Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Week in review

Saturday morning and my weight in was NOT pretty. I knew by the level of praying I was doing as I hit the scale that it wasn't going to be a joy filled weight in. I exercised really hard this week - but the food and the Salty Dogs were a little over the top this week. It was a really warm week and those ice cold Salty Dogs (Cold Grapefruit juice + 1 Shot of vodka over ice = YUM!) add up in the calories. Uffda. Will have to back away from the fruity booze drinks!

I have been trying a few new recipes to try and break free of the frozen meals. I found several great links to Flatout Flatbread Pizza's and they carry them at my local store so I gave that a whirl this week. LOVE THEM!

The recipe I followed came from this wonderful blog and it was really easy and tasted wonderful. The photo above is from last night's dinner. The flatbread has pizza sauce, oregano, garlic salt, reduced fat mozzarella, mushrooms (canned - it's what I had on hand), purple onion, and one sliced red roma tomato. You can cook it on a piece of aluminum foil so no dishes!

And the flat out bread ends up being really crisp and wonderful. You actually bake the flatbread in the over for 8-10 minutes before adding the toppings. After I add the toppings I put the wrack in the oven all the way to the top to kind of broil the veggies and cheese into a melted yum pile. Works perfect! It's a lot of food and it has close to the same point value as the weight watchers frozen pizza I purchase at the store - but with fresh ingredients and FLAVOR! And this is like - twice the food. Sooooo good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Secret Flower Lover

When Emma thinks I am not looking she will go around and sniff the flowers in the pots to see what they are all about. Although she stripped my Cone Flowers a little bit one year - she is really good about not digging up my flowers or eating the plants. I do spend a bit of time on the ASPCA web Site looking at their lists of Dog Safe plants. (Also good for bunnies, cats, horses......) I got rid of my chives and rhubarb after reading how toxic they were.

It's another hot week here in Minnesota, so there is much watering of the plants after the sun dips down everyday. I just plug in my headphones, throw a ball or two for Emma who often walks around with me - staying well out of range of the hose, (Our girl is not a fan of the hose!) and go from garden to garden. It's nice to see what's changed - what's popped up or what is struggling. Plans to transplant or split a plant often happen while I am watering. I will also recite the names of the plants (if I can remember them!) so that I don't forget what they are called. A nice summer ritual.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Herbaceous Flowering Plants

My Cone Flowers (Echinacea) are finally opening up! I love these flowers. A shock of pink that attracts birds, bee's and butterflys. I loved these so much that I picked up some white ones for my front gardens as well.

These pink ones are next to my deck, so every morning when I let the dog out (and the sun is up) I get to see these happy flowers. I also have Spirea and Aster in this bed - so there is almost always something blooming. It's a very happy place!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's Just a Triangle - Shawl

I haven't been sharing my WIPS very much lately. Many of the projects I have been starting are me trying to find something portable I can take to work and do on my lunch hour. This usually means in the morning when I am frantic and tired I am looking at my yarn and at Ravelry and trying to find something FAST FAST FAST. And a girl can only knit or crochet so many wash clothes before she burns out on them.

About a week ago that morning dance translated into me grabbing a ball of pink yarn, a size I(5.5) crochet hook, and watching quick videos on
A) How to start a crochet project with an Adjustable Ring
B)What does DC mean again? Double Crochet? What is that again?

And BOOM I started on "It's just a triangle - Shawl". (A free pattern on Ravelry - very easy and addictive!) After working with the bubble gum pink for a day or two I thought - Wow. This is REALLY pink. huh. I had a bunch of scrap black yarn in a similar weight so I thought I would alternate pink and black. I am now almost out of pink yarn and will soon be finishing this up. I spent some quality time outside yesterday talking to my hubby and working on this in between projects. I got my tomato cages up, cleaned and refilled my Hummingbird feeder and my Finch Feeder, little jobs like that.

The colors are very bold - but I am really enjoying them! Once the black gets boring and eternal I throw some pink in and POP it wakes me up.

This will be great for throwing on my shoulders when I watch TV or when I get up in the morning and have to run outside to see what the dog is barking at. It's all scrap acrylic - so I can just throw it in the washer and dryer when It gets dirty. Easy Peasy.

Hopefully I will have some shots of this all finished up soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

**Crickets** & Health

I have been kind of quiet here lately. There has been a lot of drama at my job lately and in my personal life as well. When I go through changes I tend to shut down a bit. I am trying to work on that - but change is hard. :)

We are trying to tighten our belt around here. This is impacting things in many ways. One of which is that I stopped my Weight Watchers account. I am pretty nervous about this, but I really have just been paying them to keep track of my weight for the last 6 months. I have been terrible about tracking my food, so I would do it a day or two and then give up until the next weight-in. Repeat weekly for months. So I decided to stop paying them to track my weight.

