king in tenné and or tried to root out his opposition, for each one removed ten more arose. The azure queen spoke to her kinsmen and the moderate voices of the council. The grey bearded king spoke to his kinsmen and they who supported him. The king in or became progressively angrier as it became clear that his hold over the high council was not absolute.

Thus, as his chief adviser suggested increasingly outlandish things to him, the king in or followed along those paths of madness. The people of the entire land suffered. The troubadours' voices were silenced, many of the famed ones having had their tongues cut out. The small folk of the kingdoms all found themselves in greater states of distraught as the king in or's servants went about to divest them of their goods, claiming it was needed for the service of the land. As mothers cried out for their children's suffering, fathers were conscripted into his army as the king in or set to engaging they who had been staunch allies, insisting that they were enemies.

Fearful whispers suggested that the king was mad. The only thing known was that the king with his richly embroidered clothes and jeweled hands had convinced himself that all sought his ruin, thus he set out to destroy any who disagreed with him. So did it begin that the kingdom of Pax Columbia fell into ruin so great that its name was forgotten.


Something that was just rattling around in my head. Posting it early, because why not.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Monday Menu.

Sorry this is a day late. Life has thrown me a curve ball. I spent yesterday sick. Today I was out running errands and at a doctor's appointment to resolve the issue causing me to feel so unwell. And tomorrow, I have to take Cuddle Bear to a dentist appointment. One of the things I had scheduled for today got rescheduled to Thursday. So, I am just kinda doing all the things all at the same time.

I don't know how well you can read my writing here. But, as always, I am going to write up my list below.

Sunday 2/5
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, etc.
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Pizza

Monday 2/6
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Soup & salad
Dinner: Hamburgers with fixings & carrot salad

Tuesday 2/7
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Out
Dinner: Kielbasa, egg noodles & peas

Wednesday 2/8
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, etc.
Lunch: Out
Dinner: 1 pot pasta with meatballs & salad

Thursday 2/9
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Beef stew with dumplings

Friday 2/10
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: salad
Dinner: chicken nuggets with spinach puffs (kids)/ indian chicken and rice (adults)

Saturday 2/11
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, etc.
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Tacos

I am seriously considering trying out a few recipes from the vegetarian cookbook that I won in the silent auction at the meeting of the spinning guild last month. It has some really great ones from india and inspired by indian cuisine. I am not entirely sure what I want to do yet. I will, however, post about it.

Tacos are going to be made using the crockpot method for cooking the meat. The one pot pasta is going to feature meatballs made from italian sausage. And my goal with the beef stew and dumplings is to actually get my dumplings right and have them be appetizing rather than a doughy, repulsive mass. Fortunately, I have my Aunts' cookbook. They have a great recipe in there. I may get it right this time. There is always hope, right?