I took all my weight-in totals since last August when I joined and put them in a spread sheet. I will continue to weight-in every Saturday morning and tracking my weight, but I will now enter it on a spread sheet rather than a snazzy web site.

So my weight-in this morning was with trepidation. My first week without my WW crutch. Did I put on 5 lbs by clicking the "Cancel my Membership" button? Nope! I think the fear of going on my own actually made me more diligent then I had been in the past as I lost 3.1 lbs this week! WOOT! So now I am feeling like I can do this on my own and not pack the weight back on. I just have to use the principles that Weight Watchers taught me and keep myself honest about what I am doing. And yeah - I am still nervous about the decision, but having a good first weight-in on my own goes far in making me feel like I can do this.

So - My total weight loss thus far is 48.9 lbs. (SO CLOSE TO 50!)
I have lost 7 inches from my waist, 5.5 inches from my hips and 5.5 inches from my bust.
I was a US 16 when I started on Weight Watchers, and I am now between a US 10 and a US 12.

I still don't have an end number in site. I don't really feel like there is a finish line for getting healthy and strong. I am still overweight and I will continue to fight the fight. I want to get as much weight off my joints as I can so I can avoid spending my golden years getting new knees and hips if I can.

In the next couple weeks I want to teach myself to cook some new meals. I have been eating a lot of the pre-packaged Weight Watchers, Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine meals for many months. There is no reason I can't make those myself and save some money! I recently had the Epiphany that eating canned potatoes was crazy and started buying 5 lb bags of potato's. I don't eat them quite fast enough - but even if I only manage half a bag I am still eating a fresh potato rather than a canned one AND a canned potato costs so much more than a fresh one! Plus environmentally it's a win as well. Less cans to recycle. Less processing costs. There are so many little things like that which I would really like to change.

And how have all of you been?!?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crochet Charity Scarf the Second (2012)

I finished my second crochet charity scarf to send off to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This one used 163 yards of worsted weight acrylic (Bernat Mosaic) and I again did the Extended Single Crochet Stitch. I chained 13 stitches and then worked the extended single crochet until I ran out of yarn.

I carried this in my work bag and just worked on it at my lunch. Very easy and it used up the yarn left over from the scarf I made my co-worker for her birthday. Very win win!

I would like to branch out and practice more kinds of stitches with charity scarves. What a great way to practice, stash bust and do a good deed all in one shot!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sunshine Award!

The fabulous Meggy Moo from the blog all4meggymoo bestowed the Sunshine Award on me! How kind!

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger that awarded you. (Thank you Meggy!)
2. Answer 10 questions about your favourite things. (see Below!)
3. Nominate 10 blogs & let them know. (See below below! And yeah -I sort of stink at rules...)

1. Favourite animal. I am pretty obsessed with my dog Emma and my cat Izzi. They both show up a lot in my blog and I love them like crazy.

2. Favourite number. 13. I have a soft spot for the number 3 and the number 4 as well - but 13 is the big winner.

3. Favourite non alcoholic drink. Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks. It's like crack and it only counts for 3 points plus on Weight Watchers! WIN!

4. Facebook or Twitter. A big NO on those. Never did Twitter and I cancelled the crap out of my facebook account as it seems to be an excuse to be an ass for most of my "friends". (Although I miss Farmville often!)

5. My Passion.  Knitting. Yarn. And lately crochet has been creeping in! Love all things fiber yummmmmmm.

6. Getting or giving. Giving. Although getting a nice gift is pretty flipping awesome too!

7. Favourite Pattern(s). I have a few I make over and over:
22.5 degrees (shawlette) by Martina Behm pattern on Ravelry.
Baktus scarf by Strikkelise on Ravelry.
Handspun Beanie by Woolie Wormhead on Ravelry.
Easy Malabrigo Hat by Karen Grover on Ravelry.
Warmest Mittens by Kris Percival

8. Favourite day of the week. Friday! Coming home from work on Friday night I almost always have a smile. Surviving a work week. And Friday nights are usually lazy and often end with us piling in bed and watching Ghost Adventures. My hubby will do his family research on his computer and I will knit or hook the hours away until I fall off to sleep. And it's the only day I can really let myself sleep as long as I want - so Saturday's are often a really good second to Friday for Awesome. :)

9. Favourite Flower. Peony. I just love them. They are so pretty and the scent is amazing on them.

10. Favourite Country. USA. I haven't travelled to many other countries, and I don't think a couple hours in Canada, or a week's vacation in Mexico or Jamaica allow for really knowing the country. Since I have spent 40 years in the USA I have had the chance to crawl around on it's landscape a little bit and we have some amazing things here. And really, is there anything more wonderful than home? That being said - I hope to travel more some day. I would love to see New Zealand and pretty much all of Europe! I have barely touched Canada - so I would love to explore our Neighbor to the North more too.

My 10 Nominations
OK. I struggle with this because:
a) obviously I love all the blogs I follow.
b) And I love getting awards because it's so nice to have someone say "Hey - I think you rock!" but....
c) these awards sort of scream "chain letter" to me. And I kind of have that squirmy feeling when I nominate people. Like I am inviting them to a free steak dinner and then I try to sell them steak knives for two hours.

SO, I will say that the blogs I read are wonderful and I would happily nominate any of them for this award. If any of the bloggers whose blogs I read DO read this (huh?)- I would be more than honored by you claiming The Sunshine Award from me.  :)

Emma in Bloom

While I go out to water my plants at night Emma will often join me and hang out in the yard watching me work. It's fun to have her tagging along while I go from area to area.

She is such a clever thing. When she saw Tom and I out in the strawberry bed intently pulling out berries and eating them up she got in on the action, grabbing a red berry and shooting across the yard with her spoils. I often wonder what we could train her to do if we had the brains for it.

Every summer I get lots of pictures of Emma laying outside, just being a happy dog. Good times.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Izzi! Duck!

We have a pair of ducks show up almost every spring. This year they discovered our bird feeder and have been happy to much away at the seeds all the other birds scatter. We have our cat tree in the window for Miss Izzi and she has REALLY enjoyed watching these large birds out in the front yard. We, in turn, really enjoy watching her watching them. Everyone wins!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kal Shawl Complete!


I have finally finished my Kal Shawl!

This was the Knit A Long put on by Vickie Howell in the Stitch.Rock.Love. group on Ravelry and with Knit Simple Magazine and Caron Yarns. A very simple shawl knit from the top down and then we got to chose one of three edging types. I decided to use the crochet edge and am really happy with the results.

Of course the day I finished the shawl it was 92F (33.3C) and 30 mile an hour winds. It made blocking a cinch though as I just tied it to my fence and sprayed it with water. It was dry in no time at all!

I really love the shawl. It took 4 skeins of Sheep(ish) yarn in Magenta(ish). Just over three skeins in the body and the bulk of the 4th went into the border. The border was really easy and I whipped it out in less than a day!

The shawl was supposed to be completed in one week. Seriously? I don't know how fast other people knit, but there was no way this was getting done in a week. I haven't done many KALS, so I have to wonder how they are run compared to the ones Vickie Howell has been hosting. I feel like there is room for improvement. The patterns for the two I have done are only available if you purchase the magazine. I think they should make them available for download for either free or for a minimal fee. Some people really struggle to find the magazine. The yarn (Vickie Howell's Sheep(ish) yarn has very limited availability. It's getting more available - but right now many people write that they cannot find the yarn. And this pattern in particular should have had a minimum of two weeks to finish.

I also have to say I felt like Vickie was not really there for us much. She didn't knit along with us. She complained of having guests at her house during the week she was running the Kal so she was having a hard time getting on the boards. (And she forgot to subscribe to the board where she posted the KAL for awhile - so people were asking questions about how much yarn to purchase for the shawl because two different amounts were given (oops!) and were met by silence.) And the last day of the KAL she flew out of town and was basically like "Help each other - I am out of here!" I kind of felt like she was happy to pimp her stuff at us and to use our photos and comments to promote her products, but she wasn't there all that much for us. Do I have unrealistic expectations? Should the host of a KAL actually be knitting a long with the group and there to answer questions? Maybe I expect too much.

The community on the other hand was wonderful! There were many great people I "met" on Ravelry and we all supported each other and encouraged each other. I would do another KAL through Vickie/Knit Simple/Caron yarns just for the wonderful community of people that it draws. I shouldn't be surprised about the community of wonderful people on Ravelry though, should I?

I have a ton of pictures on my Project page on Ravelry if anyone wants to see more of them or wants the details on the shawl. I really love the Sheep(ish) yarn and am tickled with my shawl.

YAY FOR Finished Objects!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday! Yay for Weekend!

Its Saturday and that means so many things to me. Saturday is the one day a week I sleep in without worry. If I sleep in on Sunday too late (which I often do!) I have a really hard time going to sleep Sunday night and Monday morning is pretty yucky. Monday already sucks without being exhausted to boot! It's also weight in day. I love that too as any sins I committed the week before (Like that donut that accidentally fell in my mouth last Thursday, eh hem) are washed away and I am reborn with shiny new points to start the week off with. I am still bouncing with the weight. Lost two pounds two weigh-in's ago, last week I gained almost as much back, this week I lost almost a pound despite the donut incident.

I had another really busy week, with much garden work and much knitting. Managed three Zumba work-outs this week. I had to skip my Thursday night Zumba as I finally went in and got my hair did! I am kind of blond now. Not true blond - but we really went light for me with the foil work this time. It's taking a little to get used to it, but I think it looks like summer fun. Makes me want to be tan - which is pretty much a no-no, so maybe it's time for some of that fake tan lotion.

I also made some really good progress on my KAL shawl. I know it was supposed to be done in a week (insert derisive snort here) but two months is apparently more my speed. I finished all the knit portion and am now up to the crochet portion. I am really happy with how it's looking. Here is a shot just after I did a Russian Join (which I LOVE!) and bound off all the stitches. It's 22 inches along the center spine and the top is 50 inches across.

Naturally anything I lay out is just a place for Emma to place her furry little butt, so right after I snapped that picture I snapped this one.

She is so helpful with the holding projects down so they don't run off. That's always a bummer when you spend two months knitting something and then it escapes out the fence. Her services are invaluable.

And then there is this. I am still not sure if I am going to make this into a felted pillow or a large bag? When I told Tom I was thinking about making it into a pillow he stared at me and said why? That center bit is scratchy as hell since it's mohair - so I guess a bag would make more sense. This is one of those projects that is sort of getting away from me and I still work on it but I can't see it's final outcome. Huh. We shall see what it turns into.

This morning will be spent watering my plants, then an hour of Zumba. Not sure yet what this weekend will bring, but hopefully some good stuff. I really want to finish my shawl this weekend - so hopefully I will have some pictures of it all finished in the very near future.

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Verbena, Geranium, and Lupine - Oh My!

Emma and I have been working away in the gardens. I have a couple of hanging plants now and slowly I am getting all my annuals planted to give my gardens some POP. I love Humming birds and have been trying to plant things that will bring them running.

It's a bad picture, but that top right hand picture shows a bee that was so large I couldn't imaging it flying. It was like a little Volkswagen!

I got my tomato and cucumbers in this week too - so I will have some fresh veggies in a few weeks/months. Nothing like a garden fresh tomato!

I have thoughts that some day I will use photo's of my flowers to use for yarn dying combinations. If only I had as much time as I had dreams!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bloomin' Pee on Knee Bush

Every year I wait for our Peony bush to bloom. Our flowers are hot pink and so pretty! Sadly they have NO scent. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Finally this past weekend they bloomed! Just in time for my family to come for a visit too - which was really nice. Rather like having a peacock that only opens its tail up once a year and your family happens to stop by right then and see it.

It's been three days since I took these pictures and the blooms are already wilted and will soon fall apart, but I was quite pleased with the show this year!

Tonight I stopped after work at the flower hut and picked up more flowers to surround the bush so there will be blooms here all summer. It was nice to work on this little bed and get to admire the blooms one last time before they completely fade away again for the year.

Aren't they pretty? I just love the colors. There is a tiny hint of bright yellow way down at the base of the flower that you can only see when you really look. I just love this flower!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just an old fashioned love song...

I am starting to seek out patterns (SIMPLE patterns) of crochet items. I recently came across this pattern for a pot holder - a pot holder that I have used at many people's homes including mine growing up. I feel like we had one in dusty rose in the early 80's made out of a Red Heart acrylic. Anyway, I have been placing these pattern's in my que on Ravelry and when my mom came over this weekend she told me she spotted this pattern in my Ravelry Que and had printed it out and was making one for herself! So when I went to case on a simple wash cloth she guided me through the steps of this pattern.

The pattern we used is the Folded Crochet Pot Holder by Michelle Gibbs on Ravelry. You can also find it on her blog The Boring Knitter if you are not a Ravelry person. It's very simple. I made the smaller of the sizes and used Peaches n' Cream Stripes in the colorway Seaside. I used 85.5 yards (78.2m) which was pretty close to all of one skein. The hook is a 4.00mm (G). If I were to make the larger pot holder I would use one of the larger skeins of cotton yarn as I don't think you can do it with the 2 oz balls.

I think the pattern is really clever and I immediately thought I would like to enlarge it and make a cute summer purse in this pattern. You work this in a spiral around a simple chain. The first couple rows are a bit fiddly, but once you get all your stitches on - and you really only have one increase row that you do pretty much right away - it's just single crochet around and around.

I struggled a bit with crocheting the two sides together when I got to the end, and ended up just picking up one loop on each side instead of going through both loops on both sides. I was getting a really thick spine when I went through all the loops -and it puckered weird. I still have a bit of pucker in this one - but it's much improved over my other tries. I think if I were to make this as a gift I would be inclined toward using a running stitch rather than crochet, but maybe if I make a few I will get the hang of it. The shot above shows my crochet seam going diagonal in the center.

And here is a rather blurry shot of the back of the pot holder. There is a bit of a dip on the very first row I chained - which is again across the very center.

All in all I am quite pleased with how mine turned out! I cast on another one while eating my lunch today. Perhaps this one I will add the optional hanging loop, just for fun.
